New biography of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax


Michael Witwer's Empire of Imagination is a new biography of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax that not only tells the tale of this marvelous wizard but also explores the profound impact D&D had on popular culture, gaming, and geek culture. NPR spoke with Witwer for All Things Considered. Listen below.

"Many of the derivative games — and maybe it's all of the derivative games we've talked about — whether it be computer role-playing games or whatnot, they actually lack most of the most important fundamental elements of a role-playing game," Witwer says. "That is, sitting around with your friends and participating in this kind of group storytelling exercise: actually being in a room physically sitting at a table with nothing but pencils and paper and dice. There's something very special about that, and it's kind of a social experience that's pretty hard to frankly re-create over any type of electronic media."

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons (Amazon)

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Behold: the kraken D20!

It's a 3D printed D20 studded with questing tentacles, made to order in a wide spectrum of metals and plastics. (via Geeks Are Sexy) Read the rest

Exotic polyhedra: RPG dice made from carbon fiber, marble, bourbon barrels

Beyond wolly mammoth ivory dice, a whole multiverse of polyhedra cast and carved from exotic woods, metals and stranger substances still, from Artisan Dice.

There's carbon fiber dice, white marble, gator jawbones (combined with resin for added resilience); bourbon barrel staves and more.

But they don't have my favorite high-ticket D20: the one made from sky-metal.

Just remember: if you don't shame your dice, they'll never learn.

Drool-worthy dice for discerning rollers [Michael Franco/Cnet] Read the rest

D20 Mug

The 12oz mug is dishwasher/microwave-safe: $13 at Thinkgeek. Read the rest

Flashing LED-equipped dice that light up on critical hits

Thinkgeek's $25 critical hit dice are a set of D10, D12, and D20 that light up when you roll their maximum values (they're all correctly weighted for fair throws). Read the rest

D20 and 20,000 Leagues ties

These gorgeous 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and D20 ties are $24 from San Francisco's Binary Winter Read the rest

Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophy

Ethan Gilsdorf explains why Socrates would have made a good DM and that John Stuart Mill was Lawful Neutral. Catch his talk on Head-Banging, Dice-Rolling, and Summoning Demons tonight in Cambridge, Mass.

D&D 5th edition Monster Manual review: a deep resource for DMs

What should you expect from the D&D Fifth Edition Monster Manual? Matt M. Casey says depth, texture, and story. "It may be Wizards’ best Monster Manual ever."

Cubicles and Careers: an RPG for monsters who dream of office-jobs

Cubicles and Careers is a new webseries from Fantasycon's Murray Triplett and Greg Johnson that brings us to the gaming table where fantastic monsters gather to role-play at working in mundane offices, making saving throws against being noticed by their bosses when they sneak in to work late. Looks like fun! Read the rest

The irrefutable link between Dungeons and Dragons and human sacrifice

Christian Nightmares turned up this classic video in which a young Satanist recounts how heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons led him to a life in a cult where "breeders" made babies for sacrifice to his Satanic Majesty. Refute that, skeptics!

Satanism Unmasked Dungeons & Dragons (Thanks, Christian Nightmares!) Read the rest

The source of the Dungeons & Dragons monsters

Where did Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax find inspiration for his magical monsters like the Bulette, Rust Monster, and Owlbear? Apparently inside a bag of crappy plastic "Prehistoric Animals" sold at variety stores in the early 1970s! Tony DiTerlizzi has more: "Owlbears, Rust Monsters, and Bulettes, Oh My!" (via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

HOWTO make gingerbread polyhedral dice

Our Nerd Home has a great guide to the finicky, difficult, but ultimately incredible art of constructing gingerbread polyhedral dice, with a little help from our old friends, graham crackers. Read the rest

D20 ice-molds

Thinkgeek sells a set of silicone D20 ice-molds for $12. I've never had good luck with two-part molds, but that product-shot is pretty spectacular, and the documentation makes reference to an ingenious-sounding interlock system that has you freezing the bottom half of the mold, locking the top on, filling it up and refreezing. If that works for you, you can also get a Read the rest

Hand-drawn D&D adventure maps

John Baichtal of MAKE says:

I’ve been admiring Jason Thompson‘s beautiful D&D maps that he drew for various classic roleplaying adventures. His sendup of A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity shows a redrawn version of the main dungeon map of the adventure, with each room illustrated to reflect the monsters, traps, and treasure contained therein. Plus, Jason includes annotations describing a theoretical adventure party’s travels through the tunnels.

Beautiful D&D Maps Recount Days of Adventure Read the rest

D&D-Themed movie Zero Charisma pits Nerds vs. Hipsters

Ethan Gilsdorf reviews Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews' darkly comic fable of nerdliness, rivalry and belonging.

D&D with toddlers

Gygax Magazine has posted my article about playng D&D with your toddlers on their site; it describes how I came up with a stripped-down set of D&D-like rules for gaming with my then-four-year-old daughter, Poesy. We had a whale of a time! Read the rest

Assault on Equestria: My Little Pony themed D&D game with a young kid!

The debut issue of Gygax magazine (a reborn version of the classic Dragon gaming mag) carried an article I wrote explaining the variant D&D rules my then-four-year-old daughter an I were using. It involved a blend of random toys from the living room, painted D&D miniatures, dice, and pennies from the piggy-bank for scorekeeping.

Now, one of Gygax's readers has posted his experience playing the game with his own daughter. He used a set of My Little Pony toys (including an awesome MLP castle) to build a campaign called "Assault on Equestria" and it sounds like his daughter had an amazing time -- as did he! It's been a while since I've played D&D with my kid; this makes me want to go dig out the dice-bag! Read the rest

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