‘The Dungeon Master’ by William Dear

Most D&Ders are at least familiar with this book:

'The Dungeon Master' by William Dear

'The Dungeon Master' by William Dear

I read most (but not all, IIRC) of this book in about 1987 in my high school library.

I’m still not all that well-informed about exactly what and how this all went down, but I’ve decided to check the book out from my local library and give it another look. Out of curiosity as much as anything.

One thing I do recall, though, is that the simple version of the game described at one point in the book, presumably what’s today called ‘OD&D’, was part of what fueled my mid-80s desire for what today is called old school gaming.

In any event, this is likely to be interesting.

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7 Responses to ‘The Dungeon Master’ by William Dear

  1. Al says:

    I’ve read this book about 5 times over the years, its very well written for a “true-crime” book. Dear (or his ghost-writer) has a good way of leading you along from chapter to chapter. The game session you’re referring to is pretty evocative, and the descriptions of the gamer-haunted steam tunnels under the university are fantastic.

    • Kilgore says:

      There are a few things that I find a big irritating, but overall I’m actually enjoying the read so far, which is surprising because I chose to read it more for scholarly-ish reasons than any sort of entertainment. Yeah, it’s a page-turner.

  2. bulette says:

    This post made me remember the book Mazes and Monsters and the subsequent made for TV movie. I’m glad the Christian Right’s attitude towards rpg’s are now marginalized and seen for the ignorant and paranoid views that they’d always been.

    Fortunately as a kid, I had the sense not to be swayed from the games by the propaganda of the times.

    • Kilgore says:

      If we watched Mazes and Monsters when it was first aired, I don’t remember it. I do know we saw it later (rented, maybe?) and we all just went “What sort of stupid game is that they’re playing? It sure ain’t anything like what we play.” LOL.

      Of course, my dad actually had some pretty serious concerns about the game which I’ve got to think were at least influenced a bit by the media hype of things that never happened.

    • Will says:

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel like Dear’s book was an effort to “demonize” the game. He plays it and seems to have a decent time, after all. Plus, he investigates leads other than the D&D steam tunnel theory and doesn’t shy away from ruminating on the many real problems that prompted J.D. Eggbert to run away and, just a few years later, tragically take his own life.

      I thought it was a very even-handed book and a compelling story. I blame the somewhat sensationalistic title and the awful dreck that was Mazes & Monsters for any assumptions to the contrary.

    • Robo says:

      While it did seem to corner the market on anti-fun hysteria
      back in the eighties, the Chrisian Right weren’t alone. After
      all, Rona Jaffe (the author of Mazes & Monsters) was neither
      Christian nor Right. And, I don’t know if you are old enough
      to remember, but it was Tipper (Mrs. Al) Gore who was the
      top dog at the Parents Music Resource Center, the group
      that brought Frank Zappa and Dee Snider before the Senate
      to address record labelling.

  3. bat says:

    A classic book that I have on one of my bookshelves. I was never the sort of pale, pasty kid that was a stereotypical gamer like good old JDEIII and I have lead a bit of an adventurous life away from the gaming table, but that kid was on the downward spiral anyway. That book is interesting and really, that kid was messed up, if it wasn’t a roleplaying game it would have been something else that sparked his own mental instability.

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