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Created by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Wed 23 of July, 2014 08:08 PDT
(364 Posts | 1076945 Visits | Activity=2.25)

Mazes and Monsters: The RPG

Posted by WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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 WJWalton4660 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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David Millians interview at The Examiner

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Sun 04 of July, 2010 07:52 PDT
Michael Tresca interviews David Millians, the coolest teacher ever, at The Examiner.

Just read it. You know it's going to be awesome.

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Dark Dungeons: The Movie

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 02 of July, 2010 05:52 PDT
Boolean Union Studios is producing a computer animated version of Dark Dungeons, the infamous anti-roleplaying tract published by Chick Publications.

My favorite statement from their page:
A quick survey of the Internet will turn up various parodies of the tract. Boolean Union Studios’ version plays the material relatively straight, because we think the inherently risible content speaks for itself.

There are a couple of preview clips available on the page. Watch them now, before Chick's lawyers descend (ascend?) and shut the whole thing down.

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Don't take your boffers to town

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 30 of June, 2010 06:52 PDT
The most recent G20 summit held in Toronto, Canada had its usual share of protesters, both peaceful and otherwise, and it isn't unusual for the local police to confiscate many items of ill intent... and otherwise.

This year, along with other items both malevolent and benign, Toronto police seized a set of armor, shields, and weapons from a LARPer on his way to Amtgard - then displayed them for the media among more dangerous items like a machete, baseball bats, and a chainsaw.
Chief Bill Blair, who told reporters the items were evidence of the protesters’ intent, singled out arrows covered in sports socks, which he said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and set ablaze.


In addition to the arrows – which Mr. Barrett made safe for live-action role playing by cutting off the pointy ends and attaching a bit of pool noodle covered in socks – police displayed his metal body armour, foam shields and several clubs made of plastic tubing covered with foam and fabric.

Mr. Barrett said he was “appalled” at the placement of his chain-mail beneath a machete. He regularly takes public transit from his Whitby, Ont., home to Centennial Park to play the game, called Amtgard, while wearing the 85-pound armour and is worried people will think: “Oh my God, that’s one of the terrorists from G20.”

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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Never split the party

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Sat 26 of June, 2010 19:36 PDT
Wizards of the Coast is running their Never Split the Party contest again, in which gamers whose groups have seperated over the years try to win a trip to GenCon for themselves and 4 of their old gaming pals.

Best of all, USA Today is helping to spread the word: It's time to get the (D&D) band back together

(Thanks to Mulsiphix for the link!)

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Only a game

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Sat 19 of June, 2010 08:02 PDT
The following message has been making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook:
40 cop cars lined up in anticipation of post-game Lakers riot. None for E3. Now, which games promote violence?

I would personally like to add that the same can be said for Gen Con, Origins, and every other RPG and LARP convention ever held. Sure, there have been security issues, and there may have been police called to a few incidents - but a lineup of police cars at an RPG convention in anticipation of a riot? Never happened.

It's not so much a criticism of professional sports as it is an observation of a huge inconsistency. A handful of isolated incidents in which gamers commit crimes is considered an epidemic by many, but regular, consistent outbreaks of violence after sports events are written off with a sort of "boys will be boys" mentality.

It's a point that I made myself in a column I wrote for Valkyrie Magazine back in 2003, and while doing so, I made some amazing discoveries about how far sports riots can go. I dug that old column up and reposted it here, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

The Column for Gaming Advocacy
From Valkyrie Quarterly 26

Only a Game, Right?
by Bill Walton

Boy, am I gonna get it for this one. I'm probably going to see loads of hate mail over what I'm about to say. But if you'll just hear me out and read all of the way through, you probably won't even have to pick up your poison pen.

Contrary to what you may believe, there are certain games that can be linked to violent crimes, including assault, vandalism, and even murder and manslaughter. In fact, one of these games was partly responsible for starting a war in Central America. These games are commonly known as professional sports.

Ah, ah, ah! I told you to hear me out, didn't I? Sit back down and keep reading. I'm going somewhere with this.

Recently, in the United States, 65 people were arrested in connection with riots and vandalism after the Los Angeles Raiders lost the Super Bowl. Three firemen were injured, several cars were damaged by thrown rocks and bottles, and ten cars and a local fast-food restaurant were set ablaze.

This was the second time police from the area had responded to a fan riot in as many weeks. In the previous case, the fans weren't angry - they were expressing their joy over the Raiders' win in the playoffs, using the same methods of violence and vandalism.

This isn't an isolated case, nor is it limited to professional sports. In November of 2002, Ohio State University fans started fires and overturned cars when the Buckeyes made it to the national championship. On the same evening in Washington state, opposing football fans pelted each other with bottles and debris after the results of a game.

It's not just football, either. Do a web search for "sports riots" and "fan riots" some day. There are baseball riots, hockey riots, and kids attempting maneouvers that they see on professional wrestling shows. And let's not even talk about the soccer fans. Actually, on second thought…

In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras were not getting along well at all, due to severe immigration and economic problems. Honduras blamed her woes on the large amount of Salvador immigrants in her borders, and reacted by ejecting most of them out of the country. Armed resistance ensued among the immigrants who were reluctant to give up the farms they had worked to develop over the years. Salvador responded by capturing a Honduran on their soil and sentencing him to twenty years in prison for illegal entry into their country. Honduras replied by capturing sixty Salvador soldiers and locking them up.

Not long after the entire mess was all sorted out, the playoffs for the World Cup began, and the Honduran and El Salvador teams were slated to compete with each other. The tales of their misadventures during the three-game series are worth reading, but I don't have the space to go into them here. I encourage you to look the story up and read it for yourself, but a brief synopsis would include the words assault, rape, mass destruction, and murder.

Within hours, the final game of the playoffs transformed into conflict on the border between the two countries, and that conflict came to be known as the Futbol War. It lasted about six days, and over 2000 people, mostly civilians, died.

Okay, I hear you. You'd like me to get to my point, so that when I'm finished, you can resume shoving the tennis racket down my throat and stomping on me with your cleats. Well, here it is: people all over the world, from all walks of life, love sports with an incredible passion. It is a part of their culture, their being, and their identity - their loyalty runs very deep, and their team's victories and losses are their own. This passion can cause some of them to do dangerous and irrational things in the name of their favorite sport.

But no one ever dares suggest that there's a connection. Why? Because it is such a big part of so many of us. We'd hate to think that something that we enjoy could be responsible for something terrible.

Gaming is different. It's a fringe activity. The pastime hasn't even been around long enough for most people to know about it. It's "weird," and "different," and not a lot of people are involved in it. So it's an easy target.

Gaming has never caused any riots, or started any wars that didn't take place on a dinner table. Yet you would be hard pressed to find an organization of mothers concerned about sports fan violence.

This is our place, and we're going to have to learn to accept it.

"The Great Honduras - Salvador Football War," Lorenzo Dee Belveal, (external link)

"Fan Riots Are Out of Control" - Sean Pullins, (external link)

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More on D&D and boy scouts

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 18 of June, 2010 05:59 PDT
Tyler Dion at the Held Action blog picked up on my posts about D&D in the scouts, and covered the subject much better than I did, uncovering some more info on the UK scout badge, as well as finding a great blog post by a scoutmaster who introduced his troops to D&D:
I will never forget the first game I hosted. Two of the Boy Scouts played. We created their characters and began the game, which only lasted for fifteen minutes before those characters were killed by monsters. I learned a lot about being a game master during that short time. I had managed the game by the rule books. I needed to use the books more as guidelines and fit them to the gameplay. Once I began doing that the games lasted longer and they were more fun. More boys wanted to get in on the action. Nearly 100 boys have played in my world during the last thirty years.

Previous posts on scouts and RPGs:
A REAL D&D merit badge
UK scout recognized for organizing a D&D club

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Free RPG Day!

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 17 of June, 2010 06:45 PDT
This Saturday (June 19th) is Free RPG Day, when RPG publishers offer free adventures and quickstart rules at game retailers all over the world.

Visit the official site at, and you can find a location near you on their Retailer Locator page.

(And speaking of RPG-themed holidays, the next Read an RPG Book in Public Week is almost a month away. Time to start thinking about what you're going to get caught reading this summer!)

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A REAL D&D merit badge

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 10 of June, 2010 05:10 PDT
In response to my previous post on scouting badges, Escapist reader Darrell Impey wrote in with the following:
You know, there was a time when the UK Scouting hobbies badge was sponsored by D&D, there's even one available on ebay at the moment...
(eBay link)

And here is a picture that I grabbed, in case the eBay page gets taken down:

I still like my roleplaying advocacy badge a bit better, but it's good to know that some UK scouts were able to display their geek pride this way.

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CNN on D&D Encounters

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 09 of June, 2010 22:09 PDT
CNN brings us a piece on Dungeons & Dragons Encounters, a series of pre-packaged characters and adventures produced by Wizards of the Coast, designed to bring new players to the hobby, and maybe even bring some of the lapsed players back.
Wizards of the Coast, the current publishers of D&D, recognized that some of the 24 million people who used to play the game left, not because they didn't want to play, but because their lifestyles changed and they didn't have the time anymore — so they have created a new rules system to address those concerns and bring back their former fans.

The new "D&D Encounters" provides all the materials needed to run a D&D game, but in a relatively short period of time. The goal, said brand director Liz Schuh, is to get those former gamers rolling the dice again.

Despite how you may feel about fourth edition D&D, it's always nice to see positive press for the hobby, especially from such a big name as CNN - and even better, it is delivered without any of the old urban legends.

Full article here: Dungeons & Dragons tries to lure back players

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