[Community Project] Pathfinder Fiction Contest 2013


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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The time has come. Great stories will be regaled! Here comes Pathfinder Chronicler's 2013 Competition to see who will receive the hard earned Paizo Editor Choice Award for best story!

Contest Period: Since July 4th, 12:00AM, Pacific Time, Pathfinder Chronicler has been accepting short story submissions for our Pathfinder Fiction Contest 2013. Deadline for all submissions is August 12th, 11:59pm Pacific Time. Round One stories will be 3000 words or less and must change or add to existing canon.

On September 7th, twenty (20) finalists will be announced to go on to Round 2 with a mystery criterion yet to be revealed. The second round will begin September 9th with twenty finalists to turn in their stories by September 27th, 11:59pm Pacific Time.

Five stories will be chosen to go on to the final round which will be conducted by Paizo’s Fiction Editor, James L. Sutter. James will blindly read the work of the five finalists and decide the wiiner of our Pathfinder Fiction Contest 2013. That winner will be announced October 10th. The top 10 stories chosen by the judges will also be put in the upcoming Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology Volume IV.

Head on over to our Pathfinder Fiction Contest for more details! Good Luck and I hope to be reading you in our Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology IV too.

Dark Archive

I may actually enter this. :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Sounds good. We need winners after all.

Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

I have an idea, but it is obscure and subtle. I may find a different idea for a story to submit, but this is one that won't let go.

Either way, I plan on submitting.

Dark Archive

I'm no winner. I'm just a drunk with a plethora of creative skills. :P

All the same, I'm mulling over some ideas I'll pitch to the girlfriend, who actually reads fiction regularly, and see what sticks. If I can knock out 3,000 words (not hard, since I love to hear myself type), I'll be up ins this contest like booze at an old-school Ted Thompson party. :P


So I want to make sure I understand how this works. To enter I'd write one story that I work really hard on and if I make it to Round Two I'd have to write another story? I've never seen another contest run this way. Why the two different stories?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Firebrande wrote:
So I want to make sure I understand how this works. To enter I'd write one story that I work really hard on and if I make it to Round Two I'd have to write another story? I've never seen another contest run this way. Why the two different stories?

Well, it is somewhat of a nod to RPG Superstar. They run about 5 rounds so this is rather small-ish compared to that. The reason for two rounds is quite simple, we get to see the better bunch of the submissions strut their talent once more so we can put solid contenders before James Sutter, that we feel are the best of the best. This also gives him interesting choices as does it also stretch the contestant's writing ability to its max.

Not to mention all the great material we can pick and choose from for our Anthologies.


I guess I get it, but it still seems like a lot of work for a fan-fiction contest. What if one of the contestants who makes it to Round 2 has a bad month and though their first story was birlliant, their second one is lacking. And vice versa.

I understand the nod to RPG Superstar, but this isn't an RPG contest and I thought the community voted on the winners for lower rounds in Superstar. From what I saw of the contest the Paizo community isn't involved. I don't know, I might toss in an entry and see what it's about, but this isn't like any other contest I've ever seen.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

I guess my response to that is, you're right. The contest generates a huge body of work that we get to publish our Anthologies from. This has been a major process for the past three years. Running contests and then turning many of those stories into Anthologies. For sure, I have never heard of a contest that does that!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

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Firebrande wrote:
What if one of the contestants who makes it to Round 2 has a bad month and though their first story was brilliant, their second one is lacking. And vice versa.

We face that same problem/concern in RPG Superstar. And the way I view it is that's okay. Trust the judges (whether it's the contest judges or the voting public) to suss out who they want to see advance. And that means each contestant needs to bring the awesome as frequently as they can to convince the judges/voters to let them advance. There's nothing wrong with that approach. In the end, the best authors/designers still rise to the top.

Firebrande wrote:
I understand the nod to RPG Superstar, but this isn't an RPG contest and I thought the community voted on the winners for lower rounds in Superstar.

The first round of RPG Superstar was traditionally only voted on by the judges...i.e., they selected the Top 32 to allow into the contest. Only this past year did that change up a little. And, even then, the community only "voted" in a way that put the more universally liked items towards the top to make it easier on the judges so they didn't have to wade through hundreds upon hundreds of items that just weren't up to snuff. In the end, the judges still had the responsibility of which of those items to select for the Top 32. They didn't just go with the first 32 items the public liked the most.

Firebrande wrote:
I don't know, I might toss in an entry and see what it's about, but this isn't like any other contest I've ever seen.

In my opinion, you should always get involved in these kinds of contests. They challenge you in a good way and actually help you hone your design skills and/or fiction-writing skills. It's worth the time and effort. And, much like RPG Superstar, it's not so much about catching lightning in a bottle with a single Superstar entry. It's about who's got sustaining power. Who can bring the awesome time and time again? A Superstar (whether in game design or fiction-writing) shouldn't be a one-trick pony with a single good idea or story. It should be someone who isn't afraid to compete in multiple rounds. It should be someone who has the courage and perseverance to solider-on and take the prize.

Or, in the theme of the Survivor television show: Outlast, Outwit, and Outplay.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Thanks Neil,

I will again reiterate, that this isn't just your usual writing contest. You are being judged by two people that founded Pathfinder Chronicler, two that edit Pathfinder Chronicler's Anthology and one of the most prolific writers within the Paizo Community, Boomer! Quite literally, we are judging your story as worthy of being published because it may very well happen that it is. The contest itself has its own rewards too. It pays contestants Paizo Gift Certificates and the Top 5 of Round 2 are seen by Paizo Editor James Sutter (what we call "The Sutter Round"). This would be someone that is well versed in their Pathfinder Tales line and also wrote a few books set in it himself.

This is no usual contest. It has plenty of whistles and bells for those wishing to further themselves in writing. I might even add that the above poster earned our prestigious Paizo Editor Award (1st Place chosen by James Sutter) and is also prominently featured in Pathfinder Chronicler's Volume I. His winning story is also available in print copies at Pathfinder Chronicler's website under Donations.

Currently, Pathfinder Chronicler is working on Anthology IV for convention distribution (which this contest delivers the vast majority of content for). I might also add that most stories for Wayfinder by way of fiction are usually taken from Pathfinder Chronicler editors and writers. Work done on Anthologies and Wayfinder entries are done here.

Contributor

For these entries, how drastic of a change are we talking about? The fall of the house of Thrune seems within reason, but how about revealing what happened to Aroden or Nex? What is the scope of change we should shoot for?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Well, given that the entry can only be 3000 words tops, I find such major canon explaining would be tough to come off as credible. The idea is to not "box yourself in" to a heady topic that will leave your reader unsatisfied. You can do whatever you want but it must be a "good story" in the end.

The biggest hint I can give to writing real good fantasy fiction is to consider your reader first. Consider your reader knows nothing about canon, or Pathfinder Campaign Setting, or fantasy fiction in general. Think sword and sandals as your baseline. Consider history and know your medieval times because your reader will get into those "real" details. Anything above that really needs to be well put: fantasy creatures, spells, healing, etc. The use of a healing spell can really snap your non-fantasy readers out of your story. It happens that way because they just don't feel it or believe it. However, if you do a healing spell right and totally raise the belief of your reader that it really can be as it is described...

...then you have effectively conveyed fantasy fiction. We are really after excellent stories first here. Make no mistake. Stories that require that you be "in the know crowd" or read like "last nights game" have no chance in this contest. It is the job of every writer to make the reader believe in the subject and feel they are actually wrapped around a reality that is pure fantasy.


This just in!
One of the contest judges, Clinton J. Boomer has posted a blog entry on the Pathfinder Chronicler site on How to Win (his vote, at least).
Give it a read. It just might give you some new ideas for an entry!

Contributor

I can only urge folks to submit something awesome to the contest this year if you haven't taken part in previous, past iterations.

Had characters you want to explore? Have an awesome idea burning a hole in your brainpan like a snarling quasit playing with household chemicals in your mom's kitchen? Write a story and exorcise that concept. This contest is an awesome excuse to do so, not that you need an excuse to write stories. :)


This contest is a great challenge for anyone who wants to be a writer. The editing/revision process can be tedious, especially if you have a full time job and other concerns.
That said, I have stories in both the II and III anthology and it was worth the effort. (B. R. Bearden)

I've been very impressed with the quality of the stories in both and I'm currently reading all of them in their final form. I can honestly say, after reading over a dozen so far, that I haven't found one yet that disappointed.

On the down side, I've written a story for the next one, but as I read the other stories in II and III, I keep thinking I need to put a lot more effort into my story before I submit it, because they are so good.


"Please, no novel excerpts, poetry, or stories written for children. Any entries or submissions which depict or glorify overly graphic, lewd, obscene, vulgar, or profane behavior, or which utilize lewd, obscene, vulgar, or profane language, either as part of the submission or as the name of the submission, will be disqualified at the sole discretion of Pathfinder Chronicler."

Why can't we use profanity or lewd things? I remember in one of the novels they described gnome prostitute. Also, overly graphic? Pathfinder has some pretty graphic stuff...


Shroomheart wrote:

"Please, no novel excerpts, poetry, or stories written for children. Any entries or submissions which depict or glorify overly graphic, lewd, obscene, vulgar, or profane behavior, or which utilize lewd, obscene, vulgar, or profane language, either as part of the submission or as the name of the submission, will be disqualified at the sole discretion of Pathfinder Chronicler."

Why can't we use profanity or lewd things? I remember in one of the novels they described gnome prostitute. Also, overly graphic? Pathfinder has some pretty graphic stuff...

It might be the matter of Community Use Policy.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Hi guys, we do allow a bit of leeway. The use of such verbage or situations though will have your story take a hit for our contest. The Community Use Policy does not state this sentiment in such descriptive terms but we made our own hybrid based on other contests we looked over on the internet. We take a wide demographic into consideration and must adhere to some standards (besides, we want your writing to reach the largest audience it can).

If your story was about lewd sex but was a Top 10 winner, we would not be able to feature it on our site nor in our Anthology. Our younger set of readers just wouldn't be able to browse that one among others.

I am pretty ok with violence but when it comes to sex, my U.S. Puritan side steps in a little and has to pull back. In some countries, the violence I would let in would be taken just as bad (or even worse than the sex).

Paizo Community Use Policy wrote:
You agree to use your best efforts to preserve the high standard of our intellectual property. You agree to present Paizo, our products, and the Paizo Material in a generally positive light. You agree to not use this permission for material that the general public would classify as "adult content," offensive, or inappropriate for minors, and you agree that such use would irreparably harm Paizo.

Generally speaking, there are ways around this if you are a fairly clever writer. I do understand that Paizo breaks their own Community Policy, but it is their IP.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Our contest has 11 days to go! Will James Sutter be reading your next masterpiece? Let's find out!


/me wonders the chances of seeing everything Boomer likes in one story...

Contributor

Zuxius wrote:


If your story was about lewd sex but was a Top 10 winner, we would not be able to feature it on our site nor in our Anthology. Our younger set of readers just wouldn't be able to browse that one among others.

I am pretty ok with violence but when it comes to sex, my U.S. Puritan side steps in a little and has to pull back. In some countries, the violence I would let in would be taken just as bad (or even worse than the sex).

So how close to that line of too much (implied in this case) sex did I go with 'The Multitude' in last year's contest? :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Todd Stewart wrote:
So how close to that line of too much (implied in this case) sex did I go with 'The Multitude' in last year's contest? :)

We'll see as we look through it for Anthology IV.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Just 9 days to go now!


As a past winner I'm not sure whether I'm eligible to enter again, but... suddenly I find myself 1,000+ words into a story, so I guess I'm in, even if it's just to try to get into another anthology.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Just four more days!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Only just saw this. Looks like I'm out of time. Curses!

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

For the past two years we have extended our contest do to a less than optimal turn out, perhaps for people just like yourself. Stay tuned!


If there would be extension of 1 week or longer I might be able to write and submit something. No guarantees, though.

Good luck to anyone who could finish and submit in due time.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

We'll just have to see. You never know at the last minute. The sky just turns black with papers sometimes.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

It appears we'll be staying with what we have. Hope you all make into the Top 20. Good Luck!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I can't wait to see the results.

Sovereign Court

Canon changing stories seems antithesis of what a fan fiction contest for Golarion is about.


I have been pleased to see that the entries I am reading have all chosen to build upon or add to canon in interesting ways, but I think simplifying the theme of the contest as "canon changing" would not quite be accurate.

Having had much enjoyment in developing and editing Chronicler stories for Anthology 2 and 3, I found that the stories I enjoyed most took little breadcrumbs from Paizo products that hadn't been developed yet and created their own explanation as to how a mystery occurred, etc. As a writer and GM, I have found it incredibly fun to be able to "play in Paizo's sandbox" and take a kernel of an idea from an NPC stat block or one or two lines in the Inner Sea World Guide and run with it. I believe that is what this contest theme hoped to encourage. I don't think the goal of the contest, nor the Chronicler itself, has ever been to cut huge swathes through existing material and re-write it willy-nilly.

We admire and respect the Paizo crew too much.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Ditto to those who contribute to other Paizo Fans United endeavors like Wayfinder. Submissions to WF follow the same mantra. Add to canon and build upon it. Don't tear it down or contradict it. I don't think I've seen anything, whether in WF or the PFC anthologies, that has ever disregarded canon in an especially egregious way.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

Scarab Sages

Do you have the 20 finalists?

Contributor

Jack Rabbit Slim wrote:

Do you have the 20 finalists?

1. The Land of No Consequences by B. R. Bearden

2. Beers at the Beginning of the World by James Tyner
3. The Herald and the Mask by Elaine Betts
4. Zero Hour by Dana Huber
5. Isger Nights by Martin Shelby
6. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time… by Todd Stewart
7. Down to the Breathless by Andrew Crossett
8. Paying the Devil His Due by Charles Kramer Arney
9. Debt of the Dark Sands by Larry Behrendt
10. The Apple Thief by Maggie Hoyt
11. The End of Eternity by Brian J. Fruzen
12. The Knives in the Darkness by David Lee Scott
13. Tasting Godhood by Kalyna Conrad
14. Auntie’s Garden by Michael Stevens
15. Halima’s Quest by Bernabe Covarrubias
16. Dust and Darkness by Arthur Boyd
17. Witch Exiled by Justin Huang
18. A Failed Expedition by Karl M. Ryan
19. Baba Yaga Sneak Attack by Kalab J. Oster
20. Adventures In The Lighting Stones by Venus De Coy

From here

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

I was just about to post this.

Hit this link for sure: Contest Finalists.

From there you can read all the entries too by clicking the title. These stories are all potentials for Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology IV. I will have you note that these are unedited and "as is" from the contestants. Before they go into actual print, they'll need A LOT of work and probably read completely different in many cases including new endings and whatnot.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Hi, glad to see I made into the top 20. (= I was just wondering where to find the rules for round 2 so I can get started on that. Thanks!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Today is the 9th right? Does anyone know where we go to get the guidelines for round 2? I'm not seeing anything on the home page.....


dmchucky69 wrote:
Today is the 9th right? Does anyone know where we go to get the guidelines for round 2? I'm not seeing anything on the home page.....

This is it:

Round Two


You'd think writing a 750-word story should be easy, right?

Nope.

Contributor

Is the same theme from round 1 still in place for round 2?


Andrew Crossett wrote:

You'd think writing a 750-word story should be easy, right?

Nope.

It's harder to write less than it is to write more, for sure. I can think of a hundred words to describe an oak tree, but only three words, now that's a challenge.

By the way, very good story about Abrogail.


Todd Stewart wrote:
Is the same theme from round 1 still in place for round 2?

I don't think there's a theme this time, just flash fiction set in Golarion. Oh, and your tiefling story was very good, nice twist.


Kantrip wrote:
By the way, very good story about Abrogail.

Thanks! And congratulations on winning round 1... definitely well earned.

I've thought of my story for round 2. I'll probably write it and then spend two weeks trying to chop it down under 750 words... sigh.


Andrew Crossett wrote:
I've thought of my story for round 2. I'll probably write it and then spend two weeks trying to chop it down under 750 words... sigh.

I went to bed with an idea for a story, then woke at 6:30 AM with it in my head. I lay there an hour writing it mentally, then decided I better get up and type it out before I lost it. I'm at 746 words and it's complete, but now comes all the tweaking. I'll let it set a few days then read it again, decide I see a lot of things to change and do that. And so forth.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Andrew Crossett wrote:
Kantrip wrote:
By the way, very good story about Abrogail.

Thanks! And congratulations on winning round 1... definitely well earned.

I've thought of my story for round 2. I'll probably write it and then spend two weeks trying to chop it down under 750 words... sigh.

Just read your story Andrew. Seems we had similar ideas about a certain Chelixian Queen. I love strange coincidences. Crazy, is it not?

Contributor

750 words isn't a problem, it's choosing which of the half dozen story ideas I've brainstormed that I now want to develop.

I went with whimsical in round one, and I don't know if I want to continue down that road or do something horrific this time around which tends to be my usual default point for fiction in the past.

Too many ideas is sadly a curse at times. :D

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