Tag Archives | Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophers

Pic: Existential Comics (C)

Pic: Existential Comics (C)

Courtesy of Existential comics (“A philosophy comic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also jokes.”) comes a tale of Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophers.

What happens when Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant, Michel Foucalt, and Jacques Derrida sit down for a game of D&D?  Well, lines like these:

“The orc-paladin relationship is nothing more than an oppressive power structure, which can be traced back to the medieval relationship between the priesthood and the lepers.”

Here’s one frame. Click here to read the full comic. Read the rest

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IO9 Editor Annalee Newitz Revisits the D&D Scare of the Mid-Eighties

PIC: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. Click to buy the reissue!

PIC: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. Click to buy the reissued edition of this book. (C)

IO9.com editor Annalee Newitz (She’s also a writer: I recommend her book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction as a thought-provoking work on human resiliency in the face of disaster.) has written what I think is an excellent personal recollection of her days as a Dungeons & Dragons player and how the war was won against fundamentalists and professional scaremongers intent on whipping up a frenzy over the game and its supposed evils. If you enjoyed my own article on the “Satanic Panic” then you will probably enjoy Newitz’s column as well.

(In related news, Dave “Tramp” Trampier died this week. Dave was an artist who, along with Erol Otus and a handful of others, defined the look of Dungeons & Dragons in its earliest days.Read the rest

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Mazes, Monsters, Charlatans, Satan and Suicide: A Short History of the Satanic Panic

PIC: Houghton Mifflin (C) Click to purchase at Amazon.

PIC: Houghton Mifflin (C) Click to purchase at Amazon.

One of my favorite pieces of Satanic Panic-era propaganda has to be Jack  Chick’s “Dark Dungeons” religious tract. One of hundreds of such tracts created by evangelist Chick, “Dark Dungeons” is the story of two young women led astray by the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. One of them, Marcie, commits suicide after her thief character “Black Leaf” dies and the other, Debbie, is initiated into witchcraft after her cleric character Elfstar advances to eighth level. As the diabolical Dungeon Master “Ms. Frost” leads Debbie further from the loving arms of Jesus, her mysterious friend “Mike” pops up to tell her that she’s in grave danger. Following a visit to a mustachioed minister, Debbie repents and burns all of her D&D materials instead of saving them to sell on eBay in twenty years when she needs beer money.… Read the rest

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Gary Gygax Memorial Fund Receives Financial Shot in the Arm from Wizards of the Coast

Gary_GygaxThis might not be relevant to all of you, but I can certainly attest that an early diet of Dungeons & Dragons pointed me toward a rabbit hole of crypto-creatures, occultism, secret societies and forbidden history – all of the things that the Evangelical nutjobs warned me about, really. This crazy game with no board and weirdly shaped dice was a source of great comfort and enthusiasm for me during a rough childhood, so I feel like I owe its late founder Gary Gygax my gratitude. (Gygax – it even sounds like a fantasy monster: “The Gygax strikes your paladin with a ray of adolescent ostracism. Roll a Saving Throw versus Gateway Geekery or spend your summer holed up in a room reading dog-eared fantasy novels and painting lead miniatures. Minus two Charisma to Opposite Sex until college.”)

I know from the comment section that some of you hail from the same kinds of after-school meet-ups and dingy basements that are the natural habitue of gamers, so I thought you’d like to know that fundraising efforts for the Gary Gygax Memorial planned for Lake Geneva, WI just got a shot in the arm from D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast.… Read the rest

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The Return of Dungeons & Dragons

Black Dungeons and DragonsOf course for some of you D&D never went away, but all of a sudden there’s a resurgence of interest from ad agencies and design firms. Sam Grobart reports for BusinessWeek:

Bust out your graph paper and dodecahedron die, because Dungeons & Dragons is back—and in business. Literally.

In a video that may seem a parody at first, but really isn’t, ad agency DDB demonstrates how using the role-playing game from the 1970s and ’80s can help people understand and design user experiences (UX) for websites.

Vincent Higgins, DDB’s executive director for UX, explains in the video how “Dungeons & Dragons taught me everything about user experience design.” Higgins, who will clearly be played by Fred Armisen in the movie version of this story, says he was “heavily involved” with the role-playing game and its hit points and half-elves while growing up. As a designer of choices and paths a person may take when visiting a website, he realized that his old days as a chaotic-evil gnome (or perhaps he was a lawful-neutral paladin?) could inform the work he is doing today.

Read the rest

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WikiLeaks Supporters ‘Operation Payback’ Wish To Be A Force for ‘Chaotic Good’

WikileaksChaoticGoodAnyone else seeing a clear Dungeons & Dragons reference the mainstream media will be oblivious to? Josh Halliday and Charles Arthur write in the Guardian:

A 22-year-old spokesman, who wished to be known only as “Coldblood”, told the Guardian that the group – which is about a thousand strong – is “quite a loose band of people who share the same kind of ideals” and wish to be a force for “chaotic good”.

There is no real command structure in the group, the London-based spokesman said, while most of its members are teenagers who are “trying to make an impact on what happens with the limited knowledge they have”. But others are parents, IT professionals and people who happen to have time – and resources – on their hands.

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Wisconsin Court Forbids Prison Inmates from Playing Dungeons & Dragons


Nerds behind bars.The Volokh Conspiracy illuminates this tragic first-world problem.

In a decision issued today, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Wisconsin prison’s rule forbidding inmates to play Dungeons & Dragons or possess D&D publications and materials [HT: Josh Blackman].

The prison’s rationale for the ban is that playing D&D might stimulate “gang activity” by inmates. But the government conceded that there is no evidence that Dungeons and Dragons actually had stimulated gang activity in the past, either in this prison or elsewhere. The only evidence for the supposedly harmful effects of Dungeons and Dragons were a few cases from other states where playing the game supposedly led inmates to indulge in “escapism” and become divorced from reality, one case where two non-inmates committed a crime in which they “acted out” a D&D story-line, and one where a longtime D&D player (not an inmate) committed suicide. Obviously, almost any hobby or reading material might lead people to become divorced from reality, or in rare cases commit suicide. And disturbed individuals could potentially “act out” a crime based on a scenario in almost any film or literary work. Should prisons ban The Count of Monte Cristo on the grounds that it might encourage escape attempts? Moreover, the “escapism” rationale conflicts with the gang argument. People who become engrossed in escapism and retreat from society are presumably less likely to become active gang members.

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