By Christopher Helton
The shortlist for this year's Diana Jones Award (given out each year at a special ceremony at Gen Con) has been announced. The Diana Jones Award is given out to promote excellence in gaming. "The Diana Jones Award is decided on merit, not popularity or commercial success. You may never have heard of some of the nominees, but you can be certain that they are all outstanding in their fields. What is more, because the winner is chosen by a closed, anonymous committee, it is impossible for a manufacturer or publisher to stuff the ballot or interfere with the voting."
Last year's award was given to Wil Wheaton for his web series Tabletop. Each year, the award is given out in a private ceremony open only to gaming professionals.
This year's shortlist are:
Evil Hat Productions, a publishing company run by Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks. While Evil Hat publishes a number of interesting and innovative games that support a number of different systems, they are probably best known for the Fate system. The Fate rules were originally released on the internet as a free PDF, and then went on to be used as the system for Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. In 2013, after one of the most successful Kickstarter projects in tabletop gaming, the company launched the Fate Core and Fate Accelerated rules. The project originally intended to fund production costs of a new, generic core book for the system and ended up financing the release of five books in the new game line.
Hillfolk, a roleplaying game written by Robin D. Laws and published by Pelgrane Press Ltd. Another Kickstarter success story, the Hillfolk project intended to raise $3000 to finance a 96-page softcover book and ended up making $93,000 and delivering two full-color hardcover books. Laws' DramaSystem, the rules at the heart of Hillfolk are "an elegant and clever take on group storytelling that puts gameplay and competition on an equal footing with structured narrative and individual creativity."
Paizo Publishing, a publishing company run by Lisa Stevens (publishers of the Pathfinder RPG). Paizo Publishing is best know as the publisher of the wildly successful Pathfinder RPG as well as having run a Kickstarter that raised $1 million to start development of a Pathfinder MMO. Stevens has a long history in the tabletop industry, having worked for Lions Rampant, White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast.
ROFL!, a family card game designed by John Kovalic and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. ROFL! is a family/party game that is an "original take on the word game sub-genre. ROFL!'s phrase compression conceit rewards both clue-making and guessing, supplying an essential skill-levelling element many party games lack." Kovalic is probably best known to Bleeding Cool readers as the artist who painted over the ad for Dynamite's Blood Queen comic in one of their Free Comic Book Day offerings.
Terra Mystica, a strategy board-game designed by Helge Ostertag and Jens
Drögemüller (Feuerland Spiele/Z-Man Games). "In the land of Terra Mystica dwell 14 different races in seven landscapes, each bound to its home environment. Each race must terraform neighboring landscapes into their home environments in competition with the others."
The winner of the Diana Jones Award will be announced during Gen Con and reported on by Bleeding Cool.