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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
(370 Posts | 1304345 Visits | Activity=2.00)

RPG exhibit at Duke University

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Tue 13 of Dec., 2011 10:17 PST
Duke University's Perkins Library will be hosting an exhibit of thousands of classic role-playing games from the collection of Durham residents Edwin and Terry Murray. The Herald-Sun has more on the exhibit:
The library will host a game night for the official opening of Duke’s Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games, comprising thousands of boxes dating from the 1970s to the present.

“It’s probably the largest role-playing game collection anywhere,” said Will Hansen, an assistant curator of collections at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “It’s definitely the largest ever made available to scholars and the public.”

The Murray brothers, who live in Durham, have been collectors of comic books, fanzines and other pop culture artifacts for more than 40 years. Edwin graduated from Duke in 1971 and the brothers have donated a series of their collections to the university, totaling around 100,000 objects.
Read the full article here. The event runs from 7pm-9pm this evening. (Sorry for the last-minute notice!)

It would be really great to see this sort of exhibit catch on, and maybe even tour the country's libraries and museums, so that others can see it as well.

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Tell Me About Your Character: John Enfield

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 09 of Dec., 2011 04:08 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview is up! This time, John Enfield from Las Vegas, Nevada tells us about himself. Read the interview here.

I'm glad to see a new interest in this series - if you'd like to see it continue, submit your own interview, or if you already have, spread the word!

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Read RPGs in public - from right to left!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Thu 08 of Dec., 2011 06:51 PST
I always geek out when I find people discussing my website in other languages. It's always rewarding to see the ideas and projects presented here transcending the language barrier and spreading to other cultures around the world.

Over the years I've seen the site mentioned in blog and forum posts in French, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, but I think this may be a first: a gamer spreading the word about Read an RPG Book In Public Week in Hebrew!

(EDIT: I spoke too soon! Here's another that may be a first - someone sharing links to the 5 Ws of RPGs page, FAQ, and Why RPGs are Good For You video, in Thai!)

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20 Sided Rhymes - Nerdcore with a gaming theme

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 07 of Dec., 2011 10:03 PST
"If you're a player in the house, throw up a dee-twen-tee!"

I'm late to the game with this one, as I often am - but better late than never! 20 Sided Rhymes is a collection of nerdcore music with a mostly gaming theme - a great mix of rap, indie rock, chiptunes (music made with old school sound chips), and even a folkcore song. Most of the songs are about the joys of playing D&D - "20 Sided Rhymes," "Random Encounter in the Cereal Aisle," "Stat Sheet," "Roll the Dice," (which samples the classic D&D cartoon) and more - with a couple Magic: The Gathering tunes - "I Get Mana," "Hassle: The Dorkening", and Lord of the Rings and Zelda songs thrown in for good measure. It's also quite possibly the first ever album that includes a song about painting D&D miniatures ("Painting Guys").

Biggest surprise (for me, at least) was finding a song by our Good Buddy Nate ("The Healer's Song") without even knowing he was a part of the project. Long-time readers of the site may have heard me mention him before as a real-world friend, and an early and frequent contributor to the Escapist who still sends me articles and links from time to time.

All of this geeky goodness is yours for the time it takes to download, so there's no excuse not to head over to Hipster, Please right now and get your copy. While you're there, don't miss the cover images - the wicked-awesome front cover is both wicked and awesome, but you're missing out if you don't get the opportunity to chuckle at the equally wonderful back cover.

Oh, and for the record - I liked all of this music before it was cool.

(Be aware that most of the tracks in this collection contain explicit lyrics. Please listen with discretion.)

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Crossed Paths - an "improvisational storytelling activity" for groups

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 07 of Dec., 2011 04:32 PST
I discovered this on the Google Libgaming group - a diceless, GMless RPG for groups of five or more designed by Dr. Scott Nicholson. It looks like it would be a great activity for libraries, schools, or any large group of participants, and it's affordable - all the author asks in payment is feedback on your experience with it.

At the Minnesota Library Association, I created a new game called "Crossed Paths". I'm calling it an "improvisational storytelling activity" (but it's really an RPG - shh, don't tell them that until they've played it!)

It will play from 5 to as many people as you want, and will take about an hour to play the full game. It's a game to let people explore stories, books, comics, other games, TV shows, (you pick the setting) with each other.

Crossed Paths is a game that adjusts to many different settings and group sizes. Some of the possible uses are for:

· Libraries looking to create a more interactive version of a book discussion,
· Literature classes wanting to explore short stories, books, or other studied works,
· Churches seeking to encourage children or families to explore parables and tales,
· Communities wanting to explore any sort of folktales, legends, or other stories,
· Fans of a specific genre to further explore stories in that genre, or
· Groups wanting an ice-breaker where attendees can relive aspects of their favorite television shows or movies.

I've written up a facilitation guide with instructions, handouts, and bullets for slides and made it available under Creative Commons on my blog, Play Matters, at

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Review: Designers & Dragons

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Tue 06 of Dec., 2011 10:25 PST
Shannon Applecline's Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry is a massive history book (the page count clocks in at 442) on the origins, growth, and development of tabletop roleplaying games, from the beginnings of TSR to the indie revolution. It is the product of years of research and interviews, presented in a very accessible style, making no assumptions on the reader.

The PDF covers the history of the hobby chronologically, but gives the reader the opportunity to explore at the end of each section, where there are short lists labeled "What To Read Next." Each of these lists present the reader with related games, companies, play styles, and other subjects from the previous section that may have caught the reader's interest, allowing the opportunity to either visit another section of the book, or forge ahead to the next one. It's subtly similar to choose-your-own adventure books, and gives the reader the sense of control and exploration that comes with actually playing the games that the book is devoted to.

Designers & Dragons takes us from the early days of TSR, Flying Buffalo, and Judge's Guild, through the turmoil of the satanic panic era of the 1980s and AD&D's second edition, past the CCG and D20 eras, and into today's indie revolution and retroclones. It is a fitting chronicle to our hobby, and I'm dying to have a dead-tree edition to put on my shelf with my other reference books.

Check out Designers & Dragons at DriveThruRPG

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Buzzfeed likes the 404 page!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sat 03 of Dec., 2011 05:57 PST
It looks like the site got another accolade while I wasn't looking - Buzzfeed listed the Escapist's 404 page as one of the Best Error Pages Online!

(If you've never seen the 404 page for this site - though with the amount of broken links and unfinsihed projects I have lying around here, I couldn't imagine how - you can view it here.)

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Two gaming charities that deserve your attention

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 02 of Dec., 2011 05:34 PST
Whenever I find more examples of roleplayers helping others in need, I'm always reminded of the words of William Schnoebelen in his essay Should a Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons?: "I would just ask them where are the rescue missions and orphanages started by D&D gamers?" I bring it up pretty frequently, but that's because I like to use that statement as inspiration to find as many examples as possible. The fact is, I find so many, that several end up falling through the cracks, and I never get around to reporting on them.

Here are two that crossed my radar recently, both of which deserve your attention:

The first is the Random Encounter Kindness Bundle, a fundraiser for Kelly, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, and has been hit with an enormous medical bill. For a small donation, you can help her cover her expenses and possibly get more help, and as a reward above and beyond helping a fellow human, you get an impressive bundle of RPG PDFs that includes Little Fears: Nightmare Edition, among many others. Find out more at

The second comes to me from Michael Tresca - an RPG titled Legend by Rule of Cool Games that benefits the Child's Play charity, which provides toys, games, and books for hospitalized children. The game has already generated over $5000 as of this writing, and they are hoping to double it by Christmas. You can find out more about the game and how to participate at

Both of these have already gathered a lot of donations from generous gamers - but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't pitch in as well! Both causes deserve all of the help they can get!

There you go, Bill. Two more examples for you. Are you keeping track over there? Because I've lost count, myself...

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Tell Me About Your Character: Perrin Rynning

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 02 of Dec., 2011 04:46 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview - the first one I have posted in over a year - is up! This time, Perrin Rynning from the San Francisco bay area tells us about himself. Read the interview here.

This is the second interview I've received recently, and I discovered another in the vault that was never posted, so I'll have new interviews for the next couple of weeks. I'm glad to see a new interest in this series - if you'd like to see it continue, submit your own interview, or if you already have, spread the word!

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More Occupy roleplayers in Philly

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Thu 01 of Dec., 2011 05:47 PST
Kotaku brings us the story - with a great picture - of another group of Dungeons & Dragons players at an Occupy protest, this time in Philadelphia. Read all about it here.

One Escapist reader was kind enough to point out that I didn't give a sufficient disclaimer the last time I posted about roleplayers at Occupy events. So here goes: In posting this, no endorsement or support of the Occupy protests is expressed or implied, and the information is only provided as part of the purpose of this website, which is to display references to roleplaying games in the real world, as sort of a "cultural acceptance" of RPGs. Dissenting views would be given equal time, if and when they are found by myself or submitted by others. (In fact, references to roleplaying games by conservatives have been covered on this site in the past, such as when Ann Coulter defended D&D, and a blogger on John McCain's staff derided gamers.)

That should do it. Now please mentally copy and paste the above paragraph on all future Escapist blog posts, replacing "Occupy events" with the appropriate subject. It will save me a lot of typing. Thanks!

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Games and Learning Dream Tank circle on Google+

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 30 of Nov., 2011 06:40 PST
Pete Figtree, educator and host of the Ruthless Diastema blogcast, is organizing a think tank to brainstorm ideas for using games to educate. Here's the idea, in Pete's own words:
So, I have a few big dreams for gaming (especially indie, but not exclusively) and education. These dreams are a large part of what gets me up in the morning. They may actually work in this order, but who knows.
1) Convention panels about how REAL games (not lame educational games) can be used for learning and in educational settings.
2) Professional Development Courses about how to use REAL (not lame educational games) in education.
3) A TeacherCon gaming convention both for gamer teachers and non-gamer teachers. All of the above can be showcased there along with great networking and fellowship.

But, we must dream and there is no way I can make this happen alone. I am especially terrible at planning and scheduling. I have never done a panel or lead serious prof. dev. before. But I WILL!

I think the first step is gathering interested forces.


The context for these dream need not be confined to public school. This is about how our beloved hobby fosters learning, real learning.

You know how human nature is. If you join, others will join as well.
You can find his Google+ account here - If using games to teach is a subject that interests you, please consider joining his Games and Learning Dream Tank circle.

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A thousand words

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 30 of Nov., 2011 05:37 PST
Deviantart user zazb made this masterpiece:

...and I have nothing more to say. Except that I promised I'd link to his Deviantart gallery, so that you can enjoy his other works as well.

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The Escapist won a Golden Ogre Award!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Mon 21 of Nov., 2011 05:35 PST
The title says it all - my lil' ol' roleplaying advocacy website won the Golden Ogre in the First Annual Oggie Awards, hosted by the Quilt City O.G.R.E.s (Organization of Gamers and Roleplaying Enthusiasts).

Lots of thanks to everyone who voted, and to the O.G.R.E.s for the nomination! To see the full list of winners, visit the O.G.R.E. website.

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.

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RPGers occupy the Occupy events

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sat 19 of Nov., 2011 05:42 PST
Last week, I posted a moving story about homeless gamers, one of whom finds an escape in his GURPS books. This week, in following the theme of spotting gamers in topical situations, my news feeds bring me not one, but TWO stories about D&D players at Occupy events.

Demotix: Occupy Tampa Day of Action Lightly Attended

Salon: I brought my kids to Occupy L.A.

Also, game designer Chris Pramas participated in an Occupy Seattle event, which inspired Wade Rockett to create this gamer-themed Occupy graphic:

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Teaching my kids how to play a roleplaying game

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 16 of Nov., 2011 07:12 PST

Though I am doing all I can to help promote it, I will not be directly participating in Teach Your Kids to Game Week. I hope that doesn't sound hypocritical, but my current circumstances prevent it - I've got a heavy work week, and my time off this week will be spent helping my partner Paula get a job, and working on some other time-sensitive projects.

Also, there's another reason - I taught my kids to how to play a roleplaying game a long time ago. In fact, I think I'll share that story, and maybe it will inspire someone else to do the same. And maybe that will count as participation.

It was a rainy day, not much different than today, and my daughters were cooped up in the house, watching the same DVD they'd watched maybe a hundred times. I had been thinking about trying some sort of simple RPG with them in the recent weeks, but I wasn't sure if they were really ready - Aylish was 5, and Nolah only 3. But they were already somewhat accustomed to interactive storytelling, since one of our favorite pasttimes involved me making up a bedtime story on the fly, with the two of them interjecting characters and places and names and events whenever I stopped for a moment.

So, I switched off the TV and told them we were going to play a storytelling game. Ignoring their moans of despair, I pulled my copy of Teenagers From Outer Space off of the shelf, and handed them photocopies of the character sheets to look over, so that they could choose a character that they liked. (Yes, I had copies all ready to go. Remember, I said I had been thinking about this!)

I had even prepared for the possibility that both would choose the same character - "Okay, fine, you're twin sisters. We'll just rename one of you. You look exactly the same, and everyone always gets you confused, even your parents!" But they both managed to latch on to different characters that they liked, based on the pictures on the character sheets. One of the benefits of running TfOS for kids is that the character sheets all have illustrations of the anime characters on them.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the setting of Teenagers From Outer Space, it's an anime-themed RPG based around teens from various planets (including Earth) who go to a high school in space and deal with typical teenaged-type situations, but in a more humorous and outer-spacey way.

Another benefit of the game is that it comes with play money that you can photocopy and hand out to the players as allowance, pay from their summer jobs, and so on. Which I did, and told my two teenagers from outer space that they had just received their allowance money, and were taking the public shuttle to Planet Mall

What's that? Explain the rules of the game to them? Tell them how the dice work, and what their skill ratings mean, and all that? Yeah, sure, I got around it eventually. But by giving them a character sheet with a cool picture on it, sticking some play money in their hands, and telling them where their characters were and giving them a place to explore, I thrust them into the story in a way that was irresistable to them. They couldn't help but start exploring, and looking for places to spend their money.

After poking around in some shops to find something interesting to buy, the girls noticed that some of the people wandering about the mall concourse looked odd - they were moaning, shambling around like zombies, and were blue all over (not that it's particularly unusual to see blue folks at Planet Mall, mind you).

Eventually, they came to the plot of the story - someone was creating a mind-control serum and sneaking it into a slushie machine in the food court - and the victims were trying to force others to drink the blue-colored slushie so that they could become blue zombies, too!

Once the real story was underway, my girls had an opportunity to use their skills. That's when I explained how the system worked, in the simplest possible terms - roll the dice, add the number on your sheet to the number you rolled, and if it is higher than the number I told you to beat, then you did it! Nolah, who couldn't read yet and was still pretty shaky with adding, needed just a little help here, so I just told her to count the dots on her dice. I told her how many dots she needed, and let her tell me if she had "rolled enough dots" or not. At one point, she was looking at her character sheet at the list of skills, asking me what all of them said, and what she could do with them - she was completely on board with the concept of an RPG, she just couldn't read the words yet!

Eventually, they took down the bad guy who was poisoning the slushie machine and trying to take over Planet Mall. Aylish surprised me with a bit of ingenuity when she said she wanted to get one of the slushies and dump it over her head so that she would look like one of the blue zombies, so they would stop trying to attack her. (I hadn't even thought of that! Of course, I let it work for her - how could I not?) The poisoned mallgoers all recovered from the mind-control serum, the bad guy was arrested by the Interplanetary Police, and our heroes even got a cash reward for helping catch him!

And that is the story of how I taught my kids - ages 5 and 3 - how to play a roleplaying game.

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