Here, there be dragons.
Ancient red dragons with 527 hit points, +44 to attack, and a 20d10 breath weapon, to be specific. In the world of fantasy role-playing, those numbers describe a winged serpent with immense strength and the ability to spit fire. There are few beasts more powerful - just like there are few games more important than Dungeons & Dragons.
Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has: the game has had a profound influence on our culture. Released in 1974 - decades before the Internet and social media - Dungeons & Dragons inspired one of the original nerd subcultures, and is still revered by millions of fans around the world. Now the authoritative history and magic of the game are revealed by an award-winning journalist and lifelong D&D player.
In Of Dice and Men, David Ewalt recounts the development of Dungeons & Dragons from the game’s roots on the battlefields of ancient Europe, through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides, to its apotheosis as father of the modern video-game industry. As he chronicles the surprising history of the game’s origins (a history largely unknown even to hardcore players) and examines D&D’s profound impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp subculture analysis with his own present-day gaming experiences. An enticing blend of history, journalism, narrative, and memoir, Of Dice and Men sheds light on America’s most popular (and widely misunderstood) form of collaborative entertainment.
(P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
This is a very informative and well-researched book. However, seemingly in an attempt to make it more entertaining, it jumps around a lot, frequently shifting back and forth. I found that a bit confusing, distracting, and annoying.
The content itself is great, but the manner in which it is presented and organized leaves something to be desired.
Never. I really found the narrator annoying. He completely missed the bus on what could have been an interesting history of Dungeons & Dragons. His story is not interesting, yet he seemed to decide his personal D&D history should be the primary focus. Seriously, there are long stretches of the author explaining how he named his characters when he was a kid and a chapter describing a weekend retreat that was only vaguely related to D&D (LARP). Spent most of the book just shaking my head, trying to figure out if this was a self published blog excerpt.
Done some research beyond Wikipedia, maybe realize that the journey of a novice D&D player to a somewhat less novice D&D player wasn't that interesting. Possibly not have an arrogant sounding narrator constantly interrupt the story with a completely unnecessary old lore exposition. Maybe not end compete sections with snarky, unfunny jokes (example: it's not the size of the sword, octopuses are cool, etc.). Really the book just rubbed me the wrong way start to finish. Needed an editor to step in and add some focus to the story. Spoiler: Near the end he gets a chance to play with various co-creators of the game, and in each instance comes off as unimpressed by them, yet marvels at the old yellow tape on a ping pong table. I typically don't write reviews and read dozens of books each year, but this book was terrible.
It won't -- don't worry.
Let me know if anyone finds an interesting book on this subject. It sounds fascinating.
Loved when he described the break up of the two founders, and just glossed over the reason explaining, "no one seems to know". Seemed like he tried real hard to get to the bottom of that.
I have not read the print version.
The story is fascinating and the tale is told interestingly. The author weaves historic notes and details with bits of story telling, bringing the games he is discussing to life. He is a real good old D&D player himself and the journey back in time to go over the birth of the game and its historic impact was entertaining, educational, and full of nostalgia for those who were there. For those that have never played D&D this book could be the key to understanding what it is and why people enjoy it so much.
It was a very good book and I learned a lot. He just did some things that surprised me. I expected it to be a straight up history of the hobby. But it is partially the author's personal history of dnd. Which I suppose is fine, just not my things. He also puts little side stories from games he has been in that is pretty cool.
However the worst part is how he kind of glances over the Satanic panic and 3.5 and 4th edition comparatively. But that may just be me.
I would still recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the hobby though.
I actually thought this was a pretty good book. The performance was great, but there wasn't much about the people who play D&D unless they were quoted to expedite the history of the game. Beyond that it was basically just a little less of a self-loathing "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks". I found the amount dislike thrown at LARP was a little uncalled for and seems to display the author's lack of knowledge beyond a twenty minute Internet search.
In the end this was still a good book, but I wouldn't recommend this for anyone except the most devoted of RPG fans. The author claims he wrote this for a wider audience but he speaks to the veteran fans in the last 2/3 of the book. I had tears come unbidden to my eyes when the author is talking about Lake Geneva, for no other reason than that is where it all began. So, at the very least, Mr. Ewalt, I thank you for that.
The author gushed a little too much about the details of some of his experiences playing D&D - often going into great detail about the campaign he played. It would have been nice if this was done more sparingly and only used to segue into another chapter about the history of D&D.
Although I enjoyed a majority of the book, I was definitely ready for it to be over. The last two hours of the book covered more of the author's D&D gushing.
They did a great job differentiating the characters and the "rolls" (get it?) they played in the history of D&D. This was my favorite part of the book.
Yes, I want to play more D&D and possibly get another book about the game.
I enjoyed a majority of the book. It had a lot of great information about D&D the people that created it. Unfortunately there were a few chapters that were almost unbearable (one that goes into exhaustive detail about the author's experience LARP'ing in particular) that prevents the book from being great. That said, it's still worth a read/listen.
The author is an unabashed geek but some of the bad lines seem more like fan service than hiw an editor for Forbes would actually write
At first I just wanted the typical history lesson most books of this type give, but I was taken back at first with the added sub story given. It was very dramatic and unexpected. I even thought at first that I did not like this departure. But a chapter or two in I was hooked. I wanted the history and I got that fantastically but I was also given an extra gift that made this book come to life. Amazingly well done! Thank you!
Ewalts treatment of D&D's history was thorough and insightful. The drama woven into the narrative was also an entertaining bonus. This is a 'must read' for all table top gaming enthusiasts.
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