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[Ronnies] October winners

Started by Ron Edwards, October 18, 2005, 05:38:21 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hello everybody,

Yup, the second round's judging of Ronnies is now concluded. The third round will come in November, because I'm really jazzed about the terms combination that's scheduled next, and then after that, we'll cut back to every two months.

As before, there are two levels of winner, $75 and $25. This round was especially difficult given that people are experimenting not only with system for resolving imaginary actions, but also with specific and various kinds of social arrangements among the real people. One game is a LARP. Another is intended to work with an unusually large group. Others specify exact numbers of players. So the whole apples/oranges issue arises, which for the Ronnies isn't such a big deal (games do not have beat all others to win), but makes it hard on me in figuring out whether this rules-set will work for the specified context. I had to guess about some of that.

Anyway, also as before, the order of the listings within each group below doesn't mean a thing, just the vagaries of cut-and-paste.


Here are the $75 winners for the October round of Ronnies.

Contenders, by Joe J. Prince
3-16, by Gregor Hutton

Here are the $25 winners for this round. The main, although not universal reason for this level was a mildly weak use of the terms. Another is a certain weakness in the basic imaginative context for the game, often a bit too general, although again, not found in all four.

Disaster!, by Arturo Gonzalez-Escribano
Left Coast, by Steve Hickey
Hierarchy, by Troy Costisick
The Drifter's Escape, by Ben Lehman


I hate this category. There are some really good games here too, and some of them are only barred from winning for ridiculously preference-based reasons. Matt, Raven, and Jared can consider themselves robbed, basically, because they have the "friend of the judge" penalty in place as well. In some cases, the terms-use was too weak, past the point of the wiggle room that any term has. In others, the match-up between fictional content and system was good, just not as seamless as in the winners.

As a whole, in contrast to the same category in the September Ronnies, the reward systems are much, much stronger, which is one reason why it was harder to find the boundary this time. In the last few days, members of this list and the $25-ers have switched places several times, and I have no idea whether the current groupings are any better than the ones I started with. As with the runners-up in the September Ronnies, I will treat these as extremely strong candidates for development and look forward to it as much as for any of the designated winners.

Red Rain, by Matt Snyder
Dirty Fucking Freaks, by Graham Walmsley
Cosmic Combat, by Jasper Polane
Cycle, by Mischa D. Krilov
Starblade Echoes, by Chris Chinn
The Dark Wood, by Marc Machjer
Sphear, by Jared Sorensen
eXpendables, by Raven Kromer


I evaluated these games as having parts which don't hold together as a reinforcing set of procedures for play, or they hang together in such a tight context that play is locked solid, or the fictional content doesn't match what the system is doing. However, even more so than the previous round of Ronnies, I think every one of these has an extremely powerful kernel of potential. I'll try to be as explicit as possible about that in the feedback threads.

Material World, by Joe Zeutenhorst
Fight Sphere, by Jesse Burneko
Last Breath, by John Laviolette
Escape From Hell, by Clint Black
Reality Cops, by James Brown
Space Rangers, by Christopher S. Bone


These games raise an interesting issue. They are essentially "I get to say what the dice tell me" procedures, organized into specific scenes and what-to-roll rituals. Unfortunately, this is not an SIS-generating procedure, any more than putting on a funny hat and voice when playing Monopoly is role-playing. These games are entirely too structured in terms of what a character "is," imaginatively speaking, and more generally, what "can happen" during play. In contrast with fairly ritualized games like My Life with Master and Polaris, I think these are marked by a complete inability for characters actually to do stuff outside the immediate instructions of the rules, up to and including making crucial choices about relationships with other characters.

Which begs the question, however, of whether these games work. Mechanically, they well might, in the sense that gears will shift and cogs will revolve. Imaginatively and motivationally? That will be a very, very local question, and my judgment at this point is that all of these entries have gone over a crucial line, to the point where the role of human input is restricted only to the end-process of resolution, too much so for it to play a conflict-generating role.

The good news is that none of them suck. I think all of them could well be brought back over that crucial boundary into the zone that I think yields successful play, with a conceptual modification, mostly affecting when Fortune is applied and how scenes may be constructed. I hope to be able to articulate how this might be done for each game in the feedback threads.

Today, by Eric J. Boyd
Cosmos, by Owen Anderson
Whitecollar Punks, by Eero Tuovinen
Adrift, by Cyrus Marriner


All right, I see procedure - bids, points, dice, that sort of thing. I also see a notion, or at least a pageant, of "stuff happening" fictionally. However, that "stuff" doesn't seem to be doing much except describing the procedural outcomes, themselves driven solely by mathematical grinds or single-option steps in a give-and-take process. Additionally, unlike the related Parlor Narration category above, I don't see how the fictional stuff could be a driver. Above, the issue was that Situation was too strictured; here, it's that there's Color but no Situation.

In the Beginning, by Tim Alexander
Monotheism, by Tony Pace
Xochitlcozamalotl, by Jason Morningstar

My feedback threads will start in a few days; I'm a little swamped by real-life stuff right now. Please feel free to start your own threads about Ronnies entries, whether you're an author or not. Also, I do plan to continue feedback and dialogue about some games in the first round, so let's not get into thinking that new Ronnies rounds erase or replace old ones.




Congratulations to all the winners!  Six this month and seven from last month.  Wow, Ron, you're a very generous man. I hope that all 13 make it to print.

And ljust let me reiterate my thanks for hosting this contest.  I am learning more about RPGs, designing RPGs, and the Big Model theory through this contest than I ever did just sitting on the side lines.  Thanks so much, I am humbled.



Eero Tuovinen

What Troy said. Also, I find your analysis of "Parlor Narration" games especially interesting and relevant, because it seems to map strongly to the "formalistic/realistic" analysis I'm lecturing on next weekend. I'll be interested to see if you have anything further to say about the perceived line between successful roleplaying and these. Also, more exposition on the pitfalls; I wrote another similar game a week before the contest which was even more extremely parlor narration, so I'm certainly interested to hear what's the problem in them. So that's what I want to hear about.

Other than that, just wait for the third round. I'm improving here all the time!
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Jared A. Sorensen

Good to hear we're still friends after that one dig in my game. :)

But for the record, should I ever write something so awesome that it warrants a prize, I hereby tithe all winnings in the Ronnies to the Forge's donation fund.

Also, you're tragically wrong about SPHEAR. Does not the cover say, "The best sci-fi/horror/action game of all time"?

- J
jared a. sorensen /


I'm looking forward to getting a chance to read some of the other entries and contributing to their feedback threads. Have to say, Clint Black's "Escape from Hell" (on title alone) has piqued my interest. Congratulations to everyone who entered.

Left Coast was a blast to write, and I'm stoked it's done this well. What was great for me about this month's competition was getting a chance to brainstorm ideas 120, 130 ideas for the various combinations of keywords – including a Fight-Sphere idea ('Battle Globe 29 Today') and a police procedural, both of which I want to develop outside of the Ronnies. In the end, I went with the one that seemed the most fun.

Thanks Ron.

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs

Arturo G.

Congratulations to everyone. To all the winners for their success and to the others for trying. I have found that it is really hard to find a way to express your ideas in the form of a game, and putting all together in 24 hours is a crazy thing. There is an incredible amount of nice ideas and creative power being deployed at the Ronnies.

About Disaster! Since I got the concept clear in my mind, I strongly committed myself to write it. And I was learning a lot while doing it. I enjoyed how it was taking form in the process. But I'm still amazed that it was so successful. It is so much an alpha-version... When I read it with calm two days after the submission I was a little bit ashamed ;-)

Thanks a lot Ron for keep reading, ignoring my many typos and English gibberish.


Doing this was a great experience for me. I couldn't be more pleased.

My actual game is a trainwreck (I spent way too much time writing the "setting narrative" and did not have a concise enough set of design goals for a game that had to be conceived, designed, proofed and finished in 24 hours) but since my personal goal was to finish the project in the required time I feel good about the attempt.

The fact that I'm getting feedback from Mr. Edwards in addition is a bonus.

Having seen 3:16, which accomplished what I was attempting, I realize that Space Rangers has a LONG way to go to be viable but as a first attempt at putting together a complete and publishable game my submission was a good start.

Now it's time to get out a pick axe, a shovel and some dynamite and go mining for gems.

Thanks Mr. Edwards for the Ronnies. They got me moving. I look forward to your critique so I have an idea of where to go next.

C. S. Bone

Joe J Prince


Thanks Ron I am absolutely made up

I might post something meaningful when it all sinks in.

Ron Edwards thinks I actually wrote a good game!

Thanks everyone

I love 24hr rpgs!



Wow. For a three-hour, medicated, at-work typing spree, I'm impressed that I managed to keep everything together so well, I mean well-enough that I made runner-up. I really didn't expect to do so well, so color me happy.

I can already see a couple of points in the text I want to clarify or fix, and I'm definitely looking forward to both Ron's (and others') feedback and to hopefully get some playtesting done soon.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Ben Lehman

Hey, cool!  Thanks, man.

I have to warn you that, given my brother and I together as primary authors, your $25 may be spent entirely on beer.  However, such beers will be absolutely vital creative fuel for further development of the game.

Interestingly, The Drifter's Escape was the third game that I tried developing in the 24 hour period.  (The first was a game about empowered cults called "Hand and Eye," which had a good idea but was fundamentally flawed with respect to situation framing, and another game called "Cosmos" which was written entirely in quotations from the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran and was doomed from the get-go.)  I wonder how many other games had multiple failed attempts preceeding them.

I look forward to your feedback.  As I said, I'm really excited about development of the game, although I shudder with dread at Eero's prediction that "this is a Polaris-sized game or larger."



thanks, Ron! I'll have to say that of the games I have read so far, I was fully expecting Left Coast and and The Drifter's Escape to be winners of one kind or another; those two are probably my favorites, although I enjoyed a couple of others as well.

Quote from: Ben Lehman on October 20, 2005, 04:25:29 AM
Interestingly, The Drifter's Escape was the third game that I tried developing in the 24 hour period.  (The first was a game about empowered cults called "Hand and Eye," which had a good idea but was fundamentally flawed with respect to situation framing, and another game called "Cosmos" which was written entirely in quotations from the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran and was doomed from the get-go.)  I wonder how many other games had multiple failed attempts preceeding them.

for this round, I had brainstorming but no actual design stage for two other games: one for Cosmos + Sphere that dealt with an orderly universe of 12 spheres, where characters could solve a conflict by changing one element, but the change would have reprocussions on matching spheres; the other, also called "Last Breath", was a Ben Casey/Marcus Welby-style  terminal patient game. the first one soon turned out to be too complex a game to put together in 24 hours, while the second seemed like it would run into problems if one player's character died before the others. I probably should have picked a more suitable name for the version of Last Breath I wound up actually making.

for the previous round, I actually almost completed one other game before I started Darling Grove. I will eventually clean up and upload the alpha version of that one and throw up a link for everyone to check out.
John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects:



So, Ron... what was different about this month's Ronnies compared to last months?  What surprised you?  What did you like?  What disapointed you?  Are you pleased with the results and future outlook of the awards?




Quote from: Ben Lehman on October 20, 2005, 04:25:29 AMI wonder how many other games had multiple failed attempts preceeding them.

My entry for the September Ronnies was preceeded by one proto game idea that didn't pan out, as well as a variety of random undeveloped ideas for games over the course of the last few years.

Ron Edwards


The first surprising thing was how solidly the terms fell into specific groupings.

Fight + Cosmos was mainly composed of space-rangers and Mortal Kombat, both of which are good things.

Pain + Sphere was clearly a Dante thing.

Fight + Pain varied a lot because people played fast and loose with the terms, but it had some discernible patterns within it.

The other surprising thing was how much the median quality improved. The first round was a lot of fun and included a lot of ideas. I got the distinct notion this time that people were really buckling down and trying to provide all corners of an RPG, as well as indulge or experiment. Which was great.

I'm definitely going to be raising the bar for next time, though - specifically, in the central use of terms. Looking back on this round, I realized I probably should have been much pickier about that.


Marc Majcher

I'm incredibly flattered to have my game make even the "runners-up" list.  Thank you, Ron!

I very much look forward to reading your (and everybody else's) comments, and putting another round of effort into polishing my stone.