David Ewalt, award-winning Forbes journalist and life-long geek, brings the history of Dungeons & Dragons to the masses with his upcoming, highly readable nonfiction book Of Dice and Men. Wryly funny and chock-full of fascinating factoids, Ewalt’s take on D&D’s life story is made all the more compelling by his own tale of personal discovery woven through the historical facts.
A fan of D&D at a young age, Ewalt lost touch with his gamer cred in college. (“Only a D&D nerd would think he’d become cool by working on a school newspaper.”) Ten years later, and working as a professional journalist, he heard D&D’s siren call, and responded to a Craigslist ad looking for players for a new campaign. “I’m a journalist,” he told himself. “It will make a good story.” But soon enough, he had fallen back into the fold.
In honor of the release of his book on August 20, we asked David Ewalt to share with us some of his D&D true confessions.
Where and When You First Played D&D:
In the spring of 1986, at my friend Scott's house in Great Falls, Virginia. I was in fourth grade. All my friends were there, and at some point Scott convinced us to take a break from our normal schedule of running around like maniacs cranked out of our minds on Mountain Dew to sit still and try this weird tabletop game. We played through The Keep on the Borderlands in a single session. I don't remember if my character survived, but I do remember what I was thinking when the game was over: "That was awesome!"
Favorite D&D Character (Name, Class, History):
I think my favorite character is the one I'm currently playing, and the one that I write about in Of Dice and Men. Weslocke is now a level 15 cleric, and shortly after the events depicted in the book he also took a single level of Psychic Warrior. The grognards in your audience may remember "Weslocke" as a male Elf fighter/wizard that was included as one of the pre-rolled characters in Module S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. That module was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and when I started playing in my current campaign, I named my new PC after him.
Most Embarrassing Moment Involving D&D:
A few years ago at Dragonmeet, a D&D convention in London, I rolled a one and dropped my weapon on three consecutive turns. As the sole Yank at the table I felt like I was somehow letting down my country.
Most Bizarre Factoid You Know About D&D:
After writing Of Dice and Men I am a font of obscure arcana. But how about this one: The Monk player class appeared in D&D after designer Jim Ward heard the song Kung Fu Fighting, thought it was really funny, and added a bunch of martial artists to one of his dungeons.
Your Perfect D&D Party (Past or Present):
Is made up of late role-playing greats like Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and M.A.R. Barker. Or the entire cast of Monty Python.
... just in need of a good hug.
How D&D Changed My Life:
D&D taught me how to tell a good story, which is an important life skill, and obviously relevant to my chosen profession. But the biggest way the game changed my life was by introducing me to the amazing, brilliant people who play it. I met some of my oldest and most cherished friends at the gaming table, and I continue to forge new friendships every time I sit down to play some D&D.