FAQ

What are the contest dates again?

24 September - 15 October 2018. We'll ignore any games submitted after 15 October (by the most liberal time zone interpretation of that date). The winners will be announced at Metatopia on 2 November.

What do you mean by "Be a new, unpublished freeform larp"?

Original and unpublished. If you are recycling old ideas that's fine, but don't submit anything you've previously submitted to another contest, and don't submit anything you wrote previously and stuffed in a drawer, and don't submit anything you've already published in any form. Let your conscience guide you when it comes to what "new" means, but "unpublished" means you have never released it in any form, for free or for profit, in print or electronically, until now. If you have never published your game, but have been running it on the convention circuit for awhile, please consider submitting something else. Our goal is to inspire people with our constraints, ingerdients and awards to rapidly generate a new thing!

What do you mean by "Games should be playable with zero to minimal prep"?

The players of the game should be able to grab the print out and play, with no preparation beforehand required (or very little at least). And above and beyond that, we're looking for set-up that is simple and easy, and few additional props or tools needed beyond paper and pencil.

What do you mean by, "Must support a flexible number of participants by accepting at least 5 different player counts"?

A major theme for 2018 is the encouragement of games that accommodate a wide and flexible number of players. In the past we have seen many games for 3-5, or 4-6, or exactly 11, but very few that elegantly handle wide ranges. So every Golden Cobra game for 2018 needs to address this! If you think deeply about this constraint you will see some fascinating edge cases, and we encourage you to explore them (there’s even an award category for one!). As long as we are presented with games that work for five different player counts, we will be delighted.

What do you mean by "Judges will read the first four pages of your submission (four total sides of 8.5x11 or A4 paper)"?

In the past we were quite strict about the total size of submissions, and this year we are relaxing this constraint. Your submission can be as big as it needs to be, with whatever it needs - character sheets, printable cards, etc. Just choose the first four pages wisely, because those are what the judges will look at and what you will be judged on. If the game makes no sense after four pages but is otherwise brilliant, congratulations! You’ve made a great game - but it isn’t going to fare well in this challenge. Our suggestion is to use those first four pages to explain your game so well that it is playable, and use additional pages for non-essential elements. Also: Everyone loves the insight that comes from designer’s notes!

What do you mean by “Something No One Writes Games About”?

Is the topic deserving but underserved? Is the topic considered off-limits in some way? Is the topic traditionally ignored or avoided? Is the topic simply very unusual or delightfully off-kilter?

What do you mean by “Teaches a Skill”?

Can we learn something useful by playing the game? For example, can we learn how to frame a house, bake a cake or communicate consent?

What do you mean by “Multi-Generational Play”?

We are very excited to see what this means to you!

What do you mean by “Collection”?

Collection is a noun and a verb and we encourage you to think broadly about things one collects, the act of collecting them, and groups of similar things.

Is there a prize for winning?

You mean like an electroplated Ferrari or a dice bag made out of unicorn leather? No. But even entering the contest means you have a cool game under your belt, and this impressive and honorable accomplishment grants you entry into the mysterious Circle of Power. We will try to run some of the games at Metatopia.

Can you define "Freeform"?

Not really, we're trying to be inclusive in our definition. We're asking for freeform larp again this year since this has become a looked-to venue for writing such games. The games may include elements of other styles of play (tabletop rpg, online, pervasive, etc.), but must have live play in them.


Freeform is used to describe many kinds of games from indie tabletop, to larp in the UK, to scenarios in Denmark, a wide variety of games in the Americas, Sweden and beyond. Freeform has been used to describe tabletop, full live action play and more.

Here's some further discussion that gets at what we're looking for:

Sara Williamson: " I wrote a game called Shelter that I think fits into the freeform category; it involves touching the other person you're playing with and things like keeping your eyes closed, so to me this feels a bit larpy even though it can be played entirely while seated (or while cuddling or while making out). But it has some tabletop elements, too: you might say things like "And then my character picks up the stone tablet, and a look of horror crosses their face" instead of in a larp where you might pick up a prop and convey the look of horror yourself."

Mikael Andersson: "I kind of feel like nailing down what freeform is and isn't is needlessly narrowing its potential scope. It's a form that's free, after all. I think the rules presented on Oct 1st [the year this was written] will give some submission criteria, which might help a bit. At its core, I think of freeform as just "the absence of [traditional] structure". There's a structure, of course, and there may even be mechanics... but it's often not based on using tokens of randomization and currency to determine and manipulate outcomes. The player's goals are frequently not aligned with their character's goals. There may not be a 1:1 player:character map, nor character ownership. There may or may not be a game master, and that person may or may not take on a traditional game master role. There are rarely any numbers or number crunching involved in play. But the more I talk the more I realize I'm assigning shape to something elusive by design, so I'll stop now."

How do I contact you?

Back to the contest page please!

OK!