Origins Awards Announced: Pyramid Wins Best Magazine

by Micah Jackson

Voted on by gaming industry veterans and average gamers alike, the Origins Awards are the highest honor in the hobby. Last night the annual awards were presented for the 27th time before a crowd of gaming's best and brightest. Dressed in a range of styles, from basic black tuxedo to basic black t-shirt, gaming's glitterati turned out to honor its own. Before the night was out, there would be some gasps of surprise, some well-fought battles, and some inevitable victories – all things for which the adventure gaming hobby is justly famous.

Taking the reins of the show for the third time, Cheapass Games president James Earnest hosted with his usual quick wit and grace under pressure. A street juggler before he went into game design, he began with a feat of plate spinning that no other juggler performs. Staring into the bright spotlight, he performed another trick, that of guiding the crowd through the more than two-hour program, peppering the traditional award show language with one-liners.

All in all, the awards were surprisingly even this year. Wizards of the Coast, riding the success of Dungeons and Dragons 3e, went home with the most Calliopes, four in all. Two other companies, however, were right on their heels. Cheapass Games and Steve Jackson Games, both fan favorites, each earned three more Origins Awards to add to their extensive collections. Looney Labs, makers of Fluxx, captured two of the awards, with a total of fifteen companies sharing the 23 awards.

Pyramid Magazine, after having been nominated many times over the years for Best Professional Gaming Periodical finally got its statuette. In the past it has lost to Hall of Fame inductee Dragon Magazine and more recently Knights of the Dinner Table. Pyramid was finally recognized as one of the gaming industry's premier voices, a fact its readers have known about since its inception. In accepting the award of behalf of the magazine, Suppressed Transmission Columnist Kenneth Hite said, "I'm just glad that a magazine I've been so proud to be a part of finally won something."

The biggest award of the night, Best Roleplaying Game, went to Wizards of the Coast's Dungeons & Dragons 3e, which surprised no one. This latest entry in the venerable franchise introduced the d20 system that, as an open system, ensured that fans would have plenty of supplementary material. Indeed, the winner of Best Roleplaying Adventure, Death in Freeport (Green Ronin), is a d20 product. Steve Jackson Games took two other awards in the category, Best Roleplaying Supplement for GURPS Steampunk and Best Gaming Accessory for The Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming. The Academy recognized D&D's Monster Manual for Graphic Design.

Ever since the release of Magic: The Gathering, card gaming has become an increasingly important segment of gaming to fans and designers alike. This year the Calliope for Best Trading Card Game went to the Sailor Moon Collectible Card Game (Dart Flipcards). Best Traditional Card Game went home with Andy Looney from Looney Labs and his game Chrononauts. The Best Card Game Expansion or Supplement for 2000 was Cheapass Games' Brawl: Club Foglio according to the voters. Largely due to its Phil Foglio art, Brawl: Club Foglio walked away with a second award for Best Graphic Presentation.

Board Games were another category with a wide range of winners. Axis and Allies: Europe from industry giant Avalon Hill took the prize in the Best Historical Board Game category, while Cheapass Games wunderkind James Earnest picked up the statuette for The Great Brain Robbery as the Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game. Looney Labs, a relative newcomer to the Origins Awards, walked away with the Calliope for Best Abstract Board Game for their entry – Icehouse: The Martian Chess Set. John Tynes, a man known much more for his writing, won Best Graphic Design for his contribution, The Hills Run Wild (Pagan Publishing).

The Origins Awards were originally named for Avalon Hill founder Charles S. Roberts, so miniatures have been important to the Awards since the beginning. Riding the coattails of Dungeons & Dragons 3e, the best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniature went to The Beholder from Wizards of the Coast. BattleTech designer Jordan Weisman's new company Wizkids was honored by the Academy for its new collectible miniatures game, Mage Knight: Rebellion in the Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures Rules area. Shane Hensley of Pinnacle won in the Historical Rules category for Fields of Honor: The American War of Independence.

Certain games and people are so influential to the gaming industry that they are honored by being inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame. This year there were four new members – two people and two games. For innovative world designs and lasting revolutions in the way people play RPGs, West End Games' Paranoia and White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade were justly included. World renowned German game designer Dr. Reiner Knizia earned his place in the Hall of Fame alongside fellow 2000 inductee Peter Adkison, the former President of Wizards of the Coast, who received a standing ovation as well as the coveted Calliope.

Last but certainly not least, beloved Dork Tower columnist John Kovalic accepted the Origins Award for Best Game Related Short work for "Matt and Gilly's Big Date" from Dork Tower #11. John, as always, was gracious in victory, thanking each of his fellow nominees by name.

With the awards distributed for another year, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design headed out to reward itself with a festive reception. Soon they will be back and work doing what they do best – representing the designers who make the best games of the year 2000, and every year.

Article publication date: July 7, 2001

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