Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Forbes editor David Ewalt offers a genial history of Dungeon & Dragons and its impact on his own geek life. In the early 1970s, 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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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."
"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."
"The author's devotion to the game does much to illuminate role-playing's enduring power on mortal men and women."
About the Author
David Ewalt is an award-winning journalist and life-long geek. As a senior editor at Forbes, he writes about the game business, technology and Internet culture, and frequently appears as an expert on TV and radio programs. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.