Orcs, Racism, and Tolkien

The most recent episode of Still Digging featured a discussion of articles by James Mendez Hodes “Orcs, Briton and the Martial Racial Myth…” Part I and Part II. The articles focused on the use of cultural and racial stereotypes in the fantasy genre and in particular within the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

The ArchaeoRPG crew took that discussion and expanded on it discussing the roles that anthropology and archaeology had played in creating the kind of race science used within the fantasy genre. We then discussed what can we as archaeologists today do to change these embed pieces of the fantasy genre while still keeping the features of the genre that drew us to it to begin with.

Watch the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest content.

Rituals & Rolls : episode zero


Who will be the characters who will enter the jungles of Chult? Episode zero of Rituals & Rolls finds the ArchaeoRPG crew creating their characters. Additionally, we discuss how we will be playing this game and some of the ways we wish to incorporate actual archaeology into this game world. Watch and get caught up before Episode One of Rituals & Rolls premieres in September 2019.

Still Digging – episode 2

This week the ArchaeoRPG collective came together to discuss a variety of topics.

We started with a discussion of the tension that sometimes occurs between professional archaeologist and volunteers. This led to a rather lengthy discussion of the reaction and counter-reaction to a twitter post showing off volunteers in action.

We then shifted gears and began discussing the world of role-playing games. A discussion of the use of racial stereotypes in the fantasy genre and tabletop role-playing games. With particular focus on two articles by James Mendez Hodes

Orcs, Britons, And The Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built For Racial Terror

Orcs, Britons, And The Martial Race Myth, Part II: They’re Not Human

These articles focused on the orc first described in the works of Tolkien and later reinterpreted for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

We finally talk out our own upcoming live play tabletop role-playing campaign, Rituals and Rolls. We agreed that one of the purposes of this games was to critically examine the genre through an archaeological lens. We discussed whether this would best be achieved through a homebrew campaign where we attempted to ‘clean up’ 5th edition D&D from its cultural pitfalls or play a prewritten campaign to better understand what these pitfalls are. We chose the later. An coming soon we will begin the first campaign of Ritual and Rolls with Tomb of Annihilation.



Join us again on July 18, 2019 when episode 3 of Still Digging will air live at 8 pm EDT on YouTube. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates.

Still Digging

The ArchaeoRPG collective has started a bi-weekly livestream chat show. Join a group of archaeologists as we discuss archaeology, gaming, and pop culture.



Welcome to ArchaeoRPG

Welcome to ArchaeoRPG. I am Bill, an archaeologist based out of Maryland, USA who has a passion for both the field of archaeology and role-playing games. The purpose of this venture will be to share my passion for both of these things with you. I will look at the world of archaeology through the lens of role-playing games and I will look at role-playing games through the lens of archaeology.

This venture will change over time but the first thing that I will be doing is examining a game from my youth. In 1988 as a junior in high school, one of the first games that I bought with my own money was a computer games for MS-DOS, Pool of Radiance. This game was the first adaptation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) for home computers. Over the next few post, I will revisit this game that I have not played in almost 30 years. Look at the history of the game, examine that game as material culture, play the game (and hopefully live stream it), and see if it holds up to my nostalgia memory.

Join me on the journey and lets see where the dice roll takes us.