RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Wizards of the Coast

Dungeons and Dragons, Devil’s Playground to Pop Culture Staple

TT_NotTheFandom

In the early 70’s, fans of war games like Chainmail created a game that would become one of the most popular in history.  Dungeons and Dragons was published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc in 1974, and was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  The venture was a risk, but one that ultimately paid off for the fledgling company that would later be known as TSR.  During it’s time, TSR released three versions of the game, over the course of 23 years, and sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1997 who has put out four versions of the game in less time.  The game sparked an industry that has become massive, but, despite stiff competition, D&D still remains the most well-known – and popular – tabletop RPG.

Like a lot of people, my introduction into tabletop RPGs was with Dungeons and Dragons, and I got in at the tender age of 14.  I was on vacation with my folks, back in the town I grew up in but no longer called home.  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition had just been released, and a buddy of mine I’d known since elementary school – and kept in touch with despite distance – invited me over to play a game with his friends.  We rolled up a character for me, a draconian named Ayla (I was reading Valley of the Horses on that vacation) and we set about having a great afternoon of fun.  Little did I know that day would spark my love for a hobby that I still carry 26 years later.

It was an interesting time to get involved in this hobby; a transition period of sorts, when D&D was just starting to change its image and become more popular with groups of younger players.  The game was beginning to climb out of a dark period of paranoia, ignorance and outright hate surrounding ideas of what people thought the game was.  Many people were afraid of it due to simple ignorance.  I knew a lot of friends who had to hide the fact they played D&D from their parents, and others who got in trouble when their books were found.  Non-gamers like Jack T. Chick and Patricia Pulling were outright spreading lies about the game, linking it to the occult, devil worship, and witchcraft to try and keep people away from the game.

Patricia is infamous for starting Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons, or BADD, in 1982 after her son committed suicide.  She believed that a D&D curse was placed on her son at school, which led to his death, and even sued the school principle for wrongful death and then sued TSR.  I presume the kids played at school.  She started BADD after the suits were thrown out, and used the advocacy group to push the idea that D&D caused children to participate in all manner of awful activity including rape, murder, Satanism and suicide.  During the course of the case, several reporters disproved her claims, including one report by Michael A. Stackpole which showed that players of the game were far less likely to commit suicide than non-gamers.  When Pulling died, BADD evaporated, but it continued through my early years of playing D&D.

Read the rest of this entry

The Wrath of Ashardalon Review

The Wrath of Ashardalon Review

Game Designed by Peter Lee
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Release date: February 15, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons is best known as a tabletop RPG where a group of players sit around a table and role play as their previously created character. They listen to a Dungeon Master, who writes the story, describes scenery, invents situations and stands in as NPCs. It’s been the experience of many a D&D player that a good DM is hard to find (I’ve been blessed with amazing DMs, but I hear other people have this problem). Well, with the invention of Dungeon & Dragons board games, this isn’t a problem anymore.

Just over a year ago – right after I moved to Los Angeles and right before I met my current DM – I bought a board game called The Wrath of Ashardalon. It’s a cooperative game for 1 – 5 players with 5 pre-made characters and 13 build-as-you-go dungeon adventures. Each adventure is more difficult than the last, with the 13th and final being an assault on Firestorm Peak to find and defeat the dragon Ashardalon. The game is part of the D&D Adventure System, which means it can be combined with other D&D games, such as Castle Ravenloft, The Legend of Drizzt, and the newest game The Temple of Elemental Evil.Wrath of ashardalon unboxed

I originally bought this game for two reasons: 1) I was missing my D&D group back in Pennsylvania; and 2) I was excited that it has the option to play alone. When I got the game, however, I was disappointed that there is only one adventure tailored to the single player. This is the first adventure, which is designed to show you how to play the game and doesn’t have much replayability.

The rest of the adventures suggest 2 – 5 players. This is another disappointment because it’s nearly impossible to defeat any of the dungeons with just two players. Even Adventure 2 proved to be too difficult for just me and a friend. We were able to defeat it easily with four players, though, so it’s not all bad.

The game plays very much like a D&D campaign, but your actions are limited and the game itself is the Dungeon Master. Reading the rules of the game caused a lot of controversy, though. They are vague and leave a lot to interpretation. This caused arguments within the group with whom I played the game. Eventually, I was able to quell any confusion my group had by explaining how things worked in a D&D campaign, as I was the only person who’d played before.

Wrath of Ashardalon playingThe adventures themselves are fun once you get the hang of it. The monsters have varying degrees of difficulty, allowing for some experiences to be more challenging than others. The game requires your group to pull together and defeat each dungeon, which gives you the same feeling of accomplishment as a normal D&D campaign. It’s a good substitute for when your DM is sick or just can’t make it for one reason or another.

Do I recommend it? Yes. It’s a fun substitute for an actual campaign. However, I would suggest that you try to get four or five players, including at least one who has played a D&D campaign before who can clarify or make executive decisions in regards to the vague rulebook. That will make the transition much smoother and your adventures much more interesting.

This is also a good choice as a Christmas present for the gamer in your life!

-Vanri the Rogue

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon