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INDEPENDENT GAME OF THE YEAR, 2005

The Runners Up (and selected peer feedback):

Truth & Justice by Chad Underkoffler / with 48 points

"The innovation of Story Hooks sneaks up on you, only becoming clear after some practice. Players choose which Quality to hit, which then drives the next leg of the adventure."

"The idea of using prose descriptors for not only abilities as they are at their best, but degrading as they are worn down in combat over time, makes other games that claim to support a narrative form in superhero games pale in comparison."

"It's a sleek, fast machine, using conventional but top-of-the-line and carefully integrated parts. It does what it needs well, with no wasted energy and all motion."

"Truth and Justice is one of the best super-hero games available on the market. It surpasses many in terms of maintain playability, flexibility and style, without trying to be alien to most traditional gamers way of playing."

The Mountain Witch by Timothy Kleinert / with 37 points

"A wonderfully focused game, which shows that a simple basic "plot" can serve for any number of different experiences when combined with a good set of mechanics (Trust and Fate, especially) and a different set of players each time."

"The trust mechanics completely reinvent how the players work with each other, making their relationships the center of the game."

"I've said before and I'll say it again: The Mountain Witch makes better friends out of its players."

"From choosing a zodiac to picking your Abilities to resolving Fates to using Trust Points -- everything turns on how the PCs are treating each other. It's sort of amazing that way."

"stands as perhaps the state of the art of story-centric RPG design. It is also sheerly beautiful... gorgeous."

Breaking the Ice by Emily Care Boss / with 36 points

"This is fascinating from the get-go, from the free association that drives character creation, to the progress of the scenes themselves."

"A groundbreaking game which is not about superpowers or violence, but rather about real human relations."

"Breaking the Ice is a rare thing: a delight as a story, and a truly interesting game. It blows away any traditional RPG I've ever seen."

"The great beauty of the game is, if I can say it poetically, that it is an ode to our vulnerability."

With Great Power... by Michael S. Miller / with 24 points

"If your character's life currently sucks, that's a GOOD thing, because it will give you more opportunities to excel later on. It's not physics or real life being simulated, folks, it's good old-fashioned dramaturgy."

"For every gamer who wished that just once there was a superhero rpg that played just like the comic books, With Great Power... is a worthwhile investment."

Artesia by Mark Smylie / with 21 points

"Well built on Mike Pondsmith's Fuzion System, this may well be the most gorgeous game book I saw all year."

"Artesia is a solid game. It is a lovely book, full of lovely art, and a solid, fun, and genuinely mythic feeling setting."

"An impressive campaign guide, a shining example of essentially a one-man design team who has mastered role-playing games as well as comics."

Coyote Trail by Brett M. Bernstein / with 18 points

"Coyote Trail, and the genreDiversion game system it uses, is one of the new breed of "rules light" RPG rules. "Rules light" games focus on the fact that the rules should support the actual roleplaying while staying out of the way. Coyote Trail does this rather well."

"You'd be hard pressed to find a better game for players new to roleplaying, or for characters from unknown backgrounds. It's an ideal one-shot system because of the ease of use and the deadliness of the combat system."

"I was surprised by how well the Gimmicks focused character behaviour."

Bacchanal by Paul Czege / with 15 points

"There are no stats or values for characters, and no conflicts to resolve, only stories to tell. ... I found it a brilliant way to examine nightmare stories, and I firmly believe that somewhere in here is the greatest King in Yellow game ever designed."

"The game itself, small as it is, has such a strong symbolic and metaphorical content that almost any event in the game can be reinterpreted as a meaningful thematic move. Look, for instance, at the player characters: their life is in danger, they really only want to flee Puteoli, but they cannot help but be caught up in the bacchanal. If that isn't a powerful metaphor for the relation between the rational and the lustful in man, nothing is."

"This is a white hot game. In a field of great games, this was probably my best GenCon gaming."

Cold Space by Albert Bailey and Clash Bowley / with 13 points

"Cold Space includes a captivating premise, capable mechanics, and an enthusiastic style. Flying Mice has painted a big canvas with Cold Space, and given the reader/gamer plenty of brushes to add their own touches with."

"A beautiful product for a beautiful setting. Science fantasy (in the Arthur C. Clarke sense) meets Cold War intrigue."

"This is a very cleverly written and conceived RPG based on the Starcluster engine"

OTHERS:

Wire-Fu: "Wire-Fu is beautifully elegant in its simplicity."

Thirty: "[Thirty] resounds with the bravura and flair that Wick brings to stuff he lives."