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Literary darling Sam Lipsyte says he became a writer because of Dungeons & Dragons

Sam Lipsyte writes fiction for The New Yorker, and is the author of acclaimed literary novels The Ask and The Fun Parts. But his writing career started, he says in this video interview with Vol. 1 Brooklyn, with a frustrated urge to be a dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons. This is a fascinating look at the geeky past of a writer who has never written a genre book — but was nevertheless inspired by fantasy role playing games.

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Also, it sounds like Lipsyte's old DM may have influenced the darkly satiric writer in more than one way. Lipsyte describes how he was never allowed to DM ("That would be like becoming the president," he admits), and that the DM he had insisted on stark realism. Their party's characters always died ignominiously in some back alley with a drunken orc, rather than on quests for treasure. That's exactly the kind of D&D game we always imagined Lipsyte playing.

Read more on Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Thanks for the tip, Abraham Riesman!

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

It's very hard to overstate the influence D&D (And roleplaying games in general.) has had on the modern world over the years. It's well known that D&D inspired a lot of creativity over the last three to four decades.

A huge number of video games out there can trace their roots right back to all the concepts and game design of D&D. D&D started writing careers, started painting, cartoon, sculpture and illustration careers, drove people into film making, inspired people to become historians and classics scholars, it may have even contributed to the rise of Wicca (Although maybe that really goes back the hippies.) and on and on.

It's become nearly as pervasive as the tropes of Star Trek, I think. "No saving throw!" is almost like "It's life Captain, but not as we know it."