Word Count


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion

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Midrealm DM wrote:


I had a player in my campaign who had been granted a huge undeveloped tract of land (several acres). He traded it to a local merchant for a tiny house in the warehouse district because the home had once belonged to the original founder of the city.

I understand the value of items introduced into the story or events of a campaign. I even agree that content based items are, on a whole, more interesting and fun to use. My point is that very rarely to do find an item in a book that I want based on its history.

In your above example, it was not as if you player opened up a supplement and said, "Wow! A house owned by the founder of a city. I MUST HAVE IT!!"

Most likely his interest came about due to events that transpired during the campaign.

Conversely, as a DM I will accede to the idea that item history is very valuable for campaign development/story telling. Though I generally tend to use artifacts or named weapons for this purpose and very seldom are they items I've found in print. Usually I make them up.


Otter77 wrote:

In your above example, it was not as if you player opened up a supplement and said, "Wow! A house owned by the founder of a city. I MUST HAVE IT!!"

.
Most likely his interest came about due to events that transpired during the campaign.

Oh certainly, and for this contest, functionality is more important than history, but on occasion it does happen that players prefer flavor over function. Rare, but it does happen.

Anyay - I've got to find a way to trim another 31 words from my item, or perhaps just abandon it and go for something simpler.

TTFN

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Otter77 wrote:
Midrealm DM wrote:
... Usually I make them up.

Not that anyone wants my advice. One danger with a backstory in an RPG is that it has to be able to drop into any GMs campaign. If your item is Qqqq's Purple Dragon Scale of Warforge Slaying and Kosher Sandwich Toasting, you run the risk of alienating DMs who do not have warforged, purple dragons, toast or have disallowed any words with a q except when followed by a u. One benefit is that Mordenkainen's this, Bigby's that and Evard's whatchamacallit add history to the world. Most DMs want to add their OWN history to their OWN world, so give them a wisp (Qqqq or purple dragons) and let them springboard into the rest. If you were writing a book (hence your world) then I would argue the opposite, but remember your audience (the judges certainly will).

Sovereign Court

I think another issue is what level you're aiming your Wondrous Item at. I'm shooting to get into what I hope is the under submitted low-level item category, and I had no problem getting in under 150 words. If I were doing a high level, complicated item, I could see 200 words being a squeeze.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

200 words for an item should not be hard to do. Most of the wondrous item entries in the SRD are easily under 200 words.


Daigle wrote:
200 words for an item should not be hard to do. Most of the wondrous item entries in the SRD are easily under 200 words.

Yes, but a lot of the SRD items are along the lines of "+4 Headband of Intellect" or "+5 Gauntlets of To-Hit Bonus". There's not a lot of verbiage needed to explain a +3 bonus to AC. And I don't think you'd want to try to win this contest with one.

A lot of the interesting items have a higher word count; the Amulet of the Plains is only about 150, but the Apparatus of the Crab is about 240, and a Bag of Holding is about 330. They could be shorter, but I'm glad they bothered to explain what happens when you turn a Bag of Holding inside out, or when you stick your torchbearer in one.

Some items do just fine in 100 words. I know I wrote up two items, and one barely reached 150. But the other one was a struggle to get lower than 200. And that was the one my friends liked, so that's the one I submitted.


Scott & Le Janke wrote:
... Kosher Sandwich Toasting

I MUST HAVE IT!!


Wicht wrote:
Try telling the back story in only 2-3 sentences. Much more than that and you are telling a real story, not describing a magic item. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit.

Brevity is... wit.


Todd Starbuck wrote:
Wicht wrote:
Try telling the back story in only 2-3 sentences. Much more than that and you are telling a real story, not describing a magic item. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit.
Brevity is... wit.

Brevity? Wit!


CNB wrote:
Todd Starbuck wrote:
Wicht wrote:
Try telling the back story in only 2-3 sentences. Much more than that and you are telling a real story, not describing a magic item. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit.
Brevity is... wit.
Brevity? Wit!

This is the internet. We can use BitSoW.

Paizo Employee Sales Associate

mythfish wrote:
CNB wrote:
Todd Starbuck wrote:
Wicht wrote:
Try telling the back story in only 2-3 sentences. Much more than that and you are telling a real story, not describing a magic item. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit.
Brevity is... wit.
Brevity? Wit!
This is the internet. We can use BitSoW.

lol

Star Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Are people putting the math for their pricing in? Just wondering. Obviously it adds to the word count, thereby stealing precious words from elsewhere, but on the other hand it shows design knowledge (or a lack of) that could be important.

Hmmm?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Last Rogue wrote:

Are people putting the math for their pricing in? Just wondering. Obviously it adds to the word count, thereby stealing precious words from elsewhere, but on the other hand it shows design knowledge (or a lack of) that could be important.

Hmmm?

I didn't put in my math ... if that helps.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka michaeljpatrick

I didn't put any math in either. I followed the instructions to get a value for my item, but then lowered it considerably when I saw that many objects of equal or greater power had a lower price tag.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

michaeljpatrick wrote:
I didn't put any math in either. I followed the instructions to get a value for my item, but then lowered it considerably when I saw that many objects of equal or greater power had a lower price tag.

No math for the price, the power of black art is diminshed if you show how it is done.

Now I am seriously doubting if the cool factor of my item is big enough, it's a solid item, but how cool is solid?


Cool is subjective. I vote for solid or utility. Which do you prefer: an item that has a function that is really powerful, but seldom used, or an item that is weaker, in relation, but used all the time?

Grand Lodge Contributor , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

With power comes responsibility (hehe). If your item is ultra powerful, it's much much harder to price it appropriately. It's also more likely for it to be game breaking. Also, an innocuous, low cost item may be more powerful than the designer intended. Dust of sneezing and choking comes to mind. Even tanglefoot bags can be frightening in the hands of a skilled and determined player or DM.

If you equal 'solid' with 'well-balanced', then solid is a good thing.

Otter: I personally prefer items, class features and spells that provide a benefit all the time. However, it's always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to break the pattern when things go awry. Or just to surprise your DM every now and then =D


After I started seeing a bit too much of myself around here I found out that my avatar had been chosen by over 50 other people so I got a face lift (and added a profile). Meet the new Ragwaine (no jokes about the nose please, I got a big discount...)

Anyway, I'm still struggling with my word count but it's really becoming more of a writing challenge. How can I combine sentences to use the fewest number of words etc... I find myself saying, "Man, if I just had 6 more words I could add this interesting detail." Then I start looking for stuff I can cut or combine. But I think I found the trick. If I link all my words together with dashes then it's really all just 1 word! (that's according to MS Word)


Tap into your inner Zen and repeat this mantra:

Less is More


I had a count of 206. Did a major rewrite of a paragraph, closed my eyes and clicked the word count button. 200!!! It's a sign. I think I'm done.


I agree with Otter77. I used the KISS philosophy for my submission. I started with 5-6 submission ideas, all but one got a bit to wordy. Intead of driving myself nuts trying to trim this or expand on that I decided to go with the less is more or keep it simple stupid approach. I was really, really tempted to go with some of the other ideas, but in the end I am happy with what I submitted. Hopefully the judges will be also. Good luck everyone.


I tried that but my item seemed kind of lame.

Chair of Swordliness: when wielded as a weapon this large overstuffed chair acts in all ways as a long sword.

See what I mean? Maybe I should add some fluff?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Just reviewed a submission that was 544 words.

I didnt even read it.

I just rejected it. Boom. I didnt wait for Erik or Wolfgang to read it. And they wouldnt have waited for me.

I have no idea if it was any good or if it was the best item that has ever been created in the history of the game. It got flushed.

I dont say this to seem mean. But we are taking this seriously. A couple words over, maybe. But 544. Come on.

Word to the wise.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I just reviewed another that was TWO items in one submission and over 400 words.

Didn't even finish reading them. Bam! Rejected.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I just auto-rejected a 347 word entry.

Believe me, I dont like doing this. I -want- to read and judge these items. But if a submitter cant follow simple directions how can we rely on that person to deliver a manuscript to spec?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I just rejected a 697 word entry. Didnt even read it. It included a monster stat block and had a multi-paragraph back story.

Total inability to follow directions.

Might have been the best item ever, I wouldnt know because I didnt even read it.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I just rejected one with 286 words. That one I actually read and would have voted to reject anyway for various reasons. But I auto-rejected it (without consulting the other judges) just for word count.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow .... I wouldn't of thought that a word count was such a hard instruction to follow...

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Me either.

If you cant follow instructions, you are not an RPG Superstar. Or that is our take anyway.

It kills me to reject these. I really dont like doing it. But following instructions is a criteria. And it isnt fair to those who do follow the instructions. So if you are over word count (by more than a few) then you get auto-rejected and most likely the submission is not even read.


Maybe they were using their laptops of wordiness.

This sounds just like my writing students, although only 10% of my students go excessively over the word limit. The rest... well, you can guess.


Since I'm getting the impression that following the word count specification is important (Not sure why, it just came to me when reading Clark's posts today, lol)...

How many entries are being rejected for word count violations? 1 in 10? More? Less?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Its not 1 in 10. Maybe 1 in 20. At most.


Submitted my item yesterday. Rewrote it today (for my own amusement). *sigh*

This is a terrific contest though!! Looking forward to the voting process and all the cool designs everyone is coming up with. Am intrigued that if Clark says less than 1 in 20 are rejected max for wordcount/format, and lists 5 of these in the past 2 hours, he's gone through over 100 entries in that time. Gulp.

Will the total number of legit entries be reported at some point prior to the 28th?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I probably did about 50-60 entries. I just had a rough patch of 4 or so blatantly over count entries.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Glyder wrote:
Will the total number of legit entries be reported at some point prior to the 28th?

We'll probably say something along the lines of "More than XXX entries were received, and the judges have selected these as your top 32!"


Ok, a quick question. This may be counted in the 'everything counts to wordcount' thing from Vic way earlier, but do the formatting tags count? My word processor seems to count them as additional words even though there isn't a space between the tags and the words. As my submission is 199 words without them, I was just wondering if they counted.

Yes I realise they aren't needed, but they make it look so much better. I'm just mostly questioning if they count as extra words in whatever program the Judge's are viewing things or not.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

That is one reason why a couple words over 200 isnt going to kill us--there are some different ways programs count words and we realize that. You could submit something that counts it as 199 and we count it as 207. That isnt going to be an auto-reject. We understand these things. But it wont save you at 245 thats for sure.


As an aside, I checked in my version of Word (2004 Mac version) and it didn't count the BBCode tags as words... assuming of course that they were adjacent to a real word, without a space inbetween.

But I could see where that could cause problems if they DID count as words for some programs. With 4 italicized words in my submission, that would bump me from 200 exactly to 208.

But I'm glad we get a bit of leeway for that.


200 words is perfect. The format does not include back-story, as far as I could see. This probably allows a DM to customize it to the module/campaign the item is encountered in.

flash_cxxi wrote:

Is anyone else out there having trouble with the word count? I have finished mine and it comes in at 450 words.

Do we need a back story for our item? If not I can trim nearly 200 words, but it doesn't make as much sense without the backstory.
Man... 200 words is a killer.


I have a question about how word count is tabulated. My submission included a table displaying info and market value for varying item types. I included the words in the table, the table headers, and the title of my submission in my word count which totaled less than 200. The table however did not transfer well from my Word document to my post. To make my submission more readable I added periods to space out the table. Reviewing it today I noticed that when I ran the word count on my posted version Word tabulated over 400 words. So my question is this, will my submission be automatically tossed out by an automated word count or will it be reviewed to ensure word count is within guidelines?

I originally posted this on another thread but it seems more appropriate here. This is my second post so please forgive the noob mistake.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Cruiser1

My item also clocked in at exactly 200 words (as counted by MS Word). That includes the title, physical description, and lore (but not BBCode tags). Most of this was taken up by the item mechanics, along the lines of "both gloves must be worn for the magic to be effective", to ensure people know exactly what it can and can't do. Brevity is important, but concise extra clarification can be valuable as well.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Elder God of Pies wrote:
So my question is this, will my submission be automatically tossed out by an automated word count or will it be reviewed to ensure word count is within guidelines?

The judges realize that different programs count different ways. There's no automatic word-count mechanism in place, but by now, the judges have a pretty good idea of how long a 200-word entry looks. If yours looks longer, they might investigate further, but if it looks right, they won't bother.


Vic Wertz wrote:
...If yours looks longer, they might investigate further, but if it looks right, they won't bother.

Thanks! That is a big load off my mind.

Liberty's Edge

It was hard for me, but I made it by a hair with 197 words that included three sentences on how it was created.

Happiest day of my friggin' life.


Clark Peterson wrote:

I just reviewed another that was TWO items in one submission and over 400 words.

Didn't even finish reading them. Bam! Rejected.

Looking over this that has me worried. I submitted 2 items in one, but I was sure it was under 200 words. No I am doubting whether it was and I can't seem to find the file I saved it as.... Damn forgetfulness, I wonder if I even saved it?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Cruiser1 wrote:
My item also clocked in at exactly 200 words (as counted by MS Word). That includes the title, physical description, and lore (but not BBCode tags). Most of this was taken up by the item mechanics, along the lines of "both gloves must be worn for the magic to be effective", to ensure people know exactly what it can and can't do. Brevity is important, but concise extra clarification can be valuable as well.

True!

You get into certain items, like those that rely on divination magic, and you start requiring certain disclaimers. On the other hand, those aren't easier items to write up in the first place and there might be fewer of them to compare against.

I said this before in other thread I think, but it bears repeating. (Strictly my opinion), a simple item can be very elegant and straight forward- easier to price. The problem with them is that they are easier to come up with and you're less likely to be original even if you try.

On the other hand, the complex item might be more unusual, and less seldom seen.. but you fight word count, pricing, and just getting the mechanics right in the first place.

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