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RPG Based Short Stories

Accepting submissions for short stories that take place in the Fates Worse Than Death, Tibet, In Dark Alleys, KidWorld, Hoodoo Blues and Seeker universes for publication on this web site and in podcast format. 2,000-10,000 word stories wanted. Rates are 1.5-2.5 cents (USD) per word. Send full stories to creative [aht] vajraenterprises.com. All submissions must be accompanied by the Submission Agreement (see How To Submit).  For more detailed writing guidelines, see FWTD Fiction Guidelines and Diversity Standards.

Novel and Novella Experimental Fiction

Now accepting novella and novel length fiction that take place in the Fates Worse Than Death, Tibet, In Dark Alleys, KidWorld, Hoodoo Blues or Seeker universes for publication in upcoming books. New and innovative styles wanted. We are especially interested in fiction with heroes who break standard hero stereotypes (e.g. heroes who are homeless, mentally ill, drug addicts, have alternate sexualities, etc.) yet who are still heroes in their own way. 50,000 to 100,000 word stories wanted. Rates are one third cent per word. Send complete outline and sample chapter(s) to creative [aht] vajraenterprises.com. All submissions must be accompanied by the Submission Agreement (see How To Submit).  For more detailed writing guidelines, see FWTD Fiction Guidelines and Diversity Standards.

Illustration

If you’d like us to consider commissioning artwork from you for out next book, please send an email with your name and a URL for your portfolio to creative [aht] vajraenterprises.com. The artists we commission artwork from have a style that can be described as:

  • Realistic
  • Detailed
  • Clean lines
  • Dark

See also Diversity Standards.

Comic Illustration

We are currently looking for someone who can illustrate a full-length comic book. Send a link to sample comic book illustrations to creative [aht] vajraenterprises.com. See also Diversity Standards.

 

  • Email your submission to creative [aht] vajraenterprises.com
  • Make sure your submission is something we are looking for.  See Submissions for a complete list.
  • The Once A Week Rule: Anyone working with Vajra Enterprises in a for-pay project must check in with Vajra Enterprises at least once every week by email, post or phone. The message must state what, if any work, has been done on the project and what the prospects for work in the near future are. An example email: “Hi Brian, I didn’t get any work done on the project this week, I’m hoping to get a few pages written next week.”
  • Include the following submission agreement in your submission:

The purpose of this document is to allow Vajra Enterprises to review submissions from individuals without fear that doing so will make Vajra Enterprises vulnerable to intellectual property theft lawsuits if there are coincidental similarities between the submission and a Vajra Enterprises product.

I, the undersigned, am submitting materials to Vajra Enterprises to be considered for possible sale to Vajra Enterprises of the ideas contained therein or possible hiring of myself as a writer, editor or game designer.

I, the undersigned, certify that these materials are my intellectual property and that no other party holds a copyright, trademark or patent claim on them.

In exchange for such consideration, I, the undersigned, hereby agree to the following:

I indemnify Vajra Enterprises against any claims of infringement of copyright, trademark or patent that are based on a similarity between the materials I am submitting and a product that Vajra Enterprises subsequently created, with the following exception:

The indemnification is revoked only if a panel of 5 game-publishing industry experts, agreed upon by both myself and Vajra Enterprises, unanimously agrees, in good faith, that, in their opinion, there is a less than 1 in 100 chance that the similarities between my submission and the subsequent Vajra Enterprises product is because Vajra Enterprises independently created or would have independently created the product in absence of the submission.

In other words, I will not seek damages unless a panel says there is a less than 1% chance Vajra Enterprises could have come up with this idea independently.

If the panel is going to be compensated in any way, I will pay the full cost of the compensation. Both I and Vajra Enterprises will have 30 days to submit evidence to this panel. After the panel has made their decision in good faith, neither party has the right to ask for any reconsideration.

Contract law of the United States and Oregon shall apply. This agreement shall be deemed as being made in Oregon.

 

Role Playing Material

Vajra Enterprises is seeking to commission a co-author to help write one of two roleplaying games (one a historically accurate portrayal of the adventures of hackers in the 1980s, the other an alternate history in which Native Americans with powerful native magic live in an apartheid-like America).  These games will use the Organic Rules Components system, based on the Modern-ORC set of character options, modified to fit these settings.

The author will be responsible for doing research. Historical and cultural accuracy is important. The goal is to not only produce an exciting and unique roleplaying game, but to provide a valuable compendium of historical research and cultural research.  Research should include internet research, reading books and articles and interviewing subject-matter experts.

The author will also be responsible for writing a complete roleplaying game with a comprehensive game world description, authentic character creation options and a complete sample adventure. Familiarity with the ORC system is necessary.

Vajra Enterprises will provide creative, editorial and game design guidance, will provide access to a library of research material, will edit the book, will commission illustrations (based on the author’s recommendations), will do layout for and will publish the book. Vajra Enterprises retains final editorial control in case of creative conflicts.

Pay will be one third of a cent per word with a target word count of around 150,000 words.

If you are interested, please send a writing sample to creative@vajraenterprises.com. The sample can be of any kind, although obviously the closer the sample is to what is being commissioned, the more useful the sample will be in evaluating the submitter. Also, please give any evidence of knowledge of the subject matter

See also:

Style Guide

Diversity Standards

How To Submit

Formatting

  •  Text should be ideally be delivered as Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf).
  •  Extensive formatting is not required (this will be taken care of during final page layout) but some formatting for the sake of readability is appreciated: two columns, bolded section headings, larger section headings for higher-level sections (e.g. 30 point font for chapter name, 20 point for sections within a chapter, 15 point for sections within a section within a chapter, etc.).
  •  Do not tab at the beginning of paragraphs.  (Tabs are for the beginning of list elements, see below).
  •  Use paragraph spacing (in MS Word, go to Format, Paragraph, Choose 6 for Before and 6 for After) so that each paragraph is separated by only one paragraph mark.
  •  All sentences should be separated by two spaces.
  •  All compilations of short items should be presented in an indented list.  The format should be either: new line, tab, label in bold, dash, space, description beginning with a capital letter, OR: new line, tab, dash, description starting with a capitol letter.

Example 1:

            Item 1- Description goes here.

            Item 2- Description goes here.

            Item 3- Description goes here.

Example 2:

            -Description of item 1 goes here.

            -Description of item 2 goes here.

            -Description of item 3 goes here.

  •  When putting in a text box, simply say: “[Text Box:” then the text box title and text, then “]” at the end.  Example:

            [Text Box: Are People Stupid?

            Yes.  Yes, they are. ]

  •  Difficulties should list the name and then the number in parentheses, (e.g. “This would be a Hard (30) difficulty STH feat.”)
  •  When you are referencing a subject that hasn’t already been described, or has been described many pages back, insert a page reference, using “p.xx”, e.g. “for more, see Talon-Beasts,p.xx.”

Style

  •  When referring to a hypothetical person, use “he or she.”  Use “they” only when referring to multiple hypothetical people.  Use “he” or “she” only when referring to a specific person. Examples:

            They like to drink the blood of humans.

            He goes to the opera every Tuesday.

            The drinker of this fluid will find his or her skin turning jet black.

  •  Narration in the main body of the text should be passive, opinionless, characterless, neutral and use plain language.  It should be told from the point of view of an outsider, not an insider, of the game setting.  Slang should only be in quotes (e.g. ‘Only about 1 in 5 members of the group are true “world-fuckers.”’)
  •  Text boxes with quotes, fictional vignettes, letters, lyrics, and anything else from the “mouths” of game world characters, will give the ‘color’ that the regular narrative text lacks.
  •  Avoid long unbroken sections.  Each paragraph should have no more than 4 or 5 sentences.  Each section should have no more than 4 or 5 paragraphs.  Each section should have a title that describes that section.
  •  Each section should be conceived of as a narrative describing a particular aspect of the game universe.  Anything that doesn’t quite fit in with the current narrative should be put into a text box.
  •  Any section which is more than 1 or 2 paragraphs should begin with a text box that says “In Brief- “ and then has a 1 or 2 sentence summary of the section.
  •  It doesn’t matter if a sentence is technically correct; if someone has to read it over more than once to figure out what it means then it is not a good sentence.
  •  When describing multiple items, come up with a standard template and use it for each.  E.g. when describing character classes each should have entries for In Brief, Favorable Stereotypes, Unfavorable Stereotypes, History, Lifestyle, Dark Side, Skill Costs, etc.  Even if the entry only says “none” you should still have it for consistency’s sake,
  •  Rules should be followed by examples with named characters.  Example text should be italicized.  E.g. “The STH difficulty to lift something is equal to its weight in pounds, divided by 10. Example: Tim wants to lift the body of his injured comrade, who weights 180 lbs.  Tim must make a STH +1d20 roll and beat 18 (180 divided by 10).”

Typical Items

  •  NPCs should be listed in text boxes, in the following format:
    •             Name (title, or short phrase describing what makes that person interesting).  Example: Bob McKenzie (Leader of the Bam-Boozlers)
    •             Level (if applicable).  Example: Level 5 Sociopath.
    •             Appearance (should be short, suitable for GMs to read to players during game play).
    •             Attributes
    •             Personality Metrics (specific to the game, for instance in Fates it’s Personal Ideals and Worldviews, in Tibet it’s attachments, etc.).
    •             Social Status
    •             History
    •             Personality
    •             Motivations (it’s okay to leave this out if it’s redundant with personality)
    •             Methods (how the NPC gets things done)
    •             Special Skills (no need to list every skill, just the ones that would probably be important when PCs deal with this NPC)
    •             Special Equipment
    •             Special Abilities (any special powers)
    •             Typical Action (give the full computation and the simplified version, e.g. “Will strike with his club at STH (15) + AGY (15) +5 (skill) +1d20 vs. 25 (or 1d20 +10 vs. 0), doing 3 blunt damage if successful.”)
    •             Typical Reaction
  •  Adventures should generally have:
    •             Synopsis (one paragraph, describe the adventure in brief to GMs)
    •             Character Introductions (how to get PCs involved in the adventure)
    •             Sections detailing each of the places, encounters, problems, mysteries, etc. that players might encounter.
    •             NPC writeups for every significant NPC.
    •             Possible Solutions (a discussion of some of the ways PCs might solve the problems encountered in the adventure, and what the aftermath of different solutions might be).
    •             An XP sheet showing XP specific to the adventure (e.g. “Kill the lion, or otherwise render it harmless: +5 XP”).
  •  Each game should generally have:
    •             A one or two page introduction geared for first time players.
    •             Other introductory materials.
    •             A character creation chapter.
    •             A rules chapter.
    •             A chapter describing the game world for players.
    •             A chapter for GMs, describing and giving advice about the type of adventures that might be run, and giving in depth info on various dangers/threats to PCs and detailing any “game world secrets” not included in the chapter for players.
    •             Two introductory adventures.
    •             Appendices with stuff like maps, glossaries, etc.

Values

  • Realism.  Although Vajra games often start with a fantastic premise, they proceed by asking “if that were premise were true, what would the logical consequences be?”  All game material takes as it’s first and foremost goal to be as realistic as possible.
  •  Research: Similarly, whenever possible we base everything in the game setting on research into the real world.  For instance, if a setting has a group of high-tech-skateboarders, we would want to look into the history and culture of real-world skateboarders.  We believe that reality is often more interesting than anything writers can make up.
  •  Adult Audiences: Our games are marketed to adults, so there is no need to self-censor any references to sex, drugs, violence, religion, politics, etc.  There is also no need to spend excessive time teaching people how to play a role playing game (we assume our audiences already know or can find out elsewhere).
  •  Dark: We don’t go for the gross, scary or disturbing purely for shock value.  However, there are a lot of topics that have not been thoroughly explored elsewhere because some people might find them “disturbing.”  We try to explore those topics thoroughly.
  •  Hope: Although typically dark, all of our settings offer some glimmer of hope, no matter how small, that the PCs can actually make things better for themselves or the world.
  •  Underdog Heroes: We are bored with heroes that are rich, handsome, beloved and supported wholeheartedly by the government.  Instead, we prefer heroes that from the underside of humanity: criminals, heretics, rebels, street punks, homeless people, the mentally ill, sexual deviants, political radicals, etc.
  •  Thorough Analysis: A setting can be limited in scope (in fact, this is preferred) but it should be considered from all angles: every group and minority, no matter how small, and their viewpoint and history, should be discussed.  Similarly, every character creation option should be given to players, not just those we think they would want.
  •  Low Power: Heroes generally have greater-than-human abilities, but we avoid comic-book-superhero or god-like levels of power for heroes.  We want characters to be powerful enough to do interesting things, but not so powerful that whether the PCs live or die might not hinge on a PC thinking of a clever use of a piece of duct tape.

See Submissions for more information on what we are accepting and how to submit it. This page describes what we are looking for in any fiction taking place in the Fates Worse Than Death universe. No agent necessary. Payment is half up-front with commission contract. Royalties available on paper-published works.

All fiction must take place within the setting of the Fates Worse Than Death role playing game. The majority of the stories must take place within “the city” (Manhattan). Writing must show detailed and accurate knowledge of the game universe. Setting questions can be sent via email to submissions@vajraenterprises.com. Game universe “bible” listing planned future developments will be made available to commissioned novel writers.

Serious sci-fi drama, action/suspense, mystery or horror only. Adult themes OK. Sex, violence and drugs OK so long as they are portrayed with realistic consequences and are not glorified. Experimental or non-traditional narrative styles OK. Avoid gender specific language. Avoid cyberpunk fiction clichés. Avoid stereotypes, especially those based on gender, race and economic status.

Readers of FWTD based fiction will be looking for a certain style and certain themes to be adresses/explored:

  1. Technological and social advances of the last 80 years have not gotten rid of any of society’s problems, but have added some new ones.
  2. People do not fear death when they realize there are things worse than death. Many consider living a meaningless life to be one of those things.
  3. City residents (especially Wells and Indies) are forced to decide what they want to do with their lives (think of the end of an existentialist novel when the hero decides that he or she has the freedom and duty to provide their own meaning of life).
  4. Moral ambiguity. There are few easy distinctions between good and evil. Good does not always ally itself with good (or evil with evil) and good characters may be forced to join forces with a lesser evil or battle against someone good.
  5. Every person in the city, even those on the bottom of the scale of social power, have resources, knowledge and abilities that they can bring to bear on a situation if given sufficient prompting. Nobody is defenseless or a pawn or can be killed without consequences.
  6. Self-improvement is a major theme in FWTD fiction, especially when people improve their own lives by learning, overcoming personality flaws or psychological problems or by coming to terms with their own identity and their own place in the universe.

See also Diversity Standards.

For more information on the Fates Worse Than Death setting, see: Fates Worse Than Death.

 

  • Whenever possible, avoid using white, male, handsome, athletic, heterosexual, native-born characters. Try to vary at least one of these characteristics. No more than one in five characters should meet all of these characteristics.
  • Don’t include minorities solely to play the role stereotyped by their minority status. If you included a woman character, don’t have her just be the love interest, victim to be saved by the hero, or to look sexy in a skimpy outfit. If you include a Black character, don’t have him there just to be an uneducated, thuggish victim or underworld contact. If you include a gay male character, don’t have him be comic relief by being effeminate and cowardly. If you include a Muslim character, don’t have him be there just to be a terrorist. If you have a Native American character, don’t have him there just to give enigmatic and vague wisdom to the heroes. It is okay to sometimes have minority characters who live up to their stereotypes (e.g. a Muslim who is a terrorist) but those should be outweighed at least 5 to 1 by characters who don’t meet their stereotypes (e.g. a woman who is the hero in a non-skimpy outfit, a gay man who is competent and brave, a Muslim who is nice, a Black man who is law abiding and educated, etc.)
  • Don’t use “he” or “his” when referring to a generic character, e.g. “the possessor of this sword has his strength increased ten-fold.” Instead, use both pronouns (e.g. “he or she” or “his or her”). This may seem awkward, but it is no more awkward than other approaches (alternating male and female pronouns or using only female pronouns and then having to explain why).

Rationale:
First, because having white males be the default characters and everyone else included solely for their “otherness” perpetuates unconscious stereotypes and prejudices about real life people. Specifically, it perpetuates the prejudice that white males are the default type of person and that everyone else is “different” and definable by their difference. To illustrate this, imagine you tell an artist to draw “a doctor” but don’t specify race or gender. In most cases, the artist will return a picture of a white male. For more examples, see here and here. Such prejudices negatively affect the way people are treated in real life. As creators, we are both the primary cause of, and the best chance for changing, these prejudices and stereotypes.

Second, it’s just lazy writing to go with these shallow stereotypes. A handsome, athletic, heterosexual, white, Christian, American male as the hero of a story is boring. A sneering Arabic Muslim terrorist as a villain is boring. Being aware of and avoiding stereotypes is an opportunity for we, as creators, to create more interesting, more unique and more memorable characters.

Please Note: Vajra Enterprises does not advocate censorship. We do, however, believe in the right of self-censorship, which is the right of individuals and companies to choose (rather than having that choice be imposed on them) not to say things that they find annoying, harmful or offensive. This policy is Vajra Enterprises’ exercising of that right.

Creative Commons License
These diversity standards are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License so you can use them (or parts of them) for your company.