Announcing the Winners of the 2021 PrinceofNothingPresents No Artpunk Contest.

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The entries are in, the reviews have been done. Now remains only the judgement. It is with excruciating heartache that I must select only eight of the splendid entries that you have sent in. I have rent my cheeks, smeared ashes in my hair and weep blood, beating my chest with my fist, thinking of the countless worthy entries that must now settle for a lesser glory. You have made me all proud to be a Prince of this OSR. But I have promised I would select the best entries and thus the best I must select.

Criteria and Overview
For purposes of the contest I stipulated dungeon adventures of 23-30 rooms (with a clarification that this room limit may be exceeded somewhat and that the point is mainly to avoid mörk bork micro-dungeon slop), using only monsters and items from the official sources (DMG, UA etc. etc.) with the addition of A SINGLE NEW ITEM AND MONSTER. Contestants were graded on both style and substance, creativity, adherence to the letter and spirit of the competition and my personal blood-alcohol levels at the time of the adjudication.

The object of the exercise was to stimulate people to figure out how to make an engaging, interesting and fun dungeon without resorting to the sort of surface creativity that has become a crutch in OSR, and especially Artpunk, circles.

I was very pleased with the results. You soared to the challenge. I saw dungeon maps that were partially submerged, interesting use of verticality, ambitious multi-level designs, and sophisticated orders of battle. I witnessed high-fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, science fantasy and faery tales. I witnessed strange elements, trials of champions, crystals that turned back the flow of time, devices that fed on the hearts of stars. Adventures that carried one into sewers, tombs, enchanted caverns, necropolis, decaying palaces and onto the front porch of hell itself. I witnessed faction play, clever use of encounters, natural hazards, illusions.  Prose that elevated these well-worn Gygaxian building blocks, blew away the patina of 30 years of pop-culture dilution, and displayed them in their full platonic glory.

Almost every school of DnD was represented: OD&D, High AD&D, 2e, RC, Old B/X, Newschool Fusion Convert, NuOSR, Unbalaced Dice Games. 19 Brave Knights raised their swords and said unto the Artpunkmen, ‘here and no further!’ This communal effort is the true spirit of DnD. So what if you are a gorgeous raven-haired nubile young desert woman from Asia Minor with skin like cream, and a look of desperate yearning dances across your aquiline features and you purse your full lips as your hazel eyes devour my reviews, imagining that perhaps I shall carry you away from your tent in the freezing night, and take you to some far-off crusader state to be my war-bride? I don’t mind that at all. That’s what DnD is all about!

In celebration of your overall performance, and since even many of the rejected entries far surpass in quality the average quality of an OSR contribution, I have already decided that I WILL PUBLISH A SECOND VOLUME of No ArtPunk, entitled No Artpunk Companion combining therein all the entries that were not included in the first volume. The procedures behind this we can discuss later.

On a last, more sobering note, one of the contestants, the author of the Long Hall, decided to withdraw his work from the final selection, citing he was not pleased with the quality. I attempted to dissuade him but he remained adamant. Should mr Vance wish to re-instate his entry, I will of course be quite happy to include his entry in No Artpunk Companion.

It is time to declare the winners.

The 8 Winners of the No-Artpunk competition.

As stated previously, you made it all but impossible for me to make a choice, but here are the ones that I deemed to be most worthy. If I had not decided to publish the rest, I might have extended the number of entries to 10 or more, as many entries beyond the 8th are indeed still very much worth playing. In no particular order.

The Temple of Hypnos – I knew it would make top 8 when I reviewed it. Fantastic S&S vibe permeates the entire work, combined with a dynamic location where you can either opt for a (difficult) frontal assault or attempt a ruse ah la D2, everything in it reeks of craftsmanship, energy and style.
The Well – I am going to get scraped from Settembrini’s Christmas list, but somewhere halfway into The Well if fell in love with its gorgeous maps, its seamless atmosphere of rustic heroism, its ancient location holding many secrets etc. You can take the man from the 2e but you can’t take the 2e from the man. Strip off the OSE nonsense and just do a 2e version already.
City of Bats – A dazzling homage to Shrine of Toamachan without falling into knock-off territory, infusing each encounter with mythic potency. Great use of encounters. It feels mythic. Also fucking mummies with spitting cobras in them!!!
Tower of the Time Master – An open-ended heist adventure rife with possibilities of temporal fuckery. Unconventional and ambitious.
Vault of the Warlord – So polished it could essentially be released to the public, Vault has and does it all, town with intrigue, wilderness area, hidden information, a giant beaver dam, tomb, tricky custom encounters, rival npc parties, talking fucking swords etc.
Melonath Falls – The most advanced humanoid lair assault I have ever seen since GD. A gigantic tour de force, dozens and dozens of humanoids, verticality, partially submerged caverns, prisoners, ancient shrines to a river god etc. etc. Very Advanced D&D.
Caught in the Web of Past and Present – An enchanted palace, a respite for the weary, now taken over by decay and evil. Transformations, illusions, riddles, Shape-changing spiders, secrets AND DEATH in this coke-fuelled Faery-Palace of Evil and Enchantment.
Dust & Stars The last choice was the most difficult, and ended with a toss-up between this one and Warlock Tower. I ended up going with Dust & Stars because of the strength of its concept, its ambition, the way it was implemented and the dynamic potential of the Star Pump, which all works delightfully.

Honourable Mention: Sword & SewerceryMissing random encounter table be damned, Sword & Sewercery is the little engine that could, so many ideas are combined in such a light format and the whole is so in line with what I wanted from the contest that I want to give it some room in the spotlight. If I had not decided to publish the remainder in a separate volume I would have included it here. If you do not already have one, please take a complimentary PDF copy of Palace of Unquiet Repose.


The Winner and the Runner-UP. The No Artpunk King and the No Artpunk Shogun. The Best of the Best.

Once again the choice is heartrending, it could have easily been any one of 6 top entries.  When I look at them in terms of a seamless whole, what entry best combines useability, atmosphere, polish, tactical complexity, richness, variety, interaction and FANTASY I am left with no recourse but to award CAUGHT IN THE WEB OF PAST AND PRESENT by Chomy the First Prize in the PrinceofNothingPresents No-Artpunk competition. I don’t know if its something in the Goulash, but I was blown away by the overall quality of the piece. Great job. A POD + PDF copy of Palace (deluxe edition) will be awarded to you, the valiant and deserving Champion.

Breathing down the neck of Web of Past & Present is a great beast. As though it slumbered in the ice for 40 years and had now emerged, roaring with primordial fury, I award second prize to Melonath Falls by Trent. Absorbing its every nuance would be nothing less than a heroic feat, worthy of a veteran DM, but in terms of tactical complexity, dynamic environment, variety and sheer richness this one is a delight. I don’t know if it will be run by every starry-eyed youngster that gets his hands on No Artpunk, but I do know that those heroic few will have an awesome time. I award thee a PDF version of Palace of Unquiet Repose (Deluxe Edition).   

Whats nex?.
I have two compilations to assemble. There are a couple of courses of action open to us.

For the Winners (all 8 of them).

Congratulations! You are all worthy heroes. It will take me a while to assemble everything so you have until October 15th to send me the following.

* If so desired, a revision or final edit. This is not required (and probably not recommended if you won).
* If so desired, a short piece, no more than half a page, on why you joined, who you are and anything else that you want to share so I can preface it.  

For the Contestants (the rest)

If you were among the contestants and you would like to see your work published in the No Artpunk Companion, I would be thrilled to do so. The same applies.

* If so desired, a revision or final edit. This is not a requirement.
* If so desired, a short piece, no more than half a page, on why you joined, who you are and anything else that you want to share so I can preface it.  
* If you don’t want to be part of No Artpunk Companion, please let me know via email (although you really should, you did a great job!).  
* Proceeds also go to Charity.

It might be longer until I release No Artpunk Companion, so you have some time to do any sort of re-edit or tinkering in the meantime.
 
My congratulations to the winners, my salutations to all of the contestants and a fine weekend to all of you. Updates r.e. No Artpunk will follow.

Glory to the Everlasting OSR! See you all soon.
Prince

UPDATE: Added some links so it would be easier to navigate for people that have not been reading along after translating feedback from a hungarian rpg forum.

UPDATE: Prizes will be mailed out soon. Sorting out the charity stuff with Malrex.


76 thoughts on “Announcing the Winners of the 2021 PrinceofNothingPresents No Artpunk Contest.

  1. Awesome entries all around. The heart of D&D is alive and beating well in the commnuity. Great job everyone who entered!

    I regret 100% not completing my entry as I was vastly unhappy with the maps I made. This showed me I should not have been worried and sent it in anyway.

    Prince when is the next contest? Semi-annual? Quarterly?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A pity, but yeah, keep it in the pipeline for next time.

      Quarterly would be too brutal on my schedule, its eating up quite some time as it is. I also have to write an adventure first otherwise I can’t award anything to the winners. Annual for the time being I think, maybe semi-annual if time permits.

      Like

      1. Spacing it out to at most semi-annually is good idea for another reason: too frequent contests means you’re going to have contestant burnout, a number of familiar faces will probably be back for the next one after all.

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      2. I think you could get some of the other OSR publisher’s to chip in a few free PDF’s from their back catalogue for winners if you thought you’d have to force yourself to write a module for the reward. Honestly twice a year would give lots of folks time to plan one out and get it ready for submission. Kick it off in March, submit by May, judge in June. Repeat in September be done by October, judge in November.

        if anything you’ll have a months worth of blog content twice a year and not have to think about.

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      3. Maybe each year should have some sort of theme, say next year could focus on faction mechacnics fr an example.

        And I will also allow Inverted pyramid to be put into companion – I already sent a revised version through e-mail (or actually two, with second one also trying to fix the flagrant breaking of “only 1 extra magic item” rule that was set up).

        Although I would prefer if the feature was the one with original magic items.

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  2. I was looking forward to getting the victor’s book as soon as I could but I guess I’ll have to wait so I can order both at the same time! Really stoked that all these quality entries are getting published though. Absolutely excellent way to go about it.
    Do this again next year

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I would like to thank Prince for being catalyst, organizer & review Subbotnik. Speaking as enemy of capitalism in our hobby, the community effort has been served while avoiding the “tragedy of the commons”, in our case: lack of exposure and engagement with many awesome free things.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. @my fellow contestants:
    I am quite humbled to be named among you, as the reviews came in, I was surely thinking everebody was way more awesome. Well, except the BIG money behind mthgrt(Sp?) Corp 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would be lying to not express some disappointment at not making the final cut, but reviewing the winning entries I absolutely see why they were chosen and absolutely agree with Prince’s selection: not only did they go “above and beyond” but they appear to display a surpassing skill of execution. I find myself far less jealous, and far more interested in reading them all!

    Looking at my own entry, I am tempted to withdraw as well…my ambition far outstripped the effort I gave in writing the adventure, and that is the simple truth. I am a busy man; I had a busy summer. And the consolation prize of being in the Companion book feels somewhat unjust…I feel like the student that somehow blunders into a B+ grade by cramming for a final exam after blowing off the class for most of the quarter.

    [hmm…a sensation I recall well from my university days, now that I consider it]

    But I am already saddened by the loss of The Long Hall from the book; I do hope Mr. Vance will reconsider his withdrawal. As I wrote in the comments for the review, I love a good insect cult/shaman. And so…just in case anyone might feel the same about me pulling out (as I feel about TLH’s)…I will allow it to remain. So long as Prince wants to include it, of course.

    I *do* think that I will make Hell’s Own Temple available as a (free) download on my own blog; I don’t give my poor followers nearly enough gaming material to justify their readership (man cannot live by vitriol and fiery rants alone!). Hopefully, HOT will serve as an advertisement for the No Artpunk compilation books, and entice folks to spend money on Prince’s (charitable) endeavor.

    As for making this a semi-annual contest…holy moly are you people crazy?! Talk about being overly ambitious! Even assuming Prince could pull off the logistics of running such a thing every six months (and, of course, with increased popularity there would probably be MORE entrants)…how many adventures are the purchasers of the book going to run over the course of the year? These things are being written to be PLAYED, yeah? I thought that was kind of the point of the thing. Yearly seems about right…better to keep folks hungry for the next installment!

    @ Prince:

    Thanks for running this. It was fun to read. I look forward to the compilation(s). Cheers.
    : )

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m pleased you will allow me to use Hell’s Own Temple for Companion. I mean what I say, the bulk of what has been handed in was of perfectly acceptable quality, including Long Hall. Anything that might not meet the exact qualifications I am happy to include just to capture the spirit of the event.

      Hells Temple was indeed a fine entry, but the competition was murderous. I meant what I said, that I am more then happy to include the vast majority of what had been sent in, but for a competition to have meaning, there must be winners and there must be losers. Had the combatants been less formidable, you would have won.

      Also I am rereading Conan as we speak so I might have some time to pick up the gauntlet and continue my essay 😛 Scarlet Citadel and Tower of the Elephant are unbelievably quintessential DnD stories.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Please do not withdraw, not least because I would like to read your entry in full. (Authors making pdfs available is a good substitute, but I think being part of a collection adds value.) Suppose someone who is following this contest wants a full on high level adventure, and is getting a bit fed up with demons as opponents; which module are they likely to play?
      I agree entirely with keeping this yearly, and would encourage people to submit play reports. The entrants have thrown down the gauntlet, hopefully inspiring the rest of the hobby, or at least those who don’t want one of these twenty page five room linear dungeons that Bryce tortures himself with, or a weighty 5E hardback that is worst than its inspiration.

      Liked by 5 people

    3. I’d keep it in. I wish everyone would keep theirs in. I think the book(s) will have exceptional value as a TEACHING TOOL on dungeon design above and beyond its value as actual adventures to be run.

      Agreed re: semi-annual, I spent a great deal of time over 3 months working on my own entry including multiple playtests with multiple sessions (besides roping another DM into running it as well). Once a year is plenty.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. This I heartily agree with. I look forward to reading ALL the entries; I think there are things to learn from every single one of them.

        Well, maybe not HISE’s.
        ; )

        Like

  6. LOL. “If everyone else had sucked, YOU would have won!”

    I will be sure to bring my most murderous “A” game to your next competition.
    ; )

    RE continuing our flung-gauntlet discourse

    I look forward to that as well.
    : )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Frankly, Hell’s Temple is the one I am most excited about. It sounds very much like my D&D and it’s much harder to design something so well at higher levels. In fact, I would love to see it developed around your original concept with faction play and such. Sounds awesome.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I was thinking I might just go ahead and do that. The original idea wasn’t terrible…just really BIG.

        I’m glad you find the concept exciting. I’ll see if I can find the time.
        ; )

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yay! Thanks for the recognition and no shame in coming in second to Our Hungarian Overlords – as soon as I saw your review of that one I could tell it was a fight for second place. I’m going to do a very light revision to fix a few typo-ish errors I noticed post-submission and to insert that note about how to avoid the bone golem animating I posted in the review comments. I’ll also convert the maps to jpeg and rescan cave A (where there’s some bleed-through from the cave B map) and cave D (which turned out a little fuzzy) but will resist the temptation to tinker further.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope I have avoided the recency effect with the nomination of Caught in the Web but it really was very good. Congratulations and great job on Melonath Falls. It can be a tad unwieldy, but its hard to point out where some light trimming would do no damage. I don’t suppose I could persuade you to adopt some sort of dirty bullet-point format for large collections of treasure could I? There must be some sort of ancient precedent for that type of condensation surely.

      Like

  8. Awesome, I am honored to be among the compilation and I really look forward to seeing the full product. This seems like something that really could be an annual tradition, proving innovation does best with strictures. This was a lot of fun both to watch and to participate in; I think you could get even more next year.

    I’ll send in my dungeon with just stats for the complex NPCs and with grammar edits, look forward to the bundle.

    Finally, for Lester’s Ramble: I liked the Long Hallway, I want to run it, and I’m going to run it, it’s already in the hexcrawl. We’re going to have fun with it, so nyah. :-p

    Liked by 2 people

  9. That was well done! Congratulations to the winners, thanks to His Princeness, and a hearty Fight On! to all the contestants – looking forward to reading and enjoying your materials!

    Unfortunately, the miscreant Chomy has spoiled himself with the reviews, so they cannot feature in my *current* campaign… But good stuff can be put on the roster, and used in play when the stars are right. I know some of these entries will prove useful at my table. Thanks again!

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I needed a few hours to let this sink in. I am humbled.

    It was an honor to fight beside you all! Congratulations for all who dared enter the fray. I am really excited to read (and run!) your entries, fellow OSRmen. Let’s have a lot of fun! 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  11. This was a fun contest, and it is an honor and a privilege to have my work numbered among adventures such as these. My playtest is happening soon, so hopefully I’ll be able to refine my entry a bit after my players hack-and-slash their way through it like they always do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Looking forward to both compilations! I’ll add a simple map to the outdoors section with the final very minor revision.

    “The Temple of Hypnos – I knew it would make top 8 when I reviewed it. Fantastic S&S vibe permeates the entire work, combined with a dynamic location where you can either opt for a (difficult) frontal assault or attempt a ruse ah la D2, everything in it reeks of craftsmanship, energy and style.”

    There were two playtests by different GMs (one declined a credit) before submission. One group went in hot and prevailed thanks to a well-rolled lightning bolt, the other was lead astray and separated before they realized they were in trouble. External playtesters are great not just because they find problems in the text, but problems with different GM styles or even playstyles.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Semi annually seems like a great idea. As someone mentioned, burnout could happen. I will start writing! So I have something for next year.

    Like

  14. Congratulations for the winner! Proud moment for us Hungarians. Thank you, Prince, for the event and thanks to every participant! Can’t wait to read the compilation!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey Prince! I shot you an email with a question about the companion book; might have got stuck in your spam filter like when I first sent you my entry.

    Like

    1. My Spam filter was thirsty today. To clarify, yes the proceeds of the second volume will also go to the same charity. I have to figure out how to do that in a way that is not terribly time-intensive but worst comes to worst I leave it at PWYW for the first three months, then collect the proceeds, tell everyone how much we made, donate it and then set it to free from thereon in.

      Like

    2. It’s probably fair about the spam filters…I sent like 3 emails in two days. I apologize for so pestering the prince

      Like

  16. Thank you O Prince for your kind consideration. I do hope that you were truly Merciless in your judgment of my meager works.. And I’d be very happy to be doing more in the 2E fashion, preferably, Jon.0, by my task Master Malrex the Unmerciful has set the scourge to my back and has bent me before the altar of OSE… Oh how I languish…

    Like

    1. At least go with Advanced Edition companion OSE if you must, that’s spiritually closer to 2e at any rate. You might have to do some mental gymnastics to get around the cash for XP though, that’s one of the major departures from 1e to 2e. Great job man.

      Like

  17. Really looking forward to this book.

    In what formats and dimensions will it be available?

    When do you hope to have it published?

    It’s the kind of thing I’d like to get in hardcover so I can have it burned with me on my funeral pyre.

    Like

  18. Congratulations everyone, well done!

    I love the enthusiasm, but having semi-annual contests for such a small community is a sure way to burn out and lose interest. Heck, even reading all the reviews was tiring for me by the end. An annual contest of OSR bards and craftsmen sounds like a healthy idea though.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was a blast to do, thank you Prince for putting this on, and bringing all these awesome adventures together. I knew I wasn’t gonna make the cut after seeing what people put out, but I’m excited to play those. I’d be glad to be in the companion, and all your feedback has been used, so a revised version of Tomb is on it’s way. Just gotta redraw the upper level map

    Like

  20. Interesting contest, I feel like there’s a decent degree of spergery (muh arthouse ;____; and muh agendas ;______;) driving this but the results speak for themselves. Congrats to all the winners, really enjoying reading through them all and I’m looking forward to the results.

    You seem to be fine with a heavy amount of reflavoring the base stats of a monster to the extent where it’s basically something else though; isn’t turning a zombie into a sleepwalker basically just making it a new monster for example, or was that the only real reflavouring done in that module?

    Like; if the intent is to generate content off of base monsters/items only, but then we sufficiently repackage them such that they’re new content entirely, is this in line with the competition’s spirit?

    Like

    1. It’s a good question but for pedantry’s sake I’ll note that I figured the sleepwalker/zombie was skirting the rule but since I didn’t include any other new monsters they would be fine either way. They follow the competition in spirit as they are a classic element of design (2HD slow mindless undead) used in a new way (neutral unless directed, subvertible).

      The intent of the competition was clearly to make people think about how the adventure and dungeon is put together, and the pour imagination into situations rather than creatures, spell and items. I can imagine a second competition with different limitations on the elements to encourage the same type of creatitity. For an even stricter challenge the condenders could be given an exclusive monster/item roster to arrange.

      Like

      1. Yeah I figured, did note that but it as difficult to really confirm without seeing the exact stats/module. It would be more egregious if there were dozens of creatures that you had reskinned, one as is isn’t hurting anything.

        Greatly enjoyed reading the review of the temple of Hypnos by the way, congrats mate. Incredibly cool piece and I can’t wait to read/run it proper.

        Like

      1. At least your contestant was able to give a good, concise response to a simple question.
        Anyway congrats, look forward to grabbing the compendium and joining any future contests.

        Like

      2. @wilbur

        You are certainly welcome to join next time, but for pedantry’s sake: Mr. Skogren did not actually answer your question, he only clarified the case of the particular example you were using, then very precisely re-iterated the premise of the contest, which is clearly visible in one of a dozen posts about the contest proper. Your question is based on an assumed dichotomy between the premise of the contest, and the execution thereof, and since you use the word ‘heavily’ you imply that this happens in many entries. You ask if sufficient reflavoring does not result in a de facto new monster. I responded, impolitely as you did, with a request to google the continuum fallacy, which would have allowed you to understand the logical fallacy inherent in the formulation of your question. Again, I don’t mind answering questions, nor banter, but don’t do both.

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  21. Pleae god do not call this the PONies. I do not care how cute folks thunk that sounds itll drive off more people than be fun and entertaining. You have folks able to create wonderful adventures surely we can come up with a better name that does not relate to a childrens show with all the internet baggage along with it.

    Like

      1. What you call your invisible friends at night is between you and them. A fun name. PONAPs. (Prince of Nothing No Artpunks , couldnt think of an O word) Have the symbol be a Yin/yang with the Pa as the part that ties both lwtters together. Something Evocative and Adventurous.

        Like

  22. What I love about Prince’s efforts to group AD&Ders is that he casts nets around people to ignore, like those dye packs that identify bank robbers.

    Like

      1. In this sad hell-prison that you have constructed for yourself, what does victory look like? Say you had unlimited influence on everyone in the OSR, what would you shape it into? Consider the answer, and know you would still be miserable.

        The only people you attack are the ones that give you the slightest benefit of the doubt. It is pathological.

        Like

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