Four tabletop RPGs have been named finalists for the 2022 Nebula Award in games writing, dominating one of the seven total categories normally filled with video games and other interactive media.
The finalists for the 57th round of annual awards were announced in a post to the Nebula Awards website on March 8th, and the resulting winner will be announced from that group in a digital ceremony on May 21st that plans to run as part of this year’s Nebula Conference Online.
Among the the five nominees is Wanderhome, 2021’s indie darling from Possum Creek Games that melds pastoral fantasy and GM-less storytelling in a world marked by post-war trauma. It’s joined by Coyote & Crow, a project that gained acclaim for its indigenous creative team and focus on a post-post-apocalyptic setting free from the historical shackles of Western imperialism and colonialism.
The two other finalists are the proudly queer RPG Thirsty Sword Lesbians and Balogun Ojetade’s Granma’s Hands. The former comes primarily from the mind of designer April Kit Walsh in collaboration with many women and nonbinary artists who wanted to create a game that leaned hard into sapphic romance, big swords and bigger emotions. The latter is a reimagining of Black comic heroes in the Golden Age (1930s through 1950s), exploring the stories and adventures of hardboiled detectives, fighters against fascism and protectors of overlooked communities.
Rounding out the game writing finalists is Worldwalker Games’ Wyldermyth, a tactical RPG that relies on a clever system of randomly generated stories for a small cast of deeply realised fantasy heroes to explore. The results, according to Eurogamer, are nothing short of compelling and superb.
Tabletop RPGs and analogue games have graced the Nebula Awards lists in the past, but generally not in such numbers. Evil Hat’s Fate Accessibility Toolkit, written by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, clinched a nomination in 2019, while Scents and Siesmosis was named one of 2020s finalists. The game of perfume-associated memories used heavy use of procedurally generated text to deliver stories that felt personal and instinctual.
Dicebreaker has reached out to The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. - the organisation in charge of the Nebula Awards - for more information about the selection process. The eventual winner will be chosen by a collection of members from among the SFWA’s ranks.