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Created by WJWalton4709 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Sat 23 of Aug., 2014 19:50 PDT
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Vote for The Escapist in the Ogre Awards!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 02 of Sept., 2011 06:23 PDT
The Escapist has been nominated in the Website of the Year category for the 2011 Ogre Awards, a series of accolades given by the Organization of Gamers & Roleplaying Enthusiasts (O.G.R.E.s).

Here's more about the "Oggies" from their website:
The OGRE Awards, most commonly known as The Oggies (after our mascot Oggie the Ogre), are a grouping of awards presented by O.G.R.E.s annually to leaders and members of the tabletop, card, live action, and party gaming industry for their products and services. Unlike other tabletop industry awards like the ENnies or Origin awards, the OGGIEs are not all limited to annual releases. Instead, they reflect the cherished games and people that members of O.G.R.E.s - around 3,000 across three countries - care for. The program began in 2010, and the first actual awards will be up for open voting beginning on September 1st, 2011.
Check out the voting page and, if you are so inclined, please consider voting for your favorite roleplaying advocacy website in the Website of the Year category! The voting page can be found at ogres.wikia.com/wiki/The_Oggies/2011 and voting closes on October 31st.

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More D&D music: Romantic D&D Encounters (live)

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Tue 16 of Aug., 2011 09:20 PDT
Here's another great D&D inspired song courtesy of Gamerati: Filemon Palero from Washington DC sings about one of the biggest dating dealbreakers ever:



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D&Dish - Simplified D&D for young people

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Mon 15 of Aug., 2011 10:10 PDT
Over at Wired GeekDad, Kevin Makice tells us about his effort to make Dungeons & Dragons more accessible to young people with D&Dish.

If you'd like to skip the formalities and get right to the game, you can download D&Dish here.

(thanks to Jason McCartan for the link!)

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The Gygax biopic, and what I'm hoping it will do

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sun 14 of Aug., 2011 20:14 PDT
Michael Tresca at the Examiner has broken the news about the upcoming film on the life of Gary Gygax, and if you haven't already heard, here are the juiciest bits - George Strayton (scriptwriter for the Hercules and Xena TV shows and an animated Dragonlance feature) will be doing the writing, the budget is set at $150 million, the plot will switch between details of Gygax's life and the fantasy realm of Dungeons & Dragons, and the lead will be played by a "huge star." (So it looks like at least part of the casting is already complete.)

There have been rumblings in RPG blogs and forums about the feasibility of such a project - will it have any public appeal at all, how well could such a film do at the box office, and could it ever hope to recoup its budget - and I'm sure some excellent points have been made on both sides of the argument.

But I'd like to leave those arguments where they are, and talk about the actual content of the movie. This film could have a lot of potential to help the roleplaying hobby, and I'm hoping that at least four areas will get some attention.

Here's what I'm hoping this Gygax biopic will do:

- Give a bit of time to the negative backlash against the game in the early 80s through the 90s. This is a big opportunity to set the record straight on a lot of the misconceptions that people had about the game, and I hope they take it. It would be helpful not only to the hobby, but to helping everyone improve their critical thinking skills.

- Demonstrate how the game is played. Many people still have a big misunderstanding in this area, and a simple demonstration of how the DM and players interact to create a story would help a lot. Sure, it will be fun to see big and loud fantasy scenes explode across the screen, but I'm hoping that it will be made clear who is really making those things happen - the DM and the players - and how they're doing it.

- Show how much fun it is. This may be a given, or it may not. Since the focus is on the early days of D&D, there may be some temptation to portray all of the players as stuffy science nerds who show no outward signs of enjoying themselves. What I'm hoping for here would be the exact opposite, obviously.

- Demonstrate what Gygax started, not just what he created. After D&D became popular, a few other RPGs sprang up to appeal to fans of other genres, and then the hobby exploded with new games through the 80s and 90s and into the new millennium - from small press affairs of blotchy photocopied rulebooks to full-color hardcover tomes to the self-publishing PDF revolution. The influence on video games, celebrities inspired by the RPG hobby, the Vampire television series, references to D&D on shows like Freaks & Geeks and Community - Gygax provided the spark, but to really do justice to his accomplishment, they should show how far the fire really spread.

Almost eleven years ago, many of us were hoping that the Dungeons & Dragons movie would help inspire a renewed interest in the roleplaying hobby... and were sadly disappointed. Here's hoping that won't happen again.

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D&D grows up, and gets a new theme song

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sun 07 of Aug., 2011 10:33 PDT
Two great links that I wandered across recently:

First, from Austin 360 comes this very positive article on D&D and the people who play it, Dungeons & Dragons Grows Up:
After spending all day on a computer at work, gamers Brandy Hamblet and Travis Fricke said that sometimes the last thing they want to do is go home and stare at a screen for entertainment.

"It's nice to be able to sit down with several friends at once," Hamblet said. "I probably wouldn't get to see some of these people very often outside of the game. I get social-ed out pretty quickly, but that doesn't happen with D&D. I always want to keep playing."

Read the whole story here: [article | archive]

Next, the very talented Allie Goertz has written a song about enjoying Dungeons & Dragons with her friends and escaping from the stresses of life:



An MP3 of the song is forthcoming, and I'm looking forward to adding it to my RPG geek playlist, along with In the Garage, Cloak of Elvenkind, and Ready to Roll!



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Read an RPG Book in Public Week starts at midnight!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sat 23 of July, 2011 18:02 PDT

Don't forget - the second Read an RPG Book in Public Week of 2011 starts at midnight!

What is Read an RPG Book in Public Week, you may ask? It's a thrice-yearly event, held during the weeks surrounding March 4th, July 27th, and October 1st, where roleplayers are encouraged to take their favorite roleplaying rulebooks, modules, supplements, and splatbooks with them when they leave the house and read them in public. The purpose is to make the hobby more visibile, promote inquiry and conversation about the hobby, and maybe even attract some new players or bring back some of the lapsed ones.

To find out more about Read an RPG Book in Public Week, visit the official page at theescapist.com/readrpgsinpublic There, you'll find links to the Facebook and Flickr accounts and much more!



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A friendly ENnie reminder...

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 22 of July, 2011 08:22 PDT
Voting for the ENnies closes at midnight on July 24th. If you haven't voted yet, procrastinate no further! Click the link below and get thy vote on!

www.ennie-awards.com/vote/

While you're there, you may notice that one of the nominees for Best Website is this lil' ol' roleplaying advocacy site. If you appreciate the service that The Escapist provides, please consider giving it your vote. Thanks!

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Support the RPG Arts!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 22 of July, 2011 07:33 PDT
Some of you may know that I am a big fan of live theatre, and I have long wanted to see some sort of mature and realistic treatment of roleplayers in the arts. Recently, a fellow named Alfred posted on the Escapist's Facebook Page about a play called Of Dice and Men that is looking for funding:
“The world of six thirty-something Dungeons and Dragons players is thrown into disarray when one of them announces he has enlisted in the Marine Reserves, and will soon be deployed Iraq. In this blisteringly funny and deeply affecting play, playwright Cameron McNary examines why we game, what it means to grow up, and what true friendship looks like.”

The playwright's story on his inspiration for writing the play is worth reading. You can read more about the play, and possibly make a pledge to help make it happen, on its Kickstarter page.

While I'm on the subject of fan-funded art, my good friend (and author of God Loves the Freaks) Steve Racer is producing a unique film titled Broken Spirits that will feature live-action performances by several anime voice talents:
Broken Spirits is a sci-fi/action independent feature film about four young people who are pulled into an alternate dimension within our world and must fight their way back.

Many of the cast are American actors – including Vic Mignogna, Richard Epcar, Spike Spencer, and Cristina Vee – widely recognized for their roles in high profile Japanese animation films and series such as Full Metal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. We expect strong interest in marketing the film in the US and abroad.

Andy McPhee from Sons of Anarchy has recently joined the cast.

If you would like to help fund this project, visit their pledge page at www.indiegogo.com/Broken-Spirits-movie

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Examiner piece on the ENnie nomination

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 20 of July, 2011 05:16 PDT
My friend and fellow roleplaying advocate Michael Tresca did a short interview with me on the Escapist's ENnie nomination.

Check it out here.

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ENnie voting is open!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 15 of July, 2011 08:02 PDT
Voting for the 2011 ENnie Awards is now open! Please visit the voting page and cast your votes for your favorite gaming products, publishers, and websites (hint, hint) for 2011!

www.ennie-awards.com/vote


Voting ends at the end of the day July 24th, so don't procrastinate! VOTE NOW!

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The Escapist has been nominated for an ENnie!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 08 of July, 2011 07:55 PDT
The Escapist has been nominated in the Best Website category for the 2011 ENnie Awards!

I'm a bit too excited to say anything else that will make very much sense, so I'll just post a link to the list of nominees, and mention that I'll let everyone know here and on Facebook and Twitter when the voting starts so that you can cast your vote for your favorite 15-year old roleplaying advocacy website!

Off to do the happy dance now. Play nice, everyone!

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The Escapist Origins 2011 Report

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 06 of July, 2011 10:14 PDT
The family and I - my partner Paula and our two daughers, Aylish and Nolah - were fortunate enough to take a last-minute trip to the 2011 Origins Game Fair. Financial difficulties had prevented us from attending last year after a five-year streak, and for most of the previous months it looked like we wouldn't be able to attend this year, either. But thanks to some good friends in the area that provided us with a place to stay, we were able to attend the last three days of the con.

For those who have never been, the Origins Game Fair is the second largest game convention in the country, after Gen Con. It's a five-day event held in the Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus Ohio, and has attracted over 10,000 attendees in recent years.

Usually, I run several RPG sessions (and at least one Fuzzy Heroes event), and volunteer for a few hours at the Kids Track to help offset the cost of my admission badge, but because of our last-minute arrangements, I wasn't able to swing it. Thankfully, the folks at Origins were generous enough to give me a press badge after I told them about the site and explained its long history of advocacy for roleplaying games.

I did get the opportunity to run two RPGs while I was there - not scheduled events, of course, as those have to be registered by the end of March, but I was able to get in touch with two of the families that I have run games for in the past, and made plans to meet up with them. For the Hazels (Morgan, Jeanette, Alyssa, and Carys) I ran something I've been wanting to run for a long time now - a Ghostbusters / Men In Black crossover adventure.

(For future reference - if you can avoid it, don't attempt to run RPGs in the Open Gaming Area, which is a massive room filled with other people playing boardgames, card games, and generally being loud and boisterous. I nearly lost my voice from one three-hour session, and that doesn't usually happen to me until I've run three or four games in a smaller, quieter room. The same thing happened to my friend Jason, who had to cancel some of his RPG sessions for the same reason. If you can, grab an open table at RPG HQ, or find somewhere else that won't interfere with anyone else's fun.)

For my friend Lauren and her mom and brother, I ran a Faery's Tale adventure on Sunday morning at RPG HQ. The area was smaller and quieter, and my voice held out much better. Lauren has played in every Faery's Tale game that I have run at Origins to date, and I was very happy we were able to get together for a pickup game. We had a great time, but unfortunately, it may have been the last time we get to play together, for reasons that I'll cover at the end of the report.

Since we missed the 2010 show, I didn't get to see the new Kid's Track room, which I was told had been moved downstairs and into a much bigger room - one of the ballrooms, in fact. It was a vast improvement over the old kids program. With the additional room, they were able to create areas for different activities - watching videos, playing with a huge pile of LEGO, making crafts, boffer fighting, and playing dozens of games. There was even a giant pile of cardboard boxes in the far corner of the room for kids to play with, and several science learning stations provided by the local Center for Science and Industry.
The RPG HQ area was quite busy every time I passed through, and the open RPG tables were frequently full of gamers. The Onsite Registration book was filled with RPG events that I was very sorry that I missed. In particular:

Spongebob Cthulhu: Come join Spongebob and gang as they investigate things man and sponges weren't meant to know as the Cthulhu collides with Spongebob!

The Maltese Fhtagn: What's with the black "bird" statue, pal? Hard boiled Mythos action in the 1930a. Bring your heater and a deck of Luckies, you savvy?

Whose Game Is It Anyways: Come watch Gnome Stew GM John Arcadian run a game with no prep. You provide the building blocks, he crafts the story on the fly.

Hellboy Versus the Hamburgler - The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense has detected a shift in the world's fast food empires and they have sent in Hellboy to investigate.


...to name just a few. In all, I estimated nearly 800 RPG events listed for Origins, taking up over 35 of the event guide's pages, with the first events starting at the very beginning of the con (Wednesday at 8:00am) and the last event starting as the rest of the con was wrapping everything up (Sunday at 4:00pm). It was good to see a solid representation of roleplaying games.

LARP was well represented too, with about 200 events running through all five days of the convention - though it should be noted that their definition of LARP seems to cast a very wide net. Morton's List events were listed in this section (possibly because they may not fit in any others), as did sessions of the Werewolf mystery game and Amtgard sessions (which are all boffer combat, with no roleplaying at all).

I did see a good representation of RPGs in the dealer room - the Savage Worlds and Indie Press Revolution folks were there in force, and I saw a table set up for Free RPG Day. Kenzer & Company were there as well, displaying a teaser copy of their new Hacklopedia of Beasts (which looks incredible, by the way). The Arcanis RPG from Paradigm Concepts seemed to be generating a lot of buzz - I didn't get to try it myself, but I always seemed to be around people who were demoing it or talking about it.

I missed seeing Titan Games and their massive display of very reasonably priced RPG books in the dealer room - but Chimera Games had a good-sized booth that almost made up for it, which included an impressive collection of classic Star Wars D6 rulebooks and supplements.

One area of the convention that I always seem to overlook - and I mention this in case others do the same - are the seminars. I didn't get to attend any this year, but looking back through the event book, I can see a bunch that I'm sorry that I missed, and many that would be benefical to anyone involved in running, playing, and/or writing RPGs, or RPG advocacy:

Game Design is Mind Control (hosted by Luke Crane and Jared Sorensen)
Fundamentals of Setting Design (a discussion with Kenneth Hite)
GM Mastery
The Rules of Writing
Christianity and Gaming
Roleplaying Games Build Better Writers
Breaking into RPG Writing
Games for the Classroom
The Mad Taxonomy of Roleplaying Game Design
The Ups and Downs of the Publishing Industry
Game Design for Teachers


Most Origins attendees got a surprise on Saturday, when the convention center hosted the Ohio Democratic Party State Dinner, with vice president Joe Biden in attendance. The results were about what you'd expect. Police cars and news trucks arrived first, making most congoers assume that something had gone wrong (or that someone panicked when they saw a convention center full of barbarian princesses and zombie hunters). Then the Secret Service arrived, setting up portable metal detectors and (from what I heard, anyway) shutting down all Wi-Fi communication in the area.

I didn't get to see much of this firsthand (it was going on during my Ghostbusters/Men in Black game), but as I understand it, the Secret Service got very itchy about some of the cosplayers, especially the ones in any sort of military gear. But I didn't hear about any confrontations or arrests, so I assume that's a good thing.
While I'm spreading unfounded rumors, there was at least one comment on Twitter that a congoer took the opportunity to ask Joe Biden if he wanted to play some D&D, and he refused. Which is a shame. Al Gore might have taken him up on it (he did, after all, join a pickup game with Gary Gygax in that one episode of Futurama…).

Unfortunately, it looks like the fair will become less family-friendly in the following years, due to an upcoming change of schedule. The dates for 2012 and 2013 puts the fair at the end of May/beginning of June, when most kids and teenagers are still in school, and won't be able to travel. This also hurts some board and card game companies such as Looney Labs, which employ lots of educators to demo their games and man their booths. And I suspect the Teacher's Hall Pass program may suffer from this change as well.

Origins management claims the change will lower boarding and travel costs, which means companies will be able to bring more product and staff to run more events. They're also hoping to maintain the time gap between Origins and Gen Con, which will be making a move in upcoming years. It's not difficult to imagine how hard it must be to manage an event of this size, making it affordable for as many participants as possible, in an economy that isn't helping out at all.

I've heard comments from some gamers that they'll be glad to see fewer kids at the convention, but I feel such attitudes are very shortsighted. I know it has become a cliché over the years, but young people really are the future of our hobby. Origins has been a family friendly convention for some time now, and I have long applauded their efforts to keep it that way. This move, however, will unfortunately make it less so.

You can view my Origins 2011 Photo Album here

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Tucson Weekly’s Nostalgia = Classic D&D Paranoia

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Thu 30 of June, 2011 11:09 PDT
(Back from Origins safe and sound. I'll have a full report finished and posted soon, but until then...)

The Tucson Weekly's Nostalgia feature brings back a cover story from 25 years ago - "Dungeons & Dragons: Playing With Fire?"

“Many of the fantasy and role-playing games are smack in the middle of the occult, and that’s the truth,” says Jack Gracie. Gracie is the spokesman for Tucson’s Christian Awareness Fellowship, a “non-profit interdenominational Christian group primarily devoted to educating the body of Christ concerning the cults and the occult.”

“In these games, kids are taught how to invoke demons and thinks like that. And now it has gone beyond a game.”


Sadly, they don't reprint the entire article, so we don't know how balanced the story is. But given the time period, I think we could make an educated guess. If anyone has a copy of the full story, please let me know.

Full article is here

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ORIGINS!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Thu 23 of June, 2011 07:00 PDT
Through an unexpected series of events, it looks like I will be able to attend Origins.

I'm bringing a modest amount of RPG stuff so that I can run some totally off-the-cuff games with whoever happens to be walking by. So if you're going to be there, look me up! The best way to get in touch is through the Escapist Twitter account.

Hope to see you there!

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Teaching Gifted Students with D&D

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 17 of June, 2011 09:47 PDT
The Austin Daily Herald brings us this story on the third annual Gifted and Talented Symposium in Austin, Texas, where Educational Psychology professor Bonnie Cramond discussed her methods of using Dungeons & Dragons to teach mythology to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders:
Cramond brought the fantasy game presentation to the symposium, ready to explain how in the early ‘80s she used a barebones version of Dungeons and Dragons to get middle school students to work together and absorb the material in a different way.

Cramond split the students into groups, introduced the game and got them started on an adventure based on the 12 labors of Hercules. She didn’t make students read about Hercules beforehand, however. She simply set the textbooks on a shelf, which students eventually discovered. To Cramond’s delight, the students read the myths in order to gain an advantage in the game, figuring out what they needed to do to pass.

“They thought they were tricking me,” she said with a smile.

Sadly, most of these sorts of creative learning programs were shut out during the Satanic Panic era of the 1980s, when many parents were filled with the fear that anything related to role-playing games was evil and dangerous.

Thankfully however, we are past that era, and most people have a fair to good understanding about what RPGs really are. Now it's just a matter of spreading the word of how beneficial RPGs can be to the learning process, and trying to put programs like this one back into place in schools everywhere.

You can read the full story here: [ article | archive ]

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