dungeons and dragons tagged posts

Storming the Castle! Of Dice and Men Coming to Oglethorpe University

Of Dice and Men (ODaM), the Dungeons & Dragons play created by Cameron McNary, had the premiere of its first full production (outside of PAX) this weekend at the IMPACT Theatre in Berkeley, California. Meanwhile, down in Georgia, a college production of the play is about to kick off at Oglethorpe University.  Recently we spoke with Danielle Hitchcock – a senior at Oglethorpe who will be directing the play – about her expectations for the production, how she found out about the play and most importantly what super-power she wants.

As a member of Oglethorpe’s Alpha Psi Omega (APO) theatre fraternity, Hitchcock became aware of the play after a fellow member heard about the performance at Pax Prime last year. Several of the fraternity members are gamers, and while Hitchcock has only recently been exposed to tabletop gaming, she was excited by the message and prospects of the show. “I would say that the thing that really hooked me is just how real it is.  The characters are all real people.  They are so alive and the emotions are so tangible throughout because everything in this script is truthful. It’s really the truth of the relationships and emotions that got me.”

Hitchcock remarked that there wasn’t a singular “aha” moment where she knew she had to direct the play, but it was more the emotional connection she developed to the characters and story, despite not being a hardcore gamer. “Most of my friend group is composed of pretty hardcore gamers, so these are people that I know and care about…The characters in this play are the people I see everyday and the tight knit friendships that Cameron displays in ODaM are ones that I have.”

As Hitchcock also mentioned, it helps that the play “is absolutely hysterical, but that’s just gravy.”

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Monsters & Madness: A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson

Themes by William O'Connor
Original Post |  Cosmology |  Races 1 |  Races 2 |  Player Mechanics |  DM Tools

For those of you keeping score at home, we’ve come to the end of the Monsters & Madness series. I’ve come to know how much I didn’t know at the beginning of this process but I think I’ve explored the world of the Cthulhu mythos pretty evenly now, which my Call of Cthulhu character will both appreciate and despise. Actually, taking my cue from that RPG, does knowing more about the mythos mean that I’m a little more insane now? Let’s hope not, all the people in my head do.

From the beginning I knew that there were already many Cthulhu games out there (including Call of CthulhuCthulhuTech, and Arkham Horror) so making another game with new rules was not going to interest anybody, let alone me. Instead, Monsters & Madness is more of a mash-up between Cthulhu and Dungeons & Dragons. With any luck, it combines the best qualities of each of these, being recognizably and thoroughly D&D with elements of the mythos woven throughout so that one never forgets that it is also something different.

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Get Thee to Berkeley California: Of Dice and Men Premieres at the Impact Theatre on August 25th!

Written by Castles and Cooks favorite playwright – Cameron McNary – Of Dice and Men is the story of a group of older gamers and investigates the passion behind why we play Dungeons and Dragons and who we choose to play with. Equal parts funny and touching it’ll make you want to give your friends a big hug and then go roam through the Tomb of Horrors with them.

We’ve been following Cameron and his play ever since the first PAX East where a stage reading absolutely brought the house down. Six months later at Pax Prime, the first ever production stole the show when over 550 people packed a theater at the Seattle gaming show. Frankly, we’re fanatical about it and anxiously await for a production to come to the east coast so we can bask in its glory (fingers crossed for PAX East 2012). If you’re a hardcore player, weekend dungeon delver or just someone that enjoys well written theatre, you’ll love this.

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An Open Letter to Wizards of the Coast: Stop Making D&D Video Games!


The world needs to stop making Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) video games. By “the world” of course I mean Wizards of the Coast (WotC). The easy reason would be to say because the majority of these games aren’t good (they aren’t). The real reason is because the nature of a video game is very antithetical to the underlying concepts of playing D&D. Allow me to explain.      

When does this game end? How do we win? When I first tried to teach Dungeons and Dragons to a group of friends, I was met with these questions. To a group of people raised on video board games with discrete rule sets and win conditions, they probably seemed like reasonable inquiries. Hell, even Monopoly has an end-game if you can endure it long enough to get there.      

However, I was stumped, and couldn’t offer any answers beyond, “um it doesn’t” and “well, you don’t ever really win”. In this respect, perhaps above all others, an RPG like D&D is a unique gaming experience. The journey matters so much more than the destination. Half the time, especially in long campaigns that extend over years (real life years, not in-game years) the exact endgame is never defined. You’re simply living out the adventuring lives of the characters.

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D&D July Release Schedule: Calm Before the Storm

At the start of each month, we take a look at the upcoming release schedule for Wizards of the Coast, and Dungeons and Dragons. We’ll highlight the big releases that you absolutely cannot miss, and look at what gamers have to look forward to in the coming weeks.

In what looks to be a relatively quiet month before the full release of a new campaign setting, there are a few noteworthy novels and some new fortune cards to wet the appetite of gamers before the release of Neverwinter Nights in August. A closer look reveals a few enticing teasers for those who can’t wait another 30 days before getting a chance to return to the cold northern city in Faerun.

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D&D June Release Schedule: Nerath and Novels

At the start of each month, we take a look at the upcoming release schedule for Wizards of the Coast, and Dungeons and Dragons. We’ll highlight the big releases that you absolutely cannot miss, and look at what gamers have to look forward to in the coming weeks.

June’s releases are a little sparse as far as game supplements go. No fault to Wizards for that, as the last few months have seen a slew of supplements and game enhancements churned out, so perhaps giving them a month off is no big deal. The only major entry is a spin-off of the Monster Vault series that focuses on creatures that inhabit the Nentir Vale. Beyond that, the month looks to be dominated by a few new novels, and another entry into the world of board games for Wizards. Below are the most noteworthy releases for the month of June.

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D&D: Lair Assault Announcement and Impressions


Wizards just announced a new in-store program called “Lair Assault”. As the official press release explains it; Lair Assault“pits tactically-minded players against a super challenge where the difference between victory and defeat is dependent upon your game knowledge, ability to adapt, and a little bit of luck. You’ll pit your wits against some of the most difficult encounters you’ve ever played. Each challenge is a mega-encounter that plays in just a few hours, but many will need to make more than one run at it in pursuit of victory. D&D Lair Assault challenges are available for a few months, and stores can schedule their sessions at any time during that period.”

One of the nice aspects of this program is the flexibility they are giving stores in running it. Encounters has to be run at specific dates and times which don’t really work out so well for us working folk; hopefully given the choice, more gaming stores will opt for some weekend programs giving gamers more choice.

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An Interview with PAX East DM Challenge Winner Matt Brenner

Among the many gaming events Wizards of the Coast hosted at PAX East, one stood out amongst the others as being particularly special. In what is becoming a staple of the large gaming conventions, a Dungeon Master’s Challenge was held. A one night only event that challenged anyone to craft a one – shot adventure based on specific parameters – to be played over a four hour period. The competing DMs would have to provide all the materials, setups, minis, characters and other things they would need to run the game. In the end, one person would be declared the winner.

Over 20 DMs eventually entered, and excitement was so high for the event that potential players had to be turned away because there just were not enough spots available. After many hours of adventuring, with the parties all engaging in adventures to challenge and defeat fearsome dragons, Matthew Brenner (on Twitter @mjbrenner) emerged victorious, scoring the only perfect score from his group of gamers. The scoring was based on each table of adventurers scoring their DM on several parameters meant to measure the creativity and fun factor of each game.

After his victory, we sat down with Matt to discuss the challenge, how he got started in gaming, and his own tips for running a successful game.

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Crunchy Dishes – Northern Biteroot

Northern biteroot is gnarled and thick, and looks like ginger except for its blue tinge and citrus smell when cut. It is native to only a small area but has been widely exported and grown locally across human lands for it’s mellowing properties. For those not used to spicy cuisine, biteroot is a godsend and a thick sauce made from it is politely kept on the side. By adding it on top of the spicy dish or eating it alongside, one can mitigate the heat and avoid the shame of crying into the offending dish before presumably horrified hosts.

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Pax East Wrap-up

PAX East 2011 has come and gone and based on the numbers, it was the biggest and best PAX yet. Over the next few days we’ll have full articles discussing some of our favorite moments, people, and products that we checked out during the show; but for now here’s a rundown of the highlights:

Met up with Cameron McNary, playwright, and author of Of Dice and Men the play about Dungeons and Dragons that stole the show at last year’s PAX Prime. The e-book for Of Dice and Men is now available and is definitely worth your time and money. The e-book site actually lets you read a sample for free, so there’s no reason not to click that link and check it out. Cameron was nice enough to update us on the status of future productions. The play will be debuting in a production by the Impact Theatre in Berkeley California later this summer. The theatre has yet to officially unveil its summer schedule. He also hopes to have a production in Washington D.C. sometime in the future. Also he didn’t exactly rule out one day bringing a full production of the play to PAX East provided that proper financing (among other things) could be found. Here’s to hoping that occurs sooner rather than later, Of Dice and Men is brilliant. If you still aren’t convinced, check out our recap of the stage reading from PAX East 2010.

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