This Sub-Award is awarded to the game that stretches the RPG experience in new ways. It may be a particular innovative mechanic that has never been used in other games (or never been used as well as previous games), or it changes the dynamics of a regular game group (the standard 3-6 players and one gamemaster). Or, it might even turn the concept of "RPG" on its ear. Innovation and exploration is what this Sub-Award honors.
For the 2005 award, Ben Lehman's Polaris won in a close race for the best game of the year. It was recognized some for production and support, but this sub-award shows what it really won for -- outstanding innovation. However, it was in a close race here with one other outstanding contender, Emily Care Boss' romance game, Breaking the Ice.
Polaris by Ben Lehman / with 96 points
"A game that uses ritual phrases for negotiation of the narrative: a brilliant idea, all by itself. Then you get into the tragic fairy-tale aspect of the setting, and its reflection in the rules system, and you have something special. "
"Polaris codifies the language of negotiation, and makes that, itself, a game, like nothing else I've seen. Massively brilliant."
"Polaris re-invents the process of role-playing. Moreso than any other game (with or without a GM), it makes crystal clear what you can do and how to do it."
"Breaking the Ice expands not only the genre in which RPGs are played, but changes the entire social context. This is a game for two people which can be picked up and played easily."
"The trust mechanics completely reinvent how the players work with each other, making their relationships the center of the game."
"Bacchus is madness and lust in all its forms, made irresistable in its elegant shaping of storylines."
"WGP is the first game to truly capture how good comics books aren't about cool powers, or even outlandish goals and plot twists, but rather about personal choices."
"Truth & Justice stays simple and accessible, but with outstanding twists like how your Qualities generate Story Hooks -- which makes clear how super-fights are ruining your personal life. "