The Instigator
Noel
Pro (for)
Winning
37 Points
The Contender
brittwaller
Con (against)
Losing
20 Points

Story Challenge: Moat Maiden

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/18/2008 Category: Technology
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,132 times Debate No: 4436
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (11)

 

Noel

Pro

I would like to introduce an exercise (story challenge) in which PRO and CON incrementally develop what, in the end, becomes an interactive short story. This is probably best explained through an example. After the example are a few parameters, to which compliance is implicit in accepting this "debate". Following that, I present the Round 1 opening to Moat Maiden. Note that the rounds can be brief.

Think Groo meets MacGyver.

-- Noel Leon

/-------------------- Worked Example: PRO Round 1 --------------------
This is not quite a safari,
in not quite a canoe.
For my budget river rafting,
a kayak has to do.

From origin to terminus,
I'd paddle fast and free.
That was until around the bend,
got stuck in this eddy.

The vortex spins my river craft,
yet grips it fast in place.
To sink for lack of towing force,
to vanish without trace.

1 The kayak is spinning. The compass is spinning. My head is spinning. And all the counter-paddling to put an end to this spinning is very tiring. What is the best first step?
Swim to rocks and climb
> Swim into the cave at the river bend
Paddle more furiously
Reason: Already tired from fighting the current, the cave seems to be the closest refuge for rest. Result: Swimming through the eddy, I enter the cave and clamber onto a rock.

/-------------------- Worked Example: CON Round 1 --------------------
2 Development: There, while panting for breath, I give the cavern a cursory glance and see evidence of inhabitation.
> Eat the charred food in fire-pit
Wrap myself in the bearskin beside the fire
Venture further into the cave
Reason: No doubt the protein will provide needed energy. Result: Anyway, whatever it was, it tasted like chicken. Instinctively licking my fingers, I extend them to the fire-pit.

/-------------------- Worked Example: PRO Round 2 --------------------
3 Development: Flame flickers between the stacked logs, providing a modicum of radiant heat.
Run up and down a nearby rock outcrop to warm up
Return to kayak for a change of clothes
> Shift the front log with the stick
Reason: Removing the front log exposes the hottest glowing region. Result: This increased infrared radiation soon dries my clothing.

/-------------------- Worked Example: CON Round 2 --------------------
4 Development: The firelight also reveals a stack of rocks like stairs at a far end of the cavern and shifting shadows on the near side of the cave.
Go toward the light
> Listen for footfalls
Run to the kayak
Reason: Shadows suggest a possible intruder. Result: Actually, I would be the intruder to the cave dweller who ambles in, apparently without detecting me.

/-------------------- Worked Example: PRO Round 3 --------------------
5 Development: The cave dweller falls asleep in the bearskin at mouth of cave.
Run to the kayak
Talk with the cave dweller
> Tip-toe to the outcropping
Reason: With the front entrance blocked, the only other exit may be up the stack of rocks. Result: At the top of the sedimentary staircase is a thatch mat. Tossing back the covering of straw and sticks, I catch a glimpse of the dweller catching a glimpse of me.

/-------------------- Worked Example: CON Round 3 --------------------
6 Development: With renewed energy, I heave myself up and onto an embankment. On the other side of the river is a tree hut.
Beat chest and shout like Tarzan
Leap into the Ruddy River
> Swing on the dangling vine
Reason: Vine travel worked for Tarzan and might work for me. Result: Kicking off the rock holding the inclined vine, I grab on and swing over the river.

/-------------------- Worked Example: PRO Round 4 --------------------
7 Development: To prevent the dweller doing likewise, I have presence of mind to keep hold of the vine, which now dangles down to the forest floor. My presence at the hut upsets some chimps, however. They throw coconuts and, yikes, feces.
Throw some (coconuts) back
Pretend to eat a banana
> Slide down the vine
Reason: The vine dangling to the ground offers rapid escape, much like a fire fighter sliding down a station-house pole. Result: I land beside the river, just out of reach of the eddy-entrapped kayak. Some simians projectiles, mostly vine and coconuts, have preceded me.

/-------------------- Worked Example: CON Round 4 --------------------
8 Development: Simian screeches are getting louder as they reposition. I don't want to grapple with an excrement attack.
Make a coconut slingshot with vine
Jump into river and swim to kayak
> Grapple with a coconut and vine instead
Reason: A broken coconut tied to a vine makes an adequate grappling hook. Result: Like a cowpoke with a restless lasso, I swing it around and drop the coconut in the kayak. Development: Pulling the craft out of the eddy and to shore, I am soon safely bearing down-current.

\------------------------------ End of Example ------------------------------/

Here are the parameters mentioned.

PRO Round 1 introduces the verse and first situation. The verse sets the role and goal (e.g., jungle river rafter / free kayak from eddy). Each situation develops the story in first-person perspective to the point of three choices, identifies the best choice and reason why it is best based on clues in the story, and then gives the result of selecting that option.

PRO and CON collaborate in creating credible predicaments paced so that the solution comes naturally (without a great leap of plot) as the development in CON Round 4.

PRO and CON compete (try to win the "debate") by composing situations that are more interesting, evenly paced, and intriguing than those composed by his or her adversary. The aim is not to trip up the other author (e.g., with abrupt or inconsistent transitions), but to contribute more compelling content through cohesive narrative and clever puzzle-making.

OK, on to PRO Round 1 of the story that we will develop. This is the first of three story challenges. All take place with a vaguely medieval level of technology.

1: Moat Maiden. In a clearing in an otherwise dense forest. Here, a square moat surrounds a cottage.
2: Cottage Cart. Crossing the moat, in the cottage the maiden sits beside a stack of woven cloth.
3: Snow Stopper (might be called Court Yarn). In the village courtyard, the Reeve seeks aid in preventing an avalanche.

~~~ MOAT MAIDEN ~~~

Help me, cries the angry maiden,
across the murky moat.
Vandals destroyed the old footbridge,
and even stole my boat.

Don't try to jump or even vault,
its far too wide to leap.
Ten paces wide on every side,
and icy water deep.

Perhaps there is a strong ladder,
to use as if a bridge.
Careful of the alligators,
below the slimy ridge.

1 The maiden pleas but is otherwise unhelpful and here I've nothing but an empty sack. A nearby wooden shed is a weathered shell of its former self. What is the best first step?
Climb the apple tree for a better vantage
Follow the flickering light from copse to the north
> Peek inside nearby shed, weathered shell of its former self
Reason: Whatever raw materials are around, that shed might contain tools for crafting them. Result: A cursory survey, however, reveals only a rusted long-handled shovel, a hefty plank about 1 pace by 8 paces, and an old boot recently the home of a rodent family.
brittwaller

Con

brittwaller forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 1
Noel

Pro

Suppose CON Round 1 provided:

I carry the boot and shovel with one arm, dragging the plank with the other, then drop them back at the clearing.

• Dig a trench perpendicular to one side of the moat.
> Set the shovel across one corner of the moat.
• Toss the boot into the moat.

The shovel forms a hypotenuse to the corner of the square moat. The handle and blade dig into the moat corners securely.

--------------------------------------------

Then here is PRO Round 2:

The shovel is sturdy enough and secure enough to stand upon. It just isn't close enough to the other side to attempt even leap of faith.

> Slide the plank across the shovel toward the cottage.
• Pull wooden strips from the weathered shed.
• Wear the boot found in the shed

The shovel plus plank form a makeshift T shaped bridge. One end of the plank rests on the shovel; the other on the cottage-side of the moat. Balancing carefully, I cross over to the cottage, but just barely.
brittwaller

Con

Noel, my apologies. I will not be able to participate. An excellent idea, though. I'm sorry if I wasted your time. Repost and try again. I concede.

Vote PRO.

Britt
Debate Round No. 2
Noel

Pro

As mentioned earlier, I planned three story challenges in a series set at a roughly medieval level of technology. In the first story we had to replace the bridge, building on the makeshift T-shaped combination of shovel and plank. In second story in this series, Cottage Cart, the hero crosses the moat and enters the cottage in which a maiden sits beside a stack of woven cloth.

With all this cloth I've woven here, aid me to that castle.
The king will surely pay us well, weaving is not facile.

Yet all must come with us at once, leave none for fear of theft.
Perhaps you need repair the cart, this is too much to heft.

One cart wheel fell from its axle, its washer broke apart.
Metal fatigue on rough terrain, makes jostling an art.

The cottage contains:
• a fireplace – unlit, but prepared with logs stacked on kindling
• a loom – mostly wood, but powered by a steel foot pedal
• a handcart – which seems to be missing a wheel

Behind the loom rests a tool chest.

The tool chest contains:
• a new washer – a disc with a hole in the middle, like a flat donut
• a pair of tongs – iron and look like pliers with long handles
• a glove – thick leather with a long sleeve

By the fireplace is a chunk of flint.

Closer inspection of reveals that:
• the flint is an egg-size sedimentary rock
• the glove is like the kind used by a blacksmith
• the new washer is like the axle washers, but slightly too small for the axle

In Round 4 I will introduce the third story in this series.
brittwaller

Con

brittwaller forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Noel

Pro

The third and final story in this challenge is as follows. I have not done a story challenge before and am uncertain how difficult it would be for CON. PRO can set the goal and initial scene, but CON has the advantage in that PRO must work toward a credible resolution in CON's round 4 and CON decides the final solution. I also tried to have at least one possible solution for each story, although CON would certainly develop the narrative as s/he wises. That way the story was at least minimally solvable. The minimum solution to the following is to have satchels sewn, fill them with ash, pack them up the mountain, let the wind blow the ash onto the snow and thus melt the snow more slowly.

I might try another story challenge some time, but for now am on to other ventures.

~~~ SNOW STOPPER ~~~

Behind the Reeve's desk is a window, which looks out onto the makings of a major mole hill or maybe it is a mountain.

Wise wanderer, the Reeve begins,
hear the winter wind blow.
This castle at the mountain's base,
accumulates with snow.

An avalanche will crush us all,
and disappoint the king.
Strong winds prevail on mountain top,
we cannot wait for spring.

The shops will give what goods they have,
with generous ration.
Please help to melt the snow slowly,
in some controlled fashion.

The castle encloses a courtyard and a number of small shops. The carpenter has wood blocks and a couple large wax candles. The seamstress has many bolts of broadcloth which she can sew into long dining tables, clothing, awnings, pouches, and the like. The smithy has the usual bellows-fed fireplace, anvil, hammers, bits of iron, and also large bins of ash collected from the castles many wood stoves. The stall has work horses and mules, located just after the blacksmith's shop, on the road leading to the mountain summit.
brittwaller

Con

blah dsfkjdhfksdjhdksjlfhkljhdfsjklhsdfkjlhsdfkljhsdfkjlhdfskjlhsdfkljhsdfkljhdfkljhsdfjklhsdfjklhasdf

vote PRO

Like I said, this was one of the better ideas I've seen lately. Good luck. See you around the site.

Britt
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Robert_Santurri 8 years ago
Robert_Santurri
LM said it best here:

"CON forfeited all of his rounds, thus impeded the debate, thus, doesn't deserve to win. Ergo, I vote PRO."
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
CON forfeited all of his rounds, thus impeded the debate, thus, doesn't deserve to win. Ergo, I vote PRO.

Yours truly,

The cleaner's loyal tactician.
Posted by brian_eggleston 9 years ago
brian_eggleston
Noel, this is too good to waste, copy and paste and resubmit it...
Posted by brittwaller 9 years ago
brittwaller
I will be the crazy one and give it a try. One of the better and more innovative ideas I've seen here lately.
Posted by Noel 9 years ago
Noel
Here is another worked example.

In this one, a train passanger must deliver a secret message. I've left out the Reason, Result, and Development tags for a bit better flow in reading the passages.

~~~ ESPIONAGE EXPRESS ~~~

I give the door of the sitting compartment a push – it doesn't slide shut – and stare out at the stark Northland Depot. My compartment contains a newspaper with headlines about the peace summit, an emergency chord above the large sliding window, and facing leather chairs with overhead storage racks. On one of the racks rests my travel bag, which has a protein bar and bottle of water, a clean shirt and change of underthings, and a passport depicting my bright white teeth and jet black hair.

That was my last commute up north,
I sigh with some dismay.
Tension between the lands is high,
it is not safe to stay.

To my compartment comes this man,
holding onto his side.
Message - contact - password, he coughs;
in you I must confide.

He talks of plot and peace summit,
but then a shout next door.
The paper dropped, he staggers out,
blood drops upon the floor.
Posted by Noel 9 years ago
Noel
Worked Example 2: PRO Round 1.

I scan the document, as much to convince myself that this is happening as to learn its contents. Its in Oldspeak and I struggle with the defunct language to surmise that northland guards are planning to assassinate one of their own diplomats at the summit and blame it on the south to have an excuse for civil war. The old word for pickle escapes me.

• Ask someone at the border stop to translate the document
• Investigate the commotion in the adjoining compartment
> Peer into the corridor to check whether I am safe

The stranger was bleeding and may have left drops. Sure enough, they lead along the linoleum to my compartment.

Worked Example 2: CON Round 1.

There is even a drop on my shoe, which won't bode well with the guard working his way down the corridor.

• Open a window and throw out the document
> Take the document and leave the compartment
• Toss the document into the corridor and lock the door

The message must be protected, but the same can be said for me. To avoid an awkward search, this would be a good time to relocate.
Posted by Noel 9 years ago
Noel
Worked Example 2: PRO Round 2.

Out in the hallway, I recognize the captain's distinctive black leather storm suit. Although interrogating another passenger, his attention will soon pass to me.

> Step into the lavatory on this car for privacy
• Take the initiative: give the note to the captain
• Walk to the dining car in hopes of a crowd

There is no time to lose and the lavatory is only steps away. It smells like a mixture of hospital antiseptic and stale cigar.

Worked Example 2: CON Round 2.

Reaching for a wad of paper towel, I wet it in the sink. Glancing in the mirror, the stall behind me is open and unoccupied.

> Wipe off my shoe with the wet towel
• Wipe off my shoe with toilet paper
• Write a note for help on toilet paper in the stall

Dry paper would have smeared the blood, but the wet wad works in only a couple swipes. I pocket some extra dry paper towel.
Posted by Noel 9 years ago
Noel
Worked Example 2: PRO Round 3.

I notice that opposite the dispenser is a cabinet containing cleaning supplies.

> Take the bottle of hydrogen peroxide
• Take the broom and bar of soap
• Take the bucket and mop

Hydrogen peroxide was probably in the lavatory as a disinfectant, but it is also a mild bleach. Dribbling it over the sanguine spots makes them disappear.

Worked Example 2: CON Round 3.

Working a few paper towels around with my foot soaks up the evidence. I open a window and toss out used towel.

• Blot the message from the document with the bleach
> Photograph the document, then toss it out the window
• Toss out the document while the window is open

The message has to be delivered, but perhaps by another medium. Once photographed, I slip the document out the window, then pop the black chip of photos from my camera.
Posted by Noel 9 years ago
Noel
Worked Example 2: PRO Round 4.

The camera chip clinks like a coin against my ring.

• Stash the chip in my travel bag
> Hide the chip on my person
• Put the chip inside the newspaper

The black chip is inconspicuous in my black hair. Good thing, because the train pauses at the border for baggage checks. Afterward, I doze until the train pulls into the terminal.

Worked Example 2: CON Round 4.

On street level, a girl holds up a handful of tulips and an open palm. "Da nebe saltube" she exclaims with a smile. Beside her a beggar with a tin can, cries "rejaz mehe cucrunch". Further down a boy with a stack of newspapers barks "cha ipse brineta".

• Give the chip to the girl
• Give the chip to the boy
> Give the chip to the beggar

Anybody watching might think it is just a coin making that metallic "ploink" as the photo chip drops into the old man's cup. He rises and vanishes into a nearby alley. Over the weekend I monitor the news for fear of any foul play at the summit. It ends without incident and, thanks to me, the ambassador returns safely.
Posted by Protagoras 9 years ago
Protagoras
literature*

[ahh, spell check]
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Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
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Vote Placed by brittwaller 9 years ago
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