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    >My new video "A HARD DAY'S KNIGHT," in which I don chain mail to find glory, donuts and spare change for my quest. BIGGER SCREEN ON YOU TUBE

    CLASSIC BOOK trailer! [bigger screen on YouTube]

    more videos here

    Entries in d&d (43)


    How is a lawyer like a wizard? D&D goes to Harvard (and so do I

    How is a lawyer like a wizard? How does a courtroom resemble an epic battle? How is a casebook like the Dungeon Master's Guide? I'm excited to be part of the "Berkman luncheon series" to give a talk called "How Dungeons & Dragons and Fantasy Prepare You for Law and Life," February 11, 2014, 12:30pm, at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

    Click to read more ...


    Hire me!

    Ethan reads, makes world safe for geeks. Sometimes he wears these grampy pants.

    I love to give talks and readings, slide presentations, moderate panels, teach creative writing and role-playing games, and inspire people to geek out.

    I've appeared at conventions like Pax East, Gen Con and DragonCon; read at book festivals in Atlanta, Brooklyn and Boston; spoken at universities like MIT, Notre Dame, Bryn Mawr and LSU; and appeared at dozens of bookstores, book groups, high schools, libraries, and other venues.

    I've fought (badly) with foam swords in public. I'm not afraid to wear my chainmail and tunic. I've taught 25 newbies how to play Dungeons & Dragons in one evening.

    If your bookstore, library, book group, writer's festival, college/university, high school, club, game shop, convention, bar, cafe, mother, etc. would like to book me to give a talk, slide-lecture, organize a discussion, teaching a writing class, or have moderate a panel or Q&A, let me know.

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    The Original D&D Gets a New Deluxe Edition

    Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the company that owns the D&D brand, has embarked on a new campaign in the past year to recapture older gamers whose magic-users and paladins slayed many an orc and beholder and pillaged many a graph-paper-charted land. All year longWotC has been reprinting new editions of ancient tomes from the heyday of tabletop role-playing games. On November 19, the granddaddy of them all arrives: a deluxe edition of The White Box, the original D&D set (aka OD&D) first published by Tactical Studies Rules, or TSR, Inc, back in 1974. (In a exclusive, a new photo of the final product prototype is pictured here.)

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    How D&D changed my life and the life of Brian "Clerks" O'Halloran

    I had a great time at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, geeking out and waxing nostalgic with Brian "Clerks" O'Halloran about how D&D changed (and warped) our lives and saved our asses. Thanks Brian and thanks BostonFIG.

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    Announcing, Dungeons & Dorkwads!

    What is a dork-off, you ask? Noble and Ethan, we are not-so-youthful dorks, with an unhealthy attachment to the role-playing games of our glory years — D&D especially — and assorted fantasy, science fictional and pop cultural artifacts. Here at Dungeons & Dorkwads, we exhume and celebrate these lost relics, be they worn dice, faded hand-drawn maps, broken lead figurines, beat-up Tolkien boxed sets or Hoth or Happy Days dioramas. (We’d like to see one that combines both universes.) Then, we geek out about them.

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    I'm on PBS's "Off Book" to discuss D&D

    I was asked to appear in this PBS Off Book program and jabber about the importance of D&D. Sure, I can do that.

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    Dungeons & Dragons Is Evil Again

    Save vs. disbelief. Pat Robertson, former Southern Baptist minister, Chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and erstwhile presidential candidate, had this to say last week about the latest blight on America: Dungeons & Dragons: The game is "demonic.” “Stay away from it,” is his advice, in 2013.Wait — Dungeons & Dragons? Yes, D&D is back. And it’s more evil than before. This would be amusing, if it wasn’t so scary.

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    Exploring the origins of D&D for Wisconsin Public Radio

    Dungeons and Dragons is the single most famous roleplaying game in the world. Writer Ethan Gilsdorf didn’t grow up in Wisconsin, but his love of D&D led him to fantasize about visiting the game’s hometown: Lake Geneva, hometown to Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. In this cool radio piece, Ethan explores the origins of D&D for Wisconsin Public Radio

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    Mitt Romney as a D&D Character? 

    Now that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is wailing on his opponents Newt, Rick, and Paul, perhaps it's time for his deeds to be enshrined as a D&D character.

    Artist Casey Jex Smith has been working on a series of works that depict people as D&D characters. Here, Mitt Romney, although unnamed, is shown as Lord Spelldyal, a 21st level warlord with 152 hit points, Boots of Speed and a Helmet of Authority.

    The drawing was one of the works in the Dungeons and Dragons On & Ever Onward art show at the Soho Gallery of Digital Art in New York City. The show, which closed Jan 11, 2012, was curated by Timothy Hutchings, and featured works by Casey Jex Smith, Ryan Browning, Sean McCarthy, Rebecca Schiffman, Josh Jordan, Jeffrey Brown, Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, Chris Bors, Owen Rundquist, Andrew Guenther Jason Phillips, Ketta Ioannidou, Fiona MacNeill, Kitty Clark, Erol Otus, Steve Zeiser, Matt Brinkman, Chris Coy, and others.

    And it featured historical selections from the Play-Generated Maps and Documents Archive.

    More from Casey Jex Smith's D&D characters series here.

    Image courtesy Allegra LaViola Gallery


    [a version of this post originally appeared on's GeekDad]


    Gygax Biopic in the works

    The has reported and confirmed a rumor that’s already been echoing through the dungeons of D&D talk: that a Gary Gygax biopic is in the works. Michael Tresca wrote:

    George Strayton confirmed he is … the scriptwriter for a $150 million movie based on Gary Gygax’s life. George describes the film as a ‘combination action movie and bio pic.’ The movie will tell the story of how Gary created Dungeons & Dragons, switching between his real life and the fantasy realm of Dungeons & Dragons.

    Strayton is the CEO/Lead Designer of Secret Fire Games, as well as a writer for TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys andXena: Warrior Princess, and the animated feature Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

    Another morsel: Tresca said that “George let it slip that a ‘huge star is playing Gary.’”

    I’m game.

    That said, some skeptical voices have already begun to pepper the blogosphere. As James Maliszewski says over at Grognardia, “I’d frankly be amazed if any studio thought that the life of Gary Gygax had enough mass appeal to be made into a movie, let alone one with a big budget and a huge star.” It’s an excellent question.

    This certainly raises the question if the non-nerd world is ready for a biopic on an essential, but for many, still unknown pop culture innovator who helped usher in a new gaming and leisure genre. The Whole Wide World, the 1996 film about Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, and starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Renée Zellweger, proved that more obscure subjects for biopics can be made. But … while that film was largely well-received critically, it tanked at the box office.

    The life of Gygax and genesis of D&D certainly sounds like a promising idea for a movie. Who among lovers of RPGs won’t want to see the reenactments of D&D’s early years? Those behind-the-scenes scenes of early play-testing? And to settle once and for all the junk food dilemma — did Gary prefer Doritos or Cheetos?

    More updates on this as I hear more.