What is this contest about?

The Golden Cobra Challenge is a friendly contest open to anyone interested in writing and playing freeform larp. See our FAQ and read more about the challenge.

Golden Cobra Challenge 2021

Announcement: Awards will be on October 29th 7:00pm EDT, online at Metatopia 2021.

Find the games submitted in 2021 here and at the archives. Find games receiving awards and honorable mention in 2021 here and at the archives. Find games receiving awards and honorable mention in 2020 here and at the archives.

Wishing the best to all who may take part. Welcome to the Golden Cobra Circle of power and good luck with your game!

What is a golden cobra?

Only the baddest-ass snake in the jungle, which is something you should always aspire to be. Rules will be announced on Thursday, 2 September 2021. All submissions are due by Thursday, 7 October 2021 at 11:59PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). Winners and Honorable mentions will be announced on 29 October 2021 online at Metatopia 2021.

As in 2020's challenge, this year’s Golden Cobra asks for games suitable for playing in pandemic conditions! No exclusively multiplayer in-person games will be accepted or considered regardless of distance or barriers involved.

Submissions this year can be in any language understood by this year’s Judges, which includes English, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Basic Chinese, Spanish, French, and German.

In 2021, Golden Cobras will be awarded in 7 categories (plus honorable mentions):

What are the competition constraints?

In order to be considered for a Golden Cobra 2021, your game must adhere to the following:
  1. While there are no length requirements, judges only read the first four pages of submissions (four total sides of 8.5x11 or A4 paper). Alternately, if your game comes in a form that doesn't involve pages, we will engage with it for at least fifteen minutes.
  2. The game must be safely playable in pandemic conditions. No exclusively multiplayer in-person games will be accepted or considered regardless of distance or barriers involved. Games optimized for Web chat, streaming, Discord or Slack, epistolary games, solo games, or weirder formats are all welcome. If your entry is also playable in person, that’s icing on the cobra cake.

What Are the Competition Ingredients?

This year we have two ingredients, and they are both sort of amazing. Use either or, ideally, both to inspire your game.

Committee Larp This year the Golden Cobra committee, after one too many committee meetings, decided that a committee meeting would make a wonderful combination constraint and ingredient for the contest!

Our goal is to encourage the creation of a bunch of larps that follow a modular pattern that is well-known and easy to make. For someone new to larp, the format we’re suggesting should feel intuitive and easy to iterate on. For a contest veteran, we hope you read the constraints as a creative challenge. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we’re very excited to see what you come up with!

The constraint is “hit all these targets in time, participants, and direction”

To help you, The Golden Cobra Committee has created very detailed scaffolding in the form of a “how to” guide, which also includes ideas for themes and topics that can serve as additional ingredients if you wish. You can find it here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Pr4rXzQIpyxfzCdYHsJCMwAo4pQ4o8zEJVAycKFVw_g/edit?usp=sharing.

Example games:
The Association for the Advancement of Rights for Fairytale Creatures (AFC)
Trash: The Larp
Julia's Lost Treasures
Are You There God? It's Me, the Quarterly Earnings Report
We Are Roommates Now
A Baby Fell From The Sky
Beastfucker (edge case)
Serpent of Ash
Easter: A Tragedy

Minority Religious Experience This year, the Golden Cobra contest would like to highlight minority religious experience in game submissions. While religious themes have abounded in analog role-play since the first time some men in a Minnesota basement discovered the word "cleric" in a thesaurus, their implementation has predominantly drawn on European mythology and Christian themes, even when representing content from outside that mainstream. With this round of the contest, we'd like to see games about, for example …

Games about representation of minority religious experience will have their own award category, but we hope to see them competing for all the other categories this year, too!

What if I don't feel comfortable submitting a game about minority religious experience?

You're in luck! You have options:

  1. Don't represent minority religious experience in your game. Simple. The ingredient is optional, and you don't need to include it if you don't want to.
  2. You may submit a game under a pseudonym. This has been done plenty of times in the past, and allows authors to insulate themselves against possible consequences of their work.
  3. You may choose not to have the PDF published on the Golden Cobra website. Please specify this when you put in your submission form.

We enjoy it when scenario authors take risks, but do not enjoy fostering backlash and hatred. Please check in with yourself and your friends about your entry before you submit it.

What are the Rules for Entering?

  1. Be a new, unpublished freeform larp. It is neither a board game or a video game. See the FAQ for more discussion about freeform larp.
  2. Present your game in a readable, playable format in a single file (pdf preferred).
  3. Submit only one game. Your name could appear on one entry but teams were welcome. You retain all rights to your work and ancillary material related to submissions, like play aids or commentary. These will by default be published under the name it was submitted under in the yearly free Golden Cobra Anthology (if one is created) and linked from this Website for the world to enjoy.
  4. The deadline for submission is 7 October 2021 at 11:59PM EDT. To submit: fill out this form and email your game to submissions@goldencobra.org.

So who won in past years?

You can read about the winners and Honorable Mentions and Judges Choice Awards here. Games from 2020 are posted here and from 2019 are here.

What Is Happening This Year?

Judges will read the games during October 2021. Award will be announced on October 29th, and some may be run online. The winners get bragging rights and everyone gets a new game they designed - and all get admission into the Golden Cobra’s Circle of Power!

Can I spread the word?

Please do! Find us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/goldencobra17 and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Golden-Cobra-Challenge-241492113182306/.

Who Are the Judges?

Judges for 2021 are Eliane Bettochi, Sara Williamson, Anahita Dalmia, James Mendez Hodes, Oscar Biffi, Andrzej Pierzchala, Moroishi Yukiko and Moroishi Toshihiro. With special guest judge Max Gladstone.

Who else did stuff?

The Golden Cobra working committee this year is Emily Care Boss, James Mendez Hodes, Yeonsoo Julian Kim, J Li, Jason Morningstar, Hakan Seyalıoğlu, Evan Torner and Sara Williamson.

How did the Special Judge’s Choice Award Work?

The judges select several finalist games for overall prize eligibility. Our Special Judge, Max Gladstone, will review the finalists and pick their favorite(s) from among them, then share a writeup of their selections.

I have more questions!

Check out the FAQ! or email cobracommander@goldencobra.org.