Manticore Games has announced a new contest for game designers who've been itching to try building a fantasy RPG in the vein of Neverwinter Nights or Baldur's Gate. The Dungeons & Dragons Design-A-Dungeon Contest will be running until September 6, with the winners potentially receiving $20,000 USD - as well as having their entries showcased at a storytelling and gameplay panel at PAX Online.
Entrants will need to be using the Core platform to build their adventures. There are four specific themes that the entry can fall into: strongholds, wilderness, elemental planes, and dungeons. The entry also has to be a game, or at least interactive. It's not enough to simply create a good looking level, as designers are expected fill it with monsters, treasures, and most importantly, a good story.
There will be winners in each of the categories, as well as a fifth "Best Overall" winner. Additionally, Manticore Games will be donating $100 for each entry (up to $10,000 USD) to Extra Life, a charity which uses gaming to fund-raise for sick children.
All of the entries will be revealed to the public in some fashion and will be free to play during the panel. The winning entries will be showcased and played (and probably critiqued) by personalities such as Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade, Acquisitions Inc.) and Deborah Ann Woll (Relics and Rarities).
While Manticore does not appear to be announcing any Dungeons & Dragons games of their own, the "framework" they've created for this contest seems to be as much of an experiment in bridging the gap between tabletop rule books and game design tools as it is basic contest materials. They've put out a trailer as part of the contest announcement, as well as a blog post. If you're feeling the urge to make players roll for initiative without going into Roll20, and maybe see if you can make an Internet celebrity say, "This is cool," here's your chance.