<![CDATA[Welcome to Hobo Forge! - Home]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2015 19:22:47 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The 1980's D&D Hysteria; Will it Make a Comeback?]]>Sat, 31 May 2014 05:01:31 GMThttp://hoboforge.weebly.com/home/the-1980s-dd-hysteria-will-it-make-a-comebackPicture
D&D is one of the world largest tabletop games; it is very well known, and well loved. However, with fame comes disrepute in some circles -- most notably in the right-wing religious community. 

Religious communities are well known for being  vehement about voicing their collective opinions on things they are opposed to, be it symbology in a movie (Tangled) to the more extreme and obnoxious cases such as funeral picketing. So it is little surprise that 30 years ago D&D was under the microscope for its occult-like symbology and the whipping boy for destroying community and families. 

By nature D&D includes many fantastical concepts and creatures, taking inspiration from many sources such as medieval history and fiction, asian inspired fairy tales and  religious folklore. The first editions of the game included demons and devils, clearly drawing inspiration from various religious folklore pagan and christian alike. 

The first major religious objection to D&D was in the early 1980s. Patricia Pulling founded a group called Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (B.A.D.D.) after the suicide death of her son, Irving, that she believed was that direct result of D&D gameplay. She filed two lawsuits, one against her sons high school principal, and one against TSR. Both suits were dropped, but that didn't stop Pullings advocacy against roleplaying games. B.A.D.D was successful in getting their views aired through various media, and Pulling herself appeared alongside Gary Gygax in an 1985 episode of 60 minutes. She claimed that D&D promoted such practices as: Satanism, Witchcraft, suicide, rape culture and murder among other things. 

Throughout the 80s Pulling facilitated various gaming related lawsuits, starring as an expert witness and consultant to law enforcement. While the lawsuits lost, the negative media D&D was receiving was enough to make many people question the morals of people who played D&D. The apex of Pullings influence came in the form of a book titled The Devil's Web: Who Is Stalking Your Children For Satan?, which has become famous for misconceptions, inaccuracies and questionable writing practices. One  memorable example of misconception in her book is the treatment of H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon as a work of non-fiction.

Pulling continued her anti-occult campaigns with B.A.D.D. until her death in 1997, shortly thereafter the activism group dissolved. 

Towards the end of the 1980's there were a few articles that were published that had contradicting points of view on the subject of D&D being directly involved in occult activity. The first of these articles was written by the co-author of the Ravenloft module for D&D, Tracy Hickman. The Hickman articles start with Ethics in Fantasy: Morality and D&D / Part 1: That Evil Game! which addresses the ethics of having D&D as a hobby from a Mormon point of view. Hickman being an author of various game modules and supporter of tabletop RPGs has a generally positive point of view on the subject. 

Soon after the Hickman articles were published, Michael A Stackpole wrote Game Hysteria and the Truth (1989), which details the flaws in journalistic reports about RPGs and D&D in particular. He also published an article called The Pulling Report, calling out the authors misrepresentations in her credentials. 

Straight Talk on Dungeons and Dragons was published by William Schnoebelen in 1989, wherein he talks about his experience with Satanism and Wiccanism, and how D&D was involved. He states that not only did he give details about both religions to a TSR representative as a community sorcerer, but that the rituals found within D&D are authentic rituals. In his essay he points out that D&D is a tools used by occult groups to introduce them to behaviors that are opposed to Christian beliefs and teaching. His follow-up article, Should a Christian Play Dungeons and Dragons? (2001), focuses less on the hysteria surrounding the game and its occult connections, and more on the morality of Christians using occult concepts for entertainment.

Most famously from this era of D&D occult hysteria we have the Chick Tract: Dark Dungeons. For those who are unfamiliar with Chick Tracts, they are little comic books of the Gospel meant to use as a tool in Christian witnessing. Dark Dungeons was a tract that was published in 1984, right in the middle of the D&D occult panic; it misrepresented the game in numerous ways, adding to the fear and misconceptions. The tract shows relations between magic in the game and in real life being connected, the DM as the cult leader pressuring and punishing young teens, and lastly ends with a girls suicide which leads the heroine to find Jesus. 

With news covering false information about teenage suicides being connected to D&D games, occult being involved in the marketing of books to lure children in, and pressure from the religious community in form of harmless cartoons its not surprising that D&D was banned from schools, and shunned in the "normal" community. Eyebrows were raised if you mentioned that D&D was your hobby, looked upon as an occultist. A stigma that stuck with the game for well over a decade. 

While this might all seem like a thing of the past, there are still people who consider D&D to be a dangerous game that leads to occultism and suicide. Pat Roberson of Rightwingwatch.org still believes that D&D (and other roleplaying games) is a cause of teenage suicide and is heard saying as much in 2013. Perhaps there are more people who thoughts run with Robertsons. 

Lastly, Dark Dungeons is becoming a movie reality August 14, 2014 thanks to Kickstarter. From reading the Kickstarter page, one would assume that the project head is making this movie just because of the sheer ridiculousness of the idea behind the original tract. However, recall that the original purpose of the tract was to be used as a tool to stop the spread of D&D and other roleplaying games. Therefore one must ask, what affects will a movie like this have on misconception of D&D in this day and age of tolerance? 

The likely answer is no affect at all will come to the game, but it still is a good reminder that there was once a huge stigma to tabletop RPGs. It also serves as a notice that perhaps D&D-like games are still not tolerated in some social and cultural circles. 

Further reading: 

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<![CDATA[DM Lesson 1 - The timeline of Dungeons and Dragons, and the modern tabletop RPG.]]>Fri, 02 May 2014 01:46:39 GMThttp://hoboforge.weebly.com/home/dm-lesson-1-the-timeline-of-dungeons-and-dragons-and-the-modern-tabletop-rpgPicture

While knowing the history of the game isn’t crucial to dungeon mastering or playing the game itself, it is useful knowledge for those delving into world creation and homebrewing, so you have an idea of what has been done, what has worked and what hasn’t. While I am not going to go over the errata and the differences of various editions or the different rulesets and settings, what I am going to do is give a timeline overview of D&D itself.

Why focus on Dungeons and Dragons? While it may not be the tabetop game you are playing, it is the grandpappy of what we know as Tabletop RPGs today, and it is always good to know where you came from.

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D or DnD) was derived from a miniature war game called Chainmail and the first incarnation of D&D actually required you to have a copy of the Chainmail ruleset. Both games were designed by in part Gary Gygax and published under Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) in 1974 and is widely regarded as the invent of the modern day pen and paper RPG.

When released D&D had three character classes (fighter, wizard and cleric) and four races (human, dwarf, elf and hobbit). A two year period after initial release saw the publication of various supplements the most notable being Greyhawk. Not only did Greyhawk separate D&D from its dependency on Chainmail, but also added the thief class.

Eventually D&D branched out into Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or AD&D (1977), introducing a heavier ruleset then its earlier incarnation. D&D still existed as a game system with a more basic ruleset, and AD&D was for those who liked more structure. 

AD&D altered and clarified class abilities, combat systems, alignment. Bard, illusionist and ranger were officially introduced, and the grey lines of class and race between elf, dwarf and hobbit were cleared up. The Chainmail combat system was abandoned, and official rules for combat included in the Players Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide. Alignment were expanded into ethics and morals, creating nine potential alignments. 

In 1997 Wizards of the Coast (WotC) announced the acquisition of TSR and therefore the rights of Dungeon and Dragons. Soon after WotC started to let go of some of the product that was not selling and focusing on improving a new edition.

The two branches continued until the year 2000, where the original line was discontinued, and AD&D was now officially Dungeons and Dragons which we now know  commonly as the 3rd edition and the start of the d20 system.

The most notable change to the game in 3rd was the addition of the d20 system; THAC0 is replaced by a bonus to attack rolls, Armour Class increases defensive capabilities, rather then decrease as in 2nd edition. Skills are introduced into the game to further define characters. Feats are created, class groups become more defined (some are renamed, such as thief to rogue), sorcerer is added, a new multi-classing system is created, prestige classes added, and more options become available for class/race combinations.

One of the most played editions, D&D 3.5, was released shortly after in 2003 and has become one of the most popular rulesets of all time. 3.5 spawned many supplement books and eventually helped spawn Pathfinder.

Most of 3.5 was fine tuning, barbarians, bards, druids, monks, paladins and rangers all receive updates or reworks. New spells are added, as well as changes to existing spells. There are also changes to some feats, monster scaling, grid-based movement and combat, and damage reduction. 

The latest published edition is 4th, released in 2008 to poor reception due to fans feeling that 3.5 was not in publication long enough to garner another release so soon after. 

Major changes in 4th edition include: reduction of alignment system from nine to five, revision to saving throws, changes in resourcing for spells and abilities and the addition of the "Paragon Path" and "Epic Destiny" systems. There are also revisions to the multi-class system, healing, and non-combat spells. 

D&D Next is finished play-testing and is slated for release in 2014. 

Okay, so maybe you are not playing D&D... so here are short histories of some of the more popular non-D&D games. 

Traveller by Game Designers Workshop was another popular tabletop that started around the same time D&D did (1977). Based in sci-fi, and is intended to be a space opera (think Firefly). The game right now is in its Traveler5 incarnation released in 2013.

Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium was first released in 1981, and is now on 8th edition published in 2011. It is based in the H.P. Lovecraft story by the same name and falls under the horror genre. It not only has its own official d20, but many other manifestations such as board games and video games.

Dark Heresy is a Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game system based in gothic sci-fi and uses a d100 system. The game system was published in 2008 by Black Industries which sadly folded soon after the games release. Luckily Fantasy Flight Games picked the project up and has released the original and multiple supplements, the latest being Only War (2012).

Generic Universal Roleplaying System (GURPS) by Steve Jackson Games is a system that was designed to allow play in any game setting. It was first published in 1986, and is now in its 4th edition (2004). GURPS uses a d6 system and has a variety of licensed and fan made product.

These are just a few tabletops in a list of hundreds, and within that you have the various editions, rulesets and settings. I encourage you to start with learning the history of what you are currently playing, and then go from there. 

Want to learn more about this subject? Check these links: 

I welcome questions, comments and your DM experiences in the comments section below! If you want weekly updates on DM related topics, subscribe to the feed to your right, and don't forget to check out our YouTube channel. Until next time, may your pockets overflow with treasure...

<![CDATA[Hobo Forge Podcast!]]>Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:45:28 GMThttp://hoboforge.weebly.com/home/hobo-forge-podcast It has been a little bit hectic getting things cleaned up and ready for spring, as well as my cosplay costume ready for the Calgary Comic Expo coming up, but I do indeed have things to post! It just takes a lot of time to edit videos and sound. 

I digress... 

Here is our first podcast for our campaign - A Momentary Lapse of Reason! 

<![CDATA[YouTube Channel now up!]]>Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:17:01 GMThttp://hoboforge.weebly.com/home/youtube-channel-now-upThe first Hobo Forge video is out now! Part one of creating an outdoor tile set is now available to view. Subscribe to the new YouTube channel for regular updates and to see part two next week!

See it here: Hobo Forge YouTube Channel]]>
<![CDATA[Tabletop News - Iconic Illustrator Dead at 59]]>Sat, 29 Mar 2014 01:33:11 GMThttp://hoboforge.weebly.com/home/tabletop-news-iconic-illustrator-dead-at-59Picture
David A. Trampier, illustrator of early D&D works, such as one of the most iconic covers for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, has passed away at the age of 59. 

"Trampier’s style was an essentially unique blend of cartoonishness and realism. If the legendary Errol Otus, with his rough-hewn, dynamic line drawing, was D&D’s Jack Kirby, Trampier was its Neal Adams. His art bridged the kineticism of earlier, more “primitive” artists with the hyper-slick realism of later artists like Larry Elmore and his generations of imitators." -SALADIN AHMED of tor.com

You can find more about this iconic artist at tor.com.