Online Nickname: ‘scholar’, ‘fukulo’


I’m James, I’ve been gaming over a multitude of systems for more than 20 years, both GMing and playing. I have also judged previously, so I’m familiar with the work load that is the Ennies, When I’m not gaming, I spend my days running a food pantry through a local non for profit, DJing both on twitch and at local clubs.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

Honestly, this answer has changed most over the years, and I while things I’ve said in the past( IE that RPGs literally saved my life, by giving me a creative and social outlet much healthier than what I was seeking out) the answer I’ve finally settled on is : I love stories in all forms, but particularly creating them in a collaborative setting.

The ENNIES requires a major commitment of time and energy. What resources do you have that will help you discharge these responsibilities? Will your gaming group or other individuals be assisting you? Does your family support you?

Well, first of and foremost, the biggest resource I have that will help me with Judging is experience in managing the work load. Other than that, the usual experience with a multitude of systems and play styles. I also have a lot of experience with collaborating with a team of disparate and different people, both in the same space and virtually, making sure everyone’s thoughts are brought to the table, and expressed in the final project, this case the final nominations. I have an extensive network of gamers, both local and remote to help with playtesting and evaluating the submissions, and yes, my family and friends are highly supportive of me in this endeavor.

Judging requires a great deal of critical thinking skills, communication with other judges, deadline management, organization, and storage space for the product received. What interests, experience, and skills do you bring that will make you a more effective judge?

I have a number of playtest credits for many games, a lot of real world experience with collaborative work both through previous tenures as an ENnies judge and through my day jobs and side hustles. For the past decade my jobs have been grant funded, so I’ve learned to hit a deadline, because if I don’t, the job disappears. I have enough book cases to support the submissions. and as stated, I have previous experience as a Judge, including during the height of the pandemic which was an incredible test of all of these factors.

What styles and genres of RPGs do you enjoy most? Are there any styles or genres that you do not enjoy? Which games best exemplify what you like? Do you consider yourself a fan of a particular system, publisher, or genre?

My favorite styles of games to play are rules middling, Narrative heavy games that lend themselves to a mix of action and character development. Genres tend towards city based fantasy or action horror, because I love seeing the characters interacting with the other people in the world, and a touch of heist genre. My current darling system is Broken compass because it supports the play styles I enjoy, and is easy enough to shift the genre trappings as needed to tell the story my group wants to tell. Swords of the Serpentine also lends itself to that citizen of the world feeling as well.

List (up to 5) games you’ve played in the last 2 years. What drew you to playing them? Which did you like best and why?

I’ll focus on the ones I’ve played the most. Broken Compass has become my go to system for narrative driven action and adventure. Blades in the Dark is my home groups biggest go to game, and we have just wrapped up season 3 of our campaign. Swords of the Serpentine is a lot of fun when I want to go pure swords and sorcery. Hell4Leather( the Tarot card version) is probably my favorite one shot of the year, for it’s permission to play the absolutely worst human you can, and scratching that PvP itch in a collaborative way. Coyote and Crow was a truly beautifully done alternate future game with some of the most exquisite world building I have ever seen.

Have you been a game master in the past 2 years? If yes, what games have you run? What made you decide to run those games?

As previously stated, Broken Compass has been my go to game to run the past few years, for reasons I’ve discussed in previous questions. Other than that most of my GMing experience the past 2 years have been helping friends playtest their new systems, and I ran them because I got to help a friend, and the games seemed interesting.

Summarize the criteria you would use to determine if a game deserves to be nominated for Best Game.

First and foremost, the biggest criteria for me always has been, and always will be, is the game fun. After that, it’s a mix of quality of the rules, production values, writing, editing, and art, as well as what niche the game fills in the wide ecosystem of RPGs. if a game placed well in multiple other categories, that’s where I start for Best Game, but then I look at the “almost made the list” games for those categories, because if there is a game that didn’t make top 5 in those categories, but almost did for all of them, there’s a chance that it might be the best over all game, even if it wasn’t the best for those categories.

How will you judge supplements or adventures for game systems whose core rules you are unfamiliar with or you believe are badly designed?

Adventures are relatively easy with this regards, because I can consider simply because the core parts of an adventure are inherently system agnostic. Supplements have the potential ability to fix problems I may have with the parent system, while also having potential to also be system agnostic. As always, the most important criteria would be ” does this increase the fun of a game.”

How would you like to see the ENNIEs change? What should remain inviolate?

I’d love to see more submissions from a broader representation of the TTRPG industry, both the big name players and the smaller companies and designers, because more diversity makes for a richer and more fulfilling hobby, and one of the biggest strengths of the ennies is the ability to spotlight greatness in our hobby. Things that should remain inviolate are the committee based judging structure, and particularly the term limits, because while the awards spotlighting things is wonderful for the hobby, giving that power to a small block of ” lifers” is a bad look, and provides too much power to shape what games people hear about, leading to artificial stagnation of the hobby.