Spire sequel Heart: The City Beneath and Alice is Missing, the small-town mystery played over text message, have triumphed at this year’s tabletop RPG awards show, the ENnies.
Leading the way at the 2021 ENnie Awards was Heart: The City Beneath, the standalone game set in the same dark fantasy world as designers Chris Taylor and Grant Howitt’s acclaimed RPG Spire that also builds on its Resistance gameplay system.
Of the eight categories in which it was nominated, Heart took home seven awards, including the silver prize for Best Game; golds in Best Setting, Best Writing, and Best Layout and Design; and a silver for Best Monster/Adversary. (Although the ENnies did not specify which monster/adversary was considered.) The game’s striking visuals - both inside and out - earned illustrator Felix Miall second place in Best Cover Art and Best Interior Artwork.
Heart was beaten to the title of Best Game by Alice is Missing, designer Spenser Starke’s inventive mystery RPG following the disappearance of the eponymous teenager in the northern California town of Silent Falls. Played in silence (or backed by its licensed soundtrack), the GM-less RPG requires players to communicate solely through instant messages such as text or WhatsApp as they uncover clues to Alice’s whereabouts and potential fate.
As well as the gold ENnie Award for Best Game, Alice is Missing was recognised for Best Rules, as well as being awarded Product of the Year - ahead of silver winner, ‘spaghetti fantasy’ RPG book Brancalonia - for its boxed set, which includes a deck of prompt cards used to inspire details of the world.
Other standouts at this year’s ENnies included Nordic horror RPG Vaesen, which took home the top prizes in all three of its nominated categories: Best Monster/Adversary, plus best Best Interior and Best Cover Art in recognition of its debt to Swedish illustrator and author Johan Egerkrans.
Vaesen studio Free League Publishing continued its success with five further awards, including a gold in Best Production Values and silvers in Best Adventure and Best Cartography for Destroyer of Worlds, a cinematic scenario for last year’s Best Game winner Alien: The Roleplaying Game.
Free League’s doom metal-inspired RPG Mörk Borg, which swept all four of its 2020 nominations - including a silver in Best Game after Alien - picked up Best Supplement for community content zine Mörk Borg Cult: Feretory, ahead of silver winner Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5E. Free League was also named fan-favourite publisher for the second year running.
First hosted in 2001, the ENnie Awards are generally considered one of the biggest celebrations of the tabletop roleplaying scene and span more than 20 categories, ranging from games themselves to accessories and surrounding content such as podcasts and actual plays. The prizes are voted for by the public and announced as part of US convention Gen Con, which took place over the weekend in a hybrid form due to COVID-19. You can see the full list of winners from this year’s ENnies over on the awards’ website.