Of Dice and Men

I haven’t written up a book on this site, even a game book, but I wanted to share this little gem: Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt.

OfDiceAndMenI had been hiding out in the library. We were selling our house, and we had to leave when prospective buyers wanted to come see it. So the dog (Prince Henry the Navigator) got a walk, then had to stay in his crate in the back of the SUV. Alison (my wife and editor) sat in the car and read, and I went into the library, to work on The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady.

Eventually I got up to stretch, and decided to look for books on game design. Nothing. So I did a search for role playing games, and Of Dice and Men showed up. Despite the glowing back blurb by Felicia Day, I picked it up with low expectations.

Two pages in I’m blown away by David Ewalt’s writing. Then I find he’s an editor at Forbes. He covers gaming as part of his job. I’ve read this guy on before, and liked him.

What you get is the history of roleplaying games, mostly D&D, told within a framing device of David’s own campaign. From the earliest games found in Egyptian tombs to 5th Edition D&D, he covers a lot of ground. When he jumps back to his own campaign, it reads like mix of great swords and sorcery with post apocalyptic adventure. You want to know what happens next.

And then he cuts to the first GenCon, or the rise of D&D and the media attack on this “satanic” past-time. You want to keep going, but he’s back to his campaign. Works really well.

Well done, even includes some great GM advice from Frank Mentzer, one of the original D&D designers. The way I figure it, if you can’t game, at least you can read about gaming. Highly recommended.

GenCon 2014: Post Con Reflections

Guest blog by Reece Ambrose, lead artist for The Sun Below: City on the Edge.

GenCon 2014 (my first gaming convention ever) was, simply put, amazing!  At 6’3″ and 220 lbs, I’m typically not considered to be a small person.  But while attending, I found myself dwarfed in so many ways that it truly made the experience a thing of wonder to me.

 

Me and  Jeff Easley
Me and Jeff Easley
I was stunned by the number of fans who flocked to the heart of Indianapolis (rumored to be the largest crowd so far), to take part in the games and seminars.  And I finally felt a part of the greater gaming community by seeing that the hobby that I’ve been passionate about for the past 34 years isn’t just something my self and my playing circle of close friends gets excited over.

 

I thinking the greatest part of the trip for me though was meeting people who in my mind hold icon status as greats in their field; Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell, Shanna Germain, Charles and Tammie Ryan.  I have worked with these folks remotely on various projects (The Strange Kickstarter, Cypher Deck, XP Deck, and Core Book), but meeting them face to face and seeing first hand how humble, warm and inviting their personalities were was an amazing treat for me!  I thank them for giving me an industry insiders view of the convention, and letting me participate in running a game of Numenera for them!
Larry Elmore and me
Larry Elmore and me

My luck seemed to run high over the seemingly short time the convention ran, as I came across personal heroes of mine while roaming the vast exhibitor’s floor.  As an artist, getting to meet Larry Elmore, and Jeff Easley, was brilliant!  It is through their work that I was gripped by the love of role-playing so many years ago, I hold that it is a major reason why I decided to become an artist myself.

I also met Margaret Weis, famed co-author of the Dragonlance novels, another great influence in my role-playing life, and the thing that struck me about all of the people I managed to meet was their utter lack of self-importance.  All of these industry giants impressed me as humble individuals who make the RPG industry a place where imaginations can be kindled, and joy filled memories of epic adventures can be had if only we let ourselves be immersed in the fanciful realms that they’ve codified with elegantly designed game systems, beautifully depicted through vivid imagery, or written out in stunning prose.

In the end, I think the whole of my experience was summed up in something said to me in a chance meeting at a bar by Pathfinder creator Jason Bulmahn when I thanked him for the many hours of fun his game had allowed me to enjoy, “You keep playing it and I’ll keep making it!”.  The great experience of GenCon is created by both the greats of the gaming industry who make the game, and the awesome fans who come and experience the convention!
— Reece