Slaying the Dragon

Slaying the Dragon

I had hesitated to get a copy of this book. I had thought that with the Rise of the Dungeon Master, Of Dice and Men, Empire of Imagination and then Playing at the World and especially Game Wizards I was covered. Also, I didn't want to go through a fifth or sixth recounting of the satanic panic.

It takes a village to slay a dragon, or maybe a host of wizards with magical cards, or a pair of traps of one's own making.

This book seems to be the result of a campaign of interviews of TSR actors, those still present and willing to talk to the author, Ben Riggs. I like how the recollections of some anecdotes contradict slightly each other. The author also had sometimes to guess and propose a narrative filling in the blanks. It all has a candid Rashōmon quality.

The post-Gygaxian age is not that dark, how could it be? It saw the blooming of so many settings.

(Zeb) Cook also looked at the wide world for inspiration. At the time, his literary diet consisted of experimental novels. For example, he read Dictionary of the Khazars, a Serbian novel by Milorad Pavić, though calling it a novel may be a generous description. It is a series of lexicons describing the Khazars, a Turkic people that purportedly converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century. (...) He also read Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, a novel in which Marco Polo regales Emperor Kublai Khan with tales of a kaleidoscope of mind-bending metropoles. (...) But, Polo says, telling Kublai Khan all of that "would be the same as telling you nothing."

The Khazars, Italo Calvino, the great Khan and his Venitian, Zeb Cook, Sigil, Planescape...

I think that Slaying the Dragon is a necessary book. Although the nodes in the quote above makes me thirst for another book.

At a few points in the telling, there are hints that campaigns are being played. I wonder if a book putting side by side games and settings produced and books read and campaigns played could emerge before the witnesses forget or leave us.