Author Archives: Shane

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes Title

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes #68 – Vast Oblivium / The Wormwrithings

Beholder fight in Karazikar’s Maw (the Vast Oblivium)! Before that: eyes in the dark and messages to King Bruenor. This part of the book really needs some maps and diagrams, WotC! But hey, feel free to ask a question about them bridges and this zany DM will make up an answer on the spot, baby. Does Blindness work on a beholder? The ins and outs of an antimagic field. Fighting a beholder in its lair. Jumping rules plus Step of the Wind monk ability. Follow-up discussion on negative D&D group dynamics. A DM’s exact role in D&D per Xanathar’s.

This is an ongoing series of Shane’s notes, thoughts and tips for running the D&D adventure Out of the Abyss, which is the tabletop portion of the Rage of Demons story line.

Each video follows the most recent session with his group.

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes Title

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes #67 – Worm Nursery / The Wormwrithings

The Worm Nursery concludes. It’s almost as if hanging around a place where purple worms protect their eggs might be dangerous. Saliva and guano in copious amounts. Sideswiped by a natural freight train. The mechanics of reading Vizeran’s mad book on magic. The actual rules for harvesting poison from a creature (and what it sells for). Handling characters when the player can’t make it. Investigation or Perception for finding traps? Arguments in D&D groups and recommended behavior for DMs and players to help prevent a real life TPK.

This is an ongoing series of Shane’s notes, thoughts and tips for running the D&D adventure Out of the Abyss, which is the tabletop portion of the Rage of Demons story line.

Each video follows the most recent session with his group.

shane plays podcast title 2-17-2018

Fantasy Author Jeremy Morphis! (Plus Lovecraft) – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 136

shane plays podcast title 2-17-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 2/17/2018:
Fantasy author Jeremy Morphis! (plus Lovecraft)

Highlights: Fantasy author Jeremy Morphis joins to chat about Lovecraft, Cthulhu and his novel series the Strandian Tales. Plus: Lovecraft trivia!

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1:05 PM Central on 96.5 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at http://965fmtheanswer.com and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_2-17-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

20 bizarre facts and bits of interesting trivia about H.P. Lovecraft
http://www.thelovecraftsman.com/2011/03/20-bizarre-facts-and-bits-of-trivia.html

Fungi from Yuggoth used in show intro:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygloU8c7aww&t=1814s

Podcast version zinger is from Hey there Cthulhu – Female Cover:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vbaL6qt6_c

NEWS ITEMS

Drizzt Do’Urden returns in an all new trilogy | Nerdist
https://nerdist.com/drizzt-dourden-return-new-trilogy-ra-salvatore-timeless-exclusive/

Call of Cthulhu gets a new gameplay trailer | RPGSite.net
https://www.rpgsite.net/news/6789-call-of-cthulhu-gets-a-new-gameplay-trailer

GUEST: JEREMY MORPHIS

jeremy morphis

Author Jeremy Morphis joins to chat about Lovecraft, Cthulhu and his fantasy novel series the Strandian Tales. With stirring action, multiple magic systems, a good mix of drama and mystery, humor, fantastic dialogue and strong relationships, Jeremy’s fiction sets itself apart and (as he reveals in this interview) began percolating years ago when he ditched class with his buddy (don’t try this at home, kids).

Jeremy’s books on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Jeremy+Morphis&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Jeremy+Morphis&sort=relevancerank

a resurrection of thieves cover jeremy morphis

bound in shadows cover jeremy morphis

 


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Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
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http://kryptonradio.com/

rpg history tsr code of ethics for d&d

RPG History: TSR’s Code of Ethics (D&D “Comics Code Authority” rules)

rpg history tsr code of ethics for d&d

UPDATE: Wargaming and RPG historian Jon Peterson of Playing at the World provided an additional version of TSR’s guidelines from 1982 after this post was initially published, so we now have documents from both 1982 and 1994. Thanks, Jon!

Did you know that TSR (the company that first published Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 but eventually sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1997) created a set of rules and guidelines for what could be said and done in their game and fiction products in the early 1990s that was similar in spirit to the (in)famous Comics Code Authority?

(Jump straight to the Code of Ethics Document itself)

I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs for over 30 years and I didn’t know about it until this post from EN World clued me into a Facebook discussion that is practically gold to amateur historians of D&D like yours truly.

In order to improve its public image after the so-called “D&D Moral Panic” of prior years (and also to give it an easy excuse if it decided to pass on a gaming module or fiction book, etc.) , TSR created a document called the “TSR Freelancer Code of Ethics” that had rules and guidelines very reminiscent of the Comics Code Authority. The difference is that this was TSR’s own self-policing (instead of having to be approved by an external agency like comic book publishers did with the CCA). It also appears this Code of Ethics was very loosely enforced.

The Facebook post in question is from from author and editor James Lowder, who did some writing for TSR back in the day in their Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft novel lines. 
(As of the time of this writing the Facebook post and related comments are public)

Alex Kammer (Director of Gamehole Con) also shared a copy of the code with slight differences in the post’s comments.

Here’s what James Lowder had to say in his initial post:

“TSR Freelancer Code of Ethics. TSR attached these pages to all game and fiction contracts issued in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (These pages are copied from a 1992 fiction contract, but I received the same pages with RPG design contracts.) The guides, which I’ve always assumed were created in reaction to the 1980s Moral Panic around D&D, were obviously modeled on the old Comics Code Authority rules. They were, to be blunt, patently ridiculous. Editors never enforced them. Entire TSR product lines, such as Ravenloft, would have been impossible if they had been enforced. The code was in place when I started with TSR in 1988. I recall the pages being dropped from fiction contracts around 1993, but apparently they stuck around long after that.”

Which, along with the images he shared (see below) is pretty cool in its own right. But then we get some comments from within the gaming community that add a lot of extra details and context:

James Lowder: This version of the TSR Code does not mention demons and devils specifically; I’ve never seen another version. I will see if I can find the design guides for the 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium. (I was a designer on that.) If demons and devils had been mentioned anywhere in design guides, it would have been there.

James Lowder: There are some versions of this code with minor variations. Just looked at my contract for Prince of Lies and a couple of the clauses are worded a little differently and the bits about Depiction of Self (19) and the LARP hating (20) are gone.

Peter Archer: I don’t remember including it in any WotC contracts.

Miranda Horner: If it helps at all, I vaguely remember that [removed] wanted us to drop the Code during the acquisition period.

Jolly Blackburn: When we had the D&D license for Kalamar and the comic book we ran into some push back similar to some things on that list. We had several covers rejected on the comic because the heroes were shown running away from a larger foe. We were told heroes never run away.

Mark Rein-Hagen: It has been a long time since I saw that, it looks and feels even more ridiculous now than it did then… and back in the day it seemed whack. It was attitudes like this that gave Vampire the space it needed to be it own thing, and why we had such a hard time getting distribution at first. Strange to think back now that once Vampire were an “edgy” product seen by some (well many) as “irresponsible” and even “unethical.” What shit we got for it…

Of course today Vampires are as mainstream as it gets, as is “dark fantasy” of all kinds. Including the kinds of fantasy that lustfully and joyfully include regicide, incest, rape, kinslaying, assassination, and genocide… and where good seems to rarely prevail against evil.

Zeb Cook: I remember earlier versions for the game side weren’t a Code, but editorial standards. It was shorter and less officious. Things covered included excess violence, language, sex, drug use is negative, and the general idea of not glorifying evil. Others were just editorial things (“you” means player, not character; etc.). Mostly it informed freelancers of what was likely to be an issue and, hopefully, make submissions less likely to require significant rewrites. Only a little was hard and fast (profanity, sexual acts, and gory descriptions). The rest was always an issue of degree and judgments. We got very good at skirting the edges.

James Lowder (responding to Zeb Cook): That same code posted above went out with RPG freelance contracts in the late 80s and early 90s, though I never saw it enforced as written in games either. The editorial approach you describe was what I saw as a games freelancer and much more like what happened in books, too. Basically, is there a good reason for X to be in the text?

James Lowder: Some of the items are clearly modeled after the Comics Code.

Steven Winter: We were literally handed the comics code to use as a starting point.

James Lowder: The code was put together more for PR purposes, rather than a functioning (or enforced) set of guides for content.

Steven Winter: It was openly discussed many times that there were two main reasons for having the code in writing. First, when mothers, teachers, and librarians got worked up over D&D being a bad influence, we could show them our standards to calm things down. Second, if an author wrote something in violation of the code and we chose to make an issue of it, we could say, “it’s not us, it’s the code.”

The Code of Ethics Documents

UPDATE: After this post was first published, wargaming and RPG historian Jon Peterson of Playing at the World provided an additional version of TSR’s guidelines from 1982. Jon’s notes and document appears first due to chronology, and then the James Lowder and Alex Kammer versions discussed above follow.

Version of the TSR’s Code of Ethics shared by Jon Peterson (from 1984):

The 1984 version is similar to Alex’s 1992 version, three pages, but only 18 bullet points. It has a different principle 3, “Archetypes,” so “Agents of Law Enforcement” is principle 4 in that one. It also has “Slang and Colloquialisms” as principle 7, which bumped “Profanity” back to 8. “Sexual Themes” (9 in the 1992) is “Rape/Lust/Sexual. Perversion” (11 in the 1984). The 1984 has a “Human Form” as 13. It also has a single bullet (15) for both “Races and Slavery”, which are spread into two (12 and 13) in the 1992. Finally, the 1984 does not have anything like the principles 17, 18, and 19 shown in the 1992.

The earliest version I’ve seen is 1982. It fits on just one page, with 13 bullets. It’s attached. The HJ in the upper right corner tells us to blame Harold Johnson for distributing it in July, but he didn’t write it. It was the result of a large internal TSR working group that was addressing effectively the Satanic Panic and related bad PR. The original memo that contained the code dates to June 7, 1982, and that memo explicitly talks about how these principles derived from the comics code. There is a lot of language about how these are just guidelines. It also included a couple bullet points about standards for graphic material, but they essentially just say that they conform to the same principles as the written one.

TSR Code of Ethics from 1982 (Jon Peterson provided)

TSR Code of Ethics from 1982, fits on one page (Jon Peterson provided)

Versions of the TSR’s Code of Ethics shared by James Lowder and Alex Kammer (from 1994):

James Lowder version:

tsr code of ethics 1 james lowder version

TSR Code of Ethics page 1 (James Lowder version)

tsr code of ethics 2 james lowder version

TSR Code of Ethics page 2 (James Lowder version)

of ethics 3 james lowder version

TSR Code of Ethics page 3 (James Lowder version)

tsr code of ethics 4 james lowder version

TSR Code of Ethics page 4 (James Lowder version)

Alex Kammer version:

Per Alex: “Here is … my copy from 1992. It is a little different.”

tsr code of ethics 1 alex kammer version

TSR Code of Ethics page 1 (Alex Kammer version)

Here is page one of my copy from 1992. It is a little different.

TSR Code of Ethics page 2 (Alex Kammer version)

tsr code of ethics 3 alex kammer version

TSR Code of Ethics page 3 (Alex Kammer version)

tsr code of ethics 4 alex kammer version

TSR Code of Ethics page 4 (Alex Kammer version)

Bonus: Mildly Snarky TSR Memos

Alex Kammer also shared these two TSR memos: “Here a couple of other funny things I found while looking for the ethics doc.”

tsr memo use phb for players handbook june 28 1994 from a

TSR directing usage of PHB instead of PH for Player’s Handbook

tsr memo list of verboten words july 19 1994 from alex kammer

TSR memo with “verboten words” soul and God

 

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit and hand 1

Feast your eager Star Wars geek gaze upon Solo trailer cockpit and technology screencaps!

One thing I noticed immediately with the Solo trailer is that there’s a lot of sweet cockpit and tech shots to gaze upon (Millennium Falcon and otherwise) that not only respect decades of established Star Wars Empire-era design, but also show us even more “tech elements” of a galaxy far, far away we’ve not seen to date.

Here’s some screencaps I grabbed from both the teaser trailer and the Super Bowl spot. I hope you enjoy letting your eyes hungrily rove among them as much as I did putting this post together.

Before we really get started, I’m throwing this shot in as well in case you haven’t realized yet that in the Solo movie timeframe, the Falcon’s mandibles are covered by what I have heard termed a “shroud” of some kind:

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon and tentacle no mandibles on falcon

Bite that tentacle, Han! I *can’t*, her mandibles haven’t grown in yet!

Speeder Cockpit

star wars solo super bowl trailer speeder cockpit shift

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 1

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 2

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 3

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 4

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 5

star wars solo trailer speeder cockpit 6

Non-Falcon Starship Interiors

star wars solo trailer han straining at yoke

star wars solo trailer hand pulling horizontal lever down

star wars solo trailer hand pulling horizontal lever all the way back

star wars solo trailer gunnery position

Did you think this might be Maz at first? I was wondering, but… nope

Various Tech

star wars solo super bowl trailer imperial work station

star wars solo super bowl trailer imperial counter

star wars solo trailer droid in front of monitor screens

Is that Berzerk on the monitor to the left??

star wars solo trailer droid in front of monitor screens 2

star wars solo super bowl trailer performer in gold with mic and mouthpiece and creature in glass jar

Wonder if that mouth piece is translating? Or maybe transmitting to the mic so the performer has more freedom of movement. Notice the symbol on the mouthpiece and the jar to the left are the same

Millennium Falcon

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon corridor clean and white

So… clean and bright. Do Star Wars starships age horribly in the rigors of space, or are Han and Chewie just typical bachelors?

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit and hand 1

I LOVE this stuff

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit and hand 2
star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit and hand 4

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit shift lever near switchesstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit shift lever near switches pushed forwardstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit horizontal crankstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit horizontal crank pushed forwardstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit wider shot towards rearstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon chewbacca and lando

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon chewbacca and lando 2

Those yellow headrests don’t make it to A New Hope timeframe

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit rear left seat
star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit lando rear shot

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit han front left sidestar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit front right view lando and droidstar wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit hand and switches

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit hyperdrive levers

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit hyperdrive levers pushed forward

star wars solo trailer millennium falcon cockpit looking forward jumping to lightspeed streaking stars

Lightspeed, baby!

Here’s a photo gallery version, if you’d rather drool over everything that way.

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes Title

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes #66 – Worm Nursery / The Wormwrithings

The Worm Nursery continues. Be quiet or you’ll make momma mad. Purple worm milking for fun and profit. Are you sure you want to check a book out from this library? Chasm crossing 101. This place really needs a Terminex inspection. Do all combat spells require you to see your target? The finer points of giving commands to shield guardians. Is D&D a game engine or physics/reality simulator?

This is an ongoing series of Shane’s notes, thoughts and tips for running the D&D adventure Out of the Abyss, which is the tabletop portion of the Rage of Demons story line.

Each video follows the most recent session with his group.

Torment Tides of Numenera thumbnail

Let’s Play Torment: Tides of Numenera #24

The Valley of Dead Heroes continues as the Phoenix rises (sort of), we learn about a tantalizing new metal from a forgetful trader, buy some sweet loot, and finally enter the Necropolis only to interrupt some… aggressive negotiations.

Torment: Tides of Numenera is the thematic successor to Planescape: Torment, one of the most critically acclaimed role-playing games of all time. Immerse yourself in a single-player, isometric, story-driven RPG set in Monte Cook’s Numenera universe. What does one life matter? Find your answer.

shane plays podcast title 2-3-2018

PolyHero Dice & D&D News! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 135

shane plays podcast title 2-3-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 2/3/2018:
PolyHero Dice & D&D News!

Highlights: We talk with PolyHero Dice about their cool themed polyhedral RPG/tabletop dice (currently Kickstarting their Rogue set), plus D&D news! 

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1:05 PM Central on 96.5 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at http://965fmtheanswer.com and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_2-3-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

Podcast version zinger is from Bruce Blitz Interviews Cartoonist Mort Walker and Beetle Bailey:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSHs4fYuGoA

NEWS ITEMS

Mort Walker, whose ‘Beetle Bailey’ was a comic-page staple for decades, dies at 94 | Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/mort-walker-whose-beetle-bailey-was-a-comic-page-staple-for-decades-dies-at-94/2018/01/27/bcd374ec-039e-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes for D&D 5e – Coming in May | Tribality
https://www.tribality.com/2018/02/02/mordenkainens-tome-foes-dd-5e-coming-may/

It’s Time To Pre-Order Your Copy Of Into The Borderlands | EN World
http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?4887-It-s-Time-To-Pre-Order-Your-Copy-Of-Into-The-Borderlands

GUEST: POLYHERO DICE

Game Salute brand manager Brenna Noonan joins to talk Polyhero Dice and their unique themed RPG / tabletop dice sets, including their current Rogue set Kickstarter.

PolyHero Dice
https://www.polyhero.com/

Rogue Dice Set Kickstarter:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/polyherodice/polyhero-dice-rogue-set

Game Salute:
https://www.gamesalute.com/

Brenna Noonan Music & Writing:
https://www.brennanoonan.com/

polyhero dice rogue set


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Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

shane plays polyhero dice wizard set review thumbnail

PolyHero Dice WIZARD Set Review: themed polyhedral D&D / RPG Dice

Review of the PolyHero Dice Wizard set, a wizard themed polyhedral dice set complete with bolt, fireball, scroll, potions, wand and orb (plus a spell book as Kickstarter reward).

Will these dice cast a spell on your table during gaming, or fizzle and leave you hanging? Watch and find out!

PolyHero website:
http://www.polyhero.com/

 

shane plays podcast title 1-27-2018

Stefan Pokorny on D&D, Dwarven Forge & Life! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 134

shane plays podcast title 1-27-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 1/27/2018:
Stefan Pokorny on D&D, Dwarven Forge & Life!

Highlights: The one and only Stefan Pokorny talks about D&D and Dwarven Forge! Stefan is super enthusiastic about the RPG hobby (to put it mildly 😀), has a gonzo outlook on life and has built a well-respected, high quality gaming terrain biz in addition to appearing in two different D&D/RPG related documentaries.

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1:05 PM Central on 96.5 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at http://965fmtheanswer.com and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_1-27-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

NEWS ITEMS

Oscar nominations 2018: the full list | Den of Geek
http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/movies/oscars/54779/oscar-nominations-2018-the-full-list

GUEST: STEFAN POKORNY AKA “THE DWARVENAUT”

Dwarven Forge was founded in 1996 by artist Stefan Pokorny, a medieval fantasy devotee — and an avid Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. As a classically trained, professional painter and sculptor, Stefan decided to create “real” dungeon terrain that would equal his incredible 25mm tall hero figures. After many months of painstaking design, sculpting and painting, he introduced the world’s finest pre-painted miniature terrain in 1996.
From: https://shop.dwarvenforge.com/pages/about-us

Dwarven Forge
http://www.dwarvenforge.com/

The Dwarvenaut Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGFr7yGpqEY

The Dwarvenaut Full Movie
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agvmtnT6p6I

stefan pokorny


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/