An Original Character Tournament, often abbreviated OCT, is a type of competition that is popular on art websites like deviantART
. Basically, it's just what it sounds like
: A tournament between artists where they battle their completely original characters
through artistic expression. Usually, this is through comics, but occasionally has included animation and literature.
The usual progression of events goes something like this... Somebody figures they have a great idea for a tournament, and they decide they're going to host one. They find other people willing to judge, create prizes (it helps to either have artistic talent or to have good friends who possess same), and hammer out the setting, the Story Arc
, maybe an NPC
or two. Either during and/or after this stage, they hold auditions. Auditioners are usually expected to create a character, a reference sheet for said character, and an audition to introduce the character and explain why they've become involved in the tournament. Once the judges have filled all slots in the tournament, auditions are closed, and the actual tournament begins. Characters are matched up against each other randomly, and the artists have until the first round deadline to create an entry for the first round. At the end of the round, the judges decide which artist continue to the next round. This process continues until only one artist is left. That last artist's plotline then become canon, and he or she is named the winner.
Entries are usually in comic style; there have been exceptions, but it's difficult to progress far using other mediums. There are several variations on the basic round that have been used to spice things up: themes for individual rounds, boss rounds, etc.
These tournaments, like everything else on the internet, may vary in quality
, but some of the more notable ones have yielded stories one could indeed label awesome.
An attempt to collect all of the deviantART
tournaments in one place can be found here
Common tropes include:
- Art Shift - between different artists' interpretations of the characters.
- Bonus Material - Usually in the form of Spectator or Special Entries that occur outside of the rounds.
- Breakout Character - Most tournaments have at least one or two, and some have a fandom that even extend outside the OCT community.
- Canon Discontinuity - Although some eliminated artists try to finish their story or work their character into the overall tournament plot, many just let the story drop as soon as they lose.
- Climactic Battle Resurrection - very likely, since some finalists tend to gather a group of defeated contestants (known as tagalongs) during the course of the tournament.
- Cooking Duel - Strictly speaking, an OCT needs not neccessarily be a fighting tournament. Also seen tourneys that allow more creativity, where fighting is not neccessarily the only way to win. When done badly pretty much anything (up to and including "I sprayed mud on him while driving by" and similar nonsensical victories) can become a win. There are usually limitations in the rules to avoid this, eg. stating that the opponent must be incapacitated or otherwise unable to continue the battle.
- Deleted Scene: Non-canonical entries might be treated like this.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Happens at the end of most Tournaments with very powerful Big Bads.
- Elseworld - Competitors often use characters that first appeared in their other works, so characters are adjusted to better fit the setting without compromising the main story. That's how you can have a street urchin from Victorian London fighting a futuristic bipolar cyborg in a crazy steampunk city.
- Follow the Leader - There are exceptions, but about half the tournaments use this tried-and-true premise: you have your character transported to a strange and possibly supernatural realm where you fight each other to win some sort of wish. (Justified Trope in that this can fit pretty much any type of character: even those who aren't natural fighters can not leave until the tournament is finished.)
- Loads and Loads of Characters...but There Can Be Only One
- New Media
- Schedule Slip - Though rounds have a set deadline, most tournament managers don't mind giving a little extra time when competitors run behind.
- Sequel Hook - some of the better tournaments find a way to start a second tournament, and may even let previous competitors return for that contest.
- Sturgeon's Law - OCTs that do not filter their auditioners usually end up with lots of subpar auditions full of mary sues and generally weaker art.
- Story Arc - Each OCT either has one to start out or develops one during its run with rare exceptions.
- Tournament Arc - Many of them are actual tournament settings.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny - Many OCTs fall into this, especially if its more of an Intercontinuity Crossover rather than a Elseworld.
- Unnecessary Roughness - It's not uncommon for a friendly round of competition to end with a horrific death.