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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 | 1774867 Visits | Activity=2.00)

The Zen of RPGs and Wizards' new "D&D Parents" community

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 23 of Feb., 2012 20:50 PST
Two great items hit my radar this week:

First, Gnome Stew guest writer Adam Meyers waxes philosophical about roleplaying:
See, back in the ’80s, when the world was convinced Dungeons and Dragons was some sort of gateway drug to the occult, it fell to D&D pioneers to not only explain how RPGs weren’t evil, but how they could actually be good for you. Gary Gygax compared D&D to a chair once on 60 Minutes, and Tracy Hickman wrote a three-fold essay on RPG Ethics.

Read the full article here: D&D, Social Skills, and the Zen of Roleplaying Games.

Second - a Wizards Community user named Roger Nicholls has recently taken over a group on the WotC website called D&D Parents. In his own words:
It's effectively a group of parents who have gaming kids or want their kids to get into gaming. It's there to offer support, advice and a place to simply hang out and share ideas.

Roger is looking for roleplayer parents to help join the community. If you fit that description, or know someone who does, be sure to sign up at

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Catherine Blessing: Gamerati, and our future

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 22 of Feb., 2012 19:11 PST
I've been a fan of the Gamerati videos for quite some time, and I think I've just found my favorite one:

Man, I wanna play in a Mermaid Tale campaign. I don't even mind that I won't be allowed to play a boy mermaid!

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20 Sided World - Robert Oglodzinski on RPGs in Poland

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 15 of Feb., 2012 05:50 PST

At the Game Knight Reviews blog, Robert Oglodzinski tells the tale of the long and winding road he had to take to discover the roleplaying hobby, and how difficult it was to find RPG books in Poland during the 1990s:
It was the early 90s. The US attacked Iraq. Poland was a free country. The USSR collapsed. My cousin was in Germany playing Eye of the Beholder (Editor: Awesome game!). But I didn’t know what was up. I found some people in a nearby town running the local fantasy and science fiction community. They were a kind of rebels. Most of their older friends were just reading books and these young guys brought in this “RPG sickness” that was spreading very quickly.

Read the rest of the story at the GameKnight Reviews blog.

20 Sided World is a series on roleplaying culture around the world. For more information, visit the project's home page. If you have a website or blog that would make a good contribution to the project, feel free to contact me.

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Do not talk about Monopoly club

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 14 of Feb., 2012 06:42 PST
College students being shy about playing RPGs? In 2012? Really?

Louisiana State University's Daily Reveille shares the story of a group of student gamers who used to disguise their hobby - claiming that they're playing Monopoly each Friday night - to avoid being cast as stereotypical nerds:
Almost every week, Hoppens and his friends play the game, though they disguise it as Monopoly. The group also has a secret Facebook page for players under that same guise.

Hoppens said he was initially apprehensive to play the game, given the nerdy stigma people often associate with D&D. But he was eventually lured in after observing friends embark on fantasy-filled adventures.
Thankfully, they eventually gained enough confidence to be a bit more open about it. Sadly, that same stigma is likely keeping a lot of other great potential players away from the hobby.

Read the full story here: Many students hide Dungeons & Dragons gameplay for fear of stereotypes

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Why RPGs are awesome for women

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 03 of Feb., 2012 05:34 PST
In Roll a Strength Check: Why Tabletop Games Are Awesome For Women (And Everybody Else), Becky Chambers examines the stigmas associated with RPGs and the people who play them, and squishes them all with a +3 Warhammer of Stigma Squishing.

As you would probably guess, it's nothing that we don't already know, but it's a great article to share with others who have questions about the hobby - and near the end, she encourages us gamer type people to be proud of our hobby, own it, and do what we can to bring new blood to it. All good advice, in my book.

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RPG philanthropy, then and now

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 30 of Jan., 2012 05:47 PST
It still amazes me how these sorts of things seem to arrive in little clusters like this. This morning, as I settled in with my cup-a-joe to check the ol' inbox, I spotted two stories, spanned almost exactly 30 years apart, about roleplayers using their hobby to raise money for a worthy cause:

THEN: posted a "Back in the day" article from The Record, dated February 3rd, 1982: 40 hours in dungeon nets $750 for Ringwood youths, about a group of teenagers who raised money for a worthy cause through a marathon game of Dungeons & Dragons:
The lawful good youths planned to play the game for 40 to 50 hours straight to raise money for the Leukemia Society of America. They planned on going door-to-door to get sponsors to pledge a set amount of money for each hour they played.

The boys got an almost full-page newspaper spread about their quest, including a picture of nine of them decked out in matching "The D&D Fellowship" T-shirts.

Read the full article here - it's not only a great example of a group of young people doing something good for humanity, it's also a rare specimen of RPGs being covered in the 1980s-era media before it became obligatory to force in some references to suicide and Satanism.

NOW: Things really haven't changed very much in the intervening 30 years. Sadly, we still have cancer - but we also still have gamers who want to do good for others (some of them are even playing the same RPGs from three decades ago!). On the RetroRoleplaying blog, a fund drive has been started to raise money for the medical expenses of a woman who has oral cancer - the goal is to raise $3000 by the end of February, and for each increment of $750 raised, a drawing will be held for some very nice old school RPG goodies, with each donor getting an entry in the drawing for each $10 they donate. Please visit the RetroRoleplaying Blog for more information, and give what you can.

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Random Article Table: Giants, Authors, Documentaries, and lots of D&D

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 27 of Jan., 2012 07:23 PST
Yes folks, it's that time again when I try to play catch-up with the items that have been sitting in my inbox for way too long. Let's jump right in, shall we? Please roll 1d8+1d12 and consult the following table for your encounter:

- BoingBoing recently posted a link to this epically awesome homemade D&D module that the author scanned and submitted to the Play Generated Document and Map Archive. It is awesomely epic in its epic awesomeness. I want to run it someday.

- The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette gives a bit of coverage to the 2012 Dungeons & Dragons Experience, with video! Check it out here

- Canadian artist Chris Millar attributes D&D as one of his creative influences. Interview is here

- What happens when ten sci-fi and fantasy authors get together to play D&D at Epic ConFusion? They munchkin it up, of course. Read all about it here.

- The Lodi News-Sentinel talks to the members of the Tokay High School D&D club, explains how the game is played, tells us about the benefits, and reassures us that it's not devil worship. Sure, we all knew that already, but give them credit for spreading the word. Full story is here

- Inspired by rumblings of a new D&D documentary released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the game next year, the Independent Film Channel's website takes a look at five documentaries about roleplaying games, including Darkon, Uber Goober, The Dice Bag, The Dungeons & Dragons Experience, and Men of War. Read about it and watch clips from all of them here.

- The Great Falls Tribune examines the entertainment value and intellectual benefits of playing D&D - but you'll have do to some clicking to read it all. They've spanned the story over six pages. (I really wish some of these websites would invest in some longer internet paper so you wouldn't have to click so much.) Read it here.

- This story on Nerd Trek tells the tale of a legendary roll of the dice.

- And finally, the New York Times visits The Twenty Sided Store and takes a look at its denizens. Read the story here.

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S(tuff)* People Say to Roleplayers

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 21 of Jan., 2012 06:19 PST
I'm fairly certain that most of you reading this are familiar with the popular S(tuff)* People Say video meme that's been going around lately. For the benefit of those who aren't: it is a collection of videos that give examples of common things said by a certain group of people or sometimes TO a certain group of people, exposing the quirks, foibles, and sometimes blatant ignorance that people can have.

Many of the videos address cultural differences and relationship issues, but as the meme has caught on, there have been a wide variety of topics. Just yesterday, I saw "S(tuff)* Baristas Say", "S(tuff)* People Say To Tattooed People", and "S(tuff)* People Say While Watching S(tuff)* People Say Videos." Just do a YouTube search for "S(tuff)* People Say" and you'll get a bunch of results of varying levels of quality.

(* Don't judge my editing too harshly, please - I try to keep this site as family friendly as I can!)

So, yeah. You know where this is going. I started jotting down a list of S(tuff)* People Say to Roleplayers - then asked around a bit for suggestions from other gamers. I got a small trickle of suggestions before I posted a request to the Old School Gamers group on Facebook, which opened some floodgates (thanks again, guys!). I skimmed out the best, merged a few similar ones together, and here's what I ended up with:

So how do you win?

People still play that game?


Are those real dice? They look weird. That one looks like it has 50 sides.

Isn’t that the game that made all those people kill themselves?

So do you dress up and run around with swords and stuff?

Why can't you people play Monopoly or something normal like everyone else?

I bet you live in your mom's basement, don't you?

Don't you play that in steam tunnels and sewers?

Where's the board?


I have a second cousin on my mother’s side who got into those games and he started painting his room black and lighting candles and worshiping the devil so they took all of his books and dice away and burned them in a fire. He’s much better now.

So this has something to do with sex, right? Dungeons and role-playing and all that...

You don't think all that stuff is real, do you?

Why don't you just play World of Warcraft instead?

But wait - you’re a girl. I thought only guys played those games.

Are you a Satanist?

Maybe that's the way things work in your fantasy world, but here in the real world, things are different.

So let me guess - NONE of you guys have girlfriends. Am I right?

Why do you talk about all of that stuff like it really happened?

You actually enjoy making stuff up?

Is that on the XBox or Playstation? I think my friend has it.

So you are those guys who dress up like vampires and stuff?

So who’s winning?

Do you really have to memorize all of the rules in that giant book?

Is this what you have to do to cope with reality?

I thought Dungeons & Dragons was that stupid cartoon with those kids in the roller coaster. You mean it’s a game, too?

Aren’t you guys a little old for playing make-believe?

My pastor said that game is of the devil.

So it's like another version World of Warcraft?

Isn’t it hard to use your imagination?

What’s the point of playing a game where no one wins?

That sounds really gay.

So how do you get to become a Dungeon Master? Is that like earning a Black Belt or something?

I used to play D&D. Then I took an arrow to the knee.

Isn't that a game for antisocial losers?

Why don't you do something more constructive? (Often said by someone sitting and watching something on TV.)

What do you mean you have to think like a character?

If you don't keep score, what's the point?

Is that where you hit each other with foam swords and stuff?

We used to make fun of you nerds in high school.

So you have no concept of reality?

God, why don’t you people just grow up?

So, what would you add to the list? And more importantly - who's up for turning this into a video for the Escapist's YouTube channel?

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Ten years, and I still can't even manage a cantrip...

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 11 of Jan., 2012 14:44 PST
The recent announcement of the new edition of D&D by Wizards of the Coast has sort of filled me with the urge to make a big announcement of my own. I've been hyping it up on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all day, and now I'm ready to drop the other shoe. You folks ready? Okay, here it is:

It was on this day ten years ago, that I ate a live spider, jumped off the roof of a garage, took a hit to the face from a rusty pipe wrench, and several other stupid stunts, just to prove the point that the spells in the Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons books aren't real.

That's right - the infamous Spellcasting 101 "experiment" was posted to this site on January 11th, 2002 - ten years ago today.

The idea for the piece came to me completely out of the blue while reading a website claiming that the Harry Potter books were teaching children real, repeatable occult procedures. The claim was nothing new - we'd been hearing the same thing about Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks for years, but something about the wording of that website made me start pondering about how a person would try to test these claims for accuracy.

That evening, when I picked my wife up from work, I was filled with enthusiasm. "I've got a great idea for a new piece for the site!" I told her. "I'm going to test the spells in the Player's Handbook to see if they really work, and get photos of my results!"

"Ooooooookay," was her response. Which is always her response at times like those.

While the general focus of site is on tabletop roleplaying games and not young adult fiction, it seemed a little odd to be defending the Harry Potter books along with D&D, But at the time, HP was exploding in popularity (the first movie had just been released), so I figured, what better way to attract more readers?

The "experiments" didn't really happen on January 11th, 2002. We actually staged them and took the pictures sometime the previous November, while it was still fairly nice out My best friend Henry (with whom I logged many hours of AD&D back in high school) took the photos, which were all staged at his parents' home in Dover, with the exception of two - the bus stop photo (which was taken on the street just outside their home) and the bleacher photo (which we snuck onto the grounds of our old high school to get).

I remember it being very windy. You can see my youngest daughter, Nolah, trying to keep her witch's hat on with one hand, and I think I can remember having to chase it down the street at one point.The Spider Climb shot was taken with Henry standing on the roof of the garage, and we were concerned that he would be the one sprawled out on the driveway, for real.

When the piece finally went up on January 11th, the response was fantastic. It was mentioned on the Steve Jackson Daily Illuminator (one of the oldest still-running blogs on the internet), the Leaky Cauldron (a Harry Potter news site), and tons of other fansites, newsgroups, forums, and blogs. I was pleasantly surprised to see it pop up on Christian and Wiccan websites, where my critical eye on crazy claims was greatly appreciated.

Almost immediately the emails started rolling in from all over the world. For the first few months I could barely keep up with them, but I did manage to save the best ones and compile them for The Magic Mailbag, along with some of my replies.

All of the response was overwhelmingly positive, save for two emails from people who thought I was mocking Wicca. I handled them the best way I know how - by posting their emails on the site, mocking them, and (in one case) correcting their grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Now it's ten years later and, believe it or not, I still get the odd email from someone who has just seen the Spellcasting 101 "experiments" for the first time, and it still makes me happy that I did it.

I've just remembered another funny story connected with this piece: I was invited to be a guest at Econocon (which is a great little convention that you should try to attend if you're in the area) in New Hampshire that same year, which occurred just a couple of months after this piece went live on the site. This was before I had my own cell phone, and I was running a little bit late on the evening that I was supposed to arrive at the campus for the convention. The organizers of the con had volunteers searching the campus for me, in case they saw me wandering around and looking lost, and each was armed with a photo of me so that they would recognize me on sight - and as you've probably guessed by now, it was a pic of me wearing that ill-fitting wizard hat. I'm told that one of the volunteers asked "Will he be wearing this hat when we see him?"

I should note that the Spellcasting 101 piece went live over a year before the first episode of Mythbusters aired, which means that I may have the right to claim myself as the original Mythbuster! Yeah, sure.. why not?

To commemorate the 10th anniversary, my daughers and I tried to re-create some of those original spell "experiments," so everyone can get an opportunity to laugh at us again, and see how much the years have changed us:

Mage Armor still doesn't work. Thankfully, Nolah helped me look for my missing teeth.

Aylish checks for signs of life after another attempt at Spider Climb

And that's it, my big announcement. I hope you liked it. Thanks for reading and enjoying the site. Keep your dice dry, tip the pizza guy, and take a kid gaming!

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D&D 5e news roundup

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 11 of Jan., 2012 07:56 PST
Not unlike their last two edition announcements, Wizards of the Coast has attracted a bit of media attention with their news of a new ruleset. Here's what I've found so far:

New York Times
CNN - Geek Out! Blog
Forbes (and another)
Yahoo! Buzz Log
Huffington Post

In the "places you'd expect to find news about the new edition of D&D" category, we have:
Wired GeekDad
Nerd Trek

...and in the "unusual places to find news about the new edition of D&D" category, we have:
Hispanic Business
Perez Hilton's blog.

Whether you like the idea of a new edition, hate it, or are still on the fence, coverage like this still manages to generate interest in the hobby, and can get more new people interested and bring some wayward players back. If I have missed any, please let me know!

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Wizards to make a big D&D announcement today...

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 09 of Jan., 2012 05:37 PST
...but I think that the news has pretty much been leaked already. And really, it's what everyone was guessing, anyway.

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Catholic podcaster answers "Is it okay to play Dungeons & Dragons?"

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 08 of Jan., 2012 06:02 PST
In the latest episode of the Jimmy Akin podcast, a caller (and veteran roleplayer) named Raoul asked a question about the Catholic church's stance on roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, and the host's answer was a very positive one.

In his response, Akin discussed the benefits that roleplaying can have on the players, especially in the areas of imagination and coping with dramatic situations - but he goes a step further than that, admitting to being one of the contributors to a classic superhero RPG (Chaosium's Superworld).

(He also states that the Vatican has never made a specific statement about RPGs, but he may not have been aware that they came pretty close by making a positive statement about the Pokémon card game, mentioning how it allows players to "enter directly into the story.")

To address the concerns of the supposed dangers of RPGs, Akin says something that most of us have been saying for a very long time - you cannot base the value of the entire hobby on the way that certain people participate in it. In his words: "Is this game okay in the way it's being run in this instance?" He recommends that anyone who gets involved in an RPG session that is making them uncomfortable about their morality should remove themself from the game - good advice for all roleplayers, Catholic or otherwise.

You can listen here: Jimmy Akin (the D&D question starts at around 40:00)

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Mazes and Monsters... the band?

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 06 of Jan., 2012 07:34 PST
First it was a mediocre novel capitalizing on a sensationalized news story about the disappearance of a Dungeons & Dragons player. Then it was a lousy made-for-television movie on CBS (based on that mediocre novel) that was only good for helping launch Tom Hanks' career (and making a lot of parents extra paranoid over what games their kids were playing).

And now it's... Mazes and Monsters, an indie band from Augusta, Georgia. They're not bad either, if you're into ambient indie rock. I'm not sure why they chose the title, but I'm guessing they were up late rehearsing and one of them switched on the TV just in time to see Robbie searching for The Great Hall. That's usually how these sorts of things happen.

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D&D-themed art show in Soho

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 04 of Jan., 2012 14:09 PST
Dungeons & Dragons On & Ever Onward is an art show held through January 11th at the Soho Gallery of Digital Art in New York City to "celebrate the impact and continued relevance of Dungeons & Dragons on the culture."

Exhibits featured include "Lord Speldyall," a character sheet for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, along with other works of gaming art, maps, and documents from actual play sessions. And since it wouldn't be the same without some actual dice chucking, two different gaming groups will be presenting opportunities to sit down to a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Read more at Wired GeekDad.

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New Year, New Game

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 04 of Jan., 2012 10:30 PST

(Reposted from my roleplaying blog The Contemporary Quixotist)

Gnome Stew has announced New Year, New Game a project that they (and I) hope will encourage gamers to seek new vistas and run a new roleplaying game every year.

Their mission is (and I quote):

"To inspire game masters to run at least one new game each year, because trying new games broadens your horizons, challenges your skills as a GM, and can deepen your enjoyment of gaming as a hobby."

NYNG will be promoted with a blog carnival (in which I will be participating) and a pitch-your-game contest, in which GMs are encouraged to send a short "elevator pitch" of the RPGs they'd like to run, for a chance to win a prize bundle from Engine Publishing, DriveThruRPG, Obsidian Portal, and more.

You can find out more at Gnome Stew, and at the official site for New Year, New Game.

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