Tuesday, December 7, 2021

YEAR OF THE RAT: Results and Updates

A few housekeeping notes: folks may have noticed the pricing for my books (in the sidebars) has changed. That's because I finally got around to updating the prices with the current shipping rates. My apologies for needing to jack up the rates...I would have waited till the New Year to implement the changes, but I was running out of money to even do a new print run of my B/X Companion, let alone put together the scratch for another book (which I'm hoping to do in the near future). Canada and international costs are the real killers here.

If you're one of the dozen or so people who already purchased the new book, rest assured you got a deal (at the old rate): your books have already shipped as of yesterday morning. PDF costs (on DriveThru) will, of course, remain the same. 

A great, heartfelt THANK YOU, by the way, to ALL my customers (print and electronic). It is immensely gratifying to know people actually support the work...I only hope that the books, in turn, have provided a commensurate measure of enjoyment to their purchasers.

NOW: Year of the Rat.

I noted back in my original announcement of this contest that it was (largely) inspired by Prince's "No Artpunk Contest" (the first volume of which has now become available at DTRPG). Prince spent the month of September reviewing each individual submission for his contest, praising and critiquing and entertaining his readers.

I'm not going to do that (just don't have the time).

However, I will SUMMARIZE how things went down. Seven people (including myself) submitted a total of eight rat-themed adventures for the contest, almost every one of which being received by the November 30th deadline (the single exception being my own). The entries were:

Into the Sewer by Andrew Newport
Vats of Rats by Vance Atkins
Court of the Rat King by Chance Dudinack
Kobold Caves of the Golden God by Jeff S.
Clearing the Warrens by Vance Atkins
Silos of the Mad Rat by Ben Gibson
The First Rat Bank by Nicolas Posner

All the submissions were scored for Originality (have I seen this idea before), Creativity (innovative use of system and design), and Usability (how easy could the adventure be run at the table). Scores were then totaled to determine rankings. Yeah, yeah...it's all subjective, but since it's my contest, I get to be the judge.

As per the contest rules, prizes were to be awarded to the Top Two adventures...and based on points alone, I had a tie for second place! Since the scoring was subjective anyway, I turned to a secondary "tie-breaker" to determine who would join the #1 entry in receiving a shiny new book: treasure placement. I hope to write an entire post on "treasure" (hopefully this week) but suffice is to say that proper treasure allocation is a pretty darn important consideration in modular adventure design...and one that (for many reasons) seems to get overlooked too often by (present day) designers.

This IS D&D, after all.

SO...one of the tied entries had placement of roughly 89.7% of (what I'd call) "expected" treasure, based on encounters, PC level, and PC number. The other had 8.5%...far, far too low. 

Just...mm. No.

Thus it is, I'm proud to announce the Top Winners for my Out of the Sewer adventure design contest are: Nicolas Posner and Vance Atkins (the latter for Clearing the Warrens). Yay! Kudos to both!

Honorable Mentions go to the places 3, 4, and 5: Ben Gibson, Jeff S. and Chance. Their adventures...along with the winners...will all be going into the compilation book, Year of the Rat. I will let folks know when it is available...as stated, all proceeds from sales will be going to charity.

Gauche as it may be, I might throw my own adventure in the book, just to have an AD&D entry in the mix (all the others were written for OSE, B/X or S&W). We'll see. If not, I'll just make it available on the blog. 

[hmm...might do that anyway]

All right...that's it for now. Once again I'm out of time...super busy this week, not even counting things like decorations, tree-trimming, and Christmas shopping (none of which I've yet done or scheduled to date...and I've got a couple of kids who are expecting holiday cheer!). More later, people.


  1. Thanks again for putting this together, and thanks for the kudos!

  2. Can't wait to read the entries that beat mine out! Really excited for this and prince's books. Nothing better than the best of the best, straight from the heart amateur content.

    Thanks man

    1. Which one was yours, Smokey? That's a handle I don't remember seeing on any of the submissions.

      [Prince's 1st book now is available from DriveThru at PWYW, just by the way...it's HUGE. My book will be much smaller!]

    2. I'm kobold caves but I'm phone posting and for some reason it defaulted to post with my blog that I never update.
      I did swords and Sewercery in prince's - the honourable mention

    3. Right on...I have you listed as "Jeff S." in the credits. I've been formatting all day, and yours is the one I'm currently working on.

      Your adventure scored well across the board...the ones above yours were just a skosh better. But as far as creativity, usability, and originality? Pretty good.

      ["Glamdring" though? Really?]
      ; )

    4. I rolled randomly on my settings list of deities! Orcrist is also one. Jeff S is what I'd sign this as if I knew how to change it lol

    5. Welllll…if you click on your name (to view your profile) there should be a button that allows you to “edit profile,” allowing to (at least) change the display name your posts show.

      Though “Smokey the Owlbear” is pretty cool.

  3. Any chance you can link the contest entries on here? Googling the titles and authors don't show up when I search for them.

    1. I don't think the adventures have been published anywhere else (that was one of the contest rules after all...new stuff only), and the authors did not provide me with web sites/blogs to promote. I'm listing their names here as they wrote them on their submission.

      I know Ben (the Commodore) has done other stuff...he was one of the finalists in Prince's contest, but for some this was their first attempt at "adventure-writing-for-publication." You might try doing a search by author name over at DriveThru.

    2. Correct, I've got some half dozen titles to my name but this is of course original for the contest.

  4. Congrats on putting it together at such short notice and thanks again for the shoutout. I was tempted to throw my hat in the ring, but with the other projects on the backburner it simply was not feasible!

    1. Yeah, it’s been a little busy ‘round these parts lately. However, found a couple hours to start compiling/formatting the thing today.
      : )