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November Ronnies! Start your engines for the 6th

Started by Ron Edwards, November 05, 2005, 12:23:37 AM

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Ron Edwards


Here are the dates for the November Ronnies: 12:00 AM (beginning) of November 6, 12:00 PM (ending) of November 16.

I feel bad about the Octobers, because I'm still not quite done posting my feedback and here it is time for the next round. I actually kept extensive notes as the games came in, and thus thought I'd be right on top of it, but life hit like a freight train in mid-October. I'll bust butt to get the rest posted.

I think you guys get the general drill, now. However, I'm concerned about three things.


This is to be avoided. I strongly invite people to contribute who have not yet done so. People who've contributed already, if you're not 100% jazzed by the November terms, I invite you to concentrate on your previous entries instead and see whether our dialogues so far can help you develop them. There were some great game design ideas in the past two rounds, award or no award. Let's not lose those.


This is also to be avoided, especially because a couple of people were clearly confused about the rules in each round so far, and because "I heard that someone said that ..." learning is so prevalent in an internet-based community.

Review the rules for the Ronnies. They include, but are not limited to, the following.

It's a 24-Hour Game

Follow the instructions at the 24-Hour Games website. However, do not fall into the common traps. They are (1) making the process into an ordeal for no good reason, (2) focusing on presentation rather than content. The twenty-four hour focus makes it easier, not harder. You are writing alpha drafts, not publishable products. Yes, I do appreciate an attractive or interesting presentation, but that doesn't affect whether you get the award.

Submitted during a specified time-period

This part seems easy, but I'll clarify one thing. You must submit your game to the 24-Hour website using the instructions there, but also send it to me via email, as an attachment. If you don't do both, the game is ineligible. Also, do not post at the Forge or otherwise bug me about whether you're starting a game design for the contest. I'm only interested in entries, not potential entries.

Using two of the four terms

All right, as of this round, this concept is now the most important and immediate cutoff for games. I can now guarantee that if you don't accord with the following points, your game cannot win a Ronny.

The two terms you choose may be interpreted in a variety of ways, but they cannot merely be labels. Calling characters' hit points "Pain" is not using pain as a central concept for your game. Central means central - your interpretation of the terms and how they interact during play should be the "meaning" or the "point" of playing, or lead to that point in a powerful way.

The two terms you do not choose are equally, perhaps even more important. They cannot be central to the experience of play by any interpretation at all. To be absolutely sure about that, you will do best to exclude them utterly, such that, for instance, there would be no "pain" for characters in play whatsoever.

I gotta want to play it

My specific advice is this: if you like the game and want to play it, then it makes the game better, both in its mechanics and in its explanation. Write the game you'd really like to play based on the terms you've chosen. Be honest and clear about why you are so motivated to play it. If you do actually playtest it, during or after entering it into the contest, then definitely post about it Actual Play.

I have a little more specific advice: check out The Fruitful Void at Vincent's blog. It's based on some dialogues between Vincent and me, which he used to generate a very cool "whirlwind" diagram. Read it, understand it, and try to do that.

Multiple winners

Check out these previous threads for background; there are some good questions and clarification in there.

Introducing a new contest
The Ronnies, September 2005
[Ronnies] The winners for September
[Ronnies] October contest begins!
[Ronnies] October winners


See the $75 Ronnies winners so far. Alien Angels, Space Rat, The Suburban Crucible, Rats in the Walls, 3-16, Contenders. Oddly normal, aren't they? For the most part, you make up characters, you have a fairly specific imagined situation (perhaps with a little tinkering or setup, perhaps not), and people announce actions, with conflicts of whatever sort getting resolved. Usually, there's a GM, and if there isn't, then someone's specified to take on that role at any given time. They're really not blow-off-doors "oh my paradigm's splintering" games - they're merely damn good.

Now, I'm not averse to weird social setups, elaborate narrational rituals, and goofy-wow mechanics. But such things are only worth playing if they are related to a direct and specific payoff of some kind ... which itself is integrated with the rest of play. Such a game would prompt a person to say, "Holy shit, you have to turn to the left and let that guy complete the sentence! Of course! Without that, the Oogle wouldn't happen right at all! And Oogling is totally cool, it's what sets up the next stuff!"

That's one reason Hierarchy got an October award - because its reward system makes sense in the context of the large-group, LARP-scented version of role-playing that Troy is talking about. Same goes for The Drifter's Escape and its weird GM-duo trade-off, which works well for the kind of protagonist Ben is talking about. But if someone else wrote a game which gratuitously specified, "oooh, two GMs, one bad this way, one bad that way," just floating there, well, screw that.

Well, that's probably more than enough lecturing. On the 6th, Sunday, I'll post the terms right here in this thread.


Eero Tuovinen

You're doing another round already? Huh, that's a tough schedule. I wouldn't imagine advicing you, but remember: the positive qualities that the Ronnies have are not diminished even if you decided to take a holiday break in December (and January, if it came to that). No reason to overwork yourself.

Other than that, great advice. I'd already decided that I probably won't participate in the next one. I have enough games in the pipeline without that.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Ron Edwards


Here's my plan: this round is the last of the month-by-month Ronnies. I'll shift to a bimonthly schedule after this one, so the next round will come in January.

And yes, I realize this is a lot. Actually, I'm probably the only person who realizes how much ... But I'm liking what they accomplish. The awards are serving many purposes, not the least of which is evaluating the Forge community on my part, to see whether it's actually what we say it is.

Strong advice to everyone: get involved. There's no obligation to submit an entry, but participate in reading and posting about them.


Gregor Hutton

I won't be submitting to the November Ronnies but I'll read through all the entries as I've done for the first two rounds. However, I will be taking part! ... I'm committing myself to giving detailed feedback on two entries to this November round. I really liked having to go through CS Bone's Space Rangers and give feedback so I figure that I'll spend my time doing that this time round.


I was all set to start brainstorming. let's see... INCEST... RULES-CREEP... wait, where are the other two terms?

ah, ok. I'm glad for the delay, and it seems to be about the right time period, plenty of breather space before the holidays. and you know what? I think these competitions have more benefit than just improving discourse on the Forge. skills improve with practice, so rationally, game design skills improve the more games you write. doesn't matter if your alpha game design falls by the wayside; you still learn something, especially if you then share your design with others and get that all-important feedback.

which, I suppose, *is* what the Forge is about, but I'm looking at it from the view of a participant.

anyways, I'm glad for the competition, and I'm also glad that those aren't the word choices, because I really didn't want to do a game about incest.
John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects:


I have decided not to take part in the November Ronnies for two reasons. Neither was a deal-breaker by itself, but together, yeah, get the lawyers and the superglue.

1) The time/emotional/personal investment in a 24-hour game is huge, despite the fact that there is only a 24-hour period for initial design...actually, it is this way because of it. Given that investment, compared to the level of feedback I've recieved, the payoff doesn't begin to equal the investment.

Yes, Ron has responded, and I'm extremely grateful for his comments. One response is also only one response, by someone who has a whole heck of a lot more on his plate already and can not be expected to give more than that.*

* That is, even one person responding to a design and working with the designer, as long as they can keep it up and not post just once, is great.** Kirt (Loki) has done this for me before and despite being the a person discussion group, his on-going feedback was frickin' invaluable to me (so he gets his props).

** One post replies are good, too. Feedback is feedback, and it is all invaluable. It becomes less so when that's all you're getting, because there is nothing that beats on-going design discussion with an individual or a group of individuals for feedback, and that after all, is what the Forge is here for.

2) As I said, the above wasn't necessarily a deal-breaker, and neither is this: I've committed to the NaNoWriMo challenge this month (Google it). Which means I'm very, very busy already with something that requires a big chunk of my time/attention/investment every day. However, I could slack for a day and catch-up thereafter if necessary to pull off a 24-hour RPG Ronnie entry, too.

But given that the payoff wasn't worth it this time around, and if this is the level of feedback I could end up with next time around (I have no way of telling, obviously), well, I'd just rather spare myself the aggravation of that potentiality and save myself the time for something that will have a level of payoff I'm comfortable with.

This isn't about "Wah! No one's paying attention to me!" because yes, I could live with no feedback, I can live with a creating a design that simply doesn't catch anyone's interest (because that happens). I could accept those possibilities going in and not be bothered by either, but I've done the "designing in a vaccum" thing before and it sucks. In combination with other priorities, it becomes unacceptable.

This does not mean I won't participate in the Ronnies. As I did or am still doing this time around with 3:16 and Adrift, I am comitting myself to helping out with solid feedback and commentary on at least two of the submitted games, maybe more depending on what time I do have available during the month, because I still get something huge out of that:

I get to see and even test and think about other designs, which is immesurably helpful to any designer for what better be obvious reasons to everyone here, and I get to see someone else succeed, to feel pride and excitement in having created something that excites other people, too, enough that they're discussing it (even if they're criticizing it!), which frankly gives me a personal ego boost, greedy-selfish-bastard that I am.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Ron Edwards

Hey guys,

These announcements about will/won't submit aren't really a discussion. Let's reserve this thread for people who have questions about the awards.


Ron Edwards


Contest dates: November 6 (today) through midnight, November 16.

Here are the terms for the November Ronnies: dragon gun mud Soviet.

Remember, two of the terms, no more and no less. See my comments above.

Contributors native to and currently residing in former Warsaw Pact countries/areas, including Albania and those parts of Germany which were formerly the German Democratic Republic (German DDR), will receive additional award funds, if their games qualify for a Ronny. Clarification for Americans (typically the most confused about these things): the Warsaw Pact did not include Yugoslavia nor Finland.

If you know folks who are into role-playing and qualify for the bonus, but who aren't regulars at the Forge, please let them know.



I'm definately interested, but I already have a basic rules set that I've been working on, and have grown quite attached, which raises two concerns:

1. I will slip into that kind of rules structure, which seems to be against the spirit of a 24 hour rpg.
2. I will be so concerned with making it not resemble that basic stucture in any way that it would get in the way of good design.

At what point should I draw the line on #1? Is there any advice on avoiding #2?

Ron Edwards


That's a good question, Jake, but unfortunately there isn't any good answer.

On the one hand, the goals of the 24-Hour activity (and by extension the Ronnies) aren't met simply by shoehorning a new setting or whatever onto a pre-existing system framework.

On the other, if that framework is still in development, especially early development, then the 24-Hour activity can help you get it into the shape it needs to be, or help you try it out in a more focused way.

Speaking for myself, I don't especially value the "originality and insta-inspiration" ideal when it comes to game design - I actually think it paralyzes the game designer more often than it helps. However, I do value the focus and specific insights that come from putting as much of the game design process into the 24 hours as possible.

Ultimately, that question has to be answered by you alone. I'm willing to accept your submission based on your commitment to producing, here and now, the best possible game design you can. Even if you work with some material you have sitting around already, my hope is that during the 24 hours, you'll be willing to twist, break, and re-design any aspect of that material that you see fit, in order to meet the goals of generating that best possible game design for those two terms you choose.


Ron Edwards

Update!! Four submissions so far.

dragon gun

Serpentine Thunder, by John Laviolette

dragon mud

On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon, by Ben Lehman

soviet gun

A Song Without End, by Chris Jackson
Defenders of the Union, by Malcolm Craig

Already, we've got some serious game, and all four terms have been used at least once. Looking forward to more, especially for the other combinations (soviet dragon, mud gun, mud soviet).

Two observations: (1) all or almost all authors stated that they weren't planning to submit, but then two of the terms lodged in their heads and forced them to design a game; (2) two of the current entrants are new to the Ronnies. So far, so good.


Ron Edwards

AAaaahhhh, the Ronnies make me happy. Here's the current head count.

dragon gun

John Laviolette, Serpentine Thunder

dragon mud

Ben Lehman, On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon
Jared Sorensen, Bogatyr
Frank Tarcikowski, Mud Planet

see sneaky Jared get all kinds of Russian without 'soviet'!

dragon soviet

Alexander Newman, White Dragon

gun mud

Kingston Cassidy, The Long Patrol

gun soviet

Chris Jackson, A Song Without End
Malcolm Craig, Defenders of the Union
Troy Costisick, Standoff
Tony Pace, October's Shadows

clearly the fave category at this point

No "mud soviet" yet, which surprises me a little considering all the wargamers out there. I have faith, though.


oops, had to edit a typo

James Holloway

Quote from: Ron Edwards on November 13, 2005, 06:45:01 PM

No "mud soviet" yet, which surprises me a little considering all the wargamers out there. I have faith, though.
A last-minute "mud soviet" idea just struck me, but the problem is really trying to make it work without "gun," particularly if, as you suggest, wargamers like me are the ones most likely to be inspired. I realise it's hard to say, but how little "gun" is little enough? Characters in Krasnoarmeets as I envision it have guns, but the game is not about guns and the guns don't play any mechanical role (no different stats for different guns, for instance). Would this be kosher?

Ron Edwards

Totally kosher, James. In fact, it's kind of neat to imagine a wartime-setting game in which guns, although present and certainly contextual, cannot be central to the point and primary fun of play.


James Holloway

Quote from: Ron Edwards on November 13, 2005, 11:31:04 PM
Totally kosher, James. In fact, it's kind of neat to imagine a wartime-setting game in which guns, although present and certainly contextual, cannot be central to the point and primary fun of play.

Well, all right. I'll take a swing at it and we'll see what turns out.