Obligatory Post About the ENnie Awards' "Best Free Product" Category

In case you are living under a rock, there is a lot of controversy about this year's "Best Free Product" nominees for this year's ENnie Awards.

As Justin Halliday explains quite well, this award category is a farce—all but ONE of the free products are either quick-start rules for a for-pay product, promos for paid products, one-day free downloads, or, of all things, a conversion guide between campaign settings. And all of the nominees except for that conversion guide are from established, commercial publishers.

Seriously—and especially in regards to that conversion guide—WTF?!?

I have lots of free PDFs from RPG/OSR blogs and small-press or indie publishers and yet NONE of them were nominated. Why wasn't Secret Santicore nominated? Why not Heroes Against Darkness? Or the Hills Canton Compendium? Or the Lands of Ara Compendium. Or Blackmarsh for God's sake?

I think it's time to start a fan based award system modeled on the The People's Choice Award, where the fans and players vote for fan-produced products. Sure, it's a circle-jerk, but it would be our circle-jerk. I don't know if there should be prizes involved--hell, I don't have any cash to put up prizes. Maybe those guys over at the One Page Dungeon Contest can arrange something or run this whole thing. They might be better at this than me.

After coming up with the categories below, I'm tempted to call these the FANnies. All we need is a Hot Elf Chick in our logo and we would be good to go. Maybe this one:

Art by Khairul Hisham, copyright ©2010.
Totally used without permission. Here's a link to the post where I found it:

At any rate, here are my suggested categories:

Best For-Pay Fanzine

Best Free Fanzine

Best For-Pay Fan Adventure/Encounter/Module thingie

Best Free Fan Adventure/Encounter/Module thingie

Best Fan-created For-Pay Supplement

Best Fan-created Free Supplement

Best Free Fan-Created Community Project

Best Free Fan-created Original Monster
(not included in any other category--like posted to a blog or something)

Best Fan Podcast

Best Fan Vidcast

Best Fan Blog

Best Fan Forum

Best Overall Fan-Created Free Product

Any other categories you can think of? Who would you nominate for these categories (feel free to nominate yourself). Since I'm dreaming here, can I also have a pony?


Timothy Brannan said…
I have been on this page now for a while thinking about what you are saying here.

I think there is room for a "alternate press" or "people's choice" award.
I think that if it were to be rooted in the OSR then a hot-elf is the perfect symbol.

But I also have questions (and there may not be answers just yet)

Who decides which products?
The Ennies have their judges and you have to send in copies of your work.

If there are judges here, who are they? Or how does someone become one?

Lots of questions to be sure.
mwschmeer said…
@Tim: I'm just thinking out loud in this post. I'm not really sure if I have answers to those questions.

As for nominations, I'd say that folks nominate stuff--some type of forum or survey would have to be set up, and then there would be a window of time to submit nominations. There would have to be some sort of guidelines covering release dates--it had to have been released during X year and had to have been available for purchase or free download for X amount of time. I favor open nominations--and people should feel free to nominate their own work.

As for judges, I don't know. I'd like to have open voting by fans, again set up somehow via a survey site or utilizing Google Docs or something like that to track access and IPs so that isn't any ballot stuffing.

But you are right that someone needs to tabulate nominations and slim the list to a manageable amount. A few people working together could do this. Say that for each category, we take the top five to seven nominations (I like groups of seven, but whatever) and put those forward to the voting public. There would be a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place award and maybe one honorable mention if we go with groups of seven.aybe we can keep with the FANnies theme and get cheeky with the names for the prizes.

Again, I have no master plan in place. I have no clue how to go about managing something like this.

And, now that I think about it some more, I'm thinking that maybe we need to limit it to just free products, too, because that's the ENnies category triggered this post.