This book is about me! Well, okay, not exactly. But I do play Dungeons & Dragons so it is kind of. David M. Ewalt’s book is a biography of the world’s most popular roleplaying game, as well as a memoir of his own career as a player, and a love letter to the game too.
I’ve covered my history of playing D&D in my session reports of my own games, which you can find on the ‘Board Game’ tab of my blog, but I’m still a newbie when it comes too D&D as I’ve only been playing it regularly for a couple of years now, but the game is so much fun, although it does have certain stereotypes associated with it.
The first chapter is devoted to discussing what the game is for people who are new to the game or don’t know much about it, and it does a good job of covering the broad strokes. The actual book then covers the formation of the game and the inspiration behind it, as well as the politics behind the scenes and how D&D became the behemoth that it is today. It also touches on the controversy surrounding the game where people thought it was responsible for all manner of violent crimes and corruption.
Aside from this Ewalt chronicles his own party’s progression in the games he has played with his friends over the years, often in a way that complements the events of history.
So it covers a lot, and it’s not that big of a book, so while it encompasses a great deal of things it doesn’t delve into any great detail, and some people may feel let down by this. I think this book is a useful tool for anyone new to the hobby, or for long-term players who want to know more about where the game came from, but some people may feel short-changed if they’re expected a detailed look at the evolution of the game. Some also may be irked by Ewalt’s forays into his own games, as it takes away page space from writing about the game itself, but I liked these as he wrote with passion, and I recognized the feelings he was experiencing as he recounted those tales as they’re the same feelings I have when I tell someone about the things that happened to my character. If you’ve played the game before then you’ll get more out of it, but I think it’s a good tool if you want to show someone how fun the game can be without actually playing a session with them.
It’s not going to be for everyone because if you’ve been playing D&D for years and you know all about the history of the game then most of this is probably going to be rehashing stuff you already know, but for someone like me it was an interesting read, and the one thing it did was make me want to play D&D again (which I did, on my birthday, and I’ll try and get a session report up soon!).