Jay Peters

jay-peters

Online Nicknames
Blammo, herostyle

Introduction and Platform
I’m a former ENnies judge (2010), former RPG designer and lifelong fan of gaming in all its forms.

As a judge, one thing I emphasize is getting whatever the product is to the table. I won’t review a movie without seeing it or a book without reading it, so judging a game or adventure without playing it, an accessory without using it or listening to a podcast without giving it my full attention feels like I’m selling the creator(s) short.

In addition I do what I can to involve the people around me because the community is as important to gaming as the games themselves. If elected, I’ll do the same thing I did back in 2010 (more later) and get as many people around me to play and try out the various submissions, collect feedback and using that to help me nominate the products.

 

Why do you play/run RPGs?
RPGs have been a part of my life since I was nine, after finding Champions 2nd Edition in a used book store. I had no idea what I was getting into but I was a big fan of comics, the box had two supers fighting and it said “game” on the lid. I took it home, figured it out to the best of my nine year old ability and started running games for my friends. For us it was an amazing experience and we dove headfirst into the hobby, getting our hands on every game we could. Since then I’ve stuck with the hobby and met all of my best friends through it, including my wife. Some of the games we’ve played and stories that were told are still talked about today, which reminds us why we play and keeps us coming back for the next session.

One thing that has always been a bright spot for me is how welcoming and inclusive the tables I’ve played at have been over the years. This is a hobby that has always been accessible for me and things that limit my involvement in other hobbies, whether social or physical, rarely interfere with RPGs. That, combined with the relationships formed over the years and the enjoyment of the games we play has made sure this is the hobby for me and one I’ll be a part of for the rest of my life.

 

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 regular schedule at work and excellent work/life balance so I can always schedule time for the ENnies around that. I have three gaming groups that are all willing to try new things and provide honest opinions, which has helped immensely in the past. My wife plays in one of those groups and fully supports the time and effort required.

Mentioned earlier but in 2010, one thing I did was host public one-shots of the different game submissions where I would try to get brand new faces at the table and collect opinions based on their experience. It goes back to making sure games get played. These days I have three local gaming shops with open tables where I can continue that, and hopefully introduce new players to games they may not have considered otherwise.

Finally, I attend at least one gaming-focused convention each year and use that opportunity to try as many new games as possible. If I didn’t have a chance to run something I see at the convention I’ll make sure I get a shot to play it.

 

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?
The first time I did this I had no idea what to expect. Now I have realistic expectations of what to expect going in, when there are lulls in the submissions and when to expect the crush. Every year is different but I think that experience will help immensely when it comes to time management.

Additionally, I work in the IT field and have often had to manage multiple projects with both soft and hard deadlines across various teams. Communication is key to my job, as is working within structured requirements and systems. I’m used to comparing and contrasting systems, finding the best solution to needs at work and ensuring they’re implemented correctly so attention to detail is extremely important. I’m also a bit obsessive about organization and while I’m in the middle of a move right now I am looking forward to re-organizing my collection at my new house, which also provides a lot more space than my current place.

 

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”?
Right now I’m a big fan of FFG’s Narrative Dice System – good structure, character creation and advancement and subsystems that make sense. I like that it’s story-driven and has non-binary resolution along with a meta-currency that the players can use to alter the scene. I also enjoy Savage Worlds, my favorite system for a very long time, for similar reasons.

However, I also really like some of the OSR products that have come out (namely Basic Fantasy Roleplay, The Black Hack and Swords & Wizardry), D&D5e and the TinyD6 games because of how simple they are and how fast they play. Sometimes simple is exactly what I need at the table.

As for genres, my favorite is Sci-Fi in all its forms, followed by Horror, Supers and Fantasy. The only genres I don’t enjoy as much are Comedy and Romance, but I’d still give them a shot with the right group.

When it comes to publishers, I don’t think I’m a super-fan of anyone in particular. My focus is always on the products they put out and how they interact with the industry/their fans. That said, I’ve been following Free League Publishing and Khepera Publishing pretty close this year and enjoy what they have put out.

 

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 haven’t run into a game in the last year that I have hated but a few of these have been standouts:

The Black Hack
Dungeons & Dragons 5e
Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny
The Expanse
Leagues of Gothic Adventure
Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of
Savage Worlds
Uncharted Worlds
Zweihander: Grim and Perilous

Green Ronin’s The Expanse and Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars series are very well done and ones I’ll return to multiple times. I’m currently playing TAG’s Leagues of Gothic Horror and enjoying it immensely, both for the system and the setting.

 

Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.
Every product is judged on its own merits but I’ve found five points that can apply to just about anything – Appearance, Quality, Content, Enjoyment and Innovation.

Appearance is about the art and layout, how attention grabbing it is and how well it supports the product.

Quality, to me, is how well the product is put together and how well it’ll hold up when being used. I’ve seen some gorgeous products over the years that stand head and shoulders above the rest as well as some that have literally come apart in my hands. When I look at books I consider everything from the binding, layout and the type of paper used to those little extras like ribbon bookmarks. With a podcast I take a look at whether or not the voices come through clean with consistent volume rather than fighting against background noise and how well sound effects or music are used to enhance the show.

With Content it’s about what it brings to the table, whether that’s a game where the mechanics and writing fully support game’s design goals or a podcast that engages the listener and focuses on games, especially new approaches when running or playing them. Supplements are judged on what they add to the game, adventures in how well they play and accessories in how they support the games that use them.

Enjoyment – Simply put, how much fun is the product when it hits the table? Is the game or adventure fun to play? Is the accessory fun to use? Is the podcast fun to listen to?

When it comes to Innovation I am trying to find what helps this product stand out from the crowd? Does it bring something new to the table or does it put a new, fresh spin on what has come before that raise the product above the rest?

 

How will you judge supplements or adventures for game systems whose core rules you are unfamiliar with or you believe are badly designed?
I ran into this the last time I was a judge, when supplements were submitted without core rules. My friends and I have a large collection of RPGs, so I can usually count on them for core rules . If none of us have what’s needed, then it’s off to DTRPG to pick up the PDF.

If reading through the core doesn’t give me a good base to run the game or judge the supplement I’ll do a deep-dive on reviews and actual play podcasts, and ask someone familiar with it to give me a breakdown or run a game. If I can find someone willing, I’ll have them run a submitted adventure or go through the supplements with me. With the communities I’m a part of, this has worked out well in the past.

When it comes to games I feel are badly designed, like above I’ll ask someone who is more familiar with the game to run me through it. Just because a game or rule-set doesn’t click for me or just because I wouldn’t play it regularly at my table doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it.

 

How would you like to see the ENnies change? What should remain inviolate?
One thing that should never change is ensuring the ENnies are open to all, small and independent publishers and content creators right alongside the industry giants. I feel like that has always been one of the ENnies’ strengths but I’d like to see more attention given to the submissions throughout the year, such as monthly summaries of what has shown up with a quick description of what the product is and a link back to the publisher. In my mind anything that can shine a spotlight on the products that have been submitted and the people creating them throughout the year would be nice, rather than just a running tally of what has been received.

 

BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?
Rise Above – A game about forward progress and trying to do better than you’ve done before. I play daily but am never sure how well I’m doing.

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