What is this contest about?

The Golden Cobra Challenge is a friendly contest open to anyone interested in writing and playing freeform larp. This is the fourth year of the contest.

Golden Cobra Challenge 2017

This year's Golden Cobra Challenge will running from 1 August to 23 September 2017.

What happens to the games?

Judges will read the games during October and announce and run the winning games at Metatopia, 2-5 November 2017. The winners get bragging rights and everyone gets a new game they designed - and admission into the Golden Cobra'™s Circle of Power! All games will also be made available to the public and published in the Golden Cobra 2017 Anthology.

What is a golden cobra?

Only the baddest-ass snake in the jungle, which is something you should always aspire to be.

In 2017, Golden Cobras will be awarded in four categories:

Optional ingredients:

What are the competition constraints?

In order to be considered for a Golden Cobra, your game must:
  1. Go through at least one round of design revision through feedback or playtesting, and include a brief libretto describing your revision process (max 200 words). See below for more information.
  2. Be playable in under 2 hours
  3. Take up no more than 4 total sides of 8.5x11 inch paper. (Minimum point size accepted is 8. The libretto does not count toward this limit.)
  4. Be playable with zero to minimal prep.

What are the Rules for Entering?

  1. Be a new, unpublished freeform larp. It is neither a tabletop roleplaying game or a video game.
  2. Present your game in a readable, playable format in a single file (pdf preferred).
  3. Include your libretto as the first page of the game file.
  4. Your name can only appear on one entry but teams are welcome.
  5. You retain all rights to your work but grant the judges permission to print out and play the game you submit. All submissions will by default be published in the free Golden Cobra 2017 Anthology unless you indicate that you choose to opt out.

How do I submit my game?

Submit your game and libretto by 23 September in .pdf format and in English to submissions@goldencobra.org. Parallel versions in other languages or other formats are encouraged.

What is freeform larp?

What we call freeform larp occupies a middle space between tabletop and full-blown live action role playing. They come in all shapes and sizes, all along the spectrum and keep incorporating new things as they come along. As a rule of thumb if there are simple, clever game mechanics but you have to stand up and move around at some point, it's probably freeform larp! There's more discussion in the FAQ, but our definitions are pretty loose.

What is design revision? What is a libretto?

Feedback, playtesting, and revision are an essential piece of the game designer's toolkit, so this year, we are adding a twist: We are asking all designers to go through at least one round of reivision. Put your game in front of another person, see what happens, and make informed adjustments as a result. Playtesters and reviewers can be friends, strangers, or contest volunteers (see below). All final design decisions will always be entirely up to you.

The libretto is just a brief summary of what happened this process and what you learned and/or changed. Here's an Example Libretto.

For additional advice, check out the Golden Cobra Guide to Feedback & Playtesting.

We recommend arranging for feedback or testing no later than 26 August so there is time for review and revision.

Can I get some help with my game?

Yes! If you would like to be put in touch with a more experienced designer or a peer for advice and mentorship, write to help@goldencobra.org. The judges will try to connect you with someone. If you would like to be a mentor, let us know! We'll probably ask you to even if you don't.

Can I get some help finding someone to give me feedback or playtest my game?

Yes! Many game design communities have volunteered to help out with feedback or playtesting for new designers or those without readily available contacts. To be connected, please email help@goldencobra.org with a draft of your game no later than 26 August, 2017. The earlier you do this the better, so that the group that receives will is more likely to have a chance to actually play your game in addition to reading it.

Can I get some help with incorporating a culturally or socially sensitive subject in a responsible way?

Yes! If you would like guidance on socially responsible design, please email help@goldencobra.org with the subject you're looking for help on and ideally a current draft of your game. We'll connect you with a specialist mentor.

So who won in past years?

You can read about the winners and Honorable Mentions and Judges Choice Awards here.

Can I read any of the past games?

Absolutely! We salute all the Golden Cobra designers from past years who have officially entered the Golden Cobra's Circle of Power!
Games from 2014.
Games from 2015.
Games from 2016.

Download the official Golden Cobra 2014 Anthology and Golden Cobra 2015 Anthology (large files). Golden Cobra 2016 Anthology coming soon!

Can I spread the word?

Please do!

Who are the judges?

Whitney "Strix" Beltrán, Banana Chan, Jason Morningstar, Hakan Seyalioglu, Evan Torner, and Sara Williamson.
Assisted by Emily Care Boss, Kat Jones, J Li, and others.

I have more questions!

Check out the FAQ!