Snowstorm Creative Competition - The Showcase!

Started by Jubal, February 17, 2023, 04:39:13 PM

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Winter Storm Austin by David Kitto, CC-0 Usage Rights, via Wikimedia Commons.

Our Snowstorm themed winter competition is complete, and we're delighted to be able to share what might well be our largest ever showcase, with a grand total of TWELVE pieces in the showcase, of which eleven went to our two brilliant judges, Lucy Wright and Katrina Keefer: very big thanks to both of them for giving up their time to look over everyone's entries. All the pieces were highly regarded, with high scores across the board - but there was one clear winner, with a combined score of an incredible 37 points out of a possible 40...

Vicorva with their interactive fiction piece 'Avalanchia'!

Described with accolades including "stellar and stunning" and "this one made me cry" by the two judges, this multiple-endings interactive story of an ordinary animal caught up in an extraordinary snowstorm proved the perfect winter tale. You can now play it yourself on V's page! V wins a copy of Tusky Games' Tourney, Jubal's RPG book Rockpool, and a poem on a subject of their choice by Jubal - and, of course, warm congratulations to thaw out after all this snowstorm of creativity.

Much more important than the winning is the creativity, though, and we're delighted to be able to share with you below the full showcase of all twelve contributions, from interactive fiction to poetry to animation to art to songwriting, and hopefully inspiration for your own future projects. Do leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Entry Showcase

WINNER: Avalanchia - Vicorva

You can play V's prize-winning piece by clicking here or on the banner below!

Snowstorm - A Short Film by Tusky

Snowstorm - A Poem by ohnojoh

QuoteWe wake in the morning
To frost and a warning.
The skies are still clear
But the warning's for here:
It's a snowstorm, they warn.

Yes snow! Warn a storm!
It'll fall on the town.
The white time to give up
It'll all tumble down.
The High Street is brought low
In the sleet and the feet
Slip in snow.

Brace yourselves
Grit your roads.
Lock your doors
Warm your toes.
There is no giving
This storm a schooling.

PTO the white leaf
Yellowed white like your teeth.
Let it go, let brain freeze
As you bite the sliced trees
Of a book.
Oh no, our plans will be flaky
And our hands will be shaky.
Clasp them ungloved in prayer
For what'll be on the air.
Your remote, take control
Fire-up the bright box
Take a look.

Writing by Spritelady

QuoteYou had always known it would end like this. Maybe it wasn't something you had wanted to own up to, something you would admit to anyone other than yourself, but you had known. From the moment you entered the academy, it was clear that you were an outsider, unaccustomed to the arcane and an easy target for adolescent bullies trying desperately to hide how insecure they were.

"Madam Kandra says magic is a reflection of the soul. Just think how cold and cruel her soul must be", your classmates had whispered to one another, as you lowered your arm after a successful demonstration of your progress.

"I hear she killed Professor Vesper's cat after he gave her a bad grade, froze him solid", others had muttered. It wasn't true, not completely. It had been an accident. But they didn't care and eventually, you ceased caring too. It was easier not to care about what they said. The more you responded, the crueller they were, and the quicker you lost control.

Losing control was easy. Regaining it was harder, and there was no way to regain the trust lost after the frost crackled out over the ground around you. No way to avoid the stares and whispers of your classmates after the fountain in the main square was left permanently damaged. No way to hide from the knowing looks of those you once wanted to call your friends, as they hurried away from you in the halls.

Looking around you now, wondering how you reached this point, a thousand more moments come to mind. Maybe it was a little like the snowstorm itself, made up as it was of thousands of tiny snowflakes. Each insignificant, but together forming a powerful tempest that now rages across the academy grounds and leaves the students cowering in their rooms.
'It's not my fault', you think as you watch a small group of your classmates struggle to reach the doors to the Training Hall.

'You did this. You all did this to me, with your stares and warnings, your fear and mistrust. This is what you said would happen to me. I'm just proving you right'.

The winds pick up in response to your frustrated thoughts. Magic is so closely tied to emotion that it's inevitable, and although you've never been susceptible to the cold, even you feel a shiver work its way down your spine as the icy pinpricks of whirling hail stutter across your exposed face and neck.

A dark figure emerges from one of the buildings, fighting hard against the raging winds. You watch with interest as whoever it is begins to make their way towards you. The snow and hail are so thick in the air that it isn't until you are nearly nose to nose with them that you recognise who it is.

"Jah'heem." Your voice is flat, emotionless. "Why are you here?"

You're not sure what he's thinking. He's ill-equipped for the weather, dressed in the initiates' usual light training gear, and he shivers violently as he looks at you. You realise you don't care.
"You have to stop this," he states. No questions, no curiosity, just a simple fact. You sigh. Life must be so easy for someone with no imagination, no struggle to contend with, nothing pushing him to question whether what he wants is right.

"No. I don't."

Jah'heem clearly didn't expect such a blunt answer. Perhaps he thought you would try to defend your actions, or plead for help controlling the violent outburst of magic that whipped up the snowstorm. He eyes you warily, and you think maybe, for the first time, he is contemplating that this won't go the way he wants it to.

In practice, Jah'heem had always been certain, steady. Difficult to rile, despite the chaotic nature of his natural element, air. If magic reflects the soul, as your tutors had said, you had always wondered whether such an obvious contradiction meant something, or whether the professors just didn't know what they were talking about. You know now that it was likely the latter.

His steady nature did not lend itself to kindness or wisdom. Instead he had been steadfast in his cruelty, bullying those whose magic was weaker than his own. You remember choking back tears as the tendrils of air whipped at your skirt, your books, scattering your belongings. You remember the heat in your cheeks, anger and embarrassment warring within you, as he taunted and teased.

"You're hurting people". Apparently he had developed a conscience since your time at the academy.

"I know."

"Don't you care?" He seems shocked now, and a hint of fear begins to show in his eyes.

"No. A snowstorm has no mercy. And nor do I."

Writing by StoryDragon

QuoteWhenever I see him, I can't but feel a curious sensation in my belly. As if there is a snowstorm roaring inside. Humans might call it butterflies, but it is more like a snowstorm. Blowing snowflakes up and down and whirling around; still having a kind of softness and a bit of sharpness at the same time.
His eyes are like those beauteous frozen lakes. A deep blue underneath the ice; hiding there, together with the promise of secrets, joy, and invisible life.
The snowstorm grows fiercer every moment.
His amazingly strong wings, still elegant, carry him wherever he wants to go. And then his claws. His nails are like isicles; shining bright in the wintry sun, sharp as nothing else.
He looks at me.
He comes closer.
His eyes are beautiful as never before.
The snowstorm is no longer inside of me; it envelopes us. We fly up, higher and higer. Together.
I can't but feel attracted to him. The elder dragons say that loving someone of the same gender is bad and dangerous, but not everyone agrees. I don't know.
His eyes, I can't ignore them.
Yes, I love him.

When Spring Fades - Interactive Fiction by Vicorva

Click the image or click here to play:

A World Made Anew - A tale by Skylark

QuoteIt all started going wrong when they crossed the river.

Princess Brigid rubbed her hands together, sniffed, and tried to draw the of her coat closer together to preserve warmth. This was her thickest coat, but she still regretted not having worn more layers underneath. It was too late for that now – most of her clothes left on the carts together with her dowry and gifts for her betrothed. The water has turned out to be higher then they had anticipated and there was no way the heavy wagons were going to make the crossing.
"Told you so" Sana, the local guide they'd hired in the last village at the bottom of the mountain, had said. "Best to turn around".

There was not turning around, though. They were expected at the end of the week, when all preparations would had been made for the wedding. They crossed the river on horseback, while the Lord Chancellor set out back with the carts to notify her father, entrusting her to the care of the Royal Guard and the three Royal Cartographers who had been sent to guide them through the
unforgiving mountains.

It started snowing barely hours after they reached the other side of the river.
"The pass will be blocked by tomorrow" Sana said, but the Royal  Cartographers would hear none of it. "Nonsense", one of them said. "This road is known to be open this time of the year".

That evening, Brigid joined Sana at a camp fire, while the Royal Guards were surveying the perimeter and the Cartographers slept.
"Do you really think the pass will snow over?" she asked. "It is of utmost importance that we get to the other side on time".
Sana poked the fire with a stick. "You really must want to marry that prince very much" she said.
Brigid was not used to this level of familiarity, much less so from a peasant and to her own surprise she found herself answering candidly.
"Not really. But relations has been strained since the war. This will be good for both our kingdoms".
Reflections of fire danced in Sana's dark eyes and a hint of mischief crept onto her face.
"Last year", she said, "my younger brother Jonas stole some apples from our neighbors. Made them really furious. We gave them a goat".
By the time the implication of that story dawned enough on Brigid to make her offended Sana had stood up and was gone into the night.

The next morning a layer of white was covering the landscape, rocks and tufts of yellow grass jutting out here and there, the path before them made slippery. At least it has stopped snowing. They moved slowly to allow the horses to find their footing on the frozen stones. Their surroundings were
becoming more and more barren, the red patterns on the brims of Sana's coat the only colorful accent in sight. Brigid chose to ride next to their guide, leaving the Cartographers to a convoluted dispute on the comparative merits of two famous treatises. As they moved in silence Brigid watched her companion. She was slightly built and Brigid wondered how she managed to fend for herself in the harsh conditions she must had encountered more than once in the mountains. She realized she knew so little about the girl's life, she could barely imagine it.
"So, you live with your family?" she tried awkwardly.
Sana nodded. "It's just Ma and Pa, and Jonas, and me, now that my sister went to live with her husband". There was a silence, during which Sana scanned the horizon and Brigid tried desperately to think of a question.
"You're not married yourself, then?" she finally said to which Sana responded with a snicker. No one had snickered at Brigid before. People usually just made polite little laughs whenever she said something witty. She knew she should probably be angry, but instead she mostly felt curious. She raised her eyebrows at Sana, expecting an explanation, but all she got was a shrug.
Then is started to snow again.

By evening, they could barely see the road and once they lost sight of the mountain crests in the dark there was no telling which way they should go to reach the pass. "Let's make camp and wait.
We will see more clearly in the morning" one of the Cartographers said confidently.
"We'll see like in a sheep's ass" Sana mumbled under her breath and Brigid caught herself stifling a laugh, amazed by the sheer irreverence.
They did not see better in the morning. It was still possible to make out the road behind them, but in front of them stretched a frozen wilderness. The wind was picking up and the snowflakes, which so far had been falling gently, were now beginning to bite their faces.
Brigid looked at Sana who shot a dark look in the direction of the pass and shook her head.
"We should turn back" the princess said.
"We are not turning back" the Captain of the Guard was suddenly by her side. "I was tasked with taking Your Highness across the mountains and I will do just that". The title was there and the tone was perfectly polite but there was a stiffness to his posture that made it clear this was not negotiable. Brigid noticed Sana's eyes narrowing as she watched the scene.

They started moving in the direction of the pass, hoping they were following the road, the horses straining to make their way through the snow. The wind was getting worse and by noon the Cartographers were falling behind and two of them had started to complain. Eventually the Captain told them to take two of his soldiers and head back to the village.
"We should all go with them" Brigid told him, but he was adamant.
"Isn't she the princess?" Sana asked.
The Captain didn't as much as look at her, addressing Brigid instead.
"With all due respect, Your Highness", he said with very little of that respect audible in his voice "your father has ordered me to make sure you're married by the end of the week and the Lord Chancellor has given me authority over this journey. We shall continue".
They kept moving. Sana, who had for a while taken the lead, rode beside Brigid again.
"Perhaps my father should have just sent a goat" she princess muttered to her but she failed to provoke the expected amusement. Instead, Sana gave her a grim and determined look that made a shiver run down her spine.

They had to stop again an hour of so later. Brigid was frozen to the bone. The horses were loosing their footing more and more often, tired from plowing though the high snow, and they eventually refused to advance all together. Still, the Captain refused to turn back. "I was told to deliver you to your betrothed at any price" he kept repeating and when Brigid tried to turn back on her own had the soldiers forcibly stop her. It was in the midst of that commotion that Sana's voice cut through their fighting and the howling of the wind.
"There is another path" she said. "A shepherds' track. It's steep and we would have to leave the horses, but we could make it".
The Captain made a face that clearly indicated how little he thought of Sana and her knowledge of shepherd's paths, but there didn't seem to be many other options. They dismounted and let the horses run free towards the valley.
Sana pointed them in the direction of a rock behind which the ground did seem a little more sheltered and covered in less snow. The Captain went first, a few soldiers following and two more closing the procession behind Brigid and Sana.
As they started climbing Sana leaned towards Brigid and pointed out to the darkening, gray skies.
"There is a storm coming" she said and, seeing the princess' panicked expression, added "No, no, it's a good thing. I like storms".
Brigid decided she must be just as mad as everyone else on this journey.

The path was steep indeed and the weather was getting worse and worse. Brigid struggled to put one step in front of another and leaned on Sana's arm more often then she would like to admit. Still, they kept going, higher and higher, along the snow-covered track. They were a long way above the place where they left the road when the storm really hit. The gale, already biting before, became a furious force, bending them towards the frozen ground. The snow was now falling heavy and it became hard to see what was going on around, a flurry of white obscuring everything. Howling sounds came from all around, the wind hitting the slope and whistling between the rocks.
Soon Brigid saw the soldiers who walked in front running towards her, struggling to keep their balance. The Captain was shaking Sana by the shoulders, screaming something to her, but he let go of her after a moment and run towards the princess instead.
"We're going down!" he screamed in her ear and, despite her fear, Brigid felt a pang of satisfaction upon hearing the terror in his voice. He went past her and started leading the way back down.
She was about to follow when she felt a hand grab her hand and pull her to the side.
"What...?" she tried to ask but only managed to get snow in her mouth.
The soldiers were no longer in sight, lost to the blizzard. There was only icy whiteness around her, and Sana, holding her hand and leading her away. She was too confused, and too scared of being lost, to let go, so she let the girl guide her.
The snow was now getting underneath her hood, no matter how much she tried to draw it over her face. Wet strands of hair were sticking to her skin. It was becoming harder and harder to see anything.
"Here, let me". Sana emerged from the white haze ahead of her, small hands grabbing the fur of her hood and fixing it. That made things better, but only slightly.

After a while they got to a rock leaning at an angle that created a small scrap of space protected from the wind and the snow. Sana pushed her inside and crept in after her. Again, she tried to question her guide, only for her voice to be lost in the sounds of the storm. They stayed there, huddled together, for what seemed like hours. After a while, Brigid heard the wind subside. Feeling
a bit safer, she let her exhaustion run its course and drifted off to sleep.

When she awoke, there was a pair of slight arms wrapped around her, keeping her warm, and the sun was in her eyes. She disentangled herself and slid out from under the overhang. She was standing in a middle of the mountain slope, with nothing but soft white shapes all around and the
light reflecting off snowed-over peaks in the distance.
She turned around hearing Sana move.
"What did you do?!" she asked, furiously. "We are completely lost!".
Sana grinned at her.
"There is a settlement" she said and pointed to their right. "Just behind that ridge. It's not on your Cartographers' maps. It's for people who don't like being on anyone's maps at all. I though you might want to see it".
Brigid stared at her for a long moment. She thought about the wedding dress that she left on the cart together with her other possessions. She thought about how angry her father would be. She remembered the one time she met the prince, a brief and stiff dance during a ball a year prior. She studied Sana's face, the playful sparks in the other girls eyes. She nodded.

For a while, they stood side by side in silence, watching the quiet, pristine landscape.
"It looks as though the whole world was made anew" Brigid said.
"And that's why I like storms" Sana chuckled.

Writing by ahuggingsam

Quote"M'lady." His voice sounded resolute like always but she could hear the hint of worry buried beneath.
"What is it Wulfred?" she asked. She tried to catch his gaze, but he did not meet it, instead staring up at the sky, towards the top of the mountain. Whether he was avoiding her gaze or truly watching for something was as good as anyone's guess. Knowing him it was both.
"A storm is brewing. We had better hurry, unless we want to get caught in the blizzard."
"The Rå are not to be rushed Wulfred, you know this. We are to show them respect."
"Are we to stay and weather the snowstorm then?"
"If we must, then yes. The ritual will protect us from the snow, and we have food and firewood do we not? I have great faith in you and your men."
Wulfred frowned and stared off into the middle distance.
"I pray that your faith will be proven to be well founded m'lady."
"Please, have your men prepare to light the wake fires," she said with what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "If a storm is really on the horizon, we had best not be caught unaware."
Wulfred grunted, but instructed the other sentries to get ready to begin. Each wore a heavy cloak as white as the snow surrounding them in stark contrast to the deep and vibrant red she wore. The symbolism of this had never truly made sense to her, but it did bring her some comfort. It was a sense of familiarity that comes with well worn rituals if nothing else. There can be great comfort in knowing what comes next.

Once the fires had been lit, the sigils drawn before each of the altars and the sun had set she knew it was time to begin, anxious though she was. The fast before the ritual always made her a bit jittery, but over the years she had learned to steel her nerves when necessary. She knelt and began to sing the words so old they had lost their meaning to anyone still alive, as white started to descend all around her and the sentries guarding her wake.

Snowstorm - An interactive poem by Nanna

Art by Brynn

Poem by StoryDragon

QuoteOne step out of the door,
And surely they will freeze, your
Nose, your fingers, and so much more.
You can be sure that before
You're inside again, where the fires roar,
Not a single finger heals anymore.

Even here, inside,
You cannot hide
For the ice. As bright
As flames will be tonight,
They can hardly fight
The freezing air who deems it right
That all should freeze overnight.

Were you to survive
The cold outside, you'd dive
In a white world where no life
Can be seen. Nor, how hard you might strive
to, would you be able to arrive
Anywhere at all. The wall of snow would deprive
You of all your sight. You can't return alive.

How this storm came to be?
I don't know for sure, you see,
But I do have a theory. My idea
Is that a furious goddes created a wee
Bit too much wind, of which we
Do now see the result: a storm set free.

Outside, it's white all around.
You can hardly miss the sound
Of the raging blizzard, that is proud
To be able to make us shout
In desperation as we haven't found
Any way to survive it's fury on the ground.

This storm will be our last.
Ere the snow and ice can be cast
Away, we're frozen memories of the past.

The Last Snowstorm - a song by Jubal
This entry was created by an organiser and so not submitted for judging.

And that's all folks! We hope you enjoyed all these wonderful pieces of creativity - and we hope to be back with more fun community competitions, projects, and other events for you to join in on as 2023 unfolds.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


Absolutely amazing entries. I love how varied this competition is!

Thank you so much to the judges. This was a lovely surprise. ^_^
~V (They / Them)


<< Signature redacted >>


I'm really happy we got such a good set of entries! I would quite like to see more adventures of your hapless robot Tusky, it was very cute :)

And congrats again to V: Avalanchia was definitely a deserving winner, I loved playing through it!
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...