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Created by WJWalton4818 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Mon 27 of July, 2015 21:32 PDT
(374 Posts | 1654274 Visits | Activity=2.00)

D&D turns 40 this month!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sun 05 of Jan., 2014 19:25 PST
Dungeons & Dragons, the game that launched a whole new form of entertainment while unleashing our imaginations, turns 40 years old this month. While the exact release date of the game is difficult to pin down, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World), comes up with a pretty good justification on his blog for recognizing January 26th as D&D's "birthday."

For four decades now, D&D and other tabletop RPGs have helped bring people together, forge new friendships, promote reading, storytelling, art, and creativity, and much more. So I'd like to commemorate the occasion with a special little section of the site, and I'd love it if you would help.

I'd like to do a sort of collage of pictures, quotes, and stories - pictures of your group enjoying a game of D&D, quotes about how D&D affected your life, and stories of positive experiences that you've had with the hobby, such as meeting friends or discovering new ways to look at the world.

If you'd like to participate, you can send any of the above to me via email, post them to the Escapist's Facebook page, Google+ page, or Twitter account. And just to keep things tidy and polite, here are a few guidelines:

- Please keep everything family friendly, including language.
- Limit stories and quotes to ~100 words. (But if it's such a good story that can't be told in 100 words or less, send it anyway, and we'll talk.)
- If you're sending a picture, please make sure that everyone in the picture has our permission to have it displayed on the site.

I'll reveal the finished page on January 26th, and continue to post new items to it through the remainder of the year - so be sure to spread the word!

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It's been tested already, ladies.

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Fri 13 of Sept., 2013 14:03 PDT
Bob Larson's Teen Exorcists are getting a bit more attention these days, thanks to a recent BBC documentary. While I'm not certain that they've specifically mention RPGs in the documentary, when I heard this comment uttered during the trailer for it, I couldn't help but turn it into a memepic.

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"This Must Be the Only Fantasy" - an RPG-themed short film

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sun 18 of Aug., 2013 09:50 PDT
"This Must Be the Only Fantasy" is a well-done short film by Todd Cole that starts out with a group of gamers waiting for a wayward player, then turns into an urban fantasy that reminds me a little of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. The film appears to have been sponsored by a fashion company, which may very well be the first time that RPGs have been used to help promote a clothing line. But I could be wrong.

Also - look for a nifty cameo near the end!

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The Escapist won a Silver ENnie for Best Website!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sat 17 of Aug., 2013 13:47 PDT
Thanks to all who voted!

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ENnie Awards voting is open!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Mon 22 of July, 2013 08:27 PDT
Voting for the 2013 ENnies is open! Cast your votes between now and July 31st - and don't miss that Best Website category! (It's all the way at the bottom.)

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Another ENnie nomination , and a much overdue Random Article Table

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Tue 16 of July, 2013 08:40 PDT
It’s been way too long since I’ve posted a blog update - and has become way too common that I start my updates with how long it has been since the last one. I’ve been very busy trying to get some life issues sorted out, and promoting my first children’s book – but none of that is any excuse, and I apologize for the absence.

First, the big news - The Escapist has been nominated yet again in the Best Website category in the 2013 ENnie Awards! This is the second nomination my lil’ ol’ site has received (the first was in 2011), and I couldn’t be happier with the recognition - not because of the ego stroke, but rather because it helps bring attention to the cause.

Voting opens on July 22nd, and continues through the 31st. All are free to vote, so get those votes in!

Okay, now let’s get on with that random article table, shall we? Warm up those dice...

KICKSTARTING EDUCATIONAL LARPS - Seekers Unlimited is a group that I’m just starting to learn more about. They describe themselves as “new company that strives to improve education through live action role-playing games” - which definitely seems to seem like a common purpose to what I do here. They’ve launched a Kickstarter project to develop some educational LARPs, and I’d really like to see them succeed. They have 45 days to go as I write this, but still have a way to go to reach their goal. Consider giving them a boost over on their Kickstarter page - Creating Educational Live Action Role Playing Games

TWO EXCELLENT RPG MINI-DOCUMENTARIES - I’m always happy to see tabletop RPGs becoming more of a part of our contemporary anthropology, and these two shorts are great examples of that. PBS Off Book: Dungeons & Dragons and the Influence of Tabletop RPGs (YouTube) features our friend Ethan Gilsdorf, and People: Heroes of the Tabletop is a finalist in Smithsonian’s 2013 Video Contest. Both are under 9 minutes long, and very well done, and are worthy of your attention.

GAMING WHILE FEMALE - MarvelousMaraW explains in this blog post the problem with being a part of an all-female RPG group playing in a public place - “People outright stare.” Hopefully, we’ll see a day when such a thing isn’t such an oddity.

GAME LOFT GETS PRESS - I’ve been a fan of The Game Loft, a wonderful enrichment program for kids using non-electronic games, for some time now. This article from the Penobscot Bay Pilot gave the program a bit of exposure, which will hopefully bring more participants, and possibly even inspire others to set up similar programs in their communities.

D&D AS A MUSE - Rob D. Young at Lit Reactor gives us this list of 7 Things D&D Taught Me About Storytelling, and even manages to squeeze in an “attack the darkness” joke.

YOUR PARENTS HELP YOU PUT IT TOGETHER - I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and I love to look at old game and toy ads, so this collection of old D&D ads at Gamers and Grognards really made me smile.

RENEGADE RETRIEVED FOR A BOUNTY - My friend David Shepheard asked if I would make it known that Thistle Games is offering many of their products through the “Pay What You Want” model, which seems to be becoming more popular recently. Included among these is their “Getting Started” guide, which is a pretty good resource for introducing new players to the hobby. Their quality retroclone RPG Renegade and its supplements are also available free of charge. Find out more at this thread at The Piazza.

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Disney files patent for 'Role-Play Simulation Engine'

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Fri 15 of March, 2013 06:45 PDT
I'll admit it raised a bit of an alarm when I saw the headline "Disney Seeks to Patent Live Action Role Play for Theme Parks," and I'm sure there will be a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth in some of the forums. But what Disney is actually patenting is a tech-driven system for creating an immersive roleplaying experience for their park guests:

The patent allows for guests to participant in ‘long-form role play’ events in which they interact with performers that are employed by the park to engage the guest in the role-playing activities. The performers don’t even need to be humans either. They can be audio animatronics, for example, or something as simple as a video screen that triggers in response to the guest’s arrival.

All of this information — prompts to performers and responses by guests — are fed into an electronic device/system known as the planner, or game master. The planner then makes decisions on how the rest of the role playing session should play out based on how the guest responds to the game thus far.

There's even a mention of integrating special props that alert park employees to your location via RFID or GPS, allowing them to locate you for "random encounters." It sounds like a lot of fun, and could possibly even generate some interest in RPGs and LARP among people who have never tried roleplaying before.

Speaking of wailing and gnashing of teeth, I had a little chuckle when I saw the patent application number - #20130066608. Yep, there are three sixes in a row in there. If we were still in the Satanic Panic era, you could bet there'd be a televangelist pointing that out to you, and trying to convince you to stay far away from Disney's corruption.

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week 2013 is here!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sun 03 of March, 2013 06:54 PST

The first Read an RPG Book in Public Week of 2013 is here! So get those books out, and get caught reading them in public!

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My apologies...

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sat 23 of Feb., 2013 12:59 PST
I apologize, faithful Escapist readers. I haven't been posting much to the blog lately, mostly due to that other project that I've been working on. One of you had to remind me that I hadn't announced this year's dates for Read an RPG Book in Public Week (coming soon - March 3rd - 9th!), and my best friend Henry had to tell me that I haven't updated the title graphic, which makes the site look as if it hasn't been touched since 2011.

I am truly sorry. By way of apology, I offer you some quick nuggets of roleplaying awesomeness:

Here are some pictures of a Dungeons & Dragons float at Carnaval in Brazil this year - and by that I mean Saturday Morning Cartoon Dungeons & Dragons!

While you're looking at awesome pictures, here are some awesome wedding portraits from a Singaporean couple who love D&D as much as we do.

And finally, McSweeney's gives us a list of Vocabulary Words We Learned Playing Dungeons & Dragons. Looking over them, I think I can say that I didn't know most of them before I dug into the Dungeon Master's Guide.

That's all for now. Thanks for sticking with me through this! I always appreciate your emails and words of encouragement.

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Another classic 80s anti-RPG clip

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Wed 09 of Jan., 2013 18:35 PST
One of my Facebook friends brought this to my attention today. This is a clip that was part of a 700 Club promotional video titled "Lost Without a Compass" (full video is here) that included a short segment on the dangers of role-playing games.

I'd bet my entire dice bag that the Dead Alewives got their inspiration from their "Satan's Game" sketch on this video.

The caped gamemaster with the massive tome on a lectern, the candleabras, the bouncers that eject you from the game when your character dies, the ambiguous board (how are those pieces supposed to move, anyway?), the "Lord of the Little People" - all of these are good for a chuckle, and easily demonstrate how little the producers of this video really knew about the roleplaying hobby. But this came at a time when many people didn't know what went on during a typical session of D&D, and were much more apt to believe a moral leader like Pat Robertson over those pimply faced teenagers that had been hanging out with your kids lately.

We can all be very thankful at how much times have changed since then.

Now, as a little compare-and-contrast exercise, here's another video that I happened to see on YouTube while subjecting myself to the previous one:

Once again, it's like they took a page directly from the 700 Club, turned up the goofy, and just let the comedy write itself.

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The Escapist is 17!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Sat 15 of Dec., 2012 05:35 PST
It's the middle of December, which means it's the page's 17th anniversary!

I usually take this time to do a little review of the events of the previous year, both in the changes and improvements to the site, and in roleplaying advocacy in general. But this year has been a pretty rough one for me and my family personally, which has affected the content here. I haven't really been able to stay on top of the news items and updates the way that I would like to. So for that reason, I'm going to take a pass on the year in review this time around.

Please don't think that this bodes any ill for the site - I have a few plans for the coming year that I hope will be some improvements to the way things are done around here. And I'm hoping to continue to bring you roleplaying advocacy news and updates for many more years to come.

To everyone - thanks for reading, and have a wonderful holiday season!

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Random article table: A couple of 12 lists, the science of storytelling, and why teachers should play D&D

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Fri 14 of Dec., 2012 19:53 PST
The holidays have kept me a very busy little elf or dwarf or gnome or whatever, which means a backup of RPG advocacy articles, which means it's time for another Random Article Table!

- First up, mental_floss magazine serves up a short collection of moral panics over D&D in 12 Nutty Dungeons & Dragons Media Mentions From the 1980s. None of the stories are new to anyone who reads the site regularly, but there are a couple of articles I've never seen before. (Thanks to my friend Chris for the link!)

- Sticking with that same number, 12 Most, a website for business and media professionals, gives us the
12 Most Advantageous Life Lessons from Playing Dungeons & Dragons. There's nothing here that we don't know or haven't discussed at length in the past, but if it draws a few people in to give the hobby a try, even just for team-building purposes, then that's a good thing.

- Next up from Lifehacker is The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains, a marvelous article on how storytelling puts our entire brain to work - and I don't see any reason why this would not apply to playing tabletop RPGs and LARPs as well. (Article courtesy of the RPG Advocacy Facebook group)

- And lastly but not leastly, The Nerdy Teacher explains why All Teachers Should Play Dungeons and Dragons Before Entering A Classroom, a great article on building challenges for students and creating lessons that are interesting and engaging.

And that's all for today's Random Article Table. Don't forget to loot the room!

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Teach Your Kids to Game Week is here again!

Posted by WJWalton4818 points  on Tue 04 of Dec., 2012 18:07 PST

It's Teach Your Kids to Game Week again! This event, hosted and promoted by DriveThruRPG, was created to encourage parents and guardians to introduce their young people to the

captivating worlds found in adventure games. This year, DTRPG is offering some excellent deals on family-friendly RPGs and strategy games, and they've created a new category for family-friendly games to make browsing and choosing one a lot easier.

And I'm certain it's no coincedence that Ryan Carlson has a great piece on running an introductory roleplaying game for kids over at Wired GeekDad. Check it out!

So now you have everything you need to play some storytelling games with your kids - go forth to adventure!

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Magicians - an RPG that can teach Korean language

Posted by WJWalton4818 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!

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International Games Day @ Your Library

Posted by WJWalton4818 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!

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