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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME








This is a great discord for general writing but it's not a Thunderdome group and as a mod I have to ask that we don't encourage it to become one.

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


The main reason I stopped writing was because I didn't have the time anymore, but getting only one crit every other week and rarely more than two the rest of the time probably didn't help motivate me towards freeing up my schedule.

I don't think we should force judges to toxx but at the very least I feel like head judges have a responsibility to annoy the poo poo out of their co-judges if they flake on crits (hi rhino) and maybe it would be wise to make it a kind of unwritten soft rule that judges should toxx themelves to provide critiques if they have a recent history of no-shows, the same way contestants are expected to toxx themselves if they want to sign up after a failure.

That being said if we end up creating a leaderboard maybe it would be nice to point out the people who provided the most crits that year as an added incentive. Good critting is a lot of work and largely a thankless task so I can understand why some people have trouble getting their rear end in gear.

I second a move to discord if the opportunity ever arises. I can't be bothered to open up IRC anymore, esp since I'm already on discord all the time.

I'd like to see long-running contests parallel to the weekly format. This is where we could get experimental, involve other communites etc. Maybe even use it as an opportunity to have better writers workshop with the weaker talent or at least have motivated judges who provide more in-depth critiques at the end. I'd be happy to help out with that.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


I'd be up for the occasional off-format week where folks submit crits instead of stories. If someone grabbed the throne and wanted to do the prompt "write a crit," I'd be in for that week.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






I'm down for discord. Also judge toxx. I need to finish baby dome crits.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Two thoughts:
1) the weekly deadline suits me just fine. As pointed out above, if you extend it all you extend is my procrastination.
2) it feels like the weekly wordcount average had been growing (posited without using the data available in the archives to back it up). I'm down to write 800 words or fewer, I'm not so much for 1000+.

I'm a parent with a full-time job, though, and this is an outlet rather than a means to make me a better writer - I'm not here to hone my craft and eventually write a novel, I'm here to write a story on my train ride home and marvel at how coherent it is. Read my comments in that context.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Djeser posted:

Cross-post a Thunderdome prompt to r/writingprompts.

I'd be down instead for a crit raid for a week:
-find high rated stories on high rated prompts of the day on r/writingprompts, and write a crit of <100 words.
-post the crit text here and as a response on the original submission on Reddit (probably from a throwaway account that reference TD). Can submit two crits a day.
-be judged for your poorly written crits.

I'm not saying this will bring new people, but it'll help hone crits to what they should be.

As a newbie to TD the roadblocks I've had: I can't figure out the irc, I've had it explained to me, but it never works; it's hard to fit the turn times in around my life commitments, not that I advocate extending them, just that I sit out many weeks because I know I can't meet the deadline; I only submit when word count is around 1250 or less; most of the crits I've seen focus on how bad the plot is but leave prose out.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.






Maybe we should do more magazine goonrushes

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse






Lol. While I love how fighty you've gotten, I'm going to have to decline this one, as I feel like I've been doing a lot of brawling lately and I want to just enter the week.

Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Yoruichi posted:



I’m scared and gonna posts dms

That’s fine. I’d be scared of my magnificence too.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P



Hi, folks. It's been a fun year of health crises, multiple cross-national relocations, and radical career changes. It's also a year that I failed to submit. A lot.

Thunderdome is one of my favorite parts of SomethingAwful and, even when I don't enter, I keep an eye on the thread. I don't know if there is an ideal solution to the thinness of recent competitions—in my case it was overextension and poor time management—and doubt that extending the competition to two weeks would bring in any new blood. However, I agree that more Forumsdomes seem a good way of exposing TD to new people while mentoring and leaderboards seem like a solid way to increase the retention rate.

I have no strong opinions on Discord v. IRC and am comfortable with either. Blowout's suggestion of a general TD chat thread, similar to the Mafia Discussion Thread in Traditional Games, seems interesting as a way of encouraging community on the site and having a place for extended conversations about particular pieces. However, I am not sure what the level of interest in something like that would be.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I'm in for this week and if you could toss me a map please Thranguy that would be awesome.

TD is super fun to me and I'm sad I accrued so many failures on account of depression. I love the kayfabe. I love having the TD titans judging my stories. I love that I could maybe win one day.

I hate it but I don't think there's a good way to get people to crit more. So I'll just try to crit more myself.

Thank you all so much. TD is mainly what I come to SA for anymore. See ya next year!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




apophenium posted:

I'm in for this week and if you could toss me a map please Thranguy that would be awesome.


These are the nine places to hide

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Chairchucker posted:

Maybe we should do more magazine goonrushes

As someone who is deeply Afeared of submitting anything and could probably just use a kick in the rear end, I'm seconding this one.

Also, not to derail some good chat, but I do have to post about my lovely TD Secret Santa gift:



From New Zealand, with charming kiwi packaging!



Inside is an assortment of treasures, captured imperfectly by my crappy phone camera: pterodactyl socks, some neat pins, a book, New Zealand chocolate, and a very sweet card. Thank you so much, Anomalous Blowout!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



Entenzahn posted:

That being said if we end up creating a leaderboard maybe it would be nice to point out the people who provided the most crits that year as an added incentive. Good critting is a lot of work and largely a thankless task so I can understand why some people have trouble getting their rear end in gear.

Yeah that sounds like a good idea

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Less chatter more writer.

In, toxx, gimme a map, pick a story to crit if you wanna but no pressure. Spoiler: they all make Benny the Snake look like Nabokov

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Flesnolk posted:

Less chatter more writer.

In, toxx, gimme a map, pick a story to crit if you wanna but no pressure. Spoiler: they all make Benny the Snake look like Nabokov

bird's eye view of San Francisco

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


I've been largely absent due to just being busy as all hell, but I will say that shorter weeks felt a lot less daunting to enter, which meant that I was more likely to throw my hat in the ring. I feel like with pieces under 1000 words I had a better chance of actually finding time to sit down and do it, rather than freaking myself out about having to make it longer.

I also would like to say that crits have played a big part in retaining members. I've introduced two real life friends to TD this year, and both of them were turned off in different ways by how crits were handled.

In one case, the crit in question was so over-the top ridiculously vitriolic, and contained so little constructive advice (and projected so hard and so incorrectly), that I was briefly afraid that my friend would never write anything anywhere again. In that particular instance, I think getting on IRC really helped, since people were able to give a lot more helpful (and non-hostile) advice and feedback. I do think that TD has changed a lot from the early days, and while I'm not saying that everyone needs to say that they like something when they don't, just... don't try to swing your dick around when you're supposed to be giving feedback?

In the other point of frustration, it felt like the expectations of the judges were unclear from the beginning, and crits focused on a very narrow criterion, to the exclusion of anything else. Even my friend who ended up getting an HM that week said they felt frustrated, since it didn't feel like they'd been rewarded for writing well, just for randomly hitting a target that no one bothered to specify beforehand.

That got us wondering if people might find it helpful to have some sort of rubric to follow for giving feedback based on different categories. The scoring system that some people have been using is nice, but since at the end of the day there's no way to tell what exactly the points were based on it's hard to derive any sort of meaning from them. There could still be a lot of room for holistic grading based on judge preference, but if there was some system in place for judges to say "okay, you got a 5/5 on syntax, but a 2/5 on character development and a 1/5 on pacing" that might make it a little easier on judges to give more focused feedback, and take some of the guesswork out of both giving and receiving crits.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Sitting Here posted:

I'm curious if there is anyone who mostly lurks, or participates rarely, who wants to weigh in on 1) crit rates and 2) the culture.

1) I'm happy with the crits I've received, and the rates. I appreciate when a judge offers crits as requested, even though I've never taken anyone up on it.

2) Culturally TD regulars seem so tight knit you know what to write for each other. In crits there seem to be subjects, tropes and beats that are either expected or frowned upon. I'd assume it's just a collective style and preference from people who've written together for so long. I don't have any concrete examples, though just a general impression from the stories and crits.

In jokes, and such don't bother me, since this isn't a joke competition. I still don't know weeks Ock is, and it seems important to know what that is.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I want to start off to give my thanks to all the critiques given to date.

I don’t think I expected to return to the dome after bailing out all the way in Week #60 in 2013, but some self-reflection as of late brought me back and impressed on me to pick it up again. I consider myself thin skinned, and I don’t think I’ve accumulated enough time for the psychological version of Wolff/Davis’s law to kick in and get me used to the reality that in here, everything hurts. Here’s hoping part-time school this coming semester gives me more opportunities to experience the pain.

E/N reflections:

If there’s one discontinuity I might characterize versus 2013 me, I think I’m less carefree than how I wrote in the past. This means little in terms of writing quality, but it does make me more reluctant to commit words down. I imagine it’s natural to pre-empt what you think you’ll get called out for in your writing, and it seems like my pre-assessments on my story weaknesses generally match the critiques that I anticipate. I’m left with asking myself, “Why the gently caress did I take the narrative there when I can see it will fail?”

More often than not, I see myself getting baited in by what I think is an interesting premise to fit the prompt, and take it in faith that I have some way to give it a reasonable arc within the word count/deadline. This strategy usually fails. I suspect the smarter way to approach this is to build the skeleton, then fill the flesh, but I feel like I lack the ability to outline. Whether I’m willfully being blind to where I want it to eventually arrive at, or consciously letting it develop organically, I’m not sure. It seems the organic option is not panning out though – more often than not that I end up boxing myself into a narrative that fails to satisfy the prompt, if not, storytelling principles in general. Seeing the impending car crash to loserville should prompt me to at least turn narrative elsewhere, but I feel like my mind is fixed on tunnel vision/just isn’t spry enough to imagine a different turn at a moment’s notice, and all I can do is groan in dread at the impending disaster.

Two strategies that I’m fiddling with:

1. Plan/write before the Friday sign-up deadline, and If nothing’s congealed by then, you've got nothing, so spare everyone your cesspool. Practical, but pathetically risk-adverse.

2. Stash some interesting concepts at hand that you can draw on when the time comes up from a prompt that fits. More often than not, it’s a Procrustean fit.

I have faith I'll get inured to being a butt-monkey of the dome, but one thing that it does put me at even bigger fear with is my critiquing ability (I still remember how I completely whiffed my reading on the JOHN MADNESS piece until the judgment forced me give it a second read to realize what I had missed). If some twisted circumstance of fate sees me ascending the blood throne, expect me to keep walking past the tip, falling off, and passing it off as a conscientious abdication as a means to save face.

Note to self for 2019 resolutions: efface face so there is no face to save

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

You know what, gently caress strategy.

I'm in with The Very Famous Island of Madhead and I have no idea where the hell I'm taking it.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Ottermotive Insanity posted:

In jokes, and such don't bother me, since this isn't a joke competition. I still don't know weeks Ock is, and it seems important to know what that is.

"Ock" is a reference to an old story by Noah, "No Bones About It," which you can read here. Somehow a screaming rage boner caught Thunderdome's fancy, and the word--not to mention the boner--became a running gag. Enough people wrote ock references into their entries that crabrock created a label in the Archive for ock stories; these stories don't often win or place, and judges who aren't ancient in TD years have been known to find them off-putting. OCK with due caution.

Regarding IRC: have you tried https://www.synirc.net? You can get to the IRC channel through your web browser that way, no client required. Click Webchat, then put a name into the Nickname field and #thunderdome into the Channel field. This method should work for anyone, hopefully--you can always download an IRC client later if you so wish.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 07:20 on Dec 26, 2018

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

:siren: It is with great... something that I present our first ever TD Secret Santa collaborative effort! :siren:

What follows is the hard work of 15 devoted goons dedicated to enriching the community with some holiday cheer. 15 authors took turns adding up to 300 words (with the final author being given as many words as they needed to tie up our mess) to the story and what follows is one helluva of a Christmas Camel.

So, why read this? Well, cos you're a happy person dammit and this is like holiday cheer or some poo poo.

But also....

HOLIDAY CONTEST!

If, for some god forsaken reason you feel up for this task, there's a game to play here! What follows is a list, in random order, of the 15 authors. To compete in this contest, reply with PM me with one message that quotes sentences from the story. Below each quote, write what author you think it belongs to. You can try for all 15 or for only a few. Obviously, if you contributed to the story, you shouldn't have a problem finding at least your sentence, so hooray for you!

  • Tyrannosaurus
  • Bolt Crank
  • Sittinghere
  • Fuschia tude
  • Antivehicular
  • Thranguy
  • Anomalous Blowout
  • Third Emperor
  • Deltasquid
  • Solitair
  • curlingiron
  • SaddestRhino
  • Yoruichi
  • Lead out in cuffs
  • Chili

Whoever gets the most correct guesses will win a forums upgrade/avatar/name change/ad for TD/lowtax medical payment.

AND if someone manages (somehow) to correctly guess 9 or more? The first person to do so will be looking at a fat 25 dollar Amazon/Target/Whatever gift certificate of your choice. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!






Mush! A Thunderdome Christmas Adventure
5,084 Words

The moment I pull the trigger I know I’m too late. Dammit Rosko, I think. Like he’d known his mate might be in there he’d jumped up the moment the huge obsidian gates of Santa’s fortress began to rumble open, distracting me from the split-second I had to take my shot. The white tails of the reindeer wink mockingly at me as the sleigh disappears into the black arctic sky. I look at her spot in the line, and my throat tightens at the sight of her harness, hanging empty between the other dogs. I’m sorry, girl, I failed you.

I drag my frozen rear end to my feet, brush snow off my heavy white camouflage suit and pull my night-vision goggles off my face. Ice crackles in my beard. Below me the frozen plains go on forever, bathed in the green and pink glow of the northern lights. And right in the middle, like a huge black tick burrowing its foul mouth into the North Pole’s white skin, squats Claus’ impenetrable domain.

“Mush!” I cry. My frozen knees protest as the sled lurches forward. The team move slower than usual, dragging their feet through the powder. I don’t hurry them; I know they miss her too. I yank my radio from my pocket.

“Negative,” I say brusquely into the receiver. “The goose is flying south for winter. I repeat, the goose is flying south.”

“Geoff, are you ok?” comes the crackling reply.

“I missed him, Giles, the bastard was right there and I loving missed him!”

“Don’t worry Geoff, we’ll get the bugger. We’ll get her back, you’ll see.”

I concentrate on holding the sled steady. The world was silent save for the hissing of the sled’s tracks and the soft panting of the dogs.

It started with a joke, a training exercise for the boffins. Assume he's real. What can you tell us about him. The geeks-in-training went over the data. The cameras everyone knows about. Ones most people forget. Ones that would cause a Parliamentary Inquiry if word got out. They found more than anyone expected.

It happens again and again. A gift under the tree, neither parent taking credit, each thinkin meg the other’s lying. They can't check credit records and cash purchases, and let it lie. Our people can.

The project got bounced from Five to Six to one of our off-book numbers. Three things about him: first, he doesn't have a factory. He steals, rest of the year. We spent last year trying to catch him.

Second, half his presents are worse than a lump of coal, mean-spirited tricks.

Last, the guy's a thousand years old. His idea of who's naughty or nice is, well, outdated. Ever see a skinhead with National Front tats on a motorcycle worth more than his whole block?

I bring the sled to a halt by the sniper nest outside Warehouse Two and dig into the snow, train my rifle. Pets go out on the third run, says our inside man. One more chance at the easy way.

We tried to catch him thieving. He found out, decided to make it personal. Just before ship-out, I found Vikki missing from the kennel. She looks like a show-quality Husky, but a sled dog is nobody's pet. She'll end up one of his nasty presents if we don't pull this off, make some kid spend the holidays getting stitches and rabies shots. If they're lucky.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he's a right bastard he is.

I hear the sound of distant bells. The sound, once so cheerful and fun, takes on a sinister foreboding here at the top of the world.

I tighten my grip on the rifle stock and raise it to my shoulder. My vision narrows, reduced only to the certainty that I will be seeing him again, soon. The bells grow louder, more incessant, pounding into my brain. And with their jingling comes another sound, a rumbling, deep within the earth. The team whimpers and one paws at the snow, well away from the nest. This time, nothing will come between me and jolly old Saint Nick.

The rumbling builds to a crescendo. The warehouse door swings open wide. White steam hisses into the frigid air and then—flashes of brown and white and red—

I fire.

The flash lights up the snowfield, blinding white in the endless night of winter, and in that instant I know.

The sleigh rockets towards the horizon. Am I imagining things, or is it slowing, starting to list to one side? It draws away to a point and is gone.

But there, twenty yards ahead, I see the spoils. A dark spray, rendered colorless in the night vision, steaming as it melts the snow beneath. Now, the hunt begins.

I quickly disassemble the sniper nest, its purpose completed. No human should ever take up residence here.

"Direct hit," I say into the receiver.

I get only static in response.

"Giles? Are you there, you old sod? I got the bastard!" I press the button again. Nothing. "drat it."

No time to think about what this could mean. I climb onto the sleigh, pick up the reins, tighten my hood against the wind. I think about what I saw through the scope: the evil red face, bearded, looking right at me.

"Mush!"

He’d left a bruised reddening impact at the end of the skidding trail of the downed sleigh, the warmth of his blood sinking into the hard-packed snow with a slow crackle.

Somewhere in the flailing, wounded, confused, he’d lost a boot, and the silver spur jutting off the heel spun around and around like the one runaway wheel from the wreckage.

There was an empty place among the braying, unfortunate animals lashed to the overturned sleigh, mirroring the empty leather leads where Vikki should have been, huffing and running and living for the chase with her pack. Putting the scene together, he’d walked away from the crash and cut one of the reindeer free, one of the ones that still had good legs to carry him; it was all chase from here, with one puzzling element.

The legendary sack hung empty over the side, deflated, and there was a black tar running from its lip. There were the reindeer’s prints leading me towards vengeance and my dog, and right alongside them ran bigger, heavier prints, cloven-hooved.

But no amount of weird would stop me from seeing this through, my face wind-bitten as I crack the reigns and head on, so cold the snow doesn’t even melt as it tangled in my hair.

To the end of the world.

Before Vikki, before I got the scent of blood, I’d signed up to this wackadoodle mission to see this. Because when you get to where the northern lights come down to earth in a shimmering green curtain, the world just ends, a chasm opens up, the horizon drops into it. There’s a trail heading down, a narrow path along the lip of the ravine, left by some doomed expedition, and as I tie up the sled, I hear bells echoing up, laughing.


I go down the path and follow it down into the side of the chasm. The howling winds coming from below and the uniform blue-grey color of the icy walls make it hard to see the path ahead for more than a few yards. I can feel my quarry slipping away, but speed is a luxury I can’t afford. One wrong step and I’d fall into the void, so I have no choice but to play his game for now.

The more I progress, the thicker the cold gets, the more I feel its tendrils seeping into the layers of clothing I’m buried in. It doesn’t just feel like an absence of heat, as science dictates, but a sentry telling me to back off if I know what’s good for me. I don’t, of course; I only know what’s bad for the bastard who took my dog.

It also numbs my nose and dulls my sense of smell. I have a scarf wrapped over it and it still feels like it’s about to fall off. So when I detect a whiff of mint, I think maybe I’m starting to lose it. Here I am, at the end of the world trying to get my hands on a magical dognapper while risking death from exposure. Maybe my brain’s trying to tell me to mourn Vikki and live my life for her, starting with a candy so tasty it can cut through chill like a laser beam.

Then I see something huge out of the corner of my eye and I realize that I’m not imagining anything. A massive missile, striped red and white, screams through the air, right at my position on the narrow path into the abyss. In the split second I have to react, I dive into a cave I hadn’t noticed before, which the peppermint log plugs before it crushes me.

Down the chasm I slide, trying my damnedest to right myself, slow down, avoid the narrowing of the cave all at once, until my boot lodges between the ever lower ceiling and the ice below me. A nauseating crack, and I am brought to an instant stop.

The fear of remaining trapped in the ravine is dulled only by the searing pain in my leg. Taking a moment to catch my breath and assess my surroundings, I notice a faint glow of light through the ice below me. An artificial source, down here?

I barely have time to ponder the question before a wave of hot air and smoke belches forth from the ravine below. The reek of burnt fat and the fumes assault my nose and lungs, and, I am not too proud to admit it, panic almost gripped me. Squirming through the pain, I undo my backpack and gear, drop as much as possible down the chasm, and, hearing distant screams and commotion, I fold over sideways and let gravity take me, ever further into the darkness. After dropping several feet and slipping through a claustrophobic narrowing, I crash into a hot pile of coal and cinders.

I roll over, out of the fireplace, and see half a dozen elves scrambling to get out of the way. They’re not cute like Coca Cola would have you believe, but tiny, ugly gremlins, shrieking like devils as they throw silverware and plates in my general direction, scrambling for the door when I reach for my sidearm and plug one of them between the eyes. Before even hitting the floor, the corpse evaporates in a dark, sizzling mist.

Knowing full well they won’t be gone for long, I painfully drag myself up from the table and ponder how much of my equipment I can carry, and what to leave behind.

Injured, I can’t afford to be an even easier target, so I’ll need the weapons - especially if those elves decide to retaliate on my way up to the surface. Once there, I’ll need the rest of my equipment to survive the frozen hellscape. It all needs to come with me despite my bad leg.

I spy one of Santa’s big red sacks, empty, sitting on an old-fashioned child’s sleigh, ready for the tiny elves to move their own heavy burden. Perfect. The only thing better would be a space heater to ward off the oppressive cold; rubbing my beard and eyebrows did nothing to remove the layer of white ice crystals stiffening them. There was no sense on complaining, however, and I load up the bag with everything I still have on me after my unexpected chimney drop.

The room around me is a veritable dragon’s hoard of stolen treasures, from clothing to electronics to jewelry. There is no time to browse as I need to hurry for Vikki’s sake, to prevent that bastard Santa from escaping. I do grab an oversized, thick wool coat and throw it over me as I head out the only door. It already makes me feel warmer.

Just as my foot passes over the threshold, I hear it: a faint, tinny whimper, like a kicked dog. My mind immediately leaps to Vikki, but… no. This is higher-pitched. More plaintive. Working dogs don’t make those kind of sounds. They have too much dignity.

Beyond the door, the icy chasm beckons. I hear it again, a helpless pained whine. Something between me and the way out is suffering.

Before I can stop myself, I’m traversing the shimmering, glasslike hallways. Chilled to the bone, descending at a barely-noticeable slope, I walk deeper into the icy heart of Santa’s lair. I steel myself for what I might find.

The icy walls of the tunnel are like faceted crystal, reflecting themselves a million times over. It feels like walking through a field of stars. Like walking through an iceberg and into the frigid, gleaming cosmos from which all things were born.

The passage before me spills into an open cavern. There, plastered to the icy walls with strands of luminous tinsel, is a Santa. Beside him, another. Soft, fleshy bodies drooping with the sag of muscles that have never known anything but atrophy, the Clauses hang, their eyes barren black pits. They’re skinnier than the one I saw, as if deflated. As if something inside them had shed them as skin.

Dumbstruck by the sight, I watch in helpless fascination as one of them shudders. Hacking and coughing, it undulates, coal-black eyes rolling backward. It writhes in peristaltic heaves, and its jaw unhinges. Like a snake swallowing a rat in reverse, it expels a slimy soccer ball from its mouth, lips stretching cartoonishly wide to pass it. The ball plops wetly to the ground, and I follow it as it rolls, coming to a halt beside a small heap of gifts that glimmer with the creature’s mucus.

So that’s where the treasures came from.

I'm almost glad I'm out of contact with Giles. He and the rest of the boffin squad would want samples of gifts to correlate with their theft records, plus as many tissue samples as I could get from these Claus-husks, then a quick extraction. It'd solve a few of Santa's hideous little mysteries, but I'd never see Vikki again. I've come too far for that, however thin the hope is getting.

Behind me, there's a tearing, ringing sound, like someone ripping a sleigh bell out of a mass of gelatin. I spin around, hand on my sidearm, only to find that one of the Santas is gone, torn away from its tinsel prison. Below the scarred tinsel mass, there's a trail of colorless fluid: like lymph, but faintly cinnamon-scented. Alongside that trail is another, this one of heavy cloven-hooved footprints, marked with tar. Something's dragging that Santa deeper into the complex.

It feels like a trap. This whole drat place is a trap for Santa's "naughty" list, and curiosity and stubbornness have always been cardinal sins in his book. There's no other way out, though, and damned if I'm waiting here with these things any longer waiting for inspiration to strike. One of them's already starting to cough again, wet and pained.

The path forward, or down, is icy-walled but rough underneath, like Santa just painted over old stone with his magic and left it be. I walk forward ten paces before the smell hits me: decay. Real, honest rot, that is -- nothing mint or gingerbread or any other cloying Christmas candy. The smell of death outside Santa's dominion.

I never thought the smell of death would be a comfort.

There is a heat that seeps out of any large mass of decaying organic matter. As soon as I step into the grandiose chamber at the heart of Santa’s fortress, humidity wraps me in a wet, cloying blanket. My body relaxes, unclenches in the presence of fetid warmth.

It takes me a moment to parse what I’m seeing. None of the boffins forecasted anything like this, bless their unimaginative little hearts.

The fruitcake is the size of a five-storey house and is nestled gelatinously in a bowl-shaped concavity. Its cakey sides glisten with a thick slathering of bioscum. Mounds of adulterated red protrude from the top of the cake—the remnants of giant cherries gone to decay. Only the candied walnuts are still identifiable as food, but even those are coated with an oily sheen of bacterial growth.

Around the rim of the concavity sit piles and piles of stolen goods, more than what a single Santa could steal in a lifetime, more than what even a whole army of Clause-husks could spit out. The volume and variety of the piles of objects suggests the fruitcake has been hoarding them for ages, or even epocs.

From far away, on the opposite side of the fruitcake’s concavity, I hear braying, yipping, and yowling--there are living animals here, though they don’t sound happy.

Vikki. I fight the urge to run to her; this is a trap, after all.

Before I can decide what to do, there is a huge, wet peeling sound as a giant gash of a mouth opens up in the side of the fruitcake.

“Why don’t you love me,” it rasps, issuing a spray of fine cake-rot particles.

I size up the situation. None of my weapons are going to do much. The C4 might work, but hell if I’m getting close to that thing. Also, Vikki.

There’s another option, but it scares me more than the thought of setting off a demo charge in a confined space. The device seems like a simple flash stick, but the look in Gile’s eyes when he gave it to me … I shudder. That’s a last resort.

Then I notice that the cloven-hoof prints continue through the chamber, but circling wide, almost to the wall. I follow their trail, taking slow, careful steps.

“It’s OK buddy,” I say to the cake, “I love you.”

“If you loved me, you’d have brought me presents!”

“Love isn’t about material goods, you know.”

“Says you! Gimme!”

Tentacles snake out from the cake’s rotting sides, and I jump back. At the end of each is a grasping, cakey hand. But the hands stop short, writhing in agitation. I let out a breath, and edge my way onward, eyes on the straining hands. I’m almost to the end of the chamber when I realise my mistake.

There’s a flash of brown, and a smell of sulfur, as something crashes into my side. I fly through the air, straight into the hand’s grasp. My nostrils fill with the scent of putrefaction, and I struggle as they drag me towards the cake’s gaping maw.

It’s last resort time. I twist around to grab Giles’ device, and fling it towards the cake while yelling out the phrase to release the creature within.

“By the power of bitcoin!”

It begins with a hum, and the ozone tang of server room air. The hum swells into the screaming of a thousand cooling fans. The hands go slack around me.

But the hands do not release. The cake screams, aged rum squeezing and seeping out of every spore of its surface, and the sweet stink of jailhouse-fermented alcohol sizzles as they drop on my exposed skin. The bitcoin miner whirrs and screeches, pumping hot air into the dried fruits and nuts, decomposing them into rotten husks.

The cryptocurrency machinery, in its path to disrupt the market and defederalize and libertarianize spending by people who use “#synergy” without irony on their twitter bio, demonetizes the local pastry industry of santa’s grotto, and finally even the tendrils around me snap and break. I fall back into the ground, surrounded by free-falling manufactured candied goods, much like the current stock market of all cryptocurrency. It triumphed under failure and capitalistic greed. “Takes one late-stage capitalism move to end another,” I say, even though it makes as little sense as considering bitcoin as a viable early-retirement plan.

But the price of that accursed destabilization was soon to come. A laugh. The most horrendous laugh, a thunderous yet shrill, humourless yet sinister, laugh rings through the cavernous void left by the stories-high fruitcakefail.

I am

“No,” I catch myself whispering to the void.

I am

the


Claws, green as jade and the Xbox One you receive last Christmas instead of a Nintendo Switch, curl themselves around the carcass of the cake. A tiny sprout of greasy hair is emerging from the hole.

I am

the

Grinch


And it comes.

The Grinch comes.

And it is tiny, and has lost all its edge present in the original Dr Seuss books or even the Jim Carrey movie that is best left unspoken. Like Bitcoin, all it represents is this: Disappointment.

Do not mock me, for I shall haxxor you in l337 ways

All it represents are disappointment and stale memes.

ENOUGH.

Before I could react, a black cloven hoof crashes through Santa’s forbidden fortress, and smashes into the Grinch and the cakecorpse.

ENOUGH OF THESE NARRATIVE DISTRACTIONS.

Wailing winds shrieks through the opening and the snow comes billowing down upon me.

[B]FOR COME NOW THE KRAMPUS.


The Krampus is large, so large, too tall for the eye to see. It covers the sky and a Dark Christmas descends. It wears the coat of a dying crimson sun lined with the whites of a waning moon. The bell of its hat jingles the plague doctors’ gong.

[B]SO PERISH.


I close my eyes and lift my hands and , no doubt, make a stupid face -- confident in my imminent demise. A demise that… doesn’t happen. I open my eyes.

“What’s going on?” the Grinch says.

“I don’t know,” replies the Krampus, his voice much less booming. More normal. And he’s no longer a towering monstrosity but rather a man-sized monstrosity.

“Crush him!” the Grinch cries. “Crush him! Use his lifetime love of Christmas and warp it into dark power and turn it against him!”

The Krampus looks at his hands in dismay. “I- I can’t. I can’t crush him.” He glares at me. “Why can’t I crush you? Did you not grow up loving Christmas? Singing carols? Drinking hot chocolate and opening presents and spreading a festive cheer that you would forget about just a few days later?”

I cough and a little bit of blood comes up. “No,” I say, reaching for my service pistol. “I didn’t.”

They both gasp.

“I’m Jewish, motherfuckers. Shalom aleichem.”

The Krampus regards me for a moment. In realizing all of his gentile powers will amount to essentially no benefit against my cultural heritage, he seems to almost be relieved.

“Well thank god for that.” The Krampus sits down on the snow covered floor, and his threat level further decreases. “Here,” he pats the snow beside himself. “Take a seat.”

“But wait!” The Grinch calls out. “What about devouring his soul, aren’t you going to…”

The Krampus snaps his fingers and the Grinch turns into a small spruce tree.

He pats beside himself again. Not wanting to be treed myself, I follow his direction, he seems like a lovely little beastie now that my destruction isn’t his priority.

He reaches into his fur and pulls out two mugs. He hands one to me and snaps the top of his left index finger off. An aromatic, thick, hot chocolate comes flowing out of his phalange.

I laugh and he does too. “You know, I got made fun of at Demontech when I picked the hot chocolate marrow perk. But hell, this has come in handy more times than I can count.”

A few puffy marshmallows spurt out and damned if it isn’t the best cocoa I’ve ever had. We drink in silence together for a few minutes and then, finally, he asks me.

“So, my special little chosen friend. What is that you want for Christmas?”

“Huh?”

“Well, you’ve certainly been on quite a christmas adventure. Christian, or not. And besides, I’ve been known to make a thing or two happen. Maybe this year I’ll use my powers and such to spread some cheer.”

“OK. Well, in that case, I guess I do have a wish.”

“Yes?” He responds. “I’m listening.”

“First off, I’m assuming that if I ask you to end all of this Santa nonsense, you’re going to tell me no.”

“Yeah, sorry kid. Trust me, this goes way beyond anything you or I could conceivably do anything about. I’m not nuts about the creepy fucker myself, but the system is set up this way for a reason.”

“In that case, I’d settle just to have my dog back.”

The Krampus rubs his chin thoughtfully, and then takes another pull from his cocoa mug. “A dog, huh? Well, I might know a guy who might be able to help out, but I’m not sure you’re gonna like it.”

***

We set out through the snow, my dogs running full bore, and the Krampus striding along beside us like he was out for a morning stroll. The first thing that I noticed was that the cold that had been seeping through my clothes every time I went outside was beginning to abate. The snow that we were running through seemed mistier, almost transparent, and it didn’t kick up in the hard crystals that I was used to.

Next thing I know, we’re pulling up in front of the biggest house I’ve ever seen, done in stucco and gilt, where I can see winged people in flowing robes drunkenly flying in and out of the windows and doors. There’s a huge banner that says “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSH!” hanging over the front entrance, and I can hear the thump of bass through the windows.

The Krampus gestures for me to follow him, and walks towards the door. By the time I’ve gotten myself disentangled from the dog sled, he’s already rang the doorbell. I’m not sure how anyone actually manages to hear a doorbell over the skull-rattling music, but the door opens, and there he is. Jesus.

Don’t ask me how I knew it was Jesus. Trust me, you just know.

“What’s UP, my- Oh, it’s you.” Jesus stands and glares at the Krampus, the welcoming light of goodwill that lit up his face a second ago vanished in an instant.

“Hello, Joshua, and happy birthday,” says the Krampus, making a slight bow. “I’m sorry to have to bother you like this during your party, but I am attempting to fulfil a request, and I thought that you might be able to assist me.” He gestures to me, and I raise a hand in awkward greeting.

Jesus looks at me, a little skeptical. “You’re with this guy?”

“Yeah,” I say, stiffly. Then, before I can stop myself: “Sorry, I’m Jewish.”

Jesus’ face splits into a grin. “It’s cool man, me too.” He holds out his hand, and I give him a shaky fist bump. “Now, what can I do for you, fellow Son of Abraham?”

“It’s about a dog,” the Krampus says, before I can stick my spiritual foot any further into my mouth.

“Is that all? No problem, man,” Jesus says, winking at me. “All dogs go to heaven after all. Check the dog park two blocks that way, you can’t miss it.” He gestures, and then turns to head back inside. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go see a man about a guitar solo.” He closes the door, but not before I hear him yell ”Hey Sebastian, you’re up, motherfucker!”

“Well, you heard the man,” says the Krampus, taking my arm. I walk the two blocks by his side in a daze. It barely even registers that my injured ankle isn’t hurting anymore. I’m trying to take in what’s going on around me, but my mind keeps sliding off of it like water off a cold pat of butter. I don’t think I take in a single thing about the place until I see it.

The dog park is enormous, full of gleeful canines of all sizes, running and making GBS threads and humping in the sunshine. Fire hydrants, trees, and blooming flowers spot the green grass, and dogs chase squirrels in endless circles. Frisbees and tennis balls throw themselves in every direction, and as I watch, a bell rings somewhere, and dog treats fall from the sky. I have never seen such an incredible assortment of joyful canines.

And then there’s Vikki, sitting in a tiny pile of snow in front of a ragged doghouse that I recognize immediately. Every once in a while another dog will come up to her and try to play, but she snarls at them, fiercely guarding the one thing that is familiar to her in this place. My voice breaks the first time I say her name, so I say it again, louder, as my eyes start to well with tears.

“Hey, Vikki!”

She turns to me, and barks, as if to say What took you so long? As she runs to me, I can see her harness reappear. She leaps into my arms, and everything goes white.

Something is licking my face.

“Geoff! Geoff, can you hear me?” It’s Giles, yelling through my earpiece. Where the hell has he been?

“Yeah, I’m here,” I say, as I push the frantic dog off of me, and then stop and stare. “Vikki?”

She barks again, and licks my face one last time before she runs to her spot in the line, waiting for me to attach her lead.

“Where the hell have you been? You were out of radio contact for hours!”

“I was…” I try to think, but my head is fuzzy, and my ankle is throbbing. I look around me and I don’t see any sign of the fortress or the ravine behind it. “I’m not sure.”

“Well, wherever you’ve been, come back to the base camp. We’ve got orders to pull out of this godforsaken place, finally. We won’t be getting any more samples this year.”

I manage to stand up, my ankle managing to hold my weight, and limp over to the sled. I hook Vikki up and rub her ears, getting a nip at my gloves for my trouble. “Welcome home, girl.”

For the first time in my life, it feels a little bit like Christmas.

“Mush!”

Chili fucked around with this message at 07:46 on Dec 26, 2018

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




A crit of Mush! by the Thunderdome

Amazing

10/10

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

Like most things, I am nothing


:siren:SEBGUY BRAWL JUDGMENT:siren:

Alright I know I'm a worthless lout who can't keep a deadline, and here I am dropping a weakass brawl judgment... Thranguy wins. Both stories were entertaining, well written (in regards to prose), and short enough to not make me hurl. While I truly appreciated the efforts of both authors to adhere to the prompt and to the... unusual flash rules, Sebmojo, in my estimation, failed to refrain from giving the protagonist a discernible reason for fighting--even if it's only in one direction. Congratulations to Thranguy!

Serious crits will be coming in the next couple of days

Ahh hell :toxx: to have them done by Saturday midnight

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Gonna shitpost a bit about TD, sorry if I'm late.

I think we've run out of new blood in Something Awful. There aren't enough people on this site to warrant advertising internally. Anyone who's wanted to run through it has already done so. Thunderdome is less unpredictable now and, sorry to say, less fun. Stratification is a part of it, sure, but also the current pool of writers has improved. Everyone who wasn't actually into writing has left, the remainder has improved to the point where there's less of a challenge. I don't know about anyone else, but I feel I can reliably poo poo out a 1000 word piece that probably won't lose (or even if it does lose, it's only by comparison).

A lot of people here are really, really good now which makes it almost impossible for casuals/new entrants and it's a little discouraging but mostly because of

quote:

In the other point of frustration, it felt like the expectations of the judges were unclear from the beginning, and crits focused on a very narrow criterion, to the exclusion of anything else.

It worked really, really well in the beginning. Judges picked a story they liked the most. It was the kind of unpredictable thing that made the game fun. You'd have weeks where really finely crafted works went up against stuff that was mediocre but told a better story and the winners would be unpredictable.

Plus, I'm not even going to lie, the lack of really, really poor fiction makes TD boring to read for me. My favorite weeks were the ones where entrants veered off into some unexplored literary territory and wrote something either so awful or so strangely entertaining that it's stuck with me for years.


BUT enough complaints. What could we DO? We cant' rely on SA for new blood. We can't invade an already existing literary forum and browbeat this style of contest into them. We can't advertise offsite and expect entrants to pony up $10 for the novelty.


I PROPOSE

A digital flash fiction zine, on a monthly basis. Advertise it offsite/real life anywhere budding writers would congregate. Structure the zine like TD, with a monthly winner. The winner would receive an SA membership gratis and a link to a critique + this thread. Other entrants would be encouraged to pay the forums sign up fee to access their crit/crits and join in on a weekly contest. If there's interest we could each pony up some cash quarterly and hand out accounts to the zine HM/DM entrants.

We'd probably have to let go of IRC to get anyone born after 1990 interested and do the dirty discord thing.

Thoughts?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







People are all making really good points.

For a long time, I've wanted to build some sort of zine or offsite publication that brings the TD style to more people, and gives them a publicly palatable URL to send to their mom or whatever when their work goes up. This is something so far outside of my limited expertise that I'm not sure it's worth pursuing it myself. However, if someone wanted to talk about how to make it happen, I'd definitely want to be involved.

Going into the new year, here is what I would like to see happen:

1) Post the thread like normal, with basically the same rules and expectations. Put up ads because even though we've tapped most of the blood on SA, I've been told by many people that the ads often remind them to come back.

2) Concurrent with the new thread, post a fun, lighthearted contest specifically for polishing existing works. The contest could have multiple winners for categories like "most improved second draft", "most words cut", and of course best overall story. The goal would be prepping people's stories for submission and hopefully publication. Stories could be from TD or they could be personal projects. If needed, there could be multiple categories, so that flash fiction isn't going up against 5000 word stories, or whatever. I don't think doing things like this will "save" thunderdome from attrition, but it creates new ways for the same people to engage with their writing and this awesome network of writers.

3) I really like the 2019 scoreboard idea so I'd be interested in seeing how Trex wants to track/format that.

4) I would like to see experienced writers engaging more with newer or greener writers. Perhaps we could come up with a list of people who are willing to help. I'd certainly put myself on it.

5) Magazine rushes have been super successful in the past; maybe we could have regular TD-sponsored contests with submission prep in mind (like my idea above).

Now, re: discord. I said it earlier but I'll say it again: If people want it bad enough, then someone with the inclination can certainly set up a TD discord. I don't want to do it. Kaishai doesn't want to do it. I don't think any of the people who've thus far modded IRC want to do it, but if a bunch of people can ONLY talk about TD on discord, then those people should have a discord. There is absolutely nothing stopping this from happening, although there are definitely people in IRC who, for whatever reason, don't like discord. Still, if it means more people can feel engaged, then by all means, go for it and see what happens.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Wouldn’t that basically split the community though?

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


I'm new to the forum; PWoT (the Cracked forums) shut down and old-school message boards are the only way I know how to internet. Most of my posts have been in this thread or the spooktober contest. Everyone talks about how SA is dying but the fact that some threads get a thousand posts in a day is mind-boggling to me. Same with a story contest that can reliably get ten entries weekly. I wasn't there for the Glory Days, but what I see looks incredible.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Flesnolk posted:

Wouldn’t that basically split the community though?

The community is effectively split between people on IRC and people not on IRC. I'm an internet Old so I like IRC and its aged simplicity, but if another discussion platform would aggregate people in an easy-to-find place, why not? Also, it's not impossible to use both unless you are IDK pathologically unable to click a few extra times and log into both platforms.

I don't want to "move" to discord, but if it's something a lot of people are asking for, then someone should make it happen. Preferably someone who has admined a discord before.

e:

Saucy_Rodent posted:

I'm new to the forum; PWoT (the Cracked forums) shut down and old-school message boards are the only way I know how to internet. Most of my posts have been in this thread or the spooktober contest. Everyone talks about how SA is dying but the fact that some threads get a thousand posts in a day is mind-boggling to me. Same with a story contest that can reliably get ten entries weekly. I wasn't there for the Glory Days, but what I see looks incredible.

This is cool, thanks for saying :)

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




A microsuggestion: a new losertar might attract more attention, especially if someone can make one with 'thunderdome loser' legible in the avatar size the awful app uses.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

I really, really don't like the idea of discord BUT it's so much easier to throw in a discord link with regards to the zine than it is trying to explain IRC and servers.

I used to write/edit for a college newspaper and one time a friend and I distributed a zine in a .bat format about indie video games that ran inside command prompt, so I've got a vague idea of how it could work. I can't see it being too big at first, I'm willing to put in the time with formatting and all that junk. Definitely will need someone to help on the graphics design side.

Anyone interested in helping should probably PM SH or drop into IRC (I don't have PMs) and we can hash out some kind of structure. I'm thinking a digital .pdf/ebook thing that's formatted to fit standard printer paper. I think if we incentivized submissions by saying after [X] submissions of [Y] quality you can be eligible to judge we'd encourage repeat submissions and grow the community.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






I like discord cause its free on the phone and it doesn't log me out automatically like the free versions of irc I've found. I actually like talking to most of you since I've known many of you buttholes for four years.

I don't write much anymore because children with different sleep schedules and I don't find myself on my computer very often anymore. I do plan on coming back to TD, it'll take me awhile.

EDIT: https://discord.gg/2NDYmJ8 For cool domers

Mercedes fucked around with this message at 23:57 on Dec 26, 2018

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



proposal:

Thunderdome 2019: Writing Our Wrongs

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



Thunderdome 2019: This Year We Will Write Good Words

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Thunderdome 2019teen: not-so-flash fiction

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Just a few of the maps that you could have if you go in this week:

The Attack of Love:


Carte Gastrinome de la France


Map of the Northern Pacific Railroad and its Connections


Porcinograph


Literary Map of Latin America


Nicknames of the States


Marine Disasters of Buzzard Bay


see why nobody anywhere has to wait long for salt


Portugal is not a small country


The Strike Map Shows Oklahoma Workers Stay on the Job!

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Sure, let's do it. In, gimme a map

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Antivehicular posted:

Sure, let's do it. In, gimme a map

Berkeley's Strategic Position

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




In with The Sanctification of the Seventh Day

I'd also like a crit of "The Alchemist" please.

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Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


I discovered I still have some licenses for SmartEdit standalone. I’m happy to donate one as a prize to whatever publicity-type contest we end up running. It’s extremely good writing software and might be a cool prize for someone who already has Scrivener.

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