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  1. Request at least two fandoms. You may not request crossovers.
  2. Offer at least three fandoms.
  3. Minimum story length is 1000 words.
  4. You may also create prompt for the Cookie Jar. The Cookie Jar will be organized entirely through An Archive of Our Own. You can ask me for an invite if you need one, or request an invite directly from the archive. No one is guaranteed a Cookie prompt will be acted upon, it's just an opportunity for people who want to make some sort of fanac but don't want to sign up for the main challenge, or who work in a medium other than fanfiction.
  5. The threesome relationship in your story may take the form of either a triangle (each person in the relationship in a sexual/romantic relationship with each of the other two) or a vee (A has a sexual/romantic relationship with both B and C, but B and C relate platonically.) It is not acceptable for a couple to casually pick up a third person for a one night stand that remains a one night stand. (If you want the threesome to start out as wholesome sluttery and turn into something longer term, that's okay, but the goal is not to read stories about couples.)
  6. You are only guaranteed that one of the fandoms requested by your recipient will be in one of the fandoms you said you could write in. The other one or two may be rare or not to your taste.
  7. Do not post your story to lists, your journal, etc. until January 13, so the author revelations can be a real surprise.
  8. Let me know as soon as you know you cannot complete your story. Do not wait until December 29. E-mail or comment on the drop out post on the community. Suggested message:

    Subject: 3 Ships Drop Out

    I'm sorry to let you know I will not be able to complete my I Saw Three Ships assignment this year. I understand that this has the following consequences:

    1) If the person assigned to write me a story drops out, no pinch hit will be assigned.
    2) If the person assigned to write me a story does turn in a story, it will not have my name on it as the recipient.
    3) I can not sign up to receive a story, until and unless I successfully complete a pinch hit.

    Your name

    I will be e-mailing and making check-in community posts as time approaches to make sure everyone will be done on time. If you don't respond to the e-mail or the comm announcements, I will get a pinch hitter and you will be counted as defaulting.

  9. Subscribe to the 3_ships Dreamwidth, its RSS Feed, or the 3_ships Livejournal Feed for announcements.
  10. E-mail your completed story on time, as an attached text file or in the body of the e-mail you send to me. Do not send word processor documents of any sort.
  11. If you signed up for but did not complete the challenge in the past, you may not request a story this year. You may sign up as a pinch hitter. If you complete a pinch hit story this year, you may request a story next year.
  12. If you default on submitting your story, the story that was written for you will not have your name on it. If the person who was assigned to write you a story defaults on December 29, no pinch hitter will be assigned to make up your request.
  13. All stories must be posted with a warning notice. You must include one of the following warning labels:
    • author chose not to use standardized warnings
    • no standardized warnings apply
    • graphic depictions of violence
    • major character death
    • rape/non-con
    • underage
    You may include additional warnings for content you believe may trigger or emotionally disturb some readers. Please do not use joke warnings or warnings for content signalled in the rest of header, e.g. schmoop, het sex, mpreg. If you send your story in without a warning notice, it will be marked Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings.
  14. Please, please, please thank your Secret Santa. You do not have to be lengthy or detailed, but let them know you are pleased that a story was written.

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Frequently Asked Questions | Calendar | Rules
There's no place to choose pairings when you list fandoms to write in. What if I can write some threesomes in a fandom, but not all of them?
If you have serious problems with any particular characters, do not offer to write in that fandom. I cannot make character accommodations when making assignments.
Do [X and Y] count as one fandom or part of a larger fandom?
One fandom Multiple fandoms
  • Bandom: Fueled by Ramen and Friends
  • Popslash: Boybands who charted from the mid-90s teenpop explosion, as well as Britney, Christina, and their fellow pop princesses.
  • Babylon 5, Crusade
  • Joss Whedon's California: Angel, Buffy, Buffy Season 8 Comics, Fray
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY
  • RPF: Bandom, BBC television, Canada, CW, individual Sports Leagues
For Marvel Comics and DC Comics superhero universes, you may sign up at the highest or lowest level of specificity that you like. However, you will only get matched with someone who matches your designation (i.e. Batfamily, The New Avengers) or who requests the overall Marvel Comics or DC Comics.
Can I request incest?
Yes, you may, but you have to do it in a specific way. If you request one incest-y threesome, you must also request a non-incesty threesome in the same fandom. So, an acceptable sign up would be
  • Heroes: Clair Bennet/Noah Bennet/Bob the Haitian
  • Heroes: Hiro Nakamura/Ando Masahashi/Nikki Sanders
  • Grey's Anatomy: Miranda Bailey/Tucker Bailey/George O'Malley
Don't forget, you are required to sign up in at least two different fandoms! Unacceptable signups would be just the first two threesomes (no second fandom) or just the first and third (failure to request a non-incest threesome in a fandom with an incest threesome.)
Why can't you request crossovers?
They're too hard to put into my spreadsheet. Nobody volunteers to write crossovers, so I wind up matching someone against two fandoms, and it severely diminishes my fun.
Is RPF allowed as a fandom?
Yes. Traditionally, there is a low RPF participation. If you want to read or write RPF threesomes, please encourage your friends to sign up for I Saw Three Ships!
Are non-English fandoms or fandoms in translation, like anime or manwha, allowed?
Yes. Traditionally, there is low participation in these fandoms, often with very little overlap; e.g. one person will request Bleach and Antique Bakery, another person will request War of Money and Super Junior, and a third person will request 1/2 Prince and Phoenix Wright, and all three of these people get matched on Supernatural. Please, if you want a fandom in translation, recruit other people from that same fandom to participate with you.
What happens if no one has offered to write in any of the four fandoms I have requested?
I will e-mail you and tell you the similar fandoms for which people have offered to write stories. You will be given the option of adding a fifth request to your sign up or dropping out of the exchange with no penalty.
What should the 'requested story element' be?
Keep it simple, please. The idea isn't to squick your santa or to make things difficult for them. You're trying to help them out in creating a gift for a complete stranger. Some people ask for a setting or a period of canon or a particular emotion. When you write your Santa Letter (and there will be a Santa Letter post), you may want to consult TFV's Discussion of Yuletide Prompts for further direction.
Why are there required warnings? Why are those particular warnings the one in use?
There was an extensive discussion in the summer of 2009 about assisting people with serious emotional traumas to participate in fandom. The warning schema detailed above is the one used by the Archive of Our Own
What are the Cookies?
Some people don't want to participate in a challenge if they'll have to dropout if they don't meet the deadline. Some people would like to make things for Three Ships that aren't fanfiction or don't have one thousand words of fanfiction in response to a prompt. And some people don't want to be assigned a prompt, they want to shuffle through them and pick. Anyone and everyone can pull a prompt out of the Cookie Jar
How do I get the password for the archives?
The archives are password-protected so that people will get warned that there are no warnings required for pre-2009 years of the challenge. The message which requests the password also includes the user name and password combination, if you read the entire message.
How are these prompts assigned?
You get assigned completely random threesomes. One of your recipient's fandoms is guaranteed to match one of the fandoms you said you could write. The one to three other threesomes they request may not match you at all.
How does pinchhitting work?
  1. After the deadline passes, I make a list of those who turned stories in on time but did not receive a story.
  2. I send an e-mail to all of the pinchhitters. (If the recipient is a pinchhitter, I try not to send it to them.)
  3. First person to claim the pinch hit is the person who I will be counting on to write something, but if someone else is inspired and wants to turn something in, I will post it as well.
  4. If noone claims the story, I will write the pinchhit myself or look for someone else in a matching fandom to write the pinch hit.
May I have an extension?
No one ever gets an extension. However, there is an informal and uncertain mercy time. I typically don't start checking stories in until the morning I wake up after stories are due. However, this is completely uncertain, and can happen at any time from 12:01 a.m. on December 30 to about noon on December 30. Don't depend on mercy time for completing your story, because it may not apply!
If you miss turning your story in on time, you may turn it in late. If you do so, and if a story written for you was turned in, your name will be returned to the story written for you. However, no attempt will be made to get your assigned writer or a pinch hitter to write a story for you, and you will not be eligible to request a story in the next year's challenge.
Who is Keine and why do they get more stories than everyone else?
If a story is submitted for a participant who defaults, the story is posted without their name on it. Keine is used as a placeholder for the defaulter's name. Keine is an adjective and pronoun in German which means none or not. (In 2005, the placeholder name was La Princesse.)
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