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Created by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Wed 23 of July, 2014 08:08 PDT
(364 Posts | 1087246 Visits | Activity=2.25)

DriveThruRPG Raises over $175,000 for Haiti relief

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 02 of Feb., 2010 12:21 PST
The title says it all, and it also answers ol' Bill Schnoebelen's comment from "Should a Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons?":

I would just ask them where are the rescue missions ... started by D&D gamers?

I think you're looking at one, Bill.

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$147,000 and counting...

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Thu 28 of Jan., 2010 13:45 PST
As of this writing, DriveThruRPG has raised over $147,000 for Haiti relief - and there are still a couple days left to do your part! If you would like to help a good cause, and get a ton of gaming PDFs as a thank you, follow that link!

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More thoughts on prisons, gangs, and D&D

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Thu 28 of Jan., 2010 12:41 PST
(My internet connection is temporarily down at home, so my posts may be somewhat sparse for the next week. Please bear with me.)

I've been thinking more about the recent Wisconsin case, in which a prisoner was denied the right to play Dungeons & Dragons because the dynamics of the game (a Dungeon Master and a group of players) too closely resembled gang members taking orders from a gang leader.

Of course, those of us who have played or even witnessed a game of D&D know that this isn't how the game works at all, and if the people involved in this decision had done any amount of research, they would have learned the same thing. This isn't the first case of a prison banning RPGs for flimsy reasons - the CAR-PGa previously exposed a prison that refused the game because the hard covers could be ripped off and used as shivs, and the artwork in the books could inspire prisioners to get fantasy-themed tattoos. (It would be interesting to see if there was a sudden drop in tattooing after the game was denied, but I doubt anyone bothered to do THAT study...)

I haven't been able to read a lot of commentary on the issue, but I can imagine that a lot of people hold the attitude that prisoners shouldn't have the rights to play any games while incarcerated, let alone D&D. There was probably a time when I would agree, but I've changed my mind since then.

Years ago - right before I started this website, to be a little more exact - I attempted to start my own business, buying and selling used and out-of-print RPG books through the mail. This was shortly before eBay came along, and squished my little business model, so it didn't last for very long. But in the few months that I was in operation, I couldn't help but notice that most of my customers were prisoners - easily 80% of them, if not more. Somehow, word of my business had gotten out among the prison gamer community.

They were always polite and grateful for the service I was providing, and sent me their wish lists on prison stationary. Most of them would buy most any modules or sourcebooks I had available, they were so desperate for material. I also recall a story in an early issue of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic in which a prisoner shared how they made polyhedral dice out of paper and adhesive tape.

It's all too easy to discard people who have done wrong, but keep in mind that this decision affects all prisoners, even those with lesser charges than homicide, and even some who have been wrongly incarcerated. It's not just a case of one accused murderer wanting to play an RPG. Giving prisoners small comforts like these can aid in their rehabilitation and desire to stay out of prison after release. If they have the right to play chess, read books, play sports, watch television, go to church, and exercise, they should be allowed to play Dungeons & Dragons if they choose to.

In a more rational world, we would see an investigation into the benefits of RPGs on prisoners and their rehabilitation rates, instead of flimsy excuses like this one.

This was actually a topic I had been meaning to bring up some time ago, when I discovered the Destination Unknown blog, and Christian's efforts to get RPG material into the hands of prisoners. If you're interested in more on the subject, be sure to check out his blog.

In the meantime, here are a handful of more news stories on the prison D&D ban that have popped up in my inbox lately. Thanks to all who have forwarded info on this case to me.

Chicago Tribune
Minneapolis City Pages blog
USA Today
New York Daily News
National Post
Chicago Now
Chicago Reader blog

My good friend Bob Mueller recommends this post at the Volokh Conspiracy, and the comments that accompany it. Looks like a LOT of legal geeks are also gaming geeks, which should surprise no one around here.

EDIT: And as usual, Penny Arcade knocks it out of the park...

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Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 26 of Jan., 2010 12:06 PST
My good friend Jason McCartan forward this Slashdot story to me today: Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

"In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a while now, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... (who) is tasked with giving directions to other players... which mimics the organization of a gang.' The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing.

I guess they don't allow basketball coaches in prisons, either...

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MORE Gamers Help Haiti at DriveThruRPG!

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 19 of Jan., 2010 22:29 PST
DriveThruRPG has another great way to help the relief effort in Haiti - they're offering a huge bundle of RPG PDFs (over a $1400 value) for a $20 donation! As with their last collection effort, the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

There are a LOT of great products in this bundle, including a few full RPGs, as well as a bunch of supplemental material. And the money goes to an excellent charity, so be sure to check it out!

(Thanks to Shanya for the link!)

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All I really need to know about life, I learned from Dungeons & Dragons

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Mon 18 of Jan., 2010 19:59 PST
Chad Henderson, a computer programmer from Oklahoma, gave this little presentation on the life lessons that D&D teaches us.

It's way too short, in my opinion - he could have gone for a lot longer without exhausting the topic. He must have had some time constraints, I figure.

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Gamers Help Haiti at DriveThruRPG

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Thu 14 of Jan., 2010 21:31 PST
DriveThruRPG is accepting donations to help with Haiti earthquake relief.

Best of all, for every $5 donation made, DriveThruRPG will match it!

Visit the Gamers Help Haiti page to make a donation!

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RPG 'Claimer' - HoL

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 12 of Jan., 2010 09:08 PST
In some cases, no disclaimer will do, and you have to go with the only other option.

HoL (Human Occupied Landfill), published in 1994 and re-released by White Wolf on 1995, was an amazing piece of work - a sci-fi RPG rulebook that may have been a parody of RPG rulebooks, or may have been an actual, playable RPG. (Rumors tell of gamers who have actually played it, but no one ever seems to know any of them personally.)

The entire book was handwritten - only the trademark page of the White Wolf edition was typeset - and filled with all manner of insane and violent illustrations (and no page numbers). Rather than publishing a disclaimer on the opening page, the authors did the reverse - they published a 'claimer' of just some of the terrible things that their game would cause you to do if you played it.

Due to language and themes, I'm putting this one behind a link. Please, if you're under 18 years of age (physically OR emotionally) and easily offended by certain configurations of letters, don't click this link. For the rest of you, I still don't recommend it:

HoL Claimer

And that does it for the more interesting disclaimers in my RPG collection (until I find some that I'd forgotten about, of course). As always, if you know of any good ones that you'd like to share, scan them and send them to me!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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RPG Disclaimers - Central Casting: Heroes Now!

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Mon 11 of Jan., 2010 06:50 PST
The next disclaimer doesn't come from a RPG rulebook, but a supplement for character creation. Central Casting was a series of three books that were designed to help players flesh out the backstory of their character by rolling dice and consulting a complex set of tables.

Of the three, I own one: Central Casting: Heroes Now!, which covers characters from the twentieth century, and I used it to color many of the Call of Cthulhu characters that I made in the mid-90s. (The other two were made for creating past and future characters, if I remember correctly).

The front of the book had a disclaimer written by Paul Jaquays that laid plain the author's stance on political correctness. It's something that a lot of the conservative opponents of D&D and other roleplaying games would be pretty surprised to see, I would imagine:

Up next: the last of my series, Hol!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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The Quixotist is dead.

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Mon 11 of Jan., 2010 06:19 PST
Some of you may have noticed that the roleplaying blog I started about a month ago, The Contemporary Quixotist, is dead. There were some issues with the host service that wiped out all of the blogs hosted there.

I will probably revive it sometime in the near future. When I do, I'll make an announcement here, so that those of you who are interested can update your bookmarks.

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RPG Disclaimers - Nephilim

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Sun 10 of Jan., 2010 10:20 PST
This classic RPG disclaimer nearly slipped under my radar - it's from the 1994 RPG Nephilim by Chaosium. This game put players in the roles of supernatural creatures from different historical periods that have reawakened in the present day.

Nephilim may win the award for most succinct disclaimer of all. The very first page of the rulebook is bare, except for the following words:

And on the following page:

While scanning these pages, I noticed something on the bottom of the credits page that I don't think I've noticed before. Many RPGs will frequently use a consistent pronoun while describing how the game is played. For example, some will use "he" for players, and "she" for gamemasters. Often, a disclaimer is included to explain why this is done. Here is how Nephilim chose to handle it:

This book uses the pronouns "she" and "hers" in a gender specific fashion to indicate that players of Nephilim are expected to be exclusively female. It is not done to maintain clarity, or because we're some kind of PC nazis.

This actually makes a great segueway into the next disclaimer. Stay tuned!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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RPG Disclaimers - Little Fears

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Sat 09 of Jan., 2010 20:31 PST
Little Fears is often one of the first games that many gamers will think of when the subject of controversial RPGs comes up. Published in 2001, it dealt with the subjects of child abuse, abduction, and children fighting back against their monsters, and made some gamers very uncomfortable.

Here is the disclaimer from the front of the Little Fears rulebook:

Jason L Blair tells us about working on Little Fears:
Little Fears was terrifying. Not just to read or play but to write and publish. It touched on topics and themes that previous games hadn't. There wasn't a precedent for a lot of this stuff so I had no idea how folks would react. As with most of Little Fears, I was finding my way in the dark. The game is full of disclaimers but this one, from the credits page of the book, was really me laying down my honest feeling on the matter. It's a bit overwritten, maybe a little too thick, but it's sincere.

I have two more left from my own collection. If you know of any other great (or even not so great) RPG disclaimers, scan them and send them to me!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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Tell Me About Your Character: Charlie Etheridge-Nunn

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Fri 08 of Jan., 2010 06:31 PST
The first Tell Me About Your Character interview of 2010 is up - don't miss the Q&A with Charlie Etheridge-Nunn!

Look like fun? Then tell us about your character, too! Get a copy of the interview questions, and do your own self-serve interview!

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RPG Disclaimers - Wyrd is Bond

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Thu 07 of Jan., 2010 08:20 PST
Jason L Blair's magick-in-the-'hood RPG Wyrd is Bond (2004) had not one, but two disclaimers in its opening pages. This one appeared at the bottom of the credits page:

But a page before it, the first thing the reader sees when they open the book is this:

Jason tells us a bit about this latter disclaimer, and his reasons for writing it:

Wyrd is Bond is not a commentary or thesis on poverty, gang violence, drug use, or music culture and I wanted this to be clear. Folks would still try to call me on the things I "got wrong" but this disclaimer addresses that directly. Perhaps the meaning was obscured by my phat rhymes. I had a lot of fun writing this disclaimer and I think it touched on everything it needed. My intent was to set the tone for the books right from the beginning.

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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Classic D&D modules on Wired GeekDad

Posted by WJWalton4663 points  on Tue 05 of Jan., 2010 07:39 PST
It's a revisiting of a revisiting - Ken Denmead is re-posting his series of posts on a box of classic Dungeons & Dragons modules that he found in storage while searching for some Christmas decorations. His commentary on the ins and outs of each module is well worth the read (or the re-read, if you caught these posts when they first appeared two years ago).

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

More posts are coming, so keep reading GeekDad!

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