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After observing and participating in some discussions between @KRyan and other posters, I've come to believe that the Stackexchange format is superb for hosting constests whose winners are resolved democratically. Homebrew is a wonderful part of the RPG community, and homebrew contests can help generate some wonderful content in addition to giving 'brewers access to critique and practice that can help sharpen their skills. To this end, I would like to propose that rpg.stackexchange host a prestige class contest monthly or bi-monthly. Here is the outline of my initial idea:

  • At the beginning of the contest, a moderator will post a question containing the themes (see below) and any additional restrictions (such as "five-level" or "no spellcasting"). The themes in question will be quotes or ideas provided by the moderation staff, such as snippets of classical verse or a picture.

  • Participants will have a period of two to four weeks (to be determined by discussion here, hopefully) to create their prestige class following at least one of the offered themes and all of the other restrictions. These classes must be complete, possessing fully-fledged flavor and mechanics, and hopefully a table if .stackexchange's programming will let us make them. During this time period participants are permitted and encouraged to seek critique on their work to edit and improve it. By the end of the submission period all legal entries must be posted as answers to the original question

  • At the end of the submission period will be a one-two week voting period wherein anyone can upvote the class(es) they find to be quality works. Leaving comments explaining one's vote is encouraged, as is discussing the content on chat if they want to question, praise, or critique the creator's work. At the end of the voting period, the class with the most votes wins the overall contest.

  • After the voting period, the moderation staff will award other prizes, with examples including "Best fluff," "Best mechanics," "Most creative ability" and/or others. I'm open to proposals.

Great thanks to @KRyan for originally proposing this and for uncovering precedent of contests hosted on .stackexchange sites. The proposal above is very bare-bones but I'm hoping we can flesh it out.

[ADDENDUM by BESW based on CONVERSATIONS with LORD_GARETH] Naturally, the idea can be adopted by anyone who wants to initiate a contest for a system dear to their heart. This particular proposal here is the germ of a broader concept, scoped narrowly (3.5 prestige classes) so as to be practical and achievable. There is no intention of limiting the potential of the concept. In practice this particular contest can be expected to expand (beyond prestige classes?) and the idea will hopefully be adapted to other systems (FATE extras, anyone?) if the experiment proposed above is successful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Encouraging comments sounds like a good way to give mods a heart attack, and early submitters would get more votes than late submitters out of proportion to the quality of the work. These are minor tweaks, though. Good concept! \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '13 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Critique is half the point of submission, though. If not in comments, where? How? \$\endgroup\$ – Lord_Gareth Apr 2 '13 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible to have answers submitted by a deadline and then not open voting until that deadline? Also, while the format would work well for this, I'm not sure this would work well from the site's POV. I'll be interested to see what people who have been here longer than I will say, though. +1 interesting! \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Apr 2 '13 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think editing after seeing a comment could be a problem. The PrC is not the same that was voted by the first upvoters, thus gaining more votes than it should. IMHO, SE is not a good platform at all for these kinds of things. Also, this sounds too system-specific for a system-irrelevant Q&A site. "Design your own RPG" could be a better contest. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Apr 2 '13 at 7:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps widen it out to other bi-monthly contests rather than just "prestige classes" to encourage non-3.5'ers? Certainly "prestige classes" could be the first :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Apr 2 '13 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 - while I don't think this will enrich the community anyhow, it could be a fun pastime. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeor Mattan Apr 2 '13 at 10:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Rob. You need to make sure that contests don't focus on a single game system however popular it is, as there are plenty of people wouldn't know anything about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 2 '13 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ New users should be aware that this idea may unintentionally touch on old arguments, now lying dormant, about the diversity (or lack thereof) of the site's questions: meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/774/321 \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '13 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds like a pretty awesome concept \$\endgroup\$ – Antonio Apr 9 '13 at 12:58
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This is not an appropriate contest type for Stack Exchange.

We're a Q&A site, not a forum or a "share your creations" site. As much as I enjoy creativity (both exercising my own and seeing the fruits of others') and feel it should be fostered, this is not the site for doing so.

If we have to have a contest that focuses on a single RPG (something I honestly think we should avoid), then it should be designed to make our site a better resource for that RPG (see Arqade's recent AnswerSwarm contest for Heart of the Swarm).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. The goal of RPG.SE is not to "replace all other gaming social media." If GITP has good p-class contests, great - participate in them there. We are focused on a single use and have no interest in being everything to everyone. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 3 '13 at 14:19
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Gentlemen, StackExchange is not appropriate for these sort of contests. Part of our mantra is

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

This isn't a practical answerable question, it's just something we're voting on. We vote, but we vote to highlight the best answers to people's questions. We've also had a long history of not allowing requests for content, which would be what your question is. "Write me a prestige class that ..." would not be a valid question outside of a contest, and we're not going to have a contest that would involve off topic questions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ it this were to have any life whatsoever, meta might actually be a suitable place for it, rather than main. Something like what Photo.SE does here: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2657/…. But ultimately I agree, it's not something that fits the site. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 3 '13 at 12:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta is for questions about the site, not for "things that don't meet the quality requirements of the main site." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 3 '13 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle That seems appropriate for their meta, since it's an ongoing contest to develop rotating site layout content (their header photos) and site maintenance falls under meta's scope. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 4 '13 at 17:16
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Suggestion: Use two threads per contest.

  • First thread announces the contest, with theme, restrictions, deadline, etc. Draft entries would be posted for comments, and modified (but this is strictly voluntary on the part of the participants, a space created for collaboration and input). Votes would be irrelephant and comments would be allowed to hang loose.

  • Second thread is for submissions, and posted a specific amount of time after the first thread (three weeks?). Final products are submitted as answers, comments are kept to a minimum, and the contest evaluation comprises voting on these answers. A specific time later (one week?) the votes are tallied, the mods intervene, and prizes are distributed.

I'd like to take a moment to say that this is a cool idea, and I'm very impressed with the OP and those involved for working to present such an opportunity to enrich the RPG.SE community.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - your suggestion actually makes the idea viable. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeor Mattan Apr 2 '13 at 10:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1; this is the brilliant and elegant solution I wish I could have had last night. \$\endgroup\$ – Lord_Gareth Apr 2 '13 at 13:29
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This is the traditional format used for submissions by the very-successful prestige class contest hosted monthly on Giant in the Playground. I think this format or something similar to it would be very appropriate for submissions; it makes the prestige classes look like published examples found in some of the later 3.X books (Complete Scoundrel, Tome of Battle, etc), has plenty of room to establish and expand on fluff, and also contains sections to advise on the mechanical aspects of the prestige class. Artwork and the sample encounter have normally been held as being optional; frankly I'm in favor of cutting the sample encounter entirely, but I'd be perfectly happy for them to remain optional. Aside from those considerations, the prestige class must have this format filled out completely (even if it's only minimally) in order to qualify for voting and consideration.

Thoughts? Alternate proposals? Can we even make tables on .stackexchange?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can make legible tables through the use of code formatting (monospace). A long time ago I actually had a generator that would spit out prestige class tables in multiple formats, but its been dead for a bit. (It relied on now obsolete Firefox specific web markup.) \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Apr 4 '13 at 19:57

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