News Digest: Gen Con, ENnies, Diana Jones, Star Wars, Starfinder, and more!

Hello everyone, Darryl here with help me help me we went from no news to too much news and I don’t know what to do! Gen Con, Diana Jones, ENnies, highly anticipated products released, all new products and licenses announced, it’s just too much!



Let’s start with the convention itself. Gen Con’s 50th anniversary was the first year in the convention’s history that they limited sales. And it also sold out. Of four day passes and single-day passes for every single day. To put this into scale, Gen Con hosted over 19.000 ticketed events – that is events directly managed through Gen Con and doesn’t count side-events. It took over spaces spanning from area hotels to convention centers to ballrooms to even the Lucas Oil Stadium, with game tables filling the field normally occupied by Indianapolis Colts home games. Turnstile attendance (that is each individual entering the convention on a given day) was 207,979. According to the press release, this is a 4% increase over 2016 and, with the sell-out, makes the third year straight that badge sales were over 60,000. Gen Con 51 is moving up a bit in the year and will take place in Indianapolis, IN from August 2-5, 2018.


In fact, the convention itself con this year’s Diana Jones Award for Excellence. From the official Twitter account of the Diana Jones Award announcing the winner, “The DJA Committee said, ‘Gen Con's assertion that it's the Best Four Days In Gaming’ is a refreshing and absolute truth,” Gen Con representative Adrien Swartout accepted the award at the ceremony on the Wednesday evening before the convention’s official start. The other nominees for the award were The Beast, End of the Line, Gloomhaven, The Romance Trilogy, and Terraforming Mars.

ENnies_Logo.jpg

The 17th Annual ENnie Award ceremony took place on Friday evening. Chaosium in particular picked up ten awards in different categories for Call of Cthulhu products. Other big winners include John Wick Presents for who received six awards for 7th Sea products including a Silver ENnie for 7th Sea Core Rulebook for Product of the Year and Silver ENnie for Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher. Tales from the Loop: Roleplaying in the 80s that Never Was also took home six awards including the Gold ENnie for Product of the Year, Best Game, and Best Writing.

paizobooth.jpg

Starfinder officially launched on Thursday and Paizo stated that they brought more copies of the Starfinder Core Rulebook to Gen Con than they have any other single release ever. The picture above is from the Paizo booth showing the stacks of Starfinder material ready for fans. They even set up a separate booth outside the main dealer hall solely with Starfinder books to ease lines and waiting times for those who only wanted to pick those up. They sold out of the Limited Edition in just a couple of hours, and sold out of the Core Rulebook in four hours. At least one person joked that they ordered a copy off Amazon and had it shipped overnight to their hotel (though I wasn’t able to confirm if this actually happened and, if so, if it worked). Many users also reported issues purchasing or downloading the PDF from Paizo’s website due to server issues from demand on Thursday, but bandwidth issues seems to have stabilized over the weekend.

In addition to Starfinder’s release, several third party books also launched this past week. Starfarer’s Companion by Rogue Genius Games in particular has topped Drive Thru’s sales charts, which isn’t surprising as Rogue Genius Games is co-owned by Starfinder developer Owen K.C. Stephens.


Several new games were announced in the lead-up and days of Gen Con. Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Wrath & Glory from Ulises North America is a completely new game created under license from Games Workshop. Lead designer Ross Watson previewed the new game at the convention, which has a D6 dice pool system unrelated to previous Warhammer 40K roleplaying games. Watson previously served as line editor for the Warhammer 40K roleplaying system and worked on Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy as well as lead designer on Torg Eternity and worked on games like Lankhmar: City of Thieves for Savage Worlds, Accursed, and books in the Savage Rifts system. Watson was also the host for the Gamer’s Tavern podcast for its first 60 episodes…huh, that name sounds familiar


D&D Beyond officially launched just before Gen Con, with all subscription options open. The official website also has articles and interviews with Chris Perkins and Mike Mearls as well as videos from Acquisitions Incorporated. There’s also a reported 25,000 homebrew creations so far available. There are three subscription tiers, the free level which allows creation and management of up to six characters and displays ads, the Heroic Tier which is $2.99/mo which has unlimited access to all resources and unlimited characters, plus access to shared homebrew material. The Master Tier is $5.99/mo and allows to share official content you’ve purchased to up to three campaigns (each campaign can have up to 12 players each). There’s also 15% discounts for six month purchases and 25% discounts for one year purchases. Digital versions of thirteen different products can also be purchased from D&D Beyond, either as a full “bundle” including a digital copy of the book or you can purchase “parts” of the book like specific magic items, monsters, classes, feats, and more a la carte. Purchased products don’t require a subscription, only if you want to share the content.


Steve Jackson Games officially announced Munchkin Collectible Card Game, the first collectible card game version of the Munchkin series. The official launch will be on February 2018. The game will launch with three starter sets each containing two curated decks (Wizard/Bard, Ranger/Warrior, and Cleric/Thief), two level counters, forty tokens, a die, and a booster pack. The booster packs will each have twelve cards with one considered “rare” or better per pack. Two expansions are already planned for 2018, The Desolation of Blarg in May and Fashion Furious in August. The starter sets will have an MSRP of $24.95 and booster packs an MSRP of $3.95.


Frank Mentzer announced an upcoming Kickstarter for Empyrea, which is a continent first described in module L12 Egg of the Phoenix by Mentzer and Jennell Jaquays. This project will include work from author Ted Fauster and designers “including Caldwell, Dee, Diesel, Easley, Elmore, Holloway, Jaquays, and Otus”. The license comes from Gary Gygax when he was still in charge of TSR in the 1980s. There’s been no statements as of yet from Wizards of the Coast on the project if they’re disputing this license.


As you may have noticed, EN World has been doing RPGaDay, which is a list of questions for each day to encourage discussion of the hobby. Day 11’s question was “Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?” I answered that I would love to see two games: The TSR “FASERIP” Marvel system, and West End Games’s Star Wars. I said, “Due to the tangles of copyrights, licenses, trademarks, and other IP rights, I don't think we'll ever get either, unfortunately.” I have never in my life ever been so thrilled to be wrong as Fantasy Flight Games announced that they will be reprinting the original Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game for its 30th Anniversary.

This reprint will contain the same rules, text, graphics, and layout of the original reprinted on higher quality paper in a hardback cover with a slip cover, even including the original West End Games logo. Only two books are currently being reprinted, the core rulebook at The Star Wars Sourcebook, which included new races, equipment, starships, creatures, and more. The set will come out later this year with a MSRP of $59.95.


Also, a new miniature skirmish combat game from Fantasy Flight Games is due out in early 2018. Star Wars: Legion will launch with thirty-three unpainted miniatures which will require assembly. The rules will include character cards similar to X-Wing Miniatures and include rules for easy group unit movement and different equipment. There will also be land-based vehicles such as AT-RTs and speeder bikes at launch. The core set will have an MSRP of $89.95.


“They were sometimes known as the Twelve Peers. Now, historically, they were the foremost members of Charlemagne’s court, although many of their famous exploits are largely fictitious, representing Christian martial superiority over the Saracen hordes.” “What are you dribbling about?” “Well, my friend…That’s a Paladin.” – Noah Antwiler, review of Ultima IX: Ascension. Yes, it’s a joke, but if you want to know more, Nocturnal Media has a new game, Paladin: Warriors of Charlemagne on Kickstarter now. Based on the Pendragon rules by Greg Stafford and written by Ruben in ‘t Groen, players take on the roles of squires and knights in the service of one of Charlemagne’s powerful vassals, going on adventures and quests for glory and riches. So if you want 9th century historical roleplaying, this game is right up your alley. The digital version is available for a $15 pledge, while the physical version is available for $60. Okay, this thing is fully funded and several stretch goals left, but it ends on Friday, August 25 at 11:00AM Central so hurry hurry hurry if you want in.

Okay, it’s a fog machine specifically designed for use with tabletop miniatures. What more do you need to know? The Fog Monster is 4” by 4” by 8” and has a small plastic tube to move the fog directly onto the tabletop, while the Dark Crypt Fog Machine is a stale tower that produced fog that comes out of the doors and windows onto the tabletop directly. While the chemicals used won’t harm most components, it does involve humid air so be careful with wooden, paper, or cardboard tokens or props. The Fog Monster is available for $85 while the Dark Crypt is available for $99. This project is fully funded and runs until Thursday, August 31.

While there are many custom playing card Kickstarters constantly being run, this one I feel deserves attention. The card set is based on Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles and features characters and locations from the series. The artwork is from Echo Chernik, who you may know as the artist of the Shadowrun Tarot deck (which also released at Gen Con this year). There are a lot of different options for the decks so you can get just the set you want (some of which will be Kickstarter exclusive) starting at $15 and going up to $215 for all the decks, an uncut card sheet, gilded card sets, and exclusive art prints. This Kickstarter is already ten times over its funding goal and still has until Friday, September 15 to unlock more stretch goals. (Disclosure: I am a moderator for Patrick Rothfuss’s Twitch channel, though I receive no compensation for this.)

That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming crowdfunding news at the EN World RPG Kickstarter News website, and don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you even more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at news@enworldnews.com. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse as I grumble about trying to get Adobe Premiere to cooperate with me, or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon, Humble Store, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
 
Darryl Mott

Comments

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Never heard of the Diana Jones Award before. Followed the link and it mentioned some past winners and one of the current judges (David Adkinson).

Anyone have any info/links as to what this award is and why it matters?
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Never heard of the Diana Jones Award before. Followed the link and it mentioned some past winners and one of the current judges (David Adkinson).

Anyone have any info/links as to what this award is and why it matters?
Here's the link to their official site. I didn't use it in the column as they're usually slow to update and haven't posted the winner on their site, at least not in an easy to find way.

The Diana Jones Award is awarded to a single winner each year for his/her/their/its contribution to tabletop gaming. The winners can be individual games, game designers, game companies, podcasts/shows, web sites, conventions, events, or even abstract concepts. It's considered one of the most prestigious awards in gaming and, with the Origins Awards and the ENnies, is considered tabletop gaming's EGOT.

The name comes from the Indiana Jones boxed set from the TSR UK offices which, when they lost the license to produce the Indiana Jones games, had to destroy the boxed sets still in stock. So they decided to have a massive bonfire. One of them survived with the "IN" burned off the cover, so they decided to encase the burned game in a pyramid made of acrylic and used as the trophy for the award. See, "Indiana Jones" without the IN is "Diana Jones".
 

fsandow

Visitor
Never heard of the Diana Jones Award before. Followed the link and it mentioned some past winners and one of the current judges (David Adkinson).

Anyone have any info/links as to what this award is and why it matters?
All is explained at http://www.dianajonesaward.org/about-the-diana-jones-award/ on the award's website.

Short version: it's a super-insidery but generally respected award managed by a shadowy cabal. It's also an excuse for said insiders to party together the night before Gen Con starts each year.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Here's the link to their official site. I didn't use it in the column as they're usually slow to update and haven't posted the winner on their site, at least not in an easy to find way...
Thanks, I had found that site from Google. But to say they are slow to update... The last year they list an award on their About page is 2010 (Which is what Google initially sent me to).

All is explained at http://www.dianajonesaward.org/about-the-diana-jones-award/ on the award's website.

Short version: it's a super-insidery but generally respected award managed by a shadowy cabal. It's also an excuse for said insiders to party together the night before Gen Con starts each year.
I also checked out the Wikipedia article, and other than one reference from a book about Gen Con, all the references are back to the site itself.

Despite all the issues with arguments about the ENnies, this type of shadow award holds no respect from me. As you say, this is an excuse for a bunch of insiders to get together and pat each other on the back. One can argue otherwise, but since their committee, judges and criteria is closed, there is no way to know otherwise.

You say it's generally respected, but by who? If it was, Google and other sources would pop up this award with more references. It would be mentioned all over the place and be referenced. It's not.

Why should anyone believe it is more than a few insiders patting themselves on teh back with an award that is all about an inside story?
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Thanks, I had found that site from Google. But to say they are slow to update... The last year they list an award on their About page is 2010 (Which is what Google initially sent me to).
No, they have the shortlist up for 2017, just not the winner yet (at least when I gave a cursory check last night). They should have all the previous years' winners on the sidebar.

One can argue otherwise, but since their committee, judges and criteria is closed, there is no way to know otherwise.
Not really...it's on their "About" page. Besides, if you want to make that argument, then pretty much every award for anything isn't worthy of respect. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates for the Academy Awards and votes on them. Similar groups for the Emmys, Tonys, Grammys. And every other award in gaming. The Origins Awards and Spiel des Jahres are both nominated and chosen by industry insider judges. Even popular vote based awards like the People's Choice Awards for film/TV/music or the ENnies for gaming have a panel of judges that choose the nominees for each category.

I mean, "industry insiders patting each other on the back" is pretty much the definition of an award regardless of the medium the award is for.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Thanks, I had found that site from Google. But to say they are slow to update... The last year they list an award on their About page is 2010 (Which is what Google initially sent me to).



I also checked out the Wikipedia article, and other than one reference from a book about Gen Con, all the references are back to the site itself.

Despite all the issues with arguments about the ENnies, this type of shadow award holds no respect from me. As you say, this is an excuse for a bunch of insiders to get together and pat each other on the back. One can argue otherwise, but since their committee, judges and criteria is closed, there is no way to know otherwise.

You say it's generally respected, but by who? If it was, Google and other sources would pop up this award with more references. It would be mentioned all over the place and be referenced. It's not.

Why should anyone believe it is more than a few insiders patting themselves on teh back with an award that is all about an inside story?
Nothing wrong with that. That’s what awards are. They’re not for you, the customer, or for the company. They’re a little nod of appreciation to the individual designers in an environment which is often negative, especially these days in the age of social media.

So they get to to enjoy the applause of their peers for a couple of hours once every few years. That’s a good thing in my book.

So it doesn’t matter whether you, or I, respect them, or care about them. We’re not who they’re for.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Not really...it's on their "About" page. Besides, if you want to make that argument, then pretty much every award for anything isn't worthy of respect. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates for the Academy Awards and votes on them. Similar groups for the Emmys, Tonys, Grammys. And every other award in gaming. The Origins Awards and Spiel des Jahres are both nominated and chosen by industry insider judges. .
Uh, no.

The committees and process used by (most, I didn't find any that are not) of those other award groups are open or known. They may not take outside influence, but at least you know who the people are or the process they use. Not so with the DAJ award. By their own admission (though they say it's to prevent outside influence, though what type of moral authority can someone claim if they can't remain impartial if their names are known?):
What is more, because the winner is chosen by a closed, anonymous committee,
See how the Oscars are awarded. Emmy's. Tony's

Origins state how their awards are voted on;
The nominee’s products are also voted on by attendees of the Origins Game Fair for a chance to win the Fan Favorite award in each category. The winners are announced at the Origins Awards ceremony during Origins in June.
Spiel des Jahres is a closed selection process for the jurors, but their names and identities are publicly known.

As for what criteria they use. Ah, basically anything that they want. After several sentences, they come down and say this;
The precise interpretation of ‘excellence in gaming’ is left to the discretion of the individual judges
I mean, "industry insiders patting each other on the back" is pretty much the definition of an award regardless of the medium the award is for.
This may often be true. But not all awards are this. Some are popularity contests open to the public.

But credibility is not something an awards group can just grant themselves. And it is near impossible when they are secretive in both who they are and how they make their selection(s).

If they were credible, then other sources besides themselves would actually cite them as credible. Where are those links? (So far, this question which is probably the most important has simple been ignored.)

@Abstruse, note these questions or comments of mine are not meant to question your article. It is straight forward news (and I appreciate it, including this topic and others). I'm just trying to understand what the credibility of the DJA is.
 

fsandow

Visitor
You say it's generally respected, but by who? If it was, Google and other sources would pop up this award with more references. It would be mentioned all over the place and be referenced. It's not.

Why should anyone believe it is more than a few insiders patting themselves on teh back with an award that is all about an inside story?
Well, I'm as far from an industry insider as it's possible to be while still being a vertebrate, but my understanding is that it's considered very prestigious within the industry. It's genuinely considered an honour just to be nominated.

But the best way to assess it is to look at the lists of nominees and winners on the website. YMMV, but I think they do a very good job of meeting their stated goal: publicly acknowledging excellence in gaming.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Nothing wrong with that. That’s what awards are. They’re not for you, the customer, or for the company. They’re a little nod of appreciation to the individual designers in an environment which is often negative, especially these days in the age of social media.
IMO, some awards are for the customers, some are not.

So they get to to enjoy the applause of their peers for a couple of hours once every few years. That’s a good thing in my book.
Except unless they are on the committee, they don't know who is patting them on the back.

I do agree that people should get kudos for a job well done. It is a good thing. But this is not much more than doing so in secret, and that's not as powerful as standing up in public and saying, "Tom, Mary, and I think that Gen Con deserves an award!"

So it doesn’t matter whether you, or I, respect them, or care about them. We’re not who they’re for.
Then is it news?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Except unless they are on the committee, they don't know who is patting them on the back.
They pretty much do.

I do agree that people should get kudos for a job well done. It is a good thing. But this is not much more than doing so in secret, and that's not as powerful as standing up in public and saying, "Tom, Mary, and I think that Gen Con deserves an award!"
Well, go ahead and do that in public then! There's room for all of us to congratulate Gen Con in our own ways. That's theirs.

Then is it news?
It is if you're interested. It's not if you're not. Like most things, I guess. You're commenting on it, so I guess it is.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
But credibility is not something an awards group can just grant themselves. And it is near impossible when they are secretive in both who they are and how they make their selection(s).

If they were credible, then other sources besides themselves would actually cite them as credible. Where are those links? (So far, this question which is probably the most important has simple been ignored.)

@Abstruse, note these questions or comments of mine are not meant to question your article. It is straight forward news (and I appreciate it, including this topic and others). I'm just trying to understand what the credibility of the DJA is.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was started because a few studio heads in the 1930s wanted a fancy-sounding title for the awards they gave out to give film the appearance of high art. I mean...the award is respected because people said it should be respected and no one argued different. There's no objective reason why the Oscars are given more "weight" than the Golden Globes or SAG Awards other than enough people said that the Oscars were more important. I know it's tautological, but that's what it is. These awards have credibility because we give them credibility, or we take it away. And I mean "we" as in "all of us", not "industry people" or "journalists".
 

kenmarable

Explorer
LordEntrails - it sounds like this award isn't of much interest to you, but to some of us, it definitely is a very big deal.

If you don't like the format or care about, fine. But it is certainly news for many of us. And the "shadow cabal" style of it is actually a feature not a bug. Admittedly, it is absolutely a matter of trust. For a large number of us, their history has earned them that trust as an interesting and prestigious award. But if it doesn't work for you, *shrug* that's fine. There's other awards and Gen Con news you can focus on. If you don't have trust in the award and it's history, then there's not a lot the rest of us can do to make you trust it.
 

SMHWorlds

Explorer
(avoids the other tangent entirely)

So I would have thought Frank (Mentzer) would have talked to WoTC about this or it would have been part of the various settlements and sales and such. With all of those other artists and such involved, I would think someone would have brought that up. Curious to what others think.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
(avoids the other tangent entirely)

So I would have thought Frank (Mentzer) would have talked to WoTC about this or it would have been part of the various settlements and sales and such. With all of those other artists and such involved, I would think someone would have brought that up. Curious to what others think.
If anyone's said anything, I'm not able to find any evidence either on or off the record about it. My only guess (and this is a personal guess based on what information I have, which is all up in the column already) is that WotC may be waiting to see exactly what the product is before making any decisions, and which if any of their trademarks are used in the promotion.

I should note that, in United States intellectual property law, a trademark works different than a copyright because you must defend a trademark or you can lose it. So if Greyhawk characters, names, etc. are all over the thing, WotC and Hasbro won't have any choice but to pursue legal action or they could lose all the trademarks related to Greyhawk to the public domain.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I should note that, in United States intellectual property law, a trademark works different than a copyright because you must defend a trademark or you can lose it. So if Greyhawk characters, names, etc. are all over the thing, WotC and Hasbro won't have any choice but to pursue legal action or they could lose all the trademarks related to Greyhawk to the public domain.
Or they can give permission.
 
Sorry I was so excited at the news FFG is reprinting the original West End D6 Star Wars game in a special edition that I spaced out all the other news.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
LordEntrails - it sounds like this award isn't of much interest to you, but to some of us, it definitely is a very big deal.
How could it be a big deal to me? I've never heard of it before and I've been active on EnWorld for years and active in the gaming community since the 70's.

What I'm trying to figure out is if it should be a big deal for me.

But about all I have learned is if you are on the inside of the DJA cliche, then it's a big deal to you. But if you're not, then no one wants to tell you anything about it.

I got through middle school and high school ignoring the cliches around me. If it's just another cliche and that's all they want this to be, then they are doing things just right.

Which is all fine. But, since it was presented as general news, (as I try to say again), I was trying to figure out why it was new to me if it was such a big deal and has been around for 15+ years. (Truly, I'm ok if I'm left out, really!)
 

vongarr

Visitor
LordEntrails - it sounds like this award isn't of much interest to you, but to some of us, it definitely is a very big deal.

If you don't like the format or care about, fine. But it is certainly news for many of us. And the "shadow cabal" style of it is actually a feature not a bug. Admittedly, it is absolutely a matter of trust. For a large number of us, their history has earned them that trust as an interesting and prestigious award. But if it doesn't work for you, *shrug* that's fine. There's other awards and Gen Con news you can focus on. If you don't have trust in the award and it's history, then there's not a lot the rest of us can do to make you trust it.
Whose history are we trusting in, though? How can I trust in the history of a secretive cabal when I can't even identify a single member of the cabal? I guess someone was at UK TSR to witness the burning and salvage the burnt copy?

I see prestigious attached to the Diana Jones award constantly, basically whenever it is mentioned, but calling it prestigious rings hollow when the award is so obscure. The spiel des jahres is prestigious. The Charles S. Roberts award used to be prestigious.

If it is a super insider award for the super insiders, fine, whatever. It just seems rather unimportant. The write ups sound like fanboy frothing. I'm just overall not impressed with anything I see. It is simply another convention clique of "elites" and "insiders" whose only distinction is being part of the cool kids.
 

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