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Created by WJWalton4775 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Fri 06 of Feb., 2015 16:40 PST
(373 Posts | 1527550 Visits | Activity=2.00)

Gamers for Humanity's 28k Project

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Fri 20 of Aug., 2010 10:13 PDT
Gamers for Humanity has recently revamped their website, and revealed the 28k Project, to encourage gamers to log 28,000 hours of volunteer work over the course of the next year.

Here's the full story in their own words, taken from their monthly newsletter:
With the new website comes our newest program, a project that is all about celebrating you and your contributions to your community. The 28k Project is our latest attempt to encourage community involvement, and to encourage people to share their stories about the volunteer work they do.

There are two ways to get involved:
1. Logging your hours
2. Telling your story

The easiest way to participate is to volunteer in your community, and then log your hours at our website. We are trying to reach the challenging goal of 28,000 hours of volunteer work between now and next August... so we need to log as many of your hours as we can get.

If you want to go one step farther, you can volunteer, then come tell us your story. Posting a story about your volunteer work—who you worked with, what you did, who you met — will enable visitors to vote for your story. The best stories each month win prize packages donated to us by some great companies.

The rules and necessary forms are all on the new website, whether you want to tell your story or just log your hours. Everyone is welcome.

I know for certain that there are many of you out there who already volunteer your time and energy to helping your community, so this would only be a matter of logging the work that you already do, and maybe even sharing a story that can inspire others. For the rest of you - get involved! It's not difficult to find some way that you can help - I have a lot of suggestions on the BeQuest ideas page. Pick something, dive in, log your hours, and share your story!

You can find out more at 28k Project page, and be sure to let them know that The Escapist sent you!

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More Chick Comics spoofery: Waxman's Warriors

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Tue 17 of Aug., 2010 15:21 PDT
About a month ago, I made a post about Dark Dungeons, a retro-clone RPG that contains a few subtle references to the Chick Publications comic of the same name.

Right after I made that post, Steve from Hex Games sent me a copy of their adventure "Waxman's Warriors" for the QAGS rules. It is set in the world of Chick comics, where a motley group of sinners in Hell find a way to escape to Heaven with the hopes of "renegotiating" their eternal arrangements.

Two of the characters are semi-direct references to the Dark Dungeons comic, and there are tons of nods to other comics from the Chick canon. It is very irreverent, and will likely offend a few people - but the target here really seems to be the violent, paranoid fantasy world of Chick comics, and not the Christian faith.

Find out more (and get your copy, if you are so inclined) here: Waxman's Warriors (But I must include a word of warning - this product is most definitely not for young people.)

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School's in! (...mostly...)

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Mon 16 of Aug., 2010 07:54 PDT
We're halfway through the month of August, which means that in many places, school is starting again, or will be in the next couple of weeks.

At his blog Gaming Brouhaha, MJ Harnish talks about how he is preparing for another year of his school gaming club, what he hopes to accomplish this year, and a few of his previous successes.

If, like MJ, you are planning a gaming club at your local school or library, be sure to let me know - and if you're considering it, be sure to visit the Reading Writing and Roleplaying and Terra Libris projects!

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LA Times interviews "Never Split the Party" winners

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Fri 13 of Aug., 2010 08:17 PDT
The Los Angeles Times' Noelene Clark conducted an interview with Jason Vickery, Greg Goldmeier and Ben Howe, the winners of Wizards of the Coast's “Never Split the Party” contest, which looks to reunite old RPG groups at the Gen Con Game Fair.

It's a very RPG-positive piece that touches on the benefits of the game...
"I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for D&D sparking the imagination to draw," he said. "I personally think (D&D has endured due to) the ability of the kids' imaginations. I know the three of us have really vivid imaginations. We drew our characters and came up with all kinds of stuff."

...and the infamous reputation it acquired...
"We were children of the '80s, when Dungeons & Dragons was under a lot of misconceptions," Vickery said. "I heard about a lot of anti-D&D movements as a kid. I’d tell people I played, and I get these weird looks, like, 'Oh, isn’t that dangerous?' There were all these weird notions of ties to Satan and devil-worship. Parents didn’t understand it, so they didn’t let their kids explore all that it has to offer."

As I say so often these days, it's good to see more and more media coverage of the roleplaying hobby that addresses the real benefits, and puts the myths and misconceptions into the proper context, rather than giving them any sort of credibility.

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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D&D and cryptozoology

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Thu 12 of Aug., 2010 08:39 PDT
Here's another article from my friend Lee Williams: "The Monster Manual," published in Fortean Times magazine, compares the naming and classification of new and unknown species to folklore, legend, and the classic Dungeons & Dragons creature atlas.

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German LARP draws 7000 participants

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Tue 10 of Aug., 2010 21:25 PDT
Conquest 2010, a LARP event in Brokeloh, Germany, drew over 7000 gamers from Europe, Japan, and the United States during its five-day run from August 4th through the 8th.

The event was so big, that it gained quite a bit of media attention, with a lot of fantastic photos:

- Thousands of computer game enthusiasts gather for live action role play (Metro)

- Brokeloh: Where fantasy turns into reality! (MSN India)

- 7000 people participate in "Conquest 2010 LARP" in Germany (Xinhuanet - photos)

- Photos: Massive role-playing battle brings orcs to Germany (Vancouver Sun)

Thinking about joining in the fun next year? Here is the official site of Conquest:

(UPDATE: Rolf Elak passed along two pages of "official" pictures from Conquest - you can see them here and here. He also adds that Brokeloh means: "Wooded hill in the swamps.")

(Thanks to Lee Williams for the link!)

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The Escapist has a YouTube channel!

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Fri 06 of Aug., 2010 07:57 PDT
I've set up a YouTube channel for The Escapist, and posted a couple videos to it - one for Read an RPG Book in Public Week, and this one, introducing the site for those who may not know about it:

Here is the link to the channel - Feel free to subscribe, friend me, post comments, send video responses, and all that other fun YouTubey stuff.

I'm taking suggestions for what sort of videos I should add in the future. You can post them in the comments on YouTube, here on the blog, or email me at .

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Mazes and Monsters movie review

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Thu 05 of Aug., 2010 05:28 PDT
The Spoony Experiment put up a pretty funny video review of Mazes and Monsters. But please be aware - there's a bit of profanity among the ranting and raving. Here's the link - please click responsibly.

(Thanks to Matt for the link!)

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RPGs and the Creativity Crisis

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Wed 04 of Aug., 2010 07:48 PDT
Michael Tresca shared this Newsweek article a little while ago, and I've been meaning to pass it along. It's called The Creativity Crisis, and it addresses a downward trend in "CQ" (creativity quotient) scores that started in 1990.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

The article is pretty quick to blame videogames for the trend, with a lack of creative nurturing in schools running a close second:
One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

But you can likely guess, based on where you're reading this, what sort of activity is encouraged to foster creativity:
In early childhood, distinct types of free play are associated with high creativity. Preschoolers who spend more time in role-play (acting out characters) have higher measures of creativity: voicing someone else’s point of view helps develop their ability to analyze situations from different perspectives.


In middle childhood, kids sometimes create paracosms—fantasies of entire alternative worlds. Kids revisit their paracosms repeatedly, sometimes for months, and even create languages spoken there. This type of play peaks at age 9 or 10, and it’s a very strong sign of future creativity. A Michigan State University study of MacArthur “genius award” winners found a remarkably high rate of paracosm creation in their childhoods.

It's not news to us, but maybe the rest of the world will eventually catch on that roleplaying is a positive way to foster creativity, teamwork, socialization, and problem-solving.

Read the full article here.

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Mazes and Monsters: The RPG

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Wed 28 of July, 2010 07:33 PDT
File this under "It was only a matter of time": Rory at Blog of Holding is convinced that the novel and made-for-TV movie Mazes and Monsters were based on an actual RPG of the same name. Unable to locate a copy, he has decided to create a retro-clone, based on any information that can be gleaned from watching the movie:
It's been suggested that there never was a M&M game - that the Mazes and Monsters movie is an excoriating criticism of a fictionalized version of D&D. If so, it is a dismal failure, because as we can see from the movie, MAZES AND MONSTERS IS NOTHING LIKE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. Therefore, unless we are to assume that Rona Jaffe and everyone involved in the movie are total idiots who didn't bother to do the most trivial speck of research, we must assume that the movie is an excoriating criticism of a real game called Mazes and Monsters that I have just never heard of.

Rory is doing quite a thorough job of recreating the true Mazes and Monsters experience. I can't wait for the PDF, so I can get a print copy to put on the shelf next to Dark Dungeons!

Read the current posts here (more are on the way): Part 1 - Part 2

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is here!

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Sun 25 of July, 2010 07:18 PDT
Read an RPG Book in Public Week is here! Get out there and "get caught" reading some RPG books - and be sure to share your stories and photos, too!

The official RaRPGBiPW page has more information on the event, answers to all of your frequently asked questions, links to banners and buttons that you can put on your website, and even t-shirts and other quality items that can help spread the geek around.

There is even a Facebook page that you can join, and a Flickr group where you can post your photos - and if you use Twitter to chronicle your RaRPGBiPW adventures, you can use the "#readrpgs" hashtag so everyone can see your tweets.

Take an RPG book with you this week, read it in public, and see where it takes you!

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is coming soon!

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Mon 19 of July, 2010 19:47 PDT
The next Read an RPG Book in Public Week will be here before you know it. It begins on Sunday July 25th, and runs until Saturday the 31st.

Read an RPG Book in Public Week (RaRPGBiPW for short) is a thrice-yearly event that encourages roleplayers to read their favorite RPG books in public places, to make the hobby more visible, generate interest, and attract new (and lapsed) participants. For more information on the event and how to get involved, visit the

The last RaRPGBiPW was a huge success, much moreso that I could have imagined. The event was covered by several popular sites, including Wired GeekDad, Boing Boing, Geeks are Sexy, Purple Pawn, MAKE Magazine, Places to Go People to Be, and many others. The official page was translated into French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish, to make the event more accessible to roleplayers around the world.

So take an RPG book with you next week, read it in public, and see where it takes you!

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Three brief RPG advocacy stories

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Sun 18 of July, 2010 10:31 PDT
Here are three brief RPG advocacy stories that made their way to my inbox recently:

  • A digital art gallery in New York City is currently featuring an exhibit of some of the works of Ottowa artist Mike Turney, who creates maps for tabletop fantasy roleplaying games:
    At an exhibit Friday, July 16, to Thursday, July 29, in New York City, the SoHo Gallery of Digital Art will include maps Tumey created for fantasy roleplaying board games. A total of about 48 fantasy game maps will be on display on large, flat screen televisions. Tumey plans to attend the exhibit.

    "I've never had my work on display like this before," Tumey noted.

    Read the full article here.

  • Here's an RPG-positive piece about a game store in Alaska - Kitsap board, card gamers find local havens for imaginative play:
    Instead of sitting in front of a television or PC monitor, Larsen said the endless supply of the imagination is why he enjoys role-playing games. On Fridays, he typically stays at Discordia from 6 p.m. to midnight.

    “There’s just nothing like sitting at a table with a group of friends, mocking them,” Larsen said jokingly as he glanced around the table at his fellow gamers.

    Besides mocking friends, Boutet said playing table-top games is also a good way to build communication skills. Lonely player stereotypes are reinforced with video games more than table-top games, and things such as X-Box Live, which is played over the internet but is not the same as face-to-face interaction.

    Read the full article here.

  • Back in April, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks author Ethan Gilsdorf wrote an excellent article for the Christian Science Monitor on the benefits of tabletop RPGs, and that same piece is now being carried by Psychology Today, with a new title: Real-Life Roleplaying.

    Read the full article here.

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"Literary LARP" camps becoming popular

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Sat 17 of July, 2010 10:15 PDT
The New York Times just published a nifty article on role-playing literary camps, which they claim are "sprouting up around the nation." The article focuses on one particular camp in Brooklyn that is based around the very popular Percy Jackson books:
Children have always sought to act out elements of their favorite books, becoming part of the worlds that the works create. Now, organized role-playing literary camps, like the weeklong Camp Half-Blood in Brooklyn, are sprouting up around the nation.

Some take their inspiration from the Harry Potter books, like the wizardry camp run by the Brandywine Learning Center in Chester Springs, Pa., which simulates the experience of attending Hogwarts, the school from the novels.

Bookstores have joined in, organizing day camps structured around children’s books, like “The Double-Daring Book for Girls” and the “Ranger’s Apprentice” series. But the biggest buzz has recently been around Camp Half-Blood, based on the popular “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series.

The admission is a bit steep ($375 for a week-long camp), but the benefits are priceless - instilling a love of reading and discovery, building friendships, and honing social and problem solving skills. It would be great to see a lot more bookstores, libraries, and schools get involved in literary LARP camps like these, and possibly make it accessible to everyone.

See the full article here: [article | archive]

(Thanks to our good buddy Nate for the link!)

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Dark Dungeons: The RPG

Posted by WJWalton4775 points  on Thu 15 of July, 2010 06:46 PDT
Around three years ago, I was offered the opportunity to write the afterword for an RPG in development called Darkest Dungeons. It was a modern day horror RPG based on the fantasy world created by Jack Chick in that infamous anti-D&D tract - a world where innocent teens are lured into devilish behavior by sinister game masters. Players played the roles of the teens in the story, who were trying to avoid insanity and suicide, as well as their characters, who were trying to reach their ultimate goal - the ninth level of the dungeon.

It was an interesting idea that sadly never seemed to get off of the ground. I lost contact with the author a couple of years ago, and the website for the game has been down for about as long (though you can see an archive of it here, if you wish).

Recently an Escapist reader named Dave wrote in to inform me that there is another RPG that pokes a little fun at the old Chick tract - a retro-clone fantasy RPG called, coincidentally enough, Dark Dungeons.

For the benefit of those who may not know: a "retro-clone" RPG is one developed using the rules of an existing (and usually out-of-print) RPG, and usually offered for free online as a PDF (or for cost as a print edition). This makes the rules accessible to those who would still like to play the classic RPG, but can't find the original rulebooks, and it also allows for lots of creative revisions of the rules.

In this particular case, a devotee of classic RPGs created a retro-clone based on a well-known fantasy RPG, and named it after the tract that preached the dangers of roleplaying. Which is the exact sort of 'turning a negative into a positive' philosophy that is strongly endorsed and encouraged by myself.

The fun doesn't stop with the title, however. The rule examples feature two players, Marcie and Debbie, and their respective characters, Black Leaf and Elfstar!

There are no mentions of Miss Frost or the Mind Bondage spell, however - it seems that the author didn't want to take the joke too far, which is probably for the best.

Dave, the Escapist reader who brought Dark Dungeons to my attention, thinks that the popularity of the RPG might actually take Jack Chick's comic down a notch:
The game has generated so much interest, in the short time since it was published, that the offical page is now on the first page of Google's search results, beating even the Wikipedia article about the Chick tract. There might even be a day when Dark Dungeons - the game - is so popular, that the Chick tract is pushed into second place on Google!

That's a pretty high goal to reach, but I'd love to see it happen.

You can find out more about the Dark Dungeons retro-clone RPG, including how to download or purchase it, at

(For more information on the anti-RPG tract Dark Dungeons visit The Escapist's Dark Dungeons page.)

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