AND UPDATES - 2006 Archive
2006 (link to
As usual, I have fallen
a little behind in the front-page updates. 2006 was a good year for The
Escapist - the 10th anniversary and new features went over very well.
Hopefully, 2007 will be just as good, and allow me enough time to keep
them current, as well as unveil things I haven't been able to yet -
like the Reading,
Writing, and Roleplaying project, and things that still
need a push to get off the ground - like my share of the Square One
DOWN - It seems that the service I was using for the
forums fell victim to some sort of internet attack - then, when they
recovered, the Escapist forum disappeared. I'm weighing options on
setting up a new set of forums. If anyone is willing to offer any
advice or suggestions, please contact me at -
GOD LOVES THE FREAKS - The
Escapist was mentioned in a book on Christian outreach entitled God
Loves the Freaks. Here's a brief synopsis straight from the
author, Steve Weese, himself:
"God Loves the
Freaks points to a serious issue facing the church today --
reaching out to subcultures and those who are considered the freaks of
society. The "American Christianity" cult that many churches belong to
accepts only members who dress, speak and act exactly the same way. We
have somehow turned the church into an elite club where only those who
follow man-made cultural rules are welcome. Why is it acceptable for
someone to show up in church in traditional Chinese clothing, for
instance, but not for someone to have a pink mohawk? The church tries
to change the freaks of society, or worse, turns them away at the door.
Jesus reached out to those in society who were different, who were
outcast -- the freaks. Stephen Weese paints a vision of a church living
by grace, in unity; without the legalism that divides and causes us to
shun others based on outward appearance. God looks at the heart and he
loves everyone, including the freaks. If God loves the freaks,
shouldn't the church as well?"
An appendix on
role-playing games mentions my Spellcasting
101 experiments in detail. To find out more, visit http://www.lulu.com/content/463648
GENE - Speaking of books, I just spotted a review of the
upcoming memoir The Elfish Gene:
"Mark Barrowcliffe has a
shameful secret. He spent his entire youth hiding from the grungy
tedium of Coventry, in an imaginary world of elfs, dwarfs and
magicians: he was a "Dungeons and Dragons" fanatic. In this very sharp,
very funny memoir, Mark recounts these troubled years, when he knew
more about how to kill a dragon than talk to a girl."
It appears that the
release is slated for April of 2007. Check out the Amazon
UK page for ordering information.
MOVIES - Speaking of movies (okay, I wasn't, but I
don't have a decent segue here), I recently saw a banner ad for Geekin': Love, Jealousy,
& Twenty-Sided Dice, which seems to be yet another in
a series of recent gamer movies - like Knight
Chills, and Gamerz
and (starting to see a theme here...) The Gamers,
and its sequel, The
Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Not to mention the controversial
short film Fear
of Girls (and its rumored sequel). I've done what I can to
see all of them, but there are still a couple I haven't gotten to yet
(review copies are always cheerfully accepted, of course!).
So, is that all of them,
or did I miss some?
SCHOOL. EVER. - This little nugget of gaming-positive
news comes from New Hampshire's Citizen
dungeon to anime convention
FRANKLIN — The Dungeons
and Dragons and Anime clubs of Franklin High School held an all-night
Dungeons and Dragons game to raise funds for a trip to an anime
convention in Boston.
According to Dungeons
and Dragons Club adviser Molly Horn, students spent all night playing
the popular role-playing game, watching anime, which are Japanese
cartoons, and playing video games, among other activities.
locked in," Horn said of the event, which ran from 7 p.m. Friday
through 7 a.m. on Saturday.
It was the first lock-in
for those clubs, though the fundraiser has been done by the school
drama club. Funds raised will go to the clubs' trip to the Anime Boston
convention next May.
Horn said between 18 and
20 students, from freshmen to seniors, will be taking part.
It's nice to see a
school that embraces gaming, rather than shunning the activity as
dangerous and detrimental. Let's hope it becomes more commonplace.
THEY DO WITH THE OLD HAMPSHIRE? - Speaking of New
Hampshire (Segue! YES!) I've been invited to be a Guest of Honor at OGC Con in Southern
NH - and, I'm hoping to accept my standing invitiation to Econocon
in 2007, as well. So, if you're planning on attending either of these
two conventions, be sure to look me up!
100d20+7! So, it looks like the update that I started
writing in 2006 is finally finished in 2007. To those of you who
recognize the Gregorian calendar - Happy New Year!
October 26th, 2006 (link to
TO SQUARE ONE
For several years now, I
have batted around the idea of creating a section for the site aimed at
helping people interesting in gaming to get started - explaining the
terms without adding to their confusion, suggesting the best games to
start out with, where to find groups to play with, and all that sort of
Many times I scrapped
the idea, not because it wasn't worth it, but because I wasn't happy
with the way I was approaching it, and I would start at it again later,
trying to find another way to get to Square One.
Earlier this year, I was
approached by Sam Chupp, who suggested a new approach - put Square One
out as a podcast, hosted by the both of us. Sam, as you may know, is
the author of many RPG materials (including my favorite RPG ever, Changeling:
The Dreaming), is a long time advocate of gaming with kids
(and founder of the Kids-RPG
mailing list), and is an absolute podcast junkie,
with three 'casts to his name before he even came to me to start
another - The Bear's
Sam didn't give up on
the idea, even though we had to shelve it for a little while until I
could sort out some real-life things. Once the time was right, we got
together and recorded our first teaser episode.
Sam even set up a page
just for the podcast - http://squareonepodcast.com
- and you can sign up for the feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/squareonepodcast
So give it a listen,
send us your feedback, and - most importantly - share it with those
people you know who might like to get started in the roleplaying hobby,
but aren't sure where to begin. Just tell them to start at Square One!
August 27th, 2006 (link to
July 29th, 2006 (link to
The most recent
installment of Tell
Me About Your Character features someone special - one of my
favorite gamers of all time. Go give it a look!
July 12th, 2006 (link to
NEW LOOK - THE NEXT GENERATION - ANOTHER DOCUMENTARY
project's page has just received a new makeover. I have always gone the
low-design route with BQ, and this new look doesn't stray too far from
that, but it does divide the information up into several pages, rather
than packing it all into one page as before. Give it a look and let me
know what you think.
Over on www.wizards.com,
James Wyatt tells us a tale of playing D&D with his young son
and learning a thing or two from him about letting the players have
some control every now and then. Read for yourself: D&D:
The Next Generation.
While the family and I
were attending Origins (which was a blast, by the way), I received an
email from the producer of a documentary on various forms of role-play
who asked if I would be available for an interview. We're meeting up
early next week, and the film is scheduled to air on PBS sometime in
2007. I'll be sure to post updates on where and when you can see it
once it's released.
June 25th, 2006 (link to
DOCUMENTARY & ORIGINS 2006
in February of 2004, I was interviewed for a documentary on the
role-playing hobby by a director named Louis Roth who wanted to cover
some of the history of the urban legends behind it. Since that time, I
have recieved regular emails from Louis, each one a little more hopeful
than the last that his vision will make it to as many screens as
Earlier this year,
things really started looking up. Louis was able to get the movie
screened at a convention in California, and is currently attempting to
have it shown at Gen Con. He's also looking into self distribution to
make it available on DVD to anyone who wants to see it.
He was also able to get
a copy of it into my hot little hands this week, and send me a few
stills from the film to slap up on the page to get more people
interested. If you'd like to see them, read a short synopsis of the
film, and find out how to get a copy of RPG, check
out the Scenes from RPG
page. If you happen to be going to Origins next
week, I will be there with my copy and a portable DVD player in tow, so
you'll be able to check it out right there at the con. Drop me an email
- - and we can arrange a time and place to get
Yep, you heard right - the family and I are going to Origins this
summer, so if you'd like to meet up for any other reason, feel free to
drop me a note and I'll do what I can to make it happen. I'm going to
be doing a lot of 'networking' this year - meeting with educator David
Millians about the upcoming Reading, Writing, and Roleplaying
project, and with NERO president Joseph Valenti about organizing a
section on LARP advocacy, just to name a couple. So if you have an idea
for the site, or are interested in contributing something, or just want
to say hello, send me a note - - and
we'll meet up!
June 6th, 2006 (link to
ROLL A NEW CHARACTER DAY!
One of the many claims
of satanic influence found in Dungeons & Dragons
and other early role-playing games is the fact that when generating a
character, three six-sided dice are rolled, and the best possible
result is three sixes - the number listed in the Book of
Revelation as the one to look for if you're looking for the
Of course, we gamers
know that three sixes on the dice don't make 666,
but 18, and the first thing you do when
you roll one is not to praise the Horned One, but rather assign it to
your character's most important stat and try to roll a couple more of
So, instead of
concerning yourself with the birthday of the Antichrist, consider this
a great day to roll up a new character!
...or a really lousy day
to play GURPS...
May 31st, 2006 (link to
ADVENTURER'S ATLAS IS ONLINE!
The newest addition to
Person's Adventure League project - The
Adventurer's Atlas - is up and ready for you to
is a collection of the best RPGs to play with kids, with tips on where
to find them, what their high and low points are, and any content in
the game that parents should be aware of. If you're looking for just
the right RPG to introduce your kids to the excitement of roleplaying,
or you all want to try out something new, you may find what you're
looking for at The
May 23rd, 2006 (link to
Stories like this one
are difficult to comment on. On one hand, the story is about a terrible
crime: a grown man preys on the innocence of a young boy, meeting him
online and then in person at a game store, using the promise of rewards
of gaming books and figures. Now, the man is at large and the parents
are trying to cope with the violation of their child. This cannot be
seen as a positive story in any way.
On the other hand, the
coverage of the story has been gaming-neutral, possibly even
gaming-positive. Rather than lead with a headline like Dungeons
and Dragons Linked to Child Molestor Case or Child
Falls Prey to Dungeon Master, the story sticks to the facts
at hand, and even lets a local gamer share some unconventional wisdom:
a 16-year-old girl, he's about 40 and he keeps staring at her through
the entire game, she probably won't have to say anything because the
rest of the group will probably drag him outside," said Stafford.
"If your kid
walks in with all sorts of new books and what-not, you've got to wonder
where it's coming from," said Stafford. "I've never been able to stress
"Know who your
kids are with - gaming shops are not a babysitter. The mall is not a
babysitter," said Stafford.
It's hard to call this a
positive story because of the terrible crime involved. I'd much rather
have seen a scenario where the culprit was captured before he could
harm anyone, and everyone learned something from the situation. But it
still needs to be recognized as an example of how to handle a
gaming-related story without resorting to the old standards of spewing
up myths and heresay and seeding everyone's paranoia.
Well done, WMCTV and Ed
BEQUEST UPDATE - THE LADY GAMER
IS WALKING TO HELP CURE BREAST CANCER
Check out the BeQuest page
to find out more, and see how you can help.
May 19th, 2006 (link to
OFFERING FROM JOLLY BLACKBURN
After stealing my identity and profiting
from it, then physically
abusing me at Origins 2000, Jolly Blackburn has finally
decided to bury the hatchet. Here's a little strip he put together in
honor of the 10th anniversary of the site:
Apology accepted, Jolly.
And thanks for the awesome strip!
May 16th, 2006 (link to
DRAGONKIN PODCAST PIRATED!
Sam Chupp's wildly
popular podcast on gaming with kids was hacked recently by a small band
of scheming podcast pirates - someone using the alias Dr. Awkward, and
two companions calling themselves Agents A and N. After dominating the
show for about twenty minutes, they graciously relinquished it back to
Sam, but not before threatening to do it again sometime soon.
To hear the pirated
podcast in its entirety, visit the Dragonkin podcast
RELEASE NAME OF KRISTOPHER OLINGER MURDER SUSPECT
Police have issued an
arrest warrant for a man responsible for the 1997 murder of Kristopher
Olinger. Olinger, who was 17 at the time of his murder, was a
roleplayer, and because of this his parents encouraged police to
investigate local gamers for possible leads, believing one of them
could have gone "over the edge" and killed their son. Instead, police
have determined that robbery was the motive behind the murder, and not
a case of "over the edge gamer syndrome."
This is yet another
"victim by association" case put to rest - a case where gaming is seen
as a cause because the victim was a gamer. I
encountered this story in 2001 - not when it first ran, but a few years
later after another murder occured in the same area. Two Marines based
in Monterey, Jason Blad and Jesse Carson, attacked a woman on the same
trail where Olinger was killed three years before. Police considered
the "gamers gone bad" scenario, but were never able to prove it, and
the lawyers on both sides of the case admitted that they had no
evidence linking the crime with gaming.
But none of that would
stop Andy Rose and the Monterey Herald from printing a story with the
headline "Stabbing may be linked to
role play." In it, the Olinger case gets a mention, and when I wrote to the author himself,
one of the comments he made in his defense was that he mentioned gaming
because of that earlier case and the leads they were investigating in
it. He also mentions that "the article in NO WAY said the games
themselves were responsible" - the article, you may remember, that had
the headline "Stabbing may be linked to role play." (Sure, it didn't come
right out and say it or anything like that...)
This is an example of
how the whole concept of roleplaying as a dangerous pursuit first came
about - a little bit of misinformation fed to the media (in this case,
a little white lie told by a private
investigator who didn't want to upset his clients), and
carried over into later stories, columns, and editorials - not because
it has any basis in fact, but simply because it's been covered before.
Blad and Carson, by the
way, were each found guilty and
sentenced to life in prison, and during the trial it was
revealed that the 'game' they were playing was actually
a combination of Carson's fascination with serial killers and a session
of 'night ops,' where Marines conduct mock nighttime recon
maneuvers wearing dark clothing. Such maneuvers are not sanctioned by
the Marine Corps, but instead are easily mistaken for the sort of thing
that roleplayers with "over-the-edge gamer syndrome" participate in.
I never saw the article that Andy Rose promised,
letting everyone know it wasn't roleplaying that caused Blad and Carson
to suffer from OTEGS. I'm considering writing to the Herald to see if
he still works for them, and asking if he or anyone else there will
honor their promise to write a piece on how roleplaying games and
gamers were not involved in these stories, and how both have an unfair
reputation in the media.
I think I already know
what my answer will be.
April 29th, 2006 (link to
PERSON'S ADVENTURE LEAGUE IS NOW LIVE
I've been poking at it
for the better part of a year, and now the YPAL is ready! The Young Person's
Adventure League is a section of the site devoted
to getting young people involved in tabletop RPGs. Old-school
pencil-and-paper, dice-and-books roleplaying is a great intellectual
activity for kids, tweens, and teens. It is a social activity that
feeds imagination, helps build problem-solving and teamwork skills, and
encourages reading, writing, and math at the most basic level. More
specialized games can be used to sneak some knowledge of history, art,
geography, mythology, and science into those brains (which will also be
the subject of another upcoming Escapist project, Reading,
Writing, and Roleplaying).
The problem is, most of
the kids these days think that roleplaying games require a computer or
videogame console, and while MMORPGs are a lot of fun, they don't offer
much in the way of stimulating brain activity. The YPAL project is
aimed at getting more kids involved in tabletop RPGs, both to get that
grey matter moving, and to help spawn future generations of gamers to
keep the tradition alive.
old time roleplayin', it's good enough for me..."
The site will feature a
FAQ file aimed at explaining the concept of RPGs to kids, reviews of
age-appropriate games, links to other great online resources, and
articles by young people and older gamers with tips on how to keep RPGs
fun, engaging, and (shhh!) educational.
If you have young
people, or know someone who does, or you work with young people, or you
are a young person, or ever were
a young person, you should check out The Young Person's
Spike and Tyler of the
gaming podcast The Gamestas recently had me on
the show for a little interview on gaming advocacy. Check it out at www.gamestas.net -
my interview is featured in Episode 6 (which is supposed to be
available on Tuesday, May 2nd - so if you don't see it when you visit,
keep checking back).
(Just a brief advisory -
Spike and Tyler use quite a bit of colorful language in
their show, so please listen with discretion.)
I have been invited to
be a guest at Dexcon
again this year, and if things work out well, I will be there for at
least one day (hopefully more). Dexcon is a great con held at the East
Brunswick Hilton in East Brunswick, New Jersey - we attended last year
and had a lot of fun. This year, the con will run from July 12th
through the 16th.
The folks at Dexcon have
even 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-DEX9
in the SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE field, and $10.00
in the DISCOUNT field.)
Hope to see you there!
2006 (link to
Three new Escapist shirt
designs are now available -
Click any image to go
directly to the respective CafePress store. And you can still get the
classic Escapist favorites, like the original HG Wells,
Goth, and "I
Came I Gamed I Conquered" merchandise. While I'm at it, I'll
even make the 10th
Anniversary "D&D Confession" shirt available to
everyone - up until now, I've been the only one sporting one of these
babies. Fly your geek flag high! (Disclaimer: Geek flags not
February 8th, 2006 (link to
ME): I'M AN OCCULTIST!
Or so Pastor Steve Van Nattan of Blessed Quietness
seems to think. While poking around for sites that link to
The Escapist, I found a
page on his site* that links to my page about the Chick pamphlet
Dark Dungeons - with the title "OCCULTISTS UNDER PAIN."
The name of the site
sounded familiar for some reason - and after some poking around, I
realized I had seen this site listed on Portal of Evil
almost a year ago. Here's
the listing, and a look at the
comment section reminded me what stood out in my head about
this guy - he's the one who posted a short film of himself dancing and
singing "Hallelujah!" after Pope John Paul II died - while holding a
picture of JPII upside-down and pointing to the ground, suggesting that
was his final destination.
I couldn't find the film on the site anywhere, but it does get a
mention in the
PoE forums, and I think I may even have a copy of the movie
backed up to disc somewhere - if anyone wishes to see it, and has
enough intestinal fortitude, drop me an email - - and
I'll see what I can do.
(On a positive note, his coffee
page is an interesting read, at least for a devotee of the
bean like myself, with lots of interesting facts and links.
Yeah, I still try to look for the bright side, when I can find it.)
Here's the truth: I'm not an
occultist. I'm not 'under pain' over Dark Dungeons - anyone
with a rational mind reading that page will see it for what it is, my
own critical commentary on the accuracy and quality of the
pamphlet. I'm also not very offended at Pastor Van Nattan's
song and dance - he certainly has the right to be as happy as he wishes
over the death of anyone, and express it in any way that he chooses, as
does anyone else. I only point it out to give a clearer
picture of the type of mentality that would take a single glance at my
work, point accusingly and bellow "Occultist!",
and move on to the next sinister threat to decent, God-fearing people
(And if I am, in fact, an occultist - I must
not be a very good one. Maybe this is
the pain he's referring to?)
* UPDATE - 04/27/07 - The entire page is now missing from the
Blessed Quietness site. This doesn't come as a big surprise - judging
from the above mentioned "Pope death dance" video and other statements
made by Pastor Van Nattan in the past, it's easy to imagine some things
being done and said that would later need to be covered up. In fact, it
seems that the entire site is blocked from being archived at archive.org
- a tool that the Good Pastor has used himself in many of his online
Regardless, I will keep
the link back to Pastor Van Nattan's site on the Dark Dungeons page, as
a gesture of goodwill for directing so many people there in the past.
A BUNCH OF
This is just a reminder
that the Tell
Me About Your Character column is still going strong, with a
new interview posted every Friday (or thereabouts). If you haven't read
it yet, read it, and if you haven't submitted your
self-serve interview yet, submit it!
January 10th, 2006 (link to
Due to some internet
connection problems at home, the updates to the site will be a bit
erratic for a little while. As many of you know, it's always one thing
or another when it comes to me keeping the site updated - hard drive
crashes, server downtimes, Canadian hackers, and even curses from
pseudo-Satanists. I'll do what I can to stay on top of things, though,
and try to get as much of the new 10th anniversary material up and
On that note, the Tell Me About Your
Character column is all caught up now, with several
interviews that were backlogged during the December downtime. Check
them out, and if you'd like to be featured in the column, download the
questions and send them back to me!
Aaron Williams, the
creator of Nodwick, was kind enough to send along this special strip to
celebrate the 10th anniversary:
Thanks a bunch, Aaron!
And to everyone - I wish you a happy, safe, and prosperous new year.
Look out for that Twilight Zone justice!