How Dungeons & Dragons Brings Us Together

roleplaying-kinda-like-that

One of my favorite things about puzzles and games is the way they bring people together. It could be gathering around a table for a session of Dungeons & Dragons, enlisting a friend in unraveling a tricky crossword clue, or swapping jigsaws with a fellow enthusiast to share the wealth.

Recently, a story about Dungeons & Dragons went viral, but if you haven’t seen it, I’ll happily summarize.


A Twitter user named Antoine H. delivered his grandmother’s eulogy after her sad passing, but wasn’t able to devote the time he wanted to one important aspect of her life, so he took to Twitter later to do so.

At 75 years old, in the last year of her life, she started playing D&D at his suggestion.

terminatur

Her first character? A male forest gnome named Terminatur (a combination of “termite” and “nature”).

She helped her fellow players cleanse a haunted house, then made it a home, including inventing a new fruit that became quite popular. (It led to membership in an interplanar ecology organization, The Circle of the Green Hand.)

She even gave the adventuring party its name: “les Bijoutiers Fantaisistes,” the Fanciful Jewelers.

Although her cancer treatment would limit her opportunities to play regularly, she still kept on with the campaign whenever possible, adding delightful new wrinkles to her character.

Her last words to him? “Never change, never lose your family spirit, and keep on playing Dungeons & Dragons.”


As a longtime D&D player, I love this story. Because, as much fun as it is to play the game, it’s the connections you forge DURING play that mean the most. In fact, my favorite roleplaying game memory isn’t from an actual play session.

rpg-2009-berlin-2

It’s from a lazy afternoon hanging out with some of my players, just listening as they shared stories about their favorite moments from the game. (Since each of them had individual adventures, in addition to group adventures, they got to share stories the others hadn’t experienced.) Their reenactments were a pleasure to watch, knowing I had helped craft adventures that they enjoyed so much, they wanted to share them with others.

Getting to tell stories with my friends is an incredible gift, and I can only imagine how much joy it brought both Antoine and his grandmother to find this lovely, unexpected common ground.

You can (and should) click here to read the entire Twitter thread. It’s wonderful.

Also, please share your own stories of how games, puzzles, and RPGs have improved your life and friendships. I’d love to hear them.


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How Tweet It Is!

Crosswords occupy a curious niche in popular culture.

They’re a part of everyday life, appearing in newspapers, apps, puzzle books, mysteries, and more. That simple patterning of black and white squares, no matter where it appears, brings them to mind.

And yet, despite their ubiquity, they’re not always viewed as something for the everyman. Some consider them off-putting or intimidating, steeped in obscure cluing and peculiar verbiage intended to keep casual solvers out.

That mix of familiarity and unfamiliarity makes crosswords the perfect fodder for comedians. The crew at HuffPost proved this by compiling a list of humorous tweets focusing on crosswords.

Some of them referenced the odd letter combinations you encounter in grids…

Or the difficulty some clues offer…

Or just the general difficulty of the puzzle…

But other tweets had fun with specific puzzles…

Or with the act of solving itself…

And, given how often wordplay finds its way into crosswords, it’s only appropriate to close out with a pun…

(That last one wasn’t in the HuffPost article. There’s plenty more puzzle humor out there, I just happened to stumbled across it yesterday before writing this post.)

Have you encountered any funny crossword-themed tweets recently? Let us know in the comments section below! (And be sure to follow us on Twitter, where we share little gems like these whenever we can.)


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Six Years of PuzzleNation Blog (Plus a Contest)!

[Image courtesy of Bogoreducare.org.]

Yes, we’re celebrating today, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

We’re celebrating because it is the sixth anniversary of the very first post here on PuzzleNation Blog! Yes, we’ve been on this puzzly journey together since August of 2012, and in my admittedly biased yet humble opinion, it’s been a brilliant one.

In those six years, we’ve published over a thousand posts! (More than nine hundred of them penned by yours truly.) We’ve delved into puzzle history, cracked diabolical brain teasers, marked milestones like the centenary of the crossword, and even rejoiced at puzzly proposals of marriage!

And to celebrate six years of PuzzleNation Blog, we’ve got a week of activities planned for our marvelous readers and fellow puzzlers!

For starters, we’re loading over a hundred new pins to our Pinterest account for your viewing pleasure!

And we’re launching a promotion across all of our social media platforms to celebrate the anniversary. It’s our PuzzleNation 6th Anniversary Contest!

[Image courtesy of Ad Libbing.]

Starting today, and every day for the next five days, we’ll be posting a different brain teaser on Instagram.

Also starting today, keep your eyes peeled on Facebook and Twitter, because each day for the next five days, we’ll be asking for a single answer from that day’s Daily POP Crosswords App puzzle and that day’s Penny Dell Crosswords App puzzle.

(These will be separate from the usual Crossword Clue Challenge posts, and we’ll mark them with “PuzzleNation 6th Anniversary Contest” to distinguish them.)

Message us on FB or Twitter with the answer, or message us on Instagram with the answer to a brain teaser, and you’ll go into a drawing for a terrific prize! (And yes, since there are different brain teasers each day and different answers for each of the two daily puzzles, you can enter multiple times to increase your odds of winning!)

Enjoy the contest, fellow puzzlers. It’s a small thank you for being a part of the PuzzleNation community.


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Hashtag! You’re Out!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellBaseballPuzzles, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles with players, teams, terminology, and all things regarding America’s pastime!

Examples include: Right of Wade Boggs, Mookie AlphaBetts Soup, and, of course, Triple Play.

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!


Puzzly Players!

Railroad Ty Cobb

Ty-in Cobb

Cy-lacrostics

Daisy Dean

Satchel Solution Paige

Warren Spanners

Denard Spanners

Dwight Gooden Deal

Jeff Mixed Bagwell

Crypto-Trivias Jackson

Willie Starspell

Seaver Words

Earl Weaver Words

Pine David Cone

Bo “knows the odds” Jackson

Goose Tile

Harry Caray-Overs

KenKen Griffey, Jr.

Rollie Fingers of the Dice

IchiRoll of the Dice

Roll of the Dice-K

Ichiro Sudoku

Phil Crypto-Zooto

Go Catfish Hunter

Willie Word Maze / Word Mays / Willie Maze

The Say That Again Hey Kid

Ron Cey That Again

Let’s close out this category with some player facts!

  • Hall of Famers: Al Draw the Ka-line, Bill Maze-roski, and Ozzie Smith aka “The Wizard Words of Oz”
  • Anagram Lloyd was an important reliever in the Yankees 1996 World Series run.
  • The Yankees and Mets in the 1970’s had Bill Sudoku who played catcher and first base.

Puzzly Teams!

Mudville 9 of Diamonds

Arizona Nine of Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamond Rings

Tampa Bay Sunrays

Cubbles

Yan-Keyword


Puzzly Baseball Lingo!

Seventh Inning Stretch Letters

All-Starspell game / All-Star Codebreaker / All-Star Categories

Home Runs

Picker-Upper Decker Home Runs

Puzzle Home Run Derby

Three Strikes of a Kind

ERABC’s

Dugout of Place / Pitchout of Place

Bullpen Spiral / Bullpen’s-Eye Spiral

Bull Pencil Pusher

Who’s Calling The Bullpen?

What’s Left? Field

Slide-Into-Home-O-Gram / Slider-O-Gram

Window Box score / Shadowbox score

Diamond Nine

Bad Hop, Skip, and Jump

In and Around the Horn

A Few Fielder’s Choice Words

In and Aroundfielder

Give and Take a Pitch

Pitcher This

Pitching Match-Up

Small Change-up / Changeupaword

Trade-Offspeed Pitch

All Mixed Up and Away

Down the Middle of the Road

At the Block Letters

12-to-6 Drop-Ins

High and Insiders

Split-Finger Personalities

Full Countdown

Fourbagger Fit

Grand Slam Tour

Ball Fore ’n’ Aft / Ball Four Corners

Letter Perfect Game / Perfect Game Fit

Perfect Hit

Hits & Pieces

Batter’s Boxes

Battergrams

Word Player to be named later

Letter Power hitter

Line Drive ‘Em Up

Draw the Line Drive

Crack of the Battleships

Throwback-to-backs

Bat Around the Bend

Word-A-Bat

Bases, Please.

Base to Base

Grounds-Roulette Double / Grounds-Rule Double Trouble / Ground Rule Double Occupancy

Right of FenWay / Which FenWay Words

Heads & Tailgates

In the Middle Innings

Word Playoffs

Crossword Series

World Series Ringers

Bookworm-Burner

Three-DL Crossword

Heading-ers

Quotefall Classic

Four Hot Corners / Can of Four Corners

Fill-Innings

Doubleheader Delight

The Nine of Baseball Diamonds

Dial-It-Up-A-Grams!

Balkworms

Old Timer’s Bowl Game

Take Me Out to the Ballgame From There

Take(me)outs to the Ballgame

TakeTrouts

Takeoutslide

Take-out Slide-O-Rama

Dash-It and Run

“Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks…”

If a pitcher has men on base, he may opt to pitch from the Stretch Letters.

Baseball: A Film by Kenken Burns


And, as always, there are those participants who go above and beyond in their masterful punnery!

A few offered up some puzzly calls:

  • And there goes Hank Aarrrooound the Block to Add One to his Homeruuuns!
  • Alfred got 3 books and he’s out….he should of ordered more puzzles…back to the bullpen

Naturally, we couldn’t have some fun with baseball without a certain Abbott and Costello routine getting referenced…

“GUESS WHO’s on first, WHAT’S MY NAME is on second, YOU KNOW THE ODDS is on third…”

[Note: someone else also offered “What’s Left on Second?”]

One intrepid puzzler offered this advertisement for players with, shall we say, chemistry:

Were you Suspended and Sentenced for Steroids? Did you hit too many Home Runs? Well just Dial-A-Gram 1-800 ALL-FRAMED because those are some Barry Common Bonds you have there!

We even got some pun-filled trivia!

In the old time parks like Wrigley Field and Fenway, you can see the SCOREBOARD in which they use PLACE CARDS to create a DIGITAL DISPLAY.

I’ll never forget my favorite Yogi Berra quote: When you’re coming and going to a fork in the middle of the road, take a letter.


Alas, there is simply no topping this all-time puzzly classic…

Take me out to the ALL FRAME,
Take me out with the CROSS PAIRS
Buy me some PATCHWORDS and CRACKERJACKS
I don’t care if I never get THROWBACKS
Let me root, root, root for the HOME RUNS,
If they don’t win it’s a FRAMEwork,
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re ROUNDABOUT
At the old BOWL GAME


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Baseball Puzzles entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

It’s Called a CrossWORD, Not a Crossnumber!

When it comes to crosswords, every solver and constructor has their own ideas about what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate.

And I don’t just mean the age-old debate of pen vs. pencil. Whether we’re talking about answer words, abbreviations, cluing styles, gimmicks like shared letters in one box, or even the number of black squares in a grid, the sheer variation and customization possible is bound to lead to differing opinions.

A recent New York Times Tuesday Mini puzzle was the source of some consternation for solvers when it turned out that the first three boxes across were intended to be filled with numbers, not letters.

The clue? “Easy as ____,” which many solvers mistook, understandably, for PIE. When you factor in that many Times puzzle solvers value their solving speeds as well as their solving experience, the extra seconds (or minutes) “wasted” on a clue that feels misleading can be frustrating.

Some of those solvers took their concerns (and complaints) to Twitter, prompting a response from the official Wordplay Twitter account, which offered up the Easter egg that “123” referred to not only the answer to 1 Across, but also the date the puzzle appeared, 1/23.

That is a nice little bonus, but it wasn’t referenced at all in the clue, so it did little to appease those who were upset with what they consider a breach in crossword etiquette.

[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.]

Although I absolutely sympathize with being unexpectedly flummoxed by a clue — it happens to me all the time as a solver — I must admit that this sort of thing doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind when multiple letters share a grid square, or if there’s a number there instead of a letter.

In fact, Alex Eaton-Salners employed the same thing in his “Read the Fine Print” Fireball Crosswords puzzle, and it made my favorite puzzles of 2017 list.

Clearly something like this is going to bother some solvers more than others. What do you think, fellow puzzlers? Does using numbers instead of letters in crosswords bother you or violate your idea of what a good crossword should be?

What about having multiple letters inside one grid square? Do you think that’s a cheat — a way to get around constructing something that actually fits the space — or a clever conceit allowing for more grid and theme flexibility? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!


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Farewell, @midnight…

For a couple of years now, we’ve been doing monthly puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles.

In fact, just last week, we collected and shared all of the responses to our #PennyDellPuzzleMyth hashtag game that combined the names of puzzles from Penny Press and Dell Magazines with various characters and storylines from famous mythical traditions, like Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology.

We’re far from the only ones who play such games online. Hashtag games or hashtag wars are an immensely popular pastime on Twitter, often encouraged by comedy bloggers or pun-based game companies like our friends at Galactic Sneeze, who created Schmovie.

But, when it comes to hashtag games, most if not all of them can be traced back to one interactive television show: @midnight with Chris Hardwick.

This Comedy Central show has aired four nights a week for four years (originally at midnight, as the name suggests, then later on at 11:30 pm), and every night, they’ve offered up a new hashtag war to challenge and entertain with.

Not only do the comedians on the show strut their punny stuff during the game, but anyone on Twitter can contribute their best efforts at games like #CarSongs or #AddALetterRuinAMovie.

And each show, one of the submissions from those Twitter users is chosen as Tweet of the Day and shared on national television. Which is pretty cool.

Not to brag, but PuzzleNation has won Tweet of the Day not once, but twice, back when we used to participate in hashtag wars on a nightly basis.

And although we don’t indulge our hashtag urges more than once a month, we’re grateful for @midnight, not only for their creativity and humor, but for inspiring us to never stop finding fun, puzzly ways to engage our audience.

Sadly, after four years on the air, @midnight will wrap up their impressive run in the next few weeks. I’m sad to see the show go, because many of my favorite lesser-known comedians got a lot of air time on the show and got to show off their hilarious punny chops.

The show comes to an end on its 600th episode, and it will be missed. Thank you to the cast, crew, and host Chris Hardwick for all their hard work, all their silliness, and all their wit.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!