Book: Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy

26 Sep

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy: Read and Gain Advantage on All Wisdom Checks (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series)

This was not what I had imagined. The DM for my current weekly D&D group is the editor of this book, so I’ve been hearing about it for a while. However he had been referring to it as ‘his book’ so I thought he was the author and that it was a book full of his musings. I consider him an intelligent guy that is well-educated in fields I’m interested it, so I was looking forward to a whole book from him. So kind of disappointed when it turned out to be a series of essays by lots of different people. He does have one essay, and I think it was the most concisely written, but it was only one of 15 essays.

However, the content itself was quite good. Basically they are all using D&D and D&D concepts to introduce philosophy to the reader. It is all very entry level stuff. I’m sure that someone like self-proclaimed philosopher InquistorM would find it fairly simplistic. Even I found it shallow in places. I spend a lot of time thinking about most of the subjects they cover, and just on my own had gotten further than the essays cover. I’m betting it would be a good introduction to people that don’t think about that sort of thing. The writing quality varies but is above average to pretty good. The D&D references varied as well from simple name and term uses to actually talking about the game itself.

I would recommend this. Certainly to anyone wanting a gateway book for philosophy, morality, and related topics. Even people not needing the entry level stuff might find it interesting to read. I certainly did even though I didn’t get much from it either knowledge or thought-provoking ideas. The amazon look inside feature will let you check out the table of contents, so you should certainly go do at least that much.


Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Books 2014, Reviews


10 responses to “Book: Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy

  1. Chris

    September 26, 2014 at 7:40 am

    That’s a bit disappointing. I was thinking about giving it a try, but philosophical “entry level stuff” isn’t really what I’m looking for. If I ever find it on a decent sale, I might still try it.

    Glad to hear your DM’s portion was good, though!

    • Griffin

      September 26, 2014 at 8:03 am

      Yeah, I was hoping for something a little more in-depth myself. But it’s a university press publication that’s obviously trying the ‘educate the masses through pop culture’ angle. Which I approve of. Just not the target market for.

  2. Present Perfect

    September 26, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Honestly, I’m not sure I’m well up enough on my D&D these days. :B

    • Griffin

      September 26, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Really, if you’ve ever played D&D you’ll get the references in this book.

  3. inquisitormence

    September 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    In my philosophical discussions, I’ve actually found that D&D’s core INT–WIS–CHA system is actually very useful as a direct comparison to real people. INT is raw processing power and unprocessed data, WIS is about ability to interpret data, and CHA is a function of self-esteem and confidence. You can get into an awful lot of detail using those three stats alone to start breaking people down – personality archetypes can be described by reasonably specific combinations of the three.

    I’d even go as far as to say you can’t really say you know someone intimately until you actually have a mental reckoning of what a person’s relative stats are – on a vague, conceptual level, at least. WIS is usually the most interesting to me because I think the kind of people that a high wisdom represents are generally the nicest people to be around.

    Maybe I should do that psychological breakdown of the main six I’ve always been threatening to do! 😛

    • Griffin

      September 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Hey, I think that means I’ve got slightly above average INT and WIS and below average CHA.

      But yes, the book is actually quite good. First three chapters are using D&D alignment to talk about morality. Others are about what playing characters means and/or reflects about identity and self-expression. Book has some interesting stuff in it. Just really basic interesting stuff.

      • inquisitormence

        September 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        Bleh. Don’t even get me started on alignments. I can’t take lawful good seriously. They’re usually less moral than the bad guys: at least the bad guys know they’re in the wrong – the good guys lie through their teeth constantly. It’s a system written by people with no real understanding of morality. I’d be interested to see what the book has to say about it.

      • Griffin

        September 26, 2014 at 7:48 pm

        It doesn’t really have anything to say about D&D alignments. It simply uses them as a springboard to talk about that sort of stuff. If you’ve got an ebook reader I could send you a copy of it.

      • inquisitormence

        September 27, 2014 at 4:28 am

        If I don’t, I can acquire one easily enough. I think I still have one from checking out the MLP comics, though.

      • Griffin

        September 27, 2014 at 6:24 pm

        Well, turns out the file has copy protection on it. So I’d have to loan it to you through Amazon. Gimme a email address, probably best as message on FimFiction, if you want to check the book out.


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