Tag Archives | Dungeons & Dragons

How Dungeons & Dragons Influenced a Generation of Writers

320px-Dice_in_DnD_sessionHey D&D heads, are you writers too? You’re in good company if so, explains Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times:

When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.

Playing D&D and spinning tales of heroic quests, “we welfare kids could travel,” Mr. Díaz, 45, said in an email interview, “have adventures, succeed, be powerful, triumph, fail and be in ways that would have been impossible in the larger real world.”

“For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon,” he added. The game functioned as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.”

Now the much-played and much-mocked Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, has turned 40.

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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.

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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.

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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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