Dungeons & Dragons

D&D 5.0

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook

I’ve long professed my love of D&D at Ensuing Chapters, and it’s been a hell of a summer for gamers. Wizards of the Coast, the game’s publisher, is releasing the 5th edition of the table-top role-playing game—and they’re spreading the love around.

The Basic Rules and Starter Set were released in July, and this week, Wizards published the Player’s Handbook. The fan favorite Monster Manual will hit shelves in September, and the essential Dungeon Master’s Guide will follow in November.

In honor of the new edition, here is a collection of our articles about D&D, from Ensuing Chapters and beyond. Enjoy.

Book Review: Of Dice and Men

D&D is a cultural phenomenon that has lasted decades, survived the sophistication of video games and artificial intelligence, rival RPGs and even the Satanic Panic. It’s goneDice and Men from nerd pastime to geek chic to sociological interest, and now its history has been documented in the wonderful Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It, a nostalgic romp through the author’s (and my) childhood.

Ewalt, a senior editor at Forbes and self-described “writer, gamer, geek,” has done a great service to anyone who, with sweaty palms, has had to make a campaign-defining saving throw (or at least knows what that means). His smooth writing style and flair for narrative pacing makes the story of this greatest of games one of general interest, even if you’ve never tossed the 20-sided die. Read full article

Book Review: Playing at the World

Remember the first time you crawled a dungeon, slayed the dragon and stuffed as playing_worldmuch treasure as you could into your “bag of holding”? Felt good, right? But the true prize wasn’t the booty. Sure, I enjoyed counting the gold and platinum coins, drooling over the prospects of upgraded armor, a magic-enhanced broad sword and whatever mischief I could scare up with a few copper pieces at the local tavern.

But what intrigued me most were the tattered spell scrolls, mysterious tomes and the secrets of the ancients.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise. A rabid imagination is the primary tool that all fans of role-playing games bring to the table, and a trove of yellowed parchment and faded maps makes us froth at the mouth. Just how powerful is that fireball incantation? What wisdom could be discovered in that old paladin’s codex?

That’s what it feels like digging into Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games. For any experienced gamer, this is a hoard worthy of any dungeon campaign. Read full article

Boulder Camera:

Game On: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Releases on Worldwide D&D Game Day

Those outside the gaming world may have missed the news that Dungeons & Dragons—the legendary fantasy role-playing game in which players assume the roles of paladins and wizards and battle mythic creatures with a set of polyhedral dice—released the fourth edition of its series on June 6.
 
The new edition consists of three rulebooks—the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual—which can be purchased separately (entry-level players simply need the Player’s Handbook to get started) or packaged together as the Core Rulebook Collection. The rule changes in the new edition are designed to add more action to the game play and make it more accessible to entry-level players.
 
In honor of the release, Saturday was declared Worldwide D&D Game Day, and scores of locals celebrated at Boulder’s Karliquin’s Game Knight and Time Warp Comics. Both stores hosted in-store games to commemorate the release. Read full article
 

Boulder Weekly:

Mr. Baker’s Neighorhood: The Mastermind Behind the New World of Dungeons & Dragons gives an insider’s tour of Ebberron

Keith Baker’s Boulder home is a fantasy geek’s paradise. An oversized bookshelf serves as an archive of role-playing game (RPG) modules, player’s handbooks and monster manuals. Posters of fantasy artwork grace the walls. Intricately designed miniatures of majestic dragons, mythical creatures and timeless warriors stand guard over counter space. Two broadswords hang over a mantle, and if you ask nicely Baker will give you a lesson in swordplay. After all, prior to becoming a novelist and game designer, he studied fencing and worked at Renaissance fairs.

If you knew Baker as a child, you probably wouldn’t be surprised.

“Instead of playing Cowboys and Indians, I ran around with friends playing Egyptian and Norse gods,” he says.

After showing an early interest in mythology, fantasy, the horror/sci-fi fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and the eerie artwork of Edward Gorey, it was no surprise that in 4th grade Baker became interested in a game called Dungeons & Dragons. Read full article

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Review: Of Dice and Men

D&D is a cultural phenomenon that has lasted decades, survived the sophistication of video games and artificial intelligence, rival RPGs and even the Satanic Panic. It’s goneDice and Men from nerd pastime to geek chic to sociological interest, and now its history has been documented in the wonderful Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It, a nostalgic romp through the author’s (and my) childhood.

Ewalt, a senior editor at Forbes and self-described “writer, gamer, geek,” has done a great service to anyone who, with sweaty palms, has had to make a campaign-defining saving throw (or at least knows what that means). His smooth writing style and flair for narrative pacing makes the story of this greatest of games one of general interest, even if you’ve never tossed the 20-sided die.

There are two key threads running through the book. The first, of course, is the history of D&D, from its precursors through its growing pains, its competitors and controversies, and finally its legacy as second- and third-generation dungeon crawlers have been drawn to the table. The second thread is Ewalt’s personal tale of rekindling his love for D&D in adulthood.

While both storylines are interesting, the content of the historical narrative is a bit more compelling, particularly due to the big personality of its founder, Gary Gygax. But the personal narrative is most affecting because it traces a familiar thread: Imaginative loner boy discovers D&D; becomes hooked; discovers women; hangs up the broad sword and chainmail; rediscovers D&D; realizes you can take the halfling out of the dungeon, but you can’t take the dungeon out of the halfling.

Ewalt and I have a lot in common.

The book has been described as being similar to Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, but I disagree with that description. Economics are addressed, but this book is truly about passion, not money. Which is fitting. At the end of every D&D campaign comes the distribution of treasure that the group has acquired, but this is not the reason for playing. The true reward is the quest to find and slay the dragon guarding that treasure.

The only downside to the book is the fantasy sequences in which Ewalt recounts fictional events from his weekly campaigns. Unfortunately, these feel forced and, for me at least, didn’t really add much to the narrative. I feel comfortable in critiquing this element of the book as I have done this myself.

But aside from that, this is an amazing book, a perfect summer read and hopefully the first of many books from Ewalt.