Borrowing someone else's keyboard for this so I'll keep it short (also is seems to stick on o, p and r, I'm trying not to think about why :/) Anyway (w too apparently), this is my glorious manifesto (I've been drinking for the past while, I think I started at 6PM, it's now 3AM) on brevity in the pursuit of submissions. Mainly it's in response to some unspoken beliefs held by some of my fellow Strolenites, to wit, that all submissions must be campaign defining pieces of epicness that span across multiple pages and carry with them at least 20 usable plot hooks (on that note this one -> ( seems to stick too, as well as the s, I'm really starting to wonder if typing it on the tablet wouldn't in fact be quicker). Anyway, (Have I mentioned the y yet, I'm not too sure at this point...) ((Not to pick on you Goss, but yours is the most recent example of what I'm about to go into)) some of our fellows add superfluous information to submissions that are otherwise perfectly fine without, with the only logical reason I can figure out is to inflate the word count/size on the submission. Whether this is a stylistic choice (don't like small things themselves?) or so that our fellow Strolenites will feel better about giving them a higher rating (or feel bad about a lower one maybe?). The example I'm going to be citing for this is the fabulous ADT by our very own Yemani (and Goss, if you haven't noticed yet I'm going reverse alphabetically, I'll probably tire of it before I get to fun geopolitical problems like whether I should count Transnistria or Taiwan as countries) member Gossamer. In said submission the author (look at me cleverly avoiding taking sides on the gender debate) includes information about the CEO of the company, despite him not in anyway affecting the creation, design, implementation, marketing, et cetera, et cetera. AND WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW THAT HE'S A PUGILIST!?!?!
I seem to have gotten sidetracked at this point (also the g seems to register twice when I hit it sometimes), so I'm going to simplify my point a little bit. As Augustus Pugin said in regards to architecture "there should be no features about a building which are not necessary for convenience, construction, or propriety" and "all ornament should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building." (yes, I went quote mining, shoot me.) AG was kind enough to point out that some of you folks in Europe, particularly the further eastern portions have poor experiences with minimalistic architecture, which I can understand. Brutalism as a style, and the Soviet minimalism produces some god awful, ugly buildings, but this quote is coming from a man who was at the forefront of the Gothic revival, not quite pared down to just concrete blocks and mortar in a rectangular shape.
For the more literarily minded of you, I point you to one Anton Chekhov. And I quote, "One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." If we don't need to know about something for either the submission to make sense, or for it to feel whole it should be a linked stub (or even better, its own submission). Allowances are, of course, made for such things as a codex of all the weapons of the Old Imperial Era that all fantasy settings are required by law to have.
Going back to my original point of this belief that all items should somehow affect the game world in earth shattering ways, I feel like the single worst piece of advice (and I apologize for this SnO, I know you were only trying to help), is "It could use a couple of plot hooks." I mean, if you're writing up an interesting backstory for a family heirloom, sure toss in a "the family hires you to fetch their irreplaceable +1 sword of meh that's been stolen by bandits" because we're all total idiots that can't figure that one out on our own. Yet again, NOT EVERYTHING IS EARTH SHATTERING. Some things are just things, a submission describing a tablet screen implanted under the skin, or one describing the SciFi staple of a reflex booster (a quite flavorful submission by Scras) doesn't need plot hooks, it's a tool for the PCs to buy, not one to shoehorn them into another musty tomb, or chasing after another set of bandits, or punching out fricking Cthulhu.
Also, I've once again lost the train of thought I was on, so I'll be back again in like 15 minutes after I've had another shot or two. And back, since then I've thought of two more digressions to take part in (and Goss, I'm not just doing this to make a point. This IS how I write before I start editing submissions down. Well, maybe not the comments about keyboards and drinks, but still). Firstly I'm going to admit that I am as guilty as others on voting higher on submissions than I felt they truthfully deserved just because it looked like a lot of work went into writing them. I try not to, but I'm not a total sociopath, and other people's feelings do sometimes enter the equation. (people's is a weird possessive plural, I want to put the apostrophe after the s despite knowing that that's wrong.)
My second point (for something like the 3rd time since I've started writing) is Tolkien. Of those of you who have read the Lord of the Rings, how many of you started skipping over the songs and poems towards the end of the first book, despite knowing that they probably had some impact on the plot, or advanced the story in some way? I know I did, because they were a distraction from the main story I was there for. Don't get me wrong, if they had been collected at the end of the books in an appendix I would have read them, but every time they came up I would have much rather heard about what was going to happen to our plucky protagonists than a song about someone who'd died before the main villain was even a threat.
AND now I remember what my third point was, setting specificity. (note to self: write out cthuloid abomination using greater than 50% $.50 word count) When you want to write up a +1 sword of crapfulness for a submission, you know you can rely on all fantasy settings being the same (with the exception of those people playing in an Oriental campaign, and even then the differences are mainly in flavor, easily fixed by changing out any wandering knights for a pure hearted ronin. Well, unless dragons are involved, then you might have to work a little bit.) When you're writing for a modern/future campaign you can't assume that. Unless if you want to tie your item to a specific setting (which is fine if you want to, and does allow you to skip the points I'm about to lay out) you literally CAN'T go into how an item effects the day to day lives of the general populace. A post apocalyptic (recent past) is going to be different than a distant past version, and they're both different from a modern magic campaign (I'm sure there's someone here who's heard of Vampire or Shadow Hunters [which settings are about as different from each other in flavor and crunch as you can get will still having vampires roaming the streets of downtown LA]) and they're all different from cyberpunk (though the feel of Vampire is similar, or maybe it's just all the leather), which is itself different from Cthulhutech (despite CT being a direct offshoot of it). Once you get out of the present/near future things get even more wonky; Dark Heresy, Traveller, Star Wars would all deal with wired reflexs diffently (not at the most basic mechanical level) in how they are viewed by society. In a Bleak Wood style game, despite being purely technology, wired reflexes would most likely be viewed as a gift from the gods, or fell magic. Dark Heresy is closest to it in that regard, as it'd likely be viewed as heresy to be purged. Now you might be saying, well there are fantasy settings that deviate from the norm, but that is a false dichotomy because in fantasy there IS A NORM TO DEVIATE FROM! Tell me, any of you, what is the standard sci fi setting? The closest anyone can get is the Star Wars without the Force setting, to quote TVTropes: "In the far future, the [human group] fights a pitched battle against the mighty [alien name] Empire, but deep in the mysterious [region of space], among the ruins of the past, a darker threat looms." The plot of any number of hackneyed space operas available at a book store near you, all of them seemingly going directly to paperback because the editor knows that the consumers of these stories have read a million like them and unless it's from an author they've loved in the past won't spend the extra money for a hardcover.
I just noticed that that paragraph was kinda unwieldy, and because I refuse to edit this in any way other than going further back in a line to fix a spelling error, I'm starting a new one here. This, the closest analog we have to what people think when you say "scifi" doesn't begin to cover the majority of what you'll find labeled as scifi, at this point I'm ignoring any of the stories that I'd label scifi, but got moved out of their ghetto into the much less descriptive "Fiction" section at the local bookstore. Anyway, returning to my original point in the previous paragraph, to make is so that a near future item can be applied as broadly as possible, with the least amount of deleting descriptions to add your own in, it is perfectly reasonable for the sci fi equivilent of the +1 sword to eschew assigning itself to a particular genre unless the author so chooses.
Anyway, I'm done, so I'll leave you with this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupe, (it's old, which inherently means it's better, right?) "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left t add, but when there is nothing left to take away."