Award Nominations 2017

This past year was a huge one productively for me. Being part of (several!) teams of creatives & game producers has borne amazing fruit: 9 award nominations for games I designed, published or contributed to. 

Romance Trilogy (published by Black & Green Games)

Award Nomination: Diana Jones Award - Excellence in Gaming

From the DJA Committee: Though a staple element of the stories we base our narratives on, romantic interaction was neglected in roleplaying practice—until Emily Care Boss trained her sights on this longstanding gap. Starting in 2005, her indie-format games Breaking the Ice,Shooting the Moon and Under the Skin earned acclaim, built a dedicated play community and blazed a trail for other designers. 2016’s publication of the gorgeous, much expanded valedictory collection, The Romance Trilogy, acts as both a mission statement and a platform to further explore the implications of the original three games. Its publication gives the committee the opportunity to recognize Emily’s enormous contribution to tabletop roleplaying.

Completed in summer of 2016, the Romance Trilogy, this is a compendium of my three romance themed analog role playing games along with commentary, indices and over 30 hacks and modifications of the games (including several stand-alone "Companion Games" inspired the original trio). Producing the Romance Trilogy was made possible supporters of my Patreon campaign. So many thanks to them! 

The first game Breaking the Ice debuted at GenCon in 2005. I was just a wee nub of a game designer then, this was my first game. This 2-person dating rom-com game was received well, 1st runner up to Polaris as the Indie RPG Most Innovative Game of the Year. The 2- or 3-player love triangle game  Shooting the Moon came out in 2006. Then the final game in the trio: my first larp, the Jeepform inspired Under My Skin in 2008. Under my Skin received the audience choice Otto award at the Danish convention, Fastaval.

Bubblegumshoe (published by Evil Hat Productions)


Award Nominations:

ENnie Awards: Best Family Game, Best Game, Best Rules, Product of the Year

Getting to work on Bubblegumshoe with Kenneth Hite and Lisa Steele was a dream team. With layout by Tiara Lynn Agreste, art direction by Jessica Banks and Tiara, Editing by Ken and Amanda Valentine, production management by Sean Nittner, Fred Hicks and many more talented contributors. In addition we were able to tap the fantastic writing talents of James Mendez Hodes, Kat Jones, Shoshana Kessock, Kevin Kulp, Kira Magrann, and Brie Sheldon. 

This game, using Robin D. Laws' GUMSHOE SYSTEM, has teen sleuths work together to solve mysteries confronting their peers with a little help from their friends (and mentors!). Since the game was meant to lean on social interactions and relationship--reducing the need and emphasis on violence in this teen milieu--that was a reason I was invited on the team. It was a pleasure to be part of making this sweet, thoughtful game come into being, and I'm proud of the work we did on making it include broad representation in terms of gender, race and class. 

The Book of Changing Years (Published by Pelgrane Press)

Award Nominations:

ENnie Awards: Best Writing

This supplement to Timewatch by Kevin Kulp is an intertwined timeline of crimes, misdemeanors and mysteries that intrepid time travelers (and their GMs) can use to unwind the tracks of what has been changed for (most likely) nefarious reasons.  

I was one of a team of 11 contributors who created these timeline jumpstarts for campaigns. It was fun to hear about the other periods & perils, and to interlace our works with pieces from each others' works. A delight and a pleasure to have been part of as with everything Pelgrane.

And last but far from least, a work that really broke ground and reduced barriers. This collection, hopefully the first of many such that bring together a diverse team to create games that address and highlight issues in such an entertaining and at times hard-hitting way: 

#Feminism: A Nano-Game Anthology (originally published by Fëa Livia and now to be published by Pelgrane Press)

Indie Groundbreaker Awards: Best Art, Most Innovative, Game of the Year

This work was lead by Lizzie Stark, Anna Westerling, Misha Bushyager, and Shuo Meng. They edited the anthology, which included 34 short role playing games that address, play with, poke fun at and cry over issues of inequalities, social roles, gender and all that feminism implies. The games have been played in classes, by gamers and non-gamers. The anthology was showcased at IndieCade 2016. Read more about it at the #Feminism entry on the Nordic Larp Wiki.

Thank you to all the judges, committee members and community members who supported these works. Even being classed with these fellow games, creators and events is absolutely amazing.

I wish all the nominees bon chance! 

Five Fires & Noir - Interview with Quinn Murphy

Hi Quinn! Thanks for answering a few questions about noir and crime fiction in games. First off, who is a favorite fictional sleuth of yours? Why?

Q: I am a huge anime nerd, So I really am a huge fan of L from Death Note. I like L because he is is willing to become anything to hunt down information. He is smart but so reckless he seems not so smart. I admire his marriage of intellect and bravery a lot.

Your game, Five Fires, focuses on characters involved in hip hop culture and art. What were your influences in film, music, books, games, etc? How did you incorporate elements of them into the game?

Q: Beat Street is my guiding point.  the tone, the characters, the themes -- everything points back to that movie.  Wild Style is also an influence. It covered much of the ethos and attitude of the culture.

A lot of integrating media into games is about establishing the look and feel and what tropes we are enabling.  I rewatch these two films a bit and compare the experiences I’ve had with the game to the experience I have with the films.

As for music, there is so much!  I love hip hop and am listening to it all the time. 

A book that everyone should read to get a feel for the birth of hip hop is Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang. Incredibly written.

You may not consider Five Fires to be noir, but there are some parallels. At its finest, noir and hardboiled fiction critique society, and shine a light on places where society oppresses and lets its citizens down. Five Fires asks players to analyze a city and the problems its inhabitants face with racism, economic discrimination and many other factors. How did you capture this in your rules, and what was most important to you when you were writing the game? 

Q: I want players in Five Fires to feel that they are ordinary people with an extraordinary method to relieve the tension and stress of their lives.  In the current version of the game, players move towards solving whatever problems they have in their lives. In playtest the game provides a platform for you to explore whatever issues you feel are important to you. So you can tackle having to pay your rent, and your scenes are about finding ways to make money. In the course of trying to overcome these obstacles you may accumulate stress, which is an abstraction of toll that life can take on you.  Take too much stress and you might be out of action for a while or take on more burdens. 

This is significant in Five Fires because each campaign (the game calls them Eras) is limited to a few session and you only have a few scenes each session.  just like in RL, your chance to make an impact is a small window. You don’t want to lose any time!

Creating art -- making songs, doing graffiti, breakdancing -- these are all ways to heal stress, but also build exposure and possible earn fame. In the new revision I’m trying to make the stress you accumulate connect to the level of art you have a chance to make; more stress is potentially more fame!

In the end I think the game helps you explore inequity by giving you a platform to describe oppressive systems in addition to a way to change things or at least express how your character feels about everything happening to her.

In Five Fires, how would you rank wanting the players to experience adventure, justice, disillusionment and betrayal? What kind of an experience do you want players to walk away from the game with?

Q: I want players to feel adventure before anything, and on the way there to feel justice and betrayal and disillusionment as obstacles which they can hopefully transform into art. I want folks to believe that their expression is a potent tool, and that their voice matters.

Thank you so much for chatting with me about your insightful and important game.

Thank you!

Ever since he was a kid, Quinn Murphy dreamed of being other people in faraway lands. He designs today while trying to hold that sense of wonder in his mind, capturing his thoughts sometimes on his blog and on twitter (@qh_murphy). You can find Five Fires Beta at and some of his other work at


Spione and the Power of Tabletop Freeform Design

This Spring I helped curate and participated in a charity Bundle of Holding called the Indie Spring Festival. Spione is one of the earliest written of the games in the bundle and in many ways was a precursor of the others and the movement in game design they represent. This game is a capstone to the collection and embodies recurring themes seen in the whole group. All together, these games exemplify the structures that can make tabletop freeform a powerful and elegant form of design. 

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