The Escapist Blog is a journal on the positive promotion of tabletop, pen-and-paper roleplaying games: dispelling the myths and misconceptions, educating the public about their benefits, encouraging new generations of players, and more. For more information on roleplaying advocacy, visit the Basic Gaming FAQ.

Google Search

Click these links!

Support the Escapist!
Buy your RPG PDFs through the DriveThruRPG Affiliate link!

The Committee for the Advancement of Roleplaying Games

Calimacil LARP weapons

Roleplaying advocacy news and website updates for The Escapist.

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 | 1771483 Visits | Activity=2.00)

Magicians - an RPG that can teach Korean language

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 09 of Nov., 2012 19:56 PST
Kyle Simons is a Korean Language major who has developed a method of teaching language through a tabletop RPG called Magicians, which combines educational elements and a rich background steeped in Korean mythology. He is currently running a Kickstarter project to fund the publishing of the book, and was kind enough to answer a few questions on the game and what it's all about.

Tell us something about Magicians

Magicians is a tabletop roleplaying game where you play a teenager who is learning a new language, is redefining the world he lives in from that new, magic-is-real perspective as well as from the cultural one because they are in a school for magic in Korea. The setting is a mix of Harry Potter and The Dresden Files in that when you're at the school your views are being challenged as a player by learning and casting magic along with these supernatural, mythological Korean elements that aren't normally referenced in western rpgs - instead of vampires and werewolves there are nine-tailed foxes, dokkaebi and three-legged sun crows. At the same time, when you're exploring the urban aspect of being in Seoul there are those supernatural elements that are drawn from urban legends and Korean superstitions that are hidden just below the surface of the everyday world. Real Korean superstitions like whistling at night bring ghosts and snakes to your door, or if mice or crows eat your fingernails they can turn into you or steal your soul are great sources of fantasy and, behind it all, the mechanics are designed to teach you a language while playing and engaging in the fiction and when you tell these collaborative stories with your friends.

The whole idea behind Magicians was making a game where the whole educational element to it - learning another language - was tied up in the fiction and the fantasy of the world that the whole education-as-advancement idea in the game felt like a side-effect of playing the game. Too many educational games fail in this respect because they forget to make the game engaging and fun first, by sacrificing the most vital components of a game - that it has to be fun - in order to strong-arm the educational element in. I wanted a game where magic felt real and that it was this thing that was only being referenced in the book and since almost all magic in fiction using that language component, the educational aspect of learning a language ties in perfectly with the setting and creates more buy-in for both getting into your character and why you're using a language in the world. Not only that, player advancement and character advancement is tied together - as you get better at a language you can actually use in real life, your character is getting better at casting magic and "leveling-up" in the game. The game makes magic something more, something you can grasp and learn and that is a source of unlimited creativity - the only thing restricting the creativity component and your ability to do absolutely anything you want with magic is your own knowledge of the language.

When did you become interested in tabletop RPGs?

My dad tried to get my brother and I into tabletop RPGs via D&D back when we were in elementary school but it didn't stick. We enjoyed it but things fell apart quickly. I didn't start playing again, though I played computer rpgs avidly, until D&D 4th edition came out and I started listening to the Penny Arcade actual play podcasts. I had just moved to Korea and felt a bit disconnected so I looked for a group online, found one and started playing. I started GMing pretty quickly with Cthulhutech and quickly started moving through tons of rpgs that caught my interest, fascinated me and eventually started designing my own games - games like With Great Power, Burning Wheel, Spirit of the Century and many others were all both fascinating to read and amazing to play.

Do you play them regularly?

I still play games regularly, yes. The other guys I game with most regularly are into D&D so we have been playing a lot of Adventurer Conqueror King and Pathfinder in particular but I there has been talk of 13th Age, D&D Next playtests, Dungeon Crawl Classics and Numenera in the future.

What inspired you to use this particular method to teach Korean?

The main thing that I really wanted to do was emulate or abstract magic in a more fun and engaging way. I am a huge fan of books like A Wizard of Earthsea, The Dresden Files, Harry Potter and The Magicians and almost all books that have magic in them - especially ones that take us through the process of learning magic - deal with the vocal component of magic and how closely it ties into language and speech but no RPG games that I know of have a vocal component. Since I wanted that language component it seemed natural to me to tie it to an actual language (rather than making up an entirely new one). I wanted to know what was behind magic and understand it and I think, in particular, Korean is a good fit for this. Not only does learning the writing system, Hangeul, take about 15 minutes and is completely phonetic but it's also totally different from English and even any other language. It looks different, sounds different and so buy-in to it being a basis for magic is pretty high. The fact that the language is so easy to learn but so hard to master makes it a perfect system for magic in my opinion.

What elements of RPGs do you feel make them a functional tool for teaching language?

Roleplaying is already a tool used in the language classroom and has been for decades - it's just usually used to simulate real-world activities in order to associate and practice target vocabulary and grammar. One of the major points of these exercises is to create a disconnect with the language learner by having them take on the role of a character in a simulated scenario so that they might take more risks, use what they learned and not be as afraid to make mistakes. I think a strong case can be made that by putting the learner, the player, in a fictional fantasy setting you can create a stronger disconnect, more excitement and enjoyment and use that disconnect to influence language learning in a very positive way. If you're playing with friends in a casual environment you're already going to be more relaxed and having more fun than in a formal environment among people you don't know so I think that casual environment is ripe for language learning and the fact that it has that strong established base in fiction that we already know and love and has become mainstream makes it all that much more accessible.

Are the methods you're using universal? How well do you think they would work with other languages?

They are universal in that they're based more on how people have always been learning languages. However, each language is definitely different enough that some tweaking for the "Master System" or the highest difficulty level that requires full sentences but I've tried to make it as universal and applicable as possible, with optional rules for specific qualities unique to the target language. At the basic level you start out using 13 words and arranging them in different orders to create spells (one noun, one verb), after you've gotten used to how Korean sounds you move up to the second level where you learn the Korean alphabet entire and start building up your vocabulary by coming up with your own noun and verb to suit the context and intent of your spell.

After you're pronunciation has improved and you've built up a small arsenal of vocabulary you move up to the master system where you learn the grammar required to form full sentences and each type of magic is tied to specific grammar patterns you can plug you new found vocabulary into. Telekinetic magic requires learning prepositions, directions. time magic requires learning the Korean number system, negating/dispelling magic requires learning negatives etc, these are things that are universally applicable and the basics you need to learn in any language so it will work with any language.

You can find out more about Magicians at the Kickstarter page, but if you're interested in backing the project, act fast - there are only 9 days left to do so as of this writing!

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

International Games Day @ Your Library

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 02 of Nov., 2012 20:05 PDT

Tomorrow is International Games Day @ Your Library, an event organized and promoted by the American Library Association to "reconnect communities through their libraries around the educational, recreational, and social value of all types of games." This includes board games, card games, video games, and our personal favorites - RPGs and LARP.

Find out more, including what libraries near you may be participating, at!

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Gamers helping with Hurricane Sandy relief

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 01 of Nov., 2012 19:20 PDT
It should come as no surprise to most roleplayers that DriveThruRPG has put together a package of RPG PDFs to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy - they've been raising funds for various causes and relief efforts for several years now. This time around, it's over $400 of RPG supplements and a few other items for a $20 donation, the proceeds of which go directly to the Red Cross. Find out more at DriveThruRPG.

Point of Insanity Studios has put together their own bundle as well, which includes three of their products at a discounted price. You can find out more at their bundle page on DriveThruRPG.

If anyone knows of any other RPG-related hurricane relief charities currently going on, please let me know!

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

D&D aids in psychology research - but not how you might think

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 01 of Nov., 2012 09:07 PDT
This story from Discover Magazine tells about Alan Kingstone, a psychologist doing research on the gaze-copying behavior found in humans and animals - the tendency we have to look where others are looking. While pondering the different hypotheses on this behavior, Kingstone mentioned them to his 12-year-old son, who suggested a possible method of testing whether or not humans focused on a subject's eyes or the center of their head - show them pictures from the Monster Manual, including monsters like the Beholder, Otyugh, and Umber Hulk, that have eyes in other places.

It's an interesting article, and a great tribute to D&D as a source of iconic images being used in scientific research.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Wizards and Warriors needs your help!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 24 of Oct., 2012 19:08 PDT
Meghan Gardner (whom I interviewed a little while ago) has spent years developing a fantastic collection of LARP camps for young people, and now she wants to license the systems and take their LARP camps nationwide. They're using Kickstarter to raise some funding, which means you can help make this fantastic project a reality! Here are the details, in Meghan's own words:

Guard Up! Inc. just announced that we will be raising funds to license our youth program called “Wizards & Warriors”. This program is designed to engage kids and teens in live, story-based adventures where they play a character in an ongoing storyline. In these adventures, the kids (we call them “Heroes”) fight monsters with foam swords, win treasure and solve ancient mysteries. We also have a futuristic version that uses Nerf Blasters called “Zombie Blaster Adventures”. Both programs involve kids interacting with creatures and characters out of real life history, literature, and mythology.

Please consider supporting our Kickstarter Campaign:

100% of your donation goes towards making our license a reality… which will help individuals and facilities across the globe offer this exciting program to children and teens who would benefit from the opportunity to experience an adventure where they are the hero… and make lifelong friends. Whatever amount of support you can provide is appreciated. And whatever help you can provide is made even larger if you do so within 24 hours of reading this. The campaigns with the most number of donations within the first days of going live have a higher chance of being listed as a “Popular” campaign on the Kickstarter main page. With your help, we can get there!

Thank you so much for your support. This is the start of an exciting journey for all of us at Guard Up and the young heroes we hope to reach!

As I write this, the Kickstarter has only 5 days to go, and is still a bit below their goal - so please act fast!

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

PBS Idea Channel: Can D&D can make you a successful & confident person?

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 19 of Oct., 2012 11:01 PDT
I'm still playing catch-up with the stuff that has come in to my inbox the last few weeks. This one has been making the rounds quite a bit lately, so it's likely you've seen it elsewhere, but in case you haven't: PBS's Idea Channel on YouTube recently covered the subject of the benefits of playing Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games:

It's very well done, with an excellent coverage of the benefits of playing RPGs, peppered with lots of references to miscellaneous coolness (such as the Futurama, Community and Freaks & Geeks episodes, the D&D cartoon, and much more. (Bonus points awarded, as always, for the gazebo and Dead Alewives references!)

The request for comments and input brought some great responses, which were covered at the end of the following Idea Channel video, and included a comment from W.A. Hawke Robinson of (starting at around 6:08):

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

RPGers raise over $16K for fellow gamer's brain surgery

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 17 of Oct., 2012 09:00 PDT
I'm a bit behind with this one, but it's still a fantastic story of roleplayers helping others - a group of gamers on Reddit are crowdfunding a benefit for a fellow gamer and talented artist who had a brain tumor removed. So far, they have collected over $16,000, and there are still eight days (as I write this) left on the indiegogo project.

Read the full story, including links to the Reddit thread and indiegogo page, here.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Random article table: D&D Documentary gets funded, Playing at the World, Marines who love Marines, and more!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 16 of Sept., 2012 18:36 PDT
I've been short on free time lately, which can only mean one thing - tt's time for another collection of random articles!

- D&D Documentary has been funded: My original plan was to write a little blurb about how the Kickstarter for the proposed documentary commemorating the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons was in need of funding, but before I could get this update together, a big push from many geek-friendly blogs and sites helped get the funding over the goal. As I write this, there are just two hours left to participate, so if you want in, you'll have to act fast - Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary

- Marines Who Love Space Marines - This Slate article on the popularity of Warhammer 40K among servicemen gives a bit of attention to the history of modern wargames, with a couple quick stops at Little Wars and D&D. Read all about it here. (Thanks to Ed Rishel for the link!)

- Two articles from Wired GeekDad: The first is an interview with the author of Playing at the World:A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures from Chess to Role-Playing Games by Jon Peterson - a book so thorough on the subject that interviewer Ethan Gilsdorf wasn't able to finish it in time before the interview! Read all about it here.

The second is about Play To Decide, a project that "will research how role-playing games can be used to support organizations and communities in democratic decision-making." Matt Cooperrider, the brains behind the project, is looking for input from anyone who may have some insight on using simulation games in this capacity - or just anyone with good ideas. Find out more here.

- A Tribute: Finally, a very touching post on RPGnet, in which a longtime gamer tells the story of how his mother handled his sudden interest in this strange game that was causing such an uproar in the news. It's a classic example of how parenting is done right, and it reminds me a lot of the way my parents handled my sudden interest in RPGs. Read it here.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Chaosium wants RPGs for kids!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 01 of Sept., 2012 06:05 PDT
Chaosium (or "THE Chaosium," as we grognards call them), publisher of the original Call of Cthulhu RPG, is looking for submissions for new kid-friendly RPGs using their BRP (Basic Roleplaying) system:
We believe that gaming is a great way for parents to interact with their kids. It is a wonderful way to spend time together, to talk about things in the midst of the game, and the kids may even learn a lesson or two (Little Timmy! Why do you want to cast that booger-eating spell on that innocent bunny? Is that a nice thing to do?).
They certainly have the right idea about playing RPGs with kids, and the need for new games to support that cause.

If you've been kicking around an idea for a kid-friendly RPG, this may be your chance to see it get published! (I may even try to bang out a submission of my own, if I can find the time.) Submission rules and information can be found on Chaosium's website. Good luck!

(Thanks to Jeff Woodall for the link.)

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

RPG-positive story in the Santa Clara Weekly

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 29 of Aug., 2012 07:37 PDT
Here's a nice little piece, complete with a picture of smiling gamers, on the Dungeons & Dragons Encounters events held at a game and comic store in Santa Clara, California.

“Dungeons and Dragons gives you a chance to explore reacting to different situations,” Gravius says. “Something really satisfying about playing Dungeons and Dragons is being able to figure out a difficult puzzle or winning a really tough battle. It’s even more fun when you win with a group of people.”

Gravius brushes off the misconception that Dungeons and Dragons is a game strictly for male players. She insists that women can play the game too. In fact, both men and women participate in the Dungeons and Dragons game playing group at Illusive Comics & Games.

Read the full article here: Dungeons and Dragons Group Fosters Role Playing Fun

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Random article table: Braille Dice, Navy Seal LARP, and two new celeb gamers

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 21 of Aug., 2012 06:59 PDT
It's that time again when I realize I'm behind on posting relevant RPG articles, and have to compile them all into one post whilst making a clever reference to random encounter tables from classic RPGs. So dig those percentile dice out of your battered Crown Royal bag and roll on the following table:

- I've heard of people making Braille dice before, to help provide people with vision impairments the satisfaction of rolling and reading their own dice, but I'm not sure they've been available in any configuration other than the basic d6. Now there's a Kickstarter project that aims to make a full set of Braille polyhedrals available, and it could really use a boost. I know there are lots of dice collectors out there who would love to have a set just for the novelty of it, and every pledge they get goes to a good cause. Visit their Kickstarter page at

- Bin Laden killed repeatedly in a Minnesota Navy Seal LARP: The title says it all, really. Not much more I can add to that, beyond the link.

- Celeb gamer - Anderson Cooper: In a recent "Ridiculist" segment about China banning movies and television shows about time travel, fantasy, and mythical stories, Anderson Cooper made a brief nod to his gamer geek past - or it could have just been one of his writers poking a little fun.
"Now as a former Dungeons & Dragons nerd, I can tell you that this is disturbing to me on a very deep, personal level. No fantasy, no mythical stories? What would I do with my multi-sided die and level 6 orc powers? And if you don't get the references it just means you probably played outdoors as a child and actually had friends."

Watch the video and decide for yourself:

Strange... my first game of D&D was played with three friends (one of them was even a GIRL!), and we played outdoors. I must have been doing it wrong.

- Celeb gamer - Nick Offerman: A site called Uproxx informs us that the Parks and Recreation actor was a Call of Cthulhu LARP enthusiast while in college who won several awards for his participation, and is even credited in the Call of Cthulhu silent film. Uproxx also informs us that anyone knowing what Call of Cthulhu is needs to get a life. Here's the link.

And again, I'm doing it wrong. I've definitely heard of "The Call of Cthulhu," but had no idea who Nick Offerman was. (I don't get to watch very much television these days.) Now that I've read about him on Wikipedia and his personal site, I see that he seems like a pretty cool guy.

Oh, and Uproxx? It's just "Cthulhu," not "THE Cthulhu." Get a life.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Grimm Wisdom: 5 reasons to play D&D

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 06 of Aug., 2012 05:34 PDT
At the Grimm Wisdom blog, Adam Grimm gives us 5 reasons to play D&D.

They're pretty good reasons, too. I've been preaching them here for the last 16 years, so they're nothing new to us, but it's always good to see someone else who agrees and wants to spread the word.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

James Holmes and roleplaying

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 22 of July, 2012 04:40 PDT
The terrible act of violence in Colorado on Friday morning has left everyone looking for answers, as we always seem to do in these situations. While many of those with an audience have been quick to trot out their pet agendas (evolution, lack of prayer in schools, gun control, lack of gun control, etc.), I'm told that there has been the occasional mention of role-playing here and there.

I did a quick Google search for "James Holmes roleplaying," and most of what turned up seemed to reference online gaming, and not tabletop. The rest of what turned up began to wear away at my faith in humanity - conspiracy theories and suchlike. I closed that tab quickly, before I spotted any bloggers trying to connect the name James Holmes with the Holmes edition of D&D.

I am somewhat limited in my internet access at present, however - so if anyone spots a piece attempting to connect James Holmes to tabletop RPGs, please let me know.

One observation that I read and enjoyed (in a comment on Jolly Blackburn's Facebook wall) was this - regardless of whether or not Holmes played RPGs, the odds are a good portion of the people in the theater that he terrorized have at one time or another.

For the record, I refuse to refer to the killer by the moniker that the media have labelled him with. It is not fair to associate this act with the film and characters that so many people worked hard to develop, and so many fans have come to enjoy. It is not right to give the name of a work of creative art to someone who chose to be so destructive. It does no justice to those artists, the fans of the art, and most of all the victims who were just hoping to be among the first to enjoy a movie featuring their favorite superhero.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Read an RPG Book in Public Week sneaked up on me!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 21 of July, 2012 04:54 PDT
Eeep! I've been so busy trying to sort out some life issues that I nearly missed the arrival of this summer's Read an RPG Book in Public Week!

So tell me folks, what are you planning to read, and where? And don't forget to share pics!

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post

Anti-D&D (and anti-lots of other stuff!) pamphlet at Comicon

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 18 of July, 2012 17:56 PDT
Here's a picture that's been getting passed around on the social networks - it's a page from a religious tract that was being handed out by protestors at last weekend's Comicon in San Diego.

Sure, we're pretty well past the days of rampant Satanic Panic, but there are still a few out there who just can't let go of it.

Permalink 0 comments Print Email This Post
First Page Fast Prev Prev PagePage: 3/26 Next Page Fast Next Last Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 26

Submission rules

PLEASE NOTE: Due to an excessive level of spam accounts being created, I have disabled automatic account creation. If you would like to create an account to post to the blog, forums, or wiki, please contact me with your desired username, and I will create one for you. I apologize for the inconvenience.

NOTICE: Before posting to the blog comments, forums, or wiki - be sure to read the submission rules & guidelines

Previous News & Updates

(Archives from the old site)
2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998 - 1997 - 1996
The Escapist - Main - Features - FAQs - Forum - Projects - Resources - Support - Contact -
RSS feed Blogs