• Slaying the Dragon

  • A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons
  • By: Ben Riggs
  • Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2022 Ben Riggs (P)2022 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Slaying the Dragon

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So many souvenirs

I loved everything about this book as it explains so much as are things really happens back in the day. D&D for the win!

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Like adding up hit dice…

For a really big Fireball. Necessary. Important. Kind of fun, but also kind of like accounting. A hardcover version of this book would be more at home in a Staples checkout line than in the Games section of a brick and mortar bookstore.

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Must listen

Great Bio of D&D and how it almost wasn't. Alot of info to digest in one listen.

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An honest look at a game defining a generation

First off, I really recommend this listen! I adored this book, and now want to travel to Lake Geneva and see these places. Second, not all D&D fans are going to love everything here.

This book talks heavily about the history of the culture and company that made d&d what it is today. It's written better than Enron: Smartest guys in the room, and more engaging because Ben Riggs knows how to tell a story as it relates to everyday people better.

This isn't a story about the drama behind the scenes as R.A. Salvatore wrote Drizzt, that's just one of the flavors that made the sandwich work. It's not the life of Gary Gygax, it's done if the things he did while wielding the power of TSR.

I'll be happily looking forward to the next installment in 10 or 30 years focusing more on what happened between 3rd edition D&D and the present.

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D&D the struggle and salvation

loved this inside scoop on the death of TSR and its revival by Wizards of the Coast!

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Eye opening story of the rise and fall of TSR.

Wow!!! Never knew a tenth of how it fell. I grew up during this era, owned, played and went through the "occult" speeches that everyone thought the players were involved with. Even today, my parents think I dabble in the occult and going to HELL because I still play.

This is a good book to reminisce those times, it's a greater book to answer questions I had with what happened to TSR.

I grew up with TSR, and I miss her, this book helps me with closure to why my friend disappeared.

Gygax forever!

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As much an economics lesson as a D&D / TSR story

This book is an odd duck. It’s much more comprehensive than others I’ve read on similar subjects, and that’s good. However, the actual subject of D&D (the stuff inside the game) rarely comes up. Instead it’s more like an economics book, filled with “high finance” stuff involving investors and takeovers and banks and loans and debt at the like. If the subject it was all referring to hadn’t been D&D (or some other company I have fond memories of, like, say, Marvel or Mego) I honestly wouldn’t have cared or been interested enough to plow through all the financial stuff. It’s like buying a 300-page book allegedly about cupcakes and discovering that 280 of the pages are about how to finance the purchase of a KitchenAid Mixer.
That said, there are some *extremely* fascinating revelations and reveals. How the company (TSR) went from Gary Gygax’s pet project to Lorraine Williams running it like a heartless corporation (and into the ground); how Wizards of the Coast acquired it; and what they discovered about it when they gained access to the company’s books.
It’s a good read and worth your time—IF you’re super-interested in those financial-type topics. There’s a lot here about clandestine meetings to discuss stock options and the way artists and game designers were hired or fired or rehired. But there’s nothing much about any of the actual games. If what you’re interested in is the actual game D&D and its spin-offs, and a deep dive into how they were created and how they work and so on, this isn’t really for you at all.

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An excellent history.

This book is a crowning achievement in the field of RPG history. If this book was about any other topic the author would ask to speak in colleges all around the world. he truly does his best to tell the story of an embattled company while being clear about the points where his data is lacking.

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D and D fan will love the insider knowledge!

D and D fans will love the insider knowledge! Well put together and flowed. Narrator has a nice voice and intriguing.

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History

A fine history of TSR. Engaging and revealing even for those of us alive during the time.

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