2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award Finalists

Baen Books, in association with GenCon, has announced the finalists for the 2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award.

  • “Saurs” by Craig DeLancey
  • “Burning Savannah” by Alexander Monteagudo
  • “Unfound” by Rhiannon Held
  • “Shell Game” by Joseph L. Kellogg
  • “Victor the Sword” by Robin Lupton
  • “Trappists” by Katherine Monasterio
  • “Kiss from a Queen” by Jeff Provine
  • “An Old Dragon’s Treasure” by Robert Russell
  • “The Triton’s Son” by Keith Taylor
  • “Adroit” by Dave Williams

Baen Books bwFinalists will be judged by senior Baen editing staff — including Jim Minz, Tony Daniel and Toni Weisskopf — and special guest judge, best-selling author Larry Correia. The grand prize winner and two runners-up will be announced on August 1 during the award presentation at GenCon in Indianapolis.

The contest, now in its second year, recognizes the short story entries “that best exemplify the spirit of adventure, imagination, and great storytelling in a work of short fiction with a fantastic setting, whether epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, or contemporary fantasy.”

The winning story will be published on website Baen.com.

The 2016 contest will accept submissions beginning January 1. All entries must be received April 1, 2016.  Each entry is limited to a short story of no more than 8,000 words, and there is one entry per author.

ENnies Fill Vacancies Left By Disqualifications

ENnies Award judges have named three nominees to replace the Mass Effect RPG in the three categories where it has been disqualified:

Best Free Product

Valiant RPG Digital Initiative (Catalyst Game Labs)

Best Electronic Book

Dragon Age Core RuleBook (Green Ronin Publishing)

Product of the Year

Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)


Mass Effect Removed as ENnie Nominee

The administrators of Gen Con’s ENnie Awards have disqualified and removed Mass Effect from the ballot in the three categories where it was nominated because of IP violations:

This is a brand new situation for the ENnies – we’ve never had to worry about copyright law before, and the issue has never come up. Our initial position was that publishers and creators are responsible for managing their own legal affairs, and that it was not appropriate for us to assume or interfere other than to hold a basic assumption that entrants had covered their own legal bases and were in compliance with anything they needed to be. For 15 years, that has stood us in good stead, but we recognise that this year’s situation has highlighted a weakness in that system. So thank you for your patience while we figured out what we needed to do. We believe that IP issues are important, and while we are not lawyers, we believe that this product is in violation of basic IP law. We do note that the creator of the product in question does not share that opinion for a number of reasons.

We have also reached out to Bioware/EA, the owners of the Mass Effect IP, and have heard from artists whose work was used in the product, and have established since that some artwork was not used with permission. This is not something we are comfortable endorsing, and we wish we had realised it earlier in the process; however we can make changes now to ensure that we do so in future.

The Mass Effect site creator added a comment supporting the decision:

Greetings, I’m Don Mappin, creator of the work in question. First, I’d like to state that I agree and support Morrus’ decision and that of ENWorld to disqualify the entry. I believe that some very valid points have been made vis-a-vie an unlicensed works inclusion into the ENnies and potential ramifications.

I cannot speak to publisher concerns as none have contacted me, nor has EA/Bioware to date. However, as of last night, after exchanging emails with Morrus and staff, I had reconsidered my position and was prepared to withdraw my nominations, voluntarily. This decision, however, is better, as it allows ENWorld to make clear their position and address the aforementioned concerns forthwith.

The work–licensing not withstanding–was submitted by myself merely as an exercise to have it judged on its merits versus my peers. On that point I believe it did very well, having been selected by the judges as a finalist for Product of the Year (among others). I would like to voice my thanks the judges for doing so and that the quality was in keeping with other entrants.

One statement made by Morrus rang true with me, which was that there was an expectation of good faith on the part of entrants. While I took no steps to hide or misrepresent the work, I believe that I failed the litmus test of good faith in my entry. To the staff of ENworld and the ENnies, my apologies. It was not my intent to cause discord.

I have worked within the RPG industry for many years, professionally. It is a calling that you come to love and one that I have tried to vigorously support, to the extent of sharing a private work that I created for the enjoyment of others. That it might have (or may) cause some damage is saddening to me. As such, of my own decision, I have removed the work and associated files as of today.

Mappin also posted on his Mass Effect site

A quick update: I have taken the Files section offline of my own accord and intend to do so permanently. I will post more details in the coming days.

The award judges will select alternate nominees to replace Mass Effect in the Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year categories before final voting opens on July 4.

[Thanks to Jon F. Zeigler for the story.]

2015 ENnie Award Nominees and Spotlight Winners

Ennies_medal_gold CROPNominees for the ENnies, the Gen Con EN World RPG Awards, and Judges Spotlight Winners have been announced. The ENnies celebrate excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming. Voting runs from July 4 to July 14. The winners will be presented July 31.

Judges’ Spotlight Winners

Best Adventure

Best Aid/Accessory

Best Art, Cover

Best Art, Interior

Best Blog

Best Cartography

Best Electronic Book

Best Family Game

Best Free Product

Best Game

Best Miniature Product

Best Monster/Adversary

Best Podcast

Best Production Values

Best RPG Related Product

Best Rules

Best Setting

Best Software

Best Supplement

Best Website

Best Writing

Product of the Year

(**) Nominee replaced Mass Effect

Update 06/30/2015: Mass Effect has been removed as a nominee in three categories. Replacement nominees will be selected. See details here. // The three new nominees have been announced. They have been added above.

Gen Con Responds to Signing of SB 101

Gen Con CEO and owner Adrian Swartout issued a follow-up letter today after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed SB101.

Backers describe SB 101 as ”religious freedom” legislation that could protect business owners who don’t want to provide services for same-sex couples.

The key message of CEO Swartout’s letter is that Gen Con will fulfill its contract, attendees may get an even warmer response from the host city, and the decision to stay or move is far from made –

We have a contract with the city of Indianapolis through 2020. Gen Con is an economically impactful event for locally owned businesses in the Indy community which for more than a decade have embraced us as guests. Due to specific dialog with long-time partners in Indy, we believe that Gen Con attendees not only will receive the same great service and hospitality in 2015, but an even warmer response from the city. For as long as we stay in Indianapolis, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with this community, expand our efforts to bring more diversity to Gen Con, and welcome all.

I hope that you’ll join us at Gen Con, which will be inclusive and fun. Prospective attendees, if you don’t feel comfortable attending, based upon your principals, we invite you to make the decision that feels right for you, your business or group. We support your decision, regardless of the outcome.

What does the future hold for Gen Con in 2021 and beyond?  Planning and bidding for our convention is a long-term process that begins five years prior to contract-term commencement. Discussions, whether to remain in Indy or move elsewhere, have begun.

The full text of the letter follows the jump.

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Gen Con Threatens To Move If Indiana Governor Signs Religious Freedom Bill

Indiana’s governor is expected to sign ”religious freedom” legislation this week that could protect business owners who don’t want to provide services for same-sex couples, despite a threat by Gen Con to move out of state if the law is enacted.

Gen Con is held annually in Indianapolis and bills itself as the ”best-attended gaming convention in the world”, drawing 56,000 last year, and with an annual economic impact on the host city estimated at over $50 million.

Gen Con chair Adrian Swartout’s public letter to the governor stressed the benefits of welcoming people of all backgrounds:

Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.

…Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.

We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.

Few sf conventions have the clout to make demands. In America’s largest cities a major science fiction con may not even be the biggest convention in town on a given weekend. In contrast, Gen Con is evidently the Indiana Convention Center’s biggest annual show.

However, Gen Con is under contract to hold the conference in Indianapolis through 2020. Conference spokeswoman Stacia Kirby told the Indiapolis Star there are no plans to break the contract, merely that the state’s adoption of the measure would factor into future decisions.

Gen Con’s strong appeal on behalf of diversity may come as a surprise to fans who only know about it from the kerfuffles it has inspired. In 2014, Tor.com pointed to the convention as an illustration of gaming’s “race problem”, triggering Larry Correia’s massive takedown “No Tor.com, Gen Con Isn’t Racist. A Fisking”. By calling out the governor over SB 101, Gen Con shows Correia’s faith in them was justified.

Talking Past Each Other

Larry Correia and Tor.com are whatever is the opposite of pals, and after spending a weekend as special guest at GenCon Correia had all the incentive he needed to loose his rhetorical artillery on Tor.com’s post “Gaming’s Race Problem: GenCon and Beyond” by A. A. George.

In “No, Tor.com, GenCon Isn’t Racist. A Fisking”, Correia does everything he can think of to discredit the allegations of racism.

Fisking is defined by Eric S. Raymond as

a point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form.

So first Correia quotes a line or two from Tor.com. Then he delivers his retort. The piece is very long. These points and counterpoints from near the end of the post are typical. George’s lines are in regular script, Correia writes his in boldface. (“SJW” means “Social Justice Warrior” and is used disdainfully. Not that you wouldn’t have figured that out.)

Do not use people of color as a form of marketing.

Another double edged sword of Social Justice. So you’ve got an RPG. Let’s say you put some non-white looking characters on the art. You could easily be praised for this, or you could somehow anger them and be attacked for “tokenism” or “cultural appropriation”. Flip a coin. Either way, I’m sure Tor.com will run an article about how you’re racist.

  • Reach out to minority groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.

Holy crap yes. In this entire thing I finally found something I agree whole heartedly agree with!

However George left something off. After you invite them MAKE IT FUN. Sadly, SJWs can even suck the fun out of Guardians of the Galaxy, so it is up to us people who aren’t total psychopaths to invite more people, because if a regular person goes with a SJW then the whole con is going to be Diversity Panels, until the guest escapes out a window.

The tragedy of all the posturing is that Correia’s readers go away satisfied there’s “nothing to look at here” while the Tor.com readers probably won’t even look at Correia’s post, much less read between the lines to see his (possibly unintended) recipe for making gaming conventions more diverse.

(Y’know, there might be a panel in this for Smofcon. And since I happen to be doing programming for this year’s Smofcon. Hmmm.)