Questing Beast

The Blog Glatisant

The History of OSR ENNIE Awards

With the recent release of the 2021 ENNIE Award nominations (The Waking of Willowby Hall was nominated for Best Adventure!), I thought I’d take a look back through the award’s history to see how the OSR has historically fared. I’ve listed all OSR and OSR-adjacent products that have been nominated since 2010 below. If they have 1 star, they won silver in their category. If they have 2 stars, they won gold. Of course, what counts as “OSR” is a matter of personal opinion, so other people might count this differently. My list starts at 2010 because prior to that the only OSR-ish products appear to be books by Goodman Games and Necromancer Games, who were using 3.5 for their rules.

2010 – 3 Nominations, 0 Wins
The Grinding Gear – Best Adventure
(Honorable mention) Death Frost Doom – Best Cartography
(Honorable mention) Labyrinth Lord – Best Game

2011 – 2 Nominations, 1 Win
**Old School Hack – Best Free Product
(Honorable mention) Stars Without Number – Best New Game

2012 – 0 Nominations, 0 Wins

2013 – 5 Nominations, 0 Wins
The Magnificent Joop van Ooms – Best Art
Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea – Best Game
Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea – Best Production values
Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea – Product of the year
Goodman Games – Favorite Publisher

2014 – 1 Nomination, 0 Wins
Old School Monsters Database – Best Software

2015 – 4 Nominations, 4 Wins
*A Red & Pleasant Land – Best Adventure
*A Red & Pleasant Land – Product of the Year
**A Red & Pleasant Land – Best Setting
**A Red & Pleasant Land – Best Writing

2016 – 5 Nominations, 3 Wins
Maze of the Blue Medusa – Best Adventure
*Maze of the Blue Medusa – Best Cartography
**Maze of the Blue Medusa – Best Electronic Book
*Maze of the Blue Medusa – Best Writing
Maze of the Blue Medusa – Product of the Year

2017 – 7 Nominations, 4 Wins
**Broodmother Skyfortress – Judge’s Spotlight
**Blood in the Chocolate – Best Adventure
The Cursed Chateau – Best Cartography
*Veins of the Earth – Best Adversary
Veins of the Earth – Best Rules
*Veins of the Earth – Best Writing
Veins of the Earth – Product of the Year

2018 – 15 Nominations, 8 Wins
Fever Swamp – Judge’s Spotlight
Operation Unfathomable – Judge’s Spotlight
**The Dark of Hot Springs Island – Best Adventure
*Frostbitten and Mutilated – Best Interior Art
**The Midderlands – Best Cartography
*Scenario from Ontario – Best Electronic Book
Vaginas Are Magic – Best Free Product
**Frostbitten and Mutilated – Best Monster
Rey and Kiel Can Do – Best Podcast
Hobbs and Friends of the OSR – Best Podcast
*Fear of a Black Dragon – Best Podcast
*Frostbitten and Mutilated – Best Setting
*Frostbitten and Mutilated – Best Writing
The Dark of Hot Springs Island – Product of the Year
Frostbitten and Mutilated – Product of the Year

2019 – 17 Nominations, 5 Wins
The Stygian Library – Judge’s Spotlight
*Mothership: Dead Planet – Best Adventure
Winter’s Daughter – Best Adventure
Winter’s daughter – Best Cover art
*A New Map of Hot Springs Island – Cartography
Silent Titans – Cartography
Midderlands Expanded – Cartography
*The Ultraviolet Grasslands – Best Free Product
**Mothership – Best Game
*The Black Hack 2nd Edition – Best Layout/Design
Questing Beast – Best Online Content
Silent Titans – Best Production Values
Mothership – Best Rules
Silent Titans – Best Writing
Troika – Best Writing
Mothership – Product of the year
Silent Titans – Product of the year

2020 – 19 Nominations, 11 Wins
**A Pound of Flesh – Best Adventure
The Halls of Arden Vul Complete – Best Adventure
*Trilemma Adventures – Best Adventure
*Ultraviolet Grasslands – Best Cover Art
**Ultraviolet Grasslands – Best Interior Art
**Trilemma Adventures – Best Cartography
*Tunnel Goons – Best Free Game
*Mork Borg – Best Game
*A Pound of Flesh – Best Layout
**Mork Borg – Best Layout
Trilemma Adventures – Best Layout
Worm Witch – Best Monster
Old School Essentials Generators – Best Online Content
Appendix N Book Club – Best Podcast
Rakehell – Best Setting
Electric Bastionland – Best Writing
**Mork Borg – Best Writing
**Mork Borg – Product of the Year
Trilemma Adventures – Product of the Year

2021 – 16 Nominations, ? Wins
The Waking of Willowby Hall – Best Adventure
Halls of the Blood King – Best Adventure
DNDNGEN – Best Aid/Accessory – Digital
Neverland – Best Art, Cover
Neverland – Best Art, Interior
Halls of the Blood King – Best Cartography
Undying Sands – Best Cartography
Mausritter: Boxed Set – Best Family Game/Product
The Stygian Library: Remastered – Best Layout and Design
DNDNGEN – Best Online Content
Worldbuilder’s Notebook – Best RPG Related Product
The Stygian Library: Remastered – Best Setting
Undying Sands – Best Setting
MÖRK BORG CULT: Feretory – Best Supplement
The Stygian Library: Remastered – Best Writing
The Stygian Library: Remastered – Product of the Year


In 2020 the OSR had almost 17% of all ENNIE nominations and 26% of all wins (and it would be even higher if I included OSR-inspired stuff like Labyrinth). 2020 was also the peak of a seven year run where the number of OSR nominations increased year after year.

I would be curious to see how Forge-derived games or storygames have done over time (my impression is that they have become much more popular in recent years) but I don’t know enough about them to tell which books would fall into that category.

The Adventure Game Through History

In a previous post I talked about my preference for the term Adventure Game over OSR. In some ways I like it better than the term RPG as well. I was gratified to find that the person who invented the whole genre (David Wesely) felt the same way.

Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for instances of RPGs being called Adventure Games. Some of the first examples were in D&D. The Moldvay/Cook boxed sets put it right on their covers, and subsequent beginners boxes used it as well. It even ended up on the spines of AD&D books.

Since then, it has mostly be used to refer to beginner boxed sets, I assume because Adventure Game is much easier to grasp than Roleplaying Game if you’re a parent looking to buy something for your kid.

However, in recent years it’s begun to show up more frequently on games where it isn’t code for RPG-lite. This is especially true in the Old-School Sphere.

What other examples of RPGs being labelled “Adventure Games” are out there? How do you feel about this trend?

Vote for Labyrinth at the ENnies!

Voting for the ENnie awards is open now, and my RPG Labyrinth: The Adventure Game is nominated for two categories – Best Family Game and Best Cartography! To vote, just go to those categories here and give Labyrinth a “1”. You can also vote for Questing Beast in the Fan Favorite Publisher category. Remember to leave blank any entries that you don’t like, as assigning a number always improves an entry’s ranking.

Lots of other OSR products have been nominated this year, including:

BEST ADVENTURE: A Pound of Flesh, Trilemma Adventures, The Halls of Arden Vul Complete
BEST ART, COVER: The Ultraviolet Grasslands
BEST ART, INTERIOR: The Ultraviolet Grasslands
BEST CARTOGRAPHY: Trilemma Adventures
BEST FREE GAME: Tunnel Goons
BEST LAYOUT AND DESIGN: A Pound of Flesh, Trilemma Adventures, MÖRK BORG
BEST ONLINE CONTENT: Essentials Generators
BEST PODCAST: Appendix N Book Club
BEST WRITING: Electric Bastionland, MÖRK BORG

Sea of Thieves: The Best OSR Combat Game?

I’m now playing Sea of Thieves for about 4 hours a day. Playing solo is awful, but with a crew of close friends/family members, it’s transcendent. A huge part of that is the ship battles, which can be approached with an intensely OSR sense of creative mayhem. There’s so many many strategies you can employ to take out someone’s ship, but even when you do it expertly (which I am very bad at) you’re on these large, fast vessels with a lot of Patrick Stuart’s held kinetic energy so there’s so many variables and ways for things to go wrong.

When you shoot cannons at enemy ships you want to hit them below the waterline, but that’s tricky because both ships are moving up and down on the waves as you move. You can also shoot down their masts to slow them, blast enemy PCs off the deck or shoot firebombs to light their ship on fire (which spreads). There are also magical cannonballs that can drop their anchor, seal all their supply barrels, make them all drunk, dance, sleep, or lame, or break their cannons. Each ship has harpoon guns on the front that you can use to latch on to enemy ships to pull them in, or reel in treasure, allies, or enemies in range. When you get hit below the waterline, water starts pouring in the hole which you have to patch by hand and then bail by scooping water into a bucket and throwing it over the side. BUT you might want a little bit of a leak because you can use it to put out fire on deck, or bail the water ONTO THE OTHER BOAT. There are barrels of gunpowder you can drop over the side and hope that enemy ships hit them, or you can swim one over to their boat, climb on board, and then blow it up. You can load yourself into your own cannons and have a friend FIRE YOU ONTO ENEMY SHIPS from 100 yards away.

The game’s an amazing story generator. Instead of giving you game mechanics to manipulate and attack numbers that go up, the game just gives you tons of tools that you can use creatively and then waits to see who is going to be the cleverest. All the canons in the game do the same damage, all ships of the same class go the same speed. You don’t level up your character, you level up your real-world strategic skills.

There’s basically no HUD in the game. Everything has to be done physically. To know wind direction you look up at the sky, to know what direction you’re facing you have to pull out a compass, to navigate you have to look at a map on a table.

It’s also an extremely cooperative game and pretty easy to learn, so it’s ideal for hanging out with people in isolation who maybe don’t play many video games. You have to work together to even sail the ship effectively (steering, charting a course, adjusting the sails, scanning the horizon for enemies or floating barrels etc.) so you’re always talking to each other and doing something. You can play it super cheap for a month by paying $1 for an XBOX game pass (which works for PC as well) and then cancelling before the end of the first month. I might end up just buying it though.

The Questing Beast Kickstarter is now LIVE!

Back it on Kickstarter by clicking here or on the picture above.

From the Kickstarter description:

The manor of Willowby Hall is under siege by a giant, enraged at the theft of his magical goose. A band of thieves has taken shelter within the manor’s crumbling walls, cowering with their ill-gotten poultry as the building shakes itself apart. But something else is stirring. The giant’s rampage has woken a group of revenant knights from their black slumber in the manor’s crypt, and they have called the bones of the manor’s old residents to their side in an effort to drive out the intruders.Will the party manage to loot the manor of its ancient relics, or succumb to the blades of its skeletal guardians? Who will make off with the goose and its golden eggs? Will anyone survive the giant’s onslaught? The only way to find out…is to play.

The Waking of Willowby Hall is a self-contained, 32-page adventure, presented in zine format. It’s designed to work as a one-shot, or to be dropped directly into a pre-existing campaign setting. Its focus is on ease of use, high interactivity, and a dangerous environment that rewards clever play. It will use minimalistic statblocks that are broadly compatible with Old-School D&D systems like Old-School Essentials or Knave, and are easily converted to D&D 5e or other fantasy RPGs.

All Fandoms are Toxic

Inspired by some recent discussion on what a dumpster fire Twitter RPG discourse is, I present the Questing Beast Theory of Fandom Toxicity.

Virtually all fandoms are toxic once they reach a certain size. The reason is pretty simple: fandoms are groups of thousands of people that only have a single interest in common. This means that wherever they hang out, members of that fandom will be constantly engaging with people who share their enthusiasm for the fandom’s topic, but whose worldviews are opposed to their own.

This wouldn’t normally be a problem (we run into people with incompatible worldviews all the time) except that modern fandoms are often very intent on uniting the fanbase under a single “community.” This creates several problems:

  1. You’re part of the community whether you want to be or not.
  2. You get the cognitive dissonance of being in a community full of people who don’t share your beliefs.
  3. People within the community are upset at you when they see you in conflict with other members over basic issues.
  4. You get the embarrassment of outsiders lumping you together with people you dislike.
  5. If the fandom topic is a big part of your identity, you can feel that it (or you) is tainted by the presence of bad actors.

This situation causes the constant sniping, gatekeeping, and toxicity you find in fandom spaces. There are a couple ways to solve this.

  1. Make a real community, but be very selective who you let in (preventing disparities in worldview).
  2. Stop pretending that a shared interest group is a community and be very specific in what you allow people to talk about (preventing discussion of worldview disparities).
  3. Ignore the communities question, and just keep the group very small (200 people at most). This is basically why G+ worked. Most people knew each other on a personal level (often playing in each other’s games), so they were able to overlook worldview conflicts.

Is DnD a Gateway RPG?

Brendan (from the Necropraxis blog) and I have created a survey looking at DnD as a “gateway RPG” as well as the ways that people play it. There was a lot of debate about these topics recently, so we thought some data would be good for the hobby. Please share it widely! We want to get data from across the RPG landscape, not just the OSR.

Survey here:

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