2019 Diana Jones Award

The winner of the 2019 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was announced tonight in Indianapolis —

  • Star Crossed, a role-playing game by Alex Roberts, published by Bully Pulpit Games

The Diana Jones Award is given to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the opinion of the Diana Jones committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobby-gaming in the previous year.

Star Crossed: The Two-Player Game of Forbidden Love

2019 Diana Jones Award Shortlist

Four nominees for the 2019 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming have been announced — three games and a book.

  • Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana, a book by Mike Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Sam Witwer, published by Ten Speed Press
  • Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr, a board game by Michael Fox and Rory O’Connor, published by Hub Games
  • The Mind, a card game by Wolfgang Warsch, published by NSV GmbH and Pandasaurus Games
  • Star Crossed, a role-playing game by Alex Roberts, published by Bully Pulpit Games

The award is given to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the opinion of the Diana Jones committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobby-gaming in the previous year.

The winner will be named July 31, the night before the Gen Con games convention opens to the public.

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

2018 Diana Jones Award


The winner of the 2018 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming is Actual Play.

The award is given to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the opinion of the Diana Jones committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobby-gaming in the previous year.

Actual Play is a movement within hobby games in which people record and broadcast their game sessions — particularly campaigns of tabletop roleplaying games — over the internet. Primary examples include Critical Role (a weekly show for Geek & Sundry), The Adventure Zone (a biweekly show for Maximum Fun), Maze Arcana (a biweekly D&D show featuring Satine Phoenix and Ruty Rutenberg), Acquisitions, Inc. (an irregular D&D show by Penny Arcade), the One Shot and Campaigns Podcasts on the One Shot Network (by James D’Amato and Kat Kuhl), and a variety of shows produced by Geek & Sundry.

This list could go on for pages. There are hundreds of these shows, each with a dedicated audience. Some are arguably more popular than the games their members play within them.

Actual Play shows — whether broadcast via audio, video or both — have done more to popularize roleplaying games than anything since the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, and in a far more positive way. They take RPGs out of the basement and put them on the world stage, showing a global audience exactly how much fun roleplaying games can be when played by talented people who are fully invested in their shared stories.

More than that, Actual Play can help gamers become better gamers. Game designers have long bemoaned the fact that it’s impossible to put themselves into the box to show people how to have the most fun while playing their games. Actual Play gives players of all skill levels full-bore examples of how to get the most out of their own games, presented in a format that’s easy to share and enjoy.

Actual Play puts the focus on the fun. It inspires gamers new and old to start up games of their own, or to improve the games they’re already running. Roleplaying game sessions have been described as twenty minutes of fun packed into four hours, but Actual Play demonstrates how players and game masters can become amazing and fine practitioners of this challenging and ephemeral art. They take what many of us have known in our private lives for years and make it obvious for everyone to see: gaming is perhaps the best kind of fun.

The Diana Jones Award Committee is proud to declare that Actual Play exemplifies excellence in gaming, and to award it our trophy this year.

The 2018 Award was presented at the annual Diana Jones Party, an industry-only event held at the Tin Roof in Indianapolis on August 1m, the night before the Gen Con games convention opened to the public.

Representing the Actual Play community, Satine Phoenix, Ruty Rutenberg, James D’Amato, and Ivan Van Norman accepted the Diana Jones trophy from Adrian Swartout, who had accepted the trophy on behalf of Gen Con last year.

2018 Diana Jones Award Shortlist

Five nominees for the 2018 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming have been announced — two games, an academic journal, a competition, and RPG streaming

The award is given to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the opinion of the Diana Jones committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobby-gaming in the previous year.

The winner will be named August 1, the night before the Gen Con games convention opens to the public.

  • The 200 Word RPG Challenge

A competition organised by David Schirduan and Marshall Miller

Started by accident in 2015, the annual 200 Word RPG Challenge attracts entries from all over the world — almost seven hundred in 2017, a quarter of them from people who had never designed an RPG before. Despite the tight constraint, the variety and quality of entries are extraordinary, from OSR micro-rewrites to games that are political, satirical, surreal and avant-garde. All entries are posted on the Challenge’s website and released under a Creative Commons licence, allowing other designers to work with them. It’s an outpouring of creativity, a melting-pot of influences, a foundry of new design talent, and the three winners showcase the possibilities of what an RPG can do.

https://200wordrpg.github.io/

  • Actual Play

Actual Play is a movement within hobby-games in which people record and broadcast their games — usually campaigns of roleplaying games — on the internet. Primary examples include Critical Role (a weekly show for Geek and Sundry) and The Adventure Zone (a biweekly show for Maximum Fun). Such shows have done more to popularize roleplaying games than anything since the Satanic Panic of the 1980s — and in a far more positive way. They take RPGs out of the basement and put them on the world stage, showing a global audience exactly how much fun roleplaying games can be when played by talented people who are fully invested in their shared stories.

  • Analog Game Studies

A journal edited by Aaron Trammell, Evan Torner, Shelley Jones and Emma Leigh Waldron

Analog Game Studies is a ‘journal dedicated to the academic and popular study of games containing a substantial analog component’. Over the last four years the journal has established itself as a place where scholars of non-digital games discuss their research in an accessible manner. Furthermore, Analog Game Studies has a wide readership, comes out reliably, the editorial process is fast, and the editors capable. It is an important scholarly voice in the analytical tradition discussing hobby games that has, in the past, included sites such as Interactive Fantasy, The Forge, and the Knutepunkt books. The journal is freely available online, but it also produces annual printed books of the year’s content.

http://analoggamestudies.org/

  • Charterstone

A board game designed by Jamey Stegmaier, published by Stonemaier Games

In Charterstone the players play charters hired to create a village for the Forever King, competing for the king’s favour by being the best at developing the village and dealing with curveballs the king throws their way. Charterstone is simultaneously a worker-placement game and a legacy game, and demonstrates state-of-the-art design and rich, enjoyable playability in both. Significantly, when the legacy campaign is finished you’re left with a one-of-a-kind worker-placement game that is now stable for infinite replay as a normal board game. Or, as the village board is printed identically on both sides, when you’ve finished the legacy campaign you can buy a ‘recharge pack’ and play it again on the other side. This clear-sighted approach to games design lifts Charterstone to the top of its league.

https://stonemaiergames.com/games/charterstone/

  • Harlem Unbound

A roleplaying game sourcebook by Chris Spivey, published by Darker Hue Studios

In Harlem Unbound, Chris Spivey and his helpers (Bob Geist, Ruth Tillman, Alex Mayo, Sarah Hood, and Neall Raemonn Price) bring Call of Cthulhu/Trail of Cthulhu out of Innsmouth and set it squarely in 1920s Harlem, turning the racism endemic in H. P. Lovecraft’s writings squarely on its head. While most games dodge the issues of racism, often claiming it not suitable for gaming, Harlem Unbound places them front and center and focuses the spotlight on them until they begin to smoke and burn. It’s an important book in that it takes games as a serious art form in which such matters can be explored, plumbed, and — if we’re lucky — understood.

http://www.darkerhuestudios.com/shop/harlem-unbound-core-book

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

2017 Diana Jones Award

The winner of the 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was announced on August 16, the day before the start of Gen Con, in Indianapolis.

The winner is:

 

Gen Con A games convention

Gen Con is a fifty-year-old game convention originally organized in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, by Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. Now accurately billed as ‘The Best Four Days in Gaming’, under the stewardship of Adrian Swartout Gen Con has become the key annual gathering for the entire worldwide tabletop gaming hobby. Not simply long-lived and highly regarded, Gen Con’s greatest impact lies in showcasing, year after year, the amazing diversity of gaming’s events, people, commerce, and camaraderie.

 

The Award was decided by judges whose names are generally secret, except for Peter Adkison, Matt Forbeck, John Kovalic and James Wallis, who have revealed their panel membership.

The award winner receives the Diana Jones trophy, which they may keep for a year before it passes to the next winner of the Award. They and the other nominees receive the right to use the Diana Jones Award logo for promotional purposes.

As for how that misshapen lump of plastic filled with scorched bits came to be the award trophy —

The Diana Jones trophy was originally created by the UK office of TSR Hobbies in the mid-1980s, to commemorate the expiration of that company’s licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game. It was liberated from TSR Hobbies by forces unnamed and subsequently came into the custody of a member of the Diana Jones committee.

The trophy is a four-sided pyramid made of Perspex, standing ten centimetres high and mounted on a wooden base. Sealed within the Perspex are the burnt remains of the last copy of the Indiana Jones RPG, including two still-recognizable cardboard ‘Nazi™’ figures, as recorded in gaming folklore.

The Diana Jones committee believes that a trophy that embodies the destruction of the last copy of one of the games industry’s most unloved and least-mourned products is a suitable symbol for the aims of the Diana Jones Award.

2017 Diana Jones Award Shortlist

Six nominees for the 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming have been announced — two board games, a card game, a role-playing game, a LARP, and a convention.

The winner will be named August 16, the day before the start of Gen Con, in Indianapolis.

The 2017 nominees are:

The Beast A card game by Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil W?grzynowicz , published by Naked Female Giant

The Beast is an unsettling, erotic journaling game for one player. Each day for twenty-one days you turn up a card with a prompt on it and write a response in your journal. The game takes you deep into imagining a disturbing, secret sexual relationship you have with a beast. If there’s one thing you don’t see much of in hobby games it’s meaningful interior narratives, but The Beast‘s weird, unique brew of dark transgressions, playing as a fictional version of yourself, and journaling the results somehow surfaces real untold truths in us about how the world works, and how relationships work, and what’s important in life. The Beast is memorable, transgressive, and procedurally and thematically unlike anything else you may have played.

End of the Line A LARP by Bjarke Pedersen, Juhana Pettersson and Martin Elricsson

End of the Line is the most interesting thing to happen in Vampire for a long while. It combines two decades long traditions of LARP, American Masquerade and Nordic style LARPing. This cross-pollination proved rejuvenating for the twenty-five-year-old system and mythos bringing it back to its roots of personal horror (everyone is prey in the World of Darkness) and simplifying and intensifying the interaction codes (new safety and calibration rules). Together these created visceral play experienced on both sides of the Atlantic, in Helsinki, New Orleans, and Berlin.

Gen Con A games convention

Gen Con is a fifty-year-old game convention originally organized in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, by Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. Now accurately billed as ‘The Best Four Days in Gaming’, under the stewardship of Adrian Swartout Gen Con has become the key annual gathering for the entire worldwide tabletop gaming hobby. Not simply long-lived and highly regarded, Gen Con’s greatest impact lies in showcasing, year after year, the amazing diversity of gaming’s events, people, commerce, and camaraderie.

Gloomhaven A board game by Isaac Chidress, published by Cephalofair Games

In the dark world of Gloomhaven, players take on the roles of adventurers — each with their own unique skill set — to take on a sprawling adventure that sends you all over the expansive world. The game features a legacy-style, persistent adventure that spans nearly one hundred scenarios in which adventurers gain experience to unlock new abilities and eventually retire to be replaced by one of the game’s sixteen other characters. The fresh game mechanism of choosing two character powers per turn makes for tough choices when handling each challenge. Gloomhaven encompasses designer Isaac Childress’s lifelong dream of a ‘monster’ game in a huge box, with crowdfunding having made this game a reality and the success of the first printing drawing in tens of thousands of new supporters who also want to explore this unique and groundbreaking creation.

The Romance Trilogy Role-playing games by Emily Care Boss, published by Black & Green Games

Though a staple element of the stories we base our narratives on, romantic interaction was neglected in roleplaying practice–until Emily Care Boss trained her sights on this longstanding gap. Starting in 2005, her indie-format games Breaking the Ice, Shooting the Moon and Under the Skin earned acclaim, built a dedicated play community and blazed a trail for other designers. 2016’s publication of the gorgeous, much expanded valedictory collection, The Romance Trilogy, acts as both a mission statement and a platform to further explore the implications of the original three games. Its publication gives the committee the opportunity to recognize Emily’s enormous contribution to tabletop roleplaying.

Terraforming Mars A board game by Jacob Fryxelius, published by Fryxgames

In Terraforming Mars you play corporations hired by the government in the 25th century to prepare Mars for human habitation. The scope of the setting is mind-boggling, with each turn representing one generation of human life, and progress measured by oxygen content in the atmosphere, average surface temperature, and bodies of water. Every turn each player can acquire up to four new cards representing technologies, events, industrial complexes, and epic projects that facilitate a dramatic expanse of options, like building cities, introducing plant life, hurling asteroids at the surface, or mining the moons of Jupiter. A large stack of cards to draw from guarantees that no two games are the same, and the new draws each turn mean new options throughout the entire game. There are numerous fun little combos, enough that everyone will get a couple of them going, without any of them being game-breaking. And, unlike many development games, Terraforming Mars lasts enough turns that you’ll have time to actually use your combos–which makes the game incredibly fun even when you’re losing.

[Via SF Site News.]

2015 ENnies Presented at Gen Con

The 2015 Gen Con EN World RPG Awards were announced July 31 in Indianapolis.

Best Adventure
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)

Best Aid/Accessory
Silver: Black Green Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG Dice Set (Q-Workshop)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Screen (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Cover Art
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Rise of Tiamat (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Interior Art
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Blog
Silver: Gnome Stew
Gold: ConTessa Tabletop Gaming by Women for Everyone

Best Cartography
Silver: The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
Gold: Ninth World Guidebook (Monte Cook Games, LLC)

Best Electronic Book
Silver: Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2 (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Family Game
Silver: Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Free Product
Silver: 13th Age The Archmages Orrery (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Game
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Miniatures Product
Silver: Pathfinder Pawns Inner Sea Pawn Box (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Icons of the Realms Elemental Evil Boosters (WizKids)

Best Monster/Adversary
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Podcast
Silver: Miskatonic University Podcast
Gold: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

Best Production Values
Silver: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best RPG Related Product
Silver: Temple of Elemental Evil (WizKids)
Gold: Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)

Best Rules
Silver: MUTANT Year Zero The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Setting

Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Best Software
Silver: HeroLab (Lone Wolf Development)
Gold: Roll20 (Roll 20)

Best Supplement
Silver: Pathfinder RPG: Pathfinder Unchained (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Website
Silver: Tabletop Audio
Gold: The Escapist

Best Writing
Silver: D&D Player’s Handbook by Jeremy Crawford, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell (Wizards of the Coast)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher
Silver: Paizo Inc
Gold: Wizards of the Coast.

Product Of The Year
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

2016 ENnies Judges
Jakub Nowosad, Kayra KeriKupcu, Kiel Cheiner, Kurt Wiegel, Stacy Muth

Also announced during GenCon:

The Diana Jones Award for excellence in gaming

  • Guide to Glorantha, a role-playing sourcebook by Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Sandy Petersen, published by Moon Design Publications.