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This weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. On February 27th, 1996, Pokemon Red and Green were launched in Japan, immediately launching a massive craze in kid’s pop culture. A quarter of a century later, and it’s become a massive media franchise, with new games released regularly, including remakes of old games, various spin offs, a long running anime, movies, toys, and a successful trading card game. Anyone who was a kid in the late 90’s and early 00’s had Pokemon in their life in some way. You may have been a massive consumer of Pokemon content, like…


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Roleplaying Games

“Adaptation Quest” is an ongoing series of game design experiments about what certain tabletop adaptations would look like. Inspired by countless discussions in Dungeons & Dragons Facebook groups about how to adapt this or that property to the world’s most famous TTRPG, I hope to actually break down what a tabletop adaptation might be like, without having to write a 100-page document or playtest the thing. In this edition, we’re translating Metal Gear Solid using the Cypher, or should I say Cipher, system.

Over the last two months, I’ve finally been catching up with the Metal Gear series. I never…


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Roleplaying games have come to encompass all kinds of genres and tell all kinds of stories. There are sci-fi games and horror games of every flavor. There are dramatic games, games about war, and even a game where you play as a community of rabbits. One genre stands above the rest, much to the chagrin of some and the delight of others: fantasy.

There are all kinds of games that tell all kinds of fantasy stories. Some, like The Sword, The Crown, and the Unspeakable Power, draw on a variety of characters in different locales. But the bread and butter…


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The most important books in my life are the ones I read by accident. The little copy of Son of Laughter which I rescued from a Seminary bookstore bottom shelf during one of my shifts, for example. Or the slim little paperback of Woman at Point Zero I grabbed on a whim during a library bag sale. You may not know these books, but I do. Their contents are as much a part of me as the lauded classics I read for my undergrad degree in English. …


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I was in Second Grade when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. My dad took me to see it in theaters opening weekend, and I’m sure it was the biggest movie event of my life up to that moment. You see, I was already a huge fan of the movie long before I saw it. My shelf was covered in toys from the movie, including the collectable Mountain Dew cans that featured information about different characters, cans I was convinced would be “worth something” some day, so long as I didn’t crack them open and drink the…


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Let’s talk about elves

Everywhere you go in the world of Fantasy RPGs, you find elves. They are elegant, they are possibly immortal, they are good at shooting arrows and doing magic. They have pointy ears and usually speak a language that sounds vaguely Celtic, like a Welsh-language sleep meditation. In Fantasy RPGs where they appear, Elves are usually a playable race that lends itself toward sneaking, shooting, and doing magic. This broadly comes from Tolkien, whose shadow is still cast over most fantasy fiction, and even deeper in the world of fantasy RPGs, thanks to Dungeons & Dragons. …


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Like many people, I was surprised when Sony Pictures announced that Oscar Isaac would star as Solid Snake in their production of Metal Gear Solid. Not surprised at the casting, of course: Oscar Isaac is everywhere and he certainly looks like he’d make a good Solid Snake, but because it was the first I had heard that someone was making a Metal Gear Solid movie. I had only passing familiarity with the series, but from I did know about it, it was dense, with complicated lore and constant twists and turns. …


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My family joined me for a Krampus-themed quest

Roleplaying Games

I was extremely lucky to get to spend time with family over the holiday this year. It almost didn’t happen, but fortunately, there are only five of us, and we could mostly work from home or in extremely controlled environments, allowing us to isolate for the two weeks leading up to our December 12th arrival time. We had groceries brought to our car and cooked in, and we didn’t see anyone else while we were there. I wanted to maximize the time I would get to spend with my family, and so I took a shot: I proposed that we…


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I was in High School when I first became aware of the Elf on the Shelf: a little elf figure that began to appear on shelves and fireplaces around the country around Christmas time. I was obviously too old to have had it invoked on me, but I immediately found the little doll to be pretty creepy. Perfectly coifed brown hair peeked out under a pointy red hat. Two pointed ears signified that it was an elf, while a toothless smile and a pair of blue eyes looking off to the side signified that this elf was up to no…


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This show haunted my afterschool life, just as the incredible flash game based on it dominated all my time in the computer lab.

Like so many of us in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I often came from school, went immediately to the TV, and tossed on cartoons. After a long day of doing times tables or learning about the Revolutionary War, I needed some good old animation to decompress. At this time in my life, Cartoon Network was airing a block of shows at that time that now seem revolutionary. Toonami showed anime on basic cable, helping to mainstream a genre of animation that had only sporadically popped up elsewhere and largely lived on expensive specialty video tapes or DVDs at…

Michael A Gold

Michael writes about video games, RPGs, history, and a little bit of everything else. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and Netflix account.

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