Online Nickname: Malvidian

Introduction and Platform

Much like everyone else (I hope), I enjoy RPGs and I’ve been playing them for awhile now. It started in about 5th grade with the Lone Wolf books (think chose your own adventures, but with a character sheet) and morphed into playing AD&D in jr. high. Growing up, I needed to have different worlds to escape to, and RPGs gave me those worlds. Fast forward to present day, and I’m just an average guy who enjoys playing make believe with people and rolling math rocks. I’m not a hardcore gaming nerd who knows all the different game companies and all the different creators. I am a person who knows a good game and just wants to have fun (much like the girls in Cyndi Lauper’s classic song “Girls just want to have fun”).

Why do you play/run RPGs?

The short answer is: to escape the trash fire that is our current timeline and to have fun with my friends. The longer version is basically the same thing, but with a lot more flourish and pretty words. RPGs give us an opportunity to be someone else and to be somewhere else. They allow your mind to focus on something other than the craziness of reality and just take a break. Some people relieve stress by binge watching true crime shows, exercising, or eating tubs of ice cream. Me? I play RPGs.

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?

I have a gaming group who will unwittingly assist me along with a very supportive wife who knows I enjoy RPGs. Additionally, I have storage space in my garage, hate the sun, and love to read.

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?

Other than “storage space for the product received”, you’re basically describing what I’ve done professionally for over a two decades. I’m not only paid for critical thinking, communications, and project management, I train other people nationwide on those topics. Like, if I owned a wheelhouse, all those things would be featured prominently. In addition to those skills, I have also been on numerous selection committees for everything from scholarships for teenagers/families with financial hardships to selecting which companies should be finalists for awards. I bring a very methodical… method of judging with me (yeah, sorry for the sentence structure there).

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 particular system’s, publisher’s, or genre’s “fanboy/fangirl/fanperson”?

For the past few months, I’ve been on a Call of Cthulhu and Star Trek Adventures kick that has combined into a focus on the Alien RPG. I also just ordered copies of both Delta Green and Timewatch. Out of all the games I’ve played, the ones I’ve tended to like the least have been games that are extremely focused on minutia. I don’t need to know the make-up of various rations, I don’t need to know about the 12 different specialized types of bullets one of seventy guns holds. The games that best exemplify what I like are things like Mork Borg (rules light, awesome layout, great story/vibe), Star Trek Adventures (the back and forth with the advantage/complication tokens), and my first love, D&D.

What games have you played in the past year? List up to 10 RPGs you have played the most. Which ones, if any, have you loved or hated?

I have either played or devoured the rule books for: D&D 5e (it’s a staple that I use as an RPG gateway drug), Call of Cthulhu (because who doesn’t love cosmic horror?), Vaessen (I dig the folk lore angle with this game), Star Trek Adventure (I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds lately), Alien (it’s that awesome cross between Cthulhu and Star Trek that I crave right now), the new Hellboy RPG kickstarter (much like with Vaessen, I love the folk lore vs reality aspect), Blades in the Dark (if you don’t love this world in this setting, there is something fundamentally wrong with you), Dune (growing up, I was in love with the AD&D settings Dark Sun and Spelljammer… okay, that doesn’t have a lot to do with this, but I’m still a fan of both those settings), Mork Borg (the best way I heard it explained was “art porn”. The layout for the book is just [chef’s kiss]), and Kids on Brooms (because I need a Harry Potter rpg that doesn’t give JK Rowling money).

Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.

1. Crunchiness of the rules and if that makes the game inaccessible to all but the most masochistic of players.
2. For non-core setting books, how much do they help the player/GM and/or add to the setting?
3. If I’d buy the item based solely on looks. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I do. Sue me. Also, please don’t sue me.
4. For podcasts and anything audio, can I actually listen to it without wanting to destroy my headphones with fire.
5. Would I want to buy this item at the beginning of the day at a con, pay full price, and carry it around all day.

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

1. Go through the character creation process and get familiar with the game.
2. Try to find a podcast/video that shows game play and talk to the other judges to see if there is just something I’m missing.
3. Even if game mechanics are flawed, there are still be awesome parts of the game. For example, the Shadowrun setting is compelling, even though the rules for the Matrix are… sub-optimal.
4. And finally, if the game is badly designed, rate them low and give the reasons why. There is a good chance that even badly designed games can be saved. These people clearly care about their game and if I can help them with pointing a few things out, all the better.

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

I would love to see the ENNIES expand to the point where there need to be the equivalent to qualifying matches to get to the finals. This would allow for additional categories and more opportunities.
The impartiality and integrity of the ENNIES should remain inviolate. Any breach of those or judges who are, forgive me, half-assing it, would make it much harder for the ENNIES to continue.

BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?

I can’t decide if the world is currently on the brink of turning into Mork Borg or Call of Cthulhu. I play RPGs to escape reality, so no, if my life where a game I would not play it. Besides, it would probably be something boring like “Papers and Paychecks” or “White Picket Fences”.