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 WJWalton4419 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Fri 11 of April, 2014 06:39 PDT
(362 Posts | 742583 Visits | Activity=3.00)
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D&D, Pacifism, and Pizza

Posted by WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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 WJWalton4419 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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Press release for the Escapist's fifteenth anniversary

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Mon 15 of Nov., 2010 19:21 PST
The Escapist will be hitting the big one-five in just a few weeks, and I've whipped up a press release to help get the word out. Feel free to post it to your favorite roleplaying blogs, magazines, websites, forums, podcasts, YouTube channels, billboards, bus shelter signs, and those planes that pull those little banners around.

But that's not all! If you happen to be a roleplaying blogger, podcaster, or what have you, and would like an interview with the proprietor of the internet's premier roleplaying advocacy website, drop me an email at to arrange one, absolutely free of charge!



IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Roleplaying advocacy website celebrates fifteen years of operation

November 15, 2010, Felton Delaware

The Escapist, a roleplaying advocacy website based in Felton, Delaware, celebrates fifteen years of operation in December of 2010.

For fifteen years, the site has worked to improve the public image of the roleplaying hobby, and outline the social and cognitive benefits it can provide.

"Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and others are the modern equivalent of the ancient tradition of storytelling" said William J. Walton, author of The Escapist. "Likewise, live action roleplaying games are an entertaining form of improvisational theatre. Both forms of roleplaying encourage creativity, problem solving, spatial reasoning, teamwork, and social interaction. Not only that, but roleplaying games can help develop math and language skills and foster interest in history, science, art, world cultures, and more.

The roleplaying hobby has not always recieved positive coverage in the media. During the early 1980s, two isolated events led many to connect D&D with suicide. The same happened in the 1990s when a handful of events, including the Columbine school shooting, were believed to be connected to the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game.

"The Escapist began as an online resource to combat the myths and misconceptions about the hobby," said Walton."Many negative and false claims were made that didn't stand up to scrutiny - claims that the game could lead players to suicide, crime, insanity, demonic possession, and devil worship."

Over time, more people became aware of the roleplaying hobby and what really happens during a game, and the myths began to fade, Walton said. More help came from celebrities who professed their interest in roleplaying games, including Stephen Colbert, Vin Diesel, James Franco, Matthew Lillard, Wil Wheaton, and the members of Weezer and My Chemical Romance, to name a few.

As the negative press began to decline, the site expanded to cover other facets of roleplaying advocacy - bringing new players to the hobby, encouraging gamers and game companies to get involved in philanthropy, and promoting roleplaying with kids, and in library programs and schools.

In early 2010, the site announced a new project, "Read an RPG Book in Public Week," a thrice-yearly event that encourages roleplaying enthusiasts to take their rulebooks with them when they leave the house and "get caught" reading them in public. The goal of the event is to make the hobby more visible, inspire questions and conversation, and possibly even attract new players or bring back lapsed ones.

Over the years, Walton and the site have been featured in numerous news stories and interviews, two documentaries on roleplaying, and in two books - Steve Racer's "God Loves the Freaks" and Ethan Gilsdorf's "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks."

For the fifteenth anniversary, Walton plans to feature a retrospective of the site's many changes over the years.

For more information, visit www.theescapist.com (external link), and contact WJ Walton at

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Video: Why RPGs Are Good For You

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Thu 28 of Oct., 2010 07:26 PDT
Here's another video I have created for the Escapist's YouTube channel: "Why RPGs Are Good For You":



Feel free to link, repost, and mirror to your heart's content - just please leave the website information intact so viewers know where to go for more information. Thanks!

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Arcana Wiki needs your help!

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Sat 09 of Oct., 2010 06:43 PDT
The Arcana Wiki is an incredible resource for gamers looking for background and inspiration for their RPGs:
Legends, mythology, UFO lore, Conspiracy theories, Fiction, and even (seemingly) mundane cultural traditions from other countries. These can and have been used to inspire role-playing game adventures and even entire campaign settings. This wiki aims to collect information about all those, ready for gamers - and then adds suggestions by other gamers - for actually using them in your game.

...and the wiki could really use your help. At present there are over 3,000 pages, but almost all of that content comes from four people. With a few more helping hands, Arcana could become one of the best online resources for roleplaying inspiration.

So if you happen to have the wiki bug and would like to help out, join up and start contributing!

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Gamer saves girl from fire

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Sat 09 of Oct., 2010 04:54 PDT
Here's a story to balance out that previous ugliness from a couple of days ago - a gamer leaving a D&D game made a terrible discovery, and did the right thing. I think it stands pretty well without any further comment from myself:
Peering into the remains of a house that had just exploded, Dan Lemon could see a child's bare foot. He passed into the building and began pulling debris off the girl's body. Smoke was filling the house. Flames were pressing in.

Moments before, the Roseville resident had been at a friend's house on the 5600 block of 32nd Avenue S. in Minneapolis playing Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game. Now the stakes were real.

What happened next was one of several heroic moments that Minneapolis Fire Chief Alex Jackson put in the spotlight on Friday at an awards ceremony.

Read the full story here.

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Robbery suspect arrested at a D&D event

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Wed 06 of Oct., 2010 16:00 PDT
Police in Boulder, Colorado took their own attack of opportunity when some internet research revealed that a suspected bank robber would be attending a Dungeons & Dragons event.

Aaron Klug was being investigated for a bank robbery and a string of vehicle break-ins when his profile on a registry site for Dungeons & Dragons Encounters events was discovered. Police set up surveillance at the event and arrested him without incident. Two other gamers at the event told reporters that Klug was about to be banned from the game for disruptive behavior,

Klug's opinions about 4th edition D&D were apparently important to this story, as Deb Stanley at 7NEWS included the following from Klug's profile: "I like (Dungeons & Dragons) 4.0 because of the PRO combat style and it really gives me a chance to Kill (sic) everything." She also points out that Klug joined the group the same day that the robbery occurred.

Sources:
Longmont robbery suspect arrested at Dungeons and Dragons event - http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16267273

Fantasy Game Player Arrested In Real-Life Robbery - http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/25299636/detail.html

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D&D makes Wikipedia's front page, and gets nominated for the Toy Hall of Fame

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Tue 05 of Oct., 2010 12:48 PDT
Two quick stories about D&D in pop culture:

First, the Wikipedia page for the classic Dungeons & Dragons module Ravenloft will be featured on the front page of Wikipedia tomorrow, October 6th, 2010. This is due to the efforts of wiki editors like Kevin Baase and others who have worked to make the Ravenloft entry worthy of such an honor. In July, the page for The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was featured on the front page for the same reason.

Next, it looks like D&D has earned another honor - a nomination into the Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The Rochester Business Journal explains that twelve finalists will be considered for the two nominations for 2010. The other finalists are: Cabbage Patch Kids, chess, the dollhouse, dominoes, the Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Lite Brite, the Magic 8 Ball, playing cards, the pogo stick, and Rubik's Cube.

With that sort of competition, it may not seem likely that D&D will get one of the two spots, but I wouldn't rule it out; the Toy Hall of Fame seems to have an appreciation for toys that encourage imagination. According to the article, one of the criteria for induction is how the toy fosters learning or discovery through play. And if that's not enough for you, one of the previous 44 nominees into the Hall was the cardboard box.

The final inductees will be announced on November 4th.

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D&D and the eight intelligences, or, "We're gonna need a bigger character sheet"

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Thu 30 of Sept., 2010 08:51 PDT
Lucas at edurealms.com uses Dungeons & Dragons as a metaphor to explain Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, which claims that human beings have several different types of intelligence, rather than one all-encompassing INT score:
So, the analogy here lies in the similarities in an RPG character’s abilities or statistics and our own multiple intelligences. To take the analogy to the next level, an RPG character who is a fighter might experience a situation where they are required to fight a band of marauding goblins. The fighter’s approach to this situation would be to whip out his sword, charge into battle, and start swinging, achieving victory through brute strength. A character who is a wizard will approach the same encounter quite differently. The wizard would assess the field, and using his keen intellect, begin casting damaging spells at the goblin force while trying very hard to avoid physical contact with the invading force.

In a similar fashion, we as learners with varying intelligences will approach learning differently. When presented with a new concept to be learned, a logical-mathematical person may try to understand the material in a step-by-step approach, whereas a person with a great deal of spatial intelligence might try to visualize the concept in a three-dimensional way.

Lucas then goes on to pose another metaphor, comparing the varying abilities of D&D characters working together to people using the strengths of their different intelligences as a team.

The funny thing is, many RPGs model this sort of thing in character creation - sure, there's usually one lone Intelligence score, but many rule systems contain advantages that characters can take that include most, if not all, of the eight - linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. So the metaphor applies on a few different levels.

Here's the full article - http://edurealms.com/?tag=multiple-intelligences, and here is more on the theory of multiple intelligences, for those who would like to explore the subject further: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr054.shtml


(Special thanks to Jason Paul McCartan for the links.)

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Two more educational RPG blogs, and a gaming-with-kids wiki

Posted by WJWalton4419 points  on Wed 29 of Sept., 2010 20:35 PDT
Posting about David Millians' Games and Education blog reminded me that I had some other blogs and a wiki that I have been meaning to write a post about:

- Ruthless Diastema is an exploration of games in the classroom. Mad Mister Pete Figtree explains his methods in using roleplaying games to teach. I particularly like the syllabus and character sheet that he passes out to each student. (Oh, and the old-school punk in me really likes his Black Flag spoof icon.)

- Homeschool RPG: Scott Duncan blogs about contributing to the education of his three homeschooled daughters through RPGs. His posts are well written and very enjoyable to read.

- Instant Roleplay is a little wiki devoted to simple plots that you can use with any RPG system to run adventures for kids. This is a great idea that needs to really take off - there are a handful of plots posted now. but there haven't been any updates for a while. I'm planning to submit a couple when I have a bit of time, and so should you!

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