Friday, October 8, 2010

Open Friday: Three Castles Award

As some of you may be aware, Rob Kuntz conceived of a new award, the Three Castles Award (so named after Castles Blackmoor, Greyhawk, and El Raja Key -- yeah, I too think it's a bit much to insert one's own creation into such a pantheon too, even when, as in this case, there's certainly merit to the cause for doing so), which is intended to honor "designers of the highest merit for outstanding work in the industry of Role Playing Game design." You can read more specific details about the award here, including its submission guidelines.

According to those guidelines, gaming products -- meaning "RPG rules, settings, adventures, sourcebooks and/or combinations of these" -- published between October 1, 2009 and October 1, 2010 are eligible for consideration for the 2011 award. The submission window is between October 1 and December 31, 2010, meaning that we're just at the start of it now.

I'll admit that I personally find the scope of the award a bit too broad, since, theoretically, any RPG product could be submitted and win, but I also think that alternatives to awards like the Origins and ENnie Awards are a good thing. For today's question, though, I thought I'd ask: what products published within the aforementioned dates do you think are worthy of recognition by this award? If you had the ability to do so, which products would you submit for consideration?

37 comments:

  1. "I too think it's a bit much to insert one's own creation into such a pantheon too, even when, as in this case, there's certainly merit to the cause for doing so..."

    I've never even heard of "El Raja Key."

    And I barely follow the RPG industry these days, so I've little idea what's out there. I'll be interested to see what people recommend.

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  2. I think Stonehell is eligible and good enough... I don't know a lot of products which have been puplished in the last year, but I would be very much interested in current rpg things Rob Kuntz and friends find better than Stonehell...

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  3. Would it be wrong to nominate my own product, Archives of Maere: Spells, from Wild Hunt Games? Is it wrong to shamelessly promote myself? ;-)

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  4. I've never even heard of "El Raja Key."

    Castle El Raja Key was Rob Kuntz's own dungeon, created around 1972 or so, partially to give Gary Gygax a place to adventure when he wasn't running his own Castle Greyhawk. Parts of El Raja Key were later incorporated into Castle Greyhawk and Maure Castle in the World of Greyhawk setting bears some relationship to it as well. It's thus one of the earliest dungeons created in the hobby. It's also quite obscure, so it's hardly a surprise you've never heard of it.

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  5. I think Stonehell is eligible and good enough

    Most definitely. Stonehell is superb, certainly one of the best products to have been released within the listed timeframe.

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  6. Would it be wrong to nominate my own product, Archives of Maere: Spells, from Wild Hunt Games? Is it wrong to shamelessly promote myself? ;-)

    Submissions are limited to print products. PDF only products are ineligible for consideration.

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  7. I don’t know. I’m still not sure what to make of Rob’s “newness for newness’ sake” kick. He made a rousing speech at the NorTex con for the kinds of products he hopes this award will inspire, but it didn’t really help me understand what those products might actually look like.

    And how much will the rest of the judges’ opinions align with Rob’s?

    That said, I think it is extremely hard to write guidelines for this sort of thing. So, even if Rob wasn’t trying to inspire some innovation here, I think it’d still have to have pretty broad guidelines. I guess it’s up to the judges to shape it from there.

    Since I’m not much in the market for innovative RPG products, I have a hard time coming up with candidates.

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  8. Lamentations of the Flame Princess, obviously,


    he said, without a hint of irony.

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  9. I’m still not sure what to make of Rob’s “newness for newness’ sake” kick. He made a rousing speech at the NorTex con for the kinds of products he hopes this award will inspire, but it didn’t really help me understand what those products might actually look like.

    That remains the biggest impediment this award has, I think: it's still very unclear just what it's meant to recognize. So a lot is riding on which product is its first honoree.

    And how much will the rest of the judges’ opinions align with Rob’s?

    I have concerns about how things will play out too, but, given that the other four judges are Paul Jaquays, Dennis Sustare, Tim Kask, and Steve Winter, I'm not particularly worried that Mr Kuntz's opinion will be unduly influential, but, as I said, a lot depends on the first honoree.

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  10. Fitzerman beat me to it, but Lamentations of the the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying.

    It is nearly impossible to describe how new Raggi's feels to me even if it is firmly rooted in OD&D. Death Frost Doom was my first Raggi product and it set of the "wow" buttons in my head, but the boxed set.

    It has radically changed where I'm going with The World After in more ways than one. The rules fit what I want much better (with the exception of using the S&W elf). It got me to read Poe with an eye towards gaming for the first time and The Masque of Red Death has helped me clean up my ideas about my megadungeon. It is the first thing to compete with this blog in shaping my approach to D&D in recent years.

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  11. I agree an alternative to Origins and Ennie would be nice. I also like that this is print products only.

    I will nominate: "Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Serpent's Skull Part 1 - Souls for the Smuggler's Shiv"

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  12. You have to actually send the print product to be considered, so self-nomination is pretty much the only option, unless you feel particularly charitable and want to spring for their review copy. I predict the field of contenders will therefore be particularly small. This is basically a multiple-vanity project.. Kuntz's, Rhea's, and the handful of people who will go through the trouble of submitting.

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  13. In all seriousness, I think LotFP would be perfect for an award presented by the progenitors of the hobby. The game takes the template of OD&D and subtly twists it into an atmospheric riff on the tropes we all know and love. It's a well realized and highly creative work that's deserving of any accolades sent its way.

    Plus it would be fun to see those two have to share a stage.

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  14. From the limited amount of "new" stuff I've acquired, I'm going to go with Stonehell.

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  15. "I've never even heard of "El Raja Key"

    Basically think Maure Castle, it's pretty much the same thing. WG5 Mordenkainens Fantastic adventure has connections. Various 3e conversions of Maure Castle won an Ennie award and have been featured in Dungeon Magazine. One way to look at it, Maure Castle was basically El Raja Key brought to the World of Greyhawk.

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  16. "El Raja Key = Maure Castle."

    Oh, okay. I had heard something about that. By the time those products came out, I had already put that obscure location on my World of Greyhawk maps to my own uses, so never bought them. :)

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  17. I’d very much like to see an award that could honor LotFP WRPG.

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  18. "And how much will the rest of the judges’ opinions align with Rob’s?"

    I don't know if it's that important, since Rob is only one of five votes on the committee. The guidelines are broad, and I think that this will lead to the best product being chosen regardless of other considerations. Eventually the award will be shaped by the kinds of products that win (chosen by the judges), rather than other factors, at least that's my hope.

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  19. My copy of Stonehell is still en route, but from everything I've read it certainly seems like a contender. I'm also a big fan of Rob Conley's work on Points of Light and The Majestic Wilderlands.

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  20. My nominations:
    Stonehell
    LotFP...aw, hell, Raggi's game! :)
    B/X Companion

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  21. And in the spirit of charity, maybe the Pathfinder Game Mastey Guide.

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  22. My choice for the third castle would have been MAR Barker's Jakallan Underworld.

    LOTFPWFRPG would be my choice, but I dunno if Raggi even has 5-7 copies lying around to fulfill the submission requirements.

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  23. "You have to actually send the print product to be considered, so self-nomination is pretty much the only option, unless you feel particularly charitable and want to spring for their review copy. I predict the field of contenders will therefore be particularly small. This is basically a multiple-vanity project.. Kuntz's, Rhea's, and the handful of people who will go through the trouble of submitting."

    The submission guidelines are virtually identical to many other similar awards, including the Ennies. This is a competition, not an award for valor. Self-submission is pretty much the way these things go....

    I don't get the "multiple vanity" thing. Any award has an element of ego and vanity connected to it, both for the people giving the award and those hoping to win. Rob is not on the steering committee, and has no power to influence or pick items that get moved on to the judges panel.

    Personally I hope the field of contenders is small, as long as they are the "best" in the field.

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  24. Eh, nothing on my shelf, unless the current version of Labyrinth Lord came out in that timefrane. I've mostly been snapping up bargain bin stuff and WoTC 4e stuff, little of which has been impressive - their DMG2 was decent.

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  25. LotFP, Hammers of the God, Stonehell.

    And I will be happy to chip in towards a copy of LotFP to send in. Sign me up for $20 towards it. You can probably figure out how to get to me.

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  26. Sounds like I should invent me one of these awards. I could always use more free RPG books! :)

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  27. I know that the first thing after "Greyhawk" and "Blackmoor" I think of is "El Raja Key" - no wait, that's not right. It's ridiculous.

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  28. I'd nominate the Dungeon Alphabet!

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  29. I'll second Dungeon Alphabet, it's good fun.

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  30. My picks are Stonehell and the Dungeon Alphabet. Both are excellent products with a great deal of utility.

    TFotH

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  31. Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

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  32. Stonehell. My players and I have had hours and hours of enjoyment with that product. At the rate we are going there is enough in volume 1 for YEARS of gaming.

    If Stonehell is too old, LotFP. I think that is the best intro RPG box I have ever bought. It is also one of the freshest takes on D&D I have seen in a long time, if not ever.

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  33. My picks are also Stonehell Dungeon and the Dungeon Alphabet. I'm also looking forward to the next Michael Curtis release.

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  34. Definitely and definitively: Stonehell.

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  35. For what it's worth, including El Raja Key in the list makes great sense to me because it was extraordinarily early in the hobby's history (1972) - the third great dungeon after Castle Blackmoor (1971?) and Castle Greyhawk (1972?). As far as I've been able to uncover in my research, those three dungeons in that order really were the first three great RPG dungeon settings.

    Even better, it is not well recognized, though it should have been, making it a symbol of the need for recognition this award is intended to address for new products.

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  36. My choice for the third castle would have been MAR Barker's Jakallan Underworld.

    The underworld of Jakálla is indeed an impressive early megadungeon, one I'd love to see make its way into print some day ...

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  37. I would pick the latest patch update from world of warcraft....

    (now im going to straight to RPG hell lol....)

    *cough cough* not serious *cough cough*

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