The 2002 Award

The WinnerThe NomineesThe Award Ceremony

The Diana Jones Award committee is proud to announce that its second annual award is given to Ron Edwards and Sorcerer.

SORCERER

game_sorcererBy Ron Edwards
Published by Adept Press

Fresh, mathematically honest, direct, and patently concerned with good game-play, Sorcerer is a marvel of RPG design. First self-published online for as a for-sale PDF, Sorcerer—together with its creator and publisher Ron Edwards—represent the potential of the independent innovator in today’s RPG industry. Now available in hard cover, Sorcerer stands above competitors in elegance and intelligence.

Sorcerer is a rules-light, modern-day RPG about people who control demons (or try to). The game focuses on what the characters want and what they’ll do to get it.

Sorcerer is remarkable for the amount of freedom it provides to (or demands from) gamemasters and players. The game has no setting (no would-be fiction masquerading as world background). The gamemaster determines not just the campaign’s physical and social environment, but also the metaphysical foundation of the game. The GM even determines such central concepts as what demons are and what the Humanity score represents.

The rules of sorcery provide the fixed element in campaign creation, the core around which the campaign is built. The rules allow characters to contact, summon, bind, punish, contain, and banish demons. Each demon has a need, which it is the sorcerer’s responsibility to satisfy.

Sorcerer’s dice-rolling mechanic is a masterstroke. It at once allows any capability or difficulty to be defined by a single number (the number of dice rolled) while still determining success, how strong the success is, and how that success affects other actions.

At every point, Sorcerer boasts details that engage the players in roleplaying their characters more fully. Some roleplaying features are familiar, such as free-form descriptors for a character’s attributes. Others are refreshingly new, such as a character’s ‘kicker’, the startling introductory scene that impels the character into the campaign and that one invents for one’s own character.

In addition to designing Sorcerer, Ron dedicated himself to continuous online playtesting, blazing important landmarks along the trail of electronic games publishing. In the year 2001, Ron’s willingness to put his money where his mouth is by going to hardback, his visible and constant dedication to the craft and art of games design, his tireless encouragement of creator ownership, and his successful nurturing of an online forum dedicated to creator-controlled games have leveraged a mere brilliant game design into the seed crystal of something with the potential to greatly improve adventure gaming.

The committee considered a list of almost fifty nominations for the second annual Diana Jones Award. The following four (in alphabetical order) made the shortlist:

DE PROFUNDIS

by Michal Oracz
Published by Portal Publishing, Poland
(Available in English as part of Hogshead Publishing’s New Style Games line)

Out of Poland comes a roleplaying game that expands the definition of what a roleplaying game is, and what an RPG rulebook is. This free-form, Lovecraftian game runs by correspondence. Rather than adapting tabletop RPGing to play-by-mail, De Profundis re-invents the roleplaying form to match correspondence-style play.

THE DYING EARTH ROLEPLAYING GAME

By Robin Laws, John Snead and Peter Freeman
Published by Pelgrane Press

The Dying Earth RPG captures the spirit of Jack Vance’s tales of rogues and charlatans, makes their often arcane world accessible to novices, and translates them into a sublimely enjoyable gaming experience. The game succeeds on all levels, with its beautifully presented and atmospheric book, its innovative and easily understood game system, and the pleasure it takes in its subject.

ROBIN D. LAWS

Robin D. Laws is one of the games industry’s most respected designers, and one of its most prolific. Whether he is presenting a completely new approach to roleplay (RunePantheon) or an RPG version of an existing genre or canon (Feng ShuiHero WarsDying Earth), his attention to detail, finesse and understanding of readers’ needs have put him at the head of his field.

SORCERER

by Ron Edwards
Published by Adept Press

Fresh, mathematically honest, direct, and patently concerned with good game-play, Sorcerer is a marvel of RPG game design. First self-published online for as a for-sale PDF, Sorcerer—together with its creator and publisher Ron Edwards—represent the potential of the independent innovator in today’s RPG industry. Now available in hard cover, Sorcerer stands above competitors in elegance and intelligence.

The second annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was presented to Ron Edwards, the designer and publisher of the RPG Sorcerer (Adept Press), on 7th August 2002, the evening before the Gen Con convention (‘the four best days in gaming’) opened in Milwaukee for the last time.

The award was made at the Diana Jones Industry and Freelancer Party, organized by the DJA committee, with sponsorship from Gen Con LLC, Hogshead Publishing Ltd, Misguided Games and Wizard’s Attic.

The presentation of the trophy to Ron Edwards was made by Peter Adkison, the previous year’s winner. The audience of around 250 games designers and industry professionals gave Edwards a standing ovation as he accepted the award and made a speech declaring the arrival of the independent publisher as a force within the games field.

Earlier in the evening, in association with the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, John R. Phythyon, Jr. and Peter Adkison presented Tracy Hickman with his GAMA Hall of Fame award. This award had been announced at the Origins convention a month before, but Hickman had been unable to attend. Unaware that he would be honoured at the Industry and Freelancer Party, Hickman’s surprise and pleasure was evident.

The evening was compered by James Wallis who, in a short speech, observed that the Diana Jones Award does not stand in opposition to the Origins Awards, but as a complement to them. However, as he pointed out, “They make you wear tuxedos, while we give you free beer.”

Thanks to all who attended, to the event’s sponsors, and to Milwaukee’s Historic Turner Restaurant where the event was held.

Diana Jones Award winner Ron Edwards makes his acceptance speech

Diana Jones Award winner Ron Edwards makes his acceptance speech

Peter Adkison presents Tracy Hickman with his Origins Awards Hall of Fame award.

Peter Adkison presents Tracy Hickman with his Origins Awards Hall of Fame award.