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Queer creators win big at Gen Con’s Ennie awards for 2022

Thirsty Sword Lesbians takes home game of the year, while Wanderhome wins multiple gold

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Key art for the free-to-download Queen Pins Queen module for Thirsty Sword Lesbians.
Image: Evil Hat Productions
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians won gold twice at this year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Ennie Awards, the marquee prize given out each year at the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention, awarded April Kit Walsh’s role-playing game its 2022 Best Game and Product of the Year medals. The announcement, made Friday, was accompanied by several other awards given to high-profile, independent BIPOC and queer creators in the tabletop role-playing game community.

Published by Evil Hat Productions (Blades in the Dark, Agon), Thirsty Sword Lesbians is based on the popular Powered by the Apocalypse ruleset. It focuses heavily on social interaction, counterpoising hand-to-hand combat with lingering glances and flirting that allow players to use a one-liners and zingers to disarm their opponents. The book also includes helpful guidelines for “both narrative drama and player safety” according to its website.

A view from the second floor of the Indianapolis Union Station presentation space.
A view of the Ennie Awards ceremony on Friday night, which took place in the historic Indianapolis Union Station.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The Ennies are unique among gaming awards, as its judges are volunteers who follow a strict set of ethical guidelines. Chief among them is the vow not to have a professional relationship with an RPG publisher in the lead up to the awards. These guidelines help ensure that the Ennies aren’t just a popularity contest, by winnowing down the dozens upon dozens of submissions to only the very best. Once the short list has been created, voting on the final winners is open to all. You can find the complete list of nominees for every category at the Ennie Awards website.

Other notable winners include Uncaged Goddesses, a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition- compatible module, which took home gold for Best Adventure, silver for Product of the Year, and a nomination for Best Interior Art. It includes multiple adventures for high-level adventurers based on “the Faerûnian pantheon in Dungeons & Dragons, as well as the Fury (Eberron), Mother Night (Barovia), and Pharika (Theros)” according to its product description on the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

Finally, Wanderhome took home gold for Best Family Game, leading to some emotional remarks by breakout creator Jay Dragon. In our review, Polygon noted Wanderhome skillfully “positions the drama of the Redwall series alongside Animal Crossing’s endless Sunday afternoons” while “displaying the competence to juggle both of those vibes in a single game.”

You can find the full list of 2022 Ennie Award winners on Twitter.

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