30 years of adventure: A celebration of Dungeons and Dragons-A review

30-Years-of-Adventure-A-Celebration-of-Dungeons-Dragons

Growing up in the 80’s, I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. My first set ironically was my fathers original 1974 set that he used to play with a couple of his friends. I found it in our game room come library and was fascinated by the white and blue cover of the instruction manual “which I still own”.  At the same time I inherited my dad’s set I found out that my cousins played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. I  always went over to their house to play Dungeons and Dragons with them, and they were immersing me more and more into a world of great dungeon crawls, fascinating monsters and powerful heroes. By 1983 I was starting to amass my own collection Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia. I had upgraded to the famous red box and had acquired not only the Player’s Handbook and The Dungeon Master’s guide , but also all three Monster manuals.

The original red box from 1983, a classic

The original red box from 1983, a classic

Over time I started playing less and less until I stopped playing all together. Other role-playing games had beseached me, games like Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020 and G.U.R.P.S.  plus Video game Role Playing Games like the Final Fantasy series kept me occupied. Yet I never really forgot my roots until interestingly enough I found renewed interest for Dungeons and Dragons and my love for the game has been rekindled, especially after finding most of my old collection which I thought was lost was still mostly intact; except for my Players handbook and my three Monster manuals.

Players-Handbookmonster_manualFiendFolioCovermm2

In trying to upgrade to the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, my research so far has me looking at all sorts of different books about Dungeons and Dragons. Everything from the history of Dungeons and Dragons and how to play, as well as whatever other information I could find about the game. and during one of these research trips I had come across 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons. A coffee table book about the first 30 years history of Dungeons and Dragons.

The book is very interesting in the fact that it shows the love of the game. The art is beautiful eye candy, but unfortunately there is no info on who the artist was that created the artwork or what the picture on the page represents. Famous people who are real diehard players were also interviewed, expressing why they love the game  and what drew them to it. These articles were depicted on R.P.G Monster sheets that comes right from the layout on the monster manual, with a picture of a monster in the picture box supposedly representing a monster of that person. An intriguing concept at the very least but what bothered me was why there was no text as to why this particular picture was chosen to represent that particular person.

A page from Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual

A page from Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual

I think the biggest problem though is the lay out of the  book. The text is set at a 45 degree angle, sometimes to the left and other times to the right for no rhyme or reason. Paragraphs and articles end abruptly on one page as a new topic starts, than a page or two later the paragraph and or topic starts up again making reading this book downright uncomfortable, if not torturesome at best. I mean who wants to read a book at an angle especially a coffee table book. What I also found kind of sad is that there was very little on the early history of the game and of it’s creators like Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. What I also found odd is that there were no interviews with the games original creators like Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson who were still alive during the printing of this book. Also It would have been nice if they included a chapter or two on how Dungeons and dragons changed the landscape of role playing games as a whole, I mean if it wasn’t for Dungeons there would be no real role playing game culture.

garygygax_2Dave_Arneson

The book also the focused on only a few of the most popular campaigns. I loved the chapters about Ravenloft, Dragonlance, and Forgotten Realms campaign settings and how they were developed. Although I wish that the chapters were  fuller with more elements on history and design, yet  once again I was let down because it had only the briefest of information at best.  Interestingly I  also found out is that it left out other campaigns that were equally as good yet not as noteworthy. In thirty years there has been more that seven campaign settings so why leave them out as well. This is another reason that I feel that a lot of information is missing and that a lot of stories weren’t being told.

ravenloftforgotten_realms_logodraglan

I really wished this book was better. The idea was there, and beautiful artwork aside the book was lost in the extremely poor layout and presentation. Combine that with a lack of information and this book really looks like it doesn’t have a focus. It must be a huge let down for the hard core fans who stuck with the game through out the decades, and also for new inductees who want to understand and learn more about a game that can be quite influential.

So if you want to have a very basic introduction to Dungeons and dragons or just want to have some eye catching conversational piece on your coffee table. or you are the collector that has to have every piece of dungeons and dragons paraphernalia than have a gander at this book otherwise I would suggest dusting off your old character sheet of Gandor the tenth level wizard, find a campaign of fellow Dungeons and Dragons lovers and quest away.

fire-wizards-background

As a side note there is a new book coming out called Of Dice And men by David M Ewalt. I am  looking forward to seeing what the new book is about, hopefully it might fill in the giant gaps that were missing from this book on the history of Dungeons and Dragons. From what I read on Amazon it should be coming into bookstores in August 20 2013.

of-dice-and-men-cover Of dice and men by David M Ewalt

 

Eric

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Posted on July 19, 2013, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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