Podcast Spotlight: 'The Tome Show' a deep dive for D&D fans

Podcasts have become the ancient Alexandrian library for geeks.

Much like in the time of the Egyptian library, you can learn that a new thing exists - game, book, whatever - and find a podcast about it. In just a short time, you can become an expert on that subject, without all those pesky scrolls or weighty books to carry around.

"The Tome Show," is the kind of podcast that plunges fans of Dungeons and Dragons - the grandfather of tabletop role playing games, currently produced by Wizards of the Coast(WotC) - straight into a master-level dissertation. Topics of conversation include news and reviews of the latest D&D products as well as interviews with people from the role-playing game industry and gamers. Advice to players and Dungeon Masters is a signature part of "The Tome Show."

The hosts call it “a podcast by D&D fans, for D&D fans,” and it's one of the longest-running Dungeons & Dragons podcasts out there.

Jeff Greiner was the lone host of the show when it launched in October 2006. Sometimes-guest Tracy Hurley, a regular on D&D-related podcast, "4geeks4e" and the "DM Round Table", became a full time co-host in January, 2011. Rumor has it Greiner is paying her in Skittles.

Greiner picked up podcasting as a teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. The school where he worked had a strong working relationship with Apple and he was encouraged to learn and play with the company's podcasting technology.

After months of looking for an online D&D show, his fruitless search led him to start his own. "The Tome Show" was born.

CNN Geek Out: Who do you think is your target audience?

Greiner: People interested in D&D. People who want to know about products and figure out if it’s something they are interested in. People who want to get some inspiration for how to make their game better or are curious about how D&D "works" - either from the advice, the interviews with designers or discussion of news as it develops.

CNN Geek Out: The show seems to be a D&D 4e (4e is referring to the current edition of the rules for D&D)-specific podcast. Is that true?

Greiner: "The Tome Show" isn’t really a ‘4e’ specific podcast, it’s a ‘D&D’ specific podcast. It just so happens that typically the game only has one edition of D&D being supported at a time. So when 4e came out, the focus shifted there. For a while I tried to include coverage of Pathfinder/Paizo as well, since what they’re doing is also sort of D&D and I felt very qualified to do that. (Pathfinder is a table top RPG that is based on the D&D 3.5 rules. After Wizards of the Coast moved to the 4e rules, Paizo, who was creating content for D&D 3.5, decided to keep it up, but spin it off as its own game.) However, with time I’ve played more and more 4e and less and less 3e/Pathfinder to the point that I was feeling less qualified to discuss it.

CNN Geek Out: Why do you think your listeners like the show?

Greiner: I hope it’s because they trust us as well informed people on the subjects we discuss. Combine that with the fun time we have and the interesting guests we get, and what’s not to like?

Hurley: We also try to keep things relatively short. For some of our listeners, that’s really important. Also, both Jeff and I love to bring on a wide-range of people, from pros in the industry to relatively new faces we meet online or at conventions. We’re also both fairly approachable, especially on Twitter.

CNN Geek Out: Is there anyone in the RPG industry or community you have not gotten to speak to that you really would love to?

Greiner: Sure, there’s about half the (Wizards of the Coast) staff. Monte Cook. I really wish I had a chance to meet ( D&D game designers) Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson before we lost them. I do have many guests that have only been on a few times that I wish we could squeeze on more often. There are so many awesome people in the D&D community, I wish I could make a career of chatting with them and podcasting.

Hurley: I agree with Jeff, one of the hard parts is that the conversations I most love are the ones had at GenCon but it’s hard to do that over phone or Skype, especially with people who aren’t used to it and are nervous. Gygax and Arneson are also near the top of my list. I’d love to talk to a lot of the people who worked on the early editions and some of the early RPGA folks. I love seeing how the game has changed and evolved over time.

CNN Geek Out: How long have you all been gaming?

Greiner: I started gaming when I was 8 years old and my first RPG was Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition. So what is that, about 24 years now?

Hurley: My first tabletop RPG foray happened in February 2009. So I’m relatively new to playing, although I’ve been around the game for as long as I can remember.

CNN Geek Out: Is "The Tome Show” the only geek thing you all do?

Greiner: I live the geek life, after all. I fly my geek-flag high, so pretty much everything I do is geeky. But my specific “geeky projects” include:

Temporary Hit Points - a website for D&D players, no Dungeon Masters allowed.

D&D&Dads - a place for gamer fathers to say whatever it is that they want to say.

And I contribute to some other websites as well, including Troll in the Corner, plus, he doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to hit up our editor (Sam Dillon) for the chance to write on his site as well.

I also help lead a network of podcasts called the Vorpal Network that includes Icosahedraphelia, Fist Full of Comics and Games, and Gamer’s Haven that always has one or two things going on for me to watch out for.

Hurley: I’m a web developer by day and Perl is pretty geeky I hear. I have my blog,, a couple other podcasts, "4geeks4e" and "DM Round Table." In addition to talking about it, I design game content for D&D. Also, my column on the Wizards of the Coast website, Joining the Party, keeps rolling. It’s a celebration of the awesome D&D community and the work put out by the fans.

CNN Geek Out: Tracy, do you feel any sort of obligation to the listeners because you’re a “female gamer?"

Hurley: In a way, yes. Between my blog and Twitter, I’m pretty vocal on gender issues in gaming, although it’s rare that I talk about it a lot on "The Tome Show." I do worry sometimes that because of the lack of female voices in tabletop gaming that my opinions might get generalized out to all women, so I try to be careful to say that this is my opinion as a person, although I don’t always succeed.

CNN Geek Out: Do you think there is still the “D&D is evil / the work of the devil” idea out there?

Greiner: Sure, but I don’t think it’s very relevant or effectual anymore. D&D definitely won that battle. Today’s battle has less to do with “D&D is evil” and more to do with “D&D is geeky and weird” to which I say... ”and awesome fun”. And if having awesome fun makes me geeky and weird so be it!

Hurley: Maybe among some crowds, but, to be honest, I never really had to go through that. My brother played D&D during the time period when that was big news but my parents were never ones to follow the crowd in that way.

CNN Geek Out: Empire or Rebel?

Greiner: Well, the Empire is waaaay cooler, but I’m too much of a nice guy so I’d certainly end up in the Rebellion. I couldn’t be the bad guy if I wanted to.

Hurley: Rebel. The Empire may have cooler toys, but I love a sense of history and purpose.

CNN Geek Out: Any parting thoughts to share?

Greiner: I think I’ve said enough, don’t you? This is why Tracy sometimes can’t get a word in edge-wise.

CNN Geek Out: How can folks get in touch with you all?

Greiner: I’m on Twitter as @Squach, leave a comment on the website, we even have a voicemail line where you can call in and be part of the show at 919-BIZ-TOME.

Hurley: Well, there’s a rumor out there that saying my name three times on the Internet causes me to appear, but I think that only really works on Twitter using @SarahDarkmagic.

CNN Geek Out: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Greiner: Thank you, this was a blast!

Hurley: Thanks!

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