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Another over word count entry--truly unbelievable


RPG Superstar™ 2012 General Discussion

51 to 100 of 151 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>
Star Voter 2013

Stormfriend wrote:
...and I suspect anyone who thinks this is just for fun, rather than a 'job interview'...

Ah, there's your problem. This is a job interview. Anyone not interested in taking the job that comes at the end - or at least wanting to eventually have the job at the end some day - might as well enter exclusively in the "almost-ran" items.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

I've entered every year and have barely gone over the 200 word point. How does one write a 300 word entry? I almost worry that I am being too contrite with my items.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Stormfriend wrote:
I think this is rather counter-intuitive (it may not be in publishing, but how many entrants work in publishing?) and I suspect anyone who thinks this is just for fun, rather than a 'job interview', will skip the small print. If the submission tool could refuse to accept anything over 300 words then that would get the point across far more easily. There may be some good ideas going out with the bathwater.

Paizo isn't looking for ideas, they are looking for freelancers. Being able to follow directions is a critical part of being a freelancer.

Quote:
I'm not sure everyone is on the same page with what Paizo are looking for here.

The contest promotion makes it pretty clear it's Paizo's premier talent search tool:

Quote:

Paizo Publishing is proud to announce RPG Superstar 2012, the fifth season of its popular RPG design contest. The search for the newest talent in RPG design begins December 6, 2011 on paizo.com.

"Over the last five years, RPG Superstar has discovered some of the best new RPG designers in the business,” said Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo Publishing. "We’re excited to see the great new talent out there, and look forward to working with the winners for years to come!”

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

michaeljpatrick wrote:

I've entered every year and have barely gone over the 200 word point. How does one write a 300 word entry? I almost worry that I am being too contrite with my items.

I'd have to check but I think many of the winning entries were well under 300 words.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't mind people entering for fun. Nothing wrong with that. Just know that if its over word count it won't be read, not even a word of it. So that's ok, you can then (after the first round) submit it to the "critique my item" thread and everyone can give you feedback.

The rules are clear:

DISQUALIFICATION: Submissions may be disqualified for the following reasons:

Submission is not a wondrous item.
Submission is not anonymous.
Submission exceeds 300 words.
Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Submission is copied from a previously published source.
Submission uses rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.

As you can see, no where in that disqualification is the caveat of +/-10%. So I'm not sure where anyone would get that 300 was anything other than a hard cap.

Reading the instructions is part of the test.

Why don't we read them anyway? Because we have hundreds upon hundreds of submissions. We sift through dozens a day, often each day. We aren;t employees, we volunteer our time to help judge the contest. We simply don't have the extra time to spend on people who can't follow instructions. Its really that simple.

Clark

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

Clark I can say for all of us who do want the interview all of the time spent by the Judges is highly appreciated!

--For those about to Vrock... We salute you!

Qadira Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Shadowborn

Stormfriend wrote:
It's not unbelieveable, I'd always assumed a word count was an approximate value or guideline and 30 words falls within a perfectly reasonable 10% margin. It was only when reading through the rules in detail and scanning old forum posts that I realised it was an absolute hard cap and included everything.

So when your boss tells you that you have a week to finish a project, do you turn it in two days late because you think that's a perfectly reasonable margin?

I'm not trying to be snarky here, but rules are rules, not guidelines. And "reading the rules in detail" should be the very first thing you do before even typing a single word.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

Kerney wrote:

But the existence of this thread makes me wonder some computer algorithm is adding 10-20 words. It is not rational. I have plenty to feed my paranoia.

Using 'Preview' in the official submission tool will tell you the word count of your item. This is the same word count the judges will use.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

michaeljpatrick wrote:

I've entered every year and have barely gone over the 200 word point. How does one write a 300 word entry? I almost worry that I am being too contrite with my items.

I suspect some people feel the need to use up their word count (like its a term paper), rather than simply writing within it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

Stormfriend wrote:
If the submission tool could refuse to accept anything over 300 words then that would get the point across far more easily.

300 words or less is not the only rule of the contest. Why only enforce that one? Should we also refuse to accept entries that contain the user's avatar name (anonymity)? Or have 'sword' in the title (since that's probably a weapon, not a wondrous item?)

At a certain point, we have to let contestants make their own mistakes.

(Or, more succinctly, this post from Vic in this very thread.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

We have this discussion every year: "why is it auto-reject," and "my item is so great, are those extra 25 words really that bad?" and "can't you make some tool that prevents us from entering over-word-count entries" and "hey wait I didnt know about the preview button, can I have a do-over".

Literally, we have this same discussion every year. And every year the answer that Vic gave is the answer. There is nothing new here, no surprise that this is how we feel. Its been stated multiple times each year of the competition. The only real surprise is that it continues to happen. Which is why I posted.


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I have to admit this contest is making me really anxious. I learned about it at Gen Con and it sounded like a dream. I don't see how anyone who REALLY wants to be in this competition wouldn't follow the rules to a 't'. I believe that's the phrase.... yeah.

Andoran

Clark Peterson wrote:

I don't mind people entering for fun. Nothing wrong with that. Just know that if its over word count it won't be read, not even a word of it. So that's ok, you can then (after the first round) submit it to the "critique my item" thread and everyone can give you feedback.

The rules are clear:

DISQUALIFICATION: Submissions may be disqualified for the following reasons:

Submission is not a wondrous item.
Submission is not anonymous.
Submission exceeds 300 words.
Submission does not conform to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Submission is copied from a previously published source.
Submission uses rules, monsters, or copyrighted material from publishers other than Paizo.

As you can see, no where in that disqualification is the caveat of +/-10%. So I'm not sure where anyone would get that 300 was anything other than a hard cap.

Reading the instructions is part of the test.

Why don't we read them anyway? Because we have hundreds upon hundreds of submissions. We sift through dozens a day, often each day. We aren;t employees, we volunteer our time to help judge the contest. We simply don't have the extra time to spend on people who can't follow instructions. Its really that simple.

Clark

Not wanting to offend anyone here, but it is my understanding that the words "MAY be disqualified" imply that any of the restrictive conditions that follow is NOT a "hard cap" and may be ignored by the judges, ie that the submission may still be considered valid even if, for example, it exceeds 300 words.

If these restrictive conditions are meant to be 100% followed, maybe it should be worded "WILL be disqualified".

I honestly believe that doing so would greatly reduce the number of disqualified submissions.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

The black raven wrote:
Not wanting to offend anyone here, but it is my understanding that the words "MAY be disqualified" imply that any of the restrictive conditions that follow is NOT a "hard cap" and may be ignored by the judges, ie that the submission may still be considered valid even if, for example, it exceeds 300 words.

If going over wordcount is of the same severity as copying your item directly from an existing source, that can't be saying anything good about going over wordcount...

I see what you're saying, but do you seriously think many submitters read that far into the rules, stop to consider whether "this can get you disqualified" is intended as absolute or merely likely, and then go ahead and deliberately submit over wordcount, assuming it's the latter? I kind of doubt it.

Personally, I'd guess that a lot of over-wordcount submissions are from people who didn't check the rules, or who didn't check their entry once they knew the rules. That's much more likely than them being confused over "may" vs. "will." And if that's the case, the odds of somebody submitting an item that'd be Keep-worthy if it weren't over wordcount are pretty darn low.

"May" really is a perfectly reasonable substitute in this context for "will," and also leaves a bit more leeway in fuzzy cases (e.g. an entry similar to something previously published, but that might be independent design). Wordcount actually used to have a tiny bit of fuzziness-potential, because different editors counted differently. Now there's a built-in tool, and wordcount is no longer even a little bit fuzzy.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Aside from that, it's been stated (on the messageboards and in the RPG Superstar panel discussions) that going over word count is an automatic dismissal. It's also been demonstrated each year of the contest. So, the historical precedent alone is there, and patently obvious to anyone who does their homework before submitting to RPG Superstar. The 300-word limit is useful in that it's the hard limit for a sidebar in a typical Paizo product (i.e., sidebars were often used to present new magic items in the APs). Generally, I think 250 words is probably more typical of what a magic item description should run. But, some run shorter than that. Others a bit longer. Hence, using a 300-word limit for the contest makes the best sense.

You should know, however, the judges really don't bother reading items that go over wordcount. Most of the time, we're simply too busy to burden ourselves with it. I do, however, simply because I'm often mildly curious about what else went into the item's design that may have contributed to an author going over wordcount. But it's only a morbid curiosity. I never have any intention of lifting something out of a wordcount-overrun, auto-reject status because the item is still so awesome despite those extra words that we have to have such a designer in the competition. It isn't. And we don't.

I can tell you more often than not, the whole wordcount issue isn't usually the only problem such submissions have. That's because that level of inattention to detail (i.e., the inability to write within the given wordcount) is a clear marker the designer has other fatal flaws in their skills. I've seen that borne out by reviewing these items anyway. Some folks think I'm crazy for still reading them...or commenting on them...but, for me, it's a worthwhile exercise to assure myself that we're absolutely doing the right thing. Because, in every instance so far, the designer who couldn't meet the wordcount guidance, also couldn't meet the other qualifications we're looking for...

And remember, it's not so much the item we're assessing in this round. It's the designer. But, having said that, the only means we have of assessing the designer is the item and how well it meets the established criteria laid out in the rules, demonstrates a fair amount of creative thinking and writing ability, an understanding of and innovation within the game's mechanics, and a readiness to be able to follow directions and put something together that meets the already established formatting and presentation guidelines expected of a professional freelancer.

Basically, we're using your item to assess how much we think you embody those characteristics. We're not simply having an open call in an effort to fill a book with a whole bunch of new wondrous items. We still get excited when we see a "why didn't anyone ever think of that" kind of item come through this competition. But, what makes us even more excited is when we recognize the brilliance of the designer behind that item and then have the opportunity to put them through the gauntlet of RPG Superstar's ongoing challenge.

This contest is a crucible through which every competitor hopefully learns and grows, expanding their abilities and creativity as guided by some commentary from the judges, the voting public, and their peers. You don't get that kind of opportunity just anywhere, I can assure you. And inasmuch as the final prize of RPG Superstar is awesome (because you get paid to write what's hopefully your first big splash in the industry), the real prize of the competition is what you get out of it to make yourself a better writer, a better designer, and (through your interactions with every other up-and-comer or established veteran in the RPG community) a better person who can hopefully impact the hobby in a meaningful and useful way.

To me, that's what matters in RPG Superstar. That, and all the things you go on to do afterward. But it's the contest that first opens that door and gives you the chance to experience all those things and go on to accomplish some other pretty awesome things, too. That's how I look at it, at least. And it's how I think smart designers should look at it, too. Because if you can hold to that kind of philosophy and outlook over the course of the entire competition, it helps center you and assure yourself in every challenge that you're doing things for the right reasons and holding true to what's actually best for the game as a whole, and not just yourself. I'm not saying we'll get that everytime. But, that's my hope for everyone, at least.

Happy holidays folks,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 aka Stormfriend

I suspect most people go over word count by trying to tie up loose ends or counter exploits. In other words the submission could be stated very simply in 100 words or less, but how many posts are there on the message boards requesting rules clarifications? I applaud anyone who spends the time thinking through how their item might be used and abused and trying to handle that within the word count.

With regards to my work, yes, if my boss gives me a week to do something I may take ten days. It depends on priorities. If there is a hard deadline for something then my boss will clarify that there is no leeway and I'll get it done by the due date. 'A week' doesn't mean specifically seven days in my work, it's an approximate measure of time. The question is: does it really matter? If we're synchronising back-office upgrades then it does absolutely. If we're completing a piece of work in advance then there is room for manoeuvre.

300 words only matters because Paizo says it does (in other words there's no obvious reason why it's now 300 and not 200). I would have thought a character count was a more useful hard cap. How is 330 short words worse than 300 long words? I would argue an unhandled rules exploit is more of a problem than 30 extra words - it's about priorities again.

I'm not criticising the hard cap by the way, if it's part of the spec then it's part of the spec, I'm just saying its relative importance isn't as obvious as some of you think it is. If there's no leeway at all then it should be spelled out in the instructions.

Edit: I hadn't seen Neil's post when I wrote this,I was replying to earlier comments.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

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The black raven wrote:

If these restrictive conditions are meant to be 100% followed, maybe it should be worded "WILL be disqualified".

I honestly believe that doing so would greatly reduce the number of disqualified submissions.

*shrug*

Who says they are interested in reducing the number of DQs? Its a no hand-holding sort of competition.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Dennis Baker wrote:

*shrug*

Who says they are interested in reducing the number of DQs? Its a no hand-holding sort of competition.

Amen to that. (Plus, why would you assume your submission will be the one to break the rules and get away with it? are you that full of yourself?)

I'll add (repeat) something else. You know those 'reality' competitions? Donna loved them, I sat through So You Think You Can Dance* with her, but not American Idol and the like. I don't know how many 'repeat customers' I saw where they said in essense "You'd have been good enough for last year's show, but not now." Same thing. The bar is raised every year.

*

Spoiler:
I can't stand most of those, the dancing shows are an exception since a) I like good body work and b) nubile young 20 somethings in spandex or scantly clad? Yes, more please. I'm a Hermit, not a Saint.


The black raven wrote:


Not wanting to offend anyone here, but it is my understanding that the words "MAY be disqualified" imply that any of the restrictive conditions that follow is NOT a "hard cap" and may be ignored by the judges, ie that the submission may still be considered valid even if, for example, it exceeds 300 words.

If these restrictive conditions are meant to be 100% followed, maybe it should be worded "WILL be disqualified".

I honestly believe that doing so would greatly reduce the number of disqualified submissions.

*shrugs*

I always read it the other way round - that these are some of the reasons you may be disqualified, but that there may also be others (like turning your entry in late for the next round, if you get that far).

And to be honest, if something is specifically called out in the rules as a condition that may disqualify you, why wouldn't you steer clear of the danger zone? I'm afraid lighthouses often come to mind in these sorts of discussion.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

The black raven wrote:

If these restrictive conditions are meant to be 100% followed, maybe it should be worded "WILL be disqualified".

I honestly believe that doing so would greatly reduce the number of disqualified submissions.

"May" is for the lawyers. In the end we as judges retain discretion about things. BUT we have clarified over and over that being over word count gets you auto-kicked. The may is a hold over from the days of no word count tool.

By the way, everything else on that list is a AUTOREJECT too. If you look at that list in context, there should be no question about what will happen--not a wondrous item, not anonymous, doesnt conform to Pathfinder, copied, uses other material. NONE of that stuff is OK and over wordcount is in that list.

And, though I appreciate your optimism, changing "may" to "will" won't change the fact that the people violating the rules simply havent bothered to learn the rules.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Neil raises a good point. I say I don't read the over word count items before I reject them, and that is true. I hit reject before I read it.

But that doesn't mean I don't go back and read it :) I think I have actually read every one after rejecting them. Like a car accident on the side of the road, you just can't NOT look.

I can honestly say that every submission I have rejected as over word count has also been a crappy item. So they all have drastic other problems in addition to word count issues. Except for year 1 of the contest, there has to my recollection never been an over word count item that was rejected where even a single judge said "oh what a great item, if only it wasnt over word count." That has never happened (other than year 1, where word counting was done by me using cut and paste and we advanced and item over word count).


I believe a smaller writing assignment gives you chance to show how well you can describe details and use powerful sentences to capture the reader’s attention. Kind of like the back cover text of a novel, if the summary sucks or is uninteresting then you don’t want to read the rest of the book.

Cheliax

2 people marked this as a favorite.

at first i thought 300 was too little words. i kept going over. it was so frustrating.

Then i took just one aspect of my item and made it it's own item.

Not just did the word count drop, but i found myself loving the item sooo much more!

Qadira

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Tales Subscriber

300 is a lot of words...

And if you are writing a term paper - quality over quantity (as in, more quality, less quantity).

I did just spend a good 30 minutes fretting over a couple of commas mind you... and I still am not sure I got it right.

I make no promises of proper grammar in a post mind you.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

In my opinion, if the first draft of your item has more than 300 words, it's probably a good idea to start over. If it's 300 or fewer, it's still very easy to lose 50 or more words if you are a skilled writer. In fact, it's a good idea to lose that "extra fat" even if you are under the word limit. Rewriting your item more concisely will probably also make the text flow better.

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To some degree, I think new writers (I'm including myself in this category to some extent, and certainly 20 years ago when I first started dabbling) fall into a glut of over-explanation. The "and then" syndrome.

They want to make sure they cover all potential problems the item could cause or questions that could come up while using the item.

It is like back when we were in high school, and someone wanted to use a ring of 3 wishes and essentially wrote a 7 page paper of what they wanted, where all but the 1st sentence were clauses on how the GM couldn't screw them over.

Those aren't necessary if you use existing rules to satisfy your intent.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Serpent wrote:
In my opinion, if the first draft of your item has more than 300 words, it's probably a good idea to start over.

That depends on your writing and editing style, I think. I'm one of those people who benefits from having chunks of text to delete, combine and move around. I also rely a lot upon my "ear" in reading a passage for clarity and style. Thus, it makes sense for me to write a shaggy, overlong draft and then trim what's on the page.

Not a disagreement, really, just comparing notes. And I completely agree with trimming down a first draft even when it's under word count.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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Word count of the 2010 and 2011 RPG superstar wondrous items.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
290 – 300 words (15 items – 23,4%)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Seducer’s Bane – 300 words
Seeds of the Spirit Totem – 300 words
Locket of the Umbral Kiss – 299 words
Bag of Holes – 298 words
Spell Component Powder (Pixie Dust) – 298 words
Corsage of the Captured Voice – 298 words
Gem of Immediate Defense – 297 words
Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven – 297 words
Cacophonous Monkey – 295 words
Vessel of the Deep – 295 words
Singing Bowl of Redoubled Clarity – 295 words
Iron Bands of the Blue Dragon – 295 words
The Smuggler’s Collapsible Robe – 295 words
Talisman of Sinchronicity – 293 words
Erinyes Braid – 290 words
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
250-289 words (17 items – 26,6%)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Imp’s Wishbone – 285 words
Lyre of Truth-Telling – 283 words
Troll Fingers – 281 words
Hourglass of the Insightful Conjurer – 279 words
Assassin’s Rose – 279 words
Needles of the Ebon Strand – 278 words
Goblin Skull Bomb – 274 words
Meditation Beads of the Flaming Fist – 271 words
Stone of Alliance – 265 words
Spellstrike Vambraces – 264 words
Verdant Vine – 264 words
Starborn Seeds of Manifest Denial – 256 words
Pharasma’s Blessing – 254 words
Scapular of True Devotion – 253 words
Book of Night Without Moon – 251 words
Steadfast Gut-Stone – 250 words
Muse of the Solemn Vessel – 250 words
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
200-249 words (17 items - 26,6%)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Nightingale’s Tongue – 248 words
Amulet of the Rakshasa – 248 words
Gloves of the Shortened Path – 240 words
Ampoule of False Blood – 239 words
Cocoon Cloak – 238 words
Flask of Five Fifths – 237 words
Sublime Phial – 236 words
Runcible Spoon – 233 words
Bracelet of Smoke and Mirrors – 228 words
Grim Howler – 225 words
Amulet of Sparkling Deceit – 213 words
Sal’s Master Key – 207 words
Gloves of the Deceiver – 206 words
Illusionist’s Veil – 206 words
Mirrored Lantern of the Pious Seeker – 205 words
Eye of the Void – 201 words
Poisoner’s Retort – 201 words
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
150-199 words (13 items – 20,3%)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Waters of Transfiguration – 199 words
Seven Thousand Blossoms – 197 words
Phlebotomist’s Gloves – 197 words
Nightmare Boots – 197 words
Alchemist’s Viper – 187 words
Pharasma’s Death Sacrament – 185 words
Silver Skein – 181 words
Plentiful Pouch – 180 words
Snapleaf – 175 words
Crystal Chalice of dawnflower Dew – 175 words
Batrachian Helm – 169 words
Tankard of the Cheerful Duelist – 160 words
Shadow Falconer’s Glove – 152 words
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
149 words or less (2 items – 3,1%)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Martyr’s Tear – 148 words
Candle of Viscous Ephemera – 141 words

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Pedro Coelho wrote:
Word count of the 2010 and 2011 RPG superstar wondrous items.

Excellent work!

Fascinating! Nearly half are 250 and over. And the other half are 200-250. Very few under 200.

I'd love to see prior years breakdown.

That fits right about what I would guess. I would have said 240-250 was probably about the average word length. (I'd be a bit on the short side, but close).

I'm surprised to see so many 290-300s. I have to admit. I dont recall that many (but then again I didnt judge in 2011, but I did all prior years).

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Do you think you can draw any conclusions from that data?

I'm not sure.

Other than this: if you are at about 250, you are just about right. :) And if you are under 150, there probably isn't enough "there there." (with apologies to Gertrude Stein and the city of Oakland)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka John Benbo

Wow, I'm surprised my Cocoon Cloak was only 238 words. Usually, I'm more verbose...

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

Yeah I went back and saw my Nightmare Boots were under 200... I could've sworn it was way closer to the limit!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Gary Teter wrote:
My theory is, a very low percentage of top 32 items contain more than 290 words.

Myth busted. :)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Clark Peterson wrote:
Do you think you can draw any conclusions from that data?

I was expecting a bell curve, but the slight tendency to the higher word count is kind of surprising due to the general perception that cutting too close to 300 means bad writing and inability to be concise. I thought there would be something like 5 or 6 items in the 290-300 range, but nearly a quarter of all items from the past two years fall into that range.

The only conclusion I can draw is that sometimes an item takes 300 words to work, and that´s not necessarily a bad thing. If it can be trimmed down to 250 and still be awesome, great, you should do that! If not, don't think your item doesn't stand a chance just because you could only get it down to 293.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka DankeSean

Huh. I never did a comparison before, so it's funny. I had no idea both my entries came in at 295 words exactly. I know that wasn't intentional, since I recall editing my 2011 entry in the browser before submitting, so just funny. Maybe it's my lucky number.

Anyhow, back on track, I can say that both of mine came in well over 300 words on my first drafts and proved extremely pruneable in rewrites. Getting them down to 295 was a struggle, but they both probably improved from my being forced to find ways to describe them in simpler terms. So no, don't automatically discard an idea just because it's over word count at first glance. Odds are you can trim it down, and the act of separating the wheat from the chaff in the editing is really, really beneficial to your own self-critical ability.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Sean McGowan wrote:
So no, don't automatically discard an idea just because it's over word count at first glance.

While I'm still of the opinion that less is more and removing the "extra fat" is necessary (whatever the initial word count), I do admit, now that I've seen Pedro's analysis, that being near the 300-word limit doesn't really decrease your chances of being in the 32.

I guess the fact that the judges didn't even realize how many submissions were in the 290-300-word range means that a well-written text feels shorter than it is. Much like a good movie? :P

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Actually, this breaks down almost exactly how I thought it would. I'd have said at least half the items would be 250 words or more. And I would've said less than a fourth would be 200 words or less with almost none under 150 words.

Why? Because writers write. It doesn't matter what limit you give them, they'll use it. And most writers will use all of it...and maybe even then some, which they then have to go back and trim just to get it back down. Or, rightly or wrongly, they'll toss it over to their developer and count on them to trim it back according to what makes the most sense in their view for the overall product.

Personally, I think it's wisest to shoot for a 250-word item. That way, you have wiggle room in case you actually do run over a bit and need just that extra sentence or two of explanation, either in flavor text or your description of the item's mechanics. I think on average, most of the new items in Paizo products (not the reprinted stuff from 3.5) run about 250 words. Some go up to 300 because that's the hard limit for a sidebar in a Paizo product. It's the guideline I use when creating new magic items for an adventure in one of the APs. And that's why it serves as a good limit for an RPG Superstar wondrous item submission.

That said, I think it's clear from the analysis above that you can get an item into the Top 32 across any of those wordcounts. You've just got to have an awesome idea, articulate it fairly well, make sure its mechanically sound, and present it as professionally as you can. It's a lot harder to pull off all those things and be seen as innovative if you way underwrite it. And, even a fair number of those entries that bump right up against the word limit struggle, too...mostly because the author just can't find his voice, control it, or communicate very effectively. I'm certain that's true for the items that go over wordcount.

Just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Damn... I was hoping for the shortest item. :-(

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Clark Peterson wrote:

I just rejected another entry so far this year that is over the word count. (that's the second I have done and I think the third total this year).

Seriously, people, how is anyone still making this mistake?

AUTO-REJECT

Didn't even read it. Waste of time, waste of digital storage space.

The miracle is not how many people make this mistake, for on average it's rare to find anyone who actually reads the directions. The one's who fail don't matter. After all... there's only one winner and this is just part of paring down the numbers. Anyone who's taken an editing position knows from experience that submission violations are the norm from amateurs and should be taking them in stride.

But I really think you judges should take up the decaf. Needlessly inflammatory titles like the one you're posting make you all look like Raving Dork. And one of him is enough for any board.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Boxhead

Matthew Morris wrote:
Damn... I was hoping for the shortest item. :-(

You and me both...

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

Still amazed when folk run smack at the original judges and drivers of this competition. Take the opportunity, and leave the ego at the door.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

I've never had a problem with going over on writing assignments. I like to think it is because I am good at expressing what needs to be said in as few words as possible. On the other hand, maybe I just don't have much to say.


I ended up including the stat block into the word count as well and managed to hit 300.

Then, when I previewed my submission, it let me know I had more wiggle room.

Then again, I sorta wish that I could go back in time and keep myself from hitting "submit" and working out something else but I figured if I didn't post something soon, I never would!

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Serpent wrote:
I guess the fact that the judges didn't even realize how many submissions were in the 290-300-word range means that a well-written text feels shorter than it is. Much like a good movie? :P

I think this is a very astute observation.

We've always said be careful of cutting it close, use the word counter preview feature and make sure your writing is concise. I dont think we (the judges) have ever suggested there is any penalty for being close to the word count. In fact, the opposite is true to some degree--obviously we felt more than 200 was needed so we upped it to 300. So it makes sense to me that most sit at the midpoint there, around 250, a tad over.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Neil Spicer wrote:
I think it's clear from the analysis above that you can get an item into the Top 32 across any of those wordcounts.

This is probably the other thing I would take away from the analysis (no surprise its from Neil, who you may know I happen to think the world of). You can get in regardless of wordcount. There is no "required" word count. We don;t check it at all other than to see if it is over. If its at 299 and great, that beats one that is 250 and good.

You are NOT being tested to see if you can do it in fewer than the allotted words. You are only being tested on whether you can do it in the allotted word count. How much under the allotted word count is not a relevant measure to us.

Clark

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

LazarX wrote:
Needlessly inflammatory titles like the one you're posting make you all look like Raving Dork. And one of him is enough for any board.

Sorry, we've got a couple and I am probably lead Raving Dork, which is fine with me. There is a grand tradition of raving dorkiness here, of which I am very proud. No decaf for me.

The title was inflammatory on purpose. Just like my threads of encouragement are encouraging on purpose. I tend to take exactly the tone I intend to take :) In other words, I'm doing this on purpose.

Can I have Raving Dork added to my forum name title? That would be cool!

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

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Steven T. Helt wrote:
Still amazed when folk run smack at the original judges and drivers of this competition. Take the opportunity, and leave the ego at the door.

Just wait till we announce the top 32. Every year there is the "one guy" who accuses us of bias and goes all crazy on the forums. Happens every year. Though sometimes it takes until the "critique my item" thread for it to rear its head when "that guy" has to read that his (or her) item was not actually that close to making the top 32. :)

Don't worry about us. We are thick skinned. And the freedom of discussion is one of the greatest things about this contest. Frankly, but for the occasional flare up, the discussion here is about as appropriate, supportive, grown up and intelligent as you will find on the net. The excellence of the community is one of the reasons I was willing to do the "critique my item" threads in the first place. There is almost nowhere else that would work, but at Paizo.com it does because of the amazing community Paizo has cultivated here.

So its all good... ;)

Contributor

LazarX wrote:
But I really think you judges should take up the decaf. Needlessly inflammatory titles like the one you're posting make you all look like Raving Dork. And one of him is enough for any board.

If someone can't follow the incredibly easy-to-understand 300-word rule for R1, that's unbelievable. And by submitting their too-long item, they're wasting my time. They're spending extra time to waste my time on something that'll never advance. So, like seeing the guy who shows up for the American Idol audition and does a mime performance, yeah, the judges are gonna vent a bit, because we're reviewing submissions on our own time, during a holiday.

BTW, one person submitted an item this week that was over 500 words. Really.


To be honest, not only do the rules state this but the submission will tell you how many words your item is right in the title. All you have to do is preview if you're in doubt.

It's easy!


It is easy, but that doesn't mean everyone will be able to do it.

I'm not saying you guys have done anything wrong, but you're offering an open call to RPG nerds, ages one to one hundred. There are bound to be more dogs than winners. (pretty sure my sub will be judged as a dog)

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