Inspire Confidence – A Writer’s Winter Tale

In light of news that Paizo has semi-retired their RPG Superstar contest, I wanted to share a story of hope with you from a holiday years gone by – GenCon 2013. Pull up a chair and your favorite warm beverage (adult if you like, it might help the story along) as we look back through the mists of time to a place that may not be exactly as depicted (I have a flawed memory and take a lot of liberties). The people depicted in this story may or may not represent real people who will hopefully laugh after they’ve read it.

Insert swirly smoke.

Andrew and the Genius, 2013.

Andrew and the Genius, 2013.

Once upon a time, as all tales begin, in December of 2011, when after much cajoling from his wife, an aspiring game designer – we’ll call him Andrew, because that was his name – was rewarded for his work in the word mines by finding his name listed among the Top 32 for the Golem Mine’s 2012 contest of Writing Stars. Andrew had dreams of writing professionally, designing games, and generally making the world a little bit more fun. He ran all the games for his friends at his table, he worked day and night creating new and imaginative things. He could not believe his luck, this was it, he finally had his foot in the door. But alas it was not meant to be, amidst a trio of dragons and ghosts of freelancers future, a Badger rose to the top and won the Golem’s prize. Heartbroken, our hero went back to running exciting games for his friends at his table.

Some dreams never die though, especially when you have support of a trio of dragons, friends, and a spouse who believes in you more than you believe in yourself – we’ll call her Monica, because that was her name. Monica never gave up on seeing her husband’s one dream come true. She spent hours visiting the word mines, supporting Andrew and the others, because while she was biased, it was important to her that it never show too much. Monica became one of the community, who returned year after year to cheer on the next Writing Star hopefuls, always not so secretly wishing it was Andrew.

One fateful day, not so long after the Badger won his prize, a Super Genius Turned Rogue wrote to Andrew and told him that he liked what he saw in the contest, would Andrew be interested in writing for the Genius? Andrew was excited and wrote in reply “Yes, yes!” But the Genius wrote no more. Was it a dream? A joke? “No, no!” Monica said, “He’s a busy Genius, email him again.” Sadly, our hero lost heart and went quietly back to the word mines, working on his next entry for 2012. 2012 was a fruitless year in the word mines, Andrew and Monica went about their average lives, looking forward to 2013 and turning their eyes to a million years into the future.

Jedi and Witches, GenCon 2013.

Jedi and Witches, GenCon 2013.

Monica kept her eye on the Genius though, she suspected that Andrew had given up too soon. She bided her time, when low and behold, the Genius was going to be in a nearby town for the great convocation. Not only was he going to be there, he was selling his time to aid another in their travels. Monica seized the chance to own the Genius, for just a few moments, to have his undivided attention and hoped against hope that she was right and that (once again) her beloved husband was wrong. As a surprise to Andrew, Monica bought the Genius (temporarily) and arranged for the three of them to sit down in a tavern together. At the great conclave, our two heroes and the Genius shared a meal and tales of daring, surrounded by Jedi and evil witches. Monica had been right, the Genius was tirelessly working and busy in the word mines himself. He was delighted to bring Andrew into his own word mines, they would work together. One hour turned into two and possibly longer were it not for other commitments. The three parted ways, but this time, they did keep in touch. Those two hours lengthened into days, months, and years that the three spent together, developing a working relationship in the word mines.

Time for the Golem Mine’s 2013 Writing Stars rolled around and this time Andrew had words in the Genius’ pipeline. While he was announced in the Top 32 again, Andrew felt his attention divided between the Genius’ mine and the Golem’s mine. He realized that he had what he wanted – a place where he could create imaginative ideas and share them with other gamers. It would always be his dream to have his words published in the Golem’s mines. In the end, he knew that while the Golem was the most popular and biggest, there were many word mines for which he could work. Andrew found peace in what he did and he went on to write some fun and imaginative things that brought happiness to many, or perhaps not, who can say? He did bring happiness to his wife when he found his place and peace in the word mines, for that was all he wanted and all she wanted for him.

Years later, Monica entered the Golem’s mine on her own after a bad fever dream, but that is a story for another holiday.

Life is full of changes, it is sad to see things we love go away, especially if they involve our dreams. We won’t always get exactly what we want in the way we want it, sometimes we have to find the things we need in what we have available to us and find our peace there. While is holds a special place in our hearts, Paizo’s RPG Superstar was only one of many ways to get into game designing. If you are hoping to get into game designing, I strongly encourage you to reach out to some of your favorite third party publishers, submit to Wayfinder, or keep an eye out for other writing contests as well as watching Paizo’s blogs and forums for other opportunities.

Happy Holidays and a Peaceful New Year to you all. See you in 2017!

Monica Marlowe

Monica Marlowe is the 2015 Paizo RPG Superstar. Winning the contest launched her freelance game designing career. Her winning adventure, "Down the Blighted Path" and PFS scenario "Captive in Crystal" are available through Paizo. She’s publishing additional gaming materials under Marlowe House and through 3rd party publishers. Monica is also active in the ongoing education in gender, sexual, and racial equality in the gaming community. Driven by a desire to see a more diverse gaming community, Monica has joined the Know Direction network to help and encourage all gamers, veteran and new, to find their voices. Monica lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and 2 children, Kate and Thomas.