Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

by Ben Riggs
Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

by Ben Riggs



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Role-playing game historian Ben Riggs unveils the secret history of TSRthe company that unleashed imaginations with Dungeons&Dragons, was driven into ruin by disastrous management decisions, and then saved by their bitterest rival.

Co-created by wargame enthusiasts Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the original Dungeons&Dragons role-playing game released by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) in 1974 created a radical new medium: the role-playing game. For the next two decades, TSR rocketed to success, producing multiple editions of D&D, numerous settings for the game, magazines, video games, New York Times bestselling novels by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, and R. A. Salvatore, and even a TV show! But by 1997, a series of ruinous choices and failed projects brought TSR to the edge of doom—only to be saved by their fiercest competitor, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering.

Unearthed from Ben Riggs’s own adventurous campaign of in-depth research, interviews with major players, and acquisitions of secret documents, Slaying the Dragon reveals the true story of the rise and fall of TSR. Go behind the scenes of their Lake Geneva headquarters where innovative artists and writers redefined the sword and sorcery genre, managers and executives sabotaged their own success by alienating their top talent, ignoring their customer fanbase, accruing a mountain of debt, and agreeing to deals which, by the end, made them into a publishing company unable to publish so much as a postcard.

As epic and fantastic as the adventures TSR published, Slaying the Dragon is the legendary tale of the rise and fall of the company that created the role-playing game world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250278050
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/19/2022
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: eBook
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 171,792
File size: 24 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

BEN RIGGS is a writer, teacher, and podcaster. He traveled the world teaching in his 20s. During his journeys, he tutored a princess, saw both the Sahara and Mt. Fuji at dawn, and discovered his wife and fellow traveler, Tara. He has settled down in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he teaches English and history, and he and Tara have a son, Simon. Ben’s RPG podcast, Plot Points, has been running for the last decade, and his work has appeared on NPR and Geek&Sundry. Slaying the Dragon is his first book.

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Rise and Fall of Gary Gygax

1 The Warden's Tale 3

2 The Birth of TSR, and the D&D Phenomenon 9

3 Satan! Suicide! And Sales! 29

4 TSR's Near-Death Experience 35

5 D&D and Living the Riot Life in LA 53

Part II The Williams Era

6 Sympathy for Lorraine 65

7 The Departure of Weis and Hickman 71

8 Lost Realms Found Again 77

9 How to Find a Bestselling Author 83

10 D&D, Now Advanced and 2.0! 91

11 The Saga of TSR West 103

12 The Fish-Bait Strategy 125

13 Salvation Sales in the Book Department 135

14 TSR and Tolkien, or the Game That Was Not 147

Part III Slapping a Band-Aid on Failures

15 Can VHS Teach D&D to Eight-Year-Olds? 155

16 Departures 173

17 TSR's Greatest Setting Can't Stop Sales Slide 185

18 Random House Wants Its Money Back 195

19 The Giant with Feet of Lead 203

20 Magic Competition 211

21 The Warden Departs 217

22 Existential Absurdity in 1997 231

23 The Tomb 237

Part IV The Preacher's Son Performs a Resurrection

24 Peter Adkison 243

25 The Deal That Saved D&D 249

26 Healing the Wounds 263

Acknowledgments 281

Selected Bibliography 285

Index 287

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