Of Dice and Men

The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (958 ratings)

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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.

©2013 David M. Ewalt (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Nerrrrrrrrrrd!

If you ever played the game, or still do, this book is awesome. I mainly enjoyed the detailed story about the invention of the game and the rise and fall of TSR as a company. A fascinating look at the birth of something that shaped my childhood. Also interesting is the author's exploration of their own gaming past and future, where RPGs are headed.

14 people found this helpful

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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.

19 people found this helpful

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Good story until.....

During the mid 1970's I played D and D and enjoyed the game very much, so the first 75% or so of this book was a trip down memory lane for me. I never understood why TSR, a company that from the outside looked to be growing like crazy and very profitable, suddenly went bust. This book explains that, albeit not in a lot of detail.

I was enjoying the book right up until the author choose to spend a very large chapter describing his LARPing (live action role playing) experience in detail, that is where it went off the rails for me. Very tedious and boring, then... as he exited the tales of his LARPing he choose to spend the last portion of the book shilling and gushing over D&D Next (version 5 of the game), it all came off as a lame sales pitch, an attempt to convince the D&D community (most of whom are still angry about the AWFUL 4th version of the game) that 5 was great.

If you enjoy D&D or are just curious about the game and the people who play it, this is a decent introduction, it's not a bad read (or listen as is the case here). The narrative device of bouncing the reader between a history lesson of the game and his own D&D adventures becomes tedious at about the same time as the the live action role play chapter making that part bog down all the more, but all in all not bad.

16 people found this helpful

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Looking for the story of D&D? Look elsewhere.

There's an article worth of good material here, but not a whole book. If you are interested in reading about the personal life of a self-proclaimed "geek," you may enjoy this.

3 people found this helpful

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Great History, great story

Of Dice and Men is a wonderful telling of the history of Dungeons and Dragons. While the author is admittedly a huge D and D fan he tells a well balanced history and explores the good and the bad. It also contains some great insight into the reason D and D has been such a huge success, and frankly a benefit to those who play it. What really makes this book fun is that David Ewalt flawlessly weaves a narrative of his many D and D campaigns into the history which grants the reader an insight into why D and D is so great. A great read.

2 people found this helpful

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Didn’t know anything about DND but love reading

My boy friend recently started playing DND with his friends, he is the DM so he’s gotten really into it. I decided to read this book to get some insight into the game. It was a good call. Now I feel like I love DND even though I’ve never played. Can’t wait for my first quest.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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Perhaps with a professional reader

As a fan, adjacent fan, of DnD I was pretty thrilled to see this book and to get it on sale, but even on sale I am returning it. I agree with a previous few reviews that the author, who frequently cites his Forbes Editor status, has the material for an article. He might even have the material for a long-form article a la Jason Schreier from Kotaku. But what he does not have is a book's worth. His meanders, slow contemplations and excruciating detail over the wrong things - five different prices for handpainted figurines - turn what should have been fascinating and a guilty pleasure into a long arduous slog. He talks about the battle of Waterloo, and this feels like it. Perhaps with a different reader it could have been better, but there too I found the book just exhausting. He speaks with a slow, languorous tone that makes it sound almost like he's dragging out his class presentation to fit the time required. I usually love when authors read their own work but I do not think he was up to it. I did not like this book, that is nobody's fault, but if you're interested in seeing a similar project executed really well check out Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier.

1 person found this helpful

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very good history and story of d&d

one of the better books read by the author who wrote it. very well written, with the experience of meeting playing with origional members.

1 person found this helpful

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Dungeons and dragons nerds!

Dungeons and dragons nerds rejoice! This book is essential reading for tabletop nerds everywhere! From start to finish I was hooked!

1 person found this helpful