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The Ronnies, September 2005

Started by Ron Edwards, September 04, 2005, 10:54:27 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

Here's the single thread for running commentary, questions & answers, and general schtuff about the September 2005 Ronnies. Check out Introducing a new contest for the rules.

So far? First day? Two submissions, one from the illustrious Jared Sorensen and one from the inimitable Ben Lehman. The question is not, who will vanquish whom, but rather, is either up to snuff? Do I want to play these gleaming, crystalline gems? The answer has twenty days to percolate.

That's right! Twenty more days of accepting submissions to the Ronnies. To recap the rules in clear & full form:

1. Write a 24-hour RPG according to the rules at their site (and I'll talk more about those rules in just a moment). Submit it there through the usual and very clear process.

2. Once you've submitted it, let me know you've done so, using email, to Do not use PM or a post here at the Forge (I want all the documentation in one way, one format, one place).

3. After September 24th, I announce who gets Ronnies. Remember: one, some, all, or none of the contestants will get one.

Criteria are listed in the parent thread, but to repeat them here:

QuoteIt has to include exactly two, no more and no less, of the four terms I'll provide for each given time period.

"Include" means as a significant component of the game, not just a mention or an arbitrary label for an attribute. If you'd like, think in terms of my five components of Exploration (Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color). Remember, two of the terms. Using more than two of them is not extra credit; it will make your game ineligible.

The time period that I designate is important. If you submit a game after the deadline for those terms, it's ineligible. I hope everyone understands that I am talking about real time and the dates of submission, not the in-game setting time period.

There are no other restrictions on the contest submissions aside from merely being a role-playing game.

I plan to keep this going for quite a while, in fact, as long as I can stand it. As soon as one time period is over and winners are decided, then I'll post a new time period and four new terms.

Criteria for winning are as follows.

1. It's not a pain in my ass to read. Conciseness is a virtue, and if you want to use colorful wordbrush, it'd better be good.

2. I want to play the game. This is utterly subjective on my part and depends as well on the vagaries and relationships among my fellow role-players in our groups.

3. I don't have to guess or extend the content of the game in order to play through and repeat "reward cycles" for it. In other words, it's not just a resolution system or a bunch of funny genre information.

Strong warning: do not try to ramp up the "innovative" dial in order to impress me. I am easily annoyed by this tactic and already have seen and playtested things you cannot spell, so don't try. Concentrate instead on clarity, playability, and the fruitful interactions among character creation, resolution, and reward.

Now for the important part of this post. I want to make a very strong statement about the 24-Hour RPG concept, which is obviously related to this contest.

The statement is: the nature, intent, and benefit of this concept is badly misunderstood by many people. They think it's a kind of Iron Man thing, that only the roughest and toughest, the best and the brightest, have a chance of succeeding at this teeth-gritting and mind-threatening challenge. This is utter bullshit. Just as with the 24-Hour Comic, the point is not how hard it is, but rather how easy. You don't have time to fuck around with pleasing anyone else, especially for this contest. Note my standards carefully; you cannot successfully guess at what I might like to play, so simply must please yourself. You don't have time to put in stuff that "should" be there according to conventional wisdom (which for RPGs is clearly conventional stupidity). It is possible to write an RPG you don't like over the course of several months or a year; it's practically impossible to do so in 24 hours.

The consequences of misinterpreting this crucial point are vast. People try to make it harder than it is. They re-cast the guidelines as brutal, impossible standards and then hold themselves to them. Here are the most common examples. Let me absolutely clear: All of the following is total bullshit.

"1. Inspiration must arrive during the 24 hours. The entire creative process must be encompassed in those 24 hours. Nothing can arise from any influences, thoughts, notions, or what-ifs that date before that time. You can't even get inspired, then start the clock, 'cause that's cheating too.
"2. You can't even friggin' ask anyone how to do something on your computer, for layout or format or whatever. No, you must lock yourself in a wretched garret and dine on Saltines alone, with only the gifts God gave you.
"3. The rules, setting, and so forth cannot have any antecedents whatsoever in your role-playing history. No! All original, all the time, total innovation, from the moment of inspiration in the 24 hours."

Lest someone misread this list as criteria, let me put it plainly again: All of the foregoing is total bullshit.
Frankly, I think this is a defensive, loser posture: "Oh, I won't cheat. I'm an artist of integrity. [and then, later] Oh, well, see, I couldn't find the time or concentration to do it to the most rigorous standards, and rather than cheat, I'll pass. I could have finished a fine little game, but I won't, because I'm so virtuous." It's an arrant and grotesque way to justify what a big wanker you are being.

Look, people, the point is to make games without having time to second-guess yourself and distract yourself by crusting on a bunch of pseudo-industry crap in lieu of making sure all the parts are there. This is an easy and fun way to make games. Let's say in the future that one of the four words I provide is, oh, beer. Wow! You say. I had an idea for a fun beer-ish role-playing game a while ago, but never did anything with it. Let's see, where's that notebook?

Is that cheating? No, it isn't. It really isn't. Now, if you'd written up a whole notebook worth of beer clans and aggravated beer damage, and just 'ported it from the notebook, that would be against the point. But using the contest to jump-start your original inspiration is totally by the rules at the site. If you've been interpreting the rules at the site in that bullshit way I listed above, you are missing the point.

A role-playing game needs some things in order to be playable. If you're interested in what they are, read my essays. If you want some standards for what ways these things might work, review your own play-history and experiences. If you're stuck on what it's about, just pick the two terms you like the most out of the four, and spin off how they relate. All the 24-Hour RPG experience is for is to get you into the groove of doing this stuff first, then putting any and all other stuff in there later.

One last thing. The 24-Hour RPG process produces alpha games. Alpha means that the game is present in all of its parts, but should now enter the cycle of playtest and revision. An alpha game is almost certainly going to be mis-written here and there, to have a couple contradictions or backwards pieces of its rules, and to have a couple things which probably need to get fully retooled later. I realize this. What you might not understand is that I want this.
Alpha games are the best way to understand role-playing as a procedural and imaginative process. They are the font of learning. They are the meat, on the one hand, of inspiration and innovation, and on the other, of imaginative fun. When you try them out, stuff works that you never expected, and stuff that doesn't hold up jumps right out at you.

Still seem inadequate or paltry to you? Oh, I see. So being in the company of (to name some alpha games I've played back-when) The Pool, My Life with Master, InSpectres, and Dust Devils is no good, according to you. Well, fuck that.

Recognize that I am looking for alpha games, and that writing a game in 24 hours is not supposed to provide me with the Sistine Chapel. It's supposed to provide with something that can be played, and which might work well as best you could figure, in that short amount of time.

Believe me, a playable game with bog-standard mechanics which merely (!) connect the two terms you've chosen in a neat way and which merely (!) offers a 50% hit rate on how well it hangs together is well worth a Ronny. Much more so than any sort of pervy oooh-impress-Ron halfwit attempt to demonstrate what a genius you are, or what an Iron Man you are. The 24-Hour RPG is there to help you design games, not to make it weird and hard. Do it right.


Lance D. Allen

At the risk of asking one of those annoying questions..

Are we allowed to ask someone to take a look at it, give a few brief opinions? No specific helping, suggestions for mechanics or anything of the sort. I just want to know if I'm allowed to get a second opinion on whether or not it's sufficient to meet the criteria.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Ron Edwards

Hi Lance,

That's a good question. I am generally inclined to say that's OK, but then I changed my mind. I want to stress that you-as-author should simply take the bull by the horns, get some courage with your convictions, and just look at the thing and say, "Do I like it?" If so, then submit.

The criteria aren't all that hard to meet, I think. The definition of "RPG" is who-knows-what. The readability thing, well, I trust you to go over it once and that's probably enough. The will-Ron-play-it thing is totally not something you can tweak one way or another.

Remember, turning it into a really fine game is something to do later.

So, reluctantly, I'd prefer you kept it a one-guy's-eyes thing along the way.


Ron Edwards

Disturbing, but reasonably good news for everyone else, I suppose:

Andy Kitkowski has promised an additional $10 to whichever Ronny-winners chose "girlfriend" and "hatred."

With a worried sideways glance,

Ron Edwards


So far:

1 "rat girlfriend" by Joe Prince
1 "suburb hatred" by Ben Lehman
1 "suburb rat" by Jared Sorensen
1 "rat hatred" by Manu Saxena

This is fantastic! I love reading this stuff. I am awash in role-playing niftiness.

The guys at the 24-Hour site are being pretty good about uploading the submissions, but just to keep me all pink with pleasure, feel free to email me a copy of your PDF with your notification email after you've submitted it to the site.


Eric J.

Hey Ron,

I'm a bit confused about the four terms.  I can't find them anywhere in your posts although I think I found them in Andy's.

Can I assume that they are: suburb hatred girlfriend rat?

Can I use any of the terms by their NOT number 1 meaning in the dictionary?

May the wind be always at your back,

Ron Edwards

Hi Eric,

The four terms are listed in the publishing thread; use the link in the top post of this thread. Yes, they are suburb, hatred, girlfriend, and rat.

Use two of them as central features of the game. You may not use the other two as such features.

No, you are not limited to any sort of specific definition of them. At all. Do not impose restrictions I have not imposed.


Nathan P.

Hey Ron,

I reread both threads, and didn't see anything addressing this question one way or the other, so: could one person submit multiple entries in one time period? If so, is there any limitation to ingredient choice (as in, you have to choose a different combo for each one, or they would all have to use the same one, or whatever?)

Thanks muchly.
Nathan P.
Find Annalise
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters

Ron Edwards

Good question, quick answer: one entry per person.

If you find yourself compelled to create multiple 24-hour games using the contest terms, then I suppose you can post them. The first one will be the contestant.

I should also tell you: pseudonyms are not permitted under any circumstances.


Ron Edwards

You guys are nuts! As of now, the end of day 3 (my time):

suburb hatred 1
suburb girlfriend 0
suburb rat 1
hatred girlfriend 2
hatred rat 2
girlfriend rat 3

I was thinking I'd have maybe, oh, ten games to look over by the end of the month. I recognize there'll be some initial spiking, but this? Yeesh.



Hey, it only takes twenty-four hours.  Not like it's a major commitment of time or energy.

Fun game design without any chance of it devolving into a chore?  Hell yeah.  I'll be gettin' 'round to it too (just as soon as pre-school starts... oh, blessed pre-school).
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Kirk Mitchell

<yawning, trying to stop head from smashing into the keyboard> No, not much time and energy at all. But then again, I've been up until 1 in the morning for the past 4 and a half weeks, so I've got an excuse for being tired!

This would have to be one of the best exercises and opportunities for a novice such as myself, a chance to learn how to actually design a game without all the frippery that is traditionally (stupidly) associated with design time. Actually, to be perfectly frank, the main item that really got me into this exercise would be the fact that we have been promised feedback on the game from Ron.

That about sums it up for me. Still, it was kinda fun. And very educational.

Teddy Bears Are Cool: My art and design place on the internet tubes.

Kin: A Game About Family



Got a quick question.  If we play our own 24 hour RPG that we submitted for this contest, do you want us to hold off posting about it in Actual Play until you are finished judging?  I only ask b/c I don't want to run the risk of biasing your experience with the game in any way, unless you don't think that will matter.



Ron Edwards


I'm not sure whether it will matter to my judging. But I do know that it's good design practice and to the benefit of the site in general. So go for it.



Quote from: TonyLB on September 06, 2005, 11:34:26 PMI'll be gettin' 'round to it too (just as soon as pre-school starts... oh, blessed pre-school).

Yeah, here's me in the same boat as Tony: "24 hour game? HA! Try 1 hour game." Damn unmarried kids with their childlessness pullin' design out of their butts thanks to lack of constant familial interruptions...{grumble, mutter, swear, grumble}
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio