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Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It | [David M. Ewalt]

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (76 )
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4.2 (72 )
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Performance
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  •  
    brenty United States 10-03-13
    brenty United States 10-03-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting...but disjointed"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    phillip Elmhurst, IL, United States 07-28-14
    phillip Elmhurst, IL, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Two readers. Both bad."
    Any additional comments?

    Ewalt reads his own work, which lends credibility to the performance. However he's a bit of a mushmouth. I'd prefer a proper reader. Also, the book is interspersed with dramatizations of Ewalt's D&D adventures, read by Mikael Naramore who is just annoying. These sections were obviously included to pad out the length of the book, but I could easily live without them. Worst are Naramore's horrible accents. Has he ever heard a French person talk before?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Reserve, LA, United States 03-21-14
    andrew Reserve, LA, United States 03-21-14 Member Since 2013

    I enjoy history, biographys, and nerdy/ dorky things.

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    "Enertaining if you have played DND."
    What made the experience of listening to Of Dice and Men the most enjoyable?

    Listening to the author tell his personal stories, and ideas from former/ future DND games.


    Would you recommend Of Dice and Men to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, only because the majority of my friends have played DND before. This book may confuse those who have never played.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Gary Gygax playing DND with his kids.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How popular DND was when it released.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have played DND this book brings back good memories. The author spends an entire chapter on the precursor to DND; historic battle re-enactments. This really slows the book down. However talking about personal play, old versions and future versions make me want to pick up a D20 and roll a new character. Probably a Lawful/Neutral Human Fighter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Sioux Falls, SD, USA 02-15-14
    Eric Sioux Falls, SD, USA 02-15-14 Member Since 2005
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    "A wonderfully nostalgic look back."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Of Dice and Men to be better than the print version?

    The performance of this book was a little off-putting to begin with, but once the purpose of Mikael Naramore's dramatic reading became clear, it enhanced the experience wonderfully, especially when the narration described David's encounters with luminaries from Dungeons & Dragons' history.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    David himself was an amazing and sympathetic character. I see myself in him, though I encountered D&D in the early 80s, our experiences were amazingly similar.


    Which character – as performed by David M. Ewalt and Mikael Naramore – was your favorite?

    David himself.


    If you could give Of Dice and Men a new subtitle, what would it be?

    You don't play D&D for 25 years without learning a little something about courage.


    Any additional comments?

    If you're a fan of roll playing games, and of D&D specifically, this is a wonderful read. It recounts the history of its creators, the rise and fall of TSR and lays out the road for the future of the game system. Well done!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John LINCOLN, RI, United States 02-11-14
    John LINCOLN, RI, United States 02-11-14 Member Since 2005

    atari2600

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    "Interesting Topic, but Terrible Execution."
    Would you try another book from David M. Ewalt and/or David M. Ewalt and Mikael Naramore ?

    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.


    What could David M. Ewalt have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another one of David M. Ewalt and Mikael Naramore ’s performances?

    No


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It won't -- don't worry.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arnold San Carlos, CA, United States 01-13-14
    arnold San Carlos, CA, United States 01-13-14 Member Since 2013

    A reader who ran out of time to physically read the book. I'm into sci-fi, self-help and biography books

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    "A Deeper Dive Into Dungeons & Dragons"
    Where does Of Dice and Men rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I think considering the subject matter, Of Dice and Men rank in the above average among all the audiobooks I've listened to.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The author. He let his geek colors fly and actually gave a fair narration of the life a D&D player.


    What does David M. Ewalt and Mikael Naramore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Yes. I would have given up reading the book due to time.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The book made me laugh at how I also bought in into the geek culture and it also made me cry a bit on how a seemingly successful gaming company practically imploded from within as a result of success.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are confused on what Dungeons & Dragons is all about, Of Dice and Men give a fair and intelligent story about the game, the players and the history of D&D. It doesn't talk down to non-gamers and it doesn't geek out too much to make readers lost.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason M. Coleman Los Angeles, CA 11-30-13
    Jason M. Coleman Los Angeles, CA 11-30-13 Member Since 2012

    media nut

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    "Hard to put down!"
    Any additional comments?

    Man there are some tough critics on this website. I loved this book. It was informative about both the history and play mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons. There is a creative aspect to the narrative where the story is cut between various D&D campaigns with the journalists journey to discover more about the business side of the board game industry as well as a biographical study of the D&D founder, Gary Gygax. I played D&D a few times as a kid; if I had a circle of friends that included the author, I would have played it much, much more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer N Calif 09-14-13
    Amazon Customer N Calif 09-14-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Very bad narration"
    Would you try another book from David M. Ewalt and/or David M. Ewalt and Mikael Naramore ?

    Author David Ewalt alternates narration with professional Mikael Naramore and comes off terribly bad. David often mumbles and has a lisp.

    Equally annoying, they alternate at a page and even paragraph frequency, which grievously highlights the difference in their abilities. For me it completely distracts from the content, especially as David gets fatigued and mumbles his way along.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Mackay Sammamish, WA United States 09-01-13
    Jason Mackay Sammamish, WA United States 09-01-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Lots of fun and nostalgia for D&D players!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Of Dice and Men to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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