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Contest October-November 2019 Short Story Contest, Reading Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Nov 1, 2019.

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Which Story or Stories Do You Like Best? (choose up to two)

Poll closed Nov 30, 2019.
  1. Story One: "The Wendigo"

    2 vote(s)
    14.3%
  2. Story Two: "What's All the Fustria about Lustria"

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  3. Story Three: "Madness..."

    3 vote(s)
    21.4%
  4. Story Four: "Twisted Reflection"

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  5. Story Five: "Reunited Once Again"

    6 vote(s)
    42.9%
  6. Story Six: "In the Grim Darkness"

    1 vote(s)
    7.1%
  7. Story Seven: "The Skink With No Name"

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, shame to see that there were only 7 stories this time for such an interesting category, but regardless, here are my reviews:


    Story 1: Haha, I'm pretty sure this is @Scalenex's entry! Why am I so quick to judge, you may ask? Well, the facts that the setting for this tale is a Wild West version of the Warhammer world, and that it is so similar to the Wild West universe that Scalenex was discussing with me and several other frequenters of the fluff section on a thread a while back points to him as being the principal suspect. Of course, the promising theme of 'Alternative settings' gives the perfect opportunity to kick-start a collection of fluff sagas in this universe, so I'm all in for it. It all starts with two Rango gunslingers riding terror-bird like Culchans along a snowy track to discover that a spate of brutal killings have occurred in the neighbourhood. Arriving at the nearest town, they team up with the deputy Sheriff and some veterans of the Warhammer version of the American Civil War to track down the culprit. As they head further and further away from civilisation, they encounter the perpetrator - a Wendigo, a skeletal embodiment of the cold and starvation that winter brings based upon evil spirits from Native American folklore. After a quick but brutal battle that sees one of their number perish alongside the monster, everything seems to end happily as the heroes get their cold hard cash reward and part ways. However, what they never realised was that the real threat was still out there, and indeed as Private Dimitri heads to another town to spend his loot, that threat catches up with him. Preying upon the experiences he endured during the Civil War, a malevolent black rider possessed of powerful sorcerous capabilities, most likely a Tzeentchian Lesser Daemon in disguise, turns him into another Wendigo, starting the cycle anew.

    As you know I like my grimdark pieces, and I'm pretty impressed to see such a piece in a universe I know pretty well from helping to shape it, as well as some of the concepts fully visualised for the first time, such as how a Wendigo is birthed and the nature of the shadowy servants of Chaos. A great read here!


    Story 2: From an unexpected surprise to something... just completely unexpected. Scooby Doo meets Warhammer? I must admit, I didn't see that coming, not even in a Short Story Contest with 'Alternative Settings' as the theme! Indeed, Scooby and the gang have been summoned through a portal by the Skinks of Itza during the First War against Chaos to aid them against the unstoppable tides of Daemons. Fred, Velma and Daphne explore the Temple City, while Shaggy and Scooby head in a different direction to a ruined temple, where Scooby encounters what sounds like a Mutalith Vortex Beast by backing into it in typical Hanna-Barbera fashion. The ensuing chase sequence, which shares a suspicious similarity to many other cartoon chases, causes our heroes and the Daemon to end up in a heap in the streets of Itza just as the other three are walking past, whereupon Velma discovers that, just like in every other Scooby episode in existence, the monster is a bloke in a costume, specifically an old Skink they met earlier on, who is then apprehended for supposedly causing the first Daemonic Incursion.

    Now, I'm not much of a fan of Scooby (personally I prefer Wacky Races, The Flintstones and Yogi Bear), but I have to say that I just couldn't help but laugh at this. All the stereotypically cartoony tropes are here, from characters disappearing in a cloud of dust to Shaggy demanding a 'comically oversized sandwich' as a reward, which makes this story all the more authentic as the author was clearly aiming to write a Scooby-Doo parody of Warhammer, rather than a Warhammer parody of Scooby-Doo. Therefore, I'm awarding "What's all the fusstria about Lustria?" the Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Comedy Award for October-November 2019!


    Story 3: As opposed to most of the other entries in this contest, which mix Warhammer Fantasy with other universes to get crossovers, this particular entry is especially intriguing because it is still set solely within the Warhammer Fantasy universe, but in a scenario completely nonexistent within mainstream canon - the alternative scenario of Lizardmen being a tribal race like the Aztecs and Mayans they were based on, and being prone to regular infighting amongst themselves. We join a warband from Tlaxtlan, the City of the Moon, after they have just won a victory over a warband from Xlanhuapec, the City of Mists, as part of one of many Civil Wars between the Temple Cities that have gone on in the past few centuries. While most of the victors are seen celebrating their triumph, one, Chaska the ancient Saurus Scar-Veteran, stands apart from the rest, simply standing and staring at the sky, repeating the single word "Madness" over and over again. While one of the two Skinks that question him doesn't understand his utterances and becomes impatient, the other believes the Scar-Veteran is afraid of more and more years of this war, and attempts to show him compassion even though the Skink himself knows very little of the true extent that the Saurus has gone through.

    This particular tale is an especially poignant story that perfectly encapsulates the horror and the pointlessness of specifically Civil Wars - when Chaska simply stands there, repeating "Madness" again and again, he is clearly relating to the madness of the whole Lustrian Civil War, the madness that he had to endure witnessing the deaths of his spawn-brothers to weapons used by his own race, and also the madness that he has to rob other Saurus of their spawn-brothers. The whole cause of the Civil War is not known, so we don't even know why all these Lizardmen are killing each other. All we know is that they have been ordered to do it, and that there is no sign of it stopping. Not as directly grimdark as story 1, but certainly a sad piece that really pulls the emotional heartstrings.


    Story 4: This piece is another clever merging of multiple franchises to create a particularly engaging story. Whereas Story 2 brought to life the wacky cartoon universe of Scooby Doo with a Warhammer twist, this one has more in common with the Star Trek 'Prime Universe vs Mirror Universe' theme with a dash of 40K added in for the Mirror Universe. It all starts with the familiar story of the Lizardmen setting out to reclaim something of theirs that was stolen by some impudent men of the Empire - the Oldblood Borg'qar leads his phalanx of Saurus into the town, repel a squadron of Knights sent to dispatch the attackers and immediately go about searching for the Twenty Seventh Plaque of Chotec. He breaks into an old and ill-kept house and finds the Plaque in the grubby mitts of an Empire Wizard, who is promptly pulverised for his trouble.

    However, that's where the similarity ends - the Oldblood is promptly sucked along a magical portal conjured by the Wizard just before he died, and ends up in an alternative version of the Old World where the Empire, rather than being a neo-German good/neutral faction, is in this case a neo-Roman dictatorship, akin to a Fantasy version of the 40K universe's own Imperium of Man. Certainly similarities to 40K are commonplace here, with familiar-sounding 'Imperial Marines' who 'know no fear' quickly arresting our Oldblood hero and taking him to a very one-sided trial, where the Emprah himself (not a skeleton) arrives on the scene, declares him to be pretty much the Fantasy version of 'Xenos scum' and sentences him to death in a very Roman-esque arena fight. To add insult to injury, the deliberately short and blunt ending reveals that Borg-qar's opponent is none other than his own Carnosaur, either a mirror universe incarnation or his prime universe Carnosaur abducted sometime beforehand.

    An entry that will arguably resonate with every Star Trek fan on the forum at least, if not everyone else (I'd imagine the neo-German and neo-Latin text might throw some readers), I'd say this one is one of the most well thought-out in terms of delivering an alternative setting that is new and has not been previously thought of or discussed.


    Story 5: Another set in the world of Warhammer Fantasy, this story had me confused for much of its duration as to its relevance to the theme of 'Alternative settings' - what is it in this case that makes the setting alternative? The story revolving around Gru'tun and his comrades fighting a force of Undead is thematic and very well described, but this happens in the Warhammer Fantasy world already. There is no alternative other than that the Lizardmen are fighting a different foe from the usual suspects (Skaven and humans). It's only at the very end that the reader finally finds the link - after Gru'tun dies from a poisoned wound inflicted by a Skaven Assassin, he finds himself leading his former Saurus cavalry division once again, but this time in the Mortal Realms of the Age of Sigmar.

    While this story nicely recollects the AoS lore of Saurus being remembered into existence in and links it nicely with Warhammer Fantasy, we don't actually see this until the very end - the vast majority of the story is of the Saurus recovering from the loss of his comrades in the Warhammer Fantasy world, which would make for a pretty strong entry in most Short Story Contests on this forum, but in this particular Contest, where the theme has conjured some really diverse and imaginative pieces, this one just feels tame, especially as the 'Alternative setting' in this instance is just the Age of Sigmar Mortal Realms in place of the Warhammer Fantasy world - we have crossovers between the two fairly frequently in contests that don't have the 'Alternative Settings' theme, and this one doesn't distinguish from the others that much. Nevertheless, it was great to see the Saurus Cavalry commander 'reunited once again' with his fallen comrades, and the description of the battle was great, so other than falling short of the theme, this piece is still a really good read.


    Story 6: Of all the possible crossovers you could include in a story set in the worlds of Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar, the most obvious candidate would be Warhammer 40K - certainly before I began to read these entries I was expecting at least one to feature a 40K crossover, given the contest theme, but I was surprised that this one was the only one, and a particularly short one too.

    This tale starts with the familiar 40K image of a Space Marine Scout Squad attempting to infiltrate a Khorne Chaos Space Marine encampment to destroy the means by which the Chaos forces have reached the planet - a polar warp gate, not unlike those in the Warhammer Fantasy world. The operation initially goes according to plan, with the three Scouts assassinating several Khorne Berzerkers guarding the area near the warp gate before they can raise the alarm. However, just as they attempt the rush to the gate to plant the mine, they are ambushed by a squad of Fallen Dark Angels, who take out one of their number immediately and are then kept busy by the protagonist's comrade, who provides covering fire to give him more time to activate the mine. However, a Chaos Dreadnought is then attracted to their location by the sounds of battle, and proceeds to blast the protagonist twice with its Autocannon to render the team's mission a failure.

    We are then transported to the actual setting of the story - the Lizardman settlement of New Tlanxla sometime in the future of the AoS mortal realms (or it could be in the Warhammer Fantasy world if New Tlanxla is in Nehekhara), where the Lizardmen are corporeal again and have defeated Nagash, whose Black Pyramid is now a ruined monument in the centre of the Lizardman city. The 40K scenario was merely a VR computer game being played by a Skink, now exasperated at his inability to defeat the level he is playing, and discussing ways he could succeed with one of his mates, alongside studying Advanced Biochemical Engineering to help maintain the Spawning Pools.
    This story is a particularly clever take on the theme of this contest, as there are two alternative settings - the 40K setting of the computer game (which is a fictional setting within the fiction of the story) and the high-tech version of the Mortal Realms. About the only flaw with this one that I can see is that I personally think it was a little too short, but apart from that it's an excellent piece!


    Story 7: When I had thought I had seen it all, we are finally treated to ANOTHER Warhammer Wild West story - while I'm not certain this one was set within Scalenex's Warhammer Wild West universe as none of the terminology brainstormed in that thread is present here, it could easily be set in that universe. It follows the eponymous Skink With No Name (obviously a parody of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name) as he languishes in a gaol cell after being captured by Dark Elves with no company except Ruco, a talkative Dwarf prisoner, in the adjacent cell. He is removed from the cell by his guards and dragged to their leader, who offers him his freedom in exchange for his help in the search for a sunken Black Ark and its stolen Lizardman treasure. Sceptical at the possibility of the Dark Elf actually keeping his word, the Skink waits for a timely cannon shot to smash into the leader's throne room as a distraction before helping himself to both the Lizardman map leading to the wreck and his confiscated rifle and legging it, managing to sneak his way into the fortress stables and steal a Cold One to ride home.

    He follows the map to a great symmetrical mountain with a mine shaft at the top of it, but almost as soon as he enters the cavern, he is greeted by the Dark Elf leader, who also survived the attack and followed the path that he took. Threatening him with his crossbow pistol (obviously an evolution of the Dark Elf repeater handbow), he forces the Skink to lead him into the network of mine passages. As they travel deeper into the earth, they find that the passage ultimately leads to the tomb of a Slann, and that the map led to it rather than the wreck of the Blue Dark. Thinking that either the treasure was rescued and interred here, or that the Slann's tomb would contain a priceless Slann corpse imbued with magical energy, the Dark Elf is still hopeful that riches can be found, as is Ruco, for it is discovered that he was freed when the barrage destroyed his chains and that he followed the Dark Elf captain just as the Elf followed the Skink. This third party distracts the Dark Elf, who points his crossbow at the Dwarf, which gives the Skink the chance to ready his rifle. After some 'dramatic eye close-ups' as featured in some of the most renowned Western films ever made, the three all fire at each other, resulting in Ruco accidentally dropping his stick of dynamite and blowing up the chamber, killing himself and knocking out the Skink and the Dark Elf. The Dark Elf is the first to awaken, and, believing he's the sole survivor, starts to investigate the stone sarcophagus, but all he can find is a meagre frog-shaped pendant. Leaving the tomb in a rage, he returns to his Cold One and prepares to leave, but is then shot by the Skink, who claims the frog pendant for himself, the 'Blue Bart' he was looking for, and rides off into the sunset to claim the bounty laid upon it.

    A brilliant piece that combined action, adventure and both Western and Warhammer humour (the aforementioned dramatic eye close-ups, the Skink's Scaly Skin save protecting him from the explosion and Dark Elf Cold Ones looking more menacing than 'derpy' Lustrian Cold Ones) perfectly. This piece ticks all the boxes for me - engaging story, compelling characters and compatibility with the theme!
     
    Warden, thedarkfourth, Aginor and 5 others like this.
  2. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    To me it sounded more Dutch than German...
     
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  3. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    While we had a clear early leader in votes, the gap has closed. Your vote counts people!
     
  4. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    I won't comment on it, but there's a story that personally i wouldn't particularly like to see winning… well, i'll talk later about it. :p
     
  5. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Same here.
     
  6. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    I would like all stories to win :wacky:
     
  7. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough! :)
     
  8. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    No more votes?
    No more reviews?

    come on guys, there's just a handful of days before the end! :)
     
  9. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Reviews are acceptable after voting has stopped, but yeah. We have a leader, but the leader could in theory be beaten. More participation people!
     
  10. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    I’ve been really busy. Haven’t read. Have not voted.
     
  11. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    I agree. No one crazy enough have thought of doing crossover reviews for such a crossover-y story competition... :pigeon:
     
  12. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The winning piece is "Reunited Once Again" written by @WhenTheSkinksMarch

    Congratulations WTSM for a well deserved win.

    Thank you to everyone for writing. Every piece was great.

    Just because voting is over and I'm unstickying this thread doesn't mean that you guys have to stop with the commentary and constructive criticisms.

    Also, you got about two or three weeks to submit an entry for our Start of Winter Poetry Contest.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  13. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Amazing work, @WhenTheSkinksMarch , I loved the main character's internal struggle. Always fun to read saurus main characters when they're written that way :) .
     
  14. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Well done @WhenTheSkinksMarch, I think that’s your first win, isn’t it? :)

    I look forward to seeing what your choice of theme will be in the next contest!
     
  15. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    I honestly have no idea where you got Dark Elves from. It was supposed to be the Saurus going from fighting weak men of the Empire who are afraid of him to fighting human soldiers from pretty much Warhammer Fantasy’s take on the Imperium of Man from 40K who see him as nothing more than abhuman scum - did you notice I was trying to press the neo-Roman themes and language? I was trying to make this look like the Terran Empire to the Warhammer Empire’s Federation.

    I’m pleased you liked my descriptions of the Saurus protagonist though, I have to say that’s what I put the most effort into when writing this entry.


    Fair, but then Dutch and German are similar in places ;)

    I’m glad someone got the idea that Borg-qar’s Carnosaur was supposed to be its evil Mirror Universe counterpart!

    Surprised though that you say I used too much description. I always try to include lots of description to project a good picture into the reader’s mind.



    I find it extremely interesting that my piece for this contest has come joint third, because all my Contest entries so far have become part of a pattern where one comes second, the next comes joint third, the next comes second and the next comes joint third. What’s even more interesting is that both my second-place entries have a Dwarf protagonist, while my third-place entries have both had Lizardmen protagonists. Is the thing to take away from this that I am better at writing Dwarf stories, and should I write more of those? :oldman:
     
  16. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Also @Scalenex you’ve missed out the identity of the author of ‘Madness’ - that should be Story Three while ‘Reunited Once Again’ should be Story Five I believe.
     
  17. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    My bad. Fixed now. Sorry @Paradoxical Pacifism
     
  18. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    No piece was grimdark enough to win the Scalenex Cup but I liked "In the Grim Darkness" which provided fake grimdaIrk. I was the one person who voted for it.

    I am largely surprised that a magenta story didn't win the contest. We've never had a magenta story win. Serpents Brew came close in contest #6. The winner was a Lizardmen transform into Seraphon which has been in the winner's circle a lot, but all of all the stories that covers the transition from Lizardmen to Seraphon, this is by far the best crafted one yet.

    In my opinion it was the most interesting take on the theme of Alternate Settings. It actually had two alternate settings in it. Video games and 21st century spoiled Skink teenagers.

    I would have liked to see a Kings of War setting piece as an alternate setting, but our KoW fans don't frequent the fluff forum much sadly.

    Anywho, this completes our 20th contest, so I thought I give the other contests a quick look. Recent contests have fewer typos and better pacing than early entries on average.

    I looked back over past contests. I noticed the Under-Empire Skaven short stories had a recurring thing that the winning piece nearly always involved the protagonist being betrayed artfully. We don't have anything that recurring with our winners but I noticed the winners in 2019 were all generally bittersweet happy endings.

    Next contest, I want every piece to have a downer ending! :D


    It's relatively uncommon for a Seraphon based story to win a contest in lieu of a Lizardmen based story, but when Seraphon stories do win, they usually involve the transition from Lizardmen to Seraphon.

    I did notice that most contest winners are character driven rather than event driven, but that is such a broad brush that it's not worth saying much. When a winning piece breaks the mold, that piece tends to I'd say the medium of short stories in general supports character driven stories. The major exception was Contest #3, but I think that's because of the theme "Man Versus Nature." Man Versus Nature stories are almost event driven by definition.


    Contest #1. "Recovery of Lustrian Artifacts" The winner was a literal professional writer. Go figure. Also, the winning piece involved a Kroxigor protagonist which we don't see a lot of. This a battle piece. In future contests, battle narratives rarely gather lots of votes. Also, this was before we enforced maximum word counts so this piece was long. A lot of pieces ran long.


    Contest #2. "Chameleons" The winner involved a lot of unique characters. A Saurus Warrior that thought it was a Skink. A Chameleon Skink that rode a Terradon. Future contests rarely have a Chameleon Skink protagonist but the contest theme was "Chameleons" so there you go...With the exception of my piece, most of the pieces in the contest were succinct.


    Contest #3. "Man Versus Nature." "Monsoon" blew me away (PUN!). It was our first, and practically last event driven story to win. It had fantastic pacing and a unique desert setting. This piece was written by a lurker who never posted anything on our site until this contest!. Skink protagonist. Our most common protagonist.

    This was the first Age of Sigmar era contest, but we only had one AoS piece.


    Contest #4: "Spirit of Horror" (aka the Contest of Bob). This was back when multiple entries were allowed. We had a tie between "Fear" written by Spawning of Bob and "Secrets of the Southlands" written by Spawning of Bob.

    In both cases the pieces were pretty short. "Fear" was our first contest winner with a Saurus protagonist. Saurus protagonist stories are not very common but they tend to get high vote talies. "Secrets of the Southlands" was a comic which we eventually disallowed in future contests. It was our first contest winner with a human protagonist. "The Ghosts We Have" almost tied Bob and it also had a human protagonist.

    Almost all of our contests had at least one human protagonist story. This one had lots of them. Probably because since most of the writers are human, it's easier to write horror from a human point of view.


    Contest #5: "Continuity and Change" Our first contest winner that involved Seraphon. Even with a contest theme that invited Seraphon stories, old habits die hard. Only 4/11 pieces had Seraphon in them. Not sure what to say. This might qualify as our first contest winner that had a downer ending. Protagonist was a Skink. In general, the plurality of our protagonists in our short stories are Skinks and the plurality of our winners are Skinks.


    Contest #6: "Anti-Heroes." This contest had 15 entries. I tied for first place. I will risk narcissism and talk about myself. I haven't entered every contest but I have entered most of them because the L-O Short Story Contest is sort of my baby and I want to encourage it and pad the numbers. Sometimes I crank a piece out at the last minute. When I win or almost win, I don't rush my pieces. I didn't rush this one. I also notice that the pieces I write that get the most votes are the ones that tug on heart strings and make me choke up while writing my own piece.

    This contest was great. With 15 pieces we had a huge variety of different pieces. We had five first time writers. Protagonists included Slann, human, Sauri, Skinks, and even a Dwarf. In fact "The Coward" was my favorite piece of this contest and one of the few short stories that continues to stick in my mind years later. Well done @Killer Angel. This is also our first contest with alternate setting stories in it.

    We still don't have a lot of Age of Sigmar stories, but a pattern is emerging. Most of the AoS pieces either cover some aspect of the transition from Lizardmen to Seraphon or they involve Lizardmen beaming down to save some hapless village full of of humans.

    This was our second contest with a tie. Also, this was our second contest where the winning piece (or one of them anyway) had a human protagonist.


    Contest #7 "Conjunction and/or Choices." Mildly odd in that this contest had zero Age of Sigmar pieces in it. This contest had our first landslide victory with @thedarkfourth steamrolling the competition. Also:

    [​IMG]
    From this point on, llamas became a recurring thing in many writer's fluff pieces, including mine. Protagonist was a Saurus. In general Saurus protagonists are rare but they are disproportionately represented in the winner's circle. In fact, another writer wrote a sequel to Myol's adventure in story ten.

    I don't know if this is the first Short Story piece to identify a female Saurus and the protagonist did have a maternal feel.


    Contest #8 "Freedom and Slavery" Another contest ends with a landslide victory for @Y'ttar Scaletail . "Slave to the Sword" was amazing because it had a sympathetic demon as the protagonist. This piece had a wide variety of takes on the theme and a wide variety of protagonists. This contest had three alternate setting stories.


    Contest #9 "Hope and/or Vengeance" 16 pieces, a record we have yet to surpass. I credit the broad theme with this. I don't remember if I came up with it or Y'ttar did. Too many pieces to make sweeping generalizations about this contest. The voting spread was very close and this contest generated a huge amount of constructive criticisms and discussion :)

    The winning piece had a well-developed Saurus protagonist. As I said before, Saurus protagonists are disproportionately likely to win. It also had lots of feels in it.


    Contest #10 "Man Versus Self or Cold Blooded Honor" I'm 99% sure I came up with the contest theme because it's so erudite and wordy. Once again the winner was a Saurus protagonist. Once again @Y'ttar Scaletail won with a gritty emotional piece. The contest winner had a downer ending which is something we don't see very often.

    This was the first contest where zero pieces had a human protagonist. In fact, every protagonist was a lizard.


    Contest #11 "Time and/or Fire" The winning piece had a Skink protagonist. Not uncommon. The piece had good characterization but this winning piece was more event driven than we normally see. Reminded me of Jack London's "To Build a Fire." Anothe rarity was the pieces I voted for got the most votes, my first and second choices were the first and second vote getters. "A Song of Rice and Fire," the second place holder. This is the closest a comedy piece made it to winning so far. Funny pieces universally get praise, but they rarely get many votes.

    No human protagonists this contest, but we had TWO elf protagonists out of seven pieces making this by far our elfiest contest ever.


    Contest #12 "The Rat and the Serpent." It thought this contest theme would be flooded with entries but this was our first five entry contest. The lowest we've ever had. This marks a trend as we would only hit double digits again once, and we would go on to have five contest entries many times. Fortunately the contest quality continues to rise even if the quantity does not.

    The winning piece had a Skink protagonist. Not surprising. What surprised me was that nobody wrote a Skaven protagonist and two fifths of the pieces had a human protagonist. I know L-O forumites are not super big on Skaven protagonist. That's what UE fluff section is for. But I expected a few for this contest and got zero. That bugged me a lot and is a large motivator for why I chose to write a Skaven protagonist myself next contest.


    Contest #13 "The Power of Music." Very diverse writing style, though this piece had a delicious nihilistic dark streak through almost all the seven pieces. This pleases me! Like most of our 2018 contests, voting was neck and neck.

    The winning entry was a Skink which is pretty common. What made this piece memorable was how the piece was elegant in it's simplicity. There were no battle, no life or death struggle. The whole piece covers a frustrated artist.


    Contes #14 "Beast and Master" As is not uncommon, the winning piece was a heartfelt piece with a Saurus protagonist. My own piece "The Huagerdon" was sort of a trolling piece. I almost won this contest. As I mentioned before, I didn't rush this one. I had the basic concept for over a year and I very carefully tended this story. I didn't deserve to win though. "Cold" was great.

    One thing I noticed that was universal with this piece is that all five pieces were fairly succinct. That is pretty rare but it is becoming less rare.


    Contest #15 "Food and Drink" Another blowout story. @Infinity Turtle frequently gets a lot of votes, but she really smoked the competition this time. An emotional Saurus protagonist won. See a pattern!

    Two other things stand out here. This piece had a lot of very lighthearted and very dark pieces. This is arguably the first unequivocal light piece that won a contest. Also, this piece had zero Age of Sigmar stories which is odd given how long AoS has been out, but that sort of makes sense because Seraphon don't have to eat or drink...probably.


    Contest #16 "It Came From Above." This was our last contest to hit double digit entries. I think in general our Fall contests have above average turnouts. The winner was a protagonist who died in a noble sacrifice....my favorite kind of ending. It was a Skink protagonist like many stories do.

    This piece had a darker tone overall which contrasted with the last contest which leaned towards the light (with a few major cannibal based exceptions!). As is often the case, my favorite pieces got few votes. I was really impressed with "Fallen Leaf" and "Starlight in the Shadows," especially the latter. Infinity Turtle tends to favor lighter pieces, but this piece showed she has range and is perfectly capable of going dark and angsty.

    I was surprised that this piece didn't have many Age of Sigmar stories. "It Came from Above" seems really obvious for what Seraphon do. I guess this shows that L-O writers don't like to be obvious.

    Not only was this piece a high water mark for lots of entries. This piece had a lot of first time entrants which was fantastic. Only the first contest had proportionately more first time entries entries.


    Contest #17 "Glyph Forty-Three on Plaque Twelve of the Third Chamber of the Sacred Archives of Oyxl" or "Interpretations of Prophecy." I was extremely reluctant to create a contest with a theme that tongue in cheek. That's why I slapped on "Interpretations of Prophecy." I probably shouldn't have been so worried. Seven entries is not bad at all.

    Given that the theme involves interpreting a sacred plaque, I'm not surprised every piece had a reptilian protagonist. As is often the case, the protagonist of the winning piece was a Skink. As is often the case, the winning entry was written by @Y'ttar Scaletail.


    Contest #18 "Doom and/or Destruction" I won! I won! I won! I didn't lose! I won! I didn't even tie...In your face everyone who isn't me!

    Guess what, I didn't rush this piece. It had a Saurus protagonist and it had a lot of heart. With all lack of modesty, I believe I actually deserved this win. However, I wish "The Doom of Vanir Rockfist" and "The Extermination of the Fimir" got more votes. Those pieces were great. Especially the latter. @Warden took a big risk writing about that subject in that format and I thought it was spectacular. As for @Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl , he's right. He writes dwarves very well.

    This piece had a lot of great variety and of the recent pieces, had a great variety of styles, tones, and point of view characters.


    Contest #19 "Magic and the Mundane." I don't know if @Killer Angel 's piece was the first or second submission I got but as soon as I finished reading the first draft I knew the piece was going to win. This was an unsurprisingly blow out victory with a lot of heart. Skink protagonist, Kroxigor deuteragonist, so you don't have to write emotional Saurus characters to win.

    That's not to say the other pieces were bad. Half these pieces, if you had a time machine and could send them back to 2016, they'd probably win. Apart from "Monsoon Season" in contest #3 which won on it's debut, @CalebTheNomad had what was probably one of the strongest first-time entries we ever had.

    I also liked "The Coward's Weapon" a lot. I don't think TD4 ever wrote something I didn't like. As a parental figure on Lustria-Online, I shouldn't have favorites, but I do. Sorry, not sorry. My favorites are consistently @thedarkfourth , @discomute , and @Infinity Turtle .

    @Y'ttar Scaletail and @Killer Angel both write a lot of awesome pieces, but you guys both write a lot of adequate pieces too.

    @Warden, you might be my favorite if you wrote more often. @spawning of Bob , you will always be my favorite frenemy. @All the Rest of You. Don't stop writing. You too can win my affection if you keep at it.



    Anyway, here we are at the conclusion of our fifth straight year of contests! I hope to see at least five more years of unbroken seasonal contests. Lets start 2020's January-Februrary contest with a bang! And it's all up for @WhenTheSkinksMarch picking a good contest theme. No pressure though. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
  19. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Well, thanks for your vote @Scalenex . I knew that my piece wasn't going to win because, even if i knew it wasn't bad (as demonstrated by the all-in-all positive reviews), but the last place was unexpected. Oh well, sooner or later it had to happen, so better now, after my last victory. :p

    Now, a brief consideration: all the stories were good, the proof that our little contest is growing toward higher quality each time.

    Now, the hard part... the winning story was, indeed, the most emotional one (kudos to @WhenTheSkinksMarch), but despite that, i didn't voted for it.

    and not because it was not a good story, but imo because it was the less original, in regard to the theme. The "alternate setting" was just the transition to WHFB to AoS which, even if done well, was not an original take on the theme, as this kind of passage has been already explored in previous stories.
    So, IMO, between the 7 stories, this was the strongest one, but with the weakest link to the theme of the competition. But still a deserved victory!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
    Warden, Aginor, Scalenex and 2 others like this.
  20. thedarkfourth
    Temple Guard

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Congrats to @WhenTheSkinksMarch for an awesome story, although I have to say it's been somewhat eclipsed by the Keeper of the Indexes' fascinating and masterful historical study of past competitions. What an illuminating analysis!

    One thing that competitions like this really demonstrate for me is the bizarre subjectivity of storytelling. It's so WEIRD that people have different tastes. Its almost unheard of for ANY competition entry to get 0 votes, and typically even the winner gets less than half. As with Scalenex, I find that I virtually never end up voting for the winner. And actually that's kind of joyful - it's always exciting and unpredictable to see which stories strike the biggest chord with our readership.
     

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