For Inktober, an A-Z of D&D monsters.
Here is Justin Alexander's "Jaquaying the Dungeon," a crash course in old-school D&D adventure complex design, for all you grognards out there.
- 1.Definition - Jennell Jaquays wrote many classic RPG adventures for a variety of systems and publishers, notable for their non-linearity.
- 2.Techniques - On non-linear dungeon construction.
- 3.Philosophy - Why do non-linear dungeons matter, how to make good use of it.
- 4. Applied to Keep on the Shadowfell - Jaquaying a typical linear dungeon module.
- 5. General application - Othter ways Shadowfell could have been improved, summation.
- 6.Ways to connect dungeon levels - An appendix of ways to connect dungeon levels to each other.
- 7.Tips and Tricks - Tricky ideas to delight/annoy players.
- Justin Alexander's Gamemastery 101 is further loaded with good GMing advice.
Boing Boing looks back on the truth behind the D&D Steam Tunnel tragedy Jason Louv writes for BoingBoing and outlines the truth behind the tabloid sensationalism of the D&D Steam Tunnel tragedy and what really happened to James Dallas. Note - it's far more complicated and tragic than was reported at the time. [more inside]
Love Drow? Love Copkiller? These two great tastes come together as Law & Order star Ice-T reads a tale of the Forgotten Realms' most misunderstood of dark elves, Drizzt Do’Urden. And it's free! And Ice is bringing all his celebrity friends: The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories expands upon the epic legend of the dark elf with 12 tales performed by the all-star cast of Felicia Day, Dan Harmon, Greg Grunberg, Tom Felton, Danny Pudi, Sean Astin, Melissa Rauch, Ice-T, Wil Wheaton, Al Yankovic, Michael Chiklis, and David Duchovny! And there are behind the scenes glimpses.
The Ambush at Sheridan Springs. How Gary Gygax Lost Control of Dungeons & Dragons.
How did Pathfinder become the only table-top role-playing game ever to outsell Dungeons & Dragons, outpacing it 2:1? What were the economics of the Open Gaming License, whereby Wizards of the Coast effectively gave away the rules to its flagship D&D product? Why did the table-top market collapse? This and more on Episode 73 of the Game Design Roundtable podcast, with guest Ryan Dancey, architect of the Open Gaming License strategy at Wizards of the Coast, and former marketing exec at CCP Games (makers of EVE Online). Dancey is now the business lead on Pathfinder Online, an upcoming sandbox fantasy RPG broadly in the mold of EVE and Ultima Online. TGDRT is usually about game design, but this episode is a fascinating look into the business side of the RPG world, both online and off -- from someone who has been at the heart of the most interesting business cases in the space. The first 30 minutes are all about business history and economics. [more inside]
"What had fallen into my hot little hands was none other than one of the booklets that Patricia Pulling and her fellow members of Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons would hand out to people - police, pastors, parents, teachers, and librarians - to help 'educate' them about this terrible 'danger.' It was a crowning jewel to any collection of anti-RPG propaganda."
You don’t sit down to write a game and “add fun” or “make fun.” You make things. You design encounters. You plan plot points. You build NPCs. And you also put together and run campaigns. You hope that somehow, out of the campaigns and the decisions and encounters and plot points and NPCs, fun is a thing that will happen. But you don’t actually try to quantify fun. You don’t think about why fun things are fun. Until today.In The Eight Kinds of Fun The Angry DM explores the nature of fun in tabletop roleplaying games, guided by scholarly research on the subject.
Inspiration comes from strange places. During that time that I was playing with these “Prehistoric Animals”, somebody else was playing with them too – a fellow named Gary Gygax.
Seven Ways to Kill the Tarrasque (in D&D 3.0)
"In Advanced Readings in D&D, Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today." [more inside]
Take some old school D&D nerdery, mix in some Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy Tactics, and you have Card Hunter.
Old School FRP is a tumblr blog with a ton of illustrations and art from the golden age of Dungeons and Dragons and games that were totally not Dungeons and Dragons.
Jason Thompson (previously on Metafilter), an Eisner nominee who writes about manga and draws comics based on H.P. Lovecraft stories, has created wonderful cartoon maps of some classic Dungeons and Dragons modules. [more inside]
Ghost Mice are a 'FIRST-WAVE folk-punk band' who sing about playing Dungeons & Dragons as a metaphor for overcoming depression, wanting to be loved like John Hickley loved Jodie Foster and recycling so Cthulhu doesn't invade. They've recorded splits with other folk-punk bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad and Defiance Ohio. Ghost Mice's song Monsters Get Slain is a heartbreaking anthem about healing from a lifetime of depression.
Courtesy of that saint of old school gaming and dark god of the underworld Jason Sholtis, who runs the awesome, previously-posted blog The Dungeon Dozen, it's a new adventure to run using the game system of your choice: THE SECRET PARTY-HOUSE OF THE HILL GIANT PLAYBOY (PDF viewer w/ available download). Looting, slaying, and party crashing beckon to the bold!
Also from Sholtis: the one-page dungeon FLESH FOR THE WITCH QUEEN. (PDF viewer with download) [more inside]
Also from Sholtis: the one-page dungeon FLESH FOR THE WITCH QUEEN. (PDF viewer with download) [more inside]
Luke Gygax and E. Gary Gygax Jr, sons of Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax have announced they have formed TSR Games. The company's first, brave, foray into the market will be a print publication: Gygax Magazine with a very familiar logo. Apparently D&D owner Wizards of the Coast (and its owners, Hasbro) the last trademarked “TSR” for a game company in 2003, opening the door for the Brothers Gygax to scoop up the name for their company Hexagonist Publishing LLC on May 25, 2011. [more inside]
12-year-old uses Dungeons & Dragons to help scientist dad with his research: Cognitive scientist Alan Kingstone wanted to test whether people look at each others' eyes or simply to the center of faces. Some had suggested an answer would be impossible to discern because humans' eyes are in the center of their faces. But Alan’s son, Julian, a fan of D&D, told his father about D&D monster characters that have eyes in unusual places, such as on their hands or tail. “[Julian suggested] if you just showed them these images, you could find out whether they are looking for the eyes or not. I thought, actually, that’s a very good idea,” Kingstone said (summarized from Cosmos). The paper describing the results - "Monsters are people too" - was published in the British Royal Society journal Biology Letters this month, with 14-year-old Julian named as the lead author.
The trailer for Dungeons and Dragons 3: The Book of Vile Darkness has been released onto the Internet. [more inside]
D&D co-creator Dave Arneson's lost personal collection of gaming material -- 114 boxes worth -- was found last year in an abandoned storage locker. Fortunate for geeks everywhere, everything was not just tossed into a dumpster. The collection is now scheduled to be auctioned off on eBay. (previously)
RPG blog Hack & Slash's Courtney Campbell has written a pair of expansive guides on trap design (PDF) and treasure (PDF). New treasure and traps are also a mainstay of the blog itself. [more inside]
Fake War Stories "Whenever a group of gamers get together, there's always a period of swapping crazy gaming stories. Role-playing (tabletop or LARP), war gaming, FPS--everyone has a funny story to tell. We've already gotten a number of pretty funny ones." [via mefi projects]
"Except for that Abercrombie. Swear that guy has Plot Armor to prevent anything bad from ever happening to him, just like his characters."
Cardinal Quest [Flash] is an 8-bit tribute to Gauntlet, Roguelikes and the 2E D&D core rule-set. Open chests, battle opponents and descend the stairs in an effort to find the
Amulet Shield of Yendor Malificent Minotaur!
Why it's MC Frontalot (Previously, Interviewed by Metafilter) has a new music video, "Critical Hit" which imagines the future of his career as a D&D game.
Tired of the D&D Stereotypes of what constitutes armor for women? Tumblr is (of course) to the rescue! Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor.
Enter the Dragon: [SLVimeo] A short documentary that explores the Dungeons and Dragons subculture.
In the basement rolling dice / I'm a wizard / When we play we do it right / Candles flicker / Fighting dragons in my mind / Just for kicks / DM says you're gonna die / Roll a D6
Yes I like playing Dungeons and Dragons with you... "This Fantasy World" by the Doubleclicks, with animation by Brad Jonas. [SLYT]
Minecraft mastermind Markus "Notch" Persson has officially announced his company's next project: a hybrid online board game/trading card system called Scrolls. Spearheaded by Mojang co-founder Jakob Porser (interview) and with backstory penned by Penny Arcade wordsmith Jerry "Tycho" Holkins, the game will consist of turn-based battles between collectible "scrolls," illustrated character cards strategically deployed on an abstract gaming grid. In an interesting inversion of the Minecraft model, the game itself will be free, while updates in the form of additional scroll packs will cost a nominal fee -- a business model gaming analyst Sean Maelstrom decries as "snake oil." Mojang, for their part, is unafraid and even eager to target an untested slice of the gaming market, and is angling to get their playable prototype of Scrolls ready for a possible Alpha release this summer.
Dan Harmon is the creator of the brilliant NBC comedy Community. He recorded a bunch of videos promoting the show on this brilliant promotional site (playing Patrick Isakson, Dean of Admissions). He was not happy when Community moved to 8PM Thursdays. (He talks to himself a lot.) Community's Dungeons and Dragons episode last week (warning: Hulu link) was pretty great, but did you know that Harmon was a member of the Dead Alewives, and wrote and voiced characters in this classic D&D sketch? Here's that sketch's lesser-known second part.
Dragon Magazine's "Sage Advice" column ran for over 30 years, offering advice to DMs and players about anything and everything within the D&D world. Comics Alliance has compiled The 11 Strangest D&D Questions Ever Asked, culled from this searchable archive.
"With 4th Edition, there were good intentions." Escapist Magazine's "Check for Traps" columnist Alexander Macris interviews Dungeons & Dragons Manager Mike Mearls about 4th Edition Essentials, Ryan Dancey's "death spiral" comment, Justin Alexander's "Disassociated Mechanics", and the new Red Box.
Got a question about old-school Dungeons and Dragons? Perhaps you should consult this database of questions and answers from Dragon Magazine's "Sage Advice" column.
"The Dungeon Master", a short-story about Dungeons and Dragons by Sam Lipsyte in this weeks New Yorker.
In 1974, a pair of wargame enthusiasts from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin transformed the nascent hobby gaming world by publishing three little brown booklets. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson's Dungeons & Dragons has become an important part of the lives of generations of young gamers. Along the way, D&D went through numerous editions, each with increasingly complex rules. [more inside]
The Play-Generated Map and Document Archive: finally providing a place to put all those odd doodles, detailed maps, and character sketches that come out of your weekly gaming sessions. [more inside]
Dave Arneson joins Gary Gygax in the Happy Hunting Grounds. Arneson helped develop the original Dungeons and Dragons and was the man who introduced Gygax to the concept of roleplaying. Surely, it's a sad day in Blackmoor.
I do not want to spend too much time beating a dead war-horse, but your average D&D game consists of a group of white players acting out how their white characters encounter and destroy orcs and goblins, who are, as a race evil, uncivilized, and dark-skinned. To quote Steve Sumner’s essay again, “Unless played very carefully, Dungeons & Dragons could easily become a proxy race war, with your group filling the shoes of the noble white power crusaders seeking to extinguish any orc war bands or goblin villages they happened across.” I would argue with Sumner’s use of the phrase “could become,” and say that unless played very carefully, D&D usually becomes a proxy race war. Any adventurer knows that if you see an orc, you kill it. You don’t talk to it, you don’t ask what it’s doing there - you kill it, since it’s life is worth less than the treasure it carries and the experience points you’ll get from the kill. If filmed, your average D&D campaign would look something like Birth of a Nation set in Greyhawk.- Race in Dungeons & Dragons by Chris van Dyke, a powerpoint talk given at Nerd Nite. Via Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog where there's a smart discussion going on about the essay.
The Retroist is a veritable treasure trove of 80's (and 70's) goodness. TV commercials, catalogs, and of course the poetry of Mr. Leonard Nimoy. The Youtube channel alone is worth the price of admission-- Tobor! Diet Rite! Candyland!
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