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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 | 1770842 Visits | Activity=2.00)

School's in!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 28 of Aug., 2009 20:48 PDT
It's that time of year again! Are you organizing any RPG clubs and/or running any RPGs at your school or library? If so, contact me! I'm always looking for tips, suggestions, reviews, play session reports, and even lesson plans for Reading Writing & Roleplaying and Terra Libris!+

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An anniversary of an urban legend

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 24 of Aug., 2009 20:59 PDT
Thirty years ago this month, James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from his college campus at Michigan State University, and hid in the steam tunnels beneath the campus to end his troubled life. William Dear, a private investigator hired by Egbert's uncle, found Dungeons & Dragons materials in his room, along with a cryptic map that led him to the steam tunnels. Fearing that Egbert may have been a captive, and that any statement he made to the public could endanger the young man's life, Dear made a statement about Dungeons & Dragons instead.

And that's how an urban legend was born.

To avoid causing embarrassment and humiliation to the Egbert family over Dallas' lifestyle, Dear let his story stand for the next five years, long enough for it to do a lot of damage, before coming clean in his book The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III. In that time, a moral panic began to grow over Dungeons & Dragons - suicides, homicides, and other crimes were linked to the game whenever a perpetrator (or even a victim) was believed to be a roleplayer, schools and libraries banned it from the premises, and a group of concerned (and terribly misguided) parents formed an anti-D&D group that "educated" law enforcement about the dangers of the game and attempted to petition the Surgeon General to require suicide warning labels on the covers of the rulebooks.

And it all began with one white lie told to protect a family from public shame.

I had completely overlooked the anniversary until I saw this article at Geeksix, which gives a pretty good recap of the story that covers all of the major details. You can also read my comments on the story and a quote from The Dungeon Master here.

(Special thanks to the utterly awesome Jess Hartley for sharing the Geeksix article.)

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Back to school at Gaming Brouhaha

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 23 of Aug., 2009 10:58 PDT
Over at Gaming Brouhaha, MJ Harnish is getting ready for a new school year, and considering what new games to run for the kids at their gaming club. I really like his choices (especially the fact that he mentions one RPG I've never heard of - The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries), and his discussion on leaning towards more character-driven RPGs when running games for kids.

He promises to post updates on how the club is going, including details of their first session of InSpectres. If you're involved in a school gaming club, or are considering starting one, don't miss it!

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New book on roleplayers - "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks"

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 21 of Aug., 2009 12:58 PDT
I just had a Google Alert hit my inbox about a new book on roleplaying culture - Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf. Here's a brief description:

In an enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, former role-player Ethan Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds—from Boston to California, New Zealand to France, Planet Earth to the realm of Aggramar. He asks gaming and fantasy geeks how they balance their escapist urges with the kingdom of adulthood. He seeks out those who dream of elves, long swords, and heroic deeds. He hangs out with Harry Potter tribute bands. He goes to fan conventions. He battles online goblins, trolls, and sorcerers. He camps with medieval reenactors. He becomes Ethor, Ethorian, and Ethor-An3. What he discovers is funny, poignant, and enlightening.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

The author is hosting a reading and booksigning at Riverrun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where attendees who dress as their favorite character get a special prize. Sounds like a lot of fun all around!

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Penny Arcade covers the Utah D&D hammer attack

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 21 of Aug., 2009 09:41 PDT
Can you think of any reason why your friend might have struck you repeatedly with a hammer?

(Be sure to read the 'News' for this strip, too.)

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Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 20 of Aug., 2009 11:49 PDT
Today is the 129th birthday of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, a horror author from the pulp era whose classic stories include The Call of Cthulhu, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and At the Mountains of Madness. Most of his stories contained themes of bleak, helpless horror, inflicted by vast interstellar beings who viewed humanity as little more than insects, or even less.

Lovecraft lived long before the concept of role-playing games came along, but it's pretty likely that he would have enjoyed other people playing in his sandbox. After all, he did encourage a close following of aspiring writers who penned many stories based on his characters, locations, and slimy, squamous horrors.

Some time ago, I received a gift in the mail from the UK - a DVD-ROM entitled Lovecraftian Tales from the Table. It's a collection of files related to the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which is based on Lovecraft's works (and one of my personal favorites.) There are interviews with the game designers, a quickstart version of the game rules and character sheets in PDF, prop documents to print out and use for your game, and much more.

But the crowing piece of this collection are the "audio games," hours of MP3s of people playing two of the longest CoC campaigns ever published - Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep. I haven't had a chance to listen or enjoy any of the disc yet (my antique PC doesn't have a DVD drive), but I'm really looking forward to it, and I'd love to see other RPG fans do similar projects for the games that they love.

I can't help but wonder what ol' H.P. himself would think about what has become of his creation. Hopefully, he would approve.

Happy birthday, HPL!

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Shooter who blamed D&D group gets insanity plea

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 20 of Aug., 2009 06:18 PDT
A Georgia woman who shot a co-worker and blamed the act on "Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts" has been deemed mentally unfit for trial.

Carol Marie Clark also blames the death of her brother Verner on D&D gamers, but police have determined that it was a suicide.
An Emory University psychiatrist who interviewed Clark determined she exhibited symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia. "She presents a substantial risk of imminent harm to others," one examiner wrote.

It's a sad story of someone who truly has lost touch with reality. Thankfully, her victim is expected to recover. Here's hoping that Clark can get the help that she needs.

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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"The Evil of the Dungeon"

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 18:10 PDT
Over at the excellent old-school gaming blog Grognardia (external link), James tells the story of his 6-year-old son's first attempt at refereeing, in a scenario he designed himself: The Evil of the Dungeon (external link).

These sorts of things make me very happy.

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Another RPG geek celeb: filmmaker Paul Weitz

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 08:07 PDT
Speaking of movies - Paul Weitz, producer of The Golden Compass and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, director of American Pie and the upcoming Cirque du Freak movie, just confessed to being a D&D geek in two recent articles on UGO and IGN:

"Reilly, a genre fan who grew up on Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons, realized how important it was to embrace the source material." - IGN

"You know, I've worked on movies in the past that are based on books and I usually say...we're shooting the script. We're not shooting the book. But I felt like, well, I was a big Tolkein fan as a kid, and I played Dungeons and Dragons, and I know how important the screen adaptations of those were to me when I was a kid..." - UGO

(EDIT: Forgot to mention - according to his IMDB listing, he appears to be involved in an "untitled Elric saga project"!)

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Third Dungeons & Dragons movie a possibility

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 07:22 PDT
An article from the Sunterland Echo mentions that a third Dungeons & Dragons movie is planned, and may be filled in North East England.

I've always thought the second movie was a marked improvement over the first. Yeah, I realize that's not saying much... but maybe the level of quality will improve even more for the third film.

Or maybe I'm just being hopelessly optimistic again.

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Utah man on trial for hammer attack after D&D game

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 18 of Aug., 2009 06:09 PDT
Zachary King is currently on trial for breaking into the home of two men and attacking them with a hammer as they slept. King returned to their home after playing Dungeons & Dragons with the two men earlier in the day, entered through an open window, and attacked both men in their beds. Both survived the attacks, and are expected to recover.

Remarkably, the coverage of the story has not tried to implicate the game for the crime. The Salt Lake Tribune [article | archive] mentions that "...a motive for the attacks may have grown from the trio playing the fantasy role-playing game...", but clarifies that one of the victims "was directing the game as Dungeon Master, and King didn't like what he was doing with King's character." It also mentions that "...King had an issue with Bryson (the other victim) for dating a girl after both said they would not date her."

Certainly, neither of these are justification for such a horrible attack. I only mention it to point out the definite lack of the old anti-gaming rhetoric, such as "Murder attempt may be connected to controversial game."

The Spectrum [article | archive] gives the same kind of coverage, but supplies a little more detail on the motive. King was jealous of one victim for his wealth and writing ability (particularly his plans to publish D&D material), and jealous of the other because he went back on his word and dated a woman that both of them were interested in.

No sensationalism, just facts. Which is the way it should have been all along.

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Former gamer becomes GA Supreme Court justice

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 17 of Aug., 2009 06:16 PDT
Or so this article [archive] from the Atlanta Journal Constitution tells us, anyway.

But it seems that David Nahmias isn't entirely comfortable with his geeky past.

Nahmias was also a great fan of that classic late ’70s/early ’80s pastime of geeky young men everywhere — Dungeons and Dragons. (When asked about it, Nahmias’ replied, “Yeah, but I did also play on the varsity soccer team.”)

It's okay, Dave. We had jocks in our gaming groups, too.

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D&D used as a weapon in a child custody case

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 15 of Aug., 2009 19:07 PDT
Forum user Hemlock posted this in the Advocacy forum yesterday:

Well To make a long story shorter my brother is involved in a custody hearing for his son. Dungeons and Dragons has been brought up in a very bad way trying to link it to his religion (not a bad one but not christian) and find him unfit. Basically is there any help out there for this. I really don't beleive his lawyer is qualified enough in this area to help. A psychologist has been called in to testify and he must really hate the game. I also have a feeling it is going to get worse. But as this is a semi-informal hearing it is an anything goes thing. (And from what I am hearing it really will be) Thanks for reading.

Sadly, this isn't the first time I've heard of D&D or other RPGs being used as ammunition in a child custody case.

I've given him all of the advice I can muster, plus a little that some of my friends have suggested. This includes giving links to studies on RPGs and Christian roleplaying clubs to the defense lawyer, and contacting the ACLU and Paul Cardwell from the CAR-PGa.

I've also offered to post his story here, to make it a bit more public, gather some more advice, and to pass it along to him. So if you have any legal experience, or even some good advice, and would like to help, please contact me and I'll pass it along.

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Wanted: MORE pictures of your roleplaying groups!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 13 of Aug., 2009 18:26 PDT

You may remember a couple of months ago, when I requested pictures of your gaming group to post here on the site.

The idea came to me when someone emailed me and suggested that I post pictures of roleplayers in their element, enjoying a game with their friends and family, to put a positive face on the hobby.

Since then, I've gotten four fantastic responses - from Missouri and Oklahoma, Australia and Iraq.

I've posted them on the various FAQ pages for everyone to see while they're getting their frequently asked questions answered.

I'm thrilled with the quality, but the quantity... not so much.

I want more!

So send me pictures of your RPG or LARP group playing a game! Be sure to let me know the names of everyone playing, who is GMing, what game you're playing, and where you're from

I'll post more of them on the FAQ pages, and I'm also hoping to create some sort of feature on the main page - maybe something that displays a different pic and info each day. For that. I'll need a LOT of submissions, to keep it interesting.

If you don't see yourself and your group here, that means you haven't sent yours to me yet.

What's keeping you?

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Gygax memorial attracts a lot of support

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 04 of Aug., 2009 08:00 PDT
A memorial to Gary Gygax may be in the works very soon, according to the Janesville Gazette (external link):

Gygax's wife, Gail, and his children want the local gaming giant to be remembered for his immeasurable contribution by erecting a memorial statue of him in his hometown.
Gail is working with a local attorney to form a corporation to begin raising money for the project. She also is planning a fundraiser to be held during Gen Con in 2010.

At that time, some of her husband's personal items, including original manuscripts, will be auctioned off.

She said big names in the gaming, computer and film industries already have contacted her with interest in supporting the project.

She said local businesspeople likely will join the ranks, too.

If approved, the statue may be erected in Library Park, where Gygax spent a lot of time reading and writing.

It's great to see this kind of support from computer and film companies. That's a wonderful recognition of Gygax's contribution to creativity and imagination.

(Now let's see a memorial for Arenson too, please...)

Read the full article here: article (external link) | archive

(Hat tip to Grognardia (external link) for sharing this article)

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