GenCon and All Its Awards

GenCon is over, and I’m just worn out. 

I mean, all that listening to This Just In from GenCon (along with its show notes on OgreCave) and reading Twitter posts and such.  It can really drain you.  Oh, and of course, there’s the whole “doing housework and other mundane stuff while being totally aware of all the cool stuff I’m missing at GenCon” factor, which really sucks too.   

So, in addition to the fact that I am both pittiful and jealous, what else have I learned?  Well, if you can imagine it, there’s actually a lot of cool games out there!  So I thought I’d mention some of them here, just for those of you who didn’t try to keep up with the Hotness coming out of the “best four days of gaming”.  Let’s start with some awards given at the show:

Dianna Jones Award – BoardGameGeek; If you didn’t know, this is an interesting and ecclectic award given each year by a secretish little cabal of gamers and game designers to something going on in the gaming hobby.  It might be a game (board, RPG, card… whatever), a book about games, a website about games, or almost anyting that they feel is the “best” contribution to gaming that year.  In honor of its 10th anniversary (and presumably due to the launch of RPGGeek and all), BGG won the award this year.

ENnie Awards – These are the “big event” awards in the RPG community these days.  Paizo pretty much swept up with Pathfinder here, but some other interesting games were represented as well.  I’m not going to give a whole rundown, but instead, I’ll spotlight a few games:

Pathfinder (Paizo) – 11 or so ENnies altogether, including Game and Product of the Year as well as Best Publisher.
Eclipse Phase –  Gold for Best Writing and Silver for Product of the Year, as well as Silver for Best Cover Art. 
Diaspora – Gold for Best Rules
Day After Ragnarok – Gold for Best Setting
Lady Blackbird – Silver or Best Free Product

Indie RPG Awards – I don’t know a lot about these awards, but they’re all about Indie RPG’s, so I’m probably more excited about them than any of the others:

Indie Game of the Year: Kagematsu (Diaspora came in second)
Best Indie Supplement: The Day After Ragnarok
Best Free Product: Lady Blackbird 
Best Production: Lady Blackbird
Most Innovative Game: A Penny For My Thoughts
Best Support for a Game: Fiasco

What I Care About…

So, after all the awards and buzz that I’ve taken in, what am I actually interested in?  Well, until I hear all the boardgame buzz from the podcasts I listen to, I won’t everything for sure.  But I’m willing to call some attention to a few RPG’s s that have stuck in my brain:

Diaspora, Fiasco, A Penny for My Thoughts, – I already know all about these, but they each got some good buzz from the show.  In particular, I’d love to see/hear some recording from a Fiasco game between Wil Wheaton, Ryan Macklin, Paul Tevis, and Will Hindmarch.  

Smallville RPG– It’s a licensed RPG from a relatively mainstream company, but has a pretty good indie RPG pedigree (from designer Josh Roby) and sensibilities.  I watched the first few seasons of Smallville, but what really interests me is how it’s supposed to be focused a lot more on the character drama part of the show, and that it’s balanced even between characters with and without superpowers.  Plus, you don’t even have to play in the series’ setting, ’cause there are rules to create your own.  It was probably the biggest talk of the con from where I was listening, and Ninja vs. Pirates just did a great interview about it.

Eclipse Phase – Well, if the Origins award wasn’t enough, not I guess I really can’t ignore this anymore.  I probably need to get a copy of it sometime, even if I already have one sci-fi game that I’m excited about.

Dresden Files RPG – I have some interest in actually playing this, but more just want to see what exactly they did to the FATE system.  In particular, I would love to see more about the whole “balancing” mechanism with FATE refresh, and I want to take the advancement system and see if it would fit on other FATE games (namely Diaspora).  

Happy Birthday, Robot! – It’s a little story-telling game suitable for children.  I’d heard some about it before (mainly due to its use of Kickstarter to get start-up capital), but reports from it are positive as well.  It’d be something nice to have as my girls get a little older.   
Lady Blackbird – I’ve downloaded this, but haven’t even read it (let alone played it) yet.  Maybe I should give it some more attention…

The Bones and Hamlet’s Hit Points, a couple of non-game (but still gaming-related books) by Game Playwright

Apocalypse World – Vincent Baker + Build your own apocalypse = Gotta have it!

So, what RPG’s are you excited about now that GenCon is over?  For those lucky ones who went to Gencon, did you have a great experience with anything else that I didn’t mention?  Have I missed anything indispensible???


  1. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also..

  2. How old are your girls, Chris? Mine started RPGs with Faery’s Tale, which was an easy mechanic (dice pool) and focused on girl-friendly stories where the faery PCs have cute adventures. My eldest ran us a game when she was 9, and then went on to run it at MACE (for a group of adults). We’ve also enjoyed Hollow Earth Expedition (you can download free Wilderness Kids scenarios) and I’m currently running a Savage Worlds Leverage-style game for my girls and the neighborhood kids (all aged 8-10). I co-GMed with one of the boys, who put the team on the moon! It’s amazing to see what they come up with!
    Just offering some suggestions for kid RPGs. I looked at Happy Birthday Robot and found it too young for my kids, but might be fun for the under 6 crowd. You can’t start them too young!

  3. Chris Norwood

    Hey Jodi!  Thanks for visiting!

    Samantha is almost 2 and a half, and “as yet unnamed Baby Girl Norwood” will be born on October 8.  So they’re really young.  And especially in the case of the unborn one, it may, in fact, be a little too young.

    I’ve heard Ron and Veronica Blessing just gush about how well your daughter did at MACE, and I guess that I have aspirations that my girls will take to gaming in the same way.  So far, the only real “game” that Samantha has had the patience for is Go Away Monster!, but I’m still thinking towards the future, and I hope that storygames/RPG’s will be a big part of the fun that we’ll have together.

    Thanks for the other recommendations, and I may have to look at Faery’s Tale sooner than later!

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