By: John Gastil - Cosmic Egg Books, $24.95
Description: When longstanding personality conflicts erupt, the volatile Randall Keller secedes from Alan Crandall’s gaming group. In pursuit of a coveted prize at an upcoming convention, Alan replaces Randall with two female recruits who reinvigorate the campaign.
Randall chooses a darker path by spreading infectious cynicism through the gaming community while plotting his revenge. When the Middle Mirth convention gets underway, Alan’s group must stop Randall and his avatar before they devastate worlds both fictional and real.
Verdict: In truth, I had zero idea what I was getting into here, as I picked the book up, loved the title and the intriguing cover art and simply settled in for whatever ride was forthcoming!
Little did I even come close to guessing that, and for all those others also unaware, Dungeon Party links a fantasy world and the people playing in it!
Now I have finished it, and taken a step away from it, I can say, hand on heart, that Dungeon Party is overwhelmingly and oh-so highly recommended for gamers, of course, but not just gamers.
For running through its prose of veins is a brilliantly layered, and cultured, sensitively of a book on friendship and how people grow apart, grow up, and make an even better community for themselves outside of the game.
Also managing to factor in a rather biting critique of some of the toxic elements that have made some gaming communities resistant to those changes, that said, it never shies away from also being a mighty fine celebration of why roleplaying is thriving in spite of those elements; helping us survive and improve.
In closing, and sure, some level of D&D/Tolkien style adventure playing is best to have on board before entering into this world - something I myself did not have, obviously, and thus found myself floundering at times in a mystically, mythical realm - but the hand-written sequences here by Gastil are beyond gripping and thoroughly enthralling (especially the last act!)
About the Author: John Webster Gastil is a professor at Pennsylvania State University who studies group behavior and has spent a large portion of his life playing games at tabletops and online.
His nonfiction includes Democracy in Small Groups and The Group in Society.
Dungeon Party is his first foray into fiction, and his second novel, Gray Matters, is also forthcoming from Cosmic Egg Books. John lives in State College, PA, USA.
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