Designers & Dragons: The '70s by Shannon Appelcline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Designers & Dragons: The '70s chronicles the history of role playing game companies whose genesis was in the hallowed decade of the 1970s.
Reading about role playing games isn't as exciting as playing them but I still found this to be an interesting look into the history of the hobby. While I knew quite a bit about TSR, Gary Gygax, and the father of all subsequent RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons, a lot of it was new to me.
Appelcline briefly touches on D&Ds wargaming roots and then proceeds to take the reader to school, covering companies that made their own D&D compatible products, like the Judge's Guild and Fantasy Games Unlimited, to competitors to Dungeons and Dragons and its parent company, TSR, like GDW and their Traveler game, Chaosium, Avalon Hill, and many others.
You have to have a certain level of nerdiness to really appreciate this book. What could have been a dull journey to Nerdville was made interesting by Appelcine's engaging writing style, interspersed with quotes from the people involved.
I don't have many gripes about the game. Companies I never heard of got a lot of pages and I feel like I now possess even more role playing game knowledge that I'll never need. I thought the title was a little misleading since it purports to be about RPGs during the 1970s but it's actually about companies who started during the '70s up either the present day or they went tits up.
I don't think I'd recommend it to gaming novices but people who remember spending sexless evenings covered in nerd-sweat and Cheetoh crumbs will get a kick out of it. Three out of five stars.
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