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Created by WJWalton4441 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Fri 11 of April, 2014 06:39 PDT
(362 Posts | 745154 Visits | Activity=3.00)
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New Year, New Game

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Wed 04 of Jan., 2012 10:30 PST

(Reposted from my roleplaying blog The Contemporary Quixotist)

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

Their mission is (and I quote):

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


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

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

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Lakers coach = D&D geek

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Sat 31 of Dec., 2011 04:40 PST
Cool: LA Lakers coach Mike Brown announces that he has played his share of D&D in middle school - and at 41, he still plays the game, running adventures for his 14 year old son Cameron.

Uncool: A Media Daily LA reporter pokes fun at this, and says that "hopefully, Cameron will find a different hobby to explore when he begins attending high school."

Coolest: RPG geeks, sports fans, and RPG geek sports fans take the author to task for the statement in the comments.

To Mike Brown, if he ever somehow reads this - keep playing D&D with your son for as long as you can. Keep instilling that sense of adventure, and that love of exploration and literacy. Keep spending time with your kids in the way that all parents should. If you do, your son will grow up to be intelligent, wise, and thoughtful, and will likely not end up writing nasty, hateful little blurbs like this one.


This will be my last post of 2011. Have a safe and happy New Year celebration tonight, everyone!

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Nashua Library shows us how it's done

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Wed 28 of Dec., 2011 05:48 PST
For those who are interested in running roleplaying games at libraries, take a lesson from the Nashua Public Library in New Hampshire - their promotional banner and copy (below) are bound to get some kids interested in signing up:
Once you've squeezed all the fun you can out of computer-driven fun this Christmas vacation week, consider kicking it with a bit of imagination at the Nashua Public Library. On Dec. 29 bring a friend to the library to discover RPG – Role Playing Game – Adventures.

Perfect for anyone who's ever turned a bed sheet into a superhero cape.

For ages 13 to 17.
Are you running an RPG club or event at a library? Be sure to let me know about it!

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The Game Loft needs help

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Fri 23 of Dec., 2011 07:26 PST
The Game Loft (whose link you may have seen in the left column of the site and blog for over six years now) is a nonprofit organization in Belfast, Maine that helps area youth by providing them with hot meals, friendship, safety, and encouragement to stay in school, using games like Dungeons & Dragons as "bait."

The program has recently lost its funding, however, and is in desperate need of help. The Bangor Daily News has the full story. Rayt and Patricia Estabrook have been doing great things for young people who are very much in need. If you can help them in any way, please contact them.

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The bookstore/RPG ecosystem

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Mon 19 of Dec., 2011 08:47 PST
On the Roleplaying Research blog, W.A. Hawke Robinson tells the story a brief and unfruitful quest to find roleplaying books in three different stores - one bookstore and two different game stores - and what this could mean about the general knowledge of and attitude towards traditional RPGs in game and book stores everywhere:
This has me thinking about the different attitudes of the stores and the impact on RPG adoption. If only a very few stores even carry RPGs (they used to be at every hobby/comic/bookstore), then unless someone was already looking for RPGs, they would never have a chance to learn about them from just browsing in a store during the holidays and such (as I saw many doing, and overheard many saying they wanted to find a good game for their kids).
His experience has made him consider conducting a short survey to give to store employees regarding their knowledge of roleplaying games, and whether or not they carry them in their stores.

This post came to my attention at about the same time that I was searching for brick-and-mortar bookstores in Kent County, Delaware. Due to the failure of Borders, we have recently lost our Waldenbooks (where I purchased a great deal of D&D supplies back in the 80s), and the only other dedicated bookstore in the county, Atlantic Book Warehouse, will be shutting its doors very soon. Once it does, it appears that we will have no bookstores in an entire county of our state. (This is even more troubling when you consider that while it is the second smallest state in the United States, Delaware's three counties are actually a lot larger than those in other states.)

Game stores are almost as rare - there is one that seems to be thriving in Dover, the state's capital, and a comic book store that hosts game events not too far away, but many others have come and gone over the years, unable to gain a good foothold no matter where they pop up.

It's sort of an ecosystem - with these elements missing or scarce, fewer people will discover RPGs by happening upon them on the shelves (or even better, spotting a group of players having a good time and getting curious). I would guess that the advent of ebooks has something to do with this, but I'm no expert. If my guess is a good one, however, we may have to start looking into new and different ways to promote the roleplaying hobby.

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Tell Me About Your Character: Rich Ostorero

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Fri 16 of Dec., 2011 03:36 PST
The new Tell Me About Your Character interview is up! This time, Rich Ostorero from Fresno, California 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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The Escapist is 16!

Posted by WJWalton4441 points  on Thu 15 of Dec., 2011 05:56 PST
It's the Escapist's 16th birthday, which means that it's old enough to drive itself to the local game store now!

As I usually end up repeating every December, I'm not completely sure when I uploaded the first HTML files for "The Gaming Advocacy Website" (as it was originally called for the first six months) back in December of 1995, so I've deemed the 15th as the official anniversary of the site.

I've put together a sort of year-end recap for 2011, for the benefit of those who don't follow the site very closely (Shame! SHAAAAAME!), or may have missed some of things that the site has covered in the last 12 months.

THE STATE OF THE ESCAPIST ADDRESS

The site's 15th year saw just a couple of changes: In November, I added a new resource: The Five Ws of RPGs, a page designed for gamers to share with non-gamers to help them understand the hobby a little better, located at www.theescapist.info. I also expanded the Atlas at the Young Person's Adventure League to include a bunch of new RPGs that are great to play with kids (though I'm still trying to catch up with some of the reviews!). Tell Me About Your Character is back after a long hiatus, with two new interviews - Perrin Rynning and John Enfield and a third that will be up tomorrow. (I'd really like to see this feature keep its new momentum, so if you haven't participated, please consider doing so!)

The site joined Google+ this year - if you're on G+ too, please add it to any of your RPG circles!

The biggest news of the year was the site's nomination for ENnie and Oggie awards! It didn't win the ENnie, but landed the Golden Ogre in the Oggie Awards! In other areas of recognition - The site's 404 page was listed as one of the best on Buzzfeed, and the Dark Dungeons page got a brief mention on Wil Wheaton's blog, which is something I've been trying to get him to do for years now.

BLOG RECAP

There were a lot of great stories to cover in 2011. Here's a recap, in case you missed any of them:

RPGS IN POPULAR CULTURE

A food blogger held a pizza party and played D&D with Robin Laws - NBC's Community aired an AD&D-themed episode, one of the prizes on an episode of The Price is Right was a trip to GenCon, a lifeguard submitted an article on roleplaying as a training technique called Rescues and Roleplaying, I found some great YouTube videos that reaffirm that yes, girls play D&D, the Write Anything blog examined RPGs as writing inspiration, my Origins 2011 report included a close encounter with the Secret Service, the Gary Gygax biopic was announced, I conducted an interview with the author of the D&D-themed stage play Of Dice And Men, John Kovalic commemorated the 1000th Dork Tower strip with a humorous look at how times have changed for roleplayers, Occupy protestors were found enjoying their favorite RPG in at least three different cities (1 - 2), Designers & Dragons - a detailed history of the RPG hobby - was released (and lists The Escapist in the resources section!), I discovered (a year too late) a collection of gaming-themed nerdcore music called 20 Sided Rhymes, and a classic RPG exhibit was unveiled at Duke library.

GAMES AND GAMERS IMPROVING THE WORLD

Several charity and humanitarian efforts were organized by gamers this year: there was help for victims of the New Zealand earthquake, the Wayne Foundation was formed to give assistance to victims of human trafficking and child prostitution, an organization in Israel called Romach works to help troubled youth through RPGs, the Random Encounter Kindness Bundle was organized to help a fellow gamer pay her medical costs, and an RPG called Legend helped raise money for Child's Play. One very touching story covered the emotional benefits of the hobby, in which a homeless gamer found escape from his troubles by creating a GURPS steampunk campaign.

RPGS AND EDUCATION / RPGS AND KIDS

Ben Garvey released an RPG game for very young children called Kids Dungeon Adventure, Kevin Makice simplified D&D for kids with D&Dish, and DriveThruRPG declared November 14th-21st to be Teach Your Kids to Game Week and invited your humble narrator to participate in the discussion. (I even made a post about the first RPG I ever ran for my own kids, and how I pulled it off.)

On the education front, an article from the Austin Daily Herald included a statement from a teacher who confessed to using D&D to teach gifted students in the 1980s, an interview with Language Arts teacher Larry Graykin about his educational role-playing game Diddorol, and Dr. Scott Nicholson announced an "improvisational storytelling activity" for large groups called Crossed Paths.

PARANOIA

Despite surviving the dark age of the 1980s, the roleplaying hobby still comes across the occasional resistance from a stubborn few - and sometimes, I find more relics of that era that I've never seen before, and share them in the hopes that they will make all of us less susceptible to irrational thinking.

A reader pointed me to a video that may be the origin of the myth that D&D minis scream when thrown in a fire, retired Virginia 'Cult Cop' Don Rimer hosts another seminar that reinforces some old anti-RPG myths, the Texas school board claimed that D&D promotes "death and violence", a pro-RPG message on the Focus on the Family message board eventually reveals that their "Castles and Cauldrons" anti-RPG radio message is still being aired regularly, remnants of satanic panic from an RPG.net user, and Tucson Weekly's nostalgia piece is a call back to a much more paranoid time.


...and that was 2011. Thanks to everyone who reads, shares, emails, Tweets, and comments on the site. Here's to a fantastic, adventure-filled 2012 for all of us! (Raises coffee cup.)

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RPG exhibit at Duke University

Posted by WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 tinyurl.com/crossedpaths


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Review: Designers & Dragons

Posted by WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 WJWalton4441 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 ryanmacklin.com/projects/rke-bundle

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 www.ruleofcool.com

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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