When speaking about women’s accomplishments, Ann Richards said women could easily perform given the chance: “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” The same can be said for Princess Leia, who did everything that Luke did. She just did it backwards and wearing an uncomfortable chainmail bikini after having been sexually assaulted by Jabba the Hutt. Think about that when you think about who counts as the heroes of Star Wars. Think about how long it took for Star Wars to tell the heroine’s quest. What does it mean for people to petitionRead More →

D&D Next is more newbie friendly than previous editions of D&D. This means more players will be joining the ranks! Yippie! For new players, adventuring and dungeon crawling can be daunting. No amount of tips or warnings can help. The only thing that truly guides you is the Nike way: Just do it. Nonetheless, principles can advise. This list of “25 Principles of Successful Adventuring” has been around for ages. Unfortunately, the original link seems to have fallen off the face of the interwebz. But first, the list has two shameless missing rules: 1. Gary Gygax’s “Rule of Right”: Always turn right at a T-intersection.Read More →

Many new players are joining the ranks of D&D with the release of D&D Next. The latest iteration of D&D emphasizes roleplaying and character development more heavily than previous editions. The questionnaire below is helpful for writing character backgrounds. It’s been around for maybe twenty years. The original link seems to have disappeared, but here are the questions: ———————————————————————————————————- Character Background Questionnaire The following questionnaire is being provided to help players develop and organize background information for their characters. You do not need to answer all of these questions, but the more of them that you can, the more clear the character will be inRead More →

What do the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) and the typical roleplaying game player’s handbook (PHB) have in common? The character typographies that both articulate are what Kenneth Burke would call “recipes for wise living, sometimes moral, sometimes technical” for fantasy worlds. Burke got this idea of recipes for living by analyzing proverbs through a sociological and rhetorical lens. He concluded that these short, pithy statements were a form of literary medicine, and that their medicinal quality could be found in all things literary. According to Burke, the medicinal quality of proverbs comes from their “naming” function, orRead More →

Today I am grateful for some old school internet acronyms plus some texting ones that have joined the crew. Don’t ask my why I’m feeling this nostalgia. It just is. 1. OMG (Note: The F has fled the scene.) 2. FML (Note: The F has returned.) 3. LOL (tried and true) 4. BRB (where are you going? You’re leaving?!) 5. BRT (BRB’s texting brethren) 6. OMW (BRT’s texting cousin) 7. WTF (Note: The F persists.) 8. IRL (stands for “in real life,” as opposed to…which…well..yeah…) 9. OIC (oh, I see….I see how it is…) 10. FTW (Also tried and true) To be clear: I amRead More →

I had too many things in my hand today while sharing the elevator with a campus police officer. As I juggled my items in frustration, I had this conversation (or an artist’s rendition thereof): Me: I need another hand. Him: I know exactly what you mean. Especially the other day when I was trying to arrest this crazy lady.  Me: It is a lot easier when you play Dungeons and Dragons. Him: [crazy look my way] Me: [not stopping for crazy look] Sometimes when you’re adventuring you say to your Dungeon Master, “I’m carrying my sword in one hand and my shield in the other.Read More →

Generation Splat. Generation*. Millennials. Generation X. Generation Jones. Generation Splat. What’s that, you say? Well, a splat is an asterisk or a wildcard used in a computer search string to represent “whatever.” If I want to search for all the Laura(s) in a database, I would search for Laura*. Now let’s make a link to something seemingly tangential: Gaming. The gaming community expanded the meaning of splat to a metaphor and popularized it with the slang term “splat book.” A splat book refers to the specialized books that publishers release about subcategories used for creating roleplaying characters. To illustrate, the White Wolf company publishes anRead More →

Today, I had the joy of witnessing BRCC’s commencement ceremony. I had more fun at today’s ceremony than at most any other I’ve attended. There have been some momentous ones, where I’ve hooded advisees, watched favorite cohorts graduate, or even graduated myself, but this one was particularly joyous. Today, I got to sit on the stage and watch the students as they shook hands with the Chancellor, pose for the photographer, and clutch their diploma folder. The ceremonies at USF were impersonal, even with students I taught. Today the sheer aura of success radiated off the students’ faces. You can see that aura from theRead More →

At the beginning of the semester I had to give a speech at convocation. I chose to speak about why the start of a new semester is like a fortune cookie. Throughout the speech I periodically opened up a fortune cookie, read the fortune, and made a comment. It was a fun speech and people seemed to like it. People now give me fortune cookies and make jokes about it. I keep trying to explain that I don’t necessarily like to eat fortune cookies, but that I use them during Dungeons and Dragons. I just like to take the fortunes out and put them onRead More →

Paranormal fiction and urban fantasy books are plentiful these days, but a large portion of them are vapid. Allie Beckstrom, the heroine in Devon Monk’s “Magic in the…” series, is a welcome contrast to the genre’s disappointingly passive Twilight female characters.   TV shows such as Buffy, Charmed, and So Weird made common the genre’s kick-ass female characters, and opened the door for urban paranormal’s expanding popularity. The burgeoning teen fiction/young adult market, born with the huge demographic hump of Gen Y, cemented gothy/vampy/werewolfy/witchy/faery stories as a permanent fixture at Barnes&Noble. Yet, as the genre boomed, its greatest strength declined in favor of the lowestRead More →