Mini Encounter Contest: Heat One

Select your choice of winner

  • Put to the Sword

    Votes: 17 20.0%
  • Catch As Catch Can

    Votes: 9 10.6%
  • The Centaur's Very Bad Day

    Votes: 6 7.1%
  • L'amour de Erinyes

    Votes: 12 14.1%
  • Harmonies in the Snow

    Votes: 11 12.9%
  • Bad Cats Day

    Votes: 6 7.1%
  • The Portal

    Votes: 8 9.4%
  • *Cough*, I Feel *Cough* Great!

    Votes: 3 3.5%
  • An Unexpected Visitor Drops In

    Votes: 13 15.3%

  • Poll closed .

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Mini Encounter Competition: Heat One

This is the first round of voting to find out who will win the mini-encounter competition. I have randomly selected 9 entries for this heat. Please read them carefully and vote on the best. The winner of this heat will go through to the final. Each heat will last approximately two days.

When considering these entries, please take into account the following factors:
  • Did the author follow the competition rules?
    [*]Are the location and the NPC useful independently of each other and of the encounter itself?
    [*]Is the encounter one that can be easily inserted into most campaigns?
    [*]Is the encounter clear and easy to run?


Here are the entries for Heat One:


Please vote for your choice of winner. Feel free to review or comment on the entries in this thread.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Repost - Comments on Heat One Entries

Reposted from earlier:

Well, I'm gonna take the plunge, and comment on all the specific entries in this first batch. I'm not doing this to be critical of people, or judge them or their entry, or influence votes in any way. I'm only doing this because I know that I like honest feedback on my work, and I assume others want that as well. That said, I'm not looking for a debate on my opinions (they are just my opinions, which means they are only worth whatever value you put on them, which is probably none .) I also won't mention who I voted for in each batch.

To make sure I don't influence people's votes in any way in favor of my entry (I just entered the contest for fun, to get my feet wet on writing adventures in preparation for other contests that have more serious prizes at stake), I've asked a friend of mine to write their own opinion of my entry, and I have/will insert that opinion in the appropriate place instead of my own. That friend is fairly critical of stuff, so it probably won't help my chances (as if anyone really cares). Maybe my entry is in this first batch, and maybe not .

A brief word on this discussion about the rules. Pretend for a moment you are writing an adventure for Dragon Magazine and/or Dungeon. They have editorial (and time constraint) rules that you MUST MUST MUST obey. There is no spirit of the rules, there is no sorta-follows-the-rules. You follow them, or you get rejected. Period. This contest is, in a way, a test for people who want to write adventures for various d20 publishers in the future. In that sense, following the rules may be more important than the content of your entry. So, I am personally placing a lot of emphasis on your ability to follow the rules when voting. But then, I am a lawyer by trade, so I am probably way more anal about that sort of stuff than others.

Enough ranting, on to the entries:

Put to the Sword (EL 2) Nice encounter, and I really like the fresh background provided for the Feast of the Kindred and the Quest of Draahl. However, each element (encounter, setting, and NPC) is directly linked to the other elements. It’s fine to link the encounter itself to the NPC and location (expected even). It isn’t okay to have, under this set of rules, the location (labeled specifically for Therva and the alligator), and the NPC (who’s description is directly linked to the encounter and location) linked to the others.

Catch As Catch Can (EL 3) I really liked this encounter, and found it very sweet in some ways. Perhaps it’s because I have a friend who likes fishing, and who I can see getting in trouble in the same was as the old halfling did here. However, the “location” lacks a bit on the details (as in, it has NO details, other than it’s just calm water). I can’t really reuse that “location”. Would have been nice to have more substance here to use (like something in the water making fish grow big, or some reason why nobody else is fishing this location, or a halfling village to go with the river, or a dock, an island, anything.) Also, the font used is Verdana, not Times New Roman. However, Verdana doesn’t save space for the author (in fact, I think it is even a slightly larger font than Times New Roman), so I wouldn’t ding the author much for use of the wrong font in this case.

The Centaur's Very Bad Day (EL 6) I like the NPC, Vhellk, and I like how easily this encounter can be adapted to almost any level of PC’s for a short encounter. However, he is linked to the encounter in the description, and the location is labeled for the encounter, and not for independent use (there is no independent legend for A, B, and C on the encounter, and Vhellk is basically listed as an icon on the map, though a cool icon at that).

L'amour de Erinyes (EL 7) I liked the background on the Erinyes and her curse. However the location is linked to the NPC. Though the author attempts to avoid this link, without the NPC, a DM would just have to make up one virtually identical to the one offered. The NPC is also linked to the encounter. Without the encounter, we have no idea who Delzegorx or what the references to her background mean.

Harmonies in the Snow (EL 8) Very interesting. I particularly like the singing crystals that produce spells in the Singing Valley, and may adapt them for use in my campaign. Only flaw is the bard faerie dragon is directly linked to the location in his description, though this could be fixed without too much hassle.

Bad Cats Day (EL 8-16) I like Kaihus, and thought it was particularly unique to combine Lycanthropy with a Psion class. The Location references Kaihus pretty heavily, however, and it seems the author, almost as an afterthought, tried to separate the valley location from Kaihus at the last minute (though it doesn’t work as well without him, since you now need a justification for such a diverse pack of felines living together near the carving). Kaihus’ description also references the location a bit (in mentioning the cats becoming lazy because of his tactics in attracting people to the valley), though is easily removed.

The Portal (EL 12) I liked the tower challenges, and it reminded me a bit of a deadlier version of the Xanth castle challenges from Piers Anthony (at least, those I read before Piers became a formula hack in this series). However, Angrax, the tower’s NPC guardian, is directly linked to both the encounter and the location. Pretty much his whole being is wrapped up in the location at this point, and I don’t see how useful he would be outside of the context of the location (though I suppose with some work you could change what he is guarding).

*Cough*, I Feel *Cough* Great! (EL 14) My first impression of this encounter is that the author felt the need to seriously mess with the margins of the document in order to fit it all in three pages, and that isn’t in the spirit of the rules (in fact, I believe some printers would have trouble printing this document without readjusting the margins and pushing it to a fourth page). Despite the margin issue, there’s a lot to like about this encounter. The goddess is an interesting NPC, and her ploy to bilk peasants out of their possessions is well thought out, as is her background. Unfortunately, the location has no meaning outside of the NPC, and is tailored specifically to the encounter.

An Unexpected Visitor Drops In (EL 18) In my opinion, this is the only entry of this first batch that actually completely follows the rules. The location makes no mention of the encounter or NPC, and the NPC makes no mention of the encounter or location, and the encounter nicely ties the location and NPC together. That said, this is a fairly interesting entry. Aharon Yediot is a powerful, well thought-out NPC. I can see him being put into a high-level campaign in almost any location (any plane, for that matter). The egg too is very powerful, well-described, and easily located anywhere (except the positive and negative planes). Finally, the map at the end is helpful, while the illustration is rather beautiful. One note: The height of any given level in the Egg is, at most, 6 feet (and probably a bit less, accounting for the thickness of each floor/roof and the shell itself). This probably should have been mentioned, since some PC’s may have to crouch down to fit. Also, the Egg appears to be built to hold one person, and I’m curious how many people the author thinks the Egg could hold comfortably, or uncomfortably. Reader’s should take note of the EL 18 for this encounter. That is an accurate EL I think, and the Egg would be too powerful in the hands of an inexperienced party.

Mistwell
 

fba827

Adventurer
poll closing time ?

Morrus (or someone) could you post the closing date for this poll (ie last day / time GMT) that this poll will be accessible ?

The reason I ask is because I am busy now but I figure through the week I'll read the submissions and then put in my actual vote by week's end. Of course, if the poll is going to be closed by then my plan would have been foiled! -- you blasted kids and that dog. ;)

So, long story short, can you put in a "Poll Closed" date and time GMT -- that will be defined as the time at which the poll will be closed/taken away (no more votes after chosen time).

I'm guessing the plan is for it to be up for about a week? more or less?
 

tenelo

First Post
Some musings on the rules

When I vote, I'm with Mistwell on my first concern being with whether the entry followed the rules. There weren't very many rules, nor were they particularly difficult to follow. Writing to a word or page limit is always a challenge, but I thought that was part of the point in this case.

It may be harsh, but if I'd been administering the contest, I'd have disqualified entries that didn't meet the guidelines. I'd have posted them separately so the authors could receive feedback, but only allowed voting on ones that followed the rules. Obviously it would be a judgement call on the part of the administrator as to what degree of latitude was allowed for things like resizing margins, etc. but blatant errors such as more than 1 page for encounter, NPC or location aren't within the rules and should be disqualified.

The above is my opinion - it is not intended as criticism of the way the contest is being run, or of the people running it.

What I do hope people take into account in their voting is the independant reuseability of encounter, location and NPC, and the ease of dropping any or all of them into any campaign. I tried not to use/reference anything that was not in the core 3 books, unless the new rule/monster/item was explicitly explained in the text of the NPC/location/encounter. Personally, my current campaign doesn't use psionics, so as an example any encounter that used psionics would be more difficult for me to use, unless options for converting it to a non-psionic encounter were presented. Equally, links between location and NPC make them more difficult to reuse separately, something I have seen in the majority of the entries I have read.

I'm guilty of that one myself, but more through lack of space than intent. I hope the links are tenuous enough to be easily ignored, but it's one of the things I'd fix if I were revising my entry. I'd wanted to present two paragraphs on my NPC, one general (background, motivation etc) and one more specific to use in the encounter. As it was, space limitations meant I had to make it one longer paragraph.

I've been more impressed overall by the ideas in the contest than the execution, and there are plenty I'd consider using, but I wouldn't vote for them if I didn't feel they'd met the challenge and stayed within the rules.

My two coppers, YMMV.
 

Napftor

Explorer
Re: poll closing time ?

fba827 said:
Morrus (or someone) could you post the closing date for this poll (ie last day / time GMT) that this poll will be accessible ?

The reason I ask is because I am busy now but I figure through the week I'll read the submissions and then put in my actual vote by week's end. Of course, if the poll is going to be closed by then my plan would have been foiled! -- you blasted kids and that dog. ;)

So, long story short, can you put in a "Poll Closed" date and time GMT -- that will be defined as the time at which the poll will be closed/taken away (no more votes after chosen time).

I'm guessing the plan is for it to be up for about a week? more or less?

Perhaps you missed this..."Each heat will last approximately two days. " Feel free to read the entire post next time. ;)
 

Re: Some musings on the rules

tenelo said:
... but blatant errors such as more than 1 page for encounter, NPC or location aren't within the rules and should be disqualified.

Of course, some of us DID get special permission from Morrus to interpret the rules in a less strict manner when we were writing our encounters, and I think that should be kept in mind as well.

In my case, I asked if it would be okay for some of my "location text" to spill over onto the fourth page we were allowed for maps. He said 'yes'. If I hadn't received permission to do so, I wouldn't have done it. His permission indicated to me that some of the rules aren't completely black and white.

Regards,
Corporate Dog
 

tenelo

First Post
Having received permission to do so, of course you could extend your text. However, this does raise a couple of issues.

In a contest, the rules should be the same for everyone, for the sake of fairness. It is my opinion (and only my opinion) that there should not be exceptions made for some people who ask and not for those who chose to abide by the rules as stated. If some entries are submitted against a different standard than others, then there start to be issues of some people having what might be considered an unfair advantage.

Is there a note on your entry stating that you had permission to bend the rules? If there isn't, since one of the voting criteria Morrus posted was "Did the author follow the competition rules?", you may lose out on votes from people who assume that you simply couldn't follow the rules. Of course, if there is a note on your entry, it identifies it, which may change voting patterns all by itself.

As a side note, it is my opinon (usual disclaimers apply) that one of the rules, along with format etc. should have been that entries not have the author's name as part of the file containing the encounter. Annonymous submission would better assist voting on merits. Irrelevant now, but possibly something to think about if/when another contest like this happens.
 

xjp

First Post
The way the rules are stated and based on the way other contests have been handled, I would not assume the rules to be absolutes. Stay close enough and you should be ok, stray too far and you are bound to lose some votes.
 

tenelo

First Post
My first ENWorld contest, no prior experience to draw on. I'm not looking to lecture, criticise or offend, just offering my opinions.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I think it would have been nice to have seen a sample entry that Morrus felt met the rules prior to the start of the contest.

I've heard some wild interpretations of the rules myself. For example, someone thought that "using the NPC outside the encounter" meant the PC's could not fight the NPC, because the NPC would die and not be usable again in that campaign. I think that is confusing the words "outside the encounter" with the words "after the encounter", but that's just a sample of odd rules interpretations that people can come up with without a template to go off of.
 

tenelo

First Post
I agree that a template entry would have been hugely helpful. I started with the impression that even the encounter should be reuseable without the location or NPC presented with it, and wrote my entry on that premise. (leaving it til a couple of hours before deadline was stupid, I grant you, but I always wrote my best essays at University in late night/early morning sessions before 9am deadlines).

On a completely unrelated point, is anybody else surprised at the relatively low voter turnout compared to when this was an open poll on the main news page?
 

tenelo said:
Is there a note on your entry stating that you had permission to bend the rules?

Nope. That would've taken up valuable writing space. ;)
And in spite of what my last post said, I didn't really take it to be "special permission" as in, "Go ahead, you can break the rules but the others can't." Instead, I was looking for the official interpetation.

The rules DO state that only four pages are allowed, and then they dictate what SHOULD be on each page. I was asking Morrus whether or not the page content rule was a recommendation or something that was set in stone.


If there isn't, since one of the voting criteria Morrus posted was "Did the author follow the competition rules?", you may lose out on votes from people who assume that you simply couldn't follow the rules.

Which of course, is why I urge people to use a less strict interpretation of the rules. :) I don't mind losing if my entry is of a clearly lesser quality than the winner. I'd hate to lose over vague rules minutia, though.

Regards,
Corporate Dog
 
Last edited:

tenelo said:
On a completely unrelated point, is anybody else surprised at the relatively low voter turnout compared to when this was an open poll on the main news page?

Not really. I bet a lot of people come here to read the news off the front page, and never really delve into the forums. I was like that until the contest was announced. :)

Since you need a forum account to vote (which takes a little effort on your part), since there's no announcement on the front page yet, and since the participation for message threads in this forum about the contest have had a relatively low amount of interest, the numbers are about what I would expect.

Oh, and nobody seems to be able to stuff the ballot box here either.

Regards,
Corporate Dog
 

EOL

First Post
Morrus,

A couple of requests, if you could keep this thread open after the voting is over I would appreciate it. I'd like to comment, but since I have a horse in this race (and no friend to write a review like Mistwell) I don't want to give anything away. Secondly I would kind of like to see a better turn out on the voting, would it be possible to post a message about it under the home page news. I know I've gone through phases where I didn't hit the messageboards much (though I had an account) and just kept up with the news.

Thanks.
 



omedon

First Post
:D

Seriously though, with 60 entries each 3 pages long that is 180 pages. A lot of material for a regular joe like myself to sift through to make his vote fair.

I would like to participate in the voting, but I just don't have time to read all of the encounters, and it wouldn't be fair the contestants for me to cast a vote unless I did. It makes sense that only those with a vested interest in the contest would sacrafice the time to make sure it was run fairly.

I will just have to leave it to you guys.
 
Last edited:

tenelo

First Post
You do only need to read them in batches of about 27 pages over a couple of days, since Morrus is running the voting in heats. You get to vote in each heat, so you're only comparing the entries in each heat at any given time, you don't have to pick one winner out of 70 (or whatever the total was).

The votes seem to be far more evenly distributed this time round than previously, anybody care to hazzard a guess as to why? I'm always fascinated by voting pattens and things like that. I really hope that we can have a couple of feedback threads after the voting is complete, where people can explain why they voted for which encounter.
 

Wicht

Hero
The votes seem to be far more evenly distributed this time round than previously, anybody care to hazzard a guess as to why? I'm always fascinated by voting pattens and things like that. I really hope that we can have a couple of feedback threads after the voting is complete, where people can explain why they voted for which encounter.

The votes do seem to fall into the pattern of distribution you would expect (as opposed to the ridiculous patterns of the original votes) though it would be nice if a few more voted. Two days personally seems to short a time but then again I would like to see the end results within my lifetime :)

I voted for Bad Cat's day myself just because i like cats for one and two because I thought it followed the rules more or less without being "over the top," or "one dimensional."
 

Wicht said:
The votes do seem to fall into the pattern of distribution you would expect (as opposed to the ridiculous patterns of the original votes)

I AM slightly curious, however, as to how many of the votes were made by new users. :)

With the voting as neck and neck as it is, even one fake vote could tip the scales...

Regards,
Corporate Dog
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top