Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Geek of the Week: Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel, famous action movie actor known for having actual action chops and a huge set of biceps, plays D&D. This probably isn't news to you, if you're a D&D player who has visited a forum in the last seven years, but it is remarkable nonetheless. Diesel played the game as a youth and his game continued into his adult life. He even wrote the introduction for the 30th Anniversary D&D book (link below). I suspect he still plays, at least at the time of this interview (audio only)


A transcript below(thank you Der Kluge of ENWorld):

Conan: You have this image right now, of an action star, tough guy, but there is, for lack of a better term, maybe a slightly nerdy side to Vin Diesel, is that fair to say?
audience: *laughs*
Conan: Please don't rip my head off, reach into my neck, and pull my heart out, but... You can do that later, but.., let's just say a side of you that people might not expect.
Vin: I spent a lot of years playing a game called Dungeons and Dragons.
audience: *laughs*
Vin: Very few people know that I was rolling 20-sided dice and talking like a half-orc
Conan: You would talk in the voice when you played the game?
Vin: Oh, we completely role-played, yea.
Conan: *laughs* you're kidding?!
Vin: (in the voice of a half-orc) "How dare you!?"
Conan: That's amazing! (in a nerdy voice) "Fear not, Gandalf is on the way!"
audience: *laughs*
Conan: That's what I would be, if I was playing with you. You would not let me play with you, probably. You'd be like "that guy's too nerdy, he's gotta go."
audience: *laughs*
Conan: So you played this for like how long?
Vin: For like 24 years.
Conan: For 24 years?! *laughs* I know...
audience: *laughs*
Vin: Now I call it the training ground for imagination.
Conan: Right, well that's very...
Vin: But this was before video games. I started playing in the 70s. And, this was, I mean, I could have played Risk, Monopoly, or D&D.
Conan: Right, which was probably the cooler of those games.
Vin: I think, yea.
Conan: And you created a character for youself, didn't you?
Vin: I created a character... No one knows this, but in Triple-X, one of the tattoos, right above my belly-button, or below my belly button, I don't know why I'm saying this *hoots from audience*, was the name Melkor. And that came from a character that I had, uh..
Conan: That you created in Dungeons and Dragons?
Vin: that I created. That was a Drow witch-hunter. Double-specialized witch-hunter. but this is all
Conan: There are so many nerds watching right now who are just thrilled. Cause you're making them cool, suddenly. All these guys are watching going "Go, Vin Diesel, Go! Go!" All hail, Melkor, you know?
audience: *applause and laughter*
Conan: I think that's neat though. See that you did, see that you'll talk about it.

Notice that while Conan assumes this is all past tense, Diesel talks about playing D&D in the present tense. Very interesting. Sadly, I can't find a direct picture of the tattoo.

After this interview, D&D became a favorite topic in Diesel interviews.

Here he discusses D&D with Jimmy Kimmel:

He says he hasn't "played recently", again he mention's Melkor. He mentions playing as an adult and a player who would get drunk and brandish a gun (which is why I don't allow weapons at the table.) Here's an article also talking about it.

This is Vin Diesel on Shootout:

Very poignant on this one, talks about it lovingly but completely in the past tense. Mentions playing it while being a bouncer. Claims not to know about "now in the age of technology".

Jonathon Ross on the BBC:

Amusing discussion about Ross' wife WoW playing. Light but pleasant

This guy from UGO tries to engage Vin Diesel and check his geek chops. Diesel shoots right back and nails the interviewer on his lack of nerd cred.

Interview one:

Interview two:

Here is the coolest interview though:

Great response.

Vin Diesel is our geek of the week. I'd love to see him in a Drizzt movie. If he's too old to play Drizzt, he'd make a perfect Zaknafarian.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

D&D Candles, Creams, Lip Balms, and Lotions

 Jessica Peffer, known as NeonDragon on Elfwood and her own website, sells D&D monster themed candle, cremes, lip balms, and lotions on her etsy store site. Check it out below.
The Art of Jessica Peffer by NeonDragonArt on Etsy

Here are some examples:
Kiwi - Lamia Laughter - 8 oz Body Lotion.Wyvern Wisdom - Chocolate Fudge - 8 oz Candle TinGolden Rose - Phoenix Pinion - Soy TealightsButtercreme - Chimera's Cry - 8oz Candle TinManticore Musk - Brown Sugar and Fig - 8oz Candle TinGreen Tea and Lemongrass - Dryad Dreams - 8 oz Candle Tin

There are also buttons and glass pendents of this art, if buying a pricey, stinky candle or cream doesn't appeal to you. I wish her success, and think I might pick up the Manticore Musk to try to cover the musk my players make every Sunday evening in my gaming den.

This blogger doesn't get a cent if you buy from NeonDragonArt, btw. Just lifestyle reporting. If you feel the need to give me money, purchase from any of the other links around. I did find some of NeonDragon's books on amazon though:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Community Episode: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

I must admit to having never watched Community before, despite really liking Chevy Chase. However, I couldn't miss an episode called "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons". The episode is a very impressive piece of writing, in which a plan is hatched to save "Fat Neil" from his depression by playing some old school AD&D.

The game gets crashed by the evil Pierce who quickly turns the game on its head in a manner to make Malhavoc proud. The episode is far better than the similar effort by "Jessie" (see prior post), as it shows how a game really can run. The episode is below.

The episode is witty, funny, and is the best presentation of D&D I've ever seen on screen. This is another must watch for D&D players, simply for the excellent lines if nothing else (see below). It even handles "Sex and D&D" better than Phil Foglio ever did, something I never thought would be possible.

I personally was inspired to create a soundboard for sound effects to hit while playing. The entire game doesn't use a single miniature, and reminded me of how I used to always run games before 3e. It's interesting to note the materials used, and there's a fourth ed book on the table among the other items, anyone know which one it is?

Other content for your amusement:

An interview with writer Andrew Guest on Wizard's website:

Some lines from the show (spoiler alert, watch the show first):

Abed introducing Pierce as a character: You notice a 67 year old naked man lying in the grass shivering. . . in about 13 turns he will die of exposure. (points to Jeff) Jeff.
Jeff: I wait 14 turns.

Troy’s first “Dungeons and Dragons” attack: I attack him using my (looks at sheet) additional notes.

Neil: This sword was one of a kind. It was forged by my ancestors.
Pierce: I hump it.

Pierce: I can't hear you over the sound of me rubbing his sword on my balls.
Abed: You have (rolls) successfully rubbed your balls on the sword.

Pierce: I won Dungeons and Dragons, and it was Advanced!

Abed (regarding Pierce's character): He's face down, barely breathing, a pool of blood around him.
Shirley: I can't tell you how long I've dreamed of this moment! . . .In the game.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fear of Girls

Fear of Girls is a genuine cultural phenomenon. Ryan Wood's first installment of the series was once the #1 Blogged site according to daypop.com and was slashdotted five years ago on January 26, 2006. Fear of Girls, if you haven't seen it, is definitely part of the D&D geek landscape. The series manages to make us laugh at ourselves and squirm terribly at the social awkwardness some players experience.

In the series DM Doug Douglason (Tom Lommel) and player Raymond Ractburger (Scott Jorgenson) live primarily in their D&D world, making the real world a true challenge for them. Below I've included ALL the deleted scenes from the show, some of which are hysterical. Enjoy!

Warning: Some material my be NSFW. No dirty pictures or anything, you perv.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

D&D Pinball Machine

In 1987, Pinball games were made for just about anything that had reached popular consciousness. You know you were a success if you had a pinball game made for your intellectual property. In this year, Bally made the Dungeons and Dragons Pinball game.

The playfield is really gorgeous and unusual. The central featue is the pyroclastic plume that erupts from the dragon that lights up score markers. The flippers and the inlane/outline combinations are not standard. In addition, there is a teleport feature were the ball goes in one place and comes out another (really a second ball) and saving throws. You heard me, saving throws. More on that below. There were strobe lights above too.

Only two thousand of these beauties were ever made. You can see that the POV shot below with everything lit up nicely. 

Check out the button underneath the flipper on the shot below. That's a "Magic Save" which stops the ball from draining down the right or left side. Of course, it also sports a stylized version of the old logo with the dragonl ampersand.


I believe this is the original catalog shot below.

Monday, January 31, 2011

D&D Commercials Then and Now

Here's a look at D&D commercials over the years.

1983 I was twelve years old and this commercial seemed so very cool. That and I had a crush on the girl with the braids. I love the group. Two kids in big pilot lenses. Sweaters! However there are two female players, no Mountain Dew on the table and everyone is listening to the DM, that's so unrealistic.

And there was the little known D&D Labryinth Computer Game. I really wanted that as a kid, but Santa never brought me one. You play head to head against another players trying to find the treasure, while avoiding the dragon.

For the Intellivision (which we had) there was the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons computer game. This game launched scores of adorable little girls into playing D&D, which is why we have so many today. OK, that didn't happen.

NO advertisements for the 90s, which is the decade TSR folded. Here's a 2003 D&D boardgame commercial in German, which just makes it goofier. I never saw this game, has anyone played it?

This commercial may have appeared on G4 a few years back for the book, Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies. This is for real? I never thought that there were hordes of yuppies yearning to play D&D but they didn't know how.

An informational video for 4th edition. I love the depiction for 3rd edition grapple.

A modern commercial for 4th edition. That beholder statue is so cool, I want one in my home.

And the super rocking Red Box commercial done by that Dungeon Mastery guy. Always rocking, the original video is even cooler.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Blame Tom Hanks

All this ridiculous talk about D&D being a gang activity for gangs has me remembering the days when D&D was Satan's game. Back in middle school I had to constantly explain that D&D wasn't a tool of Satan and wasn't going to cause me to commit suicide. D&D being a gang activity is just as ridiculous. If I'd known I would have recruited a couple of Crips when I used to live in a really lousy neighborhood.

A group of gangsters playing "old school", notice the red shirts identifying them as "Bloods"

Personally, I blame Tom Hanks. If you did not know, back during the search of James Dallas Egbert III, the 16 old kid who was involved with drugs, older homosexual men, and D&D who went missing for a month. D&D, and not the drugs or older homosexual* men who were exploiting him, was blamed. Writer Ron Jaffe wrote a book called Mazes & Monsters about a college student who plays a game like Dungeons and Dragons and goes insane doing so. This was turned into television movie starring a young Tom Hanks in 1982, before Bosom Buddies and Splash. 

*Please do not take these statements as being anti-homosexual, I assure you the opposite is the case. I am disgusted with anyone who exploits minors sexually, heterosexual or homosexual. 

The movie provided the example concerned loved ones needed to cause them to force their kids to stop playing D&D and sometimes even burn their books. Players tell stories of being called into the principal's office, or even having assemblies in school warning of D&D and the influence of the occult.

It's all very funny now to see these clips of Tom Hanks with D&D. I hope you enjoy them. Of course, I really want to see a Youtube video of Tom Hanks saying how ridiculous this was and apologizing for all those kids who had to burn books and things; that would be something to see.

The DVD!

MAZES AND MONSTERS. The original book in hardcover.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seventh Court of Appeal fails Intelligence check

sThe Seventh Court of Appeal has held up the ban of D&D being played by prisoners in a Wisconsin jail on the grounds it could encourage gang behavior.

It looks as if another sad chapter is opening in the already dim history of D&D, which has been misunderstood and scapegoated for years. It seems incredible that a game whose audience tends to be law-abiding citizens with productive lives including a high number of professionals and college educated people is being accused of promoting gang-related behavior. Particularly when there is absolutely no evidence of such, in fact I imagine most gang members would  rather be dead than caught playing something as nerdy as D&D.

It seems some activism is called for. Here's an article:

Here's a petition:

Here's a possible address to the prisoner who is pressing the suit forward:

Kevin T. Smith
c/o Waupun Correctional Institution
200 S. Madison St, PO Box 351
Waupun, WI 53963-0351 

Or you could write the acting warden, Mr. Jim Schwochert, and tell him your thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I'm going to suggest something to directly challenge the ban. Mail Mr. Smith (or any prisoner at the facility in question) individual solo adventures,along with a character sheet and sheets with pre-rolled random rolls on them. Not recognizable immediately as D&D product and not involving getting together, confiscating such materials would definitely be a violation of First Amendment rights. I'm going to work on the idea further.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christina Applegate plays D&D

Once upon a time, there was a show called "Jesse" starring that little hottie from "Married. . .with Children". There was an episode of "Jesse" in which Jesse falls for a math teacher who's also also a D&D player, and actually shows a session making fun all the way. Offensive? Sure. Funny? Yeah. C'mon, admit it. The producers did consult with Wizards at the time this was made. Which is something, isn't it?

YouTube - Jesse 1.12 The Mischevous Elf: ""

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Geek of the Week- Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt is a long-time self-confirmed D&D player. Besides that, he jokes about comics, pop culture, and even Mesopotamian cuneiform script.
Mr. Oswalt in his native environment, approach with caution

Below are the three bits he did for the show Reno 911. Now the guy who is wearing the helmet and is shot by the arrow is my old buddy Jack Conway, who used to be a customer in a comic store I ran a long time ago. It's really funny to see Jack in these segments, and he assures me that Patton really knows his D&D. Enjoy!

RENO 911!
Magic Missile
Lt. Jim Dangle's Sex TapeTerry TimeThomas Lennon and Ben Garant Review RENO 911! Porn Parody

RENO 911!
Chaotic Evil
Lt. Jim Dangle's Sex TapeTerry TimeThomas Lennon and Ben Garant Review RENO 911! Porn Parody

RENO 911!
Moustache Petition
Lt. Jim Dangle's Sex TapeTerry TimeThomas Lennon and Ben Garant Review RENO 911! Porn Parody

I believe this is the series that has the three segments.

Patton's book, which, unlike Snooky's, was actually written by him!

Patton telling jokes, which is what he does when he's not playing D&D or reading comics.

A related bit from a SCA sort of event.

RENO 911!
Courtesy Flush
Lt. Jim Dangle's Sex TapeTerry TimeThomas Lennon and Ben Garant Review RENO 911! Porn Parody

Monday, January 3, 2011

Darkon, a review

At some point, a documentary film maker thought, "What sort of project should I do?" Somehow, defying all belief or logic, the answer was, "a bunch of nerds in costumes running around beating each other with boffers." Furthermore, and incredibly, that was the right answer. Andrew Neel & Luke Meyer have done an incredible job with Darkon.

Darkon is a brilliant documentary, managing to perfectly capture both the drama and excitement LARPers (Live Action Role Play) feel with the contrasting fear, revulsion, and judgement other may feel. The film explores a storyline that occurs within the game, where a small kingdom rebels against a large and imperialistic kingdom solely on principle alone, and the lives of some of the players including the two opposing leaders.

Darkon manages to put you inside the mindset of the players while, often simultaneously, showing you just how very nerdy the whole thing is. You get caught up in the drama of the brave little kingdom that opposes such an obviously crushing entity, and the drama of their individual lives. Kenyon Wells, a successful businessman who claims Darkon as the founding experience that brought him the confidence he needs to succeed. Rebecca Thormund, a former stripper who lives with her mother. Daniel Mcarthur, an overweight and incredibly awkward young man who has trouble fitting in even among the Darkon crew, who dreams of being accepted and finding the courage to talk to a girl.

The story is mainly, however, about Skip Lipman, the D&D playing house husband and dispossessed son of a mail-order game mogul who escapes into Darkon where he is the leader of his own kingdom. Skip is an immediately lovable loser, who cares about his wife and kids, dutifully cleans house, plays a lot of D&D, and occasionally stands up to tyrants. Skip discusses his life and how he came to his present circumstances, while engineering the resistance to the despotic Mordheim kingdom. Skip is a guy who doesn't know how to quit, and this fighting spirit shows on what are positively moving battle sequences.

Darkon is a D&D geek's movie, even if you've never even considered playing  LARP. Darkon is heavily influenced by D&D, including a clan of treacherous dark elves and actual gold pieces. D&D in part of the parlance in the game, and figures into the character's personal lives as well. Skip, in particular, plays with his children and uses the miniatures to make battle plans for Darkon.

It's a worthy watch for people who don't play D&D, and for D&D players this movie is a must. Skip is now part of the lexicon, and Darkon now has a place in D&D culture. It's on the Netflix Instant watch, or you can use the links below.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tim Duncan, the Merlin of the NBA

Those who watch the San Antonio Spurs may already know of the magic that is Tim Duncan. The superstar Texas basketball player has been playing leader for his team for most of his 13 year career. This epic level player is large sized at a towering 6 ft. 11 inches and combines at-will jump shots with powerful immediate interrupt shot blocking to make opponents dominated (until end of Duncan's next turn.)

What many don't know, and the reason Duncan is being named Geek of the Week, is that this NBA striker is also a D&D fan and player. Duncan, nicknamed "Mr. Spock" in college, is a quiet intellectual who enjoys D&D and fantasy video games. He sports a tattoo of Merlin on his chest and a skeletal jester on his back.

Duncan also enjoys the Texas Renaissance Festival and sword and knife collecting. What is not known is what class he prefers, but I assume wizard from his tat. I'd love to have him in a session. I've got a spot at my table whenever you want Tim. 

This useful action figure doubles as a giant miniature. I'm going to have to stat this up. 

Tim's +3 Jersey of Jumping.