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--Rob

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  1. Introduction I've written, deleted, and re-written an introduction to this thread about a dozen times now. My biggest concern, perhaps, is striking the balance between professionalism and formality, while simultaneously avoiding the overly formulaic and artificially produced phrases that an empirical document can present as. I want this to be perceived as an open and friendly conversation. Yet, despite that, I also feel like the event needs a firm sense of structure and organization. After all, the larger the scale, the more important methodical arrangements become. Luckily, at the end of the day, this is just a fun project on a role-playing website. So let's jump right to it and see what happens. All of the questions will be in quotes from the person who originally asked them. Some of the questions will be edited, which will be indicated by a red font. None of the challenges call for writing by yourself, unless you are in a 1x1 and your collaborator no-shows the thread and/or consistently needs skipping. Threads may have any number of players depending on 1.) What the situation calls for. 2.) How many people are in each round. As for the writing challenges themselves, let’s start with this: “What is the best way to write a story?” The short reply to that, of course, is that there isn’t one. Writing as an art form is beautiful in its ability to take so many different forms and shapes to communicate one’s ideas. All of the challenges have prompts with varying details, instructions, and stylistic requirements. Some will be more in-depth than others. You can expect to see different types of settings, themes, genres, tenses, and narration. With that said, a lot is also left to the player. The goal of the event is to be selective enough to create a fun and unique experience for the players, but without being so restrictive that the feeling of free-form role-play is lost. Below is the prototype of a writing challenge that will be used during the event. As you read through the example, keep in mind that despite being a competitive event, this is still role-playing, and much of role-play is collaborative. Communication between players may be needed (and is encouraged) to tell the best story with the information provided. 1.) Scenario: A nationally known laboratory located in the middle of a large desert has recently gone on lock down. The lab is famous for its efforts to create a “universal vaccine” by using magic. While these efforts have failed so far, their research has developed advanced healing practices for non-magic-using doctors. While the doctors are still a far cry from healing mages, the quality of healthcare for the general population has substantially increased. Rumors suggest that their latest experiment has accidentally created the opposite problem: a magic-based disease that may result in a terrible pandemic. The Mission: Three people are attempting to gather more information about the laboratory. Each individual has a personal relationship with someone who works and is trapped at the facility, but communication is bidirectionally shut down. The government has erected a circular enclosure surrounding the lab that extends one-hundred and twenty-eight miles in diameter. After being rejected by the guards at the only known entrance, it becomes obvious that something is very wrong and the entire set-up is even more uneasy than the limited news reports suggest. The three people – who were turned back at roughly the same time and each heard the woes of the others - decide to cooperate and break through the enclosure and travel to the lab the hard way. The Challenges: Despite an easy "person versus nature" set-up, this thread should be a thriller, and is to be written in third person present tense. [username1]’s character must be a female with low-level cyromancy. While in the desert, she cannot manifest ice, but can muster just enough water for the trio to make the journey, albeit uncomfortably. [username2]’s character can visually detect heat signatures. The fatigue from the adventure, as well as the heat of the desert itself, makes it difficult for their senses to function properly. However – despite some occasional false positives – this power allows the group to mostly avoid the guard’s search efforts, who are trying to stop them. [username3]’s character is open, so long as their powers and abilities cannot – in any way – provide supplement or assistance to the other two’s abilities. That is to say, they cannot create, manipulate, or magically interact with water of any sort, nor can they detect other individuals outside of a normal person’s means. They also cannot have innate characteristics or powers that make traveling through a desert inconsequential. If this character can “sense magic” in general, they will (without knowing why) become progressively confused, feel overwhelmed and anxious, and acquire a sense of “impending doom” as they get closer to the laboratory. Restrictions to Plot Details: Anything not addressed by this challenge can be made up by the players. While subsequent threads continuing this story may ret-con certain details, each player in this thread should respect any creative decisions as canon while here. The results of any NPC interaction are up to the players. Mandatory Outcome: All three characters – after trials and tribulations - successfully reach the laboratory…only to find it obliterated into gravel. In its place is a crater, being analyzed by officials of various governments in heavy protective clothing. Upon the revelation of the “big reveal,” [username1] and [username2] will feel ill but attribute it to the desert. [username3] will feel the same if they cannot sense magic. If they can sense magic, they will experience a panic attack and pass out. Post Limit: This thread will end regardless of progress if it reaches page six. Time Limit: This thread will end regardless of progress on September 19th. Player Posting: Players may be skipped if they do not respond within 48 hours. Upon request, a dungeon master will use random dice rolls to determine the outcome of an interaction on behalf of a skipped player. However, this process is not mandatory, and the person posting after a skipped player may also detail an outcome, so long as it does not violate any previously established instructions or power-play. In the beginning…: Posting order goes [username2], [username3], [username1]. The thread begins with the three characters in a relatively nearby restaurant finalizing the details of their plan. Time skips and setting skips may be used as is required for the story. Dungeon Master Intervention: A DM will intervene [1] time during this thread. It will occur on page three. One of the benefits of roleplay, of course, is that you can always wear the shoe if it fits. The story takes place outside of “Valucre the world.” We made this decision to allow proof of concept while minimizing outside influences – both in character and out of character. Providing that we have a successful inaugural year, exploring options of canonization and lore into subsequent Valucre Invitationals is on the agenda. In order words, you may need to stretch the shoe first. It depends on the prompt. You may not always be assigned to a challenge where a pre-existing character is comfortably usable. As long as the prompt is being followed, however, you're free to play whoever and however. This is my favorite question. I wish I could take the time to write an essay answering it. I appreciate how important a positive writing experience is to everyone, and quite frankly, that’s what everybody deserves. While I’ll be skipping the essay for the sake of brevity, I hope you’ll find my answer helpful. There are many causes to a negative issue, with just as many ways that it can manifest. So, I will be more of a “shotgun” than a “sniper” in regards to directly addressing specific points. Ultimately, I hope everyone understands that people are their own person, and are perceived as products of their own decisions. With that said, let’s briefly highlight and explore five distinct layers of prevention that are relevant to this concern. 1.) You. a. People who just want to grow, try something new, and have fun are the ones who will drive this event and make it a success. Even if someone exemplifying a positive role model doesn’t enter directly, just by being a part of the conversation and experience, you’re influencing the hospitality of the event. 2.) The nature of pre-determined outcomes. a. Most role-playing toxicity stems from ego, disagreements on logical consequences, and a lack of collaboration. All of these issues typically involve influences over the outcome as it relates to an individual’s character, artifact, or setting. The Valucre Invitational has the in-character outcome of each challenge determined in advance. This eliminates most of the ability to argue in of itself. 3.) The judges, the judging process, and upfront declarations. a. Another section in this thread investigates judging. Read part “C.” of that answer. 4.) Valucre as a family. a. Valucre is a website of values. These values have grown a community that, over time, established a reputation which justifies its high ranking among role-play forums. b. The culture of Valucre is that of a welcoming and open environment. This is not to be confused with weakness. As the saying goes, if you can’t play ball, you won’t make it on the field. 5.) Me. a. Would you take my hand and join me for a walk along the river? We can talk about life, the universe, and everything. As we stroll about and the sun begins to set, you just might see that some people can inspire a wonderful spirit in others. I won’t be so bold to suggest I am such a person. But I will be bold enough to say I’ll try. The length of each challenge will vary based on what it is and how many people are in it. Each challenge has both a time limit and post limit to ensure the event advances on schedule. These limits are not always the same. The time inbetween each challenge will be a week. Assuming you go from start to finish, you can comfortably project there will be five rounds spread across four months. Two main ways immediately come to mind. 1.) Sometimes, the challenges are IC-Cooperative instead of IC-Uncooperative (see the example already provided). 2.) Hard selling the underdog factor, if that isn't the theme of the challenge, will actually work against you, since you'll be wasting effort on the wrong element. No. This also isn't necessary to, at least somewhat, alleviate your concern (see below). a. The judges come from varied backgrounds and each have distinct tastes and interests. One judge doesn't even know the current people on this website and will be judging based solely on the content. b. When it comes to events such as these, a lot of people will sell you on the idea of objectivity and a perfect, free-of-bias decision-making process. There’s no snake oil here. Beyond certain structural and foundational rules, the enjoyment of writing and storytelling comes down to personal preference. So, how are winners determined? If all else is equal? Personal preference. This is the same as almost every other (non-technical) writing contest - at least that I’m aware of. c. To rephrase the above, but way more bluntly: This is a tournament to have fun with challenging prompts and encourage activity for a possible gift at the end. As far as potential entrants are concerned, it should be assumed winners are chosen arbitrarily, although this is not actually the case. d. As a general recommendation: common elements such as detailed descriptions, pacing and flow, character consistency and development, creativity, etc., will be taken into consideration. Minimum event size for function is 8. Minimum event size for prizes is 16. Let the conversation continue. Cheers.
  2. Discuss! Feel free to spread the word, be excited, and ask questions. Official responses to any questions will be made in the upcoming FAQ thread.
  3. --Rob

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