Monday, July 21, 2014

ENnie Awards - The Beautiful Agony

Being nominated for an ENnie Award is a big deal for a little publisher.  For those not familiar with the process, publishers of roleplaying game, podcasts, websites and the like can submit their products from the previous year for consideration by a panel of elected judges.  The Judges then read each publication, and debate amongst themselves which 5 of these products are sufficiently awesome to be nominated for an award (and in which category).  For a really interesting insight into the process of being an ENnie Judge, you might like to read this account on the Iron Tavern.

Once the nominees are announced the public have 10 days to vote for their favourites, with the top two products in each category being awarded a prize at the ENnie Awards Ceremony held at Gen Con.

Both of these mechanisms  are a little controversial - the selection of nominees is obviously a subjective assessment, albeit moderated somewhat by a group of people.  The voting process meanwhile is often seen as a popularity contest, with the big publishers being able to mobilise overwhelming support.

Last year EPOCH products were nominated in 4 categories (Best Rules, Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product & Product of the Year) and these nominations were both very gratifying and proved a big boost to interest in the game.

This year I was extremely pleased that War Stories, a collection of 5 scenarios set during wartime (a 155 page book or PDF with an RRP of $7.99, currently half price)  was nominated in the category of Best Adventure.  I was particularly proud when I reviewed the other 4 nominated titles:
  • Eternal Lies; an epic campaign for Trail of Cthulhu  (a 400-page hardback book or a 396-page PDF with an RRP of $49.95)
  • The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man, A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu (a 294-page book or PDF with an RRP of $49.99)
  • Rise of the Drow, a mega-module for Pathfinder (a book of nearly 500 pages, with an RRP of $41.99 or $99 in print)
  • Razor Coast - Heart of the Razor, a collection of four adventures for Pathfinder (a 160 page book currently available for $29.99)
Some serious competition to say the least! All of these look like great products (so much so that I already own the first two).  So how does War Stories stack up? 
  • The first scenario in the book is FROM ABOVE AND BELOW, by Marcus Bone.  A thrilling plunge into the darkness and the horror that lurks beneath the trenches of the Western Front during the Great War.  I had a great time playtesting this scenario, and would love to try running it in the dark with each player wearing a head-lamp that is extinguished when their character is eliminated.
  • Next up is THE COLDEST WINTER by Mike Sands which thrusts the characters into the hostile climate and freezing forest in a brutal struggle for survival during the Russian invasion of Finland.  When I ran this game it had the feel of a true Russian epic which spanned the entire war experience for the surviving characters, and culminated in a suitably bleak ending.
  • Then it's HOME FRONT, Andrew Millar's homage to Dad's Army where the well-meaning Home Guard of the British village of Blakely are sent to secure the wreckage of a German bomber.  Although this scenario is truly creepy, I most remember the Inglorious Basterds style shootout, which was the epic climax to the tensions between the characters. 
  • Next is my scenario MASS DESTRUCTION which blends modern catastrophe with ancient evil, and which I've recently ran at Kapcon to good effect.
  • Finally, Liam Jones presents BEHIND THE MASK OF EVIL which draws on his own experiences of Peace operations in the Congo and adds a supernatural twist.  I loved playing this so much I used our playtests as an example of how to structure flashbacks.
So, although these scenarios were contributed by friends,  I think they've delivered an excellent package which will provide you with hours of quality gaming.  Can we win?  No. Like many small games EPOCH simply doesn't have a fan-base which can compete in a popular vote.  But I think it's clear that just being nominated is a victory in its own right.   

Voting for the 2014 ENnie Awards is open for the next 10 days, so no matter who you vote for, spend a few minutes to participate in the Beautiful Agony that is the ENnie Awards.


  1. I voted for EPOCH, Warbirds and Tenra Bansho. Most of the mainstream nominations this year were a little disappointing.

  2. Thanks squire. I haven't checked out Fate Core or Numenera as neither interests me, but there has been a lot of buzz about them, so I think the nominations picks this up.

  3. FATE Snore and Nunamana are pretty solid RPGs and very popular, but not my cup o' tea ;)

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