Primetime Adventures is an innovative, rules-light system for creating your own TV series through roleplaying. [more inside]
Judit Polgár is the greatest female chess player in history. The product of an educational experiment by her father, she was the first to break Bobby Fischer's record as the youngest-ever grandmaster - by which time she had already stopped competing in women-only tournaments. In 2002, she avenged an earlier controversial loss to Garry Kasparov - the first time in any sport that the No. 1 ranked female player has beaten the No. 1 ranked male player. At her peak, ranked 8th in the world, she became the first woman to compete for the World Championship. After several years of reduced activity spent raising her two children, Polgár returned to full-time competition - making it to the quarter-finals of the 2011 FIDE World Cup. [more inside]
Every other year since 1923, the town of Marostica in Italy has staged a recreation of a human chess game played in 1454 between two noblemen for the hand of the castle lord's daughter. [more inside]
I catch a lot of flak over my description of the years 1974 to 1983 as the Golden Age of roleplaying games, much of it based on a misunderstanding of my original point, namely that, after this period, tabletop RPGs would never again command the same degree of broad cultural significance that they did during this time. A good illustration of my point is this odd product, from wargames publisher SPI: Dallas: The Television Role-Playing Game. Published in 1980, the same year as the company's more well known foray into roleplaying, DragonQuest, Dallas was designed by none other than James F. Dunnigan, famous as (among many things) the designer of the classic wargames Jutland and PanzerBlitz. [more inside]
Diplomacy isn't everyone's idea of fun. Time is one obstacle; a quick game can take six hours, and others can go on for 16 hours. More important, most of the action unfolds away from the table, in tense, furtive conversations among the seven players representing the once-great powers of Europe as they trade intelligence and plan joint maneuvers. The back-and-forth sounds like a David Mamet screenplay about the Triple Entente, especially because no promise is binding, no piece of information reliable. According to the rules (3 MB PDF), "players may say anything they wish." Eavesdropping, slander and betrayal -- back-stabbing, in Diplomacy parlance -- become arrows in your quiver, not the concealed weaponry of cheats and spoilsports.
Photographs of the Prison Chess series were taken in 2008 and 2009 in a maximum security facility of the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. [more inside]
Leisure Suit Larry is a series of adventure games written by Al Lowe and published by Sierra from 1987 to 2009. The main character, whose full name is Larry Laffer, is a balding, dorky, double entendre-speaking, leisure suit-wearing (but still somewhat lovable) "loser" in his 40s. The games follow him as he spends much of his life trying (usually unsuccessfully) to seduce attractive women. [more inside]
In the spirit of taking things too far, here is a fully functional 5-dimensional analogue of Rubik's cube.
Traveller is a series of related science fiction role-playing games, the first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop and subsequent editions by various companies remaining in print to this day. (previously)
92 years young, the delightful Raymond Smullyan is a mathematician, logician, magician, concert pianist, and Taoist philosopher - who also pioneered retrograde chess problems.