Meet a professional D&D dungeon master. Yes, that's his main gig.

Timm Woods, 30, is one of New York City's most popular Dungeons & Dragons dungeon masters-for-hire. He's also working on his PhD dissertation, titled "Anything Can Be Attempted: Table-Top Role Playing Games as Learning and Pedagogy." From Brian Raftery's profile of Woods in Wired:

...While Woods is one of several DMs-for-hire out there, this isn’t his hobby or a side gig; it’s a living, and a pretty good one at that, with Woods charging anywhere from $250 to $350 for a one-off three-hour session (though he works on a sliding scale). For that price, Woods will not only research and plan out your game but also, if you become a regular, answer your occasional random text queries about wizard spells. “He’s worth the money,” says Kevin Papa, a New York City educator (and occasional DM) who’s been part of this Friday-night game for more than a year. “Being a DM requires a lot of brainshare. I don’t know how Timm absorbs it all.”

As it turns out, the very attributes that help form the core of every Dungeons & Dragons character—strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma—are the same ones needed to be a stellar Dungeon Master. Woods describes himself as “100 percent an introvert,” but the kind of introvert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention under the right circumstances. Which explains why he has been known to crack jokes in an elf’s voice or dramatically narrate castle-yard battles with cacophonous verve. When he was younger, Woods preferred to be alone, living inside his imaginary worlds; now he has a job in which, night after night, he must share those worlds with others.

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The FBI's Gary Gygax file calls the original Dungeon Master "eccentric and frightening"

Reason Magazine's C.J. Ciaramella filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for the Bureau's file on TSR, the company that E Gary Gygax founded when he created Dungeons and Dragons (now a division of Hasbro). Read the rest

On Ebay: the rare, original "woodgrain" D&D set

A mere $5,700 (as of current writing) gets you the 1974 first printing of the game that Tactical Studies Rules used to change the world(s). Read the rest

Super 8 video of Dungeons & Dragons session in 1981

Boing Boing contributor Ethan Gilsdorf -- author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest For Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, And Other Dwellers Of Imaginary Realms -- posted this geekily nostalgic Super 8 film he shot in 1981, at age 15, of his buddies playing Dungeons & Dragons. "Look for the classic Mountain Dew can at 1:53," Ethan writes.

(via r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Prolific and talented D&D map-drawer

Dyson Logos's G+ account is an endlessly scrolling inventory of hand-drawn D&D maps, each one cooler than the last. Read the rest

Interview with a designer of the new Dungeons & Dragons

On the always excellent Expanding Mind podcast, we hear from Jeremy Crawford, one of the designers of the new 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

"We discuss identity, the multicultural multiverse, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the sacred absurdity of terrible dice rolls," says host Erik Davis.

Listen here:

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A look back at the D&D moral panic

Retro Report did a short feature on the moral panics about D&D in the 1980s. It's a fun, 13 minute look back at the moment when D&D totally changed a bunch of kids' lives, only to be vilified and literally demonized by opportunistic members of the religious right. Read the rest

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

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