Man, I love Wizards of the Coast. This past weekend I came back from a conference in Orlando to find a package waiting on my desk. I dropped everything and tore the box open to find not just the hardcover Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation but also the companion dice set and a load of stickers and literature for this amazing new adventure! I am including a photo below but hang on for the review as this is one wild ride of a story line!
It’s always a fine day when I get to review a D&D book. I’m especially excited about Dungeons & Dragons: Tales From The Yawning Portal, as it incorporates classic adventures that have been updated for use with the Fifth Edition rules and guidebooks.
There are a total of seven full-sized adventures and I must admit a couple of them are favorites of mine. Some small adjustments have been made to allow the seven modules to be run consecutively. Imagine having a first-level character and being able to run a campaign that sees them traverse a variety of iconic story lines. It’s enough to make a nerd cry with joy (or at least this one might).
Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeonology Hardcover
Written by Matt Forbeck
Illustrations by Matt Forbeck Candlewick Press
Release Date: October 21, 2016
Cover Price: $24.99
Once upon a time, I was the manager of a Waldenbooks. It was a magical time that spanned nearly a decade and included some of the greatest moments of my life. I loved discussing books with my patrons and always made time to introduce people to new authors and genres. But far surpassing all of that was watching children discover a love of reading. Some were encouraged by family while others found it on their own. Towards the end of that era, a new type of book was finding its way onto bookshelves across the land: the ‘Ology series. It started simply enough, appealing to the general public with enough interactive items within its pages that it created a niche with readers. Unabated, this trend has diversified enough that we have been given something I never thought I would see: Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeonology, a Forgotten Realms ‘Ology. If I wasn’t forty-six, I would probably squee with delight.
Like any well-written history book, Dungeons & Dreamers captures your attention from the very beginning. For those of us who are older and remember a time before video games were a major source of entertainment, this book is like going home again. It firmly establishes its roots in tabletop gaming and taking the reader through a step-by-step transformation to the wondrous gaming networks we have today. And if it stopped there, this would still have been a labor of love that justified the long hours spent researching and interviewing. But it’s more than that, it’s an exceptionally detailed accounting of the work of several pioneers in the video gaming industry.
Modern gaming owes much of its entertainment and viability to early roleplaying gamers like Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who adapted other tabletop games into a more detail rich experience, allowing the player to move about in an unfettered landscape. Many people would come later on that would embrace this concept and take it to the next level. Richard Garriott was one of the first to act upon this, creating a multitude of text based games that eventually led to his massive multiplayer game, Ultima (and its sequels).
You read that correctly, it’s been four decades since Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created what is arguably the greatest of all role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons. Originally produced by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules, Inc.), the franchise was acquired by Wizards of the Coast in 1997. Both companies produced a wide variety of materials to supplement the game system, including pre-made modules, novels, trading card games, and much, much more. There are many different editions and the standard rules have changed much over the years, but throughout it all there is one common theme: fun. Because seriously, if it wasn’t fun, then why would we still be playing it 40 years later?