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

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

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by David M. Ewalt
     
 

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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 &

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Aug.)
“Dave Ewalt’s wit, insight and infectious love of D&D make him the perfect guide to the most significant game of the twentieth century. The book is a joy to read.”

“It's almost impossible to explain how Dungeons & Dragons works, and harder still to explain how it feels. This book comes as close as any I've ever read.”

“David Ewalt writes about the world of fantasy role-playing junkies with intelligence, dexterity, and even wisdom. (I am unable to speak to his strength, constitution, or charisma.)”

“Long before I made my mark in software, I was a pretty good Dungeon Master, and D&D has played a significant part in my life. In addition to covering much of the deep history of the game that I never knew, Of Dice and Men brought back tons of fond memories, and damned if it didn’t make me pull some dusty old rulebooks off the shelf at home.”

Booklist
“Even audiences normally indifferent to D&D’s charms will find Ewalt’s overview witty and absorbing, and the game’s devotees will discover much here to revel in and quibble with.”
Chuck Klosterman
“It's almost impossible to explain how Dungeons & Dragons works, and harder still to explain how it feels. This book comes as close as any I've ever read.”
Felicia Day
"A fascinating history of D&D written by an author who authentically loves the game. Whether you know what d20 means or not you will love this book!"
Tim Harford
“David Ewalt’s wit, insight and infectious love of D&D make him the perfect guide to the most significant game of the twentieth century. The book is a joy to read.”
Ken Jennings
“David Ewalt writes about the world of fantasy role-playing junkies with intelligence, dexterity, and even wisdom. (I am unable to speak to his strength, constitution, or charisma.)”
John Carmack
“Long before I made my mark in software, I was a pretty good Dungeon Master, and D&D has played a significant part in my life. In addition to covering much of the deep history of the game that I never knew, Of Dice and Men brought back tons of fond memories, and damned if it didn’t make me pull some dusty old rulebooks off the shelf at home.”
David X. Cohen
"The best book I've read since the Monster Manual."
Dr. Ray Muzyka
"A fascinating window into the storied history of fantasy pen and paper gaming. A must-read for anyone curious about the genre."
The Wall Street Journal
“An engaging book that fuses history and memoir. [Ewalt] tracks D&D's turbulent rise, fall and survival, from its heyday in the 1980s… to the 21st century.”
Seattle Times
"The core of Ewalt’s story is his experience of role-playing games. He explains it about as well as anyone could, short of experiencing it yourself."
Vin Diesel
“Dungeons & Dragons has been a huge part of my life. The book sheds light on the world of [D&D co-creator] Gary Gygax, and it also lets the reader into the mind of somebody questioning how cool this game is.”
Kirkus Reviews
A child of the polyhedral dice returns to the fantasy game of his youth in a reverential history of the innovative pastime that has launched billions of role-playing adventures. Before Dungeons & Dragons, those with a fetish for alternate time periods and a visceral need to escape the banality of everyday life would wage tabletop war against each other in meticulously rendered re-enactments of history's greatest battles. Soon, however, even these highly orchestrated military clashes began to grow a bit tiresome--until someone threw wizards and other magical entities into the mix. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson are the pioneering duo credited with merging old war simulations with a revolutionary gaming system that removed "winning" as the objective and encouraged imaginative players to keep their adventures going in perpetuity--or, at least, until their characters ran out of all-important hit points. Then again, in D&D, resurrection is never really out of the question, either. Forbes senior editor Ewalt adroitly parallels his return to D&D after years away in the "grown-up world" of journalism with the story of how Gygax and Arneson originally came together in the early 1970s to form Tactical Studies Rules, Inc.; the author also covers the ensuing split between the creators. The former thread, however, is by far the more engaging, as the rise and fall and resurgence of the D&D empire has been well-documented elsewhere. Hard-core D&D followers will find few revelations in Ewalt's personal dungeon crawl through TSR history. However, for those who don't know a Ranger from a Rogue or a Hobgoblin from a Halfling, the author's devotion to the game does much to illuminate role-playing's enduring power on mortal men and women. A serviceable history of Dungeons & Dragons coupled with an insightful look at the game's allure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451640502
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
08/20/2013
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
900,771
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

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