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      Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons were a match made in hell

      Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons have an interconnected history that goes beyond just being targeted during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Over at Kerrang, John Reppion draws the links from Black Sabbath until today. From Kerrang:

      The November 1987 edition of UK RPG magazine White Dwarf was advertised as a ‘Thrash Rock Special’. “Your eyes and minds have been devastated by White Dwarf for the past ten years, now it’s time for your ears to get it!” an ad in the back of the previous issue warned. The magazine came with a free flexidisc whose single track, Blood For The Blood God, was specially written and recorded by British thrashers Sabbat for WD. Printed on the disc are the words “Based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy roleplay game”, making Blood For The Blood God the first ever official RPG tie-in metal record.

      Two years later, death-grind band Bolt Thrower released their second album, Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness, on Earache Records. The album’s cover art came courtesy of Nottingham-based RPG maker and retailer Games Workshop. Many of the song titles and lyrics related directly to the store’s own sci-fi fantasy RPG, Warhammer 40,000 – of which members of Bolt Thrower were dedicated players. Copies of the album were even sold in Games Workshop, alongside the usual miniatures and rulebooks....

      Perhaps the most overtly RPG-inspired band of the moment are Gygax. Named in honour of D&D’s creator, the Californian four-piece play Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock with themes lifted directly from the players’ handbook.

      Read the rest

      Make: a 3D printed replica of the shrine from Deities and Demigods, sized for D&D minis

      Deities and Demigods is a storied resource book from the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: between being copyright trolled by false claims of infringement on the Lovecraft estate (and a more valid copyright claim over the use of Elric of Melnibon mythos), and the general uselessness of gods and demigods to the vast majority of D&D campaigns, and the book's usefulness to nutjobs who claimed that D&D was a trojan horse for occult indoctrination, Deities and Demigods is a title whose reputation redounds even today. Read the rest

      Kickstarting a gorgeous, thoughtfully designed hardcover notebooks for RPG campaigns

      The Game Master's Tome & Player's Compendium are a pair of A5-sized, Moleskine-like notebook with custom interiors designed for RPG gamemasters and players, with 480 pages' worth of hex maps, worldbuilding note sections, character sheets, quest-notes, etc; the stretch-goals include more pages, paper edging, endpaper art, and larger sizes. Read the rest

      Rebooting Tomb of Horrors, Gary Gygax's incredibly hard D&D module for "invincible characters"

      In 1975, Gary Gygax revealed the Tomb of Horrors module at the first Origins convention, presenting it as a campaign that would specifically challenge overpowered characters who would have to rely on their wits to outsmart incredibly lethal, subtle traps, rather than using their almighty THACOs to fell trash-mobs of orcs or other low-level monsters. Read the rest

      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.

      Read the rest

      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!)

      Read the rest

      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:

      Read the rest

      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)

      Read the rest

      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

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