“The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It”
Of Dice and Men is a short read by author David M. Ewalt, self admitted “15 level Cleric” and enthusiast for all things gaming. Now I must admit, I didn’t read the book. I subscribe to Audible and listened to the audiobook instead, which so happened to be read by Mr. Ewalt as well (with in game narration by Mikael Naramore).
If you are a huge Dungeons & Dragons fan- you will love this book. The author took a unique approach to the the book. He switches between his in-game antics and the story of how Dungeons & Dragons came about. While it may not follow a linear flow, every gamer will sympathize with what the author was doing. The mix-mash between his personal campaign and the history of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson is charming. If you are asking yourself “who the fuck is Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson?”, then you need to stop reading this blog post and do a Google search. Seriously, stop reading until you read about the game’s creators…
Now that you have become a learned person of respect, let’s move on.
The book is a welcome change in it’s non linear arrangement. It is almost akin to a Tarentino film’s structure- jumping from story to story. And the best part, both sides are equally enjoyable.
The history portion covers tabletop gaming all the way back to ancient times until the advent of Chess in India. Chess eventually led to many military based tabletop games in Europe. You may have heard of one- Risk. These military tabletop wargames evolved and had it’s small niche fans all over the world. In the late 1960’s, one group was based in Lake Geneva, Wisconson. This is were the Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson met each other. It is also the home of the orginal GenCon (which moved to Milwaukee as it grew, and eventually to Indianapolis). Together, they went on to create and run historic game sessions “Blackmoor” and “Greyhawk”. These experimental campaigns eventually led to Dungeons and Dragons some yeas later.
The other chunk of the book spins a first person view from Ewalt’s D&D campaign. You follow some of his favorite memories from his home campaigns and the smoky narration on the audiobook really lends to the experience.
All in all, I’d recommend you stop creating your half-orc/half-tiefling moon druid/warlock/rogue and read (or listen to) Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. It will help you discover how Dungeons & Dragons came about and give you a new appreciation for the game.
I found this sweet video of the David M Ewalt doing a presentation about the book at Google. Check it Out.
Have you read the book? Let me know what you think in comments below.