Master's Thesis Documents
Master's Project Timeline
Glossary of Tabletop RPG Terms
Quotes Section
Character Graveyard
Creative Section
Contact Information

     My name is Michael Van Ness and I would like to welcome you to, a site primarily devoted to the academic study of tabletop (or pen-and-paper, pencil-and-paper, etc.) role-playing games (RPGs). The textual-electronic spaces you will encounter here are designed to function as one aspect of my master's thesis project, which will take the form of an anthropological micro-ethnography of tabletop role-playing games. The top-most link in the left navigation panel (Master's Thesis Documents) contains all the project documentation: my prospectus, ethical documentation such as the IRB forms, and eventually the Thesis itself. In the Master's Project Timeline section, you will find a running, regularly updated listing of what progress I have made thus far on my thesis. This will include basic project statistics such as how many hours of participant observations I have conducted, when significant project events occurred, and an eclectic array of other interesting project facts. The Forums section will contain (among other RPG-related things) my most recent research findings so that they can be examined and discussed, verified or resisted (your comments are valuable to me). The Glossary of Tabletop RPG Terms is a significant aspect of my ethnography and is divided into two sections: terms general to gaming and terms specific to particular gaming groups or idiocultures (see Fine 1983:135 or my prospectus for a discussion of this concept). The Bibliography will contain both standard (AAA format) and annotated listings and is meant to facilitate future research – if you would like to add an entry (or have any questions) please let me know. The Quotes Section is a record of humorous/interesting player utterances (feel free to share some!). The Character Graveyard is an electronic record of PCs/NPCs who fell to ruin during their adventures: this section is organized by game system and stems from a ritual practiced in my longest-running (active) gaming group: when an important character dies it is common practice to draw a tombstone on the gametable detailing the method of annihilation and a snippet of the circumstances. I have wanted to post an internet version of the Graveyard of No Return for some time and finally got my chance! The Fantasy-World Records section contains a listing of player, gamemaster, and character (PC and NPC) records, including such things as “the first Paladin to cure the common cold,” and “the first character to detect evil on a Television set.” The Creative Section is another indulgence of mine: it contains an eclectic array of house rules, adventures, maps, wild magic tables (my favorite), spells, and more. The rest of the links speak for themselves. Enjoy!

Just a friendly notice for this site and its logo: Copyright 2005 by Michael Van Ness

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