What Should I Do About the Adventure Writing Competition?

Since last weeks announcement about 6d6 Fireball I’ve been stuck over what to do about the Adventure Writing Competition. So I have decided to use the wisdom of the internet to help me work it out.

There are two connected parts to this problem.

When I announced the competition the plan involved both Rob & I working not only on the module (proof reading, layout, play testing etc etc) but also on the figures and t-shirts we plan to sell. It was the sale of these goods that made it worthwhile to produce a module that would make us nothing directly.

Since Rob decided to step back from 6d6 Fireball, I’ve been try to work out how I can do all of that on my own. With enough time this isn’t a problem but realistically it would take four to six months of my ‘6d6 Fireball’ time. Resulting far fewer few updates on the website and that means we have less visitors to buy the module.

The otherside of the problem is the level of response we have had to the competition. Despite plenty of publicity here and other blogs (many thanks to those blogs and forums who have mentioned us) we have not been overwhelmed with entries. At the moment we have had ten people express interest in one form or another but only three of those have produced anything and only one person has submitted anything close to a completed adventure. The deadline is still a couple of weeks away but I’m doubtful that we will receive more entries. Even with a longer deadline, which was my initial idea, I don’t foresee receiving enough submissions.

When planning the competition, we had a contingency plan for if there wasn’t enough entries of high enough quality. This involved Rob & I writing stuff or arm twisting a couple of friends to write adventures for the module. (Neither we or our friends would not get any money from the competition which would go solely to the genuine entrants).

Unfortunately, the current level of entries is about the worst possible number. To produce the orginally plan 32 page or more module, we would have to write 70 – 80% of it. This is at odds with the original aim of the competition of producing a module of new writers and also means a significant amount of time consuming work.

This leaves me in a quandry.

I don’t want to disappoint those people who have worked hard on adventures in the expectation they will be published and paid for it.

More generally, having committed to something, I believe strongly in fulfilling those commitments.

On the otherhand, it is looking as if I will be unable to deliver what I promised: A module’s worth of adventures published at a suitable quantity.

Additionally, the amount work required and the potential financial return on it is looking very out of balance. This is less important than keeping my promises but the realtity is I have a mortgage to pay. Bankrupting 6d6 Fireball in order to produce a module for the benefit of a single entrant seems pointless.

I hope you can see my problem and why I’ve decided to ask for help on this. I have emailed everyone who has expressed an interest in the adventure writing competition asking them to read this post and let me know their feedback. But I also want views and ideas from everyone else as you are the potential buyers.

So ladies & gentemen, your thoughts on how to fix this please.


  1. Good words, and thanks for opening up on this.

    I suggest removing the deadline and take a “when it’s done it’s done” approach. This takes away a whole chunk of pressure off your good self immediately. Keep plugging it, and encourage those who have submitted to plug it and push it in their own blogs. Make the word spread, and it’ll gain momentum on it’s own. This’ll get folks off their lazy asses (my own lazy ass included – time has just flow by; where has it gone??!!) to sit down and write something.

    When you’re happy with you have enough submissions, release it, and not before.

    Secondly, drop Goodman Games an email and ask them if they’d like to be involved in some way. They’re great guys, seriously.

    Third, invite guest bloggers. Don’t tell anyone else, but I’m thinking of running a Summer Round Robin event in June where a whole chunk of bloggers swap around and write posts in each others’ blogs. That might help too, if you’re interested.

    I look forward to hearing more suggestions!

  2. Thanks Greywulf, that is a useful idea.

    It would require a bit of rethink of figures launch. I had planned to release the figures and the module and the t-shirt at once in a big Devil themed bonanza.

    Guest blogging is one of those things I’m not sure about.

    I’m guessing that a large part of your readership, like mine, is coming from the RPG network. So I’m not exactly a new & interesting voice if I crop up on your blog. However, getting genuine guests, non-bloggers or bloggers, who RPG network readers haven’t seen before, I think is worthwhile.

    That said, count me in for you Fat Robin thing.


  3. I am working on an adventure and I like Greywulf’s idea, I’ve been procrastinating but, already finished the plot and going on with the monsters in the adventure, I think I can still make it by the deadline though.

    TKXapathy´s last blog post..Kingdoms of the East

  4. TKXApathy

    That is good news. Don’t forget you can use Dingle’s Games monster generator to take a lot of the work out of creating monsters.

    At the moment don’t worry about the deadline. Whatever happens I’m not going to be strict about it.


  5. Greywulf

    Goddammit – Those damn gnomes have been stealing my R’s again!

    Those bastads uin eveything.


  6. I don’t have any really good suggestions. I think there are quite a few outlets and creative activities these days that are taking up everyone’s energy.

    I’d have to agree with Greywulf, I think you need to remove the restrictions on time and perhaps on content. You might need to do something where you do pieces at a time, then move forward. You’ve got a really ambitious plan, and we all know what happens when plans meet reality – time to adapt, improvise and overcome.

    I also think you’re doing the right thing by being up front and letting everyone know what is going on. Good for you!

    Chgowiz´s last blog post..Playtesters wanted – Chicago – Swords & Wizardry Ultima game

  7. hey, well, cheer up man. Running a competition has got to be hard stuff.

    To be honest, i just saw this and now i really want to enter. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who would love to see their entries getting read by somebody. I know i am one of those people. If anybody even reads what i have to offer, i consider it an honor.

    If you want to keep it as a competition, why not just sell the winning entries, packaged along with the other entries as a PDF file so the costs stay cheap and still give the winner the profits. If you do that, the cost to you should be virtually nothing i would think and the winner still gets some cash… just an idea. I know somebody will probably be disappointed that they don’t get to see it hard bound and distributed, but if there are really so few entries, you can’t really complain; with just 10 entries or so, it means you’ve got at least a 10% chance of winning and considering you’ve only got one that is complete, i’d say that guy is looking pretty happy right about now.

    However, also know that people do tend to put off these things, and i’m guessing that there are going to be a bunch of entries, the game winning one included, that come down right at the buzzer. If you look at entries on things like the Wizards forums, its always the later ones that take the prize for a number of reasons: people have more time to make it look professional, they spend more time editing, and they have more time to think things over from the beginning.

    I have never been one of those people, but then again, i never win anything with my stuff either. I’ll definitely post an entry to this though. I saw that you were doing it in 3.5, which is what i’ve been DMing since i started playing in high school (almost done with ocllege now) so i know it well enough.

    Also, i’d be glad to post your competition on my blog. I don’t have much of a reader base, i don’t think, but then again, i only got into blogging a few months ago at the reccommendation of one of my friends, a guy that runs the blog robot dreams. He’s been showing me how it works and so i thought i’d give it a shot. Let me know if you want any more help advertising.

    Good luck!

  8. Chgowiz

    Thanks for the support.


    It is reassuring that you are keen to enter. There some people who seem completely indifferent to the idea of being published. Where as others, as you so brilliantly put it, think it is an honour to have anyone reading their stuff.

    I’m definitely in the second camp, so I may of underestimated the number of people in the first camp.


    P.s. I be in touch about publicity once I’ve worked out what I’m going to do.

  9. thanks man. i’m glad we got to talk. i’d be glad to work with you in the future on just about anything. I’m definitely amateurish, but i’ve got a lot of stuff i’m working on right now over at thedumpstat.blogspot.com and i’d love to get any advice you have. thinking about joining RPG net too, but not sure if i’ve got what it takes. keep you posted. i’ve got room for a banner add for you on my blog if you want it, just say the word. Peace!

  10. thanks man. i’m glad we got to talk. i’d be glad to work with you in the future on just about anything. I’m definitely amateurish, but i’ve got a lot of stuff i’m working on right now over at thedumpstat.blogspot.com and i’d love to get any advice you have. thinking about joining RPG net too, but not sure if i’ve got what it takes. keep you posted. i’ve got room for a banner add for you on my blog if you want it, just say the word. Peace

  11. Module hopefully completed by weekend.

    Take the deadline out. Just must be something about May which throws everyone for six – look at alternative forms of publishing (maybe using electronic publishing like wobook so you can recoup some revenue…)

    Would be happy to be a guest blogger in your blog BTW. Whether you want me there is another matter! :o)

    Good luck and remember, nil illegitimi carborundum!

  12. Satyre

    Thank you for your support and ideas. I look forward to receiving your module.


  13. May and June are tough months in general for me in gaming. Release stuff as you get it done. As for deadlines, I live in academia and i think you should wait; extend the deadline only if you don’t get the numbers you need. My experience is you will get stuff at the last minute. That is what happens here all the time. If you don’t get enough just announce extended entry deadline.

    T-shirts are you printing them yourself using local printer or an Internet one like Zazzle.com? (no financial interest)

    If you get involved with trying to make a business out of this it may not succeed on the first try or the 100th but persistence is crucial to success, that and luck and timing. Oh and money… Money helps.

    Good luck.

    shent_lodge´s last blog post..Another Con I did Not Know Existed

  14. Count me in as another lazy so-and-so with full intentions to submit an adventure but whom also let life distract me until it’s gone this far. I have a plot outlined and will finish it over the next few days and send it in. Even if I don’t win, I’ll enjoy the opportunity to write and have others to read my adventure.

    I don’t have much in the way of advice about the contest itself other than to suggest that if you do remove the deadline, then you should put up a submissions meter of some such thing so that there is a visual indication of how how close you are to having enough submissions to declare the contest completed. As you get close to the end of the meter I would expect that excitement would build and you’d get a last few hold-outs sending in their last submissions.

    Spiralbound´s last blog post..Making place names match a cultural theme

  15. Spiralbound,

    Thanks for the supports. I think the submission meter is a good idea , a visual clue to remind people the clock is ticking.



  16. I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a module. My main issue is the 3.5e requirement — it’s not a system I run any more, just because it takes so long to set things up. If it were 4e or even HERO, I’d have no trouble whipping something up. 3.5 is going to take a lot more work, and I’m just not sure I want to go through that.

    I realize that you’re also accepting generic, no-system adventures, but I don’t think that’s really practical. I think most of the audience for published adventures prefers and expects a module to be more or less ready to run, after a little prep time. They don’t expect to be statting everything out.

    Either way, I think making this announcement was the right thing to do, although I suspect you will be receiving more entries as the deadline approaches. Whether it’ll be enough is another question, but I much doubt you’ll be stuck with only one or two.

    Posting an occasional reminder would help. I wouldn’t extend the deadline again, though. I think going deadline-free would be more likely to lead to vaporware. If you’re getting down to the last day or two before the deadline and you still have no entries, then you can think about offering another week or two. But a lot of people tend to work close to deadlines, rather than far in advance.

    I admit I’m a little surprised to hear of your concerns about financial returns, though. You don’t seem to have any problems denying other creators those same financial returns on their work. Things are a little different when you’re the one losing out, I suppose.

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