Rob Yayac

rob-yayac-photo

Introduction and Platform
Hello, my name is Rob Yayac and I am a longtime avid tabletop RPG gamer. I’m 29 years old and began playing tabletop when I was 10. I live in New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. I have a collection of RPG books, board games and miniatures that continues to grow and burn a hole in my wallet. Luckily, I have a good job where I work at Google in NYC. Armed with an English Literature degree and some polyhedral dice, a mechanical pencil and a creative brain – I’m ready to step into the shoes of the judge and pledge my allegiance to the cause. ENnie deities, please shine your boon down upon me. I’m ready to heed the call.
Why do you play/run RPGs?

RPGs are my passion and the ultimate creative outlet. They bring people together in a way that few other mediums in our modern world do. They bridge gaps between people of different backgrounds and cultures. We breathe life into worlds and stories that will live on in the minds of its players for a lifetime. I run RPGs because there is so much story to tell inside me. From a young age I always was a storyteller. I found RPGs to be an extension of me. Now, all these years later, that feeling has only grown. I’ve watched RPGs help people make friends, find happiness in otherwise unhappy situations, and also have seen RPGs give shy people a voice and make introverts feel like heroes. I will be playing tabletop RPGs until I croak.
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?

Luckily, I enjoy spending most of my spare time on tabletop gaming already. I have a supportive partner who encourages me to continue to pursue this passion of mine, when I’m not at work. My job at Google also encourages me to pursue “side hustles” and one of my dreams is to become an rpg creator in the future. What better way to gain experience than learning from those already doing it? I just checked my roll20 log and I have almost 1,000 hours of gaming logged in Roll20 – and that doesn’t count my in-person gaming time! Clearly, time will not be an issue for me.
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?

I graduated with a degree in English literature (3.97 GPA) and I work for Google in management. Communication, time management and organizational skills are some of my hallmark traits that have made me successful in my day job. Additionally I have managed large groups of people and understand the critical nature of diversity and inclusion – not just diversity of people (gender, race, sexuality, etc.) but also diversity of thought (i.e. what does this rpg add to the zeitgeist of this era in tabletop gaming?). I have a broad understanding of where tabletop gaming started, its roots (so-to-speak), and how it has evolved into 2020. I listen to many podcasts on this subject, and research indie games in my spare time.

 

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”?

I am definitely a loyal Dungeons & Dragons player, as I’m sure many are. I started playing D&D when I was 10 with 3rd edition – but have played 4th and 5th edition as well AD&D. I have been a Games Master since that time – going on 20 years now, running many systems, but mostly D&D. To that end, swords & sorcery is my jam. I have studied other game systems, and played a few (Savage Worlds, Anomaly, Fiasco- to name a few) and have branched off from a strictly D&D diet.
There are no genres I would say are “off-limits”. I enjoy grim, dark, resource-management games but also rules light, whimsical, story-heavy games. I especially like games that find new ways to push the boundaries of its genre, or double-down on the genre and embrace the tropes in exciting ways.

 

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?

Primarily, I have played D&D 5e with various indie homebrew add-ons. I run two campaigns set in my own homebrew world. I record both of these campaigns for posterity and note-keeping. I love the free Darker Dungeons rules adjustment created by Giffyglyph – which I have adapted for my own game.
Recently, I also picked up Blades in the Dark, but have yet to play it. I also picked up Troika! which I enjoy for its weirdly fantastical setting and character creation system. I also have yet to play that. I just won an auction the Hollow World AD&D boxed set. In addition I picked up some old copies (80s-90s) of White Dwarf, just to read and learn more of the history of our hobby.
I also picked up this year RPG-board games such as: Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, Mansions of Madness, One Deck Dungeon, the Legend of Drizzt, Gloomhaven, Hate, and Root.

I do my research before buying games so that I know what I’m getting in to, and how it will round out my collection.
Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.

Great question. Here is a list of some things that jump out to me when reviewing a product:
– Execution of Theme (does it draw me in? is it derivative? does the art evoke something? does it feel like something that hasn’t been done before? does it feel like something that has been done before, but do it better?)
– Writing (how well is it written? how easy is it to understand? is the layout thoughtful? is the setting/character(s) etc. descriptive and full of life or possibility?)
– Rules (are they clear? easy to pick up but with enough nuance to stay interesting for a long time? do mechanics work well together?)
– Big question: Can a broad audience find value in this product? If so, what is the value its offering?

 

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

I would most likely pick up the core rules if I didn’t have them. That being said, I frequently use adventures from other core systems and mine them for systems they weren’t intended for. How do I do that? I mine them for interesting NPCs, locales, items, random tables, etc. that can be plucked from one system and applied to another with relative ease. If for some reason I didn’t or couldn’t pick up the core rules, I would judge the supplement based on that – how many “tools” it gives the Games Master or Players. This ties into the “big question” that I listed above – what is the value, and to how broad of an audience does the value translate?

 

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

Honestly, I would like to see the ENnies website be updated. I feel it could do a much better job highlighting the winners to continue to drive sales for them for many years to come. Maybe review videos linked into the page. Maybe ongoing updates related to the products. Maybe a video about “looking back at the last 10 years of winners in X category”. Before I speak too much on it though, I would need to learn more about how the ENnies work behind the scenes. I look forward to doing that and offering my assistance wherever I can.
BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?
If I was an RPG, it would be about a person building a collection and mining ancient ebay dungeons for the best deal. With each addition to the collection, the character would level up. I’d play that!