The Rules

The BibliOdyssey RPG Design Challenge Official Rules


We’ve had design challenges based around a number of central topics. Secret ingredients. Character sheets. Settings. Owlbears. But this one is the first, to my knowledge, to be based around being inspired by, integrating, and using pieces of artwork to design a roleplaying game.

Using images culled from the extraordinary blog Bibliodyssey, each entrant will generate an image set, which will then be randomly assigned to another entrant. You will then have two weeks to write a game based off of and incorporating that image set.

Finally, there will be a round of peer review and scoring, with the aim of deciding the winner in each scoring category: Best Incorporation of Images; Most Playable; and Best Overall.

The prize? In addition to bragging rights and the flexing of your design muscles, I personally swear to play the winner of each category at least once before the summer, and give playtester feedback.

So let’s get to it!

Be Aware

There are two things that you MUST do in order to be able to enter the contest. First, you must either have or create a WordPress User ID (go to this link). This is because the organization of the contest is going to center around posting stuff to this blog. The second is that you must be comfortable attibuting all images that you use in your game either to the original source, if that information is available from BibliOdyssey, or to BibliOdyssey itself. Peacay, the fellow who runs the blog, has this to say:

But I can’t guarantee that anything is public domain — copyright is always a convoluted affair and is never a simple proposition, particularly in our age where places invest in digitizing and hosting works. So really people ought to acknowledge sources is what I’m saying, and that accords with the creative commons 2.5 license noted at the bottom of each webpage. Now it’s a fair argument to say that hosting libraries don’t ‘own’ the work, but they have in fact gone to the costly trouble of photographing and uploading the material so even though a work might be 500 years old, the university or whatever that provides us all with these wonderous illustrations deserves some credit.

Note that there is a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 license on each BibliOdyssey page.

Phase One

To declare yourself as an entrant, create a WordPress ID and email me with the email that you used to create the ID. This is what I need in order to add you as a user to the blog. There will be a week-long period within which to do this, and to create your image set.

The Image Sets

Each entrant is responsible for putting together a collection of 10 images found on BibliOdyssey. Make use of the archives! These 10 images must come from at least two discrete posts, and from as many as 10 (duh). Select them however you like. Once you have your set together, you may either:

  • Email me the list of image links, and I’ll pull them together into a post and post it on your behalf


  • Post your image set yourself. In a perfect world, you will embed the images in your post (using the little insert/edit image button on the toolbar), and put the link to the BibliOdyssey posts that they come from underneath each one. Please do that.

As each person creates an image set and it gets posted, I will create a category with their name, and tag them appropriately.

Once all the image sets are in, I’ll assign them numbers and randomly redistribute them to all of the entrants, making sure that nobody gets their own. This will probably take a couple of days.

Phase Two

Once you have your set, you have two weeks to create a game based on, inspired by, and using those images. You need only use 5 of the 10 images you receive, but can use up to all 10 if you want too.

Forum discussion for these games is totally cool and encouraged.

When you have finished your game, email it in some kind of not-lame format (PDF is preferred, RTF and TXT are fine) to n-dot-d-dot-paoletta-at-gmail-dot-com. If you could include a paragraph description, that would be swell. I will be making a post for each entry, tagged with your name, and including the description and a link to the file. Feel free to talk in comments about them!

Phase Three

Each entrant will be assigned a couple of games to review, the one using the image set they created, and at least one other (actual numbers to be determined by number of entrants). Entrants are also highly encouraged to review and score other entries that they find appealing or interesting!

You will need to assign each game you review a score (from 1 to 10) in the following three categories:

  • Best Incorporation of Images. Incorporation comes in two “dimensions” – how well the designer builds their game off of them as inspiration and guidance, and how appropriately they use the images in the text.
  • A game that has no link whatsoever to the image set it is built off of, and/or does not include them in the text, should get a 1.
  • A game that has a sensible and discernable link to the images, and uses them in a natural but unremarkable manner, should get a 5.
  • A game that is saturated with the influence of the images and/or uses them in an extraordinarily evocative manner in the text, should get a 10.
  • Most Playable. This is both a measure of how well it seems the mechanics of the game would work in play, and in how easy or difficult it seems to actually play the game.
  • A game that has obviously contradictory or impossible to follow rules, and/or that offers no explanation of or support for actually playing it, should get a 1.
  • A game that has an easily discerable rules set with few obvious pitfalls, and/or that feels like you could print it out and play it with a minimum of hardship, should get a 5.
  • A game that has a very well put-together rules set with no discerable loopholes or flaws, and/or one that just begs to be played and fully supports the activity of playing it, should get a 10.
  • Best Overall. This score should measure both your general opinion of the game as a whole, and how well it incorporates all aspects of the contest.
  • A game that you find entirely unappealing and would never consider playing, and/or one that is totally outside the spirit of the contest, should get a 1.
  • A game that you find interesting enough to consider playing, and/or one that is well within the spirit of the contest, should get a 5.
  • A game that you absolutely want to play as soon as possible, and/or one that completely exemplifies the contest, should get a 10.

You should assign your scores based on how well you feel the game in question balances the two main “thrusts” of each category.

Each completed game will get a Category created for it, and all reviews and discussion of the game will get tagged with that Category, creating a permanent archive of that feedback.

Once all of the scores have been submitted, I will average them for each game, and then post the winners! If a game wins in multiple categories, it will be recognized for it’s accomplishment, but the next highest-scoring game in the category that it scored lower in will be the official category winner. And so on, if there are multiple ties.

Remember, the winner in each scoring category will get their game playtested by me and some of the Storygames Boston crew over the next couple of months!

And, Finally…

Lets make some games!

Published on February 2, 2007 at 4:08 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

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