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Ah, the wizards. :(

OK, I'll see if I can straighten that out and keep in mind that it was poorly written. It will probably sound a bit heavy on the cheese when I am done. :)

A little notation. Initially, Jake was going to be a Martial Artist (From Beyond Monks: The Art of the fight) and a Sorceror multi-class. Pretty much along the lines of Mar6/Sor11-12. In the end though, I decided to stat him as a Gestalt Mar/Sor 12. He has all the spells of a 12th level Sorceror, and all the fighting capability of a full BAB. Coupled with a few feats, he can deliver touch spells as part of an unarmed attack. He is a high level character.

Dancing Bull came up the elevator and was able to hear the conversation. Becoming a bit irate, he surges as he does a surprise charge across the room. For dramatic affect, he takes down the 1st wizard.

Suprise is over and I assume that one of the wizards gets lucky, wins initiative, and pulls off a Fire Shield (Warm) on the defensive. The wizard, not being too stupid, also moves out of the way. He knows he is up against somebody that favors melee and wants to get defensive first. Dancing Bull goes next and confronts Little Bird's brother. Using one of those nasty daggers that requires a Fort save to avoid dying, he sends Little Bird's brother on his way. Then, he draws out the scroll.

Now, if he were Hasted he could pull off reading the scroll. Throughout the story, I avoid mentioning the (sometimes tedious) buffing process. Dancing Bull knows he is facing a high level wizard. I don't tell you who it is, but in my mind, the wizard was capable of 9th level magic. Dancing Bull isn't worried about coming out alive, he is worried about taking down Rainmaker. A Meteor Swarm should be a good start. It probably won't take out the wizard, but all that damage focused on a relatively fragile magic item is going to release quite a backlash. The apparatus at the top of Rainmaker is, essentially, a fragile magic item. It pulls power out of the lake by tapping into the earth and water magic. It stores that power at the top of the tower, being used by Rainmaker's Wizards to control the weather. Dancing Bull doesn't care about getting out alive, a situation that Rainmaker never considered addressing.

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First Post
Wow... okay you have stats. I don't do stats. I do stories.

One of the reasons why I've considered not writing for the next competition. I want to write stories, and they tend to be SF/F but rarely do I have them set in a RPG world and/or have stats associated with my characters.

Thanks for clearing up the wizard dying confusion.



First Post
Okay, I've had some time (and a nice relaxing shower) to contemplate why my second round story was what it was, and I have some more thoughts worth sharing:

First, I was asked if this story was auobiographical by Erelai over in BSF's private forum. At the time I said no, it wasn't. But I think it is, on deeper consideration. I'm just not writing about when I was Adam's age. I'm writing about sometime around middle school in my life, it just gets written as a very young Adam.

Before I go further, let me give a note on names:

Adam: I needed a name, and since Adam is becoming a man, and we don't see any othr men in the story, he is the "first man." Plus, the name seemed to fit the story.

Maman: I wanted another term for mother. Mom was to common, Mama was too childish, and Ma was too rural. So I fell back on Maman, a term that I picked up reading Camus' The Stranger.

Grace: I didn't want to mention it before, because I thought it would make the story sound to sentimental or trite, but this story is dedicated to my mother. And my mom's name is Grace. She was always really good about supporting my creativity as a child, and the name fit the picture and the character, so I went ahead and used her name. But my mother looks NOTHING like the picture of Grace in the story (Thank God).

Okay, so this story is, when you get down to it, about my Middle School years, I think. I didn't intend it to be so autobiographical, but I wrote it that way anyway. Through Elementary school, I had teachers and fellow students who really encouraged being creative and unique. Then, in Middle School, suddenly Teachers weren't quite as interested in creativity, and students downright hated it. Nothing crushes a birght kid's spirits quite like Middle School. And that was what I was writing about. Having to take the creativity and preserve it, but being mocked for being different, for making things up for myself. And I believe that these feelings are fairly common for smart, creative kids in Middle School.

The other main point of the story is the twisted mirrior image of Adam inside his own head. I think here I was just writing about that urge not to grow up. Through the better part of Middle School I still wanted to go back to Elementary School. And despite my hatred of Middle School, when the time came to move on to High School (and not a minute too soon), there was still some part of my that didn't want to grow up, to move on. Of course I fit in alot better in High School, and I was allowed to be creative and unique in school again, so the change was really for the better. But it was hard to see that at the time. Same thing for the move from High School (and my Parent's hous) to College. The day of the move I didn't want to go, I didn't want to grow up. Those feelings didn't last long (think in the <24 hours range), but it was that same little part of me that didn't want to grow up.

So enough of my contemplation. I just thought I'd share my thoughts, since I finally figured out that I was writing about myself. Hope I get the chance to produce another experimental story in the Finals.


First Post
Oh, and one other thing: The bit about the Imaginary bear versus the bear as Adam drew it was right out of my childhood. I was always upset that I couldn't draw what I had imagined. Probably why I developed a fairly large vocabulary: I couldn't draw what I imagined, so I had to be able to put it into words. I'm not sure that I ever had a drawing of a bear, I just kind of picked a bear as a big animal that could fight for Adam later.


First Post
I think most people would agree that middle school sucked. And from a teacher's perspective, students are bizarre at that age. I would always rather teach elementary or HS. Thanks for the insight on the story!

So if you go onto the finals our game can start on time on Fridays once again ;)


Zhaneel said:
Wow... okay you have stats. I don't do stats. I do stories.

One of the reasons why I've considered not writing for the next competition. I want to write stories, and they tend to be SF/F but rarely do I have them set in a RPG world and/or have stats associated with my characters.

Thanks for clearing up the wizard dying confusion.


I don't always do stats. :) Actually, I don't often do stats. But, when I do, it is relatively painless. I've been gaming for roughly 24 years now and I can totally geek out when I want to. But please, do not let that sway you from participating in the next tourney. Framing the story in gaming terms is not necessary. I certainly didn't in my first round entry. And, past tourneys have had a variety of different "settings". So, it isn't like you need to set it in an RPG world, or stat out anything.


Macbeth said:
Thanks for the feedback!

Well, as for what risk I felt I was taking: I was moving beyond a simple story, ment primarily to entertain, into a story that was ment to communticate a moral, or a theme, or something. I was trying to stay away from the humor of my previous entry(s) and create a surreal feel to the story. I wasn't sure that I could do it, but it worked out, and I think it is probably the best stuff I've ever written for a Ceramic DM competition. Bacially my risk was writing in a style besides what I normally write, going for a feel that I rarely read. I find it easier to imitate a style that I read often, so doing soething more surreal was hard.

Interesting! Sometimes, trying to bring in a moral or a theme doesn't work so well. Personally, I think a lot of it depends on how much you believe the message. After that, you have to follow-through with solid writing. You dug down deep and you pulled out something that you polished up nicely. I may be reading too much into it, but I was excited when you alluded to taking a risk in the thread. I felt that you would take that chance because you knew you were pairing off against Clay. Clay puts out some pretty good stuff. When you have a good opponent, you feel the need to dig deeper, which is why the competition aspect of Ceramic DM is nifty.

Last competition, I was paired off against Sialia right away. The thing is, I love reading Sialia's stories. She captures character voice very well. I felt the only way I could possibly beat her was to try something completely unlike anything I had tried before. *sigh* I was not very successful in that endeavor, but I learned a little. My story wasn't too bad, but I didn't tell it very well. I got too flustered.

This competition, I wanted to make it to the second round. My initial ideas on that first story didn't work out and I finally stumbled across a story that did work out. It wasn't a bad idea at all, but it was unlike anything I've ever tried before. So, I took a bit of a risk and when I got done, I realized that the underlying theme was something I kind of cared about. My own writing made me think. Whoa! For my third round story, I thought I would embrace some of that theme, expound on it. It took me too long to frame it together and decide on details and then write it all out. But, I learned a bit more about myself doing it. I learned a little bit more about writing in general as well. And, I knew I would have to try something a little different if I wanted to have any chance at beating you!

So, I think taking risks has a lot of payoff. No matter what, you will learn. Even if the lesson is that you tried a style that doesn't suit you. I think you can learn about yourself. I also think that you take risks when you want to give your opponent a good run. For each of my stories in this competition I have taken a risk.
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Sialia said:
Feel free to tell us more about Papa and Auntie. I'm listening.

I have been thinking about this for a few hours. Should I answer this? I only pause because it is where the preachy part of the story starts to develop. So, I will answer, because you have asked. However, there might be some people that don't want to know. They may have their own ideas. So, I think I will put it in spoiler tags. For those unfamilair with spoiler tags ... they prevent you from inadvertently seeing part of the story being explained. That might "spoil" the experience for you. The rest of the post will show up as black on black, if you are using the default theme. If you want to read the spoiler text, just highlight it. Otherwise, move along to the next post. :)

Papa and Auntie - What are they to me? I tried to foreshadow and imply just a little bit. But, I didn't want to clobber over the head with it. I will take two lines from my story and cut out the obfuscating text in between.

“Have faith Jake, the Sky Father and the Earth Mother will aid us.”
But first, Little Bird wished to visit her Grandfather and Auntie.

I can't tell you if Papa/Grandfather was the Sky Father, or just a spirit aspect of the Sky Father. Nor can I tell you if Auntie was the Earth mother incarnate. But, if these two characters were not the Sky Father and the Earth Mother, they were closely associated with them. Let me give you a little more backstory.

Little Bird knew where her brother went, and what he was doing. She knew he had lost his respect for the earth, and the four-leggeds as well as the two leggeds. She prayed for her brother, she prayed for the earth. Her brother didn't respond, but the earth did. The Sky Father sent a spirit to bouy her spirits, to laugh as the wind does and to breath life. The Earth mother sent a spirit to lend her strength, strength to undertake the task that Little Bird knew she must do. She had to prepare the way, without bitterness and anger and hate. Her power was through love and respect. She loved her brother, she loved the earth, she loved that Jake left Rainmaker because he couldn't be a part of it any longer. She sacrificed herself so that the earth would be better, her brother would be free and so that Jake could stop hating himself for what he had been. In the end, she died without fear because she knew that the Sky Father and the Earth Mother blessed her, and she knew that through her actions, things would be better.

Jake didn't know any of that. Jake was filled with self-loathing and pain and hate because of his suppoirt for a coporate machine that did not care for the lives it ruined. He couldn't bear the thought that he was responsible for all those happy people whose lives were ruined. He thought that by quitting, he could distance himself from that. But, on a deep level, he knew that by not doing anything about it, he was implicitly supporting them. So, he turned to alcohol and moved down to the coast. If he was drunk enough, he could watch the storms move in off the gulf and temporarily forget that they would soon be captured and controlled by Rainmaker. When he was sober, he couldn't pretend that Rainmaker didn't exist.

Auntie sent Little Bird to find Jake. The Earth Mother needed somebody that could walk the road prepared by Little Bird. Auntie would lend her strength to the person capable of following through. Love is countered by hate. Peace by violence. The earth sometimes appears to be careless of the desires of the two leggeds. And why shouldn't the Sky Father and Earth Mother be careless of our desires? It's a big planet and there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of. People live, and people die. Jake was practically dead anyway. Little Bird gave him hope. Auntie gave him strength. Papa gave him power over air so he could fly. (Yes, I know I wrote that as Uncle. Even I have no idea why that showed up in the story like that. Remember those inexcusable editing errors I mentioned? This is one of them.)

After Dancing Bull was created, Auntie gave of her hide (the cloak) and her flesh (the steak) so that Dancing Bull would be strong.

The buffalo represent the strength and bounty of the earth. They churn the dirt so new plants can grow. They give of their flesh to feed and clothe the People.

In a very symbolic sense, Auntie lent her aspects to Dancing Bull.

So, while Jake comes across as the protagonist of the story, he is really just doing the bidding of the Sky Father and the Earth Mother, embodied as Papa and Auntie, with Little Bird's help.

As an interesting aside, Sheryl did call him Grandfather. For her, that was her ideal for gentle, kind wisdom. He told Jake to call him Papa because that is what Jake called his grandfather. If there were a third character, there might have been yet another name. Hmm, perhaps that is where Uncle came from?

Back to the story. The underlying theme gets a bit preachy here. What are we doing to our planet? We have to live here, why are we trying to mess it up? Am I always this bitter and disillusioned? No, I'm not. Rainmaker, to me, represents a really bad corporation gone badly awry. This is fiction, so I can go to extremes. We have a corporation using advanced technology (even if it is called magic, it is technology in this fantasy world) to destroy the environment so they can make a few lousy bucks. It doesn't matter how many lives, families and ecosystems are destroyed, they need to improve the bottom line and make more profit. Papa and Auntie are the displeased Spirits that are here to help set things right. And since man made this mess, then man will start trying to fix it. Sheryl volunteered, Jake was recruited, Rainmaker was destroyed.

Anyway, I hope that they didn't come across as goofy characters that were introduced solely to fulfill the picture requirements. I mean, sure that is why they took those particular forms. But, that pic is hardly a throwaway in the context of who Papa and Auntie are.

Yeah, I am babbling. It's late and I am tired.
Turning off spoiler text now.
Will it be enough? That's an interesting question. As I said before, I think this is just a single event. There are other things happening in the world. Those could be interesting stories to tell.


Page 3? Insufferable!

OK, now that I have been officially knocked out of the running, I can go back and read all the stories. Yay! I expect to start filling this thread with my initial reactions as I read the stories.

Early on in the contest, I realized that there would be far more posts than there are stories. I had been trying to go through one of the old Tourneys to find a story to point a friend at. I realized that it is very hard to go through these things if you are just looking for the stories. So, I built a little menu, of sorts. I have been updating it and I email Piratecat so he can use it on the first page of the thread. This will make it immensely easier for people down the road to read the stories. I would like to go back through the other Ceramic DM tourneys and do the same thing for those when I have time. So, Clay, I will probably email you something along these lines one day. Mythago too, or I will have Piratecat forward it if your email is private. :) But, I am including the menu here, now, because I can and I will be using it to go back and read everyone's story, and then comment.

Quicklinks to Photos, Stories and Judgements:
Use these to avoiding wading through all the discussion between stories.

First Round
1 Pictures - Alish2o vs Cool Hand Luke - Judgement
2 Pictures - Macbeth vs Thullgrim - Judgement
3 Pictures - Berandor vs Drose25 - Judgement
4 Pictures - Mythago vs Orchid Blossom - Judgement
5 Pictures - Tzor vs Zhaneel - Judgement
6 Pictures - RangerWickett vs Speaker - Judgement
7 Pictures - WanderingMonster vs BardStephenFox - Judgement
8 Pictures - NiTessine vs Francisca - Judgement

Second Round (Winners of First Round competitions)
1 Pictures - Alish2o vs Macbeth - Judgement
2 Pictures - Mythago vs Drose25 - Judgement
3 Pictures - BardStephenFox vs NiTessine - Judgement
4 Pictures - Zhaneel vs RangerWickett - Judgement

Third Round (Winners of Second Round competition)
1 Pictures - Macbeth vs BardStephenFox - Judgement
2 Pictures - Mythago vs Zhaneel - Judgement

Final (Winners of Third Round competition)
Pictures - Macbeth vs Mythago - Judgement

Related Links:
Ceramic DM Contests
Ceramic DM - December 2002
Ceramic DM - January 2003
Ceramic DM - March 2003
Ceramic DM - April 2003
Ceramic DM - June 2003
Ceramic DM - August 2003 (Spycraft & Modern themed)
Ceramic DM - October 2003
Ceramic DM - January 2004

Ceramic DM Inspired stories without the time limits.
Ceramic DM, the home version
Kiln-Fired Ceramic DM

And finally ... Instant Feedback a thread that has commentary on the stories, where the judges won't see it and possibly become "biased".

Now, how was that for a fancy bump?
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Zhaneel said:
Damn, BSF. That is FABOULOUS!


Thanks! Though, are you referring to the nifty menu that makes it easier to find everything, or to my explanation on Papa and Auntie?


Clockwork Golem
Odd, I completely forgot that I originally volunteered to compete in the first ceramic DM :\ Good to see my complete inability to schedule the chaos of general life was a problem way back then as well :)


Round 1-5 - Zhaneel - The One

Ouch! Damn, that is harsh. I was just starting to kinda care about Karen when she was whacked. Again, Ouch!

OK, what do I say about this? (Besides Ouch.)

I can empathize a bit with Karen. High School can be tough. Heck, I was a 4-year letterman and I hardly fit in with most of the cliques. That feeling of constantly being ignored and then embracing that as a method of dealing with it is an interesting take. You conveyed that pretty well.

Void's attention and how he was slowly drawing her out is really nice. The first real attention she has had focused on her for who she is. Not as an annoyance, but as somebody that Void seems to actually like and care for. The interplay of her emotions seemed to work a bit too cleanly for me. Emotions are messy at times and it felt like hers were riding in perfect tune to what the story needed. Just enough self-doubt, slowly welling up and the peak of self-confidence. It felt more like a gentle wave of emotion instead of a jarring roller coaster. I'm not saying she needed to be a stereotypical mess, but in high school, emotions seemed to rapidly raise you up and then crash you back down. That was what it felt like for me and seemed to be the way many people I knew also felt, when you could get them to admit to feeling anything. Of course, maybe other people didn't have that experience and I am projecting too personally? In any case, that build up of self-confidence was working nicely after the high priest blessed her. I was actually thinking she might come out of it having done something positive and that the story would be about her burgeoning self confidence. But no, let's kill her instead. Ouch! Nicely done.


Is there a way to bookmark that particular post?

Edit: duh. Never mind. I'll leave this post for the bump value, though.
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Upper right of each post has a Post # in thread. (Like this one is probably 40 if nobody posted while writing this) Click on that. It will open up the post in a seperate window. You can then bookmark that.

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