May 2, 2012
This is an update to my article ‘Fantastic Contests and Where to Find Them’. Of the contests I have not read, Questors Bold I has been gutted of much of its contents by unfortunate circumstances, making it impractical to recommend. The others were unable to finish, and I see little use in adding them to the list, in which many contests also lack an ending. Adding the approximate totals of all the contests, I have read something on the order of 3, 489, 897 words.
I have learned many things in this long journey. Most of which relates to torture, oddly, almost every contest has its own unique perspective on the subject. But through all the pain and suffering and tears mingled with blood, I have learned something truly important:
Don’t make manipulative characters if you don’t know what you’re doing with them. Also, gratuitous Latin, German or French is right out!
Another interesting trend I noticed, which generally holds true for many contests, is that by Week 6 or 7 the cast just wants to blow up, burn down or otherwise destroy the setting. My theory is it’s a method of relieving stress.
You can find the original article with the updates included here.
Added Contests by Rank:
8. Questors Bold II (QBII) (2003-04) (155, 181 words) — Questors Bold II is, like ROC:S3, a very direct premise and plot. A group of ten characters are captured by the empire of Auria, and most of the story focuses on the enslavement aspect of it. There’s very little deviation from that main plot idea, which works for me.
Even though I would only consider about half the cast to be truly memorable, even the early finishers can have a moment or two to shine. This story is very focused on the way the characters behave in captivity, so it leads to a lot of interesting, emotional moments. It’s reasonably paced and later posts don’t seem to suffer so much from overlapping each other. It’s definitely a recommended read.
9. Redwall Online Community: Survivor 2 (ROC:S2) (2002) (158, 794 words) — Like its successor, and indeed other early contests such as QBII, this contest is a simple survivor premise. After an avalanche in the mountains, the ten survivors of two treasure-hunting groups are forced to work together to survive and acquire the riches. The story’s pace is quite gentle to start with, which slowly builds the tension. Posts sometimes overlap, or switch perspectives to omniscience, but there’s not too much whiplash.
As is somewhat a trend in earlier contests, the characters with less time in the spotlight die rather bluntly. However they are not easily forgotten by the survivors, which is a nice touch. The characters being forced to stay close to each other does give the contest a very tight-knit group feel, which is quite well executed. Occasionally there are brief departures from the very direct narrative of events into painting a mental picture of the scene, which is very rewarding. Whilst the plot has little deviation from the expectation, ROC: S2 is a solid, if a little rough read.
10. RedVenture 3 (RV3) (2006) (174, 736 words) — The plot of RedVenture 3 is not very clear cut. At its most basic, level, it is the story of ten characters journeying to the Northlands, each for their own reasons. Each are dragged into a conflict between the vermin war lady Zylia Hellebore, and other woodlander factions.
The plot is often split between groups of characters that seem to get shuffled every week or two. Most of the characters are focused on their own goals. This turns the main plot into more of a background event. The characters themselves grow and develop quite interestingly over time. All round, this contest is an alright read, if you’re more into the characters than the plot.
11. Questors Bold IV (QBIV) (2004-05) (225, 616 words) — After an underground collapse during a public execution, ten survivors must travel together to escape an subterranean labyrinth. On the way they face danger on all sides and discover a secret weapon that could decide the war between the woodlander colony of Mikau and the vermin kingdom of Kereval.
The story is reasonably paced and the characters quite diverse. Even the first few to die make a memorable impression. The dynamics between characters can be quite engaging. The plot is fairly simple, but well executed. There are some oddities in the narrative, but otherwise Questor’s Bold IV is a decent read. Unfortunately, it does not have an ending, leaving the fate of the character undetermined.
12. RedVenture 2 (RV2) (2005-06) (209, 625 words) — This contest’s premise admittedly comes off as a bit contrived. Invitations are sent to three towns in Mossflower, challenging any beast to go on a treasure hunt that has been set up by Lord Arbenger. The resulting mix of characters is divided into three groups and each given an initial clue on how to proceed. They work amongst other groups and deal with the dangers that lie ahead in finding more clues that lead to the treasure.
This contest has some enjoyable moments, with a few interesting puzzles interspersed with action. The pacing is good and keeps every group moving to their goals. Whilst some cast members were not so likable, a few do stand out as memorable. One thing that did constantly nag at me was how accepting the characters were of the mysterious challenge, without questioning the motives behind it. The contest’s ending is not quite as resolving as I might like, but overall it’s alright.
16. Redwall Online Community: Survivor 1 (ROC:S1) (2001) (100, 123 words) — This contest’s premise is rather an obvious choice, being the first Redwall-based survivor contest ever. Following the sinking of the ship Starsong, ex-prisoners, passengers and crew alike are stranded in the wilderness. Things get nasty quick, with storms, savages and conspiracies.
The contest has a few problems when reading. The first thing to notice is each post has a date and time stamp that can be a bit distracting, though this is obviously not the fault of the contestants. Problems begin very early with switching from past to present tense, oddly phrased and unnatural dialogue, and basic formatting problems with conversations taking place all in one line of text. The perspective of the narration switches about frequently and can be a little frustrating. I would not recommend it to read, the only thing that it is notable for is being the first of these contests.
“But…standing there, against the flames that would take the night to die, it was almost romantic. Black cut-outs–two standing, one leaning, and another flopped in the snow–against the bright flames of an angry fire. It looked almost like a sunset. And, just then–the sky opened up, snow filtering down upon the survivors.” — Mittsu, ROC:S2