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January 28th, 2003

The Magic Mailbag

know, I know... where have I been, right?  I mean it's been a YEAR since the last Random, and that last one was SO good...

Well, that's the thing.  I've spent the better part of that year trying to come close to that last one.  Not to top it, mind you... just to come close.  I don't think I'll ever do any better.  Honest.  Ideas like that one don't come to me that often - otherwise, I would be making some kind of living at this.

The response to the "Spellcasting 101" column was incredible, especially after it got mentioned on, The Leaky Cauldron, and the Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator site - where I was commended by Steve himself for not using the terms "Taliban" or "inbred moron" during my research.

As the great Mel Brooks once said - "Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall through an open manhole cover and die."  It seems that everyone has a good time laughing at arachnid poisoning, the wanton application of Mace, and internal bleeding, as long as it's not happening to them.  But such is the price for getting the point across.

I've been flooded with responses over my antics in that installment of Random Encounter.  I've finally done something that has put The Escapist on the map, at least to a small degree, and I'm very happy about it.

Several people wrote to me to offer me their copy of the classic D&D module White Plume Mountain, since I made a passing reference to how much I missed my old one.  Someone even sent me a pristine copy, and refused my offers to pay the postage (thanks, Greg!).  I even got an offer to buy the wand that I used in my spellcasting experiments.  The temptation to put it up for bid on eBay was almost too great...

The fact is, it's been a year, and I'm still getting a stream of e-mails about the article.  I've tried numerous times to compile a special Letters page just for the Spellcasting mail, but every time I get ready to post it, another gem appears in my inbox.  But I've got to put it to bed sometime.  So this installment of Random Encounter will feature the best of the letters I've gotten over the last year.

Some are short and sweet.  Some are life stories.  Some are serious.  Most are funny.  There are even a couple from some people who just didn't get it.  I love them all.  I hope you will enjoy them, too.  

General Encouragement & Reader Side Effects
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Stories & Anecdotes
The Clueless
The Last One (please don't miss this one)

I've sorted the letters by type because, well, that's just what I do.  There are a lot of letters here, and I don't feel I would be giving my readers what they wanted unless I put up a tidy little table to click on.  Skip around if you like, or just scroll through and read 'em all from beginning to end.

If you wrote me, and don't see you letter here, please don't take it personally.  I love all of the mail I get, but I don't usually publish the brief messages ("Great site! Keep it up!"). That certainly doesn't mean that your words of encouragement aren't appreciated, so please keep them coming.

As usual, I have run on for far too long.  On with the letters!

General Encouragement & Reader Side Effects
Lots of people sent words of encouragement.  Some readers even experienced some strange side effects when reading the article, including (but not limited to) tearing of the eyes and loss of equilibrium.  Please remember: the management cannot be held responsible for any injury inflicted during your browsing experience at The Escapist.  I did, after all, say "Don't Try This At Home" right in the title, and that covers actually reading the article as well.
Subj:  The Escapist & spells 
From:    Geoffrey M. Harriman 

Dear Bill:

I had some wonderful laughs over these. Thanks so much for the effort and time.

Best wishes to you and your (perhaps traumatized) family,

Geoff Harriman


For the record - both of my daughters are fine, and none the worse for wear after the whole ordeal... except for the fact that they both start screaming hysterically whenever they see an evergreen branch. (Which made for an interesting Christmas, I assure you...)

Subj:  Spellcasting 101: Don't Try This At Home 
From:    Jacky Storey 

Congratulations for producing a wonderful experiment on magic spells from Harry potter and D&D! by dong this you have proved to be one of the most sad yet very cool people in the world!

I wish you all the luck when you try and attempt to do magic again!

yours sincerely 


Sad... yet cool?  How odd... I feel insulted, yet flattered!

Subj:  The Escapist 
From:    Robert Keefer 

After receiving a message about it on the Ecunet meeting "Harry Potter Discussion," I finally visited your web page. I enjoyed the random encounter of you trying to cast spells from the D&D Players Handbook, as well as those Harry & Co. were learning.

As a Presbyterian minister and a D&D devotee since before the first AD&D Players Handbook was published (yes, friends, for more than 20 years now), I am glad to have found The Escapist and look forward to frequent visits.

Bob Keefer
Robert A. Keefer in Cincinnati, Ohio


Okay, I'll confess right up front... I've included this letter primarily because the author is a Presbyterian minister who plays D&D, and I'm hoping someone from Demonbuster will see it and get a clue.  Not a chance, I know, but you gotta have dreams...

Subj:  E-mail from The Escapist
From:    Sasha Bilton 

Just read your piece on casting 'real magic'. When got to the feather fall spell I actually fell of my chair from laughing, and no, I didn't float to the ground either. Brilliant, totally brilliant.


That's because you forgot to say "Mary Poppins!"  Weren't you paying attention?

Subj: "Harry Potter" and "AD&D" Field Tests
From: Timothy S Weston 

I liked reading the "Harry Potter" series of books.  In fact, I saw some themes in the books that are also found in the Christian faith.  I also got a big laugh out of your "Harry Potter" and "AD&D" field tests.  I wish more anti-Potter and anti-RPGers would read it.

Keep up the good work!
Timothy Weston


Thanks, Tim.  I wish so, too.  Unfortunately, a Wish spell can do a lot of incredible things according to the description in the Player's Handbook, but it doesn't say anything in there about bringing people to their senses.  Too bad for us.

Subj: Comments about your tests for the Harry Potter and D&D spells
From: HarryPotterFL01 

That is so funny! I have tears coming out of my eyes because I'm laughing so hard! Thanks for cheering up my day! You're awesome!

Stacey :D


Those aren't tears... those are minor water elementals that I have summoned!

No?  Okay.  Sorry.  It was worth a try.

Subj: Spellcasting 101
From: Sherry Stukey 

Dear Mr. Walton:

This is the funniest thing I've read this year (ok, so it's only February...)  The picture under the 'Mage Armor' attempt is priceless--something about the combo of the Harry Potter wand, the pipe wrench, and your expression.  (I got the link from, I think, Nutlog.) 

I had never heard of your website before, but think I'll wander by once in a while.  I read some of the archival stuff, and I found you quite interesting, though I don't agree with all your ideas, but then, doubt you'd agree with all mine. :)

Sherry (41, female, games 5 or 6 times a week, if you count computer games like EQ, Diablo and the old Zorks. :P)


Whenever anyone uses the word "priceless," I can't help but think of those credit card ads, and all of the online spoofs of them:

Wizard hat - $4.99

Player's Handbook - $19.99

Pipe wrench - $28.99

Undoing years of orthodontic work while trying to cast an imaginary spell from a role-playing game - Priceless.

Subj: E-mail from The Escapist
From: Bob Reinsch 

Amen! Loved the piece about spell casting! Keep it up, and always remember to listen at the door before opening it.

Bob Reinsch


This is good advice, the sort of thing that would be on an "Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From D&D" poster, if there were such a thing.  But there isn't.  Which is a shame.

Subj: Enjoyed your Piece!
From: Eric Haines 

The spellcasting bit was great! I'm a fundamental conservative christian that loves D&D! Yep- I know its hard to believe so read it again. I also play Magic the gathering, and just about any other roleplaying game they've put out on the computer. They only thing i got against Harry Potter is that the books are lame. I love arguing with my fundamental friends, because eventually they have to admit that I am right, or forsake all disney movies, fairy tales, etc. and admit that spellcasting is possible. I will bookmark this sight for future humilitation tactics. Thanks!



I've met many Christians who play D&D and other RPGs, so this isn't hard to believe.  I have a much harder time believing that you think the Harry Potter books are lame. But then, not everyone likes the taste of asphalt, right?

Subj: spells
From: Doug Hutchison 

Bravo and well done!!!

I'm laughing so hard I can barely see.

As al long time player of RPG's I loved your story. As a Christian I really understand it.

Make believe is just that, make believe. God gave us imaginations to be creative and fantasy is a way of escaping reality for a time (think: relaxing.)

All things in moderation, and imagination and it's use is one thing to be used in moderation. Apparently, according to your critics, any kid who looks up and sees a bird soar through the air and wishes he could do that is coveting magic and tempting the devil into his / her soul... guess that makes pilots and skydivers followers of the trappings of Satan.

Life's tough. God's Good. Pray hard.



Blindness, eh?  I wonder if my Remove Curse spell will fix that.  Hold still, now...

Subj:  The Escapist Scientific Spell Analysis. 
From:    Douglas Thom 

Bill, my wife and I have just picked ourselves up off the floor in tears. At one point (somewhere around Charm Person I believe) we were laughing so hard we honestly couldn't read on for a few minutes. We kept squeaking out to each other to read out loud but after just one word we would be reduced to tears again. I and several people I know have played D&D off and on for years (I received your site forwarded from one of them). I will definitely pass this on.

Thanks for the laugh, that was absolutely hysterical. Keep up the fun and try not to succumb to demonic possesion and an introverted life of crime from reading some fiction and having an imagination.


Doug and Susan

P.S. If you ever do figure out the kid-controlling spells, I have three that would be excellent test subjects! :-)


Too bad I wasn't trying to cast Tasha's Uncontrollable Laughter - it seems I would have succeeded!

From: John Mion 

very few web sites really make me laugh, but yours was really very enjoyalbe. I think I laughed so hard I actually cried reading your new article (okay maybe not, but I though you could use the encouragement). I've been a gaming fan (and still am) ever sinse I got my blue box edition of DnD and it's always great to meet new folks who share in the Keep up the site man...and oh yeah...I still have my White Plume of it anyhow. Cheers!


Those aren't tears, those are...

...wait.  Did I try that one already?

Subj:  Harry Potter & D&D and Religious Fervor 
From:  Laura Nonamaker 

Bravo!  My son had a picture bible as a toddler, Magic cards in junior high and graduated to D&D in high school. But, I drew the line at Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny!  I have many fine gamers to thank for helping me show him that being an arrogant, independent loner in a unfriendly world does NOT lead to your character's survival!  He and I have enjoyed our fantasy lives and our real lives without confusion - maybe because I was clear on the real world versus fantasy with him from an early age. Thank you for pointing out the obvious.


Wise choice.  I think high school is a little late to start a kid on Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny...

Subj:  Thank you for the laugh! 
From:   Sara Quist 

I really enjoyed your article on do-it-yourself witchcraft a-la-Harry-Potter/AD&D.  I find it difficult to put up with some of the preachy, mis-informed opinions out there so it is a refreshing change to read an article with humor, intelligence and a good dose of irony.

  Thanks again,

  S. Quist 
  Victoria, Canada


Irony, huh?  Maybe that was one of the spell components I was missing!  Is that powdered iron or raw ore?  I don't have to swallow it, do I?

Subj:  E-mail from The Escapist 
From:    Arlene 

Hi Bill... someone gave me the link to your attempt to use the spells in Harry Potter... you are a brilliant man and I hate you because I didn't think of it first.

Thank you for making my day :-) I haven't laughed so hard since that Chick comic "But I don't want to be Elfstar! I want to be Jenny!" thing!

All your base are yours to enjoy...


ps someone informs me that the actual verbal command for Feather Fall is in one of the Dragonlance books. Book One, she thinks. In case you want to go for a rematch... :-)


Believe me, after a certain point, I was wishing I was Elfstar...

Subj:  Escapist Site 
From:    Mike Major 

 Wonderful! I almost killed myself laughing at all those attempted spells.

  Keep up the excellent work. Without guys like you - us writers would never
be able to moonlight!

Michael E. Major


...yeah, and if game writers like you would just make the spells easier to cast, guys like me wouldn't end up in traction!

From:    Joel & Rebecca Fouse 

Dear Bill,

THANK YOU!!!  I just want you to know that, as a conservative Christian and D&D lover, I very much appreciate someone taking the time to show people how stupid they're being.  It irks me to no end when otherwise nice people get all up in arms about something they know nothing about.  Thank you thank you thank you.  I will be pointing some of these nice people to your site from now on. :)

-- Rebecca Fouse


Thanks, Rebecca!  I hope you can change some minds.  I mean, without the use of a pipe wrench, of course...

Where Did I Go Wrong?
Lots of readers thought that all or part of my methodology was wrong.  Either that, or they just want to see me try it all over again.  Sorry folks, that's not happening. 

Many of these comments while obviously made in jest, bring up a good point - there are so many elements to the spellcasting in the HP and D&D books that I failed to emulate in my experiments, so it's no wonder I failed.  I'm sure the Demonbusters would probably try that argument as well.

Just for fun, let's make it clear exactly what was being tested here.  Demonbusters have made the claim that anyone who reads the Harry Potter books - including children - will gain all of the knowledge they need to start casting spells.  Likewise, others such as Jack Chick have made the same claim about Dungeons & Dragons. This means there can be nothing "special" involved in any spell that comes from one of these books, like a unicorn hair or a trip to Diagon Alley.  A real person in the real world has to be able to pick up one of these books and be able to cast a real spell out of it, if their claims are to hold any water.

Subj:  your site.....
From:    Staci Dillahunty 

My husband bookmarked you experiments with the Harry Potter spells for me - I have to tell you I laughed so hard I was in tears! I don't know much about D&D other than all my guy friends in orchestra in High School played it whenever we had a substitute (which was often since our orchestra teacher was pregnant with twins), but I have read the first three HP books and seen the movie.  (My husband is a 3rd grade teacher and he is making me wait for one of his students to finish book 4 before I can have it -- I know where the kid lives, I don't see why he wont let me just go TAKE the book away!)

Anyhow, I think I know what you are doing wrong!  It is true you may possibly be a muggle, or even a squib (havent seen much on your site about your parents)but I think that the problem is something much simpler than this - it is your WARDROBE!!  You need a robe!!!!!  Didn't you read that on the supply list in book 1???

All you have to do is find Diagon Alley and get yourself a robe and I'm sure you will have better luck with your next set of spells!  And while you are there, why don't you get yourself a REAL wand too -- I'm sure your pets will appriciate it.  I do want to warn you if you are thinking of using the wand Paula broke -- don't forget  the troubles Ron experienced using a broken wand..... it is really better to get a new one!!

Thanks for the laugh!

Staci Dillahunty


...and then this one time, at band camp...

(Sorry, Staci... couldn't resist!)

Subj:  Spellcasting 101 
From:    Lindy 

Bill, Bill. Would you try to build a computer just knowing that it was made of plastic and metal and glass? Of course not! The Wand Shop has hundreds and hundreds of wands, and only one will work right for any given individual.  Obviously they must be made and matched by an expert! Look at poor Ron - he could never cast a proper spell with his hand-me-down wand. (I can't wait to see how he does with his new one in Goblet of Fire.)

And obviously D&D doesn't give details about their spell specifically because they're so powerful. Can you imagine tens of thousands of adolescent boys running around with that kind of power at their fingertips? "Charm person," indeed!

Seriously, this reminds me of a comic book I used to read as a child. There was a little girl with a mouse friend.  She would shrink herself to his size, and they would go off together for great adventures. Every issue quoted the spell, but never told how she got back to her normal size.  As a result, being an *extremely* cautious soul, I was twelve years old before I dared utter out loud, 

"Now I shut my eyes real tight,
  And I wish with all my might,
  The magic words of Poof, Poof, Piffles,
  Make me just as small as Sniffles!"

Is it possible that some people simply *never* get over that nagging childhood suspicion that magic just might be real? *sigh*

By the way, my daughter (a graduate student in library science) sent me your link. We played D&D as a family from the time she was 8 (and her brothers were 3 and 4) until she went away to college. Their dad, who learned the game from a lunch hour group at work, was the DM. She brought home White Wolf from college, and the boys picked up ShadowRun in high school, so we were quite the gaming family. Now that all the kids are grown and gone, the two of us don't play anymore; but when my husband retires, I'm gonna make him find an online group, to keep him out of my hair!

Keep up the good work -- I want there to be gaming available when the time comes.



Okay, everyone all together now - "Man, why couldn't MY mom have been that cool?"

Subj:  Spellcasting Observation 
From:    Amanda Lewanski 

I forwarded the URL for your Spellcasting 101 column (to a friend), and she noted that you might have had varying results, depending on whether you used Magic Tape or regular scotch tape. I thought this made sense and so I am relaying this to you.

Loved your column, and as one who married an old gamer (we have lots of old box games from their pre-Avalon Hill incarnations, and currently do Runequest, if you can do anything "currently" at all with three kids under seven), I'll have to read the rest of them.

--Amanda Lewanski, Harry Potter fan and gaming wife


Ah, perhaps this was my foil.  I was thinking that wearing sneakers endorsed by Magic Johnson would help, but obviously, it didn't.

From: Gavin
One consideration in regards to your recent Random Encounters article... it's possible that the D&D spells didn't work because you don't meet the Intelligence requirements.  Since you threw yourself off your roof and ate a live spider...

Fine.  Kick a man when he's down.

From: Rich
I have just read your Spellcastin 101 article. Most amusing. But any fool can tell you that the key to unlock the magic within either the D&D 3rd edition or Harry Potter books, one must sit on a turn table spinning counter-clockwise while listening to the Beetles White album and envisioning Marilyn Manson naked. 




Can I listen to Marilyn Manson and picture the Beatles naked instead?  Will it still work then?

I mean, given the choice between the two...

Subj:  You made a big mistake! 
From:    Dynaman8789 

You wrote the following on your website.

 "So, I'm going to settle this for everyone.  I am going to take my Harry Potter books and my Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook and attempt to cast the arcane spells contained within, all in the name of science, and at great risk to my body and soul. "

Here is the problem, the people who think HP books are evil also think SCIENCE is evil. 

Other then that I love it!


You make a good point, Dynaman.  However, I think that if all of us lived in fear of the things that people like the Demonbusters do, we would still be cowering in caves.

Drat.  See what you made me do, now?  I was trying not to make any Taliban references after what Steve Jackson said...

From:    Sarah 

Hail Bill!

I just found your site in the usual way -- Fwd:/ Fwd:/ Fwd: email.

Your magi-scientific experimental report was a well spent part of a lunch hour.

The Hermione Granger in me can not resist letting you know that should you decide to make a second attempt at sorceric (is that a word?)  interpretation, you might be better served with flamingo (source of the phoenix myth) or rooster (c.f. chinese symbology: Phoenix & Dragon = Chicken & Shrimp, with peapods and waterchestnuts) feathers.

No doubt, you'll be getting all kinds of like-minded kibitzing.  Just doing my part.

Thanks again,


Thanks for the help, Sarah!  Not only do I have some more information to add to my research, but my unnatural craving for blacktop has been replaced with the former craving for Chinese food.

Subj:  E-mail from The Escapist 
From:    mr_thou 

Great page, nice work on the spellcasting. But you forgot 1 important aspect of casting spells!
the hours of meditation required before hand. 1 hour for a full spell list, and atleast 15 minuites for any preperization. Also you must study it from your spell book. in this case the DnD PHB, but did you spent an hour reading up on the spells? i suspect not. so try again AFTER you have spent the propper time reading.

Cya:) keep up the good work


Good point.  All of my meditation was spent in traction afterwards.  Looks like I got it backwards!

Stories & Anecdotes

Some people just wanted to share their stories.  Some were so good, I decided to share them with everyone.  I've even kept my witty comments to myself this time.

Subj:  Kudos 
From:    Aaron Hiebert 

I'd just like to take a minute to thank you for the excellent site (content and design) that you've put together for a hobby that I've enjoyed for almost 13 years.I didn't get much of a chance to look over the FAQ's and Advocacy links (yet), but there is something I wanted to bring to your attention. I work in the customer service industry, supervising telephone customer service representatives, and role-playing interactions with customers is one of the most powerful tools available for training new reps in the intricacies of dealing with the vast array of customer complaints, issues, situations and requests. Sure, we don't use dice, but then neither does Amber :) Or Castle Falkenstein, for that matter. Kudos on the great job!

Aaron Hiebert

From:    Tim Chapman 

To the Escapist,

I just would like to tell you that I find your site very interesting, and informative.  I have been a christian all my life, and for most of it I have had a love for things of the scince fiction and fantasy genre.  For the longest time now I have wanted to play roleplaying games.  I didn't really care if it was DnD or whatever, but I never got the chance to play.  Unfortunalty this was all but imposible, because of the view so many people give to it.  I could just imagine want my mom would have done if I would have told her I am going to go play Dungeons and Dragons with a friend from school.  I am glad to say that I have found a few people to play with, but I still don't get to play as often as I'd like.  I still am catious when it comes to talking about it and I try to keep it hidden from most of my family and church friends.  i am very grateful for the work that you do and I hope that soon people will be able to understand that a RPG can't be evil, its just a tool and can be made into whatever you want it to be.  Mat God bless you and the work you do.

Subj:  RPG's and crime 
From:    Michael Cunningham 

Dear Bill,

I was active in a gaming group in Largo, Fl a few years ago.  One of our members, who had a lot of other problems that faw outweighed his liking for games and RPG's, decided to have a police officer KILL him  because he was too chicken to do it himself.  The paper mentioned at the end of the article that his car was full of Dungeons and Dragons materials as well as other games.  My mom showed me this and I told her that the guy had far more problems, and that the games were keeping him sane or at least stable. i really like you website, keep up the good work.


Subj: Thank You: Spellcasting 101
From: kagriffiths 

Good Day! 

Thank you so much for your recent scientific piece, Spellcasting 101. You have made my day brighter and my job more interesting. 

Three years ago, I moved to an isolated part of Mississippi (as isolated as you can get in the United States) and became a librarian at a publicly funded community college. I'm an avid fantasy fiction fan and my husband is a gamer. Since I am also a Yankee, for a long time, it was entertaining to the locals to bait me into debate on certain subjects. Reason is not one of the area's strong points, so I would always lose arguments on things like school prayer to statements such as, "Well, smarty, Thomas Jefferson was a Baptist. My preacher said so." No ammount of history book reading will get through to them. 

For the past year or so, I've heard all sorts of things about Harry Potter and D&D. One of the women I work with, Cindy, sent her 19-year-old daughter to their minister for counseling because she (Cindy) found a Harry Potter book under her daugher's bed. Isn't that sad? I mean, hiding young adult literature under your bed so that your mom won't find it? Ack. Other women come in and ask if I think they should let their school-age children read Harry Potter. "BobbySue wouldn't read a lick until that Harry Potter stuff came out. Now, I cain't git her to stop. You think she's gonna turn say-tain-ick on me?" "Um, no. I think you should be delighted that your daughter has decided to pick up a book. Perhaps she won't be another illiterate seventeen-year-old mother of three who only gets beat by her husband when she deserves it." 

Anyhow, I've printed out a copy of your expose and I've got it in my desk drawer. I'll show it to half the folks that decide to bring up the topic with me. (Half of the people here think that the Internet is how Satan is going to take over the world, the other half think that ANYTHING on the Internet is true.) I'm also mailing a link to your page to several librarian friends. Thank you for writing an intelligent, humerous piece. I had never considered a spell-casting demonstration as a way to show people how rediculous they were being. 

Thanks again! 


Subj: Wonderful article
From: Andy Bruncke 

I just finished reading your feature article, "Spellcasting 101: Don't Try This At Home" and wanted to drop you a line.  It was a wonderfully written piece about the foolishness of some people taking fantasy activities and books too far.  I have forwarded it to numerous people, some of who are active in the "Harry Potter vs. God" debate on both sides.  I hope it helps them see the folly of taking any of this too seriously...and gives them a good laugh.

I have been playing D&D and reading fantasy books since '79 when I got my first DMs Guide for Christmas from my parents.  "It's just a game Andy," they said to me, and that was all it took to show me that there is a definite line between fantasy and reality, even for the most fervent "believer".  It is nice to know that there are those who share the same feelings, at least outside my immediate circle of friends and family.

I have just recently become aware of your site, but plan on visiting it often if this is the sort of high caliber material I can come to expect. 

Well done, and keep up the good work.

Andy Bruncke
Point of View, Inc

Subj: Thanks!
From: Stephen Fitzpatrick 

I found your site courtesy of Steve Jackson Games. I came for the Spellcasting article (darn funny stuff, BTW!), but looked at some of your other articles and had to compliment you on a great site.

I remember my dad bringing me to his Rotary meeting in 1982 as a guest speaker so I could tell a group of friendly and community-minded people that they had nothing to fear from kids like me and my friends who played RPGs. I shudder to think how I must have sounded, my 15 year-old grasp on injustice and all, but my speech was well received, I think because they knew I was earnest. And maybe because they thought I made some sense. Who knows?

I don't roleplay much at all any more (too hard to get everyone together at the same time! We all have jobs and families and...) but I am coming up on 6 years of working for Games Workshop, and spend a lot of time talking to parents about what a cool hobby I enjoy, and the benefits their children can take away from it. Reading the articles on your site, with their gentle humour and balanced approach ("Yes, they are silly games, but that's all. And what's wrong with  that?") really connected with me. These games aren't serious, but sometimes defending them can be.

Thanks again!

Stephen Fitzpatrick
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Subj: Great read!
From: Christena Snowden 

Spellcasting 101 is awesome! Pure genius! Finally someone proves that these 
spells are either bogus or incomplete and that's a great relief!  Really. I get tired of hearing the Christians ramble on about burning Potter books and that D&D is the devil's tool. I grew up listening to my mother harp on me every day about D&D. "It makes kids kill each other. It's the Devil's tool. Don't play that evil, sinful, game." MOM! It's a game. No real blood, no real evil, no real good.. Just a REALLY FANTASTIC game... Go figure. She eventually pushed me far enough that I instead turned to boys.. Yeah, getting pregnant at age 15 was MUCH better than playing D&D..

 Anyway, enough of the life history. Glad to have found your site. The test was both humourous and actually had a point. Thanks so much. Sorry you had to get hurt for it though.. *laughs* No. I mean it.. *hahaha* Really! (stop laughing now)...

Take care, and BE careful!


Oh, this reminds me - I forgot to mention the next three installments of the "Don't Try This At Home" series:

Swordfighting 101

I've said it a million times - if D&D can teach you to cast "real" spells, then it must be able to show you how to swing a sword as well.  Join me as I head to the local Rennaisance Faire, select a blade worthy of my fighting skills, and challenge some SCA veterans to an all-out fight.  In the epilogue, we'll discover the wonders of modern medical limb reattachment (after my attempt to cast Cure Serious Wounds fails, of course).

Potions 101

Just because Harry Potter had so much trouble in Snape's class doesn't mean that your children aren't in danger of re-creating the volatile potions found in Rowling's stories!  Take a trip with me as we fire up the old cauldron, search for newt's eyes, mix some acids with bases, and then proceed with the taste test!

Firearms 101

Remember all of those "experts" who told us that first-person shooter video games like Doom and Quake teach kids how to aim and fire real shotguns, rocket launchers, and BFG 9000s?  Find out the facts in this final installment of the "Don't Try This At Home" series.  Topics covered include: how to fit 99 shells into a shotgun, what "recoil" is and why you've never heard of it before, and how NOT to purchase a rocket launcher at a gun show!
The Clueless
It never fails.  Make a joke, and someone just won't get it.  Even worse, they'll take it personally.  It just wouldn't be a collection of Escapist letters without one or two from the clueless.  And here they are:
From: Laura & Rachel
hello. we have been practicing wicca for about 3 years now and just wanted 2 say take yourself seriously. Harry potter is a fake and is not even close to the magic that we practice. i suggest that if you really want to do magic, then lose the comedy hat and read up on books on wicca and real power. witchcraft is an art and is dangerous too, so its not really there to be joked about.

Harry Potter is a fake.  Check.  Lose the comedy hat if I ever want to cast real spells.  Got it.  Thanks.

Oh, and some advice for you, if I may: the next time one of your friends passes along an article for you to get all ticked off about, try reading ALL of the words instead of just looking at the pictures.  Then, you might actually see the point, and will look much less like a fool.

From: volmort
be carefully for what you do because there is a reason wicca,wiccans, witches,and wizards do what they do. You mock us you find yourself in a world of hurt. I have been down here for centuries watching you idiots destroy yourself. To bad you can not learn by your stupid mistakes. You always have to make war never peace. Because it's not in you nature. I'll be glad pretty soon I will be going home and it wont be in this galazy idiot. So get your haed out of your ass. and learn something wicca's presevre the land. The listen observe and love the land.

Whoa.  Hang on there, volmort.  Gotta get out my red pen for a sec:

Be careful for what you do, because there is a reason wicca, wiccans, witches, and wizards do what they do. You mock us, you will find yourself in a world of hurt. I have been down here for centuries watching you idiots destroy yourselves. Too bad you can not learn by your stupid mistakes. You always have to make war, never peace. Because it's not in your nature. I'll be glad. Pretty soon I will be going home and it won't be in this galaxy, idiot. So get your head out of your ass and learn something. Wiccas preserve the land. They listen, observe, and love the land.

Also, if your alias has been taken from the arch-villain of the Harry Potter books, then it really should be spelled Voldemort. Capitalized, too.

Man oh man.  You would think that a guy who has been here for centuries would have a better handle on the language.  Which raises the question - do you have to be good at spelling in order to cast spells?

I'd just like to make a note to any other prospective trolls who would like to masquerade as "real" witches or warlocks and pretend to be outraged by what they've seen on my site:  Try harder.  If you keep practicing, you'll come up with something funny, too!  For some pointers, check out what my friend Eduardo wrote in the next letter.

The Last One
I saved this letter for last.  Why?  Because it's the best one, by far.  I'm sure you will agree.
Subj: E-mail from The Escapist
From: Eduardo Leme Cezario Garcia 

Dear Bill,

I am sorry to tell you but someone has to do. You are not a 20th Level Mage because you play since 1981 ! A 20th Level Mage usually is 50-60 years old, some are very young but it is very rare and they are in the Hogwarts School.

If you had praticed by 20 years maybe you could be a 10th maybe 15th Mage, depend of your intelligence. And there is a problem with your intelligence requirement... how can I say? It seems to me you are very inocent to perfomr it perfectly- " I will be using an evergreen twig "( it should be a very old oak )with some dog hairs ( at least a wolf hair) and a parakeet ( a eagle or condor should be ok )feather taped to it. "

Now lets back... you know magic is very dificult to learn alone, you should try to find a "Master Mage" or a "Mage Scholl" like Hogwarts but to adults. I know you will say that the demombusters said it could be possible, but like you they don't have enough knowledge to prove anything.

I know all this because my roommate at the Crazy's Hospital told me. He is here because he broke a leg when he was trying to escalade a mountain to get a eagle feather and I am here becouse I was trying to go inside a wolf cage to get some hair. It seems to us that some ocult dark force is working against us. This force is working to keep us here and to make the magic desapear...

Your friend
Eduardo, from Brazil

PS I tryed to make you loughter as I did when I read your site - It is very good! You don't worry about my friend and mine mental sanity.


I laughed a lot, Eduardo.  Thanks for returning the favor.

And thanks to everyone who has made all of this work worthwhile.

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