As promised, here is Part I of my year-end review my favorite (and a few least favorite) things from the past year in the RPG hobby.
Best Gaming Company
Gold: Paizo Publishing. Regular contests for fans, opportunities to right, excellent customer support when I had an issue, accessible company staff, and a well-managed release of a new standard in OGL gaming. If Paizo makes mistakes, they don't make many.
Silver: Wolfgang Baur's Open Design. Wolfgang Baur's endeavor has expanded this year, churning out so many quality products it's hard to know where to begin. Like Paizo, their fan relations are top-rate.
Best Gaming Company, Small Press Division
Gold: Gamescience. Back with a fancy new booth at Gen Con this year and the viral videos of Col. Louis Zocchi, Gamescience has seen a resurgence in interest across the blogosphere. The perfect dice company to match the Old School Revival.
Best Sci-Fi Product
Gold: Eclipse Phase. I don't usually do Transhuman sci-fi, but Eclipse Phase mixes it with horror and a bit of investigative conspiracy and comes up with a nice shot in the arm for the sci-fi RPG genre. Oh, and did I mention it was published under a Creative Commons license? Total bonus points there.
Best Fantasy Product
Gold: Dungeon Alphabet. If you took someone who knew absolutely nothing about traditional dungeon design for RPGs and handed them this book, you would have a steely-eyed master architect on your hands in no time flat. There's been a lot of good stuff to come out of the Old School resurgence this year; Dungeon Alphabet may be the most purely useful.
Gold: Death Frost Doom. Jim Raggi manages to do something different with this adventure, and that's successfully bring the nightmarish, unsettling aspects of weird tales to adventuring. Horror is hard to do in an adventure, let alone slowly building horror, but it's nailed here. This is a product that successfully jolts players out of their comfort zone without resorting to being a pure meat grinder, something I've grown to increasingly appreciate over the years.
Stay tuned tomorrow, as we look at the Best & Worst of RPG Public Relations, and reveal the Best Gaming Website!