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D&D General Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons, collection of essays published by MIT Press


Doomed Wizard
Can I just say how much I admire your laser focus on your preferred (well, I assume it's your preferred) version of the game and all of the heavy lifting you've done on it for years?

I don't know if you're a professional scholar, but I really admire the focused scholarship you've contributed over the years (decades?).

Thanks, WD!

It is my preferred version, although I don't really distinguish it from OD&D; rather, I see it as one take on OD&D.

I'm not a professional scholar, but I do have a doctorate, so multi-year deep dives into very specific areas seem to be in my nature. 🧙‍♂️

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Am I missing where I can see a preview of the ToC?

Edit: As noted by @zenopus below, the contents are now out at MIT Press and on his blog: Fifty Years of D&D: Table of Contents
Or just click the spoiler box right below this to see the table of contents - I've now put them behind spoilers so that your screen isn't default filled up with giant, not great, jpgs.

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Ongoing review part I - Chapters 1-5:

Ch.1 - The introduction is fine for an introduction. I really like all of the references to previous books, articles, and news stories here and throughout. (Do many people "dial in" to things online for gaming, or does that date the author?)

The new artwork commissioned for the book didn't really do anything for me. (I wonder if the originals were larger).

The vignettes are fun. I wish there were a lot more of them (besides these and the few that come later). The first by Colville feels like it gives his answer to an ongoing "debate" on ENWorld - one side won't like his answer, but I don't think they'll think he is in any way dispositive. The second and third by Huang and Sims could probably be used to start a very argumentative thread on here. (The vignette font sizes seemed annoyingly small).

Ch.2 - The Gary Alan Fine memoir chapter is indeed a memoir, a very short one. It reads quickly, has some things (not not all DnD) I wasn't expecting, and is gone before it overstays its welcome. [Fine wrote the 1983 "Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds"].

Ch.3 - Game Wizards is the only Peterson book I've read. I thought his Exploration and Experience chapter here was really interesting, especually how it tied into lots of other games of various types. Definitely worth a read.

Ch.4 - For the one on combat, I think Torner chose a bunch of really, really interesting quotes and came up with some interesting conclusions. (I'm pondering shift from "tension between realism and playability" to the "struggle between playability, supplement bloat, and player agency".) And I like the (brutal) honesty I think he brings to bear on judging D&D combat and how it fits the game. But it really, really felt meandering in terms of writing and organization compared to the chapters that preceded and follow it. I really hope we get a revision some day. If we do I also hope the summary table has more consistent level of detail across editions - this one was kind of frustrating. (And I must have forgotten how 1e initiative works).

Ch.5 - I didn't now what to expect in the chapter on Holmes Basic by Rowe and Howard. It was a great informative read - especially for the non-wargamer view of the OD&D era from California. Also had an overview of some of the changes TSR edited in to Holmes's draft.
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