Tuesday, July 14, 2015

D&D Product Historian Shannon Appelcline Twists D&D History

With the release of the Platinum Appendix for Designers and Dragons, we get to see Shannon Appelcline's account of recent D&D history. Of particular note is his description of D&D 5e's release since it is arguably the biggest thing that happened in this last year. Something struck me as a little strange.

page 96 
I'm not surprised that the controversy around RPGPundit and Zak S's consultancy made the pages of the book considering it took up a lot of attention in a small corner of the hobby and likely gave Mike Merles headaches for days. What I think is troubling about this passage is the description of the two consultants as "widely viewed as internet bullies." Truth be told, very few people in Wizard of the Coast's audience know or care who either Zak or Pundit are. Outside of their pockets of the RPG hobby, not many people know what either of these people do in games or care that they may have influenced the new edition of D&D in some nebulous way.

By describing the negative view of the consultants as being widely held, Appelcline is showing his bias, that he and those in his echo chamber don't like Zak or Pundit on a personal level. I wonder how else this bias has influenced Appelcline's chronicling of RPG history. 

page 97
The above passage appears one page later and manages to conflate the consultant controversy (which was about internet cliques and deceptive smear campaigns) with Gamergate, which was a completely different can of shit. I'm sure that the underlying darkness that Appelcline is talking about has nothing to do with the bullshit being spread about the consultants and everything about the people taking the detractors to task.

Appelcline's telling of history is a description of his feelings, which I think is a questionable practice for someone who is coming to be regarded as the hobby's historian. I haven't read any other pages from Appelcline's books and I'm not inclined to read more after this misrepresentation.

If you want to know what the deal is with Zak S, click here

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Charm Monster ENnies Voting Guide 2015 Edition

The Judges

For the most part, the voting in of ENnies judges is like a popularity contest, except I'm sure more of us don't know who the fuck most of these people are.  Allow me to help and point out who should be popular and why:
  • Kiel Cheiner runs the awesome blog Dungeons and Donuts and has already proven he's good at reviewing and discerning excellent material. 
  • Harald Wagener is someone I've seen around on G+ and seems like a generally cool guy.
One thing you might want to keep in mind is who the incumbent judges are. This is good in case you want more controversies about unlicensed fan hacks becoming Product of the Year. The incumbents are:
  • Jakub Nowosad
  • Kayra Keri Kupcu
  • Stacy Muth
  • Kurt Wiegel
  • Honorable Mention: Hooper, who had been a judge until 2014. 
Seriously, if you want the ENnies to regain some dignity, don't re-elect these people.

Onto the fun stuff! Here are my picks for products in the various categories. 
  • Best Adventure: Red and Pleasant Land. Hands down the best product to come out this year. It should win every category it was nominated for and also some it wasn't. 
  • Best Aid/Accessory: DungeonMorph Dice: Explorer Set. These dice are a super cool way to make random dungeons.
  • Best Art, Interior: Interface Zero or D&D Monster Manual. 
  • Best Art, Cover: Mutant: Year Zero. Look them all up yourself, but I think that Mutant is a step above the rest. 
  • Best Blog: Contessa. An excellent blog about women in gaming.
  • Best Cartography: Ninth World Guidebook. I'm a bit ignorant on this category, but I have seen samples from Ninth World Guidebook and they were gorgious. 
  • Best Electronic Book: Basic Rules for D&D. Could use some more art, but the content of the text (the best new game for free) makes up for that.
  • Best Family Game: Doctor Who Adventures in Space and Time. This game needs more love. It's a solid game and would be accessible for younger gamers.
  • Best Free Product: Basic Rules for D&D. See above.
  • Best Game: D&D Player's Handbook. It might seem strange voting for the big name over the underdogs, but D&D 5e is a seriously good game. The best I've seen published this year.
  • Best Miniature: Pathfinder Pawns. I like cardboard minis like this. We should encourage their creation.
  • Best Monster/Adversary: D&D Monster Manual. Great art, great selection of monsters and the format of the entries are all excellent. 
  • Best Podcast: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. It's Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws talking about stuff, usually interesting stuff. Obviously the best podcast possible.
  • Best Production Values: Red and Pleasant Land, but since it wasn't nominated, Horror on the Orient Express is a good alternative. 
  • Best RPG Related Product: Chicks Dig Gaming.
  • Best Rules: D&D Player's Handbook. See above.
  • Best Setting: Red and Pleasant Land. See above.
  • Best Supplement: D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide. The best DMG I've seen for D&D yet. 
  • Best Software: Fuck if I know. I live in the distant past. 
  • Best Writing: Red and Pleasant Land. See above.
  • Best Website: Age of Ravens. Lowell's histories of RPGs are the bomb. 
  • Fans’ Choice for Best Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Goodman Games both had amazing years.
  • Product of the Year: Red and Pleasant Land. Without a doubt, this is the defining product of 2015. It should become the gold standard of RPG books.