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Contest July-August 2016 Short Story Contest Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Aug 1, 2016.

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Which Short Stories do you like best (you may vote for up to three)

Poll closed Sep 1, 2016.
  1. Story One: "The Great Game"

    6 vote(s)
    40.0%
  2. Story Two: "Food for Thought"

    10 vote(s)
    66.7%
  3. Story Three: "The Spawn"

    2 vote(s)
    13.3%
  4. Story Four: "The Rat and the Serpent"

    6 vote(s)
    40.0%
  5. Story Five: "The Project"

    7 vote(s)
    46.7%
  6. Story Six: “The Weight of Our Actions”

    5 vote(s)
    33.3%
  7. Story Seven: “Strength and Conviction”

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  8. Story Eight: “Hexoatl, the Induction Ceremony”

    5 vote(s)
    33.3%
  9. Story Nine: “A Story in the Stars”

    3 vote(s)
    20.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    I'm waiting for more votes and commentary. @Scalenex where can we publicise this. I feel insulted to be living in the shadow of the golden serpent. Yes, their artistic mastery is unsurpassed, but do they have witty insights?! Or clever plot twists?! Hm? Do they?!
     
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  2. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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  3. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I'll get my critiques up soon. Unlike, almost everyone else, I am a fan of putting all story critiques in one document rather than three or four. That's just "like" fishing.

    I haven't had as much time to surf my beloved this forum this month but I did fix this.

    I believe our last tie and some of our past near ties were created by meta-voting. I don't think anyone would vote for a piece they DIDN'T like but I think some people biased their votes to make things artificially competitive.

    I agree with Pendrake. I like variant units. My own piece "New Alliances" has the Lizardmen using different reptiles, Skaven using different mutants, and multiple variant deamon breeds not in any army book. Sure MOST of the armies match the stuff in the main books but not all of them.

    @discomute I liked your piece a lot. I came away with an entirely different interpretation than you intended. While I couldn't see the hints you were providing, I did catch the central characterization. Conflict between human and reptilian drives and a tortured descent into further madness. That's your bread and butter discomute. If I want to read about a scary yet captivating descent into madness that makes Lizardmen equally easily relate able and frightenly alien, I turn to you. Your piece is even more discomute than Bob's piece is Bob.

    I've been meaning to ask Red Devil to do that but I haven't been on the forum as much lately and I don't want to step on the Golden Serpent's metaphorical toes. I ALMOST contemplated not having a short story contest so as not to distract from the Golden Serpent. We (mostly Red Devil) has been working on this a very long time. My attempt to split my time between helping proof pieces and finishing a Golden Serpent entry resulted in sub-par editing and a half finished piece. Real world was busy and I had a quixotic attempt to work on my WIP novela.
     
  4. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Story Six (The Weight of our Actions) : I fear this author-meat might be a dead-thing in disguise. I say-squeak...I mean...say-hiss that we root out this dead-thing and kill-slay it before the tunnels...I mean...weird pyramid-things start smelling of bad-rot!

    But yes, the author certainly seemed to have a good grounding on their Khemri lore and characters, and whilst not everyone may know about Apophas, I think the writer managed to convey enough meaning to cover that up. I for one enjoyed the teasing out of Apophas being the antagonist of the story, with the clues building up to the big reveal and his final pie to the face.

    I felt this story was well paced, with enough emphasis on the emotions of the protagonist and his inner conflict whilst not getting overly bogged down in details or battle. The author paints a rather bleak fate for the protagonist who seems to have no hope of survival until a moment of shining hope that is just as quickly snuffed out. And yet, the final twist of the knife in Apophas’ gut was worth it. Bloomin’ skull faced git...

    Well, I’ve mentioned Apophas who seemed pretty true to form for a named character in the (once) established lore, so let’s move onto Qor-Tec (whatever did happen to Crash?) Qor-Tec was a loyal and dutiful Scar-vet, and yet was so much more. Like Tox who appeared in my entry last compy (and who badly needs that sequel when I get a breather to write anything that isn’t for Moulder Pitfighters), Qor-Tec came across as quite the intelligent character that had much of a potential personality and ideals than just being an automaton. His inner battle near the end of his duty and what he wanted was extremely well executed and powerful.

    I thought Apophas was maybe a little too gullible in his belief that Qor-Tec was black hearted and greedy, but iirc that Prince was never a great one for brains anyway, so it’s prolly just me. Also, couldn’t have Apophas taken the plaque as well? I guess maybe he was so sure of his victory over Usirian that he didn’t want to bother with it. Although I would have at least still nicked/hidden the plaque to piss off both sides and just in case things didn’t go as planned, I could then give the plaque back and get at least some reward. That said, it would have taken away the strength of Qor-Tec’s sacrifice.

    Oh and I loved how the first and last lines were done! Overall a truly great piece!

    The vampire Necrilliach: Usirian grows ever weak, into I his power shall seep. But what of duty, what of pride? Behind the mortal frames the truth always lies. No soul for Usirian the fool, instead it re-enters the lizard pool.

    Story Seven (Strength and Conviction) : Hrmm this makes the review-thing different when the author-meat have revealed not only themselves but also what their story-thing means. I will endeavour to write a not-in-the-know review and an in-the-know review.

    I shall confess that I completely missed the author’s point and purpose on this piece, and now that it has been revealed it becomes so clear. Without the explanation it reads as an intriguing narrative on a Saurus being experimented and reverse engineered into a filthy man-thing. The character’s voice is strong, the pacing seems good for a sorter piece as this, and I generally like this style medium.

    With the revelation, I kind of regret casting my votes as I did and not sending this piece one. The blending of reality and fantasy is written very subtly (perhaps too subtly) and when you realize what it is about, it becomes more powerful than liquid Warpstone.

    I’m not sure I have much else to say, with the author’s meaning this really became something wonderful and so dark. I like darkness.

    Tech-Priest Akismov: Filename: ‘Saurus Warrior’ has reality issues caused by fleshie trauma. I once removed the fleshie mind and self that I used to be and became a being of logic and mechanical thought, and yet there was a feeling of loss within my circuits and data banks. To some it is easy to delete who and what you are for whatever reason, and yet there is a 97.42821654% chance of their being a filename: ghost of who and what you were that cries to be let out.
     
  5. Essmir
    Chameleon Skink

    Essmir Well-Known Member

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    =I=
    Slay the mutant

    Burn the Heretic
    Suffer not the Xeno to live
    =I=
    I think I can explain my story safely as I am so far from the leading position.
    So if you want to understand my story you have to go Grim-dark, and not the add more skulls route but the one of religious fanatism, nihllism and vanity. As a devoted follower of the Empra... er... Sigmar you should always kill the mutant as it is a sign of chaos even if it is your self that have been affected by chaos. Suicide is therefore the choice to our modern privileged ears it does of course sound hard but think of that you are a subject of the empire, that society would tell you that it is the right choice. And he is corrupted by chaos he thinks that joining the army were he got corrupted was a mistake! selfish human it he would have become a martyr. But he chose the way of the coward and did run away. And the line "death is always a choice" sounds better than "suicide is always a choice".

    so in summary: you always must fight the corruption of chaos even if that mean Suicide
     
  6. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Pretty dark, man. I like it. Could have been a really awesome (and brutal) dilemma....you just need to put it in the text :D
     
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  7. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    Ohhhh. Makes perfect sense. These stories are more cryptic than the (absent) author guesses.

    You might have got it across by saying "by your own hand" somewhere.

    Imagine if he had been about to nobly kill himself, then Apophas suddenly pops out of the sand and shouts, "No! Suicide is bad!" And then snatches him to have his soul weighed. Usirian 2. Apophas Nil.
     
  8. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    Go back to your studies, young lizard.
     
  9. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    And you go back to your duty! what happened to the Scalenex Cup? :p
     
  10. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I didn’t have time for as much editing as I usually do (and a lot of pieces came last minute0, but on the whole the pieces were so well-polished I don’t think that’s a huge problem. One thing that came up a lot to varying degrees is I think the endings of otherwise excellent pieces could be improved.


    1. The Great Game

    I liked that this piece captured the essence of Kroxigor-ness without making them seem dumb and without making them seem too smart. They were focused on the task at hand. They didn’t understand the wider view of things and they didn’t feel extremely curious about it. They trusted their leaders.

    The things I didn’t like tie closely into the things I did like. I felt like I only had a minimal understanding of the larger events, but that made me feel closer to the Kroxigor. The parenthesis were a little odd but I think they served their purpose. The events outside the Kroxigor immediate surroundings were distant and less important. I wouldn’t cut out the parenthesis but I’d make the non-Kroxigor blocks less detail filled. Just give us barely enough to provide a framework for the story of the Kroxigors brief introduction, challenge, and resolution of the Kroxigors brief and minor conflict of faith and the story would have been improved.


    2. Food for Thought

    Food for thought? Why should we or the Lizardmen consider the First Children of the Old Ones to be male. Lizardmen are androgynous beings, and it’s interesting to think of them as all female rather than all male (or neither male nor female). The story could probably be told with traditional assumed male Lizardmen, so the story didn’t rely on the unorthodox gender as a gimmick but it did enhance the story and characterization. Myol had an aggressive maternal instinct going for her. The story incorporates llamas, the principle domesticated animal of South America. It introduces a Lizardmen board game and herding. The exposition made me think of Guns, Germs, and Steel, my favorite nonfiction book.

    Not much to complain about, but the story could have used a haircut. I did enjoy the exposition but it was a little long. The board game exchange could have been slightly shorter. The battle Myol didn’t participate in could have been slightly shorter. The Skaven dialog could have slightly shorter. I would have liked a slightly longer description of what was presumably Myol leading the llamas into battle.


    3. The Spawning

    The terrifying transformation of man into Chaos spawn is definitely a subject worthy of writing juicy fiction. The inner conflict and the fear was well portrayed. Fear of oneself and fear of what others will do. An evocative story told with an economy of words.

    This was a great story that sort of lost me at the ending. If you are going to have a Skink and Human converse with no language problems, I’m willing to hand wave that away but the dialog better be awesome. Instead it was adequate. It wrapped everything up which is good, but I’m not seeing it as a very literary appropriate ending. All indications were that this man had no choice. For this to work he’d have to have at least one point where he considered just letting the forces against him kill him and maybe view that as preferable to mutating. Probably want two or three thought situations but he didn’t seem to even consider not using every iota of his energy to preserve his own life.


    4. The Rat and the Serpent

    When I started reading this, I thought “this is going to be a comedy piece. Ratek? The two tailed Skaven?” Fortunately the story was skillfully written to put me into the correct serious state of mind and I was able to enjoy this story as the drama it was intended to be. I have long toyed with the idea of Lizardmen, especially Skinks stepping into the shoes of honored forebears and taking their names. It makes sense. Run by un-aging Slann, influenced by un-aging Sauri and with a culture that puts the group over the individual I see a case for many Lizardmen taking the identity of one who has come before them and it was well-portrayed here. The author also captured the the Seraphon situation/condition without going too deep and using the Age of Sigmar equivalent of treknobabble. You also showed why usually, Slann don’t bother explaining things because their followers probably won’t like what they hear.

    Haircut. Dialogue was longer than needed to be. Both the Prophet of Ratek’s grandiose visions and the various Soteks’ discussions. I’d also consider reorganizing the paragraph structure. There was sentence length variation but I couldn’t tell whether it was a bunch of short paragraphs or one big rectangular block of text. Its nitpicky, but I like to see a relatively even mix of short, medium, and long paragraphs. Long paragraphs to set things up and short paragraphs to drive key story events home. Medium paragraphs for everything else.


    5. The Project

    Brilliant idea. Both funny and thought provoking. I liked the nontraditional format because I use a laptop, not a smart phone, so I had not problems. I felt I understood the different personalities of the Old Ones.

    The ending was not good. So I was ready to accept that the Warhammer World was created by corporate scientists but then you had to make the Old Ones grade schoolers and you drove it with borderline l33t sp33k. That’s too much. One reason I was slow in making my critiques is I didn’t know how to talk about this one. I really like the piece and I strongly dislike the ending, but I couldn’t come up with a better way to end it.

    I thought about Key and Peele. They get a lot of views on the Internet but few people watched their shows. Technological changes aside, if you watch the show you have to watch their good and bad sketches. Online, you can cherry pick. If you have a comedy piece based on a brilliant and funny premise, there are two good ways to end it and there are two bad ways to end it. One good way is to keep the piece so short that you end it before the reader (or watcher) gets tired of it. The other good way is to make an ending that’s almost as brilliant and funny as the initial premise. The two bad ways are to just keep reiterating the joke till it’s not funny anymore or close it with a mediocre joke. This is the latter. Making the Old Ones obnoxious kids was not as clever as making the world a failed science project. I’m not sure what would be better. The best I came up with was “Project is a failure, we need to cut our losses. We can sell what’s left to a consortium that deals with subpar cases.”

    This is what I came up with after a week of letting my work commute daydream go to this story.

    Dr. Tzeentch: I think the others left this setting too early I see a lot of potential with these created forms.

    Dr. Slaanesh: I think this would an enjoyable project to manage. I like a good fixer upper.

    Dr. Nurgle: Meh, I don’t want to go deep managing this. Just let me take a few samples here and there and I can make a good garden project out of it. Just a few alterations here and there.

    Dr. Khorne: You threw away our money on this? Just destroy everything and stuff the more interesting looking specimens as trophies, and we be done with this. Promise me you’ll never buy any used planets from Orbital Laboratories Developments Of Neo-Environmental Science ever again.


    6. The Weight of Our Actions

    This was a good story. It showcased different levels of Lizardmen society and their interactions too, but it also had good development for the Nehekharan characters which is hard to do. The battle was exciting and the ending was dramatic and meshed well with the story. Good pacing.

    I can’t really poke a lot of holes in this. I’ll just say this piece could have used a haircut. The desert battle description was a bit longer than it needed to be and perhaps it was a bit dry. Crickets chirping. Maybe a little bit less dialogue. I see the story has two gems, Aphosis’ Sysiphus boulder like struggle to collect a replacement soul where he always feels like “this next attempt will work!” and Qor-tek’s heroic struggle. The rest is just a framework to support these two main characters and should be kept light.


    7. Strength and Conviction

    You forced me to write this to you directly Discomute. While I couldn't see the hints you were providing, I did catch the central characterization. Conflict between human and reptilian drives and a tortured descent into further madness. That's your bread and butter, Discomute. If I want to read about a scary yet captivating descent into madness that makes Lizardmen equally easily relate able and frightenly alien, I turn to you. Your piece is even more Discomute than Bob's piece is Bob.

    I’m pretty sure no one who read your piece figured out your twist ending. It’s a brilliant twist ending, but you short stories should not be that subtle. I liked the story fine as a vague “Saurus is going mad because of his imprisonment” story but if you want to lead us to a brilliant completely unforeseen twist. You have to be explicit.

    Did you know JK Rowling developed a backstory for Dean Thomas? He thinks he is Muggle born and is treated that way, but his dad was a pureblood wizard who married a muggle. He left his pregnant wife for his family’s protection because Death Eater’s wanted to recruit him. No impact on the story because Rowling never wrote that down in her books. If you don’t write it down, it’s not really in your story. This doubly important in short stories because you don’t have as many words. Kurt Vonnegut said the reader should be able to finish your story if you cut off the last few paragraphs. I wouldn’t go that far, but when in doubt in a short story, be explicit.


    8. Hexoatl, the Induction Ceremony

    I enjoyed the Skink’s development and I really liked how the wise but simple Kroxigor was portrayed. It’s different than what you usually see but still Kroxigor-y. Kroxigorical. Nevermind. I liked this twist ending. It shocked me, but at the time when I re-read the piece a second time it made sense. I could see how it was built on what came before it. Not “and now how about this!” The jokester in me wants to add the line.

    The crowd roared their approval knowing that the Skaven’s inevitable slow death of exposure in the jungle was far more painful than anything the Skink could have done.

    That’s just silly. I like that the protagonist has no regrets though he probably gave up his promotion for a painful death.

    Not much to poke at, but I was a little unsure whether this was Lizardmen or Seraphon. It mostly seemed Lizardmen-like but the capitalized “Starpriest” made me wonder. Also, I really disliked Kon'Juncty'Vitus. A piece that has to courage to boldly explore themes GW writers would never dare to do should have the courage to drop GW’s stupid pun names. “croak” “tick tack toe” “itsy bitsy.” The apostrophes make it worse. Bob can mock me all I want, but I really don’t like silly names in serious pieces. Comedy pieces, sure. But it doesn’t fit here.

    9. A Story in the Stars

    The story was beautiful and eloquent and primed me to accept a startlingly revelation.

    Then you threw this ending at me. Sorry I can’t come figure out to do two paragraphs full of commentary on this. Too polished for me to take fault with word choice or sentence structure. Well-paced, well structure. You just threw an ending at made me go WTM. I read it again and the ending seemed even weirder than the first time. A valid comedy technique but this wasn’t my cup of tea.

    Scalenex Cup is goes to "Hexoatl, the Induction Ceremony." It set up a conflicted and well nuanced character who died making a bold decision. Honorable mention to Spawning. I liked the development and impending doom there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  11. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    This implies you are a masochist as well as a sadist.

    Excellent constructive critiquery as usual.

    I'm glad you tied up the scores on the Scalenex Cup. And remember kids, hundreds of Skaven deaths only count for anything in the event of a draw.
     
  12. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    *Sounds of chittering giggling and scribbling of quill*
     
  13. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Had to reread the reviews and then reread the stories. I haven't got much to add. Repost the stories in their own post so I can hit the like button because no matter my interpretation of your story, I had a great time reading and rereading each of these stories. You catch some of the more subtle aspects each time you read them. So full of brilliance, once again a very successful short story competition!
     
  14. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    Before Y'ttar Scaletail reveals his paw - he has vaguely talked about a newly commisioned avatar based on a character in one of these stories.

    I can't work it out, but I wonder how the fine upstanding lizards on this forum would LIKE to see him portrayed. Options include burniong to death in a sinking hulk, plummeting off a cliff, and running far far away.

    What say you all? (If Y'ttar could be portrayed as a player in this fine crop of stories).

    I would do a poll, but...reasons.
     
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  15. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Riding a Llama into battle. Or away from battle, depending on the situation.
     
  16. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Story Eight (Hexoatl, the Induction Ceremony) : I personally set my Skaven sacrifices on fire and then fill their skulls with explosives to throw at my enemy-meat. Maybe Te’heh should have tried that.

    I’m not sure why but I felt this piece needed a tiny bit more polishing, for some reason a few areas in the writing felt a little clunky compared to the rest of the piece. Additionally, at first I thought the swim back’s pacing was a bit too slow, though in retrospect that was prolly the point.

    Otherwise, the pacing felt good and really built up a picture of Lustria that shaped the wannabe priest’s decision in the end. Te’heh himself seemed to be your average sort of protagonist though by the end of the story he had grown into quite a potent character. His decision at the end, while at first surprising, actually made some sense in a way with his thought on the Old Ones. I do wonder how that Skaven managed to speak the lizard tongue; maybe he was actually more important than the lizzies were aware of.

    Some of the name puns were a bit heavy pawed for my liking, though the two rival Skinks didn’t appear too much in the story to take away the focus from Te’heh, so I’m happy about that. The Krox felt right, marrying the simplistic and slow mindset with a heady amount of wisdom.

    So yes, a very enjoyable piece on the nature of the Old Ones.

    Felrix Brightfur: It’s a mighty shame when races lock their horn-things. Far-far better to work together in a posse (at least until a contract comes for ya.) Having someone almost reliable by ya side t’is a mighty great relief in comparison ta other Skaven...

    Story Nine (A Story in/of the Stars) : You arse. The author builds up such a tight, deep, and intriguing narrative with superb characters...and then ends the story like that. Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry at the ending.

    Well, I guess I should get back to the meat of the review.

    The two characters of K’ta (Catarrh?) and Tik (Tick?) played typical roles of sage and youngster not in the know. However, the author wrote the two very elegantly and made them feel like their own characters. I especially liked K’ta’s reactions to Tik.

    The pacing of the piece was slow with little action, which felt perfect for this quiet contemplation of the stars. The author also did a sterling job at keeping me interested with the details of the stars, to the extent that I’d very much like him/her to write more constellations and the stories attached to them.

    And then the ending... The author builds up to the conjunction of the stars having dire meaning and yet when we skip forwards in time we’re greeted by a literal Art Critic who treats this artefact as a nice looking ceiling design, whilst smashing up other priceless relics of the lost Old World. Maybe the author was mocking GW’s destruction of the Old World and so much of the lore, races, and characters? Perhaps it’s a sad look at how the fears of the past can become meaningless and forgotten in the future. Though it pains me that there wasn’t some kind of resolution for Tik and K’ta, though I wonder if that may have been the author’s intention.

    The insanity of the final lines made me laugh at first at the absurdity and yet I wanted to weep for the world that was lost and how in the end everything Tik strove for was for nothing. A well written piece that toyed with my emotions. An ending with a proper resolution would have suited it better, and yet the ending we got was all the more potent and striking.

    Father Sliv Saltbeak, former pirate and Avid priest: I don’t get thar over fondness of art, though I appreciate thar details, colours, and elegant flick of architecture and paintings. Portents becoming a wall mounting though? I weep fer ye me lizard cousins.


    And with that, my review-things are over. I say this every time but the writing on here is simply stunning. :)
     
  17. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Given that this round authors tend to reveal themselves before the ending, and given that I'm not going to win...

    I protest!
    I've made a killing of lizardmen characters! Five! Blood and deaths everywhere! Victory was mine! It's a conspiracy! It's a trap! warm-blooded in disguise! The Illuminati! An earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! :argh:

    (screams fade in the distance, while Killer Angel is carried away in straitjacket, toward the Discomute Asylum) :nurse:
     
  18. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Well first off, the Scalenex Cup is a subjective process. But it's not about the the quantity of deaths. Then we would call it the Peter Jackson Cup. It's about killing well developed characters in a way that makes the audience sad, or perhaps angry.
     
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  19. spawning of Bob
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    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    I caused untold suffering. Where is my prize?
     
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  20. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    I suppose you know that I wasn't being serious ;)... but thanks for the explanation. :)

    Untold as a "not narrated event"? because in this case OF COURSE you don't have any prize. :p
     
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