The 2015 ENnie Award Nominees: Some Thoughts

Before I share my thoughts on this year’s nominees, let’s have a look on the categories and which products have been nominated this year:

Judges’ Spotlight Winners

Best Adventure

Best Aid/Accessory

Best Art, Cover

Best Art, Interior

Best Blog

Best Cartography

Best Electronic Book

Best Family Game

Best Free Product

Best Game

Best Miniature Product

Best Monster/Adversary

Best Podcast

Best Production Values

Best RPG Related Product

Best Rules

Best Setting

Best Software

Best Supplement

Best Website

Best Writing

Product of the Year

Wow! That’s a lot of nominees and there are a lot of awesome products on this list. But there are also a couple of surprises. Let’s start with the biggest surprise this year.

The ENnie awards endorse copyright and trademark infringement? WTF?!
This may perhaps be a pretty strong accusation, but in a way it’s true. Even though I love the work Don Mappin has done with his Mass Effect RPG (based on Fate), it’s basically IP theft. He uses Bioware/EA’s artwork and intellectual property to create a roleplaying game. I think most of us would consider this fair use, but I am pretty sure lawyers would think otherwise. But in most cases EA would probably ignore the existence of a fan product like this as long as no money is made and it flies under the radar. BUT for some reason unknown to me, the creator submitted his works to the ENnies. And more surprisingly the ENnies judges decided to nominate it. Unless Mr. Mappin has made some deal with Bioware/EA recently, the risk that EA’s lawyers will send him a C&D letter has risen tremendously. In addition to that the ENnies judges are sending out a questionable message if they publically endorse IP theft – even if it’s well-made and loved by fans all over the world.

D&D is back
Even though I am a bit burned out on all things D&D at the moment, it’s nice to see official D&D products on the nominees list. D&D 5th Edition is IMHO the best edition of D&D to date and it would definitely deserve a couple of ENnies.

I have to admit that I haven’t participated in ConTessa nor did I check out the website that often, but I fully support the decision of the ENnie judges to nominate their blog. The Role-playing games hobby has always been pretty male-dominated and getting more women involved in all aspects of the hobby is an important goal – and ConTessa has done a marvelous job so far. The blog is definitely worth checking out!

A Red and Pleasant Land
Zak S. may be controversial to some, but you can’t deny his creativity. What sets this book apart from regular RPG products is that it just doesn’t look like one. Zak’s artwork gives the whole book a distinct style unseen in RPGs before. The setting combines elements from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Worderland and Bram Stoker’s Dracula spiced up with the weirdness we already enjoyed in Zak’s debut title Vornheim. A Red and Pleasant Land is an exceptional book, definitely not for everyone, but it’s great to see it nominated!

Last but not least I want to share a few thoughts on Mindjammer. The original Mindjammer was a setting book for Cubicle 7’s Starblazer Adventures game. Eventually Sarah Newton released a 2nd Edition, a stand-alone Fate Core-based game, which has now been nominated in two categories. Mindjammer is also the name of the novel set into the same universe, which is one of the best-written Science Fiction novels I’ve written in a long time. And trust me, the game is as well written!

What are your thoughts on this year’s ENnies? Please share your thoughts below.