A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer


Contest Results (Finally)!

First of all, once again I apologize... This has been a hellish month, and had I known that it was going to end up like this I probably would have handled the contest differently. It is my first contest after all.

Due to my inability to focus in a time of adversity, I put the call out for judges. Four people responded (all of them have chosen to remain nameless), and one of those four never responded to me sending them information, so I'm basing the following results on the other three. Each judge was to take all five entries and rank five of them them in order from 5 (best) to 1 (worst). All three judges' score would then be added and the highest score (out of a possible 15 points) would be declared the winner.

Using that mechanism, after a few days of deliberation on their part, we ended up with a two-way tie for 1st place and a two-way tie for 3rd place.

Due to the delay in prize selection, and adding the fact that I did not choose to be the tiebreaker myself (if I wasn't capable of judging before, I don't consider it proper to be judging now), I have decided to award all four with a prize in one way or another.

After seeing all the entries, I did notice something: Although "standard" and "elite" monsters are pretty well defined and everyone handles them the same way more or less, the "solo" encounter is a whole other story. I've seen multiple ways that the request for a "solo" is encounter was interpreted... Some did a very basic and plain solo creature surrounded by traps and hazards. Others created a sort of hybrid, where it's one creature that goes through three elite stages (once the "elite" version of the monster is destroyed, it's replaced by a different version of it). And others didn't put many mechanics in to the encounter and preferred the story and the potential roleplaying aspects of the situation play out.

So here are the results, as chosen by my crack team of judges, in no particular order except for the prize grouping.

TIE FOR FIRST (no particular order)... Prize: Heroes of Shadow (or equivalent) from Wizards of the Coast

  • "The Fountains of Unbearable Grief" by Caoimhe Ora Snow (@dazedsaveends on Twitter): The background story won over most of the judges. It also includes a very detailed encounter area with a variety of different terrains, and the solo itself is quite the intriguing concept.
  • "Fountain of Sorrow" by The Id DM (@TheIDDM on Twitter): This was more than I personally expected and reads like a full adventure (it's close to being longer than most the other contest entries combined), complete with an adventure summary, a social scene leading up to the encounter, a random encounter table, custom magic items and more. I would have taken points off for making the enemy my name spelled backwards though, so be lucky I didn't judge it... 😉

HONORABLE MENTIONS, TIE FOR THIRD (no particular order)... Prize: $10 Amazon gift card

  • "Ego-Tastrophy" by Jeff Gupton of Blackbyrne Publishing (@BlkbyrnePublish on Twitter): It probably helped that two of the three judges were creative designers, and one of which is a published designer. Very straight up encounter against a golem, but the inclusion of a tactical map was nice. And the judges were simply fascinated with the name of the creature: the "Horace Brigland Borgtite Golem".
  • "Lair of the Tentacled Horror" by Raja (NOTE: PDF does not contain the area map; don't have access to it right now, so it will be posted separately soon): The judges liked the concept of a monster that spawned minions repeatedly (similar to SvD's Endless Hordes, but instead of being a separate hazard it's part of the creature's mechanics). Mixed that with a very Cthulhu-esque atmosphere and enemies (cultists and tentacles! Woo!)  and it looks quite entertaining. This was yet another submission that went above and beyond presenting more than just an encounter; it included an entire underground system of caverns through which the "tentacled horror" can pretty much move at will. PCs would probably have to slice through several tentacles shooting up from out of the water before the BBEC ("big bad evil cehalopod") shows up.

Thanks to everyone for their submissions. I promise the next contest will be simpler, will be easier for anyone to enter without much effort, and will be decided upon significantly faster.

If you are one of the winners above, please contact me privately (through email or through Twitter DM) to make arrangements.

I may include some of the other submissions in a future post; I don't know yet.

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