Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Out of the Sewer (CONTEST!)

Mmm...I'm feeling a bit inspired.

2020 was the Year of the Rat, and I only wish I'd had this idea back then when everyone was hunkered in place. Unfortunately, I'm self-absorbed and slow to come up with original ideas. SO, riffing off someone else's idea, I'm going to do my own adventure design contest, largely inspired by Bryce's review of yet another boring, rat-themed adventure.

Rats are awful. I mean real life rats. Yes, I know some folks love their pet rats. I find the creatures horrid. I once had to dispose of a monster one (killed in a trap) and the thing was just nauseating. Neutral with evil tendencies, says the original Monster Manual, and I'm inclined to agree. I don't think any D&D player EVER had any misgivings about slaying as many rats (and ratlike creatures) as their DMs threw at them. Getting TPK'd by giant rats (as I've watched happen multiple times in running The Keep on the Borderlands) must be one of the most ignominious ways of seeing a campaign end.

Time to rehabilitate the rat. No, not as a good guy, but as an adventure trope. Rats are awful and should be slain (duh, just said that). But let's see if we can't build an interesting scenario around the overused creature. HERE ARE THE CONTEST RULES:
  • Send me your rat-themed adventure. It should be an original creation of yours and NOT something you've previously published.
  • The adventure should be written for a particular system of D&D or appropriate retro-clone. The system should be pre-1999 (no 3E or later editions). The system should be stated. 
  • The adventure should be written for a particular level range. This should also be stated (for example, "for AD&D characters of level 5th - 7th," etc.).
  • Adventures should feature a mapped "dungeon" (adventure site) for exploration that has a MINIMUM of 12 keyed areas. 
  • All submissions must be received before December 1st, Seattle time; entries should be emailed to me at bxblackrazor AT gmail DOT com.
That's it.

Rat-Man
Entries will be judged for creativity, originality, and usability. Assuming I get enough contest submissions, the top five to eight will be compiled into a single book to be sold under the title YEAR OF THE RAT. This will probably be an ebook that will be sold on DriveThruRPG, and I will arrange for profits to go to some charity, probably World Central Kitchen's Covid-19 Food Relief. The number of entries included in the book will depend on the length of the winning submissions. 

You will retain ownership of your adventures and are free to publish them yourselves. However, by submitting them to the contest, you are granting me permission to use them in book (again, with all profits going to charity).

Unlike my Fat Frog Challenge, this time I will be offering a prize to the TOP TWO entries: a print copy of one of my books (winner's choice of either my B/X Companion or The Complete B/X Adventurer). I am also currently getting a price quote on a (softcover) print run of my newest book Comes Chaos and that will also be a third option, assuming it's available. 

Some notes on playing to the judge (me): submissions probably shouldn't exceed 20 pages, and no more than 2-3 pages of maps. I tend to hate skill/ability checks and non-weapon proficiencies. I prefer pre-2E design sensibilities but I am allowing 2nd edition adventures as a bone for the "younger" participants; if you're doing 2E, better make it great!  And remember that TREASURE is an important aspect of adventure design, and should be appropriate for the party levels for which you're writing. 

All right, get to work. Have fun. Hopefully something cool will come out of this. Any questions folks have may be emailed to me or submitted in the comments section of this post.

Thanks for playing!
: )

28 comments:

  1. Is it be permissible to write for a D&D version that doesn't include any form of rat in it's monster section? I would import the entry from a chronological close edition, most likely.

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    1. The adventure should have a "rat theme" to it, but that can be loosely interpreted. Want to invade a thieve's guild called "The Rat's Nest?" Want to take on a coterie of bandits known as "the Rat Pack?" That's fine.

      You are also welcome to invent (i.e. stat up) an unusual or unique rat monster that would fit with the adventure. Space rats? Amphibious rats? Rat mutants? Rat-thulu? Whatever works for your concept.

      Delete
  2. This sounds kinda interesting. Quick question: the triceRATops is a kind of rat, right?

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    1. As I said (in my reply to Janich), "rat" can be loosely interpreted.

      Having said that, I'll note that I'm NOT a big fan of stinky puns, though I understand they are a time-honored tradition of the D&D game.
      ; )

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  3. Did that crummy Castle Greyhawk module have a Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack" parady?

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    1. I don’t remember…”Indians Gnome” and the Mordenkainen movie set are the only things that come to mind.

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  4. Your contest rules do not actually state a rat theme is necessary. Yes the blog says that is the point, but your rules don't actually require it. This bothers me as a documentation project manager.

    How polished do you need the submissions to be? Less than a month is tight for any level of editing after the writing is done.

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    1. Wellll…the first bullet-point of the contest rules does say “send me your RAT-THEMED adventure.” I’d figure that kind of implies the necessity.
      ; )

      Entries do not have to be terribly polished. I think I wrote judging would be based on creativity, originality, and usability. Typos can always be edited from the final compilation.

      But working under a deadline IS part of the challenge. What can folks reel off in 3.5 weeks? Pressure cooking, man!
      : )

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    2. 12 locations is the minimum, that's like 5 pages

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    3. Is it? I generally get 4-6 keyed locations to a page...but I've been writing for 1E lately.

      The sample dungeon in Moldvay's basic book lists 9 keyed areas on half a page. B2 gets 6 to 8 (usually on the higher side). Ravenloft averages 7 per page...and it includes box text for every location.

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    4. Well sure, if you don't count the background info, NPCs, any location outside the dungeon, background, random encounter tables, new monsters, spells, etc.

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    5. It's an exercise in limiting yourself. Also, locations can be presented differently than in standard TSR modules.
      As for background, it's only relevantfor the users of the module if it impacts play. So when we are lacking time, maybe it can be minimised.
      I have handcuffed myself for sure - which is a blessing for everyone, as I can't write for shit.

      It's a challenge.

      Constraints often have the curious effect that projects actually get finished.

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  5. Hrm, that's not a huge turnaround time, but you're looking for the core not the polish, correct? Typos/grammar/format fussing to be added later if selected?

    Definitely interested, if I can get the Eye of Argon out of my head for the main rat-based quest notion.

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    1. “Polish” is not one of the grading criteria, no.

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    2. Well, manager to get in a playtest, it's on the shorter side but we all had a great time with it at least, definitely going to be a bit camp.

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    3. Right on. Looking forward to checking it out.
      ; )

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  6. Sadly, I won't be able to complete on time. We need to focus on local matters right now. But good wind!

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    1. Sorry to hear that Janich, but I certainly understand other priorities!

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  7. Hey there Andrew, I am super interested in your adventure writing contest! I did have a question though, precisely how ‘clone’ should this retro clone be? My usual osr wheelhouse is DCC and Lotfp, so I wanted to know if you would be considering entries from those two systems

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  8. Hey there JB, I am super interested in your adventure writing contest! I did have a question though, precisely how ‘clone’ should this retro clone be? My usual osr wheelhouse is DCC and Lotfp, so I wanted to know if you would be considering entries from those two systems

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    1. Lamentations is fine. DCC isn't really the same game.

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  9. Working on my concept of the theme...

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  10. I've got a nice idea for a rat-themed LotFP adventure. Hopefully I'll be able to put it together by the deadline :)

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