Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)   Posted by The Director.Group: 0
The Director
 GM, 5696 posts
Wed 31 Aug 2022
at 18:43
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
DAVE ARNESON CONTEST TEMPLATE

Welcome Adventurers! In Celebration of Dave Arneson Day (on the 1st of October), the powers that be are once again throwing a contest of expression, wit, investigation, and introspection! For those of ye Adventurers who may not know, Dave Arneson is the Real-Life Creator of the Blackmoor Campaign setting and, in some way, also of this kind of roleplaying! So literally... in a way, he is the primary reason (aside from your desire for adventure and the Director's passion of course) that we are all able to enjoy this RPoL game together. So we, the powers that be, wish for this contest to commence!

The contest of expression, wit, investigation, and introspection is not for the faint of heart. However, do not let this discourage you, for you are Adventurers! True Adventurers. That alone shows you are neither faint of heart, nor "run-of-the-mill" Blackmoorians. Even the least among you is qualified to partake... should you be so inclined. For those who are, glory, fame, and power await in the form of rewards of prowess and inspiration from us, the higher powers!

Practically speaking, the player that posts the most player-voted essay will receive 200 XPs to divide as desired between the characters of that player (of course, if the player controls a single character, that character will receive the 200 XPs, if the player controls more than one character, then the XPs can be divided as desired by the player). The second most voted player will received 100 XPs and the third will receive 50 XPs. All other participants will anyway receive 5 XPs. You may not vote for your own essay, of course. But with that said... ALL contestants are guaranteed some sort of prize. So please, join us and give us, the higher powers, a good show!


ESSAY GUIDELINES

Please answer the following 4 questions. Each question should have a response that is at least 1 paragraph long (i.e. 3 sentences) and no more than three paragraphs long.

1.) Please research Dave Arneson's life and personality, for example through the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Arneson

After this research, please state something or some things new that you learned about Dave Arneson that you didn't know before.

2.) Please state your thoughts on the Blackmoor setting. Good or bad, let us know what you think and why you think it. There's no wrong answer here, as long as you're expressing how you feel and what you think.

3.) Please tell us about what elements of the Blackmoor campaign setting attracted you to this game initially, and why. Feel free to mention elements that continue to intrigue you or appeal to you over time, but we want to hear about what's appealing to you.

4.) Did reading about Dave Arneson make you reflect in any way on the tabletop gaming genre, or perhaps come to some realization about yourself, the gaming community, or some other element of real life? If you answer "no" to this question then please tell us about what you may have already known, or some realization you may have already come onto about the tabletop gaming genre that you think might also tie into some element of Dave Arneson's life from the link in the first question.


Please write the above as a single post in reply to this thread. The post can be modified as many times and desired and it can be kept private / visible just to the GM as long as desired, but by the first of October 2022 at 12:00 mid day GMT, it has to be visible to everybody and it can't be modified anymore (or you will be disqualified).

After the deadline, there will be a short time for discussion and, when I'll see that the discussion is over, I'll open voting and every player (again, player, not character) and GM will be able to vote.

You can also post on this thread questions or comments, so please make sure that the one post that you want to use for competing is very clearly identified :)

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:05, Thu 01 Sept.

The Director
 GM, 5698 posts
Thu 1 Sep 2022
at 20:50
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Thanks to my consultant, I updated the above text to its current shape. Feel free to reply and comment or ask questions.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:34, Fri 02 Sept.

Jan Tarran
 player, 671 posts
 Skandaharan Hunter
 Sk: 8 St: 16 Lu: 10 Ma: 0
Sun 4 Sep 2022
at 01:01
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
The Director:
DAVE ARNESON CONTEST TEMPLATE
ESSAY GUIDELINES
Please answer the following 4 questions. Each question should have a response that is at least 1 paragraph long (i.e. 3 sentences) and no more than three paragraphs long.


After spending ages writing my last one and losing it before I could post it, I thought I'd answer this all quickly before I forget.

Okay, here goes...

The Director:
1.) Please research Dave Arneson's life and personality, for example through the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Arneson

After this research, please state something or some things new that you learned about Dave Arneson that you didn't know before.

I always knew that Dave Arneson was a loveable geek, and I appreciated what he did for the industry. However, I didn't realise just how much he looked like my Uncle Brian. Well, when he (My Uncle Brian) was younger, larger and sported a beard anyone who lived through the COVID pandemic would be proud of.

In all seriousness, I never knew that Arneson was very much like myself - both as a geek, RPGer and academic. I have two degrees to my name, one in Computer Science and the second in Information Technology in Education - meaning I am a qualified teacher of computer science and ICT. But, like Arneson, I spent a good 10 or so years of my life teaching students with SEN, in particular ASD. And in that capacity I made use of RPGs and other boardgames in my teaching, to get students used to the concept of rules that could not be broken (using boardgames) but also the use of RPGs to explore character interactions, cause and effect and responsibility. It allowed them to explore their own imaginations and give life to characters outside of themselves - something that is very difficult for somebody to do with ASD as the majority have difficulty with the Theory of Self, and viewing other people as real or important is difficult for them.

I had been previously unaware that Arneson had even taught, let alone made use of RPGs while teaching students with SEN. I thought what I was doing was innovative and unusual, but now I find that I am copying the actions of someone who helped successfully create the concept of RPGs. So I don't feel too bad at learning my what I have done was nothing new...


The Director:
2.) Please state your thoughts on the Blackmoor setting. Good or bad, let us know what you think and why you think it. There's no wrong answer here, as long as you're expressing how you feel and what you think.

It was never the setting itself that drew me to the game, it was my childhood experience of playing the Fighting Fantasy books. The simplicity of the system (well, the AFF system as opposed to the book-based one - I always wondered why the Skill attribute encompassed so many actual skills. After all, an archer is much better at using a bow than a swordsman is, but a generic skill level of 9 meant you were equally as good at both... But I digress), mixed with massively fond childhood memories. I came to the game because I wanted to relive at least some of those good memories.

However, the question related to the setting. Even in my youth I found that the Blackmoor setting was very idealistic and heroic. All these adventurers that took "time away from the village" to experience the world, to find adventure, gold and do good things. The style of play that the setting suggested didn't allow for evil characters. Naughty character, yes, loveable rogues, definitely. But evil?? The setting didn't seem to allow them. After all, the village was generously donating equipment as well as 50 gold to the adventurer to initially support them during their "wandering years", hoping that they'll be able to repay that loan and then some. However, any fantasy setting is usually quite bleak and dangerous - so that outlay of gold must, on more occasion than not, never return; most young adventurers barely make it to the next village before someone or something kills them...

...which gives me an idea for my next character. I'm going to play someone who travels from tavern to tavern, to recruit young, inexperienced adventurers, wait till they're all given the 50gold from the village, get them a day or two outside of their home then kill them while they sleep, steal their cash and move on to the next village... Say a minimum of 2 trusting fools from each village, each village a few days travel from the next. I could easily earn a good few hundred gold each month with minimal effort. But again I digress, and appear to be showing my darker side...

However, that was my original viewpoint, and I realised that I came into the game with a vague and unrealistic viewpoint based on my childhood and teenage experiences. I had re-read the setting a number of times, and understood that Blackmoor is a new country struggling to survive, and that the people there are intrinsically heroic. But that this isn't just a childish, hopeful viewpoint - there is so much depth and detail to the setting than I had originally realised. It encompasses so many fantasy cliches, and possesses so many European traits that the world is familiar and comfortable, but that this familiarity also creates a sense of wonder and fear. It is the world that we know and recognise, but it is sufficiently different and dangerous to make a simple walk outside of a village boundaries dangerous; the need for a bow or sword at all times obvious and apparent. So the familiarity of the setting, the simplicity of the setting and yet the fact that it is so detailed. It feels right. There are some settings that have so much more and yet you have to wonder how all those different creatures, large and small, can live alongside one another. Blackmoor as a setting just seems to work. Yes there are dragons and other city-levelling creatures, but unlike other systems where such creatures are almost commonplace, Blackmoor is more... reserved with their use. They exist as folklore and people are fearful of them, but you don't see half-dragons or ogres just walking down the street. For a fantasy setting, the entire world just feels so much more realistic and probable. A place where a lone goblin poses a major risk to a single human (as opposed to a minor inconvenience), the chance of any given commoner ever seeing anything more unusual than an elf or dwarf is high... Other than the "give everyone who wants it 50gold as a startup fund, and hope that it comes back with interest" part Blackmoor is actually quite a dark and grim world.

And I like dark and grim.


The Director:
3.) Please tell us about what elements of the Blackmoor campaign setting attracted you to this game initially, and why. Feel free to mention elements that continue to intrigue you or appeal to you over time, but we want to hear about what's appealing to you.


The similarity to medieval Europe, to keep the game familiar - yet also create something new and fantastic. That the history of the world seems plausible - I like settings that are realistic, at least as realistic as a fantasy or SCi-FI setting will allow. I like to feel that the character is a part of the world, that they have history but that it resembles how I imagined the dark and medieval periods to be... Hard for the majority of people, dangerous on the road but full of mysticism. I love any game world that is properly immersive, as I have a tendency to look at settings and pull them apart by questioning how particular events could have happened, or why people behave as they do and believe what they do. Quite often the settings just don't fully make sense; there are too many flaws or things that are added for effect that are implausible.

As I said, I like my settings and game-worlds to feel realistic, and they can only do this if the background to them is familiar, detailed and reasonably realistic.

The Director:
4.) Did reading about Dave Arneson make you reflect in any way on the tabletop gaming genre, or perhaps come to some realization about yourself, the gaming community, or some other element of real life? If you answer "no" to this question then please tell us about what you may have already known, or some realization you may have already come onto about the tabletop gaming genre that you think might also tie into some element of Dave Arneson's life from the link in the first question.


Yes - geeks rule. I am not clever enough to classify myself as a nerd (that and I am not completely socially awkward, have friends and a social life), but to learn that me and Arneson are so similar in many respects... It also reminded me of the role that roleplay can hold in the effective treatment and education of people with learning difficulties or that are often seen as "odd or unusual". The thing we all love to do is a leveler, bringing so many different types of people together under the same umbrella, giving them the opportunity to communicate and play together regardless of any difficulty they may experience.

I am all for an inclusive world, and RPGs and boardgames seem to be one of the easiest ways to be fully inclusive, regardless of the individual needs of the players.

This message was last edited by the player at 01:01, Sun 04 Sept.

The Director
 GM, 5708 posts
Sun 4 Sep 2022
at 16:41
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Feel free to start from a relatively short post and then expand it as you like: you know that you can edit it freely until the 1st of October at 12:00 GMT. Then you can't edit it anymore.

Looking forward to read more entries :)
The Director
 GM, 5749 posts
Sat 1 Oct 2022
at 16:33
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Not a great participation this year... :/
Jan Tarran
 player, 696 posts
 Skandaharan Hunter
 Sk: 8 St: 16 Lu: 10 Ma: 0
Sat 1 Oct 2022
at 16:52
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Perhaps my submission scared people...?? Could be its quality, length, deep insights or its delusional author??

Sounds like real life has bitten people deep as almost all the games I'm in have suffered from slow rates of posting and absenteeism.

Extend it?? See who wants to but hasn't committed yet??
The Director
 GM, 5752 posts
Sun 2 Oct 2022
at 17:32
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
I'd say that you won it, with the associated 200 XPs... there were weeks of time available and you did it. Congratulations!
Jan Tarran
 player, 697 posts
 Skandaharan Hunter
 Sk: 8 St: 16 Lu: 10 Ma: 0
Sun 2 Oct 2022
at 21:25
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Thanks - made up for my screwed up attempt last year!!
Rennias Greystone
 player, 396 posts
 Stamina: 7/8 | Luck: 9/9
 Natural Wizard
Mon 3 Oct 2022
at 04:06
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
I give Jan my vote.
The Director
 GM, 5754 posts
Mon 3 Oct 2022
at 18:49
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
In reply to Rennias Greystone (msg # 9):

Not a very difficult decision, isn't it?!? ;P
Jan Tarran
 player, 699 posts
 Skandaharan Hunter
 Sk: 8 St: 16 Lu: 10 Ma: 0
Mon 3 Oct 2022
at 18:54
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Do I get first, second and third places as well on a technicality?? (Cheeky swine that I am)

I'm just pleased I wrote it when I did. I've not had much time the last couple of weeks!!
The Director
 GM, 5755 posts
Mon 3 Oct 2022
at 19:00
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
Enjoy your 200 XPs, that can be very useful in this campaign :^)
Jan Tarran
 player, 700 posts
 Skandaharan Hunter
 Sk: 8 St: 16 Lu: 10 Ma: 0
Mon 3 Oct 2022
at 21:18
Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
The Director:
Enjoy your 200 XPs, that can be very useful in this campaign :^)


Massively so!! Am eyeing up my next training already.
Rennias Greystone
 player, 397 posts
 Stamina: 7/8 | Luck: 9/9
 Natural Wizard
Tue 4 Oct 2022
at 03:29
Re: Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
The Director:
In reply to Rennias Greystone (msg # 9):

Not a very difficult decision, isn't it?!? ;P

Not at all. He not only participated, but his entry actually had effort behind it too.
The Director
 GM, 5756 posts
Tue 4 Oct 2022
at 20:19
Re: Dave Arneson's Day Essay Competition (2022)
In reply to Rennias Greystone (msg # 14):

Indeed.