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Created by WJWalton4724 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Thu 30 of Oct., 2014 19:51 PDT
(371 Posts | 1367905 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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D&D can rattle windows, make the basement people hate you

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Thu 06 of May, 2010 07:16 PDT
Today is my birthday, and what better way to celebrate it than making a post about the presents I got from my best friend Henry?

Like any good best friend, Henry always seems to find appropriate birthday presents. This year, he gave me a shirt with hot rods and guitars all over it, a DVD set of Blacula and Scream, Blacula, Scream, and a 700-page book by Walter Martin called The Kingdom of the Occult.

It's a very detailed tome on the myriad of occultic threats that we face every day, from Scientology and Satanic cults to Shirley MacClaine and MMORPGs (which they incorrectly consider the Doom games to be). The cover flap tells me that the author passed away in 1989, but judging from the references to Avatar: The Last Airbender, Charmed, The Da Vinci Code, and Harry Potter, and the fact that it has a publication date of 2008, I figure there's been quite a bit of ghostwriting going on.

Of course, any such book worth its salt would have to include a reference to roleplaying games. Dungeons & Dragons gets two brief mentions in the book, one of which is a "case study" of a woman who experienced some supernatural phenomena in her house after her husband began playing D&D:



Keep those warning signs in mind - if your windows are rattling and the basement people start hating you, it may be time to get rid of your gaming books and dice.

The other reference bugs me a bit, however:



Actually, that is incorrect. I have given very much thought to what I am sharing with others when I offer to let them try roleplaying. If I knew for a moment that I was sharing something dangerous with my friends, my daughters, or the kids that I run adventure games for at conventions every year, then I wouldn't do it. There is no "spiritual deceit" here. Only good, honest fun, that you really needn't be afraid of.

Even the basement people can tell you that.

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UK scout recognized for organizing a D&D club

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Wed 05 of May, 2010 10:10 PDT
Recently, word got out that the Cub Scouts were offering a new achievement award that scouts could earn: Video Games.

This was met with more than a little bit of grumbling from bloggers and columnists, who complained about how in their day, the Scouts used to promote healthy outdoor activities, but were now handing out merit badges for high scores. (Some even displayed their ignorance by calling it a Boy Scout Merit Badge, which it isn't.)

After a moment or two of pondering over the subject, I figured there had to be more to the story. The Scouts wouldn't offer an award for just playing video games. I was willing to bet there would be something more substantial to earning the achievement, such as understanding the video game rating system, and budgeting the amount of time spent playing them.

As it turns out, I hit the nail on the head. Here are the three basic requirements for the award, courtesy of Wired GeekDad:
1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

As usual, the facts won't hinder anyone from expressing their outrage - but for the rational thinkers among us, it's good to know they're available.

So why am I mentioning this on a blog that has to do with analog RPGs, and not video games? Well, a little heart-warmer hit my inbox today that reminded me of this mini-controversy. A scout from the UK has recently been recognized for doing something positive in his community, and wouldn't you know it, it involves roleplaying games:
A Fenland teenager, who set up one club for young people and helps run two more, has been nominated for Cambridgeshire Constabulary Young People of the Year. Eighteen-year-old Philip Taylor, of Benwick, was nominated for giving up his spare time to set up a games club and help run his local Scouts and Beavers.

As a nominee for YOPEY, Philip is in with a chance of winning the top prize of £1,000 from a prize pot of £3,000 put up by the police and the other sponsors including Spicers, EACS and Dialight.

Philip set up a model war-gaming club in the Benwick Village Hall two years ago which meets fortnightly.

Anyone is invited to the club and it gives somewhere for local youngsters to go and learn how to play such fantasy games as Warhammers and Dungeons and Dragons.

Philip said: "It is a chance for people to come and learn a new game. It is also better than hanging around on the streets as it gives the young people something fun to do in a safe environment.

Read more here: [article | archive]

Creating a club to keep kids out of trouble is worthy of a scout award, and it's likely that the scout organization has one that they should give to Mr. Taylor. But it's not very likely that they offer an RPG Advocacy badge, for encouraging young people to get involved in a hobby that will keep them out of trouble and benefit them creatively and socially, while simultaneously demonstrating those benefits to the public.

So, being the geek that I am, I made one myself, just for Mr. Taylor:


Wear it with pride, my good man.


(CORRECTION: Looks like I made an error in that image. Boy Scout merit badges are round, not triangular, like the Cub Scout achievement badges are. My apologies.)

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Why do we roleplay?

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Sun 02 of May, 2010 22:28 PDT
My partner Paula is watching an episode of the television show Bones as I write this, and in it, the main characters are investigating the death of a socially awkward teenager who was part of what seems to be some sort of LARP group.

I'm not a big fan of these sorts of shows, so I have to confess I'm not paying too much attention. (It's not really helping that the LARPers are portrayed as antisocial and hostile to authority, and there are incessant references to "losing grip on reality.") But one of the questions that is getting asked frequently is "Why do these people do this?"

And that struck me as a great theme for a resource page for the site, for those outsiders to the hobby who would like to know more about it - Why do we roleplay? What do we get out of it, beyond simple entertainment?

I have a few ideas of my own, but I'd like to get some input from you as well. Then I'll compile everything into a new resource page for the site. Post your answers in comments, or drop me an email. And thanks in advance!

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An RPG/Satanic Panic timeline

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Sat 01 of May, 2010 07:37 PDT
Game designer and author Allen Varney has compiled an interesting timeline of the satanic claims against the roleplaying hobby. It's a great read that gives us a couple of peeks behind the scenes at Wizards of the Coast and the media coverage of the Columbine massacre. There are even a couple links to everyone's favorite roleplaying advocacy website, so you know it's a well-researched piece.

Check it out here: Days of High Adventure: Satanic Panic

(Please note that the site linked above is not affiliated with theescapist.com in any way.)

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Tell Me About Your Character: Jason Marker

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Fri 30 of April, 2010 04:36 PDT
The latest Tell Me About Your Character interview is up - say hello to Jason Marker from Detroit!

Want to join in the fun? Submit yours today! Find out how on the Tell Me About Your Character page.

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I unsheathe my +5 Scalpel of Healing

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Wed 28 of April, 2010 16:52 PDT
Via boingboing: The Healing Blade, a customizable fantasy card game for medical students, makes players match bacterial diseases with their antibiotic treatment.

Check the boingboing link for an interview with one of the creators, and there's more information at Nerdcore Learning.

Up next - a fantasy RPG for medical students where everyone has to play a cleric!

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More on the Wimpy Kid

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Wed 28 of April, 2010 09:12 PDT
You may remember a previous post on the second in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, entitled Rodrick Rules, in which Greg discovers that he enjoys a roleplaying game called "Magick and Monsters."

I wanted to read a copy of the book before I made that post, just so I could give my own informed opinion, but it took a few weeks before my library could lock down a copy. It seems that the release of the first Wimpy Kid movie has made the books very popular, which could be beneficial for the roleplaying hobby, at least in a small way.

As I had heard from others, the mention of roleplaying is very brief, but positive - Greg is apprehensive about trying it out, discovers that he loves it, and then becomes worried that his mother won't approve of it. She insists on trying it out herself, and hilarity ensues - but like everyone else, I'd rather not spoil the punchline for anyone, even though the book is a little bit scarce at the present time.

I attempted to contact Jeff Kinney, the author of the Wimpy Kid series, and ask a few questions about his reasons for including a reference to roleplaying in his book, but it seems that he isn't answering emails at the moment - possibly for the same reason I mentioned above.

I also wanted to inquire about a certain character in "Rodrick Rules" that seems to have a very familar name.



...but I'll leave my lawyers to handle the rest of that negotiation.


My previous post on the book inspired Rolf Elak from Germany to write about his son's experience with Rodrick Rules:
I just read your blog entry about "the diary of a wimpy kid" ("Gregs Tagebuch" in german). My son (10 y.) is a big fan of this series and a short while ago he showed me the chapter about role playing. Knowing that I have regular RP-sessions, he asked if this was a accurate description (away from the hilarity ensuing when Mom entered the session, caring for those poor,hungry orcs ;) ...). I assured him of the accuracy of the description, hinting at some mild exaggerations.

Guess what happend next? My son decided to have a go at RP-ing. I sorrily have to postpone our first session until our moving into a new home is done, but my son is quite eager to play :).

This chapter is fun to read, it is obviously written by someone who knows his stuff, and is by no means scaring any parents about the dangers of RP-ing. It does, however, warn young roleplayers about the dangers of Moms in gaming sessions ;).

Then he shared some facts about roleplaying culture in Germany:
I just re-read the chapter after my son dug it up from the mess he calls his room ;), The translator did a fine job. Rowley is named Leonard in the german "localisation" of the book. The game played is "Kerker und Drachen" which translates directly into "Dungeons and Dragons" :).

The actual "Dungeons and Dragons" on the other hand is known over here as, well, "Dungeons and Dragons" ...

It seems that we old-worlders are blessed with a lot less prejudice against RPG in general, at least the PnP ones. No one needs to avoid the name of "DnD" in books or publications, no (hearable) outcry from the religous faction. Though one is met with a certain ... cautiosness, if one would talk about his/her hobby. It's still deemed to be a hobby for those adolescent pimple faced youths. Just for the record: my own regulars are aged between 30 and 50 years (me being the vintage one ;) ).

Thanks for the story and the culture lesson, Rolf!

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Dungeons & Dragons for ages 6 and up

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Tue 27 of April, 2010 17:16 PDT
To help promote their upcoming novel Monster Slayers, Wizards of the Coast has put together Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod, a stripped-down version of Dungeons & Dragons that's fast, fun, and playable by adventurers as young as six. Best of all, it's completely free!

The game itself is a very simple version of the D&D combat rules (so simple that they could have come from any previous edition), and the adventure that's included doesn't involve a lot of actual role-playing, but any good Dungeon Master will be able to draw that out of the players with a little effort. To play, you'll need a copy of the PDF, pencil and paper, a d20 and d6 (or three d6s if you don't have any d20s lying around), and some adventurous friends.

The page for the site also briefly mentions the benefits to young people from playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (see The Young Person's Adventure League), and even suggests that this may be a good "starter package" to introduce RPGs in a library program (see Terra Libris).

Read more and download the PDF here: www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4dnd/monsterslayers

(Thanks to JJ Lanza for the link.)

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Tell Me About Your Character: Jamie Capach

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Fri 23 of April, 2010 04:57 PDT
The latest Tell Me About Your Character interview is up - meet Jamie Capach from New Hampshire!

If doing a self-serve interview sounds like fun, that's because it is! Submit yours today! Find out how on the Tell Me About Your Character page.

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Two positive roleplaying articles from Ethan Gilsdorf

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Mon 19 of April, 2010 08:30 PDT
Two great positive RPG pieces by Ethan Gilsdorf (the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) recently found their way to me.

First is "Role-playing games pull reluctant school kids into a supportive crowd" on the Christian Science Monitor, where Gilsdorf explores The Game Loft, a youth program based in Belfast, Maine that uses board and roleplaying games as its focus:
"Killing dragons is a challenge," says Ray Esta­brook, The Game Loft's codirector and cofounder. His center connects dragon-slaying to the challenges life throws at you. Via gaming, kids test out "roles," but in a safe, nonschool environment, in order to become functioning adults in society – connected, compassionate, and caring. "Good things happen to kids who game," he says.
...
Sian Evans, whose two sons are Game Loft regulars, was one of those leery parents. She was no fan of video games, either, and wondered if fantasy games were too violent. But once she observed her sons in action, she noticed them begin to pass not only Pokémon cards back and forth across the gaming table, but also concepts.

"When you're playing D&D, you're talking about ideas," Ms. Evans says. "It's not games, it's life skills." She recalls a time that Taran, her 11-year-old, came home bubbling with enthusiasm about what had happened that day in the game: "Oh Mom, I got turned into a dwarf!"

[article | archive]

In the second, "Not just kids play" at Psychology Today, Gilsdorf points readers to the CSM article in a discussion of the negative PR that roleplaying has attracted over the years - he touches upon Patricia Pulling, Mazes & Monsters, the Dark Dungeons religious tract, then shifts gears to the benefits of roleplaying:
Still, stereotypes and prejudices against gaming and fantasy persist. Most people don't realize that for 99% of players and fans, these activities are integrated in healthy ways into the lives or normal people, and they provide an essential community, rites of passage, ethics and values, just like other clubs and hobbies.

[article | archive]

(Thanks to David Wright for the CSM story.)

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Tell Me About Your Character: Andrew French

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Fri 16 of April, 2010 16:04 PDT
The latest Tell Me About Your Character interview is up - meet Andrew French from Boston!

If doing a self-serve interview sounds like fun, that's because it is! Submit yours today! Find out how on the Tell Me About Your Character page.

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Wanted: Pictures of roleplayers in libraries

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Fri 16 of April, 2010 06:26 PDT
My friend JJ Lanza is working on a very cool semi-secret project, and he is asking around for pictures of roleplayers enjoying an RPG session in their local library.

And while I'm thinking of it, I wouldn't mind having a few as well, to put up on the Terra Libris page. If you have such a thing, please contact me. You can attach the pictures if you like, and I will send them along. Make sure to let me know where the picture was taken (city and state or country if outside the US), the name of the library, and what RPG is being played. If you like, you can also list the names of the players in the picture.

Thanks in advance, and keep an eye out for more on that semi-secret project!

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Roleplaying in the Navy

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Wed 14 of April, 2010 09:15 PDT
I've heard stories before about the popularity of roleplaying games among those who serve in the military (particularly in the Navy), and I always love to hear more about it - especially the challenges that players go through to get a game together. Recently, two posts on RPG blogs covered this issue nicely.

Youseph Tanha at Stargazer's World interviewed his friend Lyle Vogtmann about the ins and outs of roleplaying on a US Navy ship:

Finding people to play with, and places to play was the most interesting aspect of playing on board ship. As always, DND players do tend to find each other one way or another. Despite the massive size of an aircraft carrier, finding places to play was the difficult part. We’d get chased out of berthing areas where people sleep in their off hours, playing in someone’s work shop wouldn’t work, as they were always manned with the current shift. For a while we played up in the mezzanine of the hangar deck where empty airplane fuel pods were stored (wish I would have taken pictures… we had to climb a ladder 4 stories or so, and doing so while carrying our bags/briefcases full of manuals/dice/character sheets. We looked like a geek Special Forces team moving to higher ground positions!)


(Read more here)

In response, Mike Meredith at Dice Monkey posts about his own experiences with gaming in the Navy:

When we first deployed, we didn’t have anywhere to play. Finding a storage room three decks down from where we worked, we would sit on boxes of paper and roll dice into box lids, playing Kobolds Ate my Baby, as well as a few sessions of Ravenloft.


(Read more here)

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"Occult detective" speaks on the dangers of RPGs

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Thu 08 of April, 2010 19:05 PDT
Virginia's "occult detective," Don Rimer, will be hosting yet another training seminar on occult and ritual crimes that will include discussions on witchcraft, goth culture, death metal, and role-playing games, according to this item from delmarvanow.com:
ACCOMAC — The Virginia Gang Investors Association will host a training seminar April 30 on the subject of “Occult and Ritual crimes” at the Accomac Elks Club.

The speaker will be Don Rimer, who has been involved in many high profile cases involving this subject matter.

Rimer will discuss several topics including, New case studies, Satanism, Witchcraft, Goth, Animal abuse, Fantasy role playing, Death/metal music, etc.

The seminar is from 9a.m.-5pm at the Accomac Elks Lodge, 22454 Front St..

For more information contact Kelly Miles at 757-339-5204.

Rimer has held similar seminars before, and has made a name for himself as an "occult detective" from some high profile cases. One such case was that of Jon Bush, a Virginia air-conditioner repairman convicted for sexually abusing several teenage girls that he lured into a "vampire cult."

(For more on Don Rimer, see the links at the end of this post.)

It's probably a safe bet that the recent popularity of the Twilight books and movies and the accompanying interest in vampire literature and lore have motivated Rimer to cash in and spread some fresh paranoia around like so much fertilizer. This will likely be another exercise in confusion between causation and correlation, which is exactly the opposite of what a crime detective should be teaching (and practicing).

One of the commenters says it best:
Don Rimer cases are high profile, primarily due to the controversy of having a demonstrated charlatan like Don Rimer talking to law-enforcement agents under the guise of someone with expertise.

If you happen to be in the Accomac, Virginia area, consider contacting your local law enforcement station and see if they plan to attend. (Or even better - see if you can get into the seminar and take lots of notes!)

(Thanks to Shanya for the link.)


More on Don Rimer:

- "Cult Cop" Hosts Seminar

- Vampire-hunting detective is Virginia Beach's expert on the weird

- Not Just A Game

- Teenagers Seeking the Occult Find Death Instead

- Witness says self-proclaimed vampire threatened her life during rape

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The Wimpy Kid plays an RPG

Posted by WJWalton4724 points  on Wed 07 of April, 2010 11:13 PDT
JJ Lanza pointed me to this post at Grognardia a while ago, about the second book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. In it Greg (the titular "wimpy kid") is invited by his best friend's babysitter to try out a roleplaying game called "Magick and Monsters."

I wanted to get a copy of the book to review myself, but as it turns out, none of my local libraries have it on the shelf - every copy has been checked out, which may be because the movie adaptation of the first book in the series recently hit theaters.

But from Grognardia's review, it seems that the story is very gaming-positive - Greg soon becomes a fan of the game, and wants to play more and more. It even addresses parental concerns with the content of the game, when Greg's mother decides to sit in on a session to learn what it's all about.

So, there's a popular kid's book in bookstores and libraries right now that is giving a positive example of the roleplaying hobby, suggesting that it might be something fun to try, and even giving steps to take if your parents have concerns about it. And I can't even find it in any of my local libraries.

That makes your friend and narrator very happy.

My only concerns are the use of the "k" version of "Magick" and the name "Rowley" (one letter away from "Crowley"), which someone will eventually use as "evidence" that this book is attempting to teach kids about the occult.

I know, it sounds paranoid, but you get like that, after a while.

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