Although I almost always say this about the design contests I run, it bears repeating as it just happens to be true once again: the entries in the Win a Wargame Contest where an absolute pain to pass judgment on. (You know due to how richly imagined and executed they were on the whole.) Fortunately, this time around I had the sense to recruit two other judges with better sense and talent then me, Jason Sholtis and Anthony Picaro, to help smash through my usual hemming and hawing.
We had 15 entries and used a reverse weighted point system to come up with the results. The top three winners (really four due to a tie) will receive a wargame from my collection (email with pics coming) and free shipping. You have truly earned the kudos.
Also with the permission of the entrants we are planning to use the entries in two ways in the final product bundle of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes:
1. Depending on space 2-4 of the top selections will be used as points on the pointcrawl in the final version of the sandbox adventure with accreditation and a freebie (though I think all the eligible winners are already backers).
2. A PDF compilation of all the entries for backers (and with accreditation) to use as optional expansion points.
Following are the winning places with some excerpted selections (naturally don't read if you plan on playing in the adventure):
Doyle Tavener with Tree of Hanging Rusalkas.
(At night.) A large willow tree looms over a small lake or pond. A weird, disharmonious crooning can be softly heard coming from the boughs of the tree above you. (At day.) A large willow tree looms over a small lake or pond. There is a small stone altar at the base of the tree, from which hang three moppets (small cloth puppets). There are remnants of small cakes on the altar.
A huge willow tree stands here before a small lake, which is itself obscured by a willow grove. Three Rusalkas... hang here on the boughs of the tree at night, while during the day they 'sleep' in the lake bed below the tree.
Humza K. with Vodník Pool
Coming around a curve, a large pond comes into view. Two petrified trees overhang the water, swamp moss drooping down. A half-sunken hut juts out from the middle of the pond, with occasional glints of radiance peeking out.
Zoltán the vodník...can be found here, lounging on a rock and puffing away at a long-stemmed pipe. In contrast to most of his vodník brethren, he appears in mostly human form: long moustaches, once splendid but now waterlogged coat and hat, webbed hands and flapping gills at the sides of his neck.
Anne Hunter with Diluvian Reservoir.
A millennia-old dam complex here holds a reservoir of the last floodwaters of the Deluge. The reservoir sits in the low point of a deep ravine. The birch forest here grows thick and ancient; the eldest trees stand like watchtowers around the dam. The floodwaters contain the last undying pairs of extinct prehistoric fauna. Antediluvian treasures lie buried beneath the mud in a ruined Nephilim village. The valley can only be entered from the southwest and northeast. The paths are steeply sloped and choked with seedling birches; ascending out of the ravine takes twice as long as entering.
The dam is maintained by a family of 6 giant beaver engineers... They are an unbroken lineage from the megafauna shipwrights...
Robert Parker with the Chaos Monastery
A grueling climb up a switchback trail leads to the top of a massive dune which gently slopes down into a secluded valley at the edge of the Persimmon Sea...In the valley are a rough circle of battered, rusting silver huts. At this distance a pit in the center of the huts can be vaguely made out...
In the valley itself is the Chaos Monastery, the secret training ground of a bizarre collection of martial arts aficionados, social misfits, and lovers of all things awesome. Unlike traditional monasteries, the Chaos Monastery is a place not of quiet contemplation and self-mastery, but rather an occasional gathering place for whooping bands of hooligans to guzzle plum brandy and to establish their pecking order through good-natured bullying and displays of “badass” skill.
Fane of Grooze, the Grey God by Mike Davison
In a small, hidden vale, there lies a strange stone pillar. This pillar is home to a grey ooze, known as Grooze. He is the god of a small tribe of Feral Dwarves.
[The entry had a fantastic map and nice little mini-dungeon attached.]
Obsidian by Jonathan Black
Towering spire of twisted obsidian rises up out of a narrow valley of variegated sandstone worn smooth by years of sandstorms and wind. A well-traveled path leads south towards a small oasis, ringed with shrubs and a few fig trees. At the bottom of the spire, someone has built scaffolding around the towering rock to hold it in place as they excavate the sand and stone from around the base. Hidden by the wood and stonework supporting the spire is a dank hole in the ground, leading to fetid caverns beneath the spire.