AND UPDATES - 2007 Archive
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2007 (link to
DEAD RISE AT BALL STATE -
Over 400 students at Ball State University participated in a
live-action roleplaying game called "Humans Versus Zombies."
With a horde of three zombies and a human resistance of about 400
people, Humans vs. Zombies began at midnight on Oct. 26. Zombies,
identified by green bandanas on their foreheads, attempted to tag
humans, identified by green bandanas on their arms, in order to turn
them into zombies. Humans could protect themselves by shooting zombies
with Nerf guns and "stunning" them for 15 minutes. If tagged by a
zombie, the human gave ID cards to zombies, which served as food for
them. If a zombie went two days without feeding, he would die.
Rules are being revised for the next installment of the game, to
prevent abuse and improve sportsmanship. Read more: article
12 SIDED DIE REVIEW -
Christopher Rawson, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has published a review of
"Twelve-Sided Die," a 17 minute play that was part of a yearly festival
of short plays called the Future
Fred Betzner's "12 Sided
Die" is a geekfest bachelor party, as four Dungeons & Dragons
fanatics gather in honor of their buddy, who's leaving their games
world ("it is not a game!") to (shudder) get married. I imagine it's
funnier to those who know the lingo, but it was funny enough to me,
especially when a non-D&D fan arrives, followed by a hired
D&D version of what might be a stripper at the more usual
Just when the whining
becomes repetitious, the evening tightens into what it is more
seriously about all along, the importance and frailty of friendship and
the relationship of games to reality, for which dramaturgic Dungeon
Master Betzner has a D&D-based twist. The unevenness of
director Brad Stephenson's cast doesn't much matter because the two
central actors, Glenn Bailey Jr. and Josh Futrell, are fine; even the
epic 17-minute length doesn't seem excessive.
YOU MAY NOW CALL HIM COUNCILMAN
NEPHEW - John Nephew has won a seat in the Maplewood City
Council! You may recall an earlier
update where I mentioned that his opponents were using his
history as a publisher of such "awful" games as Let's Kill and Corruption to smear
his character. Well, it appears that it didn't work.
Congratulatons, John - and score another one for the game geeks!
2007 (link to
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS - The first issue of The
International Journal of Roleplaying will see publication in early
2008. From their site:
The aim of The
International Journal of Role Playing is to act as a hybrid knowledge
network, and bring together the varied interests in role-playing and
the associated knowledge networks, e.g. academic research, the games
and creative industries, the arts and the strong role-playing
They have put out a call
for submissions for the first issue, and the deadline is January 1st,
Journal of Role Playing invites researchers, designers, developers,
academics, artists and others involved in the growing field of research
related to role playing to submit articles. The IJRP is a peer-reviewed
journal, and welcomes submissions from any sphere of interest,
knowledge network, research field or development sector that directly
or indirectly relates to role playing interests.Potential topics
include but are certainly not limited to the following:
• Role playing games,
e.g. frameworks, storytelling and graphics; art, design and creative
• Role playing culture, psychology, media, economics, and sociology
• Role playing technology, surveys, vocabulary, training and education
• Other aspects of role playing and related research and development
Find out more at: www.play.blogs.com/rp/
WORLDWIDE D&D DAY - The
fourth annual Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day is fast
approaching - November 3rd, 2007:
Now in its fourth year,
World Wide D&D Game Day is set to break all records for sites
and attendance internationally. Last year we saw over 1300 locations
provide the setting for our trip to the horror realms of Ravenloft.
Over 25,000 estimated heroes from as far a field as Singapore to Iraq,
from Alaska to Buenos Aires threw down their dice in celebration of
this D&D extravaganza!
Participating sites will
have a prepared adventure, dice, characters, and miniatures just
waiting for you. Check here
for a participating location near you.
Or, if you can't find
one, start your own! The official page features five ready-made
characters in PDF format that you could quickly drop into an adventure
of your own design, or some dusty old module that you've had for years
but never got around to running. Call some pals, order some pizzas, and
get some adventuring going on!
Find out more - www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4dnd/gameday
WORLD OF GREYHAWK - How do members of Canadian rock
band Jimmy Eat World have fun while traveling in their tour bus?
The band are currently
on the road promoting their new Chase This Light album and, according
to lead singer Jim Adkins, their idea of tour bus fun usually involves
dice, boards or cards.
play Dungeons And Dragons a lot. What else do we do? Scrabble. We play
a lot of Bridge."
craziest we did was spin the bottle," chimes in guitarist Tom Linton,
launching the pair into a fit of giggles.
Read more at Chartattack.
TO THE MAX - Wizards of the Coast's new gamer networking
site, Gleemax, is open and somewhat functional. There are still many
improvements to be made, but if you're the patient sort, you can sign
up right now and start posting and blogging away - www.gleemax.com. If
you like, you can read my profile and blog posts right here.
COME OUT AT NIGHT - Joe Torok of Lansing, MI's City Pulse
has contributed a great little piece on joining a Vampire LARP group as
a complete newbie:
I myself had a more
difficult time embracing my inner geek; self-consciousness nagged. But
despite some hesitation in realizing my character, I felt welcome in
the game. When all else failed, I held out my hand with fingers
crossed, a sign that I was temporarily removing myself from the game
and going out of character — after all, vampires have no bodily
functions aside from the desire to feed.
Read the whole article,
and even get details on joining Lansing's Vampire troupe, here: article
2007 (link to
WE'RE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD
ROLEPLAYERS - The United States Army is hiring
roleplayers to help train soldiers to be advisers in Iraq and
Role players cluster in
one of seven makeshift villages that stand out on the rolling Kansas
prairie. Large shipping containers, tan and metal, have been modified
to resemble homes, shops and even a mosque. Inside, role players have
couches, chairs and tables.
Military trainers give
the advisers-to-be specific tasks, such as controlling crowds,
searching buildings, securing the perimeter or arresting terrorists.
Role players are given a rough script that tells them what the soldiers
are doing and how they should react.
Cultural awareness is
the goal of each phase. For example, advisers learn that chewing
tobacco or placing their hat on the ground are disrespectful acts that
can spoil an otherwise promising meeting.
''It's pretty fun,''
[roleplayer Lee Anderson] said after his performance as an unhappy
Afghan, as he kicked a small footbag in a circle with fellow role
players. ''You get to mess with soldiers. And it's pretty good pay.''
Throwing beanbags at the
soldiers while shouting "LIGHTNING BOLT! LIGHTNING BOLT!" is strongly
As good as being a
professional roleplayer may sound, don't get your heart set on joining
Like acting jobs
everywhere, there's more than enough interest. Ty Evans, who supervises
the local role players for Eagle Support Services of Huntsville, Ala.,
doesn't have to advertise the positions. Word of mouth has generated a
stack of applications.
''If someone quits there
are three or four people already in line,'' he said.
Participants work for
six days at seventeen dollars an hour. If you do manage to get a
position with them, please remember The Escapist's finder's fee!
Read the full article
ALL-NIGHTER - Last December I mentioned a lock-in
organized by Franklin High School's Dungeons &
Dragons and Anime Club, in which participants spent the
evening in the gym playing D&D and video
games and watching anime, with the proceeds going towards their trip to
This year, they're doing
it again, and the coverage in The Citizen is a lot better:
Chippinelli is an enthusiastic member of the Dungeons and Dragons club,
speaking about the benefits of role-playing such as learning social
skills through various complex character interactions from conversation
"It gives them their
imagination they lost when they were younger," Chippinelli said. "It
teaches you to never say everything is impossible because it could have
just happened. It helps you with your self-esteem, self-confidence."
The club has been well
received and supported by school administration. It is also sponsored
by Casey Family Services as a positive after-school activity for
"We had a lot of
questions, a little bit when we went to the school board," Molly Horn
said, such as some school board members asking what the club was doing
and clarifying what anyone had heard about the game. "Some of the kids
were there as well."
Once again, it's good to
see positive coverage of gaming that mentions the beneficial aspects of
the hobby, as well as a positive after-school activity for young
people. Kudos to Franklin High School and The Citizen - and if any of
you ever need any assistance, don't hesitate to contact me -
Read the full article
MOMENT OF NATIONAL FAME - It didn't have anything to do
with gaming, but your friend and narrator and his family were briefly
mentioned in an article on drive-in movie theaters in the October 19th
issue of USA Today. Click
here to read it if you're interested.
October 11th, 2007
SQUARE ONE, EPISODE TWO - The
long-awaited second episode of the Square One podcast is finally up and
ready to enjoy! Tune in to Sam Chupp and myself with "Games You Will
Meet" - a discussion of many different genres of role-playing games.
One is a podcast devoted to helping new gamers discover all of the
great things about the hobby. If you know someone who is thinking about
giving RPGs a try, let them know about the podcast! You can listen and
subscribe at www.squareonepodcast.com
RUNS FOR OFFICE, GETS SMEARED FOR MAKING GAMES - John
Nephew, CEO of Atlas
Games, has put his hat in the ring for City Council of
Maplewood, Minnesota. He has passed the primary "with flying colors,"
according to the Steve
Jackson Daily Illuminator - but it seems that someone is
trying to hold him back by bringing up Let's Kill, a
card game that his company produces.
"Let's Kill" casts
players in the role of deranged serial killers competing with each
other for media coverage. Players draw victims, weapons and locations
from two 55-card decks, using implements like weed whackers, bread
trucks and even sporks to off their quarry in the most sensational way
possible. It's published by Atlas Games, the company Nephew runs with
his wife, games editor Michelle Nephew.
"I'm absolutely appalled
by this game," says Maplewood resident Judith Franey, an early
childhood educator who has worked in the Saint Paul public school
system for 23 years. "Fantasy and imagination are powerful tools that
fuel reality, and I worry about the effect this game will have on
people's minds." Franey is also the author of "The Kindness
Curriculum," an activity book for parents and teachers aimed at child
Critics seem to be
concerned about the effects the game will have on young players, with
disregard for the fact that the game is listed as "For mature audiences
only" on the Atlas website and catalog.
Not everyone is missing
the point of Let's Kill, however:
Council Member Will
Rossbach, who with Nephew led primary voting, disagrees. "These are
stick figures doing imaginary things," he says. "The controversy is
being drummed up by people opposing John Nephew. He's being picked on.
If this is the only thing they can find to diminish John's reputation,
he must be a pretty good guy."
I wonder how long it
will be before they discover that Nephew has also written and produced
books for Dungeons & Dragons, and how
severe the reaction will be once they do...
Read the full article
More information: Nephew's campaign blog
& Paper's entry for Nephew
August 17th, 2007(link to
D&D GOES FOURTH
- The official announcement of Dungeons & Dragons
Fourth Edition was made at the Gen Con Game Fair on August
16th, precluded by numerous subtle hints (such as putting 4s in the
place of the letter A in web banners and MySpace messages -
INDI4N4POLIS, 4DVENTURE, etc., and displaying dice with the 4 on top).
Early reports seem to
indicate that the new version will be faster, easier to run, and more
attuned to online play - possibly through the recently unveiled GLEEMAX social
networking section of Wizards' site. No word has been given yet on how
compatible it will be with the large collection of published 3.x and
As of this writing, the D&D
section of www.wizards.com is
down, possibly due to heavy internet traffic of fans looking for more
information on the update..
The new books are
planned for a May, 2008 release date. Apparently, that release date has
been considerably tightened up since the 2001
announcement of April 1st, 2011 - and the "revolutionary d30
system" appears to have been scrapped entirely...
August 14th, 2007(link to
LARP EVER - The 2007 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) could be
host to a new world record - the largest "Massive Multiplayer Live
Action Role Playing Game" - MMLARPG - in history. Later this month, the
Seattle-based convention will host TerraDrive Live,
a LARP based on the Technomancer Press tabletop RPG TerraDrive.
A wiki for the TerraDrive
Live setting was opened on June 1st, which permitted many
participants to create factions and develop the characters that they
would play during the convention.
"I didn't expect players
to metaphorically represent different people/places/events in PAX in
the TerraDrive universe," [Technomancer CEO Tony] Hellman told [ars
technica]. "They created the planets La'an, Ta'leTop, the Omega T'kon
Asteroid, and the W'eaton Comet." In other words, sections of the
real-world Penny Arcade Expo like the LAN gaming area and Will
Wheaton's keynote will have special meaning for players of the game,
with different factions vying for control of different area.
Hellman hopes to get
most of the attendees involved in the game by demonstrating the rules
while they wait in line for registration.
"We have to have a
system where there aren't a lot of rules," Hellman explained. "My goal
is to teach everyone how to play while they wait in line Thursday night
and Friday. If I can teach the whole convention how to play, almost
everyone will. The big barrier is when you see a bunch of people doing
something that looks fun, but you don't know how to get involved."
It will be interesting
to see what the response from Guiness Book will be. Two and a half
decades ago, a group of friends and I inquired about setting a record
for the longest game of D&D (it was
during our "reckless youth" days), and were
informed that role-playing was not an activity that they recognized.
Perhaps this event will tell us if that has changed in the last 25
Read the full article
Related links: PAX - www.pennyarcadeexpo.com
| TerraDrive - www.terradrive.net
| TerraDrive Live Wiki - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TerraDrive_Live
| Technomancer Press - www.technomancer-press.com
July 17th, 2007(link to
COUPLE NEGLECT THEIR CHILDREN, BLAME D&D ONLINE
- A couple from Reno, Nevada, Michael and Iana Straw,
have been arrested for child neglect of their two young children while
devoting most of their attention to online role-playing games,
including one based on the classic tabletop RPG Dungeons
In the few days since
the story broke, I have seen several different articles on it. Few of
them can agree on the ages of the children, but all manage to drop the
name Dungeons & Dragons at least twice.
The Straws were involved in other MMORPGs as well, according to every
article, but all chose to focus on the D&D
brand. Could it be because it's such a tried and trusted scapegoat?
Expect to see this come
up again later as "proof" of the corrupting nature of tabletop D&D.
There won't even be a need to make a distinction between the online and
face-to-face versions. You can likely count on it.
Read more: (article
- Once again, I have been invited to be a guest at Dexcon - a great
con held at the East Brunswick Hilton in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
I've been a bit busy lately, so this update is very late (the con
starts TOMORROW, in fact). The folks at Dexcon have also renewed their
offer for Escapist readers - if you pregister for the con, you get a
$10 discount just for letting them know that The Escapist sent you!
(When filling out the preregistration form, enter RPGADVOCATE-DEX10
in the SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE field, and $10.00
in the DISCOUNT field.)
July 13th, 2007(link to
2007 REPORT - This year at the Origins Game Fair
in Columbus Ohio, I organized five different events: three "Intro to
RPGs" events geared towards people who have never played an RPG before
and are looking for an easy introducton to the hobby, and two "RPGs for
Kids" events for kids of all age and experience levels.
The "Intro to RPGs"
events were mostly a bust - with six seats available in each event,
only one ticket sold for one of the three, and the buyer of that
ticket, while very nice and a pleasure to roleplay with, was not a
newbie at all and was more interested in trying out Savage
Worlds, the game system I was using. (For the record, we
played anyway and had a pretty good time.)
The "RPGs for Kids"
events, on the other hand, were a big hit. All tickets sold out
completely, and everyone had a grand time. I ran TOON
Tale, and both events were a good mix of kids and
adults. As I recall, none of the players, kids and adults alike, were
familiar with the game being played, and only a few had ever roleplayed
before - but all of them picked up on the rules and concept of
roleplaying right away. Personally, I consider that the best possible
It should go without
saying - but I'll say it anyway - that I will be organizing even more
of the "RPGs for Kids" events for Origins 2008. Hope to see you there!
June 6th, 2007(link to
WITH KIDS ON ROLEPLAYINGTIPS.COM - Katrina
Middelburg-Creswell, a high school teacher and RPG club organizer in
the Netherlands, wrote an
article for roleplayingtips.com about gaming with kids that
shares some very useful advice. She also dropped a link to an
"excellent" (her word, not mine) gaming advocacy site and the Facts
and Fictions About RPGs PDF! (Here's a link to it,
if you have come here from there and are looking for it.)
PRITCHARD RELEASED AFTER 19 YEAR SENTENCE - You may
start to hear news stories about the release of Christopher Pritchard,
who conspired with two friends to kill his stepfather, Leith Von Stein,
on July 25th 1988 - stories that will describe him as "obsessed with Dungeons
& Dragons," which, some will say, was the whole
reason behind his actions.
The details, as usual, will be hidden well, or possibly ignored
entirely. Pritchard believed he would benefit from a two million dollar
inheritance if his stepfather died, and promised money and sports cars
to his friends Neal Henderson and Chris Upchurch if they would help him
with the assassination. Dressed in black, they infiltrated Von Stein's
home and stabbed and bludgeoned Leith and Bonnie Von Stein. Leith died
on the scene, but his wife survived and was able to call 911 for
Pritchard has always maintained that he was in a "fantasy world" when
he planned and carried out the murders - but the promises of cash and
sports cars to his co-conspirators were very real. He didn't promise
them magic chariots and bags of gold. He handed his friends a map to
his parents' home, not to a wizard's tower. Black clothes don't make
someone a ninja, or even someone who THINKS they're a ninja - it's just
the most convenient color to wear during your assassination plot.
"Fantasy worlds," however, are an excellent cover-up for any inhuman
acts that you may have committed that you don't want to own up to. It's
a common reaction for a person to be so offended by their own actions
that they find some method of detachment from them. In Pritchard's
case, he had some help.
The crime was the focus of two novels, Blood Games
and Cruel Doubt, and two made-for-television
movies - Cruel Doubt and Honor Thy
Mother. Both movies featured misrepresentations of gaming
materials in order to more closely relate gaming the crime.
Honor Thy Mother aired on CBS (the
same network that brought us Mazes and Monsters)
on April 26th, 1992. In it, a phony copy of an AD&D
manual was featured as a prop. The cover of the manual was unlike
anything TSR has ever put out for AD&D,
and while reading it, an investigator claims to find a reference to
"extra points for multiple hits," an obvious fabrication by the
writers, as AD&D contains no rules that
are even similar to such a description.
Cruel Doubt was a miniseries that
aired on NBC, May 17th and 19th, 1992. In it, a copy of TSR's AD&D
Player's Handbook was featured as a prop with different
artwork that included a picture of a character with clothing and a
backpack that matched that of one of the show's killers, as well as
other illustrations that were extremely occultic and sinister in
nature. This was an obvious attempt to make the book appear to be more
of an inspiration to the crime.
Pritchard may have really been in a fantasy world when he planned to
gain fortune by killing his stepfather, but blaming it on a game is
wrong. So is misrepresenting that game to make it appear as if it was a
part of the crime - even going as far as to add artwork and rules to it.
Pritchard has allegedly
redeemed himself, and is now working with at-risk children. He claims
to have his head "screwed on straight" now. Let's all hope he has
gained some wisdom and personal responsibility in the process.
Read more: article
May 30th, 2007(link to
LEVEL! - John H. Kim recently ran a D&D
game in a simulated crepe paper 'dungeon' for a friend's 11th birthday
party. He posted a report, including pictures, on his LiveJournal. Check it
out here, and get ideas for the next D&D-themed
11th birthday party that you might find yourself in charge of!
SURVEY - PLEASE HELP! - I received this notice of a
hobby game survey conducted by Ohio State University yesterday. I
encourage all gamers reading this to participate and help them out:
Ohio State University's
School of Communication, in partnership with GAMA and The Wargamer, are
undertaking a follow-up to last year's large and comprehensive study of
hobby game players. The researchers are investigating patterns of
motivation and usage by tabletop (card, role-playing, minis, and board
game players), digital (computer, console, MMORPG), and other gamers
(such as LARP). The survey takes approximately 20-30 minutes to
Building on lessons learned from last year, as well as some ongoing
analyses of the existing data, the project is seeking continue
expanding the knowledge of the games world.
We invite you to participate at www.gamesurvey.org.
The study will be focusing on these key areas of motivation.
• What do game players like in a game? What do they dislike? And why?
• What motivates continued game play and preferences for types of
• Where are games bought and what influences those purchase decisions
in light of preferences and motivations?
• What interactions do gamers have with others?
• With whom (and where) do gamers play, and how frequently, and how do
these decisions influence preferences and motivations?
Official Q&A forum can be found at http://www.wargamer.com/forums/tm.asp?m=229482
May 13th, 2007(link to
FROM TREASURE TABLES - In Introducing
RPGs to New Players, a two-part feature on the daily gaming
blog Treasure Tables, Ben Finney gives all the
details on an RPG he ran for a group of three that included two gaming
newbies. There are a lot of great tips and suggestions contained
within. Check it out here: Part
1 - Part
RPGS EVENTS AT ORIGINS 2007 - Speaking of gaming with
new players, It appears that all five of the gaming events I submitted
for Origins 2007
have been accepted. I'll be running three events using the Savage
Worlds system - a near-future zombie apocalypse
game, a 1930s exploration/cliffhangers game, and a superheroes game,
all geared toward players who have never tried an RPG before. I'll also
be running two RPGs especially for kids - Faery's
Tale and Toon,
and if all goes well, I'll also be running some grand Fuzzy Heroes
battles outside of the Kid's Track room every day of the convention.
If you're planning to be
this summer, be sure to look me up!
May 12th, 2007(link to
Wanted for questioning
INVESTIGATE GRADE SCHOOL HARRY POTTER RPG - Students
involved in a "mystery suspense Harry Potter role-playing game" invoked
a police investigation when a "threatening note" was found in a
Officers and teachers
searched backpacks of students for weapons or contraband, turning up
more of the game-related notes. No threats were made to the school,
staff, or any students not involved in the game.
"After the investigation
was complete and the true nature of the situation was determined, it
was obvious this was not a police matter," (Police Chief Richard St.
misunderstanding, the students may face disciplinary action.
Next time, kids - send
Read the full article
May 8th, 2007(link to
CALLING ALL LIBRARY-TYPE PEOPLE -
I am considering adding a new project to The Escapist, but I'm going to
need a lot of input, ideas, and even some assistance. The first stage,
of course, is gathering the ideas and input. So if you happen to be
either or both of the following, I'd love to talk with you:
librarian, especially one who works in the Young Adult section (or
someone who knows one)
gamer who has run roleplaying games in a Young Adult program (or
someone who knows one)
If either of these apply
to you, please contact me at . For
more information on the project, visit www.theescapist.com/library
April 21st, 2007(link to
ROLLIN', THEY'RE HATIN' - That's the title of the
flagship exhibit at this year's Version multimedia festival in Chicago.
Exhibitors Todd Bailey and Nate Murphy have created copies of an
elaborate, hand crafted D&D module that
will be available for purchase at the event:
Instead of using a
printer or Xerox machine, they're silk-screening every one of the 25
pages for every copy. Many of the dozen or so illustrations will be in
two or three colors--doubling or tripling the work it takes to print
them--and include glow-in-the-dark elements. In keeping with the
adventure's sun-god motif, each module will be cut into an 18-inch-wide
circle. Bailey's planning to hand-sew the bindings, though thankfully
that'll only take a few stitches--more would make it too hard to open a
circular book, and he figures people will want to disassemble the thing
when they play it anyway, if just to pull out the map.
Each copy will also come
with a small burlap bag containing one 20-sided die--players will have
to buy the rest of the game's usual assortment themselves. Julianna
Luther, Bailey's girlfriend, is embroidering each bag with an image of
the sun god. The dice are handmade too: Bailey, who works as a designer
and electronics engineer at Big Monster Toys, used a large store-bought
die to make a mold out of silicon-based platinum rubber, then filled it
with a clear UV-sensitive urethane he formulated himself. The dice glow
brilliant orange under black light, and the fluorescent orange paint
he's using to fill in the numbers turns yellow.
Other exhibits at the
month-long festival include a screening of the LARP documentary Darkon, a
fantasy fashion show fundraiser, a functioning catapult, and a new
episode by animation/video/performance stars Dungeon Majesty.
Read more here: (article
THINK 'LORD OF THE RINGS' MEETS 'THE ROCKY
HORROR PICTURE SHOW' - (Everyone's good buddy Nate
stuck this one under my nose recently.) The Dungeonmaster
is an interactive theater event where audience members can fill out a
character card when they come in - and if their card is one of the six
drawn before the show, then they become one of the stars! DM
is slightly different than a LARP, in that there's an audience, and
some scenes unfold that do not involve the characters at all - but
otherwise, anything goes. You even get a discount on admission if you
show up in costume (even if you don't end up on stage!).
If you happen to be in
the North Hollywood area, be sure to check it out. (website |
group | LJ)
(But please... don't
throw toast at the stage!)
April 18th, 2007(link to
EXCERPT - Author Mark Barrowcliffe has generously
donated a chapter of his new book, The Elfish Gene,
for you to read freely right here on the site. Click here to dig in, and if
you feel moved enough by it to purchase a copy of the book, click
here to do so!
April 17th, 2007(link to
TECH - THE MORE THINGS CHANGE...
Movie 4 star) Dr. Phil McGraw and lawyer (and Batman
fanatic) Jack Thompson agree: April 16th's tragedy at
Virginia Tech was the expected result of a society that is steeped in
violent video games and movies (but mostly video games).
McGraw appeared on the Larry
King show the evening of the 16th, and Thompson appeared on Fox
News a couple hours after the incident, before the culprit's
name was even released. Neither were aware of gunman Cho Seung-hui's
background, psychological profile, or any evidence of possible motives
for his actions.
It's a safe claim to
make this early in the investigation. After all, if you're right,
you'll get lots of calls for more interviews and you'll really look
like you know what you're talking about. If you're wrong... well, no
one really follows up on these things, anyway. If we would hold these
people to their words whenever they mouth off like this, we'd see a lot
less of this nonsense, and may even see more effort put towards finding
a real solution.
No one seems to have
publicly mentioned traditional RPGs as a possible cause yet. The focus
has changed, but our dependency on scapegoats hasn't. Violent films
will likely always be a target (and pointing a finger at them while
starring in a movie that satirizes violence is an
interesting career move). Just eight years ago, people were trying to
connect the Columbine massacre with Dungeons &
Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade
(among many other things) with nothing to go on. Fifty years ago, it
would have been Thompson's beloved Batman
The more things change,
the more they stay the same.
April 14th, 2007(link to
ESCAPIST ON WIKIPEDIA - After a
great effort by Sandy Atunes, Sam Chupp, and others, The Escapist
finally has an entry on Wikipedia. You can view it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Escapist_%28website%29
This will go a long way
towards getting the word out about the role-playing hobby.
PLAYING: THE ROLES WE PLAY - Aaron Andersen, an aspiring
film student in Olympia, Washington, will premier his short film The
Roles We Play today. (article
"It's based off the
old-school type, where you sit down with your good old imagination,"
said Andersen, 20. "It dives into this world with these six friends who
The film, though,
doesn't stay in the everyday world where the friends play.
"The whole thing about
role-playing is it's all done through imagination," he said. "This is
providing the viewer a peek into their imaginations. The audience is
able to see what they're seeing."
Movies about traditional
RPGs (and the people who play them) seem to be more common than ever,
even with the ever-increasing popularity of online gaming. Who knows -
we may even see a major studio release someday, if it keeps this pace.
On second thought...
maybe that wouldn't be such a good thing.
thanks to Patrice Mermoud for sharing this story.)
START A GAMING CLUB - Treasure Tables
comes through again with a link to a great article on roleplayingtips.com
and Running a Role-Playing Games Club. There's even a section
on setting up a learn-to-play convention. Great stuff, as always.
April 10th, 2007(link to
CON - (from GameGrene)
June 9th is the date set for the first Ziggurat Con, a one-day gaming
event organized by and for all allied military personnel and civilian
It could possibly be the
first convention held in a war zone - Ziggurat Con is taking place in
(SPC David Amberson, the
Con's organizer) "Here at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase, we have lots of
sports activities -- baseball, football, dodgeball, kickball -- and we
work with many marathons across the US like the Boston Marathon. This
is a great way to improve morale among the troops, but what about those
who prefer Role-Playing Games?"
The con will be held in
part of the Community Activity Center at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase, and
will feature RPG events and all-day anime movies.
"There is a deeper sense
of camaraderie in a war zone than you see back home," said Amberson,
who is a supply soldier with Alpha Company, 86th Signal Battalion. "You
eat with these people, work with them on a daily basis, and can even
share a tent with the same people. When work is over for the day, we
can sit back, relax, drink our favorite sodas, eat our favorite snacks,
and play a bit of D&D. This helps us relax in a very stressful
environment. We found a place where we can go somewhere far away from
the IED's, mortar attacks, and gunfire, without ever leaving the safety
of our camp. The next step was only logical."
The largest problem with
running a Con in Iraq, of course, is that there are no local stores or
game publishers, and few game books on the post. Even dice are in short
supply, with many soldiers breaking the unwritten taboo held by many
gamers and (gasp!) sharing dice. Thankfully, many game publishers have
also lent their support, and have agreed to supply game products to
help the Con along. aethereal FORGE, Sovereign Press, Final Redoubt
Press, Goodman Games, Paizo Publishing and Steve Jackson Games are
among those that have thrown in their support for the convention. But
Amberson indicated that the soldiers could definitely use more.
"This convention is
currently in drastic need of prizes and giveaways for the troops," he
said. "Everything donated will go directly to the troops, or to MWR to
use as loaner books for the soldiers."
You can read more at
and I've included contact information on the BeQuest
news page for sending donations to Ziggurat Con.
Bitter Guy for sharing the news)
April 3rd, 2007(link to
SUPPORT PAGE - The new Escapist
Support page is up (finally!) for those of you who may have
been wondering how you can help out with the site and the cause.
March 20th, 2007(link to
- In a recent update to Treasure Tables,
an excellent daily RPG blog, Martin shares a link to NearbyGamers,
great site for locating gamers with similar interests in your area (and
something I'd been thinking about adding to this site for a long time
now). My profile is here,
if you're interested in seeing it.
Martin also cooked up a
great section on Ways
to Find RPG Players, which includes a lot of links to other
So go find someone to
March 9th, 2007(link to
PANTY RUN GONE WRONG -
From BBC News: Robert Boyd says that he "may have blurred fantasy and
reality" when he held up employees in a Belfast, Ireland lingerie shop
dressed as Buho, his female elf Shadowrun
Boyd wore a costume that
included a blonde curly wig, reading glasses, and a beanie hat when he
made off with intimate undergarments, that he had originally intended
to purchase for his wife, on December 14th, 2005. He
claimed that pressures in his marriage and work, coupled with his
involvement in the Shadowrun RPG, caused him to
confuse fantasy with reality and rob the store, rather than shop at it.
Jurors rejected his defense, and Boyd was convicted on March 9th, 2007.
Dr. Jane O'Neill supported Boyd's claim, stating that she thought he
may have some disassociation with reality, but another consultant
psychiatrist, Dr. Frederick Brown, said that he saw no evidence of it.
Read the full story
This is yet another
failure for the "role-playing games made me do it" defense. It hasn't
worked once in over 25 years - so why do they keep trying it?
March 8th, 2007(link to
IRON DM -
Brunching Shuttlecocks co-founder Lore Sj÷berg makes some suggestions
on "How to Heat Up Geek Reality TV" in a column for Wired. Among them
is this one -
Next Top Dungeon Master
In nationwide auditions, thousands of starry-eyed Dungeons &
Dragons players are asked to describe their D&D campaign in
eye-glazing detail. ("In my game, dwarves evolved from root vegetables
and elves are made of living cellophane!") The aspirants are narrowed
down to two dozen semifinalists, each of whom has to design a series of
adventures for the celebrity judges, none of whom would be seen with a
20-sided die in their hand except that they need the exposure something
fierce. The highlight of the first season comes when David Faustino
("Bud Bundy" from Married With Children) gets into a half-hour argument
about the grappling rules.
It's a spoof, of course,
but I'd probably watch it. Admit it - you would, too. Read the rest of
the column here.
THE ESCAPIST VIDEO MOVIE REVIEW REPORT - I've
just put up the first installment of the EVMRR, a regular feature of
gaming-related movie and television reviews. You can see the new
and read the first review of the Scottish comedy Gamerz here.
MY DEADLY MANDOLIN! - The infamous Dexter's
Laboratory episode - the one where Dexter's game of
Monsters & Mazes is ruined by his sister Deedee - is
available on YouTube. Check it
out here (at least until someone finds out about it and has
it taken down).
ONE, WELCOME OUR NEW GIRL GAMER OVERLORDS - According to
a statement in "Fighting Like A Girl" on pressofatlanticcity.com (article
Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a book on the subject of female
roleplayers this September:
Chase, who has been
working with Wizards of the Coast for eight years, has seen an increase
in the number of girls attending gaming tournaments and conventions and
purchasing the games. The shift has even prompted Wizards of the Coast
associate brand manager Shelly Mazzanoble to write a gaming handbook
titled “Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the D
& D Game.” The book will be released in September.
NEEDS RPG ARTICLES - David Luff, editor of the
newsletter for the Northern Virginia Gamers (NOVAG) is looking for
articles on roleplaying to expand the focus of the group's newsletter.
For writer's guidelines, email David at email@example.com
February 6th, 2007(link to
& FICTIONS - I've just finished up a document
I've been working on for some time - Facts and Fictions
About Role-Playing Games, a two-page primer to what
roleplaying games are, why they've gotten a bad reputation, and what is
good about them. It's a brief summary of the Basic
Gaming FAQ page, squeezed on to one page that you can print
out, photocopy, and give to parents, customers, or anyone you meet who
may have questions or concerns about RPGs. You can find the PDF on the Resources page.
Coming soon - The RPG
Fact Checker, a reference document of facts about RPGs, for
reporters and other writers who are covering the topic.
GAMING! - Here's something I just finished and put up
for sale on CafePress - the RPG Dice
Clock, featuring the iconic Escapist dice. Compatible with
all time zones. Get yours today!
ENCOUNTER - Holy twelve-siders! Could it be? A new Random
Encounter column - the first one in four years? Yes,
it's true - check out Seek, and Ye
(with a 'zed') - I received a review copy of the
Scottish film Gamerz
yesterday, and popped it into the DVD player right away. It's a great
gaming film with lots of laughs and some great fantasy visuals. I'll
have a review up for it soon - the first review for the upcoming
section on gamer films. Be sure to look for it.
January 26th, 2007(link to
GRANTS FOR D&D CLUBS - Wizards of the Coast is
offering $20,000 in grants to college-based Dungeons
& Dragons clubs. The Expand Your Role grants
will be awarded to clubs that submit a essay of "500 words or less how
a grant from Dungeons & Dragons will
benefit the club, provide a brief background/history on the club, and
describe how D&D has made a positive
impact on your life." A minimum of 15 grants, ranging from $50 to $1000
will be awarded.
For more information on
how to participate, visit the Expand Your Role
page on Wizards' website: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/news/20070108a
FREE RPG DAY!
- Possibly inspired by the poplularity of Free Comic Book Day,
a group of game publishers have gotten together to offer free gaming
materials for Free
RPG Day, June 23, 2007. So far Goodman Games, Troll Lord,
Chessex, Mongoose, White Wolf, Mongoose, and Skirmisher Publishing have
all signed up to offer free gaming materials to participating game
stores. If you're a game publisher, a game retailier, or a gamer
looking to participate in Free RPG Day, you can find out more at www.freerpgday.com
MOVIE - Not long after I posted my previous blurb about
gaming movies on the rise, another came to my attention - Darkon,
a documentary on the popular LARP based in Baltimore Maryland.
Screenings of the film start in February in select theaters in the
United States and Canada, but you can also view and purchase the film
online through AOL. From the site:
DARKON is a feature
documentary that follows the real-life adventures of an unusual group
of weekend "warrior knights," fantasy role-playing gamers whose live
action "battleground" is modern-day Baltimore, Maryland, re-imagined as
a make-believe medieval world named Darkon. These live action gamers
combine the physical drama of historical re-enactments with
character-driven storylines inspired in part by such perennial favorite
fantasy epics like the legends of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and
the saga of Conan the Barbarian. As role players, they create
alter-egos with rich emotional, psychological, and social lives. They
costume themselves and physically act out their characters exploits
both in intimate court intrigue and campouts and in panoramic battle
scenarios involving competitive strategies, convincingly real props,
and full contact "combat." Because real life so often gets in the way,
its easy to understand these players' motivations. Everybody wants to
be a hero.
Find out more at movies.aol.com/truestories/darkon
ENTERS ENGLISH CLASS PLAN - That's the title of a story
from Oklahoma's Edmonton News Examiner-Enterprise, where UCO English
Department Director Wayne Stein will be teaching a course entitled
"Gaming as Composition: Language Force X" for the first time this
spring. From the article:
The class, set up as a
role-playing game, uses a fictional setting based on a political
campaign set in the near-future.
Students will be divided
into factions and the professors will introduce various events the
characters will have to cope with. Stein said the game has heavy
elements of conspiracy theory as well. The class was designed by Stein,
James Dolph and Shiloh Force.
"It looks at the issues
that are involved in the world right now," Stein said.
recognizes the benefit of role-playing in the classroom - it's
engaging, thought-provoking, and fun. For more, read the full
article on the site, or in the Escapist Archives.
(Anyone else think
"Shiloh Force" sounds like the name of a superhero team...?)
ELFISH - Mark Barrowcliffe, author of the upcoming book The
Elfish Gene (which I mentioned in the last update)
contacted me recently to send me a preview of the book's cover - and to
offer an exclusive preview of the first chapter or two.
Here's a little taste of
the jacket text:
Coventry, 1976. For a
brief, blazing summer, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had the chance
to be normal.
He blew it. By day two
of a new school term, the dark forces had taken him. Family, friends,
girls, food - everything would become as bright images receding into a
void as he slipped into a shadow world from which he has never truly
For while other people
were growing up normal, perhaps cooly rebellious, Mark, like twenty
million other boys in the '70s and '80s, chose to spend his entire
adolescence in fart-filled bedrooms pretending to be someone else -
wizard, warrior, dwarf, or evil priest - battling through realms of the
imagination. This lost generation gave up on reality to invent alter
egos for themselves, lived out through the craze of role-playing games
that swept the world. With just some funny-shaped dice, some rule
books, and pen and paper they chased trolls through dank dungeons,
fought dragons in baking deserts and seduced princesses in cloud-top
Elfish Gene will be released this April. Look for
a possible sneak preview here at around the same time.
BIRTHDAY, SPELLCASTING 101 - It's
been five years since I made a total fool of myself (while making some very valid
points at the same time) with the Spellcasting
101 article - the one piece that brought the most attention
to this site. It is still the most viewed page here by far, and I still
get the occasional letter from someone who has just seen it for the
first time. To celebrate, I'm planning something new. I can't give away
too much just yet - mostly because I'm not entirely sure what it will
be, myself. But you'll hear it here, first. Stay tuned.
January 2nd, 2007(link to
ONE PODCAST - EPISODE ONE IS LIVE!
Episode 1 of the Square
One Podcast is finally available for download!
In this episode you'll
- What is
Roleplaying? With Sam Chupp and Cynthia Armistead
- My First
Time Gaming by Bill Walton
of an Absolute Newbie Gamer by Miranda Thomas of The Signal
Download the show, sign
up for the feed, and leave your comments at www.squareonepodcast.com!