Welcome to the first annual New Year, New Game challenge!

New Year, New Game (NYNG for short) is a new Gnome Stew venture — an annual challenge to GMs all over the world: Run a new game this year.

New Year, New Game is an idea that we hope will catch on with gamers all over the world, much like GM’s Day did (it’s celebrated on March 4th every year). It has a simple mission:

To inspire game masters to run at least one new game each year, because trying new games broadens your horizons, challenges your skills as a GM, and can deepen your enjoyment of gaming as a hobby.

That can mean a new RPG, a new campaign, or both. (A new RPG needn’t be newly published, just new to you.) It doesn’t matter what you play, or what new game or games you decide to try – we just want you to have fun gaming!

The Contest

Entering is simple: Once you know what you want to run this year, tell us about it in the comment section of this article!

In order to ensure that NYNG challenge entries are useful and inspiring for as many GMs as possible, there are a few guidelines you’ll need to follow.

Entry Guidelines

Think of your entry as a pitch for the game you want to run, something akin to an elevator pitch. Why should your players be as excited about this game as you are? What do you need to tell someone who knows nothing about your idea beforehand in order to pique their interest?

To be eligible to win the contest, entries must be 200-400 words long, and should address the following:

  • What the game is about
  • Why you’re excited about running it
  • What system you want to use, and why
  • What challenges running this game might involve

That’s all there is to it! This isn’t a formal process, and we hope you’ll find that having these elements to focus on will help you hone your idea into something that may surprise you, and which makes you want to run your game even more.

To make this even easier, one of our sponsors, Tabletop Adventures, is offering two of their products at 25% off for the duration of the contest: Against the Darkness, their Vatican horror RPG, and Halls of Horror, which offers 150 creepy descriptions for modern games.

…and another of our sponsors, DriveThruRPG, is running their annual New Year, New Game sale: 20+ RPGs that cost less than $12 in PDF.


We reached out to several companies we thought might like to sponsor this contest, and I’m proud to be able to offer one hell of a grand prize package thanks to our four sponsors: DriveThruRPG, Engine Publishing, Obsidian Portal, and Tabletop Adventures. The grand prize will be awarded to our single favorite NYNG challenge entry, and it’s worth over $150.

Here’s what’s in the grand prize package:


Courtesy of DriveThruRPG, a $60 gift DriveThruRPG certificate! This is perfect for picking up the new game to run along with a few supplements — sixty bucks buys a lot of PDFs! DTRPG offers thousands and thousand of products for immediate download, and it’s my favorite place to buy PDFs. They make it easy to find what you need and their customer service is excellent.

Engine Publishing

From Engine Publishing, print and PDF copies of Gnome Stew’s two books for GMs: Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots and Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs (including free worldwide shipping), a $55.95 value. Both books are aimed straight at GMs, and both can save you prep time while giving you plenty of ideas to spur your creativity.

Obsidian Portal

From Obsidian Portal, a 1-year paid Ascendant membership to Obsidian Portal (a $40 value)! Ascendant members get access to features that aren’t available to free accounts, and as a GM you’ll be able to add your whole group to your campaign. I’ve used OP for over a year, and I highly recommend to any GM who wants to be a bit more organized without doing any extra work.

Tabletop Adventures

Courtesy of Tabletop Adventures, any three Tabletop Adventures PDFs (or any one product bundle) from DriveThruRPG or RPGNow!) (value varies)! TTA makes products for the harried game master, and virtually everything they sell is designed to aid you in running a more vibrant campaign of any genre, from decks of names to one-page dungeons.


We’re doing something a bit different for this contest: awarding additional prizes if we get enough contest entries. We want the first annual NYNG challenge to be a success, and that means having enough game ideas that GMs who browse NewYearNewGame.com will have plenty of inspiration.

If there are at least 50 entries, we’ll award a second prize:

  • A $30 DriveThruRPG gift certificate, courtesy of DriveThruRPG
  • PDF copies of Eureka and Masks from Engine Publishing (a $26.95 value)
  • A 6-month Ascendant membership on Obsidian Portal, courtesy of Obsidian Portal (a $25 value)
  • Any two Tabletop Adventures PDFs from DTRPG/RPGN! (value varies), courtesy of Tabletop Adventures


If we receive 100 or more entries, we’ll also award a third prize:

  • A $15 DriveThruRPG gift certificate, courtesy of DriveThruRPG
  • A PDF copy of Eureka or Masks from Engine Publishing (a $16.95 value)
  • A 1-month Ascendant membership on Obsidian Portal, courtesy of Obsidian Portal (a $5 value)
  • Any single Tabletop Adventures PDF from DTRPG/RPGN! (value varies), courtesy of Tabletop Adventures

So if, for example, 62 GMs enter the contest, we’ll select our favorite and second-favorite entries and award the grand and second prizes, but not the third prize (because there weren’t 100+ entries).

How to Win

The authors of Gnome Stew will judge all entries based solely on quality, without regard for any other factors. We’re looking for NYNG challenge entries that make us want to play your game, that grab us and won’t let go, that inspire and intrigue us, and which follow the guidelines above.

“Quality” is entirely subjective, and may be partially or entirety determined by the gnomes’ blood sugar levels, sleep deprivation, caffeine-induced psychosis, fascination with internet memes, or overindulgence in bad action movies. In other ways, don’t take this too seriously — we’re just a bunch of GMs who want to run a contest for GMs.

The Deadline

This contest will run until 10:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time on January 23, 2012. We’ll announce the winner after we’ve had time to read and judge your entries.

The Small Print

You’ll need to be a member of Gnome Stew to enter this contest (because only members can comment). Becoming one is quick and simple. One entry per person, and you can only win one prize. As always, authors of Gnome Stew are not eligible to enter this contest (although we may post game ideas of our own just to share them).

Additionally, by entering this contest you grant both GnomeStew.com and NewYearNewGame.com the unlimited, non-exclusive right to post your entry there in perpetuity. In other words, your entry can remain online here on the Stew and on NewYearNewGame.com forever, but you own the rights and can do anything else you like with it.

A Tale of Two NYNGs

To my great embarrassment, I found out that DriveThruRPG not only runs a New Year, New Game sale, but they’ve been running it for three years!

We were unaware of DTRPG’s annual sale when we launched this website and our NYNG challenge, but I still feel like a huge dork for not knowing about it. Had I known, I would have talked to Sean P. Fannon over at DTRPG before launching our initiative.

Sean is a great guy, and we’ve spoken about this now. Not only is all well, but DTRPG is one of the sponsors of our NYNG challenge. I chalk this up to great minds thinking alike, and so does Sean.

Their sale runs through 1/13 and features over 20 RPGs that cost $12 or less — a great way to snag a new game for the new year.

Do You Accept Our Challenge?

Thanks for reading and for checking out NewYearNewGame.com. If you like this contest, want to see more entries, or know a GM who might enjoy trying a new game this year, spread the word!

I hope you’ll take us up on this challenge, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!