View Full Version : [wRHG Tournament] The Valley of Dreams: Rules and Guidelines

06-26-2014, 12:00 AM
“You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream”

The dream ends at midnight.

You walk slowly down the street, idly turning a token in your fingers. Someone or something gave you two of them while you were asleep.

The tokens are strange, you muse. As you rotate them, pinpoint stars glide beneath their black surface as if far away. It’s impossible to guess what they’re made of--for all you can tell, they were cut from a fabric made of night sky. They are glass-smooth and warm against your skin. They do not change, even as the world around you flits restlessly from location to location. It’s clear that they are the only things protecting you from the dream.

Your memory is a bit of a haze, but you remember waking up next to a clock. There were eleven slots: one token for each hour excepting midnight. You suspect that it’s the only way out.

You recall seeing other people. You realize that they must have tokens too; the dream would have torn them apart otherwise. You clench your fists as the situation becomes clear. One thing is certain: not everyone can escape.

You hear bells strike eleven in the distance and the ground beneath you falls away.

The first dream is about to begin.

Welcome to the wRHG tournament. You are trapped in the Valley of Dreams and have one way to escape: collect eleven tokens before time runs out. Failure to do so means death.

As I said in the introduction thread, this tournament is not bracket-style. Each contestant has been given two tokens to start and must collect eleven by wagering them against their opponent. There will be four rounds.

All rules are below (and I’ll appreciate it if you bear with me, because they are quite extensive), so read carefully before you ask me any questions.

Every round you must write a story that fills three prompts: Universal, Round, and Individual. The universal prompt is a set of circumstances everyone must work with in every story (these are detailed in the next section), round prompts are round-specific rules for everyone, and individual prompts are rules unique to each matchup.

Each round has three phases. Details on specific mechanics are in following sections.

Betting phase:
The betting phase lasts six days and begins when I post the round prompt. This is when you guys declare wagers. I will issue your individual prompt once your bet has been declared (this means you can get extra time to write by declaring your bet early).

Individual prompts consist of a setting and/or scenario and a narrative challenge. Settings/scenarios each have their own requirements and, in some cases, penalties to avoid. The narrative challenge is a stylistic narrative device that you may choose to incorporate into your story. The contestant who executes the narrative device most effectively gets all of the points for it (equivalent to three votes).

At the end of the betting phase, anyone who has not declared a bet will be set to the minimum wager and all remaining scenarios will be released.

Stats and scores from the previous round are also released at the beginning of this phase. If you want to make an appeal because you believe you were misjudged in the previous round, you must do so as soon as possible during this time.

Writing phase:
The writing phase begins when the betting phase ends. Contestants have three weeks to write their story and submit it by PMing it to me before the due date. The copy that I receive is the one that gets judged for skill points. This means you are not allowed to edit your story after submitting. You will also post a topic like you would for a normal match.

You are allowed to submit topic and story at different times, so if you finish your story in two weeks but your opponent isn't done yet, you can still PM your story to me for judging. I encourage you to submit as soon as you're ready instead of waiting for the due date to roll around. You technically don't get a bonus for submitting early, but it gives the judges more time to read your story and return better feedback. It also helps keep the judging phase from running longer than a week. Judging is private; nobody will see the submitted copy except for the judges.

Also, if you post your topic early, you’ll beat out the inevitable influx of stories right at the due date and people will be more likely to see and vote on your story.
If your topic has not been made by the due date, then I will make the topic for you and your opponent.

You will be eliminated from the tournament if you do not submit your story on time.
If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from writing your story, you must PM me about it before the due date. I will not be generous with extensions/passes; very few circumstances prevent you from writing for three entire weeks.

Judging phase:
After the writing due date, there is a judging phase in which people vote on stories and judges go over all of the stories. Feedback is totaled at the end of this period. Ideally, this phase will last about a week, but it depends on how many stories there are to go through. (Again, if you submit your story early, you can help keep this down to one week.)

The winner of a round gets the wagered tokens. Who wins is determined by the round score. Round score consists of the following: a rubric score, which is whether you followed the prompts or not; skill score, which are points issued by judges based on your apparent storytelling competence; narrative challenge, which is whether or not you won the narrative challenge; vote score, which is based on the number of votes you received; and feedback points, which is an extra ten points you can receive for giving multiple pieces of good feedback.

There will be one day between the end of one round's judging phase and the start of the next betting phase when I total up the points and get the new matchups together.

You may also make a Deal with the Devil during any phase to receive an extra token in exchange for a permanent condition. Said condition can be related to the events in the story, the language you use to write it, or something arbitrary. Check the relevant section for details.

Story Guidelines
The Valley of Dreams is a bit of everything that ever has been and will be. In practical terms, it means that your story can end up taking place anywhere at all with any conditions.

I want to make this as clear as possible: Forget about all of your fancy canon stories and big plot developments. This tournament is completely separate from all of them. This is about you using your character in different situations. Your characters almost definitely won’t be fighting for all four rounds; it depends on what prompts you get.

Each story takes place in a separate “dream”. That means that the events of one story are completely unrelated to the events of the next and should be treated as such. It’s up to you to come up with the circumstances that lead up to the events of your story (you don’t even have to specify said circumstances if it doesn’t add to the narrative). These circumstances shouldn’t follow from your canon stories or previous tournament rounds.

Importantly, write your stories as if they aren’t dreams, which is to say, make sure that the events are “believable” and your logistics make sense. Your character shouldn’t even be aware of the fact that they’re in a dream during tournament rounds (although you can if you want to make that a plot point).

Not all scenarios involve fighting. If your prompt is better executed without people punching each other in the face, then don’t write people punching each other in the face.

Universal Conditions:
1) You may not kill your character in your story.
2) You may not have an accompanying supporting character. This means you may not have a supporting character that has persistence throughout all or some of the rounds. It’s okay to have or create supporting characters in individual rounds, but these supporting characters are part of the dream; your character is trapped in the Valley alone.
3) Your character retains damage between rounds, but you are allowed to heal them to the extent that would conceivably be able to over time. e.g., if your character gets stabbed or breaks a bone, that can be fixed by the next battle. If your character contracts a serious disease or loses a limb, however, you have to stick with it.
3a) Damage must be retained, but the cause for said damage does not. Say your character lost a finger in one round from trying to use a table saw while drunk. You have to keep the finger lost in the next round, but if it comes up in the story you can say that it was caused by something else, like a shark attack.
4) Your characters’ (both you and your opponent’s) abilities should match up with your one-line blurb. I don’t care if you have some details or whatever you didn’t list, but if you write “weapons master” in your blurb, your character should not be a complete klutz who stabs their self in the foot when using a knife.
5) This should go without saying, but both wRHG characters have to be major, alive characters in the story (for example, if you get a murder mystery prompt, you’re allowed to have your opponent be the murdered party only if that character also has scenes in which they are alive and doing things to advance the plot). They do not have to fight; many prompt scenarios will work better if they don’t. They do not necessarily have to be in conflict with one another, either.

Continuity (Things to Keep in Mind):
Technically each “dream” is fifteen minutes long, but dreams are weird in that they can last for any amount of time within that. Basically, if you want a story that has a context going back months, go ahead and do it.

Your character can have as many or few memories of their canon past as you desire (but try to avoid plot-convenient laser-guided amnesia) and can be any age. Because this is about putting your character into different and strange situations, your character’s personality and abilities should be as consistent across stories as possible. I can’t penalize you if you change your character’s personality unless it directly conflicts with the skill points section below, but it’s really shooting yourself in the foot creatively if you just up and change your character’s personality for plot convenience.

Don’t make reference to the Valley or tokens within your story. You won’t be penalized if you do, but I can guarantee you will write a better story if you keep that business out. The Valley is just a framing device so we can have fun writing stories.

Remember that you must assume that readers only know the prompts and whatever is in the two characters’ one-line blurbs. Do not assume that they know anything about your character’s story (and you can even change this if you want) or the details of your powers.

You may be writing a dream, but everything still has to make sense.

Matchups are between people who have the closest number of tokens and random within that. There will be no repeating matchups (e.g., if A and B have four tokens each, but have already fought, then A will be matched with the next closest contestant C, even though C has more or less than four tokens). I will do my best to prevent anyone from being in a three-way battle twice.

There are a series of rules to the wagers to ensure there’s some actual progress within four rounds.
1) All wagered tokens go to the player with the highest round score (covered in the next section). In the event of a three-way battle, two thirds go to the first place and one third will go to the runner-up.
2) Wagers are made before individual prompts are released. I will give out prompts as soon as individual bets are declared.
3) The betting range is half the lower player’s pool (rounded up) to the lower player’s entire pool. e.g., if the lower player has five tokens, the minimum wager is three tokens and the maximum wager is five.
4) Wagers are set by the first person who posts in this topic declaring one. The wager will be set to minimum if neither player declares one before the end of the betting phase.
5) If the minimum wager is three tokens or more, the person who does not declare the bet may raise or lower the wager by one token. This will default to doing nothing if you don’t declare anything, but please actually declare if you don’t want to raise or lower so I can finalize your wager and give you your prompts. e.g., if A declares a bet of five tokens, B may choose to post saying that they want to raise to six, lower to four, or stay at five.
5a) You may not lower the wager below your minimum. e.g., if A, who has six tokens, declares a wager of five tokens, B, who has ten tokens, may not lower the wager because that would be less than half his/her pool, even though it’s still in the betting range. However, if B made the same wager, then A would be allowed to lower it.

Round Scoring
The winner of each round is based on round scoring. There are multiple parts to the round score. Don’t ask me questions about this unless you’ve read the entire thing.

Rubric points: These points are based on your ability to follow directions. This is comprised of three parts and you will lose all points in a section if you do not fill all the respective criteria. These should be free points. Ask for clarification if you’re confused as to what you need to do for a certain prompt.
-Universal conditions: Unless instructed or allowed to do so by another prompt (round condition, individual prompt, or Deal), you have to follow the universal conditions listed a few sections ago. (15)

-Round conditions: Each round has an overarching theme and condition. You must invoke them. (15)

-Individual conditions: Each matchup will receive a random setting or scenario. Your story must take place in that setting and be of the scenario (if one is provided). Some individual prompts will have specific conditions you must fill or penalties to avoid. Read your prompt carefully to make sure you don’t get penalized. Note that your individual condition score can become negative if you make enough infractions. (15)

Skill points: These points are assigned by the judges. They are based on your storytelling and writing competence. It is possible to get partial credit on these subcategories.
-Proofreading: You will lose Proofreading points for poor proofing. Signs of bad proofing include: misspelling character names, accidentally changing character genders mid-story, repeating sentences verbatim for no apparent reason, and losing words in sentences when the rest of your writing indicates your skill level is high enough to understand when you are doing so. Pro tip: read your story out loud when you proofread. If you don't feel confident in your proofing skills and/or want a second opinion, feel free to ask others to read your story before you post it; just do it privately. (5)

-Characterization: Your story exists because of the characters, not the other way around. Write the story as a result of your characters, give them distinct personalities, and make sure they stay consistent. Note that you will not be penalized for writing a personality that is inconsistent with the one listed on your wRHG page. Atrocious dialogue goes under this category; if your character is a normal person, have them talk like one. (5)

-Plot: Again, this should be a result of your characters. The things your characters do should make sense based on their personalities. You should not have a character willingly go into a dark and dangerous alleyway with a thug who wants to kill him for literally no reason than to make the plot happen. (5)

-Research: If you are including scientific or historic bits in your story, make sure that you’re accurate. It’s fine if you don’t demonstrate intimate knowledge of microorganism identification, but you should not put the LHC in Germany (research failure can be forgiven if there is a narrative reason for it, but think hard about it before you decide to deliberately get facts wrong because you'll get penalized if it isn't evidently deliberate). If something in your story can be disproven with a cursory Google search, then you will lose points. This includes malapropisms. Please do not use a word if you don’t know what it means. (5)

-Clarity: Do readers understand your story? Or is your language so cluttered with octopus giblets that it fails to get the point across? It’s your job as a writer to make sure readers understand what you’re trying to say. Confusing plot points can come under here as well. (10)

-Independence: Does everything fit together? Does the story work on its own? Forget about your previous stories and your fancy canon. Your story will be judged on its own; write your story as if your readers have not read your character pages or supplemental stories or previous battles (this includes tournament stories), because this will probably be the case. (Basically, don't pick up a thread from some other story you've written or assume that people know who whatever characters are because you will be penalized for it.)(5)

-Consistency: Are your characters consistent? Are your established laws and interactions consistent? Is your narration consistent with your characters? Narrative cheating goes under this category, as do informed attributes. (5)

-Grammar and Style: Is your grammar and style appropriate for the story you are writing? It’s fine to deviate from grammatical rules, but there needs to be a good reason for it. (5)

Narrative Challenge: Each matchup will be given a narrative challenge. It is a prompt that relates to how you write your story, usually related to style or structure (It can affect things like the relationship between the characters, the point of view, or story themes). The player who gets the most narrative mileage out of it/executes it best gets all of the points for this category. If the judges don’t see the NC in either stories, no points are awarded. (15)

Votes: There will be a poll for your stories just like always. Each vote that you receive by the end of the judging phase is worth five points. You will be penalized five points for voting on your own story (either for yourself or your opponent).

Feedback: Feedback is an important part of writing stories, so I’m giving points to people who give good feedback. You can get up to three points on each piece of feedback you give, up to a total of 10 points. Good feedback requires three things: What you thought, why you thought that, and enough information to show you actually read the story. Suggesting alternatives isn’t necessary. You do not get credit for objectively incorrect feedback (so cite your sources if you’re criticizing someone’s grammar). (10)

At the end of the judging phase, point totals of each category will be released publicly and subcategory scores and explanations will be sent privately to the respective writers. If you believe that you were misjudged, you can appeal to me by PM during the betting phase of the next round (Unless said judgement involves someone being eliminated, the matchups will not be changed even if the victor is changed to the other contestant). Explain exactly what you believe was misjudged and we’ll talk it through.

I somehow doubt that ties will come up, but in the event that they do, the winner is determined by these factors in this priority:
1) Rubric Points
2) Narrative Challenge
3) Skill Points

If those three are all miraculously tied, then I will resolve the tie personally.

There will be leaderboard rankings for this tournament. They are ordered by the following categories in descending priority:
1) Those who escape at the end of the second, third, or fourth rounds, then those who are eliminated after participating in one, two, three, or four rounds.
2) Number of tokens upon escape or elimination
3) Cumulative round points

Because of the way the scoring works, you are penalized for not participating every round (i.e., if you enter at the beginning of the second or third round).

Again, I doubt that there will be a tie, but I will break it if there is one.

You are eliminated from the tournament when you run out of tokens. You may not reenter the tournament after you have been eliminated.

You will also be eliminated for failing to PM your story to me by the due date. You may still post your story and get round points/tokens, but you will not participate in the following rounds. Even if you win your battle and get at least eleven tokens, you will still be counted as eliminated, not escaped.

You will also be eliminated for forfeiting your match. If you forfeit, you will be counted as exiting the tournament at the end of the previous round and therefore lower in the rankings than if you had been eliminated by other means. I will consider your match forfeited if you PM me saying so or do not submit your story within two days of the deadline.

Basically, you have to write something every round and do it in the time limit to stay in. If you submit anything at all and submit it on time, you'll be allowed to continue as normal. No skipping out. I think that's fair.

Deal with the Devil
Do you want to escape sooner rather than later? Well, there's someone who can help.

Just as long as you’re willing to pay the price.

You may choose to make a Deal with the Devil at any point during a round. When you take a Deal, you privately receive a random condition you must adhere to for the remainder of the tournament. At the end of the round that you take the Deal, you receive an extra token. However, you will lose a token every round you fail to fill your end of the Deal.

You may take one Deal each round.

To take a Deal, either say so when you declare your bet or PM me requesting one (otherwise I may not see it). I will issue your Deal 24-48 hours later. You may cancel your Deal without penalty at any point before I issue the prompt. If you cancel your Deal, you may not take the cancelation back or request another Deal that round.

If you do not like the Deal you receive, you have the option to shuffle it once in the entire tournament. You may only do this the round you receive that Deal. I will roll another Deal and issue it to you instead. You will not be allowed to return to the previous Deal. Use your shuffle wisely.

You may cancel your Deal after it has been issued by messaging me saying you wish to do so. There is a penalty of two tokens. Please make sure to specify which Deal you wish to cancel if you have multiple. This nullifies your Deal for that and future rounds. This means that if you cancel your Deal on the same round that you receive it, you will not get the Deal token even if you fill the Deal prompt and take a net loss of two tokens.

Deal conditions are more arbitrary and/or aimed towards the language side of writing. You may be asked to incorporate a certain event in your stories or write a story while avoiding a certain writing element. I’ve done my best to make sure that all Deals are possible without detracting from story quality, but they are definitely not meant to be easy. If you have questions about your Deal, PM me for clarification.

Your Deal goes into effect the round it is issued, not the round you request it. This means that if you, for whatever reason, request a Deal on the last day of the writing phase and I get your Deal to you two days later, that Deal is effective as of the next round. This really shouldn’t come up.

The number of Deals you take will be public. The Deal prompts, however, will not be published until the end of the tournament.

Deal tokens are issued at the very end of the round after wagered tokens have changed hands. This means that if you bet everything and lose, your Deal will not save you. It also means that you cannot wager with a Deal token from the same round because you don’t have it yet.

If you have any questions specifically about the rules, then ask here or PM me. I will answer them as soon as I can and copy them into the FAQ below. Please make sure you read the relevant sections carefully before asking questions. I know it’s a lot, but it’s a lot because I wanted to keep the confusion to a minimum.

Remember: it takes skill to survive, but it takes guts and a little bit of luck to win.

06-26-2014, 12:01 AM
[Post reserved for FAQ]