Like With The World Design And Stuff

Because there ain’t no point adventuring in someone else’s world, dog. For my upcoming D&D 4E game.


As The Elves Tell It, the world of Cellona was once but two kingdoms, the higher plane of the Feywild, and the lower plane of the Shadowfell. Then the Gods came, two of them, the Lady of Light and the Lord of Darkness, and sought to play their games upon the world. They created a third world, a strange and unnatural mix of Fey and Shadow, with strange reflections of the two. Elf and gnome were reflected on this new land as human and Halfling; and in the rocky highlands, gave birth to the stone-hearted goliaths and dwarves. Shadowfell beasts became orcs and goblins and countless wild things ran across the world and tore its inhabitants asunder. Terrified and lacking any sense of order and little gift of magic, the denizens turned to technology and religion, the twin tools of their mindless ant-like civilisations, to protect and comfort them. But it was folly, for this only divided them further. The Lady of Light sent her devas and the Lord of Darkness sent his tieflings and they drove the world into two, light and darkness, good and evil. As was the way, the division drove them to war and to madness, as they dreamed of eternal destruction, of weapons that would end the war all for one side – at the cost of the world itself, and even the Feywild with it.


The elves came and put an end to the madness. The Gods were banished, their followers expunged. The mountains were emptied, and the cities of men turned back to forest havens. The world below was grasped forever tight in the bosom of the Feywild, safe from Shadow below and Gods of afar. And there was peace, and order. Primal masters like shamans, druids and rangers flourished again, and magic, not technology, held the world aright. Even the dragons returned, for those who had the gift to call them. It is a world of wonder and beauty and whatever the cost, those who live in the plenitude of the great treespires know that the world is better now. Safer, richer, and infinitely more glorious – as the elves tell it.


Others tell a different story….


Some talk of deva and tiefling trying desperately to overcome ancient rivalries to unite against a new mad god from the Outer Expanse. Of dwarves sacrificing their culture to stay their extermination, and regretting the bargain ever since. Of the last few humans who realised the help of the elves came with too terrible a price, and were slaughtered and driven underground lest they poison Eden with their lies. Of Gods falsely imprisoned, lost and desperate to return, if only enough will believe in them. Of warlocks and sorcerers with magic that doesn’t obey the rules that elves say are unbreakable. And even, yes, they talk of elves whose hearts are not consumed by ice, and will shake even the boughs of heaven to make the world good again – instead of perfect.


You know these stories. You’re writing them.


Diana Jones, and Other Awards

The Diana Jones for 2013 nominees have been announced and as usual it’s a great list. Even Slashdot picked up on the news and called it “hobby gaming’s top prize”. Others were quick to point out this is a title more worthy of going to Spiel der Jahres, but whatevs. There are a lot of cool awards, each interesting for different reasons. Fred Hicks summed up the many gaming awards thusly on an industry forum.


​The top award in RPGs is a bit more muddy depending on who you ask. Much has to do with what you think of the population of folks doing the voting.
Diana Jones is voted on by a small secret panel of insiders and I believe past winners. It’s a lot like winning a Nobel prize voted on solely by past Nobel winners. Very elite, very respected. I tend to regard the nomination as the win. Making the list is a big deal.
​ The Indie RPG Awards are voted on by a small community (more inclusive than DJA perhaps) of independent game designers. It might be an outlier here but my company would not exist if Rob and I hadn’t won an award or two from them in its earliest years. So I still regard them as significant.
Getting nominated for an Origins award means you have done a good job of looking like an awesome game to the retailers who attend GTS.
Winning one means you are especially delicious to and good at motivating the gamers who attended Origins that year.
​ Individually those facts are kinda ehhh, but I like how it intersects two different populations. I’m proud to have a OA or two on my shelf.
The ENnies are nominated by a popularly selected panel of fellow gamer judges. They regard a huge body of work from the year and divide them up into a variety of largely relevant categories for nomination. Making it to the nomination list feels great. It feels like someone took the time to really weigh and measure your game.
Winning ENnie is done via Internet voting. It’s very populist. It can very much be a popularity contest. The biggest players tend to grab the gold. But that said they awar a silver too and that’s often where the real interest and surprise can happen. So yeah, a popularity contest a la People’s Choice. But you know what? It can feel pretty fucking great to be told you’re the belle of the ball. As such this tends to be my personal idea of what the top prize in RPGs is. But it ain’t the only contender.
Others out there include the Golden Geeks (love this but it’s limited to the population of folks who can survive the nightmare interface of the BGG/RPGG) site and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
The one I’d add is the French award the Grog d’Or, which is always worth watching. There’s also some growing American awards, like the American Family Association’s Board Game of the Year. MENSA also votes for board games and has picked some winners over the years, including non-brain burners like Apples to Apples.
Generally, it’s pretty hard to win an award without deserving it somewhat. And as mentioned above and in the previous post, sometimes being nominated alone is impressive.  Getting on the Diana Jones list is always worth a nod. As you can see on the link, this year’s crowd is pretty awesome and varied – games, cons, books and youtube shows. For my money, the winner should be Table Top because Wil Wheaton has arranged for every game he features to be sold in major US retailers like Target. That breaks down one of the fundamental barriers to game sales we’ve always faced: the need to go to a specialist store.  RPGs like Fiasco are turning into time fillers everyone can pick up at the supermarket. That’s changing the landscape on an epic scale.