One of the signs of a talented writer, and for that matter, a talented GM, is the ability to condense expansive, rich, and evocative information and material, using as little words as possible.
We all love to write. Here is a challenge I remembered from Creative Writing class in college. Think of this as an Idea Seed, but unlike that format, these submissions should deliver an entire concept, complete with detail, in a limited amount of words. 75 or less to be exact. This is the only rule.
The purpose? Well, it is a great way to practice your craft. Presenting ideas by using the right words and words that carry an impact, not to mention your syntax and grammar!
The by-product? Well, we will have an easy-to-navigate scroll of goodness, filled with countless ideas GM’s can expand upon even further!
Remember, these are not Idea Seeds per se. An Idea Seed is just that..a seed. These beauties should feature a beginning, a middle, and an end, be it an Item, a Location, an NPC, or what have you.
I summon the Citadel! Wulf has answered the call! Who else will step up to the plate and deliver?
I hereby suggest we pick the best of the bunch, once we get a lot of scroll entries, and announce our Short and Sweet Challenge Winner with great pomp and circumstance!
Its a skill folks, try it! It is not as easy as you may think, especially if you want to come up with a good one!
SHORT and SWEET!
(original inspiration came from glancing at the Bra of Holding…again)
The Sysygy Paradigm
The Astrologer-Wizard Langinon has discovered an Antediluvian ritual that 'stops the planets in their courses', granting the caster 'power as of a god' if it is performed at the instant of perfect sysygy, when the sun and moons are in opposition. He is rashly determined to attempt this magic.
While the caster gains great power at the moment of sysygy, the ritual also unleashes a horde of life-draining extradimensional parasites, horrors imprisoned for uncounted epochs.
Fire. Brimstone. Blood. These everywhere, upon the hellish battlefield. Falling to his knees, he prayed. The answer came, thundering from above, a solitary bolt from the heavens, piercing the fell general. And he drew it from the foe, wielding it ferociously.
Red Thunder is a bane weapon against evil du jour. Cast into the sky, nearly straight up, it will strike the chosen target nearly without fail.
Siphas'ba, Naga-Queen of Velq, has discovered the secrets of immortality! She enlists the unknowing PCs, using powerful magical disguises to secure their trust. The PCs gather bizzare components and ingredients for Siphas'ba's mighty spell, yet the formula is tainted. An old trick of the Possum-God, Kirrilikki, left for unsuspecting mortals to find. In truth, the diabolocal spell unleashes a virulent aging-reversal. Any living creature, in the spells range, reverts back to fetal form within days.
The Seer's Box
Fragrant cedar box of mysteries,
Inlaid with brass and pewter,
Conduit between life and death.
Charismatic Speaker of the Dead
connects bereaved and the deceased.
Peasants weep for the lost
and give coins of silver.
Nobles consult their wise ancestors
and give coins of gold.
Mages scoff at the foolish.
But the Speaker is false,
his ghosts are magic tricks.
Until a real ghost comes
to reside in the box
and the lie becomes true.
The Invisible Trebuchet
A wizard of middling skill has made an entire trebuchet invisible, it's stones not appearing until after crashing through walls. The castle assassin now hires his mercenary crew and invisible trebuchet to the highest bidder. The PCs must find the weapon and destroy it before the coming festival, otherwise many will be killed by a surprise attack.
No straight line to throne,
But niece has unique poison.
Cure? King eats her. Raw.
Bold, wise, full of charm,
Youthful into his old age.
Secretly? A lich.
These soft, undecorated ratskin boots are the footwear of Shhil the Trickster, the legendary hero who stole the sun and moon from the Lord of the Underworld at the request of Ibliyar the Dog.
The man who dons them casts makes no sounds, casts no shadows, and his footprints vanish from the earth, and over time, so does the wearer himself, until he can no longer touch or feel a world that he can only watch, like an invisible spirit.
Unleash the muses.
The World of War
A world devoted to war,
building guns, tanks, bombs, missles.
War is the biggest business,
war machines are not cheap.
Come and try one out.
Guaranteed reliability in the field,
best value for the price
Their operators are standing by.
Orders filled within 24 hours,
Rush processing, shipping, slightly extra.
War World battles against peace
Action reduces inventories, excess stock,
Fills bank accounts with cash.
They fight for your right
To bear arms and fight.
The Thing in the Attic
An alien creature has moved into the unused rooms of various buildings. It connects them with magical portals and begins summoning others of its kind.
While the things are menacing, they are easy to dispatch. Unfortunately, others soon discover the extra-dimensional connections the things leave behind: Connections that lead into dungeon cells, vaults, nobles' palaces, and other vulnerable areas. Until the portals fade, thieves and assassins are almost unstoppable.
There was once a mule,
half human and half dwarf.
Reviled by human, dwarf, alike;
He delved into forbidden lore,
Opened gates to the Abyss.
What answered his eldritch call?
Demons of tentacle and fang;
minions of blood and claw.
His sanity broke like crystal,
And he embraced the darkness.
Like a lover's hot embrace
Darkness gave Teejok great power,
And he became a Nemesis.
Scourge of Man and Dwarf;
The Magus of the Tentacle.
On a desolate hillside stands the crypt of one of the leading families of the land. For hundreds of years, their ancestors have been placed there. Unfortunately, if the rusty lock is opened, an unpleasant reality stands revealed: The elaborate marble sarcophagi are empty. There is no sign they were ever tenanted.
For centuries, the sinister lords of a rival house have been collecting their enemies and making them into undead servants...
The Cursed Carnival
After a few years of adventuring, Jeffery decided to visit his sister at home. But when he got there, he found that no one remember that he ever had a sister. They remembered him, and his family, but not his sister. The only clue Jeffery had was that a Carnival had recently come to town.
And so Jeffery began tracking this mysterious carnival, lead by a man known only as the Ringmaster.
There is a moment of transition that occurs between corporeal death and spiritual departure. The school of Metensomancy deals with altering and controling this ultimate moment. Technically a specialization of necromancy, metensomancy is considered one of the blackest of black arts. A Metensomancer can kill with a word, trap souls in bodies and have the power to escape their own death by stealing the bodies of others.
The Vetandis Talionis is a cursed scroll inked by a demon at the behest of a mortal. The scroll is presented as a gift to the victim to be afflicted by the curse and has the appearance of a formal document. The victim gains a mania/derangement of the curser's choice, but popular picks are cannibalism, incest, and murder.
A Forestal Crown resembles a wreath made of roughly woven broad strips of tree bark. Made by dryads from their heart trees, a crown is a rare gift for their friends and lovers. Wearing a forestal crown grants the wearer the ability to move unhindered through the forest from which it came.
Crown of the Hunt
Made from ash switches and deer antlers and blessed by a priest or druid, a Crown of the Hunt is a common magic item that adds a minor bonus to hunting skills. Some warriors wear their crowns into battle, believing it makes them fierce.
Atrimis the sage is conducting geneology research and recently discovered an old, abandoned graveyard on the grounds of a large manor. He suspects that many of the gravestones will help him complete his research. However, it is occupied by various undead. It is located outside of the jurisdiction of any town, and the local nobility could not be bothered to help. Can you?
Grezvelch was a cat-formed demon familiar to a dark mage, and when the mage fell terminally ill, dragged his shrieking soul to hell. He came back to begin working on the mage's wife.
The Widow does not know this, but is visited by illusions of her husband in torment. Grezvelch is trying to force the old lady into suicide and grab her soul too. His backup plan is framing her as a witch.
The Crying Trees
The crying trees appear and weep their tears as a gift to lost, thirsty travelers in the Desert of Desertion. The taste is sweet and the energy given is uplifting in the waterless desert heat. The price of life from these trees of despair comes weeks later. Forevermore, an unquenchable thirst for that delicate taste, which once saved them from death, calls them back to the untraceable oasis.
She Left a Note
Beneath the shattered window lay a maiden's broken body. Colorful shards gleamed, bright in the pooled blood.
Days passed: A wake, then a funeral. Burial on unconsecrated ground.
Her maidservant soon lay in her grieving fiancée's arms, whispering cunning lies about her lady... About her victim.
No one knew her servant's fair hand rewrote her letters for her: No one questioned the despairing note's authenticity.
The jealous servant whispers lies.
A vengeful spirit rises.
Not Registered Yet? No problem.
Do you want Strolenati super powers? Registering. That's how you get super powers! These are just a couple powers you receive with more to come as you participate.
- Upvote and give XP to encourage useful comments.
- Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
- Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities (super powers).
- You should register. All your friends are doing it!
? Responses (22)
I would normally give this a 4, but the 75 word limit makes it a nice challenge, so +.5 for that.
Certainly lots of fun. :D A good challenge, with some quality mini-subs.
Apparently my format of 15 five word sentances, intended to limit the number of times I had to count to get the 75 words spawned a batch of haiku. I'm not sure if that is good or bad...
Now we must move to limericks!
There must be something strange going on... yesterday, when I spent the whole day travelling, one of the things I thought of was a 'short and sweet' freetext, for quality submissions short in size but not lacking in completness. And today I find this... whoa.
Whee, glad someone resurrected this thread. As a reminder, you can 'vote' on individual submissions by clicking the + or - next to xp, in the line 'Username Apr 21, 2007 20:59 XP: + - (0). This gives (or takes!) a single xp from the person and consumes a vote, the aggregate + or - serves as a final rating.
thanks Siren! Now we can actually crown a 'winner', using the fascinating +/- system, once we have, say, 50 of these suckers!
Short and Sweet Challenge Champion!
I agree wholeheartedly with the idea, however, I think the material could have used some more helpful suggestions in just how to go about writing in this manner.
A fascinating idea! And thanks, Siren, for explaining what the +/- thing was for for us newbies.
Very nice. So much so, I may just have to add my own 2.98475948 cents worth.
I'm always impressed by those who can be so efficient in their use of words. This is something I try for but tend to fall short of. I may just add my own attempts to this list. My all-time favorite is Hemingway's six-word short story ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.")
Awesome challenge! Hope it makes "The MUROs" this year. ;)