The year was 1980, and I was seventeen years old and carried D&D books in a brown, vinyl briefcase. If you think carrying a Trapper Keeper attracted bullies, just try carrying a briefcase. I caused myself a lot of unnecessary trouble and anxiety – something my awkward teenage self did not need, but I survived. Now, I proudly acknowledge that I played D&D back when it was uncool. It’s still uncool, but less so than say – Pokémon players. Now, those guys are geeks! I mean, C’mon! A Beholder could take out Pikachu any day of the week.
Yeah baby. I was a Dungeon Master when Dungeon Master wasn’t cool (and didn’t have S&M connotations). I rolled my weird dice behind my cardboard DM shield with ratio tables on it, and I took my player characters – my friends – through an adventure the likes of which Tolkien’s Frodo or Bilbo might have undertaken, or even Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.
I loved the escapism Role Playing Games offered, and Gary Gygax’s D&D created the genre. It was the shoulders that so many after it stood upon. I knew D&D when it was just a game – not a franchise. And despite the beatings from bullies, I fondly remember the times playing D&D. I remember how I felt – how it unlocked a dimension between reality and fantasy, unlike anything movies or books could do. In this place, you could make your own decisions how the story would unfold. You would not merely observe – you would be a participant.
Those were the days, and that’s why I’m looking forward to David Ewalt’s new book: Of Dice and Men
The promo for Of Dice and Men reads:
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.
The book releases in all formats from Simon and Schuster on August 20, 2013.
I’m in – preordered. Make me proud, David Ewalt, and I will open up my Trapper Keeper, take out my Monster Manual v1 and ask you to autograph it. But not in ink – I’m trying to maintain it’s near mint condition.