The Lord of the Rings meets Moneyball in this unique and authoritative book on Dungeons & Dragons—from the game’s origins through its rise to cultural prominence, and its ripple effect on popular culture today.
Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has (whether or not they’re willing to admit it). Released in 1974—decades before video games and the Internet took over the gaming world—Dungeons & Dragons became one of the original nerd subcultures, and is still revered by over thirty million fans today. Now Forbes senior editor David M. Ewalt explores the rich history of the game, revealing the magic that enlivened his youth, and has since re-entered his adult life in a whole new way.
From its roots on the battlefields of ancient Europe, through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides, and to its apotheosis as father of the modern video game industry, Of Dice and Men recounts the development of a game played by some of most fascinating people in the world. Chronicling the surprising history of D&D’s origins (one largely unknown even to hardcore players) while examining the game’s profound impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp cultural 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.
Forbes editor David Ewalt offers a genial history of Dungeon & Dragons and its impact on his own geek life. In the early1970s, two Midwesterners a college student and a cobbler drew elements from war games and fantasy novels to create the world s most influential role-playing game. Within a few years of its genesis, D&D had become a flashpoint in the culture wars, as practitioners were accused of leading young men to murder, suicide and the church of Satan. D&D s star soon faded due to corporate mismanagement and the rise of video game consoles, but recent years have seen a renaissance, which Ewalt charts, along with his own guilt-ridden return to the game. He follows a number of storylines, tracing the official history of D&D, his own introduction to the game, and his adult experiences as a player and reporter. Weaving the strands together are charming tales of his cleric character in a postapocalyptic America ruled by vampires. Oddly enough, the weakest sections of the book involve Ewalt s descriptions of his life outside the imaginary dungeons. Nevertheless, this is a highly readable account of a game that seized the imagination of a generation and maintains its grip three decades later.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An excellent read
I should preface this review by saying that I am and have been a gamer since the 6th grade, even earlier if you count the time my mother bought me a boxed D&D entry game in fifth grade. Now, after almost a decade of playing RPG's, I can officially call myself a member of the 'target audience' of this book.
I say 'target audience,' obviously referring to RPG players of any sort, largely out of deference to several ARC readers that implied (or explicitly stated) that gamers were this book's target audience. And, although I am prone to disagreeing with them, I can't do so in good conscience because I am looking at it as one of the 'initiated,' and I'm a decade removed from being uninitiated.
That being said, this book is a delight to read. It is far more than a history of dungeons and dragons, though in some ways it is also a lot less. The history is, in some ways, incomplete. Some of the best stories around (that I've heard from interviews, articles, other books, etc.) don't make the final cut. Instead, the history is more of a story. Actually, it's more like multiple stories, paralleling one another beautifully. David (and I feel like I should be on a first name basis with his after reading this book, despite never having met him, which speaks volumes itself) switches between the narrative of the Dungeons and Dragons game and his own adventures within that system. The stories are funny, tragic, and inspiring. At their core, they are very human stories, and many times, they are very compelling.
The book itself reads like a travelogue/history/autobiography/internal monologue/philosophical treatise in a way that could, conceivably, become a bit cluttered and confusing, but runs so seamlessly that it feels only natural. There's enough geek lingo to put gamers at their ease, but it's all very well defined and sparse enough to be unobtrusive.
The most important thing that I can say about this book is that, as a nerd that frequently dons imaginary armor and shoots dark blasts of eldritch energy from his hands while cackling wildly, this is precisely the book that I would point my uninitiated friends and family towards, if I was trying to explain my strange hobbies to them. It's funny, fun to read, objective (well, as much as one can be), and, most importantly, captures the elusive 'feel' of Dungeons and Dragons.
I would recommend this book to anyone.
Great history w/ game play interspersed throughout!
As a child of the late 70s / early 80s this book took me back to my geek youth in a good way! After laying down my dice 35 yrs ago I've recollected them from the dusty box where they've traveled with me through adulthood and re-engaged w/ D&D 5E, and this book has been a primary cause! In addition to offering some appropriately dramatic recounting of the author's game play interspersed throughout the main body of the text, the author adroitly retells the history of D&D. From its origins in the '74-'76 time frame in Wisconsin through its heyday in the 80s and into its varied iterations before and since its purchase by Wizards of the Coast. This book tells us not only what happened, but offers some sense of the nerd/geek zeitgeist that gave the world Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the rest of us who didn't make it quite so big. A thoroughly enjoyable read! I highly recommend it!!
I went in expecting a record of a persons D&D campaign. Most campaigns are entertaining enough, I thought, thus it would make sense to write one down and sell it for the entertainment of others. I was wrong, and I am glad.
This book, while it does chronicle the authors travels in his DM's world of choice, weaves said tale in with a comprehensive history of D&D. I came out of it having learned things I never knew about D&D, and I'm glad I chose to read this book rather than just read the Wikipedia article for D&D. This has left me a bit quizzical, however — why doesn't Wizards of the. Coast publish D&D manuals in e-book format?