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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
Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It
Audiobook8 hours

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

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

A fascinating and personal look at Dungeons & Dragons that "tracks D&D's turbulent rice, fall, and survival, from its heyday in the 1980s…to the twenty-first century" (The Wall Street Journal).

Even if you've never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has: the game has had a profound influence on our culture, and 2014 marks the intriguing role-playing phenomenon's 40th anniversary. Released decades before the Internet and social media, Dungeons & Dragons inspired one of the original nerd subcultures and is still revered by more than 30 million fans. 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 describes the development of Dungeons & Dragons from the game's origins 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 lasting impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp subculture analysis with his own present-day gaming experiences, "writing about the world of fantasy role-playing junkies with intelligence, dexterity, and even wisdom" (Ken Jennings). 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.

Release dateAug 20, 2013
Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It

David M. Ewalt

David M. Ewalt began playing Dungeons & Dragons when he was ten years old. Now an award-winning journalist, he writes about games for outlets like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, talks about games on television and radio, and plays games in and around his Brooklyn, New York, home. Join him or find out more at DavidMEwalt.com.

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Rating: 3.5317460317460316 out of 5 stars

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Really great book. Total enjoyment.

    This isn't a totally comprehensive history of role playing games -- it is more of a personal journey with history of RPGs and D&D intertwined. Well written. Given the recent article about how Gary Gygax lost control of TSR, this book gives some additional information that seems more even-handed.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Seems at times more of a personal journey than a chronology of the game. Still, it's an interesting read. I first became aware of D&D in the late 1970s when I heard of friends playing and one of them tried to clone the DM. I've never been big on it, but did try a run at DMing for my younger sons a few years ago. If I take one thing from this book, it's the fifth gen of D&D, which may be their best yet. Must needs looking into.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    It's wildly difficult to write a first-person account of a phenomenon. The reason: Authors-as-characters only work when they become surrogates for the reader. Too often writers inject themselves into the story, which breaks the narrative flow by separating the reader from the action of the book.

    When Of Dice and Men is at its best, David M. Ewalt paints an interesting tale that follows the birth, demise, and rebirth of both Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop role-playing. While the territory of the game's history isn't new, Ewalt nevertheless wrote a fan's history, which painted a tough by understandable picture of the original founders. I flew through those parts of the book, oftentimes finding myself up well after my wife had fallen asleep. I wanted more of that.

    Unfortunately, the book has two major narrative flaws that frustrated me. The first was the author's injection of himself into the story, which didn't give me a better understanding of the game, its psychology, or its community friendships. Instead, Ewalt assumed the reader understood those ideas (in contrast to his excellent descriptions of how these games are played).

    The second was that the author didn't trust the reader. Ewalt diverges repeatedly throughout the narrative to explain how much of a nerd he is (while simultaneously trying to tell us that it's not just nerds who play), as if that's imperative to appreciate and understand the phenomenon. He also peppers the narrative with overblown descriptors to artificially create drama.

    My headlong leap into the deep end of D&D gave the trip an almost religious significance: I started to think of it as my version of the hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. An expression of devotion; a chance to seek wisdom; a time to show unity with my brethren.

    It's this dichotomy that concerned me. The book is clearly written for people who don't understand D&D and role-playing games (RPGs) based upon the lengthy descriptions of the various games, and yet Ewalt never settles on exactly who the "people who play" are.

    Despite the narrative imbalance, people who enjoy D&D and RPGs will find this a satisfying, quick read and those who have never held a 20-sided dice won't be intimidated by lots of geek-speak.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    A nice little cultural history on Dungeons and Dragons. More geared towards the friends and significant others of DnD players. My wife read it and she really liked it. She thought it helped her understand our motivations more. I learned a great deal about the history of the game as a business, which I found pretty interesting. Not incredibly insightful or anything like that, but I don't think that was what Ewalt was going for nor is it particularly easy to write deeply about table top role playing games.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    This is a history of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The author played himself as a child, gave it up for about ten years, then went back to it, and got particularly involved again as he was researching for the book. I really enjoyed this. I haven't played much D&D myself, but I did play occasionally when I was a kid in the early 80s (only when cousins visited!). More recently, I played a different role playing game that is pretty much the same thing, but not officially D&D. We were a group of women playing, but the Game Master (GM... vs DM/Dungeon Master) was a man (one of the player's husbands). Reading this makes me want to play again! I enjoyed learning the history of the game and it was humourous at times, as well. The author interspersed the history with narratives from some of the games he has played with his friends, as well as the research he was doing (various gaming conventions, and even one weekend doing a LARP (Live Action Role Play).