I have been wanting to pick up Designers & Dragons now for sometime. With the final hours of the GM's Day Sale going on, I figured that today was that day.
This is massive (440+ pages), well researched tome is perfect for reading straight through, picking up a year or company at random or even looking things up.
The style is easy to read and it's almost informal in tone. One can easily picture Appelcline sitting down ans saying "let me tell you a story, you see it all started 1974..." Like a storyteller the story takes turns and twists and doesn't follow a chronology, but that is fine since it does follow a narrative.
They layout is clean and simple. The story is the key here, and there are plenty of color photos of the games being talked about, though not all games have photos.
While there is a lot of information there is a lot of material to cover too. So sometimes some topics get a little shorted, but I can't blame the author for this to be honest. There is just so much to cover. That been said there is a lot that is in this book. I consider myself very knowledgeable about RPGs and I was nodding along with the text going "yes I remember that" but I still found myself going "wow, I didn't know that!" quite often.
In a nice feature each chapter/part ends in a "What to Read Next" that can lead you in many different directions. Like coming to a crossroads in a dungeon do you go right, left or straight ahead. The choice is yours.
This book is so full of information that it will take me weeks to digest it all and I am sure I'll be coming back to it often.
This book is the most comprehensive history of RPGs and the companies that produce them to date. I was even happy to see my own name in these pages (even if is spelled "Brannon" and not "Brannan").
One thing I am looking forward to doing is use this as another source to help out the Wikipedia articles on RPGs. For the longest time the RPG articles on Wikipedia were the target of an editor on a crusade. I am not sure what his motivation was, but it was obvious he had no clue what he was talking about. In any case it did lead to the improvement of many articles.
You can also see what Kurt Wiegel has to say about it at Game Geeks.