2012 ENnie Award Nominations Announced

The 2012 ENnie Award nominations are out, if you haven’t heard. Just as in previous years, here’s my thoughts on some of the nominees, particularly the ones that I’ve read or played. Critical Hits didn’t enter anything this year, but both Chatty DM and I both worked on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying which is up for several awards this year, so we’re very proud of that. And as has been the case for the past 2-3 years, there’s plenty of great games that have come out this past year that are worthy of your attention.

Thanks to the ENnie Award website for the list.

Best Adventure

While I haven’t played any of the three (!) in this list, Pelgrane Press is writing some of the best adventures out there with their GUMSHOE system across multiple genres.

Madness at Gardmore Abbey may stand as the only adventure of the 4e era that is considered a classic, combining good production values, an open sandbox for the adventurers to play around with, and most importantly, The MFING Deck of Many Things is everywhere!

Best Aid/Accessory

We have previously reviewed Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any RPG, but it is a completely great product that I’ve used for a few games since it was released. It is still helpful for populating towns and helping to plan adventures, as well as being a joy to read on its own because of the injokes and mini-stories: no small feat for a reference of this kind.

Best Art, Cover

Best Art, Interior

Best Blog

Believe me, these are all websites you want to check out. Campaign Mastery was originally a spin-off of the Roleplaying Tips newsletter that has become a fully fledged campaign advice storehouse. Gaming as Women is a newer blog that nonetheless has come on strong and provides a variety of voices that have sadly been traditionally underrepresented in our hobby. Gnome Stew, as we’ve said on multiple occasions, is THE go-to place for GM advice of all kinds. Roving Band of Misfits is a great D&D-centric blog that has done a number of great series on maps, terrain, and closest to my heard, all kinds of Gamma World content. Finally, Sly Flourish is the big name in 4e blogging, hands down, between his weekly advice-focused posts, a variety of tools to help DMs on the fly come up with monsters, and he literally wrote the book on epic level play from years of experience.

These are all worthy blogs, and as my favorite category, I cannot be happier at this list! 

Best Cartography

Best Electronic Book

Best Free Product

Best Game

Now here’s a heavy-weight category all around. Cosmic Patrol is Catalyst’s space pulp adventure game. Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a delightful storytelling game inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender that I have had several fun-filled sessions playing. Hollowpoint is a game about fast and furious violence that I have overheard games of and sounds like a blast. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is my favorite game about super-powered punching that I have ever worked on. Savage Worlds Deluxe is the newest version of the venerable Savage Worlds engines, able to power action packed games of all genres. 

All are very worthy of your vote, but more importantly, you owe it to yourself to try and play all of them.

Best Miniatures Product

The Dragon Collector’s Set is a mix of new and old (but hard to get) dragon minis, all in one place to provide all five chromatic dragons without difficulty. The best part? Putting them all onto the table during one encounter.

Best Monster/Adversary

Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale took the absolutely amazing Monster Vault and expanded on it by placing all the monsters in almost a mini-campaign setting, complete with encounters, hooks, battle maps, and of course, a huge pile of tokens for every single one.

Best Podcast

Haste is a weekly burst of gaming news in one quick podcast. Jennisodes is a charming and insightful interview show covering all aspects of gaming. I have appeared on both, and would highly recommend both!

Best Production Values

The Pathfinder Beginner Box is one of the best starter products produced for an RPG, period. Smallville High School Yearbook is designed, well, like a yearbook, down to the signatures of the cast wishing you a good summer. Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is the cumulation of 20 years of feedback, revisions, and compilations to produce one gorgeous, massive tome of all the Vampire rules you’ll ever need.

Best RPG Related Product

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design is a compilation of the multi-volume RPG design advice guide from big names of the RPG industry, and a must-read for would-be (and current) RPG designers. Lords of Waterdeep is one of my favorite board games of the year, combining the play of a “euro-style” game (and a very compelling one at that) with the rich history of D&D in the Forgotten Realms.

Best Rules

Bulldogs! is a FATE game (the same base engine that powers the excellent Dresden Files RPG) for science fiction/action games. I’ve heard it described as “the RPG where everybody is Han Solo” and that’s pretty accurate, plus great rules and great setting.

Best Setting

Ashen Stars is the science fiction take on GUMSHOE, where investigators go to alien worlds to solve mysteries. My favorite implementation of GUMSHOE so far, and I think it’s really great to see so many different science fiction books among the nominees this year.

Best Supplement

Best Website

D&D Insider, Obsidian Portal, and RPG Geek are all part of my daily browsing: Insider for the daily D&D articles (and the character builder), Obsidian Portal to help me manage my campaigns, and RPG Geek to see what games are trending and help manage my collection.

Best Writing

Stealing Cthulhu is a collection of essays on how to run more effective Cthulhu games, a genre that is oft-used in RPGs but not always executed well. I’ve lent this book to several of my Cthulhu-aficionado friends and it gets the tentacled seal of approval.

Product of the Year

And the big one! Tons of goodness here. Of course, I want you to vote for Marvel, but at the very least, check these titles out for some of the best offerings in RPGs.

Voting opens next Friday, July 20th, and winners will be announced at Gen Con on Friday, August 17th.

(By the way, this was my 900th post, which seems fitting in a way.)

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. Dave, this is a really good review marred by one glaring omission. When it comes to the category of Best Writing, all you should have written is: “On the cover of Panopticon is an octopus wielding a monofilament whip fighting a dual-wielding space-gorilla. Win!”

  2. I haven’t read it, but that sounds like a ringing endorsement!

  3. May I congratulate you on A) Your 900 th post, B) Your great review of this year’s nominees and C) Your very appreciated, if undercreditted involvement in all things Marvel during its development.

    Keep it up friend!