Tag Archives: Doctor Who

My 2015 ENnie Award Predictions!

The ENnie award winners will be announced at GenCon tomorrow, but before that happens I thought I’d repeat what I did last year and announce my predictions for the winners.

The full nominees list is below. Keep in mine that these are not my personal preferences – I’ve just annotated who I think will probably win, based on fan demographics. I really think the new edition of D&D will sweep it, except on occasions when it’s up against Pathfinder, but I might be surprised! Monte Cook, of course, will pull in some good numbers.awards-image

To my thinking, these awards usually go like this: D&D or Pathfinder contending for #1 and #2, Monte Cook #3, Evil Hat #4, Savage Worlds or Cthulhu-based products contending for #5, and then everyone else. For instance, I don’t think Zak S. has a snowball’s chance, even though A Red & Pleasant Land is a great looking product. Maybe if these were judge awards and not fan voting, but A Red & Pleasant Land is too unknown outside of Zak’s circles, and there are too many people he’s pissed off. I’d be pleasantly surprised, though, if this were not the case.

Best Adventure

A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
SILVER Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
GOLD Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Wizards of the Coast)
Cake Walk (Fabled Environments)
East Texas University: Degrees of Horror (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)

Best Aid/Accessory (I can easily see these two getting swapped)

DungeonMorph Dice: Explorer Set (Inkwell Ideas)
GOLD D&D Dungeon Master’s Screen (Wizards of the Coast)
Syrinscape’s Rise of the Runelords Mega SoundPack (Syrinscape)
Black-green Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG Dice Set (Q-Workshop)
SILVER Pathfinder Cards: Deluxe Harrow Deck (Paizo Inc.)

Best Art, Interior (Trail of Cthulhu is my alternate silver; if it weren’t for D&D and Monte, I’d pick it for gold)

GOLD D&D Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)
Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk (Gun Metal Games)
Trail of Cthulhu: Dreamhounds of Paris (Pelgrane Press)
SILVER The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Core Rules Hardcover (Privateer Press)

Best Art, Cover

Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Monsternomicon (Privateer Press)
MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
SILVER Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG (Green Ronin Publishing)
Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
GOLD Rise of Tiamat (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Blog  (no idea for silver, really, but ConTessa is probably my alternate silver)

ConTessa – Tabletop gaming by women for everyone!
DMDavid Blog
GOLD Gnome Stew
House Rule Gaming
SILVER NERD TREK

Best Cartography (no idea for silver, really…)

MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
Distant Outposts Deluxe Poster Map Set (Christopher West’s Maps of Mastery)
SILVER Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
GOLD Ninth World Guidebook (Monte Cook Games, LLC)

Best Electronic Book (these two could easily swap)

GOLD Dragon Age Core RuleBook (Green Ronin Publishing)
SILVER Basic Rules for D&D (Wizards of the Coast)
Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2 (Pelgrane Press)
Cake Walk (Fabled Environments)
Valiant Universe RPG Digital Initiative (Catalyst Game Labs)

Best Family Game (Doctor Who is my alternate silver)

SILVER Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions)
GOLD D&D Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)
Infestation, An RPG of Bugs and Heroes (Third Eye Games)
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space – Limited Edition Anniversary Rulebook (Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.)
Adventure Maximus RPG Starter Set (Eden Studios)

Best Free Product

Valiant RPG Digital Initiative (Catalyst Game Labs)
GOLD Basic Rules for D&D (Wizards of the Coast)
SILVER Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space – Arrowdown (Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.)
13th Age: The Archmage’s Orrery (Pelgrane Press)
East Texas University: Redneckromancer (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)

Best Game (Firefly has a good shot at silver, as does Atomic Robo, but I think the ENWorld readership may pick Monte instead)

GOLD D&D Player’s Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)
SILVER The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Firefly Roleplaying Game (Margaret Weis Productions)
MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions)

Best Miniatures Product

Gen Con Adventurer’s Tavern – Painted (Games and Gears)
D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil Boosters (WizKids)
Fantasy Pirate Goblin Lieutnant 28mm Miniature (Via Ludibunda)
GOLD Pathfinder Pawns: Inner Sea Pawn Box (Paizo Inc.)
SILVER Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Roleplaying Game Adventure Kit (Privateer Press)

Best Monster/Adversary

GOLD D&D Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)
13th Age Bestiary (Pelgrane Press)
SILVER The Strange Bestiary (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Monsternomicon (Privateer Press)
Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)

Best Podcast

GOLD Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
Miskatonic University Podcast
SILVER Translating the Strange
NPC Cast
Grim Dark Podcast

Best Production Values (Iron Kingdoms or Shadowrun are my silver runners-up)

SILVER Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
GOLD D&D Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)
The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Roleplaying Game Adventure Kit (Privateer Press)
Shadowrun: Runner’s Toolkit: Alphaware (Catalyst Game Labs)

Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)
Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It (Mad Norwegian Press)
SILVER Shadowrun: Crossfire (Catalyst Game Labs)
GOLD Temple of Elemental Evil (WizKids)
Doctor Who: The Card Game 2nd Edition (Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.)

Best Rules

GOLD D&D Player’s Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)
MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game (Transhuman Science-Fiction Adventure in the Second Age of Space) (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
At the Hands of an Angry God (BlackWyrm Games)
SILVER Monster of the Week (Evil Hat Productions)

Best Setting

GOLD The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
SILVER Trail of Cthulhu: Dreamhounds of Paris (Pelgrane Press)

Best Software (I can easily see these two getting swapped; Hero Lab is my alternate silver)

GOLD Roll20 (Roll 20)
SILVER D&D Complete Core Monster Pack for Fantasy Grounds (SmiteWorks USA LLC)
Hero Lab (Lone Wolf Development)
Syrinscape’s Rise of the Runelords Mega SoundPack (Syrinscape)
Eclipse Phase: Singularity Character Generator (Posthuman Studios & Snow Dog Labs)

Best Supplement (This is a tough one. All of these have great name recognition. My alternate silver is Savage Worlds.)

GOLD D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide (Wizards of the Coast)
SILVER Pathfinder RPG: Pathfinder Unchained (Paizo Inc.)
Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook (Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.)
Shadowrun: Run Faster (Catalyst Game Labs)

Best Website (I can see these swapping)

Tabletop Audio
GOLD Adventureaweek
Age of Ravens
SILVER The Escapist
The Illuminerdy

Best Writing (Designers & Dragons has a decent shot at silver, but I don’t think it can beat Monte)

Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2 by Kenneth Hite (Pelgrane Press)
GOLD D&D Player’s Handbook by Jeremy Crawford, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell (Wizards of the Coast)
SILVER The Strange by Monte Cook, Bruce R. Cordell (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry by Shannon Appelcline (Evil Hat Productions)

Product of the Year

MUTANT: Year Zero – The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
SILVER The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
GOLD D&D Player’s Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)
Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Core Rules Hardcover (Privateer Press)
Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions) Firefly Roleplaying Game (Margaret Weis Productions)
Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game (Transhuman Science-Fiction Adventure in the Second Age of Space) (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)

 —-

Okay, that’s it! I put about 20 minutes into guessing these, and I think they’ll probably turn out to be pretty close.  I’ll post a follow-up to see how I did.

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My Saturday at GenCon 2012 (with lots o’ links)

As some of you may know, I’ve been attending GenCon regularly for the last 12 years – but this was my first year as an ‘attendee’ rather than an exhibitor. It was a little strange (but incredibly relaxing) to not spend weeks and months planning all the little minor details of the Kenzer and Company booth, packing, and travel arrangements. It was even stranger walking around the exhibit hall as free as – well, as free as what passes for air, when you pack a few thousand gamers in the same building.
 
I only attended on Saturday, which was fun, but did mean I woke up at 3:30 (CST) for the 4-hour drive from north Chicagoland on down to Indianapolis. With the time zone change, that put me there a little before 9 am (EST from now on), where I met my friend Bret (who’d already picked up a Saturday entry badge for me) and had a leisurely breakfast at Steak n Shake.
 
Shortly after 10 am, we walked across the street to the convention center and entered the exhibit hall, having avoiding the milling throng that always lines up at the doors for the mad dash to whatever exhibitor has limited copies of the latest hot product. Now, I don’t normally spend a lot of money buying products at any convention, and rarely spend more than $10 or $20. (Of course, in the past I also had fewer opportunities to leave the booth.) This time, I hadn’t even made it more than halfway down the first of (22+) rows before I’d outlayed $30! Considering the outcome, though, I got off cheap.
 
The WHO North America booth was selling a lot of the Doctor Who books at only $5, so I picked up three Torchwood hardcovers (The Undertaker’s Gift, the House that Jack Built, and Consequences) – though sadly they didn’t have the other three I’m missing. I also grabbed the Torchwood Encyclopedia, despite its being out of date, and the revised edition of Russell T. Davies’ The Writer’s Tale. But wait, I hear those of you math-inclined persons saying, that’s only $25! Well, I happily threw down the last $5 to get this last book signed by Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks and many more Whovian monsters. He was a very nice guy, and told me about a few Sherlock Holmes audio dramas he’s done that I wasn’t aware of. I also met a very sweet TARDIS.
 

Bigger on the inside?

Eventually we ended up back at the Kenzer and Company booth, where I said my hellos and hung out for a few minutes, then continued on our rounds.
 

the KenzerCo booth

My next significant stop was in the Artist’s Alley, where I said hello to a few illustrators I knew, and spent another $10 at Sarah Wilkinson‘s booth (who I didn’t know) to get Eat the Bunny (Before the Bunny Eats You). Hey, Liz and I are expecting a new arrival in February, and what kid’s not going to be charmed by a book about zombie chocolate bunnies, after all…?
 
By 1:30 pm, we’d wrapped up our first pass of the exhibit hall. Those of you who’ve seen the dozens of older conventions’ costume photos on my Facebook page may be surprised that I only took a handful of other pics – mostly of products that caught my eye and I wanted to remember for later.
 

Don’t rotate the control knob…

In the past, I could just stand in the booth all day and the costumes would eventually walk by – and could step into the booth in order to avoid blocking the aisles. Being an attendee and only having Saturday to enjoy the show, I was content with having the images in my head instead of fighting the crowd just to get an interesting photo.
 

There was even a line for taking pics of statues!

Next came lunch at the Ram (burger, coleslaw, and beer), which was acceptable, but didn’t seem as tasty as in recent years. Still, it was worth it to see Bret’s face when I asked our cute, blond, and busty waitress to bring my hefeweizen back naked – that is, without a slice of lemon. (Normally I assume it won’t come with one, but the menu implied otherwise.)
 
We split up for a bit after that, since I’d been generously invited to sit in on a Gamerstable podcast recording. It’s definitely one of my favorite RPG-related podcasts, and I was quite pleased to have been asked. The scheduled topic was dystopias, with some side talk on my current Corporia RPG project (currently waiting on a new update from the potential publisher). As the hour flew by, though, we didn’t get far beyond Corporia, so it seems that will be the episode title instead. The guys (Dan, Eric, Shawn, and Jason) were a lot of fun, and I think the recording went much better than my Jennisodes podcast appearance simply because I had more people to interact with, and so there were more questions and less time to ramble on my own. (Of course, I’ll blog about it here when it’s released.) I’d love to run an actual playtest with those guys, even with the 6-hour drive it would take me to get to them, but the logistics of that would be tough.
 
After the recording, I got back to the exhibit hall to meet up with Bret around 5 pm, with less than an hour to go before the hall was to close. We hit a couple of specific booths and hung out at the Kenzer and Company booth for a few minutes, then made our way over to Buca di Beppo to catch five of Bret’s friends and settle in for a long wait until dinner. Despite the overwhelming amount of pasta, I managed to stick to salad, in order to balance out my nearly veggie-free breakfast and lunch. Our last stop was at Loughmiller’s, which has become my friend and former co-worker Jolly Blackburn’s (dude, you have your own wiki page…) new spot to relax and meet up with the ‘crowd’. After a final celebratory drink, it was about 10 pm, and time to go – but there was still one more small adventure to come.
 
I’d planned to grab a cheap hotel room an hour or so outside Indy and then drive home on Sunday morning, so Bret thought he’d join me rather than drive his 140 miles back that night. Rather than have him follow me so far out of his way, I tried to find something much closer. Unfortunately, thanks to GenCon clashing with the Moto Grand Prix, there were no rooms to be had anywhere around. After the third hotel we stopped at, Bret decided to just make his way home, and I did the same. Being wide awake after our hotel misadventure, I even managed to make the drive that night and stumbled into bed around 2 am (back to CST again).
 
If I manage to make it next year, I’ll plan on taking some vacation time to make it a two (maybe even three) day trip so I can spend one day in the exhibit hall and another day playing games. I also missed seeing several people I knew were there somewhere, so my apologies to them. Next year, though… watch out!

Top TV #3: Life

Today is, obviously, the third in this week’s series of ‘my favorite television episodes’. There’s a lot to say in this one, and it’s a tough one to cover, so pardon my disjointed ramblings as I try to pull it together and sum it up as best I can.

To tell the truth, I really struggled with selecting the subject of today’s post. After all, I can easily think of a dozen episodes from other sci-fi series (Doctor Who and Firefly, take a bow) that are better in one or more ways. So, if you haven’t read the caveat from the previous two days, and are easily enraged, you might want to do that now, because today’s selection is “Life” – the ninth episode of season one from the short-lived Stargate Universe.

That’s right – I said it: Stargate Universe. While the series was often criticized by long-time fans of the franchise, I quite liked it. Of course, I thought the previous Stargate series were formulaic fluff (except for an episode here and there, mostly after Ben Browder and Claudia Black joined the cast), so take from that what you will.

For those of you aren’t familiar with Stargate Universe (and I imagine that’s most of you), the starting premise is that a group of scientists and soldiers has to evacuate from a base that’s being bombed by aliens. In a desperate last resort, they manage to activate a stargate to an unknown location and dive through (and if you don’t know what a stargate is, go Google it. There were movies.). What’s on the other side of the gate is an abandoned, crippled alien ship set on autopilot and traveling an incredible distance from Earth – going in the wrong direction – and the new crew have no way of gaining full control. At best, they can keep the life-support going and work some other devices. Fortunately, they can communicate with Earth by use of some handy alien tech introduced previously in a previous series (I think): a handful of “communication stones” that allow a stranded person to swap bodies with a willing volunteer back on Earth.

This particular episode focuses on three of the characters using the stones to go on ‘shore leave’ back on Earth. Aside from the difficulty of visiting their loved ones while in someone else’s body, they can’t tell anyone (at least, anyone who doesn’t have security clearance) who they really are, much less where they really are. Even those ‘in the know’ are dealing with a character in circumstances completely FUBAR, which is bound to cause more than a little stress.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I’m a sucker for tv that knows how to effectively place songs (like the Dire Straits track in yesterday’s West Wing post). So, when this episode did it at the beginning and at the end, using the Flogging Molly song “The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” I was helpless.

Obviously, with music like that, you’re going to get characters who start their day off badly and end it worse. [spoiler alert] There’s the female political officer whose separation from her handicapped lover is causing them to grow apart, and who finds she’s forgetting bits of their lives. Then there’s the colonel who thinks his wife is cheating on him with an Earth-bound officer, and goes to track down the offender, only to bludgeon one of his crewmates who’s in the offender’s body on his own shore leave. Most gripping, though, is actor Brian J. Smith as Lieutenant Matthew Scott, who finds out he’s the father of a young boy and that his ex is now taking her clothes off for money in order to support them – and of course he can’t reveal who he really is. He’s a very likable character throughout the series, and his breakdown at the end of this episode is particularly heart-rending. There are a few other characters featured in the musical sections, but they don’t get a lot of screen time this episode. The guy who runs out of pills certainly causes problems later. [end spoiler alert] That’s another tv device I love: taking characters I like and just dragging them through the mud (also known as the last two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

What really ties it all together is, of course, the music. Can your day really get any worse? Is it the worst day since yesterday? Well, yes… it is.

(You can watch the combined beginning/ending of this episode on YouTube. Though it won’t have the emotional impact you’d get by watching the whole episode, you can still enjoy the song. Flogging Molly for the win!)

Runner-Up: Season one episode three (“Air”; part three of the series opener trilogy) also has a great musical ending where the crew manage to fix the failing air purifiers and commiserate over recent losses – and a WTF moment when something appears on this supposedly abandoned and empty ship. I almost chose it for today, simply because it introduced me to Alexi Murdoch’s wonderful song, “Breathe.” You can see that on YouTube as well.

Tomorrow, something less controversial – and more critically acclaimed – in order to put some balm on today’s selection…