Pen Pals: Role Playing Games in Prison By Ed Wolf #229346
We here at MPb decided it would be interesting to get the scoop on prison life from a fellow comic-toy-game collector. We tracked down Ed Wolf #229346, who is currently residing at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater Michigan. After some introductions, we asked Ed to share with us some experiences he had behind bars that pertained to the world of collecting and gaming. At the end of this article you can find all of the info necessary to drop Mr. Wolf a line. He'd appreciate it. Receiving mail in prison can be likened to the special effects of Starship Troopers, without it, the rest is pretty abysmal.
RPG gaming in prison was a good way to pass time, make new friends and have some fun. In this place, boredom is the norm.
Up until around 1995, all RPGs were legal to play. Then Rifts came along with its weapon guide book, which had detailed pictures and schematics of modern guns and fantasy weapons, such as pulse rifles and laser cannons. The modern day weapons schematics were what got the MDOC (Michigan Department of Corrections) in an uproar. It was thought that we could use the pictures to make our own weapons. Yeah right.
If they thought about it, we see just about every weapon conceivable on TV or on the covers of Science Fiction/Fantasy books. The main thing is that when they say we can't have something, it's gone without argument. Period.
That was just the beginning of the end. Next came the Dungeons & Dragons Weapons Master Guide. Nope, we can't have that either. We might make swords or spears and kill each other. (They do that anyway with lesser items than a sword or spear).
Finally in 2001, Chaplain Wes Priest, Dave Burnett and Deputy Robert Collins got their way and had all RPG games put on the restricted publications list. For this reason: they felt that by playing role playing games, we were practicing Satanism. The three people responsible are Christians. I have nothing against their religious beliefs, but just because you feel a certain way, doesn't necessarily make it true. If they would have done a little investigating they would have seen that it is just a game. It promotes teamwork, developing strategies, making plans, and friendships. The guys who play usually sit at a table all day, not bothering anyone. [Ed note: If they're going to rejoin society, I'd rather they be getting better at RPGs than lifting weights...]
So it seems to be that the MDOC would want us to play games, we're not out getting into trouble and we're expanding our minds. Common sense does not figure into the Prison Industrial Complex. Only spending money and getting money from the Federal Government so they can spend more money on walls, guns, and guards.
This isn't about any kind of rehabilitation, just house us and forget about us.
The funny thing is that those three men were each involved in scandals and subsequently have resigned or been fired. I'm happy that they got what they had coming. [Ed note: Coming from a guy in jail, this means a hole lot more.] On the other hand, I'm disappointed that they took RPGs away from all of us.
Now there are a few D&D books floating around that haven't been confiscated yet. When someone transfers from one prison to another with one of the books, people who play will find out who has them and then make handwritten copies of the whole book. Just to get a whole game going. [Ed note: If you're not familiar with D&D, take a look at one of the books the next time you're at the store.] Most of the time though, we just have to use what little pieces of the books we do have. The character sheets are done from memory. The DM substitutes information that he doesn't have for whatever he thinks works best. Which of course causes arguments with the people who remember stuff better than him. We put up with it for the love of the game.
Since no one ever lives in the same unit, we have to get together out in the yard. Some guards don't care that we play. Some even play themselves. Others are bad and will break up the game and take our materials. They could even write us tickets since it's against the rules to play.
We are not allowed to have any dice. I have seen guys build a whole World Map with a spinner built into the board so our game looks like a board game. We're allowed to have and play board games, it keeps the nosey ones away.
All in all it is a pain trying to play. But those of us who love the game will do just about anything to play!
Card games like Magic and Spellfire are on the banned list also. We put the info from the cards on paper and play that way, but it's a pain in the butt. We love what we love and will do whatever it takes to play.
Jamie Brown #183332 contributed to this article.
You can contact Mr. Wolf by sending a letter to this address:
Ed Wolf #229346
Lakeland Correctional Facility
141 First St.
Coldwater, MI 49036
If you want to write to Mr. Wolf, but don't have a P.O. Box, you can give him MPb's box address, and I'll forward you the response. You'll have to e-mail me to let me know about it however.
His favorite comics are Predator, Aliens, Terminator, Spawn, Venom, Fathom, all of Silvestri's stuff, Judge Dredd, all Chaos comics, Witchblade, Tomb Raider, Harley Quinn, The Darkness Battle Chasers, just to name his top faves.
Favorite Games: D&D, Spellfire, Magic: The Gathering. Alien Vs. Predator. Favorite computer game: Warcraft.
Certain things are not allowed to be mailed. Paperclips, staples, small weapons, dice, flammable chemicals, etc. Pretty much you can only send letters and photos. You can send comic books and board games straight from Amazon.com. More info about acceptable gifts can be found here.
We found Mr. Wolf using WriteAPrisoner.com, where you can search and find a pen pal of your own. Ed would love to hear from you, he's a really nice guy, and was convicted of a non-violent crime. You can read Ed's original personal ad here.
Article copyright 2003 MillionairePlayboy.com, all images copyright their respective owners. If you're under 18, this site really isn't aimed at you, but you should get your parents' permission before contacting someone in jail. C'mon. Use the noggin.