David Millians, Editor
Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
It is with a heavy heart that I report two deaths this month, one you probably know, the other you certainly don’t. They are both important to me.
The first is Len Lakofka, an early contributor to Dungeons & Dragons and friend of co-creator Gary Gygax. He was notable for his articles in Dragon Magazine as well as three adventures for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Designers & Dragons does a fine job of summing up what Mr. Lakofka was known for:
Lakofka wrote quite a bit of material that ended up in the published Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide as a result. However, he says that his biggest contribution was convincing Gygax not to include a “system shock” roll on the Hold Person spell, which would have been a saving-throw-vs-death on a second or third level spell. Lakofka’s most famous and well-known contribution to the hobby takes the form of material produced for TSR. He was paid $10,000 for a series of three modules based on his home campaign: L1: The Secret of Bone Hill (1981), L2: The Assassins Knot (1983), and L3: Deep Dwarven Delve (1999). The last was famously lost by Wizards of the Coast and recreated by them from memory.
The other person I’d like to mention is Joe. I met Joe in junior high, and he was one of the first and most loyal players in my D&D campaign. When I ended the game with a massive battle in high school, he was the only player who kept a scrap of paper that I had scribbled an in-game prophecy on. That prophecy proved invaluable when I wrote my trilogy of novels inspired by my D&D campaign. In that game, Joe’s character died abruptly (we were playing AD&D, and he failed his saving throw from a finger of death spell with a natural 1). But his character’s actions would reverberate throughout the campaign. A group of druids established a circle in his name and venerated him as a saint.
I never imagined Joe, who was three years younger than me, would pass before I did. He died of a massive heart attack at 45.
In these difficult times we often discuss keeping ourselves safe and sane, but it’s easy to overlook the quiet players on our fringes who love the game but aren’t taking good care of themselves. Joe was nothing but kind and friendly, but personal and health struggles both likely contributed to his sudden death. I stopped gaming with my high school friends years ago. Joe was a casualty of that division, and although we were Facebook friends, we never spoke again.
As I write this, Joe’s ashes are being spread into the sea. I added a dedication to Joe in my second novel (where his character is mentioned). In that way I hope to keep his memory alive. I’ve also been playing the superb Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings. It’s a solo journaling game in which you create a vampire that is eventually undone by their many sins. Because the game forces your character to forget things over time, it brings to the forefront difficult topics like aging, senility, and how we tell ourselves stories to remember our past. Your vampire eventually comes to an end and it provides closure in a way real life often doesn’t. It is a beautiful game that arrived at just the right time to help me grieve.
There is always “that player” in our game. The quiet one who, for a variety of reasons, may look forward to the game most because things aren’t great in their personal lives. I hope Joe’s passing can serve as a reminder to us all to check in on them.
Thank you for reading.
Review: Accessible Gaming Quarterly
By David Millians
An ambitious, promising new magazine has hit the virtual gaming stands last month. Accessible Gaming Quarterly aims to explore and support the intersection of tabletop games with accessibility and disability. These are important issues in society and affect gaming and gamers as well. We all need to work for equity and inclusivity, and this magazine deserves a look.
The editor, Jacob Wood, leads off this first issue with a description of his own degenerative blindness, how it brought him to tabletop gaming, and the games and methods he has used over time to play everything from D&D 3.0 to Fudge. Justin Oldham then explores some of the same of the same challenges from a different angle, especially the advances in technology and the shifting attitudes in society.
T Dave Silva follows with an essay on Batgirl/Oracle and the The Thing and the ways in which their physical differences gave them challenges and opportunities, metaphors for all of us, and Thomas Carter shares the background of a blind orc magician about to begin tales of great discoveries and deeds.
Elsa Sjunneson discusses conventions through the lens of adaptation as a disabled value. Where does a wheelchair park? Where can a guide dog lie down? No one should be invisible, and we should all learn to adapt.
Jacob Wood rounds out this first issue with an in-depth review of Power Outage, Bebarce El-Tayib’s rpg for parents and educators of children with disabilities. I think I need to pick up a copy!
Speaking of getting a copy, the second issue of Accessible Games Quarterly was publicly released late last month in PDF and print forms.
FROM DAVID MILLIANS
Abad, Tobie (2020 Oct 11) Talk on Filipino Tabletop Games. https://tagsessions.blogspot.com/2020/10/talk-on-filipino-tabletop-games.html. Brief description of presentation on games to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Appelcline, Shannon (2020 Oct 26) Giants of the Industry: Lenard Lakofka. https://www.rpg.net/columns/advanced-designers-and-dragons/advanced-designers-and-dragons39.phtml. Life and legacy of a beloved creator.
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (2020) Origins Award Winners. https://www.originsawards.net/origins-award-winners. Best Games of 2020.
Byrne, Bob (2020 Oct 26) RIP Lenard Lakofka – Lord of the Lendore Isles. https://www.blackgate.com/2020/10/26/modular-rip-lenoard-lakofka-lord-of-the-lendore-isles. Another exploration of Lakofka’s contributions to tabletop gaming.
Hall, Charlie (2020 Oct 19) Dragonlance authors sue Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast. https://www.polygon.com/2020/10/19/21523673/dragonlance-authors-weis-hickman-sue-wizards-of-the-coast-dungeons-and-dragons. New trilogy of novels in limbo for now.
Klion, David (2020 Oct 23) The Game That Ruins Friendships and Shapes Careers. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/23/the-game-that-ruins-friendships-and-shapes-careers. The insights provided by Diplomacy and analysis of President Trump official and once fellow-player Michael Ellis.
Lone Shark Games (2020 Oct) October Surprise. https://www.october-surprise.com. Many creators and companies declare their support for Biden-Harris.
Maliszewski, James (2020 Oct 27) A TSR Mystery. http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-tsr-mystery.html. Whatever happened to TSR’s Education Department and its planned educational modules?
Moreno, Jim (2020 Oct 26) Call For Writers Launches to Create Kara-Tur – The Island Kingdoms: Bawa for D&D 5th Edition. https://www.thegamer.com/kara-tur-island-kingdoms-bawa-dnd-5th-edition. Re-envisioning the problematic, orientalizing D&D 3rd Edition supplement.
Morrissey, Russ (2020 Oct 19) Dragonlance’s Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman Are Suing WotC for Breach of Contract. https://www.enworld.org/threads/dragonlances-margaret-weis-tracy-hickman-are-suing-wotc-for-breach-of-contract.675697. New Dragonlance novels now in Washington state court.
Petersen, Sandy (2020 Oct 16) I Love Games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT8c0ExHftk&feature=youtu.be. Sandy discusses the games that have influenced him as a designer.
Pulsipher, Lewis (2020 Oct 9) How RPG Tools Have Changed. https://www.enworld.org/threads/worlds-of-design-how-rpg-tools-have-changed.674603. Dice, boards, and other pieces over time.
Pulsipher, Lewis (2020 Oct 16) The Chain of Imagination. https://www.enworld.org/threads/worlds-of-design-the-chain-of-imagination.675256. A spectrum of imagination demand by varying nedia from movies to novels with hobby games in between.
Roll20 (2020 Oct 15) The Orr Group Industry Report Q3 2020 – Breakout Hits and Steady Classics. https://blog.roll20.net/post/632076046197489664/the-orr-group-industry-report-q3-2020-breakout. D7D 5E, Call of Cthulhu, and Pathfinder still dominate, while many games, like Tormenta and inSANe and Lancer, show strong growth in play.
Stacey, John (202 Oct 16) GAMA Announces Efforts to Restructure Membership. https://www.gama.org/news/530914/GAMA-ANNOUNCES-EFFORTS-TO-RESTRUCTURE-MEMBERSHIP.htm. Declaration of intent to increase engagement and diversity.
Thrower, Matt (2020 Oct 12) Friendly local game stores’ struggle to survive during coronavirus. https://www.dicebreaker.com/categories/board-game/feature/flgs-pandemic-survival-struggle. Hope, innovation, and a few grants help UK stores keep afloat for now.
Wizards of the Coast (2020 Oct 27) Heroes’ Feast. https://dnd.wizards.com/heroes-feast. Cookbook for Dungeons & Dragons.
Yorke, Chloe (2020 Oct 23) Genshin Impact, Steam, Call of Duty and Jay Chou Lead China Charge. https://radiichina.com/genshin-impact-steam-call-of-duty-and-jay-chou-china. The world’s largest game market continues to grow and affect gameplay everywhere.
© Copyright 2020 by the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa), ISSN 1071 7129. The CAR-PGa Newsletter is a monthly publication. For more information contact David Millians, Editor, Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA, phone (404) 808-1070, fax (404) 377-3491, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Back issues are available. Contributions of material from the membership are urged, and the byline is responsible for content. Deadline is the last weekday of the month, email preferred. Permission is granted to copy anything in the Newsletter, provided we get a credit line in the publication copying it, and it doesn’t have someone else’s copyright on it. Information, including details on joining CAR-PGa, can be obtained on the Internet at car-pga.org.