Obviously there's no way I'm going to cover every product in any given category, but sitting here a few weeks later there are a few that come easily to mind. First, the nominees:
Catalyst Game Labs - Battlerun
This fun little product is a bit of a guilty pleasure, and is obviously the result of an April Fools release that went way too far. It's pretty, and a fun read, and full of neat little call-backs that will be familiar to anyone who enjoys the Battletech and Shadowrun lines. Well written, extremely well produced, definitely worth the download and read.
White Wolf Publishing - Hunter Quickstarts: The Hunt and One Year Later
Obviously only The Hunt was nominated, but I feel like One Year Later could have just as easily been on the list, so I'm going to cover both here. It's no secret that White Wolf does a fantastic job with their quick start rules. For the last three years in a row their contributions have been nominated, and of course Hunter was no exception. Changeling (which won), Scion, and Mage (which took silver) have all been nominated in the past, and Hunter continues this Legacy with the inclusion of a couple really great mini-adventures, and a nice preview of what is, in my opinion, the most versatile and fun World of Darkness setting yet.
Green Ronin Publishing - Song of Ice and Fire Quickstart
There's no escaping the fact that SIFRP really hooked me this year, and this product is partially responsible for that. It was the first thing I read about the system, and the book that I passed around to my players when I was convincing them to play it with me. The adventure is quick and straightforward, but a nice introduction to the kinds of characters and rules you are most likely to see in the game. If you have any interest in this system or setting at all I recommend that you give the Quickstart a try.
Mythmere Games - Sword and Wizardry
I've heard it said that the hobby is going through an "old school renascence", and if you spend any time looking around at some of the great products being produced and distributed through non-standard means then you'll have a hard time denying it. Swords and Wizardry is the perfect example of this 'back to the basics' style philosophy. It's fun, it's familiar, and it's extremely well produced. Clearly the product of a lot of hard work and well-thought revision, if you have any interest in the 'old school' feel of RPGs you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you don't give S&W a look.
Imagination Sweatshop - Trial & Terror: Supernatural Victims Unit
This little 26 page game is another fantastic example of the kinds of interesting and innovative games being produced outside of the standard channels. It's an extremely approachable game that covers the kind of police/trial dramas that we've all seen on TV for decades, with it's own, fun twist. The kind of game you can pick up today and play this afternoon, I'm really glad this one made the list.
Now an apology. I hadn't intended to drag this out longer, bu work has been busy this week as a lot of stuff I've been putting off has begun to catch up with me. I hadn't intended for this to be three parts, but it looks like it's going to have to be, because I have to run in to the office real fast. Next up I'll cover a couple things that didn't make the nominee list as soon as I have a chance: Dragonlance Nexus Adelatum and When Autochron Dreams. If I'm missing anything someone would like a commentary on, please let me know.