Saturday Morning Open Thread: D&D, the Family-Friendly Modern Edition

I first hooked up with the Spousal Unit when we were sharing a crowded off-campus ex-frat-house, and he was a serious Dungeon Master. (I wasn’t a player; it was obvious we could either game together or date, and dating won.) His feelings about the game’s new popularity are — as with so many phenomena for us late-Boomer nerds — somewhat mixed:

There was something about Dungeons & Dragons that spoke to Mario Alvarenga in a deep way. He tried it for the first time five years ago — never mind that he was not a teen, as most newbies are, but an adult. While experiencing the role-playing game, he could imagine scenes down to the tiniest detail: the bump of cobblestones on a street, the smell of baked goods in a market, the coldness of the wind. The boredom in his life melted away.

He joined one regular group, then two, then four. Soon, he was leading games as a Dungeon Master at his local game store. Alvarenga, who is 31 and works full time as a caregiver, quickly found his entire nonworking life overtaken by elves, gnomes, dwarves and wizards…

Yes, D&D is back. But it’s cool now (sort of). And legions are into it, including an unprecedented number of adult and female players, attracted by a popular recent revamp and new online playing options. It’s the ultimate sign that nerd culture is now mainstream.

Vin Diesel, Jon Favreau, Drew Barrymore, Dwayne Johnson, James Franco, Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper, Ta-Nehisi Coates: The list of celebrities who have “come out” about rolling the 20-sided dice is as long as a wizard’s beard. “Game of Thrones” writer George R.R. Martin first flexed his storytelling muscles as a young Dungeon Master, as did the showrunners on the HBO series. Joe Manganiello is so obsessed that he wrote a D&D movie script. The game has been on TV shows including “Big Bang Theory” and “Futurama.” Next month will see the release of a “Stranger Things” tie-in D&D starter set…

D&D has come a long way since Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson invented it in 1974 as an alternative to miniature-military war gaming. No longer is it a game to hide out with in Mom’s basement.

Today, people play it at bar and restaurant pop-up events such as “Drinks and Dragons” in Philadelphia, and “Orcs! Orcs! Orcs!” in Portland, Ore. They pay $2,650 per person per weekend to play it in Caverswall Castle in Staffordshire, England. They swell the ranks of the D&D Meetup groups from Tokyo (37 members) to Kolkata, India (501 members)…
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Glamour Shot Open Thread

I was playing Spider-Man when this goofball sat on the coffee table and started watching the teevee. It was a good opportunity to snap some glamour shots that show off his new collar.

How’s everybody’s Friday? The weather gave me half a migraine earlier, so I stayed in. I worked on short stories for an hour or two, and now (as you can see) I’m playing video games with the cat. Really living it up in the big city.

Open thread!

Late Night Light Snark Open Thread: J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeon Master

All due respect to the learned Professor Tolkien, for the great joy he has given us and the myriad tales he inspired, but rereading Lord of the Rings after forty years *does* make it obvious how lightly his original worldbuilding was edited.

Showed this thread to the Spousal Unit, who was a locally renowned DM back in the hex-paper days, and he LOL’d too, so…

Click on any tweet above to read the rest of the thread.

Saturday Evening Open Thread: Samwise!!

We’re finally moving in to the new apartment in Midtown East. Today I went upstate to get Samwise from my friend who’d been taking care of him lo these many months. He’s acclimating very well for a dislocated cat.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled vituperations. I’m going to play Octopath Traveler, probably. Open thread!

War, War Never Changes. Or Does It?



Recently I had the pleasure of being one of many B.E.T.A. testers (Break-it Early Test Application) for the upcoming Fallout 76 RPG game.  It was interesting – quite different as it is semi-multiplayer – and looks to be a major time-suck once it launches next week.  For those who don’t know, Fallout is a post-nuclear war adventure game. Until now, it has been a solo affair, but that changes now.

Besides adding other people, one of the biggest changes involves construction of bases, defenses, etc.  Interestingly, this game (previous versions played by myself and John, that I know of; I assume many, many more) is set in West Virginia, and it looks pretty spot-on. In my testing, I did my best to wander the entire map bushwhacking my way up and down mountainsides, collecting leaves and mushrooms and roots and wood as well as water.

I boiled the water and then made various teas, soups, and the occasional smoked critter as your hydration and food levels need constant replenishment. Catching the occasional disease or skin condition from sleeping on bemildewed beds and sleeping bags was a fun, if annoying twist.

It was neat to really lose one’s self in the hills and hollers of West Virginia.  My father-in-law observed me playing for an hour and remarked how much some of the houses, hamlets, bends in the road, and creeks looked like places he knew (he’s from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, a 20-minute drive from WV).

Because this game will become a bit more competitive with multiple players being able to attack and kill you, I fear shitheads. By nature, I love single player games and two-person cooperatives. I also like first person shooters, especially multiplayer online, but I’m not sure that’s quite how Fallout will roll out as this game is not so combat-focused. I know there will be jerks, but I hope that they will be easy to avoid for the most part.

We all know that groups are stronger than individuals, and so I guess that means that finding a good group will be integral to long-term survival in the game. Which leads me the whole point of this post – is anyone interested in forming an in-game group of jackals?

I didn’t work with other folks in-game beyond a few minutes’ task-sharing, so I’m not sure how it will all work out, but I hope that we can meet in-game and setup our camps near each other, or perhaps stage our camps in useful areas across the Wasteland so that we can share shelter when out on the road adventuring. Since all players won’t see each other at the same time, I’m not sure if this will work long-term, but I figure it will be a fun thing to try, and making an alliance from the get-go should ease the way for many of us as we run into griefers and other jerks.

I am an Xbox player, and I know that many of you are not. For now, Fallout 76 only links players on the same hardware – Xbox, PS4, and PC.  I know that John is a PC gamer (like I used to be and perhaps will be again) but I suspect that many other gamers here might be Xbox users.

What say you all? I was tempted to post my Xbox Live ID but that invites crap, so if you want to hook up in-game, please use the contact form so I can email you. I’m happy to put players from other systems in touch with each other, just use the form to tell me your  game system, player ID, and email and I’ll pass it around privately to others who provide the same.

Have a great afternoon, everybody, and feel free to discuss other games – I’m currently loving No Man’s Sky Next (the new underwater mode is awesome!) and my daily adrenaline fix, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

If you play either on Xbox, hit me up and let’s have some fun.  I often don’t play with headset, but I’m happy to change that since I assume you won’t be a bunch of trash-talking bros spouting sexist and racist shit or kids unable to control their glossolalia (and yes, I spelled that without spellcheck, thank you very much).