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Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It Hardcover – August 20, 2013
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Gaming expert and Forbes senior editor Ewalt freely admits at the outset of this fascinating expedition into the world of Dungeons & Dragons that aficionados of the role-playing game don’t exactly enjoy a stellar reputation in the larger public eye. Geeks and math fanatics are often viewed as D&D’s main adherents, and the game’s subculture is still tainted by false stories from the 1980s linking it to suicide and Satanism. Yet, despite the current market rage of Xbox and multiplayer Internet games, D&D remains immensely popular, with fans numbering in the tens of millions. Drawing on his journalistic skill and lifelong passion for D&D, Ewalt walks readers through the game’s eclectic rules, sheds light on its surprising origins, and introduces some of its quirky celebrities. From the author’s own years of experience designing D&D scenarios, he also reveals some choice secrets behind becoming a Dungeon Master. 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. --Carl Hays
“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.” (Vin Diesel)
“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.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“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.” (Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist)
“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.” (Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and I Wear the Black Hat)
“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.)” (Ken Jennings, author of Maphead and Because I Said So!)
“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.” (John Carmack, co-founder of Id Software)
"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!" (Felicia Day, actress, producer, creator of The Guild and Geek & Sundry)
"The best book I've read since the Monster Manual." (David X. Cohen, executive producer of Futurama)
"A fascinating window into the storied history of fantasy pen and paper gaming. A must-read for anyone curious about the genre." (Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder of BioWare)
“David Ewalt offers a genial history of Dungeons and Dragons and its impact on his own geek life…. A highly readable account of a game that seized the imagination of a generation and maintains its grip three decades later.” (Publishers Weekly)
“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.” (Booklist)
"The author’s devotion to the game does much to illuminate role-playing’s enduring power on mortal men and women." (Kirkus)
"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." (Seattle Times)
Top customer reviews
I'm not certain how much value experienced gamers will get out of this, other than a "Hey, I know those guys!" But it's definitely a perfect gift for befuddled significant others.
I could have done without the author's retelling of one of his own D & D campaigns; the interactivity that makes pen and paper rpg's so much fun don't always translate that well to a single-person narration after the fact. For those interested in immersing themselves in a real-time campaign without being able to play in one, I'd highly recommend the podcast "Critical Hit" which records a group of 6 players while they're playing through a campaign in real-time.
The writing is engaging, with a uniquely fun transition between what it's like to experience a game of Dungeons & Dragons, and the historical and personal experience of the author.