Congratulations to the 2017 Gen Con EN World RPG Award Winners!
  • Congratulations to the 2017 Gen Con EN World RPG Award Winners!


    Tonight, at Gen Con in Indianapolis, the 17th Annual Gen Con EN World Awards (ENnies) ceremony took place. Congratulations go to all the nominees, and to this year's award winners! The ENnies are an annual award program celebrating the best that tabletop roleplaying games have to offer, created in 2001.





    2018 Judges

    • Brian Nowak
    • Denise Robinson
    • Kurt Weigel
    • Reece Carter
    • Sean McCoy

    Best Adventure


    Best Aid/Accessory


    Best Cover Art


    Best Interior Art


    Best Blog


    Best Cartography


    Best Electronic Book


    Best Family Game


    Best Free Product


    Best Game

    Best Miniatures Product


    Best Monster/Adversary


    Best Podcast


    Best Production Values


    Best RPG Related Product


    Best Rules


    Best Setting


    Best Supplement


    Best Website


    Best Writing


    Fan's Choice for Best Publisher

    • Gold: Wizards of the Coast
    • Silver: Chaosium

    Product Of The Year





    This article was originally published in forum thread: Congratulations to the 2017 Gen EN World RPG Award Winners! started by Morrus View original post
    Comments 77 Comments
    1. Ghal Maraz's Avatar
      Ghal Maraz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zak S View Post
      Mike rules.
      Evans?
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ghal Maraz View Post
      Evans?
      Yeah, Mike Evans, author of the Ennie-award-winning Hubris.

      He flipped everyone off. It was great.

      Raggi was like "Man, how are we gonna top that?"
    1. Cody C. Lewis's Avatar
      Cody C. Lewis -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zak S View Post
      Yeah, Mike Evans, author of the Ennie-award-winning Hubris.

      He flipped everyone off. It was great.

      Raggi was like "Man, how are we gonna top that?"
      IDK, how about getting 4 floors of people to complain about noise....

      ;-)
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cody C. Lewis View Post
      IDK, how about getting 4 floors of people to complain about noise....

      ;-)

      Well it was only because Mike was there causing trouble--I personally told everyone "inside voices". There's recorded video evidence!

      Datapoint:

      The big winners outside the OSR this year were:

      -Tales from the Loop (mostly Swedish people who didn't show up)--which was only one guy.

      -Chaosium with Cthulhu--and when I invited Greg Stafford to our party he smiled and said he was going to bed.

      -Ken Hite as always (who came to our party)

      and

      -John Wick presents (who came to our party)

      plus the ABCs of RPGs crew came and the guys from Monte Cook Productions came

      ....so it's pretty safe to say that even though we only won 5 ennies, OSR definitely threw the best party.

      Somebody outdo us next year--and invite us. Party planning is hard.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by chibi graz'zt View Post
      WotC could clearly care less, they've been to busy attending much better conventions of late :-)
      What other better attended RPG conventions are there?
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      What other better attended RPG conventions are there?
      According to Mearls at the bar on Saturday night, the thing is:

      Cons are about wandering past the booth and going "Hey what's that!?!" and there's nobody at Gen Con who goes "Hey, what's this? Dungeons and......Dra...gons?" and so WOTC just doesn't get as much out of doing cons as other companies do.

      People from WOTC still hang out (he was there running games) but just not "officially".
    1. Cam Banks's Avatar
      Cam Banks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ghal Maraz View Post
      What I'm seeing here is a lot of small-to-medium press and indie publishers, quite a lot of non-US games and/or publishers (and this particular thing I really love) and the continual impact of crowfunding on the industry.
      Exactly. Folks would be shocked (shocked!) to find out that without successful crowdfunding campaigns and the hard work of lots of freelancers, 90% of game publishers in the RPG business wouldn't be producing games at all. The gap between "dude who does it all by himself and publishes PDFs on DriveThru" and "people who publish that big glossy game book the kids are talking about" is tiny, for all that it may appear sometimes that it's much wider.

      Or, as the saying goes, if you want to make a million bucks in the RPG business, start with two million bucks.

      Cheers,
      Cam
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cam Banks View Post
      The gap between "dude who does it all by himself and publishes PDFs on DriveThru" and "people who publish that big glossy game book the kids are talking about" is tiny, for all that it may appear sometimes that it's much wider.
      There are significant differences between the established presses and Mike Evans at DIY RPG or Raggi at LotFP. The differences in cashflow are huge:

      Green Ronin had the DC Comics license and a link to Critical Role.

      Margaret Weis had the Marvel Comics license (it costs at least 6 figures) and the Smallville license.

      Atlas Games has established IP like Unknown Armies, Feng Shui, etc

      Evil Hat had, of course, the Dresden Files and Atomic Robo IP.

      And the list of personnel working on these books is huge, Unknown Armies had like more than 10 authors.

      The fact that genuinely tiny publishers like LotFP are more winning awards than these folks and selling out print runs from the smallest booths you can get at Gen Con is a big deal--they have the deck completely stacked against them.

      And, yeah, you could say they're relying on D&Ds ip, but they're also out-competing the other 3rd party publishers doing that plus Paizo and actual WOTC's D&D supplements.
    1. Cam Banks's Avatar
      Cam Banks -
      Setting aside for the moment that you don't appear to know as much about this business as you think, it really doesn't matter to the fans if one person puts food on their family's table from publishing a book or fifty. Awards are a recognition of a book's popularity and awareness among the fan community. There's never any guarantee that a new edition of a game or a group effort is going to appeal to folks as much as a small press solo effort. I'm sorry if you think I'm trying to steal any of James' thunder, but it's weird to keep seeing people try to claim mainstream publishers are The Man, raking in the dough. I've been doing this for 15 years, I am not well off. The only reason I'm even able to go to Gen Con is because it's work and they cover the travel and rooms.

      Good news though! I have a small press solo creator indie game coming out next year so who knows.

      Cheers,
      Cam
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cam Banks View Post
      it's weird to keep seeing people try to claim mainstream publishers are The Man, raking in the dough. I've been doing this for 15 years, I am not well off. The only reason I'm even able to go to Gen Con is because it's work and they cover the travel and rooms.
      I never said more mainstream publishers with legacy IP and impressive licenses were raking in the dough.

      I'm asking why, with so many structural advantages over the littler guy, you aren't.

      Because we're doing alright over here.

      But more than that, I want to recognize how generous and engaged and thoughtful the fans have been in taking a chance on something like a Willy-Wonka D&D adventure that's being smeared online as some kind of secret perv project: they are the ones who made this possible, they're the ones who recognize when something is missing, when they're being underserved, when they see new talent.

      James and Kiel and Jeff and Mike Evans couldn't just show up and make a decent thing and wrap it in a nice hardcover and expect a rave response: printing is cheap in 2017. We needed fans who realized that they had risked something real (in many cases, due to online backlash, very substantive damage to their means of livelihood, in other cases, simply quitting dayjobs just to write or draw games with absolutely no safety net) in order to bring them something more interesting and more humanly engaged than what you get when freelancers are paid by the word, and it's been gratifying after all these years to see it pay off.

      We had a whole hall full of people shouting WE LOVE YOU JEFF--and that means something---it means that all the extra blood sweat and tears people put in can't just be reduced to "one more indie product". We have the attention of the people we made these things for--and that is what matters, because those are the people who will make the next generation of things.

      And that's when it becomes a rising tide that lifts all boats--when people stop scrambling for magic tickets and jealously guarding them and start manufacturing them en masse and handing them over to anybody with energy and a good idea.
    1. Cam Banks's Avatar
      Cam Banks -
      You are literally describing the history of this business. We all start as fans. We are all inspired by the hard work and sacrifices of those who come before us. We all make spectacular mistakes and occasionally create spectacular things. I wish you'd see that as something we all have in common, from the Ken St Andres and Frank Mentzers of the early days to the Eloy Lasantas and Shoshana Kessocks of today.

      Peace,
      Cam
    1. Jeffrey Moeller's Avatar
      Jeffrey Moeller -
      On behalf of Stygian Fox, I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for us for making my frickin' year. Steph, Simon and I literally are the guys who get 10K on KSers and do pdfs on DriveThru and had no booth at all. It's still a mountain to climb, but we always say we wouldn't exist without DT and KS and it's true; that's what enables us to have a shot, otherwise the barriers to entry are just too expensive and too high. Yeah, we're all industry freelancers who have been around for a long time and can round up a crew of other long time freelancers and get a book done, and Steph is just plain talented at graphic arts, but we're thrilled to have gone up against the big companies and done well. PS I voted for Blood in the Chocolate as best adventure, congrats again LotFP :-)
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cam Banks View Post
      You are literally describing the history of this business. We all start as fans. We are all inspired by the hard work and sacrifices of those who come before us. We all make spectacular mistakes and occasionally create spectacular things I wish you'd see that as something we all have in common, from the Ken St Andres and Frank Mentzers of the early days to the Eloy Lasantas and Shoshana Kessocks of today.

      Peace,
      Cam
      I think when the conversation gets to a thing like "we all occasionally create spectacular things" and all struggles are equal and all mistakes are equal you're no longer talking about human beings, just trying to use language to stop a conversation about specific dynamics going on here and now.

      Kiel is a queer creator who wrote a queer adventure and overcame a lot of prejudice about being queer and harassment directed at him because of that and won a mainstream gaming popularity contest. That is a specific struggle with a specific outcome that speaks to the perseverance of a specific talent in the face of specific people who would prefer he specifically fail. And the reasons they want him to fail are worse than many other reasons they might have.

      That isn't the story of everyone.

      Nor is Shoshana Kessock's story: she overcame tremendous physical disabiity to get where she was and produce the good work she's produced, like "Keeping the Candles Lit". That is also not the story of everyone. To pretend it is would be to do her a disservice.

      etc etc

      There are real things that really happened in the Ennies in 2017 and real obstacles genuinely overcome by real people. They are all to be commended but not all of their struggles or talents or gambles are equal.

      Some creators (like Raggi) have integrity in the face of more powerful people trying to mess with them, some don't. Some creators are wildly original (like Patrick Stuart), some are not. Some are overcoming structural obstacles (like Shoshana), some are not. Some are making work wayyyyy outside what's usually acceptable in the RPG space (like Scrap Princess), some are not.

      If we lose track of these things, we lose track of the ability to articulate what is going on at all. We can only speak in platitudes and literally buy nothing or everything.
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Moeller View Post
      On behalf of Stygian Fox, I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for us for making my frickin' year. Steph, Simon and I literally are the guys who get 10K on KSers and do pdfs on DriveThru and had no booth at all. It's still a mountain to climb, but we always say we wouldn't exist without DT and KS and it's true; that's what enables us to have a shot, otherwise the barriers to entry are just too expensive and too high. Yeah, we're all industry freelancers who have been around for a long time and can round up a crew of other long time freelancers and get a book done, and Steph is just plain talented at graphic arts, but we're thrilled to have gone up against the big companies and done well. PS I voted for Blood in the Chocolate as best adventure, congrats again LotFP :-)
      I was surprised how few people wanted to pronounce "Stygian". Good job up there!
    1. Cam Banks's Avatar
      Cam Banks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zak S View Post
      There are real things that really happened in the Ennies in 2017 and real obstacles genuinely overcome by real people. They are all to be commended but not all of their struggles or talents or gambles are equal. The world is a complex place.
      I'm glad we agree on this.

      Cheers,
      Cam
    1. Kiel_C's Avatar
      Kiel_C -
      My ears are burning.

      I am overjoyed and incredibly thankful that Blood in the Chocolate won best adventure. This was my first professional TRPG project, and to have it be recognized like this is amazing. My full thank you's are all online here.

      I do want to echo Zak's sentiments about me and BitC though. What I've been through since the nomination hasn't been easy.

      I'n the past couple months I've been doxed, received dozens of hate messages regarding my sexuality (I'm openly bi), my mental health, my work, my preferences, and I've had to watch a slander campaign rise up against me. And these aren't just 'critiques' of my book, a lot of them are directed at me personally.

      While this is a lot for anyone to weather, I have to imagine that having a larger company (even an independent one) at one's back to support their work and their position must make it a little easier to bear. I've had no one in this regard.

      All of Blood in the Chocolate's press and marketing is my own (except for what James and Jason have shared on social media on their own time). It's just my blog, my twitter, and my G+ page (all of which are my personal accounts) so when others looked to attack someone over it, they attacked me directly. Not so much LotFP, or even James Raggi, but me personally. And it's been some pretty vile and vicious stuff.

      To have my book be recognized as the best adventure of 2017, in spite of everything I've had to deal with, is a wonderful feeling and a big shot in the arm.

      Here's the big takeaway: It has also afforded me another chance to encourage independent game designers to pursue their passion projects and to offer all the haters an alternative to their slandering of me: "If you don't like my work, make something better!"

      The only big IP-based book that won awards (I think?) this year was CoC, and that is public domain anyway! Independent works, books made by a singular weirdo or a handful of people, seem to be garnering more and more attention, financial success, and accolades. If winning an ENnie affords me even just a bit of a platform, I want to use it to shout "Hey! Indie game devs! Now is the time! Write and design and publish the thing you're most passionate about! If I can succeed at this on my first try, so can you!"
    1. Kiel_C's Avatar
      Kiel_C -
      [QUOTE=PS I voted for Blood in the Chocolate as best adventure, congrats again LotFP :-)[/QUOTE]

      Thank you! I really appreciate it! And thank you to anyone reading this who voted for BitC too.

      Hopefully this isn't too self-aggrandizing, but if anyone here is interested I wrote a blog series about the behind the scenes process of pitching, writing, designing, mapping, laying out, and delivering Blood in the Chocolate. I'm still relatively new to writing TRPGs, but I've noticed almost no one publicly talks about how the sausage gets made beyond an occasional bit of concept art or panel talk.

      This is another benefit of working with independent creators: not being tied up in NDA's that don't expire for years. No shade in that statement, just an observation from someone who's been on both sides of that, and appreciates being able to talk about the process after the fact.
    1. mearls -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zak S View Post
      I never said more mainstream publishers with legacy IP and impressive licenses were raking in the dough.

      I'm asking why, with so many structural advantages over the littler guy, you aren't.
      Smaller or one-man operations have more advantages over mid-tier publishers than disadvantages.

      Example 1: If you sell to distributors, they expect you to commit to and hit specific release dates. Miss them and your product is in trouble - orders cancelled or significantly cut back. If you sell direct to gamers, or sell into distribution after getting a product going, you aren't as wedded to specific dates and timelines. You can take more chances because your risk is lower.

      That's one of the reasons why Kickstarter has done so well for RPGs.

      Example 2: The day-to-day functions of running a mid-tier publisher fall on a small staff. The dude editing an RPG might also unload a shipment, clean the bathroom, fix that balky desktop PC, and answer email queries from distributors and retailers. The dude doing his own thing has bandwidth to network online, develop a 'net presence, and so on. He doesn't deal with the overhead of running an office in an industrial park with multiple employees.

      That's one of many reasons why fame in RPGs is mostly non-existant, compared to other geek things like comics or SF and fantasy novels. Most creators spend a lot of time not creating, and definitely not making names for themselves online.

      The big advantages of working for a traditional publisher are a regular paycheck, benefits, exposure to the culture of working in a game company (creating is easy; creating to deadline as part of a team is hard and requires practice), access to work on a licensed property, and no need to risk personal funds to publish something (the company pays to print your work). It's a shorter step to better paying work in video games or other media.

      Awards draw a lot of static in RPGs because they are, for the staggering majority of people doing this work, the one chance each year they have at recognition and some applause. At Gen Con, most people working for RPG publishers can expect intense physical labor at the show's open (booths and books don't magically arrange themselves), 8 hours of work each day manning a booth or running demos, and then another bout of physical labor.

      It's unfortunate the business end of things evolved this way, but it's where things are stuck.

      (FWIW, WotC operates on a very different scale. Jobs on the D&D team are comparable in pay and duties to Hasbro as a whole, or Microsoft or Boeing in the Seattle area. There's a lengthy essay one could write on why the gap between the #1 and #2 firms in RPGs is so vast compared to similar divides in other tabletop categories. It essentially comes down to RPGs' requiring a lot more money to develop than a board game, and their design culture taking a steep bend toward complexity while board games took an equally hard turn in the opposite direction. The complexity thing triggers a ton of other structural and player culture issues.)
    1. Zak S's Avatar
      Zak S -
      Quote Originally Posted by mearls View Post
      Smaller or one-man operations have more advantages over mid-tier publishers than disadvantages.

      Example 1: If you sell to distributors, they expect you to commit to and hit specific release dates. Miss them and your product is in trouble - orders cancelled or significantly cut back. If you sell direct to gamers, or sell into distribution after getting a product going, you aren't as wedded to specific dates and timelines. You can take more chances because your risk is lower.

      That's one of the reasons why Kickstarter has done so well for RPGs.

      Example 2: The day-to-day functions of running a mid-tier publisher fall on a small staff. The dude editing an RPG might also unload a shipment, clean the bathroom, fix that balky desktop PC, and answer email queries from distributors and retailers. The dude doing his own thing has bandwidth to network online, develop a 'net presence, and so on. He doesn't deal with the overhead of running an office in an industrial park with multiple employees.

      That's one of many reasons why fame in RPGs is mostly non-existant, compared to other geek things like comics or SF and fantasy novels. Most creators spend a lot of time not creating, and definitely not making names for themselves online.

      The big advantages of working for a traditional publisher are a regular paycheck, benefits, exposure to the culture of working in a game company (creating is easy; creating to deadline as part of a team is hard and requires practice), access to work on a licensed property, and no need to risk personal funds to publish something (the company pays to print your work). It's a shorter step to better paying work in video games or other media.

      Awards draw a lot of static in RPGs because they are, for the staggering majority of people doing this work, the one chance each year they have at recognition and some applause. At Gen Con, most people working for RPG publishers can expect intense physical labor at the show's open (booths and books don't magically arrange themselves), 8 hours of work each day manning a booth or running demos, and then another bout of physical labor.

      It's unfortunate the business end of things evolved this way, but it's where things are stuck.

      (FWIW, WotC operates on a very different scale. Jobs on the D&D team are comparable in pay and duties to Hasbro as a whole, or Microsoft or Boeing in the Seattle area. There's a lengthy essay one could write on why the gap between the #1 and #2 firms in RPGs is so vast compared to similar divides in other tabletop categories. It essentially comes down to RPGs' requiring a lot more money to develop than a board game, and their design culture taking a steep bend toward complexity while board games took an equally hard turn in the opposite direction. The complexity thing triggers a ton of other structural and player culture issues.)
      It's always nice when you stop by to drop some science, Mike.
    1. mearls -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kiel_C View Post
      I do want to echo Zak's sentiments about me and BitC though. What I've been through since the nomination hasn't been easy.
      It's pretty crappy to see that and hear about it.

      The culture around RPG creation has gotten a lot more tense over the past couple years, in part because I believe that the shared culture that designers had in the late 90s and early 00s has fallen apart. Gen Con is far less accessible, and the Internet has only become more heated.
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