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Having read the “Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition RPG Starter Set” a few times now my mind is filled with questions about the game. But the over all question I have is How dose this all work? I wanted to start finding people here in Juneau with D&D experience that I could ask my questions.

One of the first places I tried was a used books store in down town Juneau called Rainy Retreat Books. There I met a very nice gentleman by the name of Royce Metz. He and I got into a long talk about Dungeons & Dragons. He did his best to explain to me the differences of Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, 3.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 4.0. He gave me some great advice about playing the roll of the Dungeon Master.

Dragon Lance Chronicles Volume 1: Dragons of Autumn Twilight 1984He also suggested the first three books from the DragonLance Chronicles to read. That the books would give me some good ideas for adventures and quests. So for a few bucks I picked them up.

I also went looking online for advice. I figured that I could not be the only person online blogging about the journey to learn Dungeons & Dragons. But after many Google searches I came back with two links I think are worth mentioning at the moment.

The first one is from Wizards of the Cost. They are the current publisher of the Dungeons & Dragons books. They have a pod cast section on their website. In particular they have a pod cast with the guys from Penny Arcade and Player Vs. Player playing Dungeons and Dragons that can be found here. I have found this so helpful! You can listen to them play D&D 4th edition, and get a real good feel of the game mechanics and how everything works together! I think this is one of the most helpful things I have found.

The second link I found is for a website called Newbie DM. This is a guy who blogs about Dungeon Mastering and the tips and tricks he has found that works best for him. For me it’s been an interesting read learning how this DM runs his games and the tools he finds useful for himself and his group of adventurers.

I still continued to look around for people to talk to who have had experience playing the game. I even spoke with my older brother Reza, about this on the phone. I asked him if he had ever played Dungeons & Dragons. To my astonishment he had when he was a high school junior in Vancouver Washington. (My older brother is just as much of a geek as I am!)  Aside from needing the three core rulebooks, he told me a story about D&D. That back when I was much younger and we all used to live in Gridley Kansas, he had heard that a kid from near by Greenwood county, had killed himself. That one night while he was playing Dungeons & Dragons with some friends, his character had been banished to the Netherworld. This kid felt that the only way he could save his character from the Netherworld was to kill himself so he could go in after him. As my brother was telling me this story, I told him that I recalled hearing a version of it from my past. I might have even over heard Reza talking about this story with his friends or with our parents.

Mazes and Monsters vhs coverI can’t help but wonder if the story my brother and I heard was somehow related to the story of James Dallas Egbert III and what is refered to as the Steam tunnel incident. The steam tunnel incident is a set of urban myths wherein players enacting live action role-playing games perish. Mazes and Monsters is a 1981 novel based on inaccurate newspaper stories about the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III from Michigan State University in 1979. A 1982, made for T.V. movie called Mazes and Monsters (staring Tom Hanks) was based on the book. Just for fun I have added the movie to my Netflix Que.

To Be Continued…


The host of the YOSHICAST and TRANSMISSIONS Podcast. Transformers enthusiast and comic book collector.

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Interesting thoughts, you’re bringing back lots of memories for me while you’re at it. My theory on why little about learning d&d is published, it’s still got a stigma of antisocial geek (like that James Dallas Egbert III kid).

    Years ago, when my mom heard about “some kid in the town just down the way started casting ‘spells’ and ‘curses’ on his mother, eventually going mad and killing his whole family…” because he played D&D, she took away and hid the set (d&d basic starter kit, with the dice you had to color with white crayon INCLUDED) she gave me herself only weeks earlier.

    btw, i took it back when i found it, sorry mom.

    Dragonlance was _made_ for d&d campaigns, every dm I’ve played with had a favorite character or story to base his campaigns on. (My fave was ‘Raistlin Majere’) Wikipedia has an awesome list of all of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_Dragonlance_characters

    …and I still remember the story that got me wanting to dm to play it out in d&d:
    It’s not Dragonlance, technically, but is written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (you _have_ to read the whole deathgate cycle to get the full story though, so kinda long)

  2. […] I wrote in an older post that I learned about the movie “Mazes and Monsters“. It’s a 1982 movie about a group of college students and their interest in a fictitious role-playing game (RPG) of the same name staring Tom Hanks. The film was adapted from a novel of the same name by Rona Jaffe. Jaffe had based her 1981 novel on inaccurate newspaper stories about the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III from Michigan State University in 1979. […]

  3. hey man intresting stuff ill check out rainy retreats for sure im from prince of wales island about three hundred miles south of juneau give or take and i just moved here im looking for a group off players to join altough i prefer version 3.0 id be happy to learn the newer version something you may want to look into is the newly published 3.75 many of the players from POW hated 4.0 for whatever reason so i never got a chance to look it over however the 3.75 system got an extremly warm reception it is very symilar to 3.5 but all the classes and races have been revamped i recomend at leaste glancing through it you mat like what you find if you wnat to get ahold of me you should look for me on myspace as i dont use my email all that often just search for joshua craske and if theres more than one select the one with the most recent login anyone reading this is free to find me there in search of new players for the juneau-douglas area.

  4. The ‘steam tunnel incident’ has become so bogged down with half truths and bad retelling that it has simply become ‘the story about that guy who went crazy and went into the tunnels at MSU’. Sadly, it cheapens the tragic story of James Dallas Egbert III which can be read in full detail in the book ‘The Dungeon Master’ by William Dear.

    In the late 70’s there were many colleges that had groups of students playing D&D ‘for real’ in the steam tunnels below most universities. In particular, at Michigan State University is where James went in many times to enact a live version of D&D…At times with others but mostly by himself. It was also the main target of the investigation into his disappearance by Detective Dear.

    The Mazes & Monsters book came out after Egbert was found and is a fictional novel based loosely upon that story. There are other stories and books that ‘blamed’ D&D for many anti-social behaviours, some of the worst damage being done by Patricia Pullings group BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons). The late Pat Pulling pretty much was involved in a self serving crusade to warn people about the dangers and possible ‘demonic’ possession, but this was all hype and in the end it was a bit of a sad joke that she kept trying to get media attention with her hysterics over D&D. I really suggest reading the book The Dungeon Master if you are interested, its an insightful, yet tragic, story of one of our fellow gamers that, in the end, couldnt seem to work things out in his short life.

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