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Created by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Tue 04 of Aug., 2015 21:42 PDT
(376 Posts | 1772229 Visits | Activity=2.00)

TruTV's Forensic Files: Playing D&D makes you a suspect and a liar

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 28 of Dec., 2009 07:56 PST
The following video is a clip from the TruTV series Forensic Files, from an episode titled "Holy Terror" that aired on August 14th, 2009:

(I've been trying to find more facts on the suspects and the bombing incidents in general, but I haven't had any luck. If anyone can help out, please contact me.)

To recap (because these videos have a tendency to get pulled without notice): A church bombing incident in eastern Illinois leads investigators to two teens, 18 year old Jimmy Morris and 16 year old Phil Ryan, as possible suspects. When the teens were initially questioned, they had no alibi and denied the charges. But in later questioning, each teen began to implicate each other, as a sort of prank against the investigators. When a second bombing incident occurred, their ruse was revealed.

The show starts out with the old canard of making D&D look sinister and dangerous, and linking it to real-life violence without giving any specific examples:
Narrator: Investigators also learned that the boys were heavily involved in the game Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy oriented game played by more than twenty million people worldwide. It allows participants to assume imaginary, often violent, identities.

ATF Special Agent Kevin Rollins: There had been, across the country, instances where the roleplaying within the game of Dungeons & Dragons, had turned violent in real life.

Then, it attempts to connect the boys' prank to D&D, as if lying to Federal agents during a criminal investigation has something to do with playing the game.

Since the investigators have such a clouded concept of RPGs and D&D (and the difference between causation and correlation, for that matter), it's hard to trust their assessment of the boys' prank. Teens often play pranks, as we all know, and there's no clear way of knowing if they were doing it to waste the investigators' time, because they were upset at being wrongfully accused, playing some sort of role, or any combination of the three.

But then, blaming that weird game that all of those nerds play has always made for some sensational storytelling, so why not go with what works?

(Thanks to the Quilt City OGREs for the link, and Bob Mueller for more information on the episode and the case.)

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RPG Disclaimers - Ars Magica 4e

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 27 of Dec., 2009 17:07 PST
Here's another RPG disclaimer, this one from the fourth edition of Ars Magica by Atlas Games, the same people who gave us that great disclaimer in the Over the Edge rulebook:

Coming up: disclaimers from Everlasting, Witchcraft, Little Fears, and (though I may live to regret it) HoL. Do you know of some great RPG disclaimers that haven't been covered yet? If so, scan them, and send them my way!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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RPG Disclaimers - TMNT/After the Bomb

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 23 of Dec., 2009 08:55 PST
The next in our series of RPG disclaimers: two specimens from Palladium rulebooks.

When Palladium no longer held the license to publish material for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG, they rebooted and expanded it in 2001 as After the Bomb, a post-apocalyptic setting with mutated animal heroes. Here is the disclaimer that appeared in the front of the rulebook - it seems that Palladium wanted to cover themselves against any acts of vigilantism that may have been inspired by their game:

While digging through my old TMNT books, I found this in the adventure module Turtles Go Hollywood, which featured an encounter with a sleazy drug dealer:

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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My new roleplaying blog

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 23 of Dec., 2009 07:30 PST
I've decided that I really don't have enough irons in the fire as far as online projects go (WARNING: SARCASM!), and therefore I've started a new roleplaying blog at the Citadel of Chaos.

Where the Escapist blog covers roleplaying advocacy in all of its forms, this one will be where I write about my personal roleplaying experiences - the games I'm playing, the games I WANT to play, various random items that might be inspirational for plots or worlds, and that sort of thing.

If it sounds interesting to you, feel free to check it out: The Contemporary Quixotist

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RPG Disclaimers - Mage: The Sorceror's Crusade

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 20 of Dec., 2009 14:50 PST
What do you know? It's another disclaimer from an RPG rulebook! For this one, we're briefly going back to the World of Darkness, with Mage: The Sorceror's Crusade (1998). For those who don't know: In the mid-to-late 90s, White Wolf released a historical version of most of the main WoD settings, and Mage got the Renaissance treatment.

This one is short and sweet and to the point. I sort of wish they had gone with something a little more period-themed, but I also appreciate the succinct method.

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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RPG Disclaimers - Over the Edge 1e

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 19 of Dec., 2009 14:23 PST
Another disclaimer from an RPG rulebook, this one from one of my all time favorites, Over the Edge first edition (1992). This one is unique in that it is meant to be recited by the GM before and after every game (and if I remember correctly, I did exactly that the few times that we got to play it.

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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'I am a teenage elf'

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 19 of Dec., 2009 07:33 PST
Uk's Independent just featured a great interview with a teenaged LARPer from South London, who explains the hobby very well, and gives a taste of what makes it so engrossing:
Dressing up as an elf and heading out to the woods to engage in battle with a whole cast of other elves, humans and "half-orcs" is not how you'd imagine an average kid from south London would spend his weekend. But if you knew the feeling you get when it is 1.30 in the morning, it's pitch black, you're in the middle of a forest and you know there's a big nasty monster out there who wants to kill you, then you'd understand why. At this point, you completely forget that you're in character and all you can think is: Oh my God, I'm going to die! It's the best adrenaline rush I've ever had.

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

(In totally unrelated news, this is the 100th post to the new blog! Huzzah!)

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RPG Disclaimers - Mage 2e

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 18 of Dec., 2009 06:36 PST
After the last two posts about disclaimers in RPG rulebooks, I've been digging through my collection, looking for disclaimers. Here's one from a game I've always wanted to run, but never had the chance to - Mage: The Ascension:

(Taken from the second edition hardback, 1995)

I checked through a lot of other World of Darkness books from the same time period, but most of them seem to use a boilerplate of the disclaimer from Vampire, with appropriate rewording ("werewolf," "mummy," etc., in place of "vampire").

Over at the Escapist Fan Page on Facebook, former White Wolf author Sam Chupp commented on their disclaimer policy:

"I can't remember anyone requiring us to disclaim this way. People just wrote them because they were fun to write."

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Number of words appearing: 2d8

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 17 of Dec., 2009 18:26 PST
Jason Sinclair Long, a blogger from California, has found a use for some of the old eight-siders from his bygone D&D days - he uses them to generate the amount of words that his next short story will have:

Before he types a word, he rolls a pair of dice – one green, one gray – both eight-sided relics from pre-teen Dungeons and Dragons bouts.

Shake. Toss. Sigh. Write.

He tells the story of a murder in 31 words. A marriage in 87. A sci-fi ditty in 12. Or a travel adventure in 63. The lower the number, usually, the longer he spends in front of his laptop.

He began this daily ritual on January 1st of this year, and will end it on December 31st.

I've got to wonder why he didn't go with ten-siders. Better number range, and all that. It might be a little late to suggest it, though.

Read the full story here.

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RPG Disclaimers - Vampire (2e and 3e)

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 17 of Dec., 2009 08:05 PST
In the spirit of my previous post about RPG disclaimers, here are two more, from Vampire: The Masquerade second edition (1992):

...and third edition (1998):

Note the difference between the two. To put it into historical perspective: The first disclaimer was written when Vampire was fairly new, and hadn't received much media attention yet. The second was written after the murder of Heather Wendorf's parents, which was widely blamed on Vampire back in 1996, and the year before it would be connected to the Columbine massacre (despite no evidence that the killers ever played it).

I'm not sure if the first edition or the new version of Vampire have them or not, as I don't have access to those books. Can anyone help out there?

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Classic Pokémon Paranoia

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 16 of Dec., 2009 13:42 PST
For the first few years that I managed this site, back in 1995-1999 or so, I did a bit of defense for collectible card games as well as role-playing games. This was because games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon were getting the same bad rap that RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons were. Lately, I've been seeing a lot of this video, supplied by the blog Everything is Terrible, where a preacher warms his flock of the dangers of Pokémon. This is the sort of thing that was going on during the height of the craze. In fact, this is rather mild, compared to what some other preachers did ten years ago.

I was hesitant to post it at first, since it has been edited quite a bit, but I don't think the actual message has been changed very much (as long as you ignore the very last sentence).

Okay, then. That's a lot to take in at once, so here is a brief recap of the things that we've learned here:

- The plural of "Pokémon" is "Pokémon." Be sure to correct yourself if you say the singular form when you mean the plural.

- Children are capable of taking the powers (from Pokémon cards, games, and toys) and channeling them through their minds and arms and power sources (like Pokémon cards, games, and toys).

- Pokémon is a game that teaches children how to enter into the world of witchcraft, how to cast spells, use psychic phenomena, and work supernatural powers against their enemies.

- Demons and Satan take it quite seriously, regardless of how seriously you may take it.

- In the 80s, children killed themselves because Dungeons & Dragons was a roleplaying game.

- Russian roulette is just a game, the same as Pokémon and Dungeons & Dragons. (Likewise, apples and oranges are the same things as hand grenades.)

- Everything in life is real. EVERYTHING. This cannot be stressed enough.

- Why? Why? Whyyyy? Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?

- Some people here cannot get saved, or go to heaven (possibly due to Pokémon)

- And now, THE INTERNET!

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RPG Disclaimers - Bureau 13

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 15 of Dec., 2009 19:50 PST
At a certain point in the history of tabletop roleplaying games, the rumors and myths about the hobby became so bad that some game designers decided to add disclaimers to their games - either to protect themselves legally, or to illustrate how silly those rumors and myths really were.

In some cases it was likely a little of both, and often the author would take the opportunity to turn the claims around and show that rather than being dangerous, playing a roleplaying game could be very beneficial.

I've seen lots of them over the years, mostly in White Wolf rulebooks, but also in many others. Some took a succinct approach ("You are not a vampire."), while others were much more wordy and humorous.

My good friend Jason McCartan recently picked up a copy of the Bureau 13 - Stalking the Night Fantastic RPG from his local Half Price Books. While paging through it, he spotted a couple of disclaimers, and decided to scan both of them and send them to me.

These came from an RPG book that was first published in 1983. I'm not sure when the first RPG disclaimer was printed, or which book it appeared in, but I think that if this one isn't it, it's got to be pretty close.

Now, I've got an urge to go through all of my books to find the best disclaimers. What are your favorites? Do you know of any that predate Bureau 13? (Bonus points if you scan them and send them in, so I can share them here in the blog!)

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LARPing in SLC, and an Awful Library Book

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 10 of Dec., 2009 16:31 PST
Two things that landed on the Escapist news desk today:

- First, from our good buddy Nate, comes LARPing: Real Life Adventures, a positive piece on the LARP hobby in the Salt Lake City Community College's paper The Globe, that focuses on the Mythic Realms LARP organization. Read it here: [article | archive]

- Second, today's post on the Awful Library Books blog (which I've discovered recently and have been enjoying a lot) features a book from 1998 titled Coping with Satanism: Rumor, Reality, and Controversy. According to the bloggers, the book features a "section regarding the satanic influences of Dungeons and Dragons."

Has anyone ever seen this book before? It seems that I can get a used copy for mere pocket change on Amazon (though I'm tempted to purchase the one being sold for $6.66...)

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Fourteen years of The Escapist

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 04 of Dec., 2009 08:35 PST

Sometime this month, The Escapist will turn the ripe old age of fourteen. I've never been exactly sure what day I first put up "The Gaming Advocacy Website" (as it was called for the first few months of its existence), but I know it was sometime during early December of 1995.

For those who haven't heard the story a dozen times over already, I'll sum it up quickly - in 1995 I took a Technical Writing course that culminated with a paper and presentation on a specific problem and potential solution to it. I chose the stigmas attached to role-playing and collectible card games, and part of my research included conducting an online survey of RPG and CCG players. While collecting answers, I had a lot of requests to read the paper when it was finished, and decided that the easiest way to make it accessible to everyone would be to put it up on a website.

I became somewhat hooked on webmastering after that, and began to make updates to the page every now and then - the early form of what we now call "blogging." Four months later, in April of 1996, I renamed the site "The Escapist." Over the course of the next fourteen years, it gradually expanded into what you see today.

Fourteen is kind of a special number - it also happens to be how old I was when I first played Dungeons & Dragons. So the site is now as old as I was when I became a gamer.

While digging through some old relics earlier this year, I found the set of index cards that I made for my presentation, which included a hands-on look at some RPG books and Magic cards, a brief demonstration of how game combat can teach lessons in strategy and probability, and even a brief clip from Mazes and Monsters, the made-for-TV movie that misinformed a lot of people about RPGs.

I thought it would be fun to scan a few and put them up. (Yeah, it's probably fun for no one else but me, I realize that. But you could humor me a little, couldn't you?)

I particularly like the second-to-last card, where I propose creating a "Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Games." That was an idea that was somewhat forgotten once the website was up and began to receive some positive feedback, but I think I can look at it now as the seed for what grew in its place.

But I like the last card the most, and I'd like to think that for the last fourteen years, I have maintained the proper attitude, and maybe even done my part to help RPGs become "a more accepted and beneficial element of our society." And if not, then I'll certainly keep trying, maybe for another fourteen years at least!

To all of my readers and participants - thanks so much for your assistance, encouragement, and for helping to make The Escapist what it is today! It certainly would never have gotten off of the ground, or lasted as long as it has, without the great feedback and input I get from you, and I thank you for it.

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Afterschool D&D club - for the teachers!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 02 of Dec., 2009 20:20 PST
The Monitor from South Texas brings us this great little story about a group of professors, a lab technician, and a school bus driver who meet after school for an ongoing game of D&D:
UTPA philosophy professor Jeffrey Zents did not get into the game until 2005, though he had been reading fantasy and sci-fi books since his youth. He said that discovering D and D has brought him back to a childhood filled with supernatural characters and magic.

“Who hasn’t wanted, at some point, to really believe that there was magic, and you could do it?” Zents asked. “Even if they’re realists and know that it’s never going to happen.”

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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