The Escapist Blog is a journal on the positive promotion of tabletop, pen-and-paper roleplaying games: dispelling the myths and misconceptions, educating the public about their benefits, encouraging new generations of players, and more. For more information on roleplaying advocacy, visit the Basic Gaming FAQ.

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Roleplaying advocacy news and website updates for The Escapist.

Created by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Sat 23 of Aug., 2014 19:50 PDT
(370 Posts | 1249398 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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Read an RPG Book in Public Week 2011 Starts on Sunday!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 25 of Feb., 2011 10:29 PST

Don't forget - the first Read an RPG Book in Public Week of 2011 starts this Sunday!*

What is Read an RPG Book in Public Week, you may ask? It's a thrice-yearly event, held during the weeks surrounding March 4th, July 27th, and October 1st, where roleplayers are encouraged to take their favorite roleplaying rulebooks, modules, supplements, and splatbooks with them when they leave the house and read them in public. The purpose is to make the hobby more visibile, promote inquiry and conversation about the hobby, and maybe even attract some new players or bring back some of the lapsed ones.

To find out more about Read an RPG Book in Public Week, visit the official page at theescapist.com/readrpgsinpublic

I'm going to be particularly busy this upcoming week - I am involved in two different plays at my local theatre - but I will be checking in as often as I can to see your updates and pictures, so please keep them coming!


  • or on Monday, if you prefer that your weeks start with that day.


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Help New Zealand with DriveThruRPG

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 25 of Feb., 2011 10:15 PST
DriveThruRPG has once again organized a humanitarian effort for people in great need, this time for the victims of the New Zealand earthquake. For a donation of $20, which will go directly to the Red Cross relief efforts in New Zealand, DTRPG is offering over $330 worth of great RPG PDFs, including Al Shir-Ma, Book of Knights, Ingenium, and Cthulhu Tech. If you would like to donate, visit DriveThruRPG's New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Relief page - or to donate directly to the Red Cross, visit their New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal page.

This isn't the first time DTRPG has used this method to raise funds for a worthy cause. In early 2010, the site organized a similar package to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake, and also implemented a donation matching program. Together, these programs raised over $175,000 for Doctors Without Borders!

I mentioned this back then, and I seem to bring it up every time that any group of roleplayers are involved in such activity, but it really bears repeating - To William Schnoebelen and anyone else who asks things like "where are the rescue missions ... started by D&D gamers?", here is yet another example for you. Feel free to ignore it, as you must if you want to uphold your illusion of gamers as twisted, violent, and dangerous, but the fact remains that gamers are just as kind, thoughtful, and generous as any other group of people - not because they are gamers, but because they are human beings.

(Thanks to Michael Tresca for the info!)

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Come on down!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 16 of Feb., 2011 10:30 PST
I mentioned this on the Twitter feed for the site, and I've had a few doubtful responses, but I kid you not - on today's episode of The Price is Right, one of the final showcases included a trip to GenCon, along with a gaming laptop, some PC games, and a new car!

And the bidding contestant won it, too!

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"I attack them, using my... additional notes!"

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 04 of Feb., 2011 07:14 PST
Last night's D&D-themed episode of Community was excellent, in your humble host's opinion. It doesn't quite beat out the final episode of Freaks and Geeks for best gaming-themed episode ever, but I would call it a close second.

In it, students at a community college team up to help get one of their group out of his emotional funk by playing a game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with him. There are a few jabs at the geekiness of the game, but nothing unfair or out of line, and everyone in the group ends up getting into their roles and generally enjoying themselves. A lot of the humor was based around inexperienced players trying to get a grip on the rules of the game (such as the title of this post, uttered by one of them as he tried to find something on his character sheet to defend himself from a horde of goblins).

Sure, there were inaccuracies. For some reason, only the DM was allowed to use the dice, and unless my bad eyes were deceiving me, he rolled the d12 for most everything. Likewise, there was a "seduction scene" when the party had to convince an elven princess to let them borrow her pegasus (for some reason, non-gamers always want to inject the other type of popular "role-playing" into the hobby). But other than these, the episode gave a pretty clear picture of how the game is played, showed a diverse group of people enjoying themselves with it, and even used it as a vehicle to help one of their friends with a problem.

Not unlike the aforementioned Freaks and Geeks episode, this one ends with the suggestion that they play again someday, which is the best way to wrap it up, I say.

Did you miss it, or want to see it again? Watch it here on nbc.com!


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D&D represents “a threat to prison security”

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Thu 27 of Jan., 2011 15:56 PST
You may remember a story I reported on about a year ago, in which a prison inmate named Kevin Singer claimed that his first amendment rights were violated when prison security confiscated his Dungeons & Dragons books. Prison officials claimed that the game was a threat to prison security because the format of the game, with a Dungeon Master and a group of players, was an analogue of gang leadership. Misconceptions about how the game is played - that the DM gives the players orders that they must carry out, and that players see the DM as an authority in disputes outside of the game - seemed to be the basis for their concerns.

On January 25th, the seventh circuit of the United States Court of Appeals handed down the decision recently, "concluding that the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons ("D&D") represented a threat to prison security…" Prison security confiscated 21 books, 14 magazines, and handwritten notes from prisoners. So, it’s official - Dungeons & Dragons is too dangerous for prisons in Wisconsin.

It’s easy to dismiss this story by saying "They’re inmates, and don’t deserve to play any games at all." Many who commented on the earlier story did exactly that, in fact. But that isn’t the issue of concern here. Whether or not inmates deserve to play games is one issue - but singling out a game as a threat to prison security based on bad evidence, and ignoring all evidence to the contrary, is a real problem. This is a decision that can be used as leverage in other places as well. If a paranoid parent wants to see a D&D group removed from a school or library in the future, you can guarantee that this decision will come up.

Read the full court ruling here: (PDF). Geeks are Sexy has a lot more on the decision, and the story even got a bit of coverage on the Fox News website.

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Rimer rides again

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Mon 17 of Jan., 2011 12:04 PST
Retired police officer and “international expert on occult crime” Don Rimer is at it again, hosting another seminar on occult crime for over 100 people, most of them active police officers. This time, he seems to be empowered by the popularity of the Twilight films and the HBO series True Blood, both of which involve vampires – but he hasn’t given up on connecting role-playing games with terrible crimes.

The real problem here is that ritual crimes really do exist, and police investigators could benefit from some real-world advice on how to solve them. But Rimer isn’t the one to give that advice - not when he makes claims like this one:
"Fantasy role-playing like Dungeons and Dragons … and vampire gaming are alive and well," said Rimer. "There are people who take gaming to another level, one that results in deaths and suicides. In the world of gaming, there is evil."

Vampire gaming, in particular, will often lure people, then send them out on a quest that involves blood or sex, sometimes with deadly consequences, said Rimer.

These sorts of claims come straight from the satanic panic of the 1980s, and have no place in the 21st century. Anyone claiming to be an “international expert” on any kind of investigation should have a clear concept of the difference between causation and correlation, something that Rimer sorely lacks. Sadly, as long as Rimer can find a paying audience, he will continue to spread this misinformation in situations where he could be doing some actual help.

If you live in Virginia (especially the Newport News area), you may wish to consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, or even contacting your local police department and asking if they are planning to host one of Rimer’s seminars.

Read the full article here: [article | archive]

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"Community" cast plays D&D

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 14 of Jan., 2011 10:30 PST
According to Entertainment Weekly, an upcoming episode of NBC's "Community" will feature the cast playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. I'm not familiar with the show at all, but I'll give this episode a chance, at least.

Here's a link: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/01/13/community-dungeons-dragons/ (external link)

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D&D minis scream in the fire!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 14 of Jan., 2011 09:05 PST
Escapist reader Gabe found this great video that might be the origin of the myth that D&D miniatures scream when thrown into a fire. It’s a segment from a 1984 video entitled “Deception of a Generation,” with Phil Phillips (author of “Turmoil in the Toybox”) and host Gary Greenwald discussing the dangers of all sorts of entertainment aimed at children, from Scooby Doo to Barbie to the biggest turmoil in anyone’s toybox, Dungeons & Dragons:
“Now, there are sixes involved in the pieces of the game, but they take the pieces of the game, they would throw them in the incinerator or the fireplace and screams would come out, because there seem to be some kind of spiritual forces inhabiting those pieces…”

Due to the way that the video has been cropped into segments, the above comment occurs at 6:06! (Oh, the delicious irony…):



Considering that this video was released at a time when the majority of roleplaying miniatures were made from lead and covered in many layers of paint, I would be willing to suggest that anyone who threw a handful of Ral Parthas into their fireplace and then heard screaming should probably have avoided breathing in the resulting fumes.

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D&D, Pacifism, and Pizza

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 07 of Jan., 2011 13:45 PST
Two great articles showed up in my email recently:

First, Sierra at the Strollerderby blog writes about kids and violent entertainment - and how a mom can enjoy being a pacifist and slaying dragons at the same time:
Last week I cut a dragon’s head off with my flaming sword. I am not even joking. It felt great.

After the game, I put away my character sheet and dice and went home, where I was not at all tempted to cut off my husband’s head with a flaming sword. Even though he was acting like a grumpy dragon.

Full article is here - War Play Doesn't Lead to War

Second comes a great piece from the food column of the Toronto Star, in which Corey Mintz picks up the dice again for the first time in years, in a game that includes game designer Robin Laws, and brings some scrumptious pizzas to the table - but not before explaining the game and its bad reputation to his readers.
“Initially the guys who came up with D&D in the first place were kind of doctrinaire perfectionists,” says Robin D. Laws... “They didn’t realize that they’d created a story form,” explains Laws of the game’s origins in the early 1970s.

That’s all it is — another storytelling medium. It will not lead to Satanism. Despite what happens to Tom Hanks in the 1982 TV movie Mazes and Monsters, it will not lead to insanity. It may prolong virginity though.

Sadly, Mintz doesn't seem interested in staying involved in the hobby after giving it another go. But at least he had a good time.

Read the full story here - D&D is just nerdy storytelling

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Please read: an important message from Escapist founder WJ Walton.

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Mon 03 of Jan., 2011 14:26 PST
I'll get right to the point - the web expenses for the site are coming due, and your friend and webmaster is in a tight financial situation. If I want to keep the site up an running in the future, I'm going to need some quick cash to pay the bills.

I'm not looking for donations or handouts, however. I want to give you something in return - advertising space on the site. I'm willing to put up banner and/or button ads in some prime locations on the page - the index, FAQ, and blog pages - for six months (through mid-July 2011), for $50. If you have a roleplaying product or anything else gaming-related that you would like to promote, this is a great way to get the word out. My site and blog reach hundreds of roleplayers across the United States and all over the world. In addition, I would even be willing to put a sponsor notice on the Facebook pages for the site, extending that reach even further.

Alternately, if you are looking for some writing or artwork for your RPG product, I can provide those as well. You can read samples of my writing here, or see samples of my artwork here.

All I require is payment up front, through PayPal - and I only ask this because the bills are due very soon. If you are interested in helping, contact me ASAP -

Thanks for your time and help, and Happy New Year to all!


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The Escapist is 15!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 15 of Dec., 2010 08:22 PST
Today marks the "unofficial" 15th birthday of my little ol' roleplaying advocacy website.

(I'm not entirely sure when I put up the first incarnation of "The Gaming Advocacy Website" (as it was called for the first few months), but it was sometime in December, so I figure the 15th is as good as any other day to mark the occasion.)

It's been a lot of fun debunking myths, talking to gamers from around the world, and having adventures for the last 15 years, and I'm hoping to continue all of it for many years to come.

Thanks for reading and participating!

(You can see the press release for the anniversary here.)

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Wikileak "hacktivist" states his alignment

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Mon 13 of Dec., 2010 11:13 PST
Sometimes it's easy to forget how much D&D has affected popular culture. "Operation Payback" is a team of hacktivists who have been showing their support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by hacking sites for Mastercard and PayPal, and TIME Techland writer Ishaan Tharoor notes that "Coldblood," one of the prominent members of this group, revealed his alignment in a recent interview:

The UK's Guardian interviewed one who claimed to be a spokesman, a 22-year-old "who wished to known only as 'Coldblood'" and said his ambition was to be "a force for 'chaotic good.'"
Now, as many Techland readers will know, "chaotic good" isn't just some silly phrase made up by a rogue tween techie. It's a long-standing alignment in role-playing games, invented first and foremost for the Dungeons & Dragons franchise.


Even better, Tharoor takes a moment to show his own true geek colors when he mentions his D&D preferences:

In truth, "chaotic good" was always the alignment your humble scribe chose for his characters (who, if you must know, always ended up being dashing, ambidextrous half-elven swordmasters).


Read the full article here.

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Dark Dungeons animated film released

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Thu 09 of Dec., 2010 10:37 PST
This past July I posted about an upcoming animated film based on the Dark Dungeons tract, and now it has seen completion. Boolean Union Studios announced the finished version on December 1st - you can watch it on Vimeo or YouTube though links on their Dark Dungeons page.


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Vin Diesel on D&D

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 01 of Dec., 2010 19:32 PST
Here's a great video clip from Shootout featuring Vin Diesel discussing Dungeons & Dragons and creativity:



(Hat tip to Wired GeekDad for the link.)

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Kindergarten "actively discourage(s) all role play"

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Sun 28 of Nov., 2010 05:00 PST
It's another example of how Satanic Panic is still alive and well in some places: the principal of a kindergarten in Melbourne, Australia has not only banned role play among its students, he is encouraging parents of their students to back them up by doing the same at home.

A MELBOURNE kinder has banned children from Harry Potter, Pokemon and Power Rangers paraphernalia for "spiritual reasons" and told parents not to let their boys and girls play with toys associated with their fantasy heroes at home.

In a letter to parents, Waverley Christian College principal Peter Sheahan labelled the kinder a "war-free zone" and banned all items associated with the popular children's programs as well as toy guns, swords and weapons.

"For this reason we actively discourage all role play such as Power Rangers," he wrote to parents.

"For spiritual reasons, all Pokemon and Harry Potter items are not considered appropriate, including toys, clothing, drink bottles etc.

"Please help us by backing this up at home."

Victorian Parents Council spokeswoman Christine Delamore said the directive "went too far".

"Schools have a right to have policies that apply in the school yard, but don't try and tell parents what to do in their own home," she said."It's interfering, it's over-stepping the mark.

Mr Sheahan did not return phone calls from the Sunday Herald Sun.

Forest Hill Liberal candidate Neil Angus, chairman of the independent inter-denominational school in Wantirna South, said he did not have a view on the issue.


Role-play - including "war games" with swords and guns - is an important part of child development. It helps us build our personality, cope with our fears and other trials of life, and learn who we truly are. There are certainly some children who should not role play unsupervised due to personal mental or emotional issues, but banning the activity outright will not create or exacerbate these issues - it will only delay their detection.

On top of that, this ban could encourage the mistaken notion that any kind of role play is always wrong. The school is certainly within its rights to ban any activity they choose, but this is lazy, irresponsible, and superstitious, and the children attending this school deserve much more.

See the original article here.

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