The 2015 Award

The WinnerThe NomineesThe Award Ceremony

At the annual Diana Jones Award and Freelancer Party on Wednesday 29th July in Indianapolis, a representative of the DJA committee announced the winner of the fifteenth Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming. It is Guide to Glorantha, a role-playing sourcebook by Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Sandy Petersen, published by Moon Design Publications.

Since the appearance of the White Bear and Red Moon board game forty years ago, Greg Stafford’s beguiling, mythic world of Glorantha has been a seminal setting for tabletop game play. A testament not only to the depth of the world but also to the loving dedication of its fan community, Guide to Glorantha ballooned into titanic life through a massively successful crowdfunding campaign. Co-authored by past DJA winner Greg Stafford, the equally legendary Sandy Petersen, and the indefatigable Jeff Richard, it thunks onto the table in jaw-dropping, two-volume, 800-page, full-color, coffee-table-sized glory. All twelve plus pounds of it, not counting separate map pack!

The book’s art direction nods to past RuneQuest glories while serving up gorgeous yet functional new pieces from the obsessive likes of Jan Pospisil and Jeff Laubenstein. A compendium in every sense of the word, this is the publishing project only a creation as rich as Glorantha could sustain. The product of a lifetime’s worth of wildly imaginative yet anthropologically and spiritually rigorous creation, the vision of Glorantha served up here provides fodder for more separate campaigns than any one GM could ever possibly run.

Need to know which gods fought in the battle that formed the Jord Mountains? It’s on page 313. The secret of the Orlanth Dragonfriend revelation? Page 133! Who are the Gorgers, and why can no humans withstand them in hand-to-hand combat? Why, it’s all there, on page 542! All usable with either of the game-world’s two diametrically different rules sets, and the third one now on the way.

Though focused on the setting’s traditional present day, the hero-plagued, war-torn Third Age, it lays out enough detail to play in the world’s mythic predawn age, the hopeful first age, or the high weirdness of the second age. Yet it also reflects our current tabletop gaming age, the second Golden Age, a time as wondrous as any ascension by any upstart lunar goddess.

Over the decades Glorantha fans have spent decades in a wilderness of fizzled comebacks, missed corporate connections, and stillborn renaissances. All around the world, from Oakland to Tokyo to the shores of Germany’s Rhine river, its fervent far-flung tribe has pulsed with the impossible hope of one day seeing Greg’s world reach the full realization it has always deserved. To see heroquesters Stafford, Petersen, Richard, et al emerge from the underworld, holding high the recovered light that fell to earth so many times, requires the most mythic and mysterious accolade the tabletop scene can summon. This of course would be the pyramidal treasure you now all behold, the 2015 Diana Jones Award. Loft it with pride, heroquesters. Just don’t let the Crimson Bat eat it.

Special thanks to the sponsors of this year’s Diana Jones Award ceremony:

From another long and eclectic collection of nominees, the secretive committee of the Diana Jones Award has distilled a shortlist of five contenders that it believes best exemplified ‘excellence’ in the field of gaming in 2014. The Diana Jones Committee is proud to announce that the shortlist for its 2015 award for Excellence in Gaming is:

COLLEGE OF WIZARDRY
A live-action roleplay game by Liveform and Rollespilsfabrikken

Rendering a magical world into a physical, playable reality is always a challenge. Rollespilsfabrikken and Liveform, the Danish-Polish team behind the live action role-playing game College of Wizardry, took a post-Potter setting and added a new school of magic in Czocha, Poland. The larp is a witches’ brew of game design enabling free play, an ensemble of dedicated co-creative players, and the truly enchanting location of the Czocha castle, filled with secret passages. The participants played juniors, sophomores, and seniors, as well as teachers, ghosts, and a wide variety of magical creatures for three days at the start of the school year. The open design of the larp was particularly robust; this was a larp that would not break—and would still make sense no matter how many dark rituals were performed. The global media attention that College of Wizardry received was unprecedented and unanimously positive.

DESIGNERS & DRAGONS second edition
A series of books by Shannon Appelcline, published by Evil Hat Productions 

Without art history there can be no lasting art.

GUIDE TO GLORANTHA
A role-playing sourcebook by Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Sandy Petersen, published by Moon Design Publications

Since the appearance of the White Bear and Red Moon board game forty years ago, Greg Stafford’s beguiling, mythic world of Glorantha has been a seminal setting for tabletop game play. A testament not only to the depth of the world but also to the loving dedication of its fan base, Guide to Gloranthaballooned into titanic life through a massively successful crowdfunding campaign. Co-authored by past DJA winner Greg Stafford, the equally legendary Sandy Petersen, and the indefatigable Jeff Richard, it thunks onto the table in jaw-dropping, two-volume, 800-page, full-colour, coffee-table-sized glory. (Not to mention a separate map pack!) The book’s art direction nods to past RuneQuest glories while serving up gorgeous yet illustrative new pieces from the obsessive likes of Jan Pospisil and Jeff Laubenstein. A compendium in every sense of the word, this is the publishing project only a world as rich as Glorantha could sustain. Whether you’re a mechanistic dwarf, an all-devouring troll, or a paradoxical red moon goddess, you have to stand back in awe at both its towering ambition and maniacally detailed execution.

MYSTERIUM
A card game by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, published by IGAMES

In game design, as in perfume making, sometimes two familiar essences can combine to create something totally new. The Ukrainian game Mysteriumtakes the structured murder-solving heart of Clue/Cluedo, adds the card-identifying charm of Dixit, and blends them into an entirely new game that is atmospheric, suspenseful, narrative, co-operative, delightful and deeply satisfying. One player is a ghost who must communicate the details of its murder to a crew of psychic investigators—the other players—through seven nights of dreams, represented by cards with surreal illustrations. The result is gameplay that’s simple but brilliant: the ghost may be telling you about the general, the postman or the nun but your only clue is a picture of a chair on a tightrope. It is a game about the joy of over-thinking the obvious, and when you fail you curse not the cards, the mechanics, fate or your fellow players, but your own poverty of imagination. Being the out-of-wedlock progeny of a family staple and a Spiel des Jahres winner sets high expectations but Mysterium is more than the sum of its parts, it is an instant classic.

TORCHBEARER
A role-playing game by Thor Olavsrud and Luke Crane, published by Burning Wheel

Combining sleek, modern game design with an unabashed love letter to red-box D&DTorchbearer celebrates and revels in the nearly-lost notion that roleplaying games can challenge you as a player—and that you can get better at them. Starting from the primordial fortune-seeking adventuring party, Torchbearer quickly strips away the familiar comforts of heroic fantasy. True to its name, you’ll be managing light sources—as well as food, water and other minutia—as you crawl through miserable caves seeking treasure. Torchbearer‘s brilliance quickly becomes apparent as the crunchy details of low-level delves, so often a stumbling block, become simultaneously central to play and effortless to implement. Never has a heartless, brutal grind been so much fun.

The winner of this year’s award was announced to a packed house on July 29, at the annual Diana Jones Award and Freelancer Party in Indianapolis, the unofficial start of the Gen Con games convention. Host Matt Forbeck opened the ceremony by listing the entries on the shortlist and then turned the microphone over to the previous year’s winner, Robin D. Laws, to announce and praise the winner: Guide to Glorantha. Authors Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and two additional gentlemen from Moon Design Publications were on hand to accept the award. After short speeches from Greg and Jeff, the party continued on into the night.

11822519_10205080857557244_7689530164268468764_n-2

Jeff (in hat) and Greg congratulate each other while Robin praises Guide to Glorantha and Matt waits to hand the trophy to Greg.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Holmes.)

Special thanks to the sponsors of this year’s Diana Jones Award ceremony: