It’s that time of year again, when the big RPG award nominees of the year are announced, after careful consideration and selection by a panel of judges voted on by the community. The full list of nominees for the year are available on their site. And of course, we’d like to call out our new favorite category:
- Critical Hits – Wooo, that’s us! Again! Thanks to the judges for this great honor.
- Gnome Stew – The best GM-focused site on the Internet. Need I say more?
- Kobold Quarterly – The online component of the great gaming magazine that provides all kinds of great game content for multiple systems. Silver Winner for Best Website in 2009.
- NewbieDM – Our friend Enrique (one of the Dungeon Master Guys) talks about his 4e games as well as providing all kinds of useful downloads like a Kobold Hall starter kit. Also congratulations on his nomination for the minicast.
- One Geek to Another – Jess Hartley, RPG author, lends her geeky wisdom to anyone who asks of it.
- Honorable Mention: Sarah Darkmagic – Our friend Tracy is a new player and a new DM with tons of interesting stuff to say about what’s fun in games. Plus, as a coding geek, she provides great tools like Downloadable Delves.
Clearly we’re a bit biased about who should win this category (and we’ll be reminding you all about voting when the time comes.) However, I would like to call out some nominated products in other categories. These are not necessarily the products I think will win (I’m guessing that Pathfinder products will pick up most awards). Nor are they even necessarily the “best” product in every category, as I haven’t seen every single thing on the list. These are ones I just recommend you take a look at for your informed voting pleasure.
Best Adventure: Trail of Cthulhu: the Armitage Files. Since picking up the deluxe ToC at last year’s GenCon, I’ve been checking out all the adventures to come out for it. The Armitage Files is almost as un-linear as you can get in an adventure, as the PCs are presented with snippets of a series of letters from Dr. Armitage – when Dr. Armitage himself has no recollection of them. As the letters are given in nearly any order, the PCs put together the overall puzzle. With great design and handouts aplenty, this is a really well done product that I would love to run sometime.
Best Aid or Accessory / Best Miniature Product: Gaming Paper. As called out in our 4e Accessories Guide, this flexible paper is great for making gridded battlemaps in advance or on-the-fly using whatever kind of markers you have.
Best Electronic Book: Shambles. Sure, there are plenty of great RPGs where you hunt, escape from, and kill zombies. How many let you PLAY a zombie and finally eat those pesky humans? Shambles (A Terrible Idea) is what you’re after. Make your zombies using the Lurch, Flail, Clutch, Brawn, Chuck, and Sense attributes, and get to the shambling. The Laff points system ensures that the tone of the game stays fast and loose.
Best Free Product: Lady Blackbird. Airships, pirates, flashbacks, and an evil empire drive this simple game and scenario in one. Well designed, and of course, totally free. One of the highlights of DC Gameday for me.
Best Podcast: While I obviously recommend the NewbieDM Minicast (especially this episode), I also have to recommend everyone check out the Open Design Podcast. With a wide variety of RPG industry guests talking about game design and adventure design, there’s rarely an episode where I don’t learn something. I was sorry to see it go.
Best Production Values: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game. Custom dice of all kinds, double-sided cards for every ability in the game, bigger cards for character generation and tracking, cardboard tokens, a great system for tracking damage and criticals… it’s hard to argue with the production values being top-notch, as expected from Fantasy Flight. What is really impressive is that once in play, the amount of components doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Best Regalia: Cthulhu 101. Ken Hite, gaming’s resident expert on everything, brings this manual for the “Cthuhu-curious” with recommendations for those who have only dipped their toes into the waters of Lovecraft and want a primer for more.
Best Setting: Day After Ragnarok. Available for both Hero System and Savage Worlds, Day After Ragnarok mashes up Pulp adventure with post-apocalyptic fantasy in a world after a mythic WWII caused all kinds of problems for the world as we know it. History and, oh, everything else collide in this familiar but so different world, also by Ken Hite.
Best Supplement: Player’s Handbook 3. Reviewed by Bartoneus here previously, this is the book that brought Psionics back in a new way that still retains the feel of classic psionics while fitting into the 4e framework. Not just new classes and new races, Hybrid classes and Skill Powers move the game forward in new and meaningful ways.
Best Website: Obsidian Portal. The premiere campaign management wiki is also the host of my current campaign’s wiki, and our gracious sponsor for the Dungeon Master Guys podcast. I’ve honestly tried several alternatives, including semi-building my own wiki, and nothing beats the ease of use of OP. Even since they won the gold for Best Website in 2009, they’ve implemented all kinds of new features that have brought the service up considerably.
Best Writing: FantasyCraft. Reviewed previously by The Main Event, this new fantasy OGL game features all kinds of new mechanics and subsystems that bring the heavy “crunch” factor of Spycraft to the D&D base.
Product of the Year: Dragon Age RPG. On top of my review pile for a while now, this boxed set RPG manages to accomplish many things at once, none of them easy. First, it brings the rich world from the video games to the tabletop, providing the setting as a place for heroes to adventure instead of just playing along with the events of the games. Second, it expands on that history for fans. Third, it makes a tabletop game system that allows you to play the kind of characters from the games without a slavish conversion of the mechanics of the video game. Finally, it creates a fast-playing fantasy RPG system that is both simple to learn while still providing interesting tactical decisions in combat, spell-casting, and beyond.
Those are some of my recommendations. Good luck to all the nominees.