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.

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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.”

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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!

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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!)

The source of the Dungeons & Dragons monsters

Bulette

Untitled

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)

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.

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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 Death Star ice-mold.

Critical Hit d20 Ice Mold (via Geeks Are Sexy)

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

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.

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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!

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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!

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Call for diversity in D&D rulebooks

On Tor.com, Mordicai Knode asks Wizards of the Coast to consider a more diverse set of portrayals of fantastic personages in the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons.


That being said, I think it is useful for some rough generalizations. Like the fact that in the Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook there are only four black characters. There are more diabolically red skinned people — tieflings — then there are dark skinned people. By a…fairly wide margin. Still, an improvement over the Third Edition Player’s Handbook in some respects. In the third edition, you’ve got Ember, the human monk — but other than her initial appearance under the class description, she’s absent from the rest of the book. Some artists have depicted Regdar as black, and he along with some of the other character have a generous color palate, by which I mean that their ethnicity is fluid on the page. They are hardly pale but neither are they a deep brown in skin tone, lending them a lot of flexibility for reader identification. (Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics would be proud.) And just for kicks, I flipped through an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition Player’s Handbook; there is an illustration so purple it could be ambiguous, but no, that book, like so much of yesteryear, is entirely Caucasian. Lots of crazy mustaches, though...

I’ve heard a litany of excuses for why there are predominantly white people portrayed in roleplaying art, but I’m not buying it. Maybe your claim is that the people buying the game are primarily Caucasian? Since when did it become a bad idea to have a product that appeals to a wider demographic? Dungeons & Dragons exists in the real world. A world where there are people who aren’t white. People who might want to start playing, if they saw themselves reflected in the product. Why artificially limit your profits by only pursuing a narrow demographic? and what, do you think white players are incapable of identifying with people of color? I don’t agree, and I’d point to the widespread acclaim that Order of the Stick has gotten; even if your motive is unmitigated greed, I can think of 1,254,120 reasons to support a diverse cast and complex story telling.

A Modest Proposal For Increased Diversity in D&D

Norway's new Minister of International Development is a D&D champ who thinks LARPs can change the worlds


Here's an abridged translation of a Imagonem interview with Heikki Holmås, Norway's new minister of International Development. Holmås is a lifelong D&D player and LARPer who won the Norwegian D&D championships in 1989 and was sent to GenCon in Milwaukee. Holmås recounts his favorite campaigns and describes how he things RPGs and LARPs can be used for political ends, including settling longstanding, militarized disputes.

- RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they’re unfamiliar with. Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who’ve run human rights-RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role playing games, real emotions that stick, he says.

- That’s kind of the slightly scary aspect of role playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it’s what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you’re safe.

The minister of Development has taken note of a Norwegian LARP-project in Palestine later this year.

- I don’t know all the details, but there’s no doubt that you can put Israelis into the situation of the Palestinians and vice versa in a way that fosters understanding and builds bridges. Those things are an important aspect of role playing games which makes it possible to use them politically to create change.

At least according to Norway’s new Minister of International Development, Heikki Holmås. (Thanks, @apehaer!)

(Photo: Imagonem/Ole Peder Giæver)

Recursive D&D dungeon is a procedural dungeon-generation system


Tavis sez, "A mind-blowingly recursive poster that represents the AD&D rules for procedural dungeon generation as a flowchart which is drawn as a dungeon. From the The Mule Abides blog at NYC's intersection between role-playing games, the gallery art scene, and how Kickstarter can jam 'em together. Cory's linked the Mule before as HOWTO have a D&D party for 8-year-olds; also featured in this post is a nifty Kickstarter for the first publication from the Play-Generated Map and Documents Archive, similarly linked for Homemade D&D module, 1981."

Everything is Flowcharts (Thanks, Travis!)

HOWTO make a stained-glass D20


On Instructables, CaseyBorders's recipe for making stained glass 20-sided dice. A bit tricky to carry these around in your grandad's old Crown Royal bag, but otherwise, they make some pretty smashing (ahem) RPG accessories.

Now we need to cut 20 triangles out of our sheet of stained glass that match the template that we created. The easiest way to do that is to cut a stip of glass the same height as the triangles we cut in the jig. In the example pictures we used a strip that was 1.5" wide because our triangles ended up being 1.5" tall. Place the strip flush across the bottom of your cutting board and set your angle guide to 60 degrees. Follow your angle guide with your scorer so you end up with a 60 degree angle cut off the end of your glass strip. Depending on the kind of glass you bought you might simply need to flip it over to get the other side of the triangle, but the glass in the demo pictures is textured on the back, so we can only cut on the front, so we need to change our cutting guide to 60 degrees the other way. However you end up doing it, make sure that you are making your cuts and angle adjustments as precisely as you can, because if the triangles are not correctly shaped they will not make a good-looking d20.

Once you have 20 good pieces we can etch the numbers on them. Place each triangle in one of the holes of the cardboard template on the laser cutter's cutting surface. Now you can use the same file that we used to make the template but be sure to set your laser to etch only! We don't want to cut around the holes again!

Making a Stained-Glass d20 (via Neatorama)