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Plot Points

Plot Points is a monthly podcast which discusses table-top role-playing games and their supplements as literature. Our quirky panel discusses games old and new, spotlights innovations in the hobby, and links to literature.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Ed Greenwood Sold the Forgotten Realms for $5,000- Ep. 174

Ben Riggs interviews Ed Greenwood, father of the Forgotten Realms, about his 1987 agreement with TSR wherein he sold the rights to the Realms for $5,000. They also discuss the origin and publication of the Realms, and Ben is able to tell Ed, officially, how many units his game work sold decades after the fact. (You can check out the numbers below!) In January, an episode of Appendix N University will cover Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson if you want to read it for the episode.  Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.

1hr 19mins

10 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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RPG Historian Shannon Appelcline Told to Cease & Desist by TSR- Ep.166

Shannon Appelcline, author of Designers & Dragons, received legal notice from TSR to stop posting D&D material online in the 1990's. Thing was, he wasn't posting about D&D! Listen to hear the story, and how Shannon came to write his comprehensive look at RPG history.  Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Image courtesy of Evil Hat Productions.   Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks.

55mins

1 Nov 2019

Rank #2

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The Scandinavian RPG Invasion from the Forbidden Lands! Episode 132

"This may be the most perfect role-playing game product I've ever seen."  "This makes old fantasy new again."  Forbidden Lands is the fantasy RPG from the Swedish geniuses behind Tales from the Loop, and the game lives up to the high expectations set by their other games! Listen to our first foray into Free League RPGs with Tales from the Loop here! Interested in Plot Points? Back us on Patreon! Support us at the $2 level, and you’ll get Ben’s book on gaming theory, Encounters! Let others know about Plot Points to help the ‘pod grow! Review us on iTunes to help others find us. Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Find us on Facebook!  To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Image courtesy Free League. 

1hr 26mins

8 Mar 2019

Rank #3

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Appendix N University- 3 Hearts and 3 Lions- Ep. 176

Possibly no novel had a greater impact on Dungeons & Dragons than Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson. Law, chaos, the paladin, the troll, the list goes on. Ben Riggs discusses the novel with gaming great Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and academic Scott Bruner. Ryder-Hanrahan is one of the geniuses behind the greatest RPG campaign of all-time, The Dracula Dossier, and he has a new novel, The Shadow Saint, out right now! Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now. Image courtesy Orbit Books.

1hr 26mins

24 Jan 2020

Rank #4

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Best of Plot Points: Ravenloft!

Americans, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday with this deep cut from the Plot Points archives, our first-ever episode, Ravenloft! The Delta Green Agent's Handbook is currently free on DriveThruRPG! Check it out! Music courtesy 50 Breaks. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

1hr 3mins

29 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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How Not to Suck at Storytelling-Ep. 146

Learn secrets to running better adventures from gaming professionals! A galaxy of game greats pass on their collective wisdom to make your gaming sessions go gangbusters! Rick Heinz of Geek & Sundry, Jim Lowder of TSR and Chaosium, Pip System lead developer Crystal Mazur, game designer and writer Ray Jenkins, and Ben Riggs of Plot Points gathered before a soldout crowd at C2E2 to share their ideas about how to improve the experience of running a role-playing game.  Ben’s book on RPG theory is finally available for purchase! Encounter Theory lays out Ben's theory of adventure design. It also has 14 playplans to help you design better adventures, and an entire 5E adventure applying his ideas, along with commentary about why he wrote adventure the way he did. Check it out here!  Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Give us a review on iTunes to help the show grow! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks! Image is courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

55mins

14 Jun 2019

Rank #6

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The Hope & Tragedy of TSR West Seminar Gen Con 2019- Ep. 155

TSR West was an attempt by TSR to break into the comic book industry. How and why didn't it work out? A seminar from Gen Con 2019.  Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.  Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks.

50mins

16 Aug 2019

Rank #7

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Going to Hell with D&D or Chapter Delving Descent into Avernus- Ep.185

The Plot Points gang continues looking at Descent into Avernus chapter-by-chapter. This week, we visit Baldur's Gate, and then descend into the pit itself! Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

1hr

3 Apr 2020

Rank #8

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Why TSR Failed 2019- Ep. 153

Why did TSR, the company founded to publish Dungeons & Dragons, flounder and fail in the 1990's? Ben Riggs goes deep with this updated seminar on the end of the company that birthed the role-playing game hobby. Ben's book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is 20% off on DriveThruRPG until Thursday! Click here for a coupon towards this essential volume.  Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.  Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks. "One Eyed Maestro" courtesy Kevin Macleod and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

55mins

5 Aug 2019

Rank #9

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Appendix N University-"Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith Ep. 144

How did pulp fiction of the 1930s influence D&D? Plot Points takes a hard look at the question by reading "Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith, and brings along a couple special guests for the journey. Prof. Jason Ray Carney is a fascinating professor of English at Christopher Newport University with an upcoming book, Weird Tales of Modernity. Clinton J. Boomer is a game designer, novelist, and raconteur. They get together with Ben to look at the influence pulp fiction, and one particular story, had on the development of D&D.  Read "Return of the Sorcerer" here.   Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Give us a review on iTunes to help the show grow! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks! Image is in the public domain. 

1hr 7mins

30 May 2019

Rank #10

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Explore the Roots of Dungeons & Dragons: Episode 136

What literature inspired the creation of Dungeons & Dragons? Why do spells work the way they do? These questions and more are answered in the Appendix N Seminar from GaryCon 2019! If you're new to Plot Points, we're the podcast that takes role-playing games seriously. You may enjoy our deep dive on Dungeon Crawl Classics here, or our unpacking of the history of demons & devils & Dungeons & Dragons here. Let others know about Plot Points to help the ‘pod grow! Review us on iTunes to help others find us. Not a Patreon supporter yet? See what goodness we have in store for you by backing the ‘pod here! To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks!  All image courtesy of Goodman Games.

1hr 19mins

4 Apr 2019

Rank #11

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Appendix N University "Ill Met in Lankhmar" by Fritz Leiber- Ep. 150

A professor, an RPG designer, and a podcast host come together over Ill Met in Lankhmar, a seminal Appendix N text by Fritz Leiber. Game design, history, prose, and yes, even art, come together in this golden hour of audio. We need YOU to vote for Plot Points at the ENnies! Click here to support the show!   Ben’s book on RPG theory is finally available for purchase! Encounter Theory lays out Ben’s theory of adventure design. It also has 14 playplans to help you design better adventures, and an entire 5E adventure applying his ideas, along with commentary about why he wrote adventure the way he did. Check it out here!  Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Buy Ill Met in Lankhmar for Kindle here! To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Give us a review on iTunes to help the show grow! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks! Image courtesy Goodman Games.  

1hr 17mins

12 Jul 2019

Rank #12

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How to Write Better Adventures Seminar Gen Con 2019

How many great RPG sessions have you played in? How many have you run? Given how much we all want RPG sessions to be successful, how come they so often aren't? These questions and more led Plot Points' own Ben Riggs to create a theory of adventure design. Like this episode? Ben wrote a whole book on the topic! Encounter Theory is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Interested in Magical Draught of Happenstance? Click here to back it! Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks. As a note for Patrons, you will not be charged for this episode.   Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

52mins

5 Sep 2019

Rank #13

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The RPG Industry is Better Than Video Games and Other Controversies From Dennis Detwiller: Episode 137

Is art harder than writing? Is the RPG industry superior to comic books and video games? These questions and more are asked and answered in Ben's interview with virtuoso writer and artist Dennis Detwiller, one of the fulgent minds behind Delta Green, the role-playing game of Cthulhu conspiracy which is ranked #1 & #2 on RPG.net's index of games.  Back Plot Points on Patreon now! Back at the $2 level or higher and you'll get a copy of the current draft of Ben's book on RPG theory, Encounters! THIS WILL BE TAKEN DOWN ON MAY 1st, and put on DriveThruRPG, so if you want a copy of Ben's book cheap, back Plot Points now! Back Dennis Detwiller's game of Cthulhu wrestling, WRESTLENOMINCON here! Be aware that we are going to make Plot Points into a weekly podcast, hopefully for the rest of the year, so if you're a Patreon backer, you may want to alter your pledge based on the fact that we are going to be putting out more material. To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks!  All image courtesy of Arc Dream Publishing.

1hr 13mins

11 Apr 2019

Rank #14

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Reading D&D Aloud- The 1st Edition DMG- Ep186

Academic Scott Bruner and Ben Riggs read aloud and comment on the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax, an attempt by the game's co-creator to instruct players, but also exert control over the burgeoning community of gamers. This week, we tackle the forward and preface to the work.  Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

56mins

11 Apr 2020

Rank #15

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3rd Edition D&D: Creation of a Masterpiece Seminar 2019

3rd edition D&D is one of the most popular RPGs ever created. Decades after its release, and after dozens of interviews, the dramatic story of how 3rd edition came to be can at last be told! Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is 20% off on DriveThruRPG until Thursday! Click here for a coupon towards this essential volume.  Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.  Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks. "Samba Strings" courtesy Kevin Macleod and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

54mins

8 Aug 2019

Rank #16

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A Long Lunch with TSR Alums Jim Lowder & Dale Donovan- Ep 151

Imagine taking a pair of TSR alumni out to lunch, and letting them tell you tales of the old days. This aural odyssey is exactly that! Ben Riggs took Jim Lowder & Dale Donovan out for lunch and recorded it. Hear about the good old days and the bad old days at TSR, the company that first published Dungeons & Dragons! We need YOU to vote for Plot Points at the ENnies! Click here to support the show!   Ben’s book on RPG theory is finally available for purchase! Encounter Theory lays out Ben’s theory of adventure design. It also has 14 playplans to help you design better adventures, and an entire 5E adventure applying his ideas, along with commentary about why he wrote adventure the way he did. Check it out here!  Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.  

1hr 58mins

21 Jul 2019

Rank #17

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Monte Cook Kickstarts Longest RPG Book Ever Written by a Single Author- Ep. 182

Ptolus was the home campaign Monte Cook ran while designing 3rd edition D&D. Brimming with brilliant fodder for the gaming table, it quickly sold out and became an item for the collector's market. Now, Monte Cook Games is Kickstarting a new edition of Ptolus, updating the classic setting for both the Cypher System and 5th Edition. Click here to learn more about this stupendous setting! Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now. Image courtesy Monte Cook Games. 

55mins

12 Mar 2020

Rank #18

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Death by Debt at TSR: Ep 161

A 1979 contract between Random House and TSR would take 18 years to kill the company that started the role-playing game hobby. Thanks to historian Micheal Calleia, Ben has a copy of that very contract, and discusses how it led TSR to near bankruptcy in 1997 with TSR alums James Lowder, Chaosium’s executive editor, and John Rateliff, an internationally renowned Tolkien scholar.  Ben’s book on RPG adventure design, Encounter Theory, is on DriveThruRPG. Click here to pick up this essential volume! Like Plot Points? Support it on Patreon at the $2 level, and you’ll get a sneak peek into Ben’s book about the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast! This chapter concerns TSR West, an effort by TSR to open an LA office devoted to producing comic books, an effort that failed rather impressively. It is the product of a dozen interviews with professionals from comics, gaming, and Hollywood, and as far as I can reckon, it is a tale entirely untold until now.   Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.   Theme music courtesy 50 Breaks.

52mins

27 Sep 2019

Rank #19

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Blades in the Dark Creator John Harper on Plot Points! Ep. 139

"You’re in a haunted Victorian-era city trapped inside a wall of lightning powered by demon blood." Blades in the Dark is a radical step forward in the art & science of role-playing games. 21st-century design is applied to one of the oldest tropes in gaming: the thief. Ben Riggs gets down to brass tacks with Blades creator John Harper to probe the secrets of the game. Find Blades in the Dark here! Back Plot Points on Patreon now! Back at the $2 level or higher and you’ll get a copy of the current draft of Ben’s book on RPG theory, Encounters! THIS WILL BE TAKEN DOWN ON MAY 1st, and put on DriveThruRPG, so if you want a copy of Ben’s book cheap, back Plot Points now! When we get to $150 per episode, we will release a three-episode actual play using Stars Without Number about psychics on the run in the stars starring Sarah, Brad, & Ben.  Be aware that we are going to make Plot Points into a weekly podcast, hopefully for the rest of the year, so if you’re a Patreon backer, you may want to alter your pledge based on the fact that we are going to be putting out more material. To let us know what you think about this episode, email us at plotpointsemail@gmail.com! Find us on Twitter @PlotPointsPod! Give us a review on iTunes to help the show grow! Audio courtesy of 50 Breaks! Image courtesy Evil Hat Productions. 

1hr 24mins

26 Apr 2019

Rank #20