2018 Judge Applicant – Rob Monroe

Online Nicknames

rrmonroe

Introduction and Platform

I believe that playing RPGs is one of the most fun and rewarding hobbies around and that RPGs could be incredibly popular if they could reach the right audience. One step towards improving our hobby is to recognize and promote greatness in the industry and I think that can be the primary role of the ENnies. By rewarding and encouraging innovation and excellence in the hobby, I believe the ENnies can be a driving force in RPGs reaching a wider and more diverse audience. I will do my very best to identify the games and products that take risks and push boundaries, especially those by publishers who do not have big marketing budgets and worldwide distribution.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

RPGs are awesome! They allow us to tell our own stories and act out everything from superhero epics to bleak psychological horror. They give us opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones over a rousing adventure. No RPG session is ever the same, so the fun never gets old.

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?

My immediate family and closest friends are all role players. If I am elected I will definitely start a weekly game at my local game store to run as many of the games as possible. I’m also a part of a very active community of online gamers, so finding an opportunity to test drive submissions will never be a problem.

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?
In college and high school I was an editor of the school literary journals, so I am no stranger to critical reading and assessment. Since getting into RPGs I’ve regularly published reviews of games, either on social media or my own blogs. In my day job have to adhere to rigid deadlines and a daily schedule of tasks. I believe I will have no problem providing thoughtful critiques of the submissions in a timely manner.

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”?
I have a wide range of interests when it comes to RPGs, but one unifying theme among the games I enjoy is innovation. I enjoy games from the OSR when they use old systems to create new experiences. Likewise, I love games that have specialized, focused mechanics to play out something completely unique.

If there is anything I don’t have much fondness for, it’s crunchy generic systems.

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?

One gaming book I’ve been enjoying immensely over the last twelve months is Maze of the Blue Medusa, which I have used for 5th edition D&D, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and even original D&D. I’ve also been running a DC Heroes campaign with my home gaming group.

Other great games I’ve played at stores and conventions in the last year include Apocalypse World, Blades in the Dark, The Sprawl, Delta Green, and Bluebeard’s Bride.

Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.
I believe that a product that exemplifies excellence in gaming has to break away from the status quo. Professionalism and commitment to quality are important, but this does not mean that every book should have full-color art on every page.

Practicality is an important factor in a product’s value in this hobby. We all have busy lives and cannot waste time slogging through a book that pads it’s word count and uses uninspiring art.

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

One of my favorite things to do with RPGs is to take material from one game and port it into another completely different game, very often using supplements for games I really know nothing about. I believe I can do the same thing in judging supplements for games I am unfamiliar with. I will also be very open to the thoughts of my fellow judges if they are more experienced with a game system.

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

I believe that the ENnies has become a badge of quality in the RPG world, but I would like to see an increased emphasis on innovation and experimentation in the products that receive the award. As such I believe that the ENnies can become an influential force in bringing the joy of RPGs to a wider and more diverse audience.

I do think that the ENnies could do a better job appealing to small press publishers. I’ve found that the big name publishers aren’t often the ones releasing the most imaginative and useful works. By being more open to independent publishers I think we can show that the world of RPGs is exciting and open to everyone.
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BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?
I’d probably be some gonzo modern exploration game about shapeshifting reptilians and armchair magicians. I wouldn’t play it though… it would play me!

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