2019 Judge – Alexander J Holley

Online Nicknames

Introduction and Platform
The television show Rugrats got me into roleplaying in a round about way when an episode aired about a Big Book of Monsters, and I was so obsessed with the concept that I begged my father for one. Being a former roleplayer himself the only Big Book of Monsters he could think of was D&D’s Monster Manual. AD&D’s Monster Manual specifically. I poured over the book, obsessed with the alien creatures, and fantastic Tony Diterlizzi art. Knowing that it belonged in a game system I wanted to play with these monsters so badly. Fast forward to getting the Big Red Box and the rest is history.

In the years since I have worked to carve out a spot in the tabletop rpg world for my friends and I. Looking for diversity, acceptance, and creativity in all the games I play.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

This is the easiest question: Community. I play for the community storytelling with friends, with people from every walk of life. I am also a writer and artist, but nothing created alone is as wonderful as the stories made around a table with a group of friends wishing to tell the best story ever. Meshing creativity with friends and family, either over and table filled with snacks, or over a chat room, or Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, is so rewarding. Learning the perspectives of people of different ethnicities, upbringings and backgrounds helps me grow as a person. Even trading war stories with people at my FLGS (Dragon’s Lair for the win!) or at a convention shows a sense of kinship and community that you can’t find with any other medium.

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 am so lucky that I have a job that understands and allows me to chase my passions, so I can work with them on making sure I have time to complete my duties. I also am surrounded with such a supportive group of friends. Whether it’s my fiancé who helps me keep a work life balance, or my large pool of ttrpg friends I’ve made over the years. I can handcraft a group that I feel will best fit each game’s theme and mood so that I know I will be getting the most out of each system. Even my dog (Migas) knows when to come ask for attention and when to just cuddle next to me and let me work!

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?
Years of management and business running has given me a shrewd and objective mind. I pride myself in being able to recognize my biases and nostalgias and set them aside to accurately judge media. My varied history in both the writing and graphic design fields, as well as my passion for tabletop gaming I feel preps me for being able to look at a game from all points of view and judge them on many different criteria.

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”?
If you couldn’t tell from my previous answers I am a writer through and through, so I love storytelling games more than crunchy ones. But I also believe there’s a time a place for both. While D&D (5e specifically) is probably the system I run the most currently the new edition of KULT (Divinity Lost) has really stolen my heart in the way it’s run, and the move from the more splatterpunk style of the original to a horror theme for the new edition.

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?
There are so many different systems I’ve played in the past year that I’m sure my gaming groups are getting tired of me bringing new systems and one shots for them to play through!
My regular game is Dungeons and Dragons 5e, which I enjoy for its easy understanding and medium crunch.
KULT Divinity Lost is brand new to me (The kickstarter backers got the pdf only a month or so ago) but I’m already loving the system.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is ridiculous, over the top fun.
Call of Cthulhu’s intense Horror on the Orient Express is the only game I’m currently a player in.
Bluebeard’s Bride is an amazing twist on the ttrpg concept that is hopelessly bleak, but also a gorgeous look at a woman’s place in a patriarchal world.
City of Mist is fun and unique, giving me a different style of character creation for a ttrpg that I really enjoyed and learned from.
The Pool/The Questing Beast I cannot emphasize how important I think it is for people to play, or at least read the rules of this game system if they are into creative game systems.
Finally World of Darkness is a loose enough system it’s allowed me to tell all the different stories I’ve wanted to.

Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.
I will tackle each submission from every angle that I can. I’m a voracious and quick reader and will consume any written material given. But that’s only a portion of what I look for. Design and visual appeal helps me pick out the diamonds in the rough. I love unique and creative mechanics and new perspectives in the field. For all products, from systems, to figures, to websites or podcasts, an eye for detail is necessary. I love seeing when people execute their ideas to the very last part.

How will you judge supplements or adventures for game systems whose core rules you are unfamiliar with or you believe are badly designed?
I’d learn the core rules! I love learning new rules and systems. Any excuse for me to go out and buy a new rules system I’ll take! While there are individual products I don’t believe are up to snuff, most systems have at least some good things. Take Burning Wheel, a rpg I have a love/hate relationship with. While huge chunks of the system are amazing, there’s enough to it that I don’t like, that I probably won’t play it more than the couple of times I already have. But I can recognize what is good and what is bad about it, and judge it on its individual merits.

How would you like to see the ENnies change? What should remain inviolate?
I love the ENnies, but I’d love to see more communication with the judges and the community. If the judges could give their reviews of the products in a public spot so that others could see it would help others understand the process, and also make their decisions on purchasing games in the future.
But the current structure of the ENnies is what make them so great. Having fans be judges helps keep the awards meaningful and great!

BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?
If I were an RPG I’d be a urban legend and horror RPG. Something along the lines of Welcome to Nightvale, or SCP, with a dash of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman. A game that shows the fantastical and weird world right under our noses. And of course I’d play!

Comments are closed.