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The Dungeon Master

The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III
Narrated by: George Kuch
Length: 13 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, True Crime
4 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from the Michigan State University campus in 1979, he was no ordinary college dropout. Egbert was a computer genius at sixteen, a boy with an I.Q. of 180-plus and an extravagant imagination. He was a fanatic Dungeons & Dragons player before the game was widely known, and he and his friends played a live version in a weird labyrinth of tunnels and rooms beneath the university. These secret passages even ran within the walls of the buildings themselves. After Egbert disappeared, there were rumors of witch cults, drug rings, and homosexuality to try to explain the mystery.

When the police search came to a dead end, the Egbert family called in one of the most colorful private investigators of our era, William Dear, of Dallas, who is a kind of real-life James Bond. Dear's search for the boy reads like a sensational novel -- but every detail is true. Dear crawled through baking-hot tunnels, flew over the campus in a helicopter, and called into play every intuition he could muster. He realized that he must out-play and out-psych the brilliant, game-playing mind of Dallas Egbert.

©1984 William Dear (P)2017 David N. Wilson

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Very interesting story ruined by poor writing

I really wanted to like this book but the writing is so bad, the storytelling is corny and there is way too much emphasis on D&D (instead of many other important parts of what happened). I listened to it for hours and I finally gave up.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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A tarnished game, a misunderstood teen...

First let me say Dear tells it like a well seasoned DM.  I can bet you if he hadn't been before he is probably an adapted player now.  I've been playing since 2013, I can tell you the ridicule that d&d received in the early days was not just.  It was a game first and foremost.  Not meant to be taken seriously.  Sadly you are going to have people who see something as an escape from reality that take it way too far.  Be it kids or even adults.  Having said that though I can see why stories such as these gave d&d the bad rep that it did not deserve.  Not that I'm saying William Dear was making another bash piece.  Which honestly I thought this whole book was going to be another slander siesta.  Dear was clearly understanding and unbiased in his approach to the clues he gathered through this account.  Even taking part in a paid game, that even he sounded depressed when the session ended in such a cliffhanger.  Thanks even more to people like Patricia Pulling and Reverend Jerry Falwell it's been made even worse since.  The moment religion attacks and brands something as a work that destroys innocence and damns souls, it's far from the truth.  People may just as well stare at the wall for entertainment.  Gary Gygax himself was a devoted Jehovah's witness, both he and Dave Arneson never intended the stuff these wack job puritans claimed.  Gary and Dave just wanted to be remembered as men who enjoyed games and wanted to share their passion with the world.  Read Empire of Imagination.  It'll paint the actual picture.   Also this is alot coming from me in a Christian background.  I dont claim perfection and I'm at peace with my God and strive to do my best with reasonable logic.  I stress enough thinking I'll never be good enough even though deep down I believe in Christ.  This is one of many things I use to unwind.  I've made many friends and had many laughs with memories in this hobby that will last a lifetime.  Thankfully the days of the 70s and 80s satanic panic are over, with the game still gaining in popularity to this day.  I will be frank though it has a sad outcome with this story.  In itself the journey to find Dallas was like reading an adventure module only there's no true treasure or big bad evil dude at the end, instead it teaches a lesson when it comes to parents actually taking the time to listen to their kids.  Let them be themselves, stop expecting greatness, and above all just love and support them.  They're human beings, not walking achievements to be polished to a fine finish and placed on a mantle.  The fact that people chose to blame something like a game of imagination and not the real problem, a boy seeking love and friendship but instead was heaped with pressure and expectations on his shoulders, was pushed over the edge with being outcasted by people who he saw as friends in a game where he sought to be someone else.  It really amazes me.  People need to stop being ignorant of the bigger picture.  It took a young man and the loss of his future to realize this, which Dear now brings a kept promise to the light four years after James Dallas Egbert left us for good.