Lightheart



Adventures

054: Growing your TTRPG Interview podcast with Derrick of How Not to DM

 

What happens when you interview an interviewer? You tend to compare notes. And that is what we do today. Our guest is Derrick, the host of the How Not to DM Podcast. If you aren’t familiar with his show, I highly recommend you go check it out. If you like my show, you’ll like his too. Derrick also interviews folks in the TTRPG space. His focus tends to be on DMing, and he always makes a point to ask about mistakes his guests have made as a DM so that we can learn from them. Of course, they talk about the good things too and there are always some pretty entertaining stories. He’s in his second season now, and added a super fun game element that’s tailored to the guest. Definitely go look up his show if you haven’t already!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00:00 Introduction & Updates
  • 00:02:26 Derrick Introduction
  • 00:09:43 How did your podcast come to be?
  • 00:15:50 How Derrick’s processes have changed over time
  • 00:19:16 Equipment
  • 00:21:17 How his show has evolved over time
  • 00:30:14 How to prepare for an interview
  • 00:44:49 What has been the most challenging part?
  • 00:49:19 What has been the most rewarding part?
  • 00:50:41 Upcoming guests
  • 00:52:50 Where can people find you?
  • 00:54:27 Wrap-up

Find Derrick & How Not to DM at:

Show Affiliates / Some of Courtney's favorite things

  • FloDesk Easily create gorgeous emails. Get your 1st month free & 50% off for your first year.

  • Found Familiar Delicious coffee meets Dungeons & Dragons artwork. Use code lightheartadv for 10% off your order.

  • Friday Afternoon Tea Grab a cup of tea with blends based on your favorite nerdy series. Use lightheartadv for 10% off

  • Dice Envy creates beautiful dice in a variety of materials. Use lightheartadv for 10% off your order

  • Buzzsprout is my fabulous podcast host! Try it for free & receive a $20 Amazon gift card if you sign up.

Transcript

Courtney:

Hello & Welcome to Episode 54 of Roll Play Grow, the podcast for tabletop entrepreneurs, creators, and fans. I am Courtney Stover of Lightheart Adventures, and in this podcast, we talk to the creators behind the brands in the tabletop roleplay gaming space about who they are and how they are turning their passion for gaming into a career. 

What happens when you interview an interviewer? You tend to compare notes. And that is what we do today. Our guest is Derrick, the host of the How Not to DM Podcast. If you aren’t familiar with his show, I highly recommend you go check it out. If you like my show, you’ll like his too. Derrick also interviews folks in the TTRPG space. His focus tends to be on DMing, and he always makes a point to ask about mistakes his guests have made as a DM so that we can learn from them. Of course, they talk about the good things too and there are always some pretty entertaining stories. He’s in his second season now, and added a super fun game element that’s tailored to the guest. Definitely go look up his show if you haven’t already! 

If this is your first time tuning in to Roll Play Grow, hello! This podcast is a part of Lightheart Adventures, which is a small company I co-founded with my husband. We also do blogs, one-shots, and maps that you’ll find over on our website, lightheartadventures.com. This podcast updates weekly on Fridays, and I get to chat with so many amazing folks across a wide spectrum of industries within the TTRPG scene, so be sure to subscribe to Roll Play Grow on your favorite podcast player.

Another way you can support the show is by checking out our affiliate links, which we have compiled for you over at lightheartadventures.com/ourfavoritetrinkets. You’ll find information about some of our favorite dice, tea, coffee, podcasting equipment, email marketing service, and more. We only link to things that we personally use and enjoy, and you can grab yourself something awesome while helping support this show. Again, go to lightheartadventures.com/ourfavoritetrinkets to learn more.

That’s all for now, so please enjoy this conversation with Derrick.

Courtney: 

I am super excited to now introduce y’all toDerrick, the host and producer of the, How Not to DM podcast. Hello,Derrick, how are you tonight?

Derrick: 

So good Courtney, thanks for having me on RPG. Great name by the way. And I love the logo. I love how you incorporated each of the parts of the words into it. You know, the roll has the dice in it, the play, and then the grow with the leaf. Masterclass. Love it.

Courtney: 

You know, I would like to take credit for that, but I have to shout out my logo slash videos slash everything designer Caleb Carroll. He’s actually somebody that works with us over on a Warcraft Radio. And I knew that I was like, Hey, I’m doing a thing and I want something and make it for me. And yeah, he’s pretty clever like that.

Derrick: 

Shout out to Caleb.

Courtney: 

Absolutely.

Derrick: 

Yeah, I’m doing well. But like you said, I am the host of the, How Not to DM podcast. I’ve been going about as long as you maybe a little bit less time. I started in April of last year of 2021. So I just hit my year mark a few episodes ago. Yeah. You’ve got a few more episodes than I do as well. I took a bit longer break in the fall, but yeah. Things have been going really well, I’ve had a lot of fun guests. And yeah, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve heard of your show as well. So I always love checking out other podcasts that people are doing. I love listening to other people interview because it gives me ideas for how to, you know, improve my show too. So I, I listened to as many interviews as I can when I’m not listening to actual plays or whatever.

Courtney: 

I mean same. I had the idea for this, like about a year and a half before I actually did it. And then it was just trying to figure out the niche and so it was like, oh, there weren’t like a whole lot. And then by the time I started, I was like, oh, there’s a lot of interview podcasts. It’s fine.

Derrick: 

I did the same exact thing. We’ll get into that in a bit, but it’s funny. I like your, your niche that you found though. I, I feel like a lot of the people I talk to, like, there’s some, definitely some overlap, but I loved hearing from like store owners and that kind of thing. And those are kind of people that I haven’t really broken into trying to talk to. So yeah, it’s, it’s great to hear all the different perspectives from the community.

Courtney: 

Yeah. Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. But please tell us a little bit more about yourself. You know, where are you from? How’d you get into gaming? All that fun stuff

Derrick: 

Yeah. So I live in the great state of Utah. I grew up in Colorado. These are both in the USA. They’re right next to each other in the Rocky mountains. So kind of spent my whole life in and around the mountains. it’s not my whole personality, but it’s a big part of it. So yeah, that’s where I live. I’ve been gaming specifically, tabletop gaming, since probably end of 2018/ start of 2019. So a lot longer than I would think. But yeah I’ve been doing it for awhile. I got into it because my coworkers were playing D&D and I thought it sounded really cool, already big into fantasy and into Sci-fi and that kind of thing. I think it permeates the pop culture at this point. So even if people aren’t tabletop gamers, you know, they’ve seen Lord of the rings or they’ve read the Harry Potter books or, or whatever it might be. So yeah, luckily we live in a time where it’s, it’s more of the norm than it is like, oh, these are the weird people in the basement, you know, kind of thing. But yeah started playing with my coworkers. We started a Curse of Strahd game. They invited me. I think we, I ended up playing like two or three sessions with them and then it didn’t really go anywhere, which is okay. But two of the coworkers we decided we would all start playing at lunch. So we invited other people from our department and we started a Lost Mines of Phandelver game at lunch, and we’d play two to three times a week for an hour. And that that’s kind of like where I really got into it. And then about halfway through that game, I thought to myself, oh, this DM-ing thing can’t be that hard, right? Like I could easily write my own adventure and, and run games. And so I started writing my own adventure, ran it for my coworkers and the rest is history.

Courtney: 

Okay. So tell me about a two to three time weekly, hourly session.

Derrick: 

Yeah. It’s tough. Especially when you’re mid combat, you know combat could take the whole lunchtime. And oftentimes if we like had to wrap it up before combat was done, trying to remember whose turn it was and like how many hit points everybody had. It was all a little goofy, but we were in conference rooms. And so we had the whiteboard up on the wall and that was our battle map. And you know, someone was playing like some music on their laptop. We just had a good time. So it was, it was a lot of short bite-sized sessions, hard to keep track of, but it turned out. Okay. And yeah, that’s, that’s really how I got started

Courtney: 

Honestly, it’s really funny that you talk about doing that. Cause I had a one-on-one with my manager today. I just started a new job and I just met everybody in person a couple of weeks ago. Thanks. And while I was meeting everyone in person for the first time, they all wanted to know like, so what is Dungeons and dragons? And so I spent like the course of an entire dinner having to explain it to three different people at different times. And it was like, I just want to eat my steak, man. And now today my manager is like, so do you think we could do it as a team building activity? I’m like, why, yes, yes, we can.

Derrick: 

Oh, that’s how you get them. That’s how you get them. Honestly, the more people out there to play games with the better, that’s. That’s great. You’ll have to let us all know how that turns out.

Courtney: 

Yeah. I need to think of a very tame starter adventure.

Derrick: 

Something that you can get done in a one-shot.

Courtney: 

yeah, that’s always the challenge. Isn’t it?

Derrick: 

It is. You’ll probably have to put together the character sheets for them too. I, when I first started running my own game, that wasn’t for my coworkers. It was like some old college roommates and my wife and my brothers, I sent them all, one of those like 20 question quizzes. That’s like, what class and race should you play? And so that’s how I got them to like, figure out what character they would be. And then I built all the characters for them. So it takes a lot of time, but it’s totally worth it if they play, you know?

Courtney: 

Yeah, no, that’s a really good idea. Like I’d already thought about, okay, I’ll make characters for them, but getting some actual input would be nice. So they get more invested.

Derrick: 

Yeah. And maybe you have them taken a few times. That way, if you get duplicates because you don’t want like three Druids in one party. Like you could do it, but you know, it’s just more fun if there’s variety.

Courtney: 

Although one day I definitely want to play on a campaign where it’s, we are all bards. We can be different subclasses of cards, but I just, I want to be a band on tour and I think it would be awesome.

Derrick: 

Have you ever listened to bomBARDed?

Courtney: 

I I have not.

Derrick: 

It’s a, an actual play podcast. So they did that. It’s a band they’re from Dallas Fort worth area and they all played bards and then they just multi-class into a few other classes, but they’re all going to like Bard school together. And that’s the, that’s the premise. Yeah. So you should check that out for some inspiration.

Courtney: 

That sounds great. I will take note of that.

Derrick: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

So we’ve gotten to the story a bit, about how you got into gaming in the first place. At what point did you think about doing this podcast? How did that come to be?

Derrick: 

I was driving home from holidays, like winter holiday break. And I was talking to my wife in the car and I was like, I just, I feel like I need to do something. Like I need a new hobby and I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I want it to be related to tabletop role-playing games. Cause I love them and we kind of bounced ideas off each other. And I settled on I’m going to do a blog and I’m going to send people a list of questions and they’ll fill them out. And then I’ll just publish that as an article and it’ll ask them, like how they got into it, what they like or dislike, blah, blah, blah. And then my main focus was like, I wanna, I want to know what mistakes they feel like they’ve made so that we can learn from them because something that I love listening to or, well, I love listening to actual play shows and watching streams and stuff because I love watching the DM run things, you know, I’m there partially for the entertainment, but I’m also there to get ideas and to get inspiration from the way people run their games, because that’s what I do most of the time. When I’m, when I’m playing it’s it’s, you know, as a DM or a GM. So I really wanted to like find a way to get inside the head of all of these DMS and GM’s that I love and figure out what makes them tick, why they do the things they do. And then also: what big errors, they feel like they’ve made, blunders problems they’ve caused and how I could avoid those myself. So like, Hey, if you ask 20 different people, all the mistakes they’ve made, that means that’s 20 different mistakes. You’re not going to make yourself sometime in the future. So that, that was kind of the premise. I don’t know why I thought a blog would be a good idea in 2021, but I thought it might be so I started doing it and then I reached out to a local show here in Utah called Knocked Prone. Cade, the DM is my first podcast guest. If you go all the way back to listen to episode one. So I was chatting with him and I said, Hey, do you want to do this? And he said, yeah, but we should just record it. And then you could get a transcript later and publish it. And I thought, all right. Yeah, I’ll give that a try. And so I did it and then I had this recording in my hands. How hard is it to just publish this as a podcast? I am one of the people who I was just listening to your episode with Emil today. And he was talking about Nate from reckless attack and how opposite Emil and Nils were from Nathan and the Reckless Attack crew. One was like, well, we’re just going to do a podcast and then get better as we go. And the other Reckless Attack is like way good from the start. So I’m definitely in the first camp. I was just like, I guess I’m going to publish this and see what happens. And I have slowly gotten better. So yeah, improved my quality, better recordings, better editing, better producing you name it. It’s a work in progress and I’m learning and growing, but it’s a lot of fun. So yeah, stumbled into it, stumbled into podcasting and just have been trying to get better and learn as much as I can about it since. So there’s still times where people are talking about it and they’re like, what about this file thing? Or what about this audio editing technique? And I don’t even know the words cause I, I can’t make them up on the spot. And I still like hear people talk about stuff and I’m like, I have no idea what they were saying. I do the same thing they do, but I don’t know, I know none of these words, so I, I definitely still learning about all of it, but I really enjoy it. And it’s been a ton of fun this past year. So.

Courtney: 

Yeah, I think that’s really cool how it started as an idea for one format. And then it just made sense to convert like quickly.

Derrick: 

Yeah. I never thought of myself as a podcast person. You know, people always make jokes about millennials and getting into podcasting, but here I am.

Courtney: 

Yup.

Derrick: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

What else were we going to do during COVID? Let’s be real.

Derrick: 

Honestly, honestly, I can only play so many hours of Skyrim before my brain falls out of my head. So here we are.

Courtney: 

I like just got Skyrim again. I haven’t played it in a very long time and. Yeah, that’s definitely a spiral I’m trying to like be lightly going down,

Derrick: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

not working too well.

Derrick: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

So for that first episode, since you had no plans to publish it, what were you recording on?

Derrick: 

I had just my Mac book and I was using the Mac book microphone; honestly, it sounds okay. Like the microphones, this is a Mac book pro the microphone on it is not too shabby. Then I started recording on these. It’s a headset for no one who can, or for everybody who can’t see just a JBL headset, not a good mic. Then I bought one for like $10 from Amazon. Also not a good mic, but slightly better. Then I decided to quote unquote, get serious. I looked on Facebook marketplace and found a snowball, a Blue Snowball for like 30 bucks used, bought that. That served me very well. The only reason I switched to this Blue Yeti that I’m recording on now is because I found one for 60 bucks on Facebook marketplace used, so I bought it. So I have spent less than a hundred dollars total on microphones thus far. And I feel okay about that. You know, and I’m keeping the Snowball around just in case I ever get a record in person with somebody. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but don’t know why I’m keeping it around, but I am.

Courtney: 

Hopefully will last for awhile, but it could fail eventually. And then at least you’d have a backup.

Derrick: 

Yeah, everyone tells me I need a spring for like a $300 one. Just haven’t done it yet. I don’t know. I, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t make a ton of money off of this. It’s mostly for fun. And I prefer to spend money on books for games and stuff instead. So we’ll see if I ever spring for one.

Courtney: 

Yeah. You know, like getting rich off of podcasting. That that totally happens, right?

Derrick: 

Yep. Yep. We’re all. We’re all getting rich guys. Join in, join in on the fun.

Courtney: 

Oh, one day maybe. Today is not that day.

Derrick: 

Nope. Tomorrow’s not looking good either.

Courtney: 

So we talked about your mic upgrades over time, but what about the rest of your process? Like, as you started to say, oh, I think I could do this. How has that changed over time?

Derrick: 

Yeah. Again, like I said, still learning a lot of stuff. I’m still very low tech as a podcast goes. I started recording. I want to say it was discord to start using Craig and Giarc, his evil twin brother. And that served me fairly well for a while. And then I found Zencaster, which you use as well. It’s free right now and super easy to use, like from the guest’s point of view as well. I had a few guests who were wizend and, you know. They were a bit higher level than me and just making sure that they understood how to get onto discord and like record at the same time was sometimes a struggle. So Zencaster has been nice. As far as editing goes, I’ve just been on GarageBand. I dabbled with a tool called DaVinci Resolve that one of my guests recommended to me. And every once in a while, if I have a really bad audio problem, like fan noise in the background or something, I will break that out to just try to minimize the noise there. But most of the time, and especially as my guests have been more experienced, my audio quality has just gone up because they don’t have a bunch of noise in the background to deal with too. And you know how that is. I’ve just been using Garage Band to edit. Currently I’m part of a new studio called The 4th Culture. It it’s been around for a year and some change, but Ramji the DM of the show, decided to kind of put together a group of people of the creators that he wanted to work with. And so I’ve been using their editors to help edit most of my new season, which has been really nice. I do a little bit of work here and there and then, they kind of handle the bulk of it. So that’s been a nice upgrade to my editing process. But yeah, hopefully a lot of cool stuff’s going to come from that collaboration. We have some ideas for short run streams and podcasts. Some new game shows and other stuff like that. So be on the lookout for, for new content featuring me or featuring other people from The 4th Culture.

Courtney: 

How did you get hooked up with them?

Derrick: 

Yeah. So Ramji was one of my first guests. And he was running a stream out of Singapore. So he and his four players all lived in Singapore ,and I thought it’d be cool to chat with someone who his game is based in a homebrew world based on Asian folklore and myth. So yeah, I wanted to chat with someone who’s kind of doing something different than ye olde European based you know, fantasy campaigns. Like a lot of us are used to, so yeah, chatted with him then kinda just kinda was in contact with him here and there. And then he reached out I kind of at the end of 2021 and said, yeah, I’m putting something together, like for you to be a part of it. So yeah. I guess that falls under networking. Yeah, the more people you meet, the more likely it is that someone’s going to have an opportunity for you sometime in the future. So make friends and keep your promises and be a good person and good stuff will come of it, hopefully.

Courtney: 

Yeah, definitely. I guess, let’s talk about equipment. So you’ve got the Blue Yeti now. And then I can see some other things around you. So for our listeners, what other equipment are you using?

Derrick: 

Yeah, I just have some foam pads for my wall to try to keep the echo noise down. My sister-in-law actually bought this for me for Christmas. We did kind of a round Robin, secret Santa deal. And she was like, oh, you’re doing a podcast. Now you, you want this? And I was like, yeah, sure. That’s great. I love that. So yeah, she got me those I have a boom arm for the mic too, that I bought. It was the cheapest one you could find. And it served me very well, and it’s nice. Cause I can move it out of my way when I’m actually working at my desk and not recording. Other than that, that’s kinda the only tech I use. I do have some stuff I use for like social media posts and whatnot, but we can, we can dig into that later if you like.

Courtney: 

How well have those foam things been working for you?

Derrick: 

I, I think they’ve been working well? To be very honest, I don’t know if I have nice enough headphones or sharp enough ears to tell. But so far they seem to be doing the job.

Courtney: 

I’m honestly asking you because I’m debating getting some myself.

Derrick: 

Yeah, I’ll tell you what my buddy, Navarre, who runs the Secret Nerd Podcast. He showed me a picture; I’m sure he doesn’t mind me sharing this, but he showed me a picture of his little setup. He built this cage, basically a box out of PVC pipe and then has surrounded himself by blankets and towels. And that’s what he records in. I think it’s all in his garage too. It might, might get a little hot in the summer, but it would be great sounding, no echo, you know?

Courtney: 

It’s true. And I know there’s some other people that’ll just record inside their walk-in closet.

Derrick: 

Yes. With all the clothes hanging, right? Yeah. Not a bad idea. They’ve been working well so far, I think.

Courtney: 

Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. And you know, it’s a fun conversation starter when you’re on camera too.

Derrick: 

Yes, usually. What is that? And then what are all the books behind you? Yeah.

Courtney: 

Yeah. That’s fair. I guess I want to know more about the timeline at this point of you recorded your first episode with no intention of turning it into a podcast and then you thought, Hmm. How could I turn this into a podcast? So did you just publish that episode by itself without anything else lined up or like, walk me through how you moved on from that first interview into actually starting this podcast.

Derrick: 

Yeah. So I, I looked around, and I found Anchor. I’m not on Anchor anymore, but it was great. And I had no qualms that I’ve just moved over since this we moved to the studio thing. So I found Anchor. I was like, wow, it’s free. And you can start off with an Anchor ad and they’ll pay you a cent and a half per listen if you just run their ad and I was like, well, that’s probably more money than I’m going to make from anyone else for the start. So yeah, I found Anchor. I found out it was super easy, published the first episode, and as I was publishing it, or as I was like editing it to publish it, I began looking for other people to then interview. I figured, Hey, yeah, I’m going to do this podcast thing. I did stop doing the transcriptions because I did it for the first episode. And it was so much more work, especially for little payoff. I’d love to get back into it. I’ve kind of been putting that off, but I found a few automated tools online that say they’re pretty good at picking up what people say. So I might look into it in the future and especially because I’d love to have it out there, just so people, if they wanted to read could, or if they’re hard of hearing or whatever, You know, and it, it being accessible to that audience as well would be great. So yeah, maybe someday I’ll get to it, but yeah, recorded that episode started editing it thought, yeah, I could probably keep doing this. I’m going to start looking for more guests. So I did and I just started DM-ing people on Twitter, reaching out to them on, on discord, whatever it was. Finding people I thought were interesting who were doing cool stuff, whose work I really enjoyed and just reached out to them and asked them, I figured I probably should set up an email account right after that. So set up an email account, logo and that kind of stuff to seem official. And then it’s just the, the, the GIF of, I don’t remember which loony tune, but they’re like putting the railroad tracks out in front of the train as it’s going. And that’s exactly what it’s been ever since. So I was like, ah, yeah, I’m recording these episodes, and then I got to September, October. And I was like, should I do a season? Should I just call this my first season? Yeah, I’m going to do a season. And so I’m going to call that my first season, and now I’m going to do a break and then plan for my second season. So I finished, I think my last episode published in the first or second week of November. For my first season, I took a break, but during that time, so I wasn’t recording much, but I was reaching out to a lot more people to kind of set up my second season. And then I started recording kind of holiday time to get ready for that. So I usually like, like you do usually have like four to six weeks worth of interviews at any given time. Just in case someone has to reschedule or whatever it might be. It’s just nice to have some, some lead time like that. And so, yeah. Then I started my second season and that’s what I’m right in the middle of. And that’s, that’s kind of how it’s been going as far as like figuring it out. Like, like I said, I just slowly was like, oh, I should do this, and I should do that and I should have a break. And so, yeah, I’m kind of, I’m kind of getting into a rhythm. I think I’ll have another break late summer, and then I’ll start season three and keep going. So yeah, things, things are working out though. So far, I’ve learned a lot of things. I’ve made a lot of blenders, but so far,

Courtney: 

Oh, that’s awesome. And I’ve definitely, really enjoyed listening to your show, and I really do enjoy like the game segments that you have now. So yeah. I want to dive into that. So for the sake of our listeners, and they’re not, if they haven’t yet listened to your show and they are totally going to go listen, after this episode, then yeah, tell me about what that segment is, and then let’s just dive into that.

Derrick: 

Yeah. So like I said, I took a break in November and December of last year, and I had a few goals. I wanted to get a bunch of guests for season two. I wanted to redesign my logo and stuff. Just to make it more interesting. It used to be a gray background and kind of boring. And so I looked for other ways to spice it up and then I wanted to look for ways to kind of change and make the show more interesting as it was my new season, you know, so I went and found new intro and outro music. I Was looking for ideas for segments. And I talked to a guy who produced podcasts for NPR for a lot of years. So he did a lot of the editing and production for a lot of the shows that NPR converts from talk radio to podcasts, or just make specifically as podcasts. And so he had a ton of great ideas. So shout out to Steve, if you’re listening really appreciate all that help. Yeah, so his suggestion was to think of some kind of like way to break up the interview and to make it fun and interesting. I don’t remember the exact guidelines, but he was just basically like, think, think of something that you could put in there, that’d be fun and interesting and random related to the topic of the show and would interest people. So I created Quickfire Chaos. It’s never the same. And by that, I mean like each week I might do a different version of it because the guest I have on has a specific set of skills that I want to showcase. But there’s always some kind of random element to it. So for example, the first version I did, I had Johnny Stanton on who is a professional American football player. And I thought we should do a fantasy football team. Uh, So we’ll like make a team and we’ll pick races and classes and what position they’d be good at and why like what, what skills they have and stuff that would make them good at that position. So we did that. A lot of the time I’ll have the guests roll dice on some random D 100 tables I pull off Reddit to like make up a. Little fetch quest. And then we’ll do like a quick two-minute role-play between us, where I pretend to be like a, an adventurer looking for some quests. They give me the quest, but it’s, it’s totally random. Right? Like I just tell them, okay, roll the dice. K. You’re going to be a beekeeper. And you want me to go look for the heart of a nymph and you’re really gruff. And so they have to like on the spot, pretend to be that character and then send me on that quest. And we just kind of have a little back and forth and it just shows how well they can think of things to spice it up on the spot. The other side of that for a lot of like game designers and adventure writers, I’ve done a version where we rolled dice to pick like a setting and a goal. And then I let them kind of noodle and think about what a cool adventure would be, that would fit into the random thing that we’ve picked. So yeah, it’s, it’s always randomness and it’s always meant to just kind of showcase the guests skills around whatever it is they’re good at. So whether they’re really good at role-playing and voices and being creative, or they’re good at thinking of ways to tie stuff together for adventure arcs or whatever else. So yeah, just, just to kind of a fun, random thing to throw in the middle of the episode and to be a little different every time, but to always show off the cool stuff that my guests can do.

Courtney: 

Have you ever had any of those guests balk at whatever the activity was?

Derrick: 

Every guest save one has been totally game. The only one who didn’t Tim Roven from tabletop audio, he didn’t balk. He just said he hadn’t run games in a while and didn’t really want to. And I said, that’s okay. And honestly, that meant to me, like I was going to make him role-play, but what I should’ve done was think of a better way to play to his strengths and like, think of some random encounters. And then he would tell me what kind of music he would score. So if I had the chance, I would go back and do that, but you know maybe I’ll have him on again someday and I can do that. But yeah, it, it was more of a, of a personal failing than him not being good at something. But yeah, every other guest, I learned from that experience and have thought of a better way to showcase what they can do when, what they’re comfortable with and then make sure that it works out.

Courtney: 

Yeah, I think it’s really cool how you personalize it to each of them. And it, I mean, it always makes it interesting cause you never know like what exactly is going to happen every episode.

Derrick: 

Yeah. And, and we don’t either, like I said, it really is them rolling and we pick it from random tables. So there’s no, like. Hand-waving or me giving them like a three-day headstart to prepare something it’s always on the spot. So, yeah,

Courtney: 

Well, I guess that leads me into wanting to know and maybe compare notes a bit on how do you prepare for each of your interviews?

Derrick: 

it’s a great question. I’ve done a little bit of interviewing in the past. I worked for my college’s newspaper. So I did some interviews for that. I kind of wrote feature stories and did a lot of interviews for different things around campus, in the community. So I had that experience and then my buddies and I in later in college put together a sports blog and we got to cover some local university sports and then also some professional teams in our area which was super cool. And that also got me interviewing people and thinking of questions and doing research and stuff. So I’d done it before, which was good. Tabletop interviews are slightly different, but they’re not too dissimilar from any other interview. Oftentimes if I have a guest on, who’s been interviewed before, I will go seek out those interviews specifically. Listen to them and try to pinpoint questions that a lot of people ask them so that I can avoid those because they’ve already been asked and answered your honor. You know, we, we might as well ask them some interesting stuff that they don’t get to talk about very much. And then I try to pinpoint on a few things that I think would be fun to ask them based on their projects, based on their experiences, based on my consumption of whatever it is they do. And so, yeah, I, I, I listen to interviews they’ve done. If it’s people who create stuff, I try to get familiar with the stuff they create. Most of the time I am familiar, and that’s why I’m asking them to be on my show is because I’m a fan of what they do already. Uh, But yeah, I try to ask a few specific things about their work that will be interesting. Uh, So I kind of have half of my questions are more standard that I ask every guest and then half of them, I try to personalize specifically based on, on what it is they do and, and what I think will be interesting for people to listen to. And also what I find interesting from it. So, yeah. That’s kind of the prep I do mostly, I try not to reinvent the wheel. I try to keep it as simple as possible. I’m not trying to do gotcha interviews really. Like I’m not trying to put people on the spot and make it awkward. I want to be respectful of their time. So yeah, I try to keep my questions relatively tame. I want to get to the meat of, of what they do and why and what makes it really interesting.

Courtney: 

I like that. You definitely a raise some really good points. I’m like, oh, I might actually change my approach somewhat. A lot of times I’m like, I’ll listen to a one or two interviews that someone has done, but I don’t want to listen to it too much because I’m like, oh, I don’t want to spoil it too much. But at the same time, yeah. Especially like, if it’s someone that’s doing a Kickstarter and they have like five different interviews lined up, like they’re answering the same questions all the time. So that definitely makes a lot of sense. That would be a way to make it more interesting for the guest.

Derrick: 

Yeah. Yeah, I, I do, I don’t listen to everything they’ve put out, but I try to listen to at least a couple that are a few years apart. So it’s a good snapshot. And if they tell the same story twice that I know not to ask about that story, you know, like, cause they’ve already told it and everyone who cares about them has probably already heard it. So yeah. Well I guess I don’t usually have people on who are specifically trying to promote something that’s time sensitive. And usually people have cool projects they’re working on anyway, but that way, like you said, it’s not the same interview they’re giving five times.

Courtney: 

Yeah. Is there any guests in particular that you were just like ridiculously excited or surprised that when they said, yes?

Derrick: 

Yeah, there have been quite a few. To be honest, not many people like there’s, there’s maybe like five or so that I have reached out to that I just didn’t hear from, and we could chalk that up to spam filters or, you know, they have someone else check their inbox and it just didn’t get to them or whatever. Right. I, I’m not, I’m not out here to assume that every creator or all of these people just hate me and don’t want to be on my show. You got to tell yourself that to sleep at night anyway. Uh, So they’ve been like a handful of people I’ve just never heard from, or who politely declined. Just about everybody else has been totally up for it and willing to give me their time. You know, people who have a lot of followers and a lot of stuff they’re working on constantly. B Dave Walters comes to mind as a extremely, as an extremely busy person. He’s basically in every stream, runs tons of stuff, does tons of stuff all the time. And he’s got, you know, kids and he sleeps sometime, I’m assuming. So I don’t know how he does it. And I was really grateful that he thought, you know, being on my show is worth an hour of his time. So that was a huge compliment to me, personally. But yeah, he was so much fun and I was really surprised that he said, yes. I have a few upcoming guests. Johnny Stanton: my first guests of season two was really cool. I, I think he’d been on maybe one other podcast at that point, but I hadn’t found it until after. But I was like, yeah, he’s an NFL player. Like maybe he’s got time. I should just see. And yeah, he was like, he answered really quickly and was totally up for it. I’ve had a few people who’ve worked on specifically like D&D stuff like James Intacaso was a lot of fun and I was super excited. Beth, the Bard who wrote She is the Ancient. She was really, really friendly and really accommodating as well. So I’ve had a lot of people I’ve been really excited about, but like I said, just about everybody I have on my show, I’m already a fan of, so like anytime I get someone on it’s because I liked them a lot and I liked their stuff. And so it’s just, it’s just one to talk to all of them. Really.

Courtney: 

Yeah,

Derrick: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

no, that’s that’s fair. I definitely think my emails that hit the spam filter a little too often. And so I’ve been trying to change up my approach for some people because yeah. Especially at the beginning, I was like, well, I don’t know if it’s because I’m new or if they just haven’t seen the email, but no one’s answering me.

Derrick: 

Yeah. And sometimes they don’t respond to anything like that. Like I know a few people out there who’ve had some really big names on their shows and it was their publicist or their PR person or whatever who reached out and set it up. Right. Like some people just don’t do requests. They’re the ones who come out and say, Hey, can I be on your show? And you say, yes, whatever you want. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Like I said, just about everybody, every just out to has been more than game to be on and is really excited and comes prepared. I haven’t had a single guest come on and be like not fun to talk to, like all of them have been ready to go and have enjoyed their time or at least pretended to enjoy it for my sake. So everyone’s been really polite so far.

Courtney: 

Yeah. Well, so you said that at the beginning you started reaching out and DM-ing people on Twitter. Has anything about your approach changed?

Derrick: 

It depends. A lot of the people I’ve been reaching out to lately don’t have open DMS for a good reason. It’s it’s a dangerous world out there. You know, you can’t be too careful. But a lot of them will have websites or email address contacts. And so, yeah, it’s kind of shifted there. I do get a lot of people DM-ing me about being on the show. But I just, I have so many people already on the backlog and the wishlist, that it’s, it’s kinda hard to, to make spots and I feel bad about it, but also there’s tons of shows out there. And if you’re trying to get on a show, I guarantee you, someone out there is looking for a guest. So if you’re looking to be on a show, you know, keep trying and keep looking around. And I know that you’re going to find one that you’ll love to be on. But yeah, my approach definitely has changed. It’s probably more formal now than it was you know, I’ve got like Google docs I share and, and I don’t have a form yet, but I know some people who do like a form that people fill out or whatever, and, you know, I share events on Google so that it’s on everyone’s calendar and I send a follow-up emails and blah, blah, blah. It’s. It is a bit more formal, but the good news is I’ve worked desk jobs for a while. So I’m at least familiar with all this stuff.

Courtney: 

So I want to switch gears a bit and talk about the super fun marketing and social media aspect of everything. When you first started, you were going to do a blog, changed your mind, decided to do a podcast and said, realized you should probably set up some stuff for it. So, how has your process for just interacting with people online and advertising your show? Like how has that grown over the last year?

Derrick: 

It’s been good. I have learned a lot of things in the past year about what works and what doesn’t, as far as like engagement on social media and marketing. There’s a lot of things I am still doing that probably don’t work and I’m just doing it because I feel like I have to like posting on Instagram and Tik-Tok. I’m posting stuff that people don’t care about on those platforms. So it’s fine. But you know, I just keep doing it. Along with my journalism experience in college, I did a lot of volunteer work for activities committees at the, at school. And I did some volunteer stuff for like charity events. So I did a lot of like gorilla social media marketing. Like I didn’t actually study it, but I just like did it. Twitter was really big when I was in college. It wasn’t that long ago, but that’s kind of how everyone. Got to know each other, found new friends, found out what was happening around town, what there was to do. And so I got pretty good at that. And Twitter has been probably the thing that I’ve been most successful with since starting the show as well. And I’ve kind of done two things. I’ve tried to market what I do fairly frequently, but I’ve also tried to post a lot about just the subject matter in general. There’s one thing I’ve done where I ask like a, a daily question and I don’t ask one every day because I can’t think of that many questions to ask, but if you search the hashtag dailyDMQ it started off as DM questions, and now it’s, it’s opened up into just general TTRPG questions. You can find all of the questions I’ve asked and all of everybody’s answers as well. And those have done fairly well as far as engagement goes. It gives me a lot of ideas and it gives a lot of other people ideas about running their games and playing in their games and that kind of thing. So that’s been one thing that’s worked really well. I also have made wave form videos for my episodes for a while now as kind of a promotion. And I’ve been using a free tool called headliner. It gives you five free videos a month and it just so happens that that’s as many episodes as I will release in a month. And so that’s been nice just a little quick, like 30 second snippet of something interesting guests said and post it. And that way people can get a little taste and then maybe if they like what they’ve heard, they might go listen to the episode. So, yeah, I’ve been doing those things. I’ve done a little bit of like promotion swap here and there, but I don’t, I can’t say that I’ve seen like actual success from it. I’m not sure. I’m not convinced that promo swaps make that big of a difference. They might for like very early on. But when you’re first starting, it’s hard to find someone to promo swap with where it’s going to be worth it for you and worth it for them. Right? You have two separate audiences that will care about what each other is doing. So, yeah. I’m not sure if that works or not, but if you have evidence to prove me wrong, prove me wrong, like I’m happy to be proven wrong, you know, it’s just, it just doesn’t seem to be working for me thus far. That’s kind of the extent of my marketing. Haven’t run any ads on social media stuff. I’ve bought a few ads on other shows here and there and. Again, I’m not sure if it’s done ton, but it’s, it’s done something probably. I think that that engaging with the community, wherever you happen to be, and being, like I said earlier, really friendly and genuine is a good way to win people over slowly. They may follow you and follow your account. For instance, I have probably 5,000 and some change followers on Twitter right now. I do not get that many listens to my episodes, not even close. But if I could get close to that, I’d have a pretty good show running. So people are going to follow you, even though they don’t listen to your show and that’s okay. And if you just keep engaging and giving them interesting content, who knows maybe down the road, they give it a shot. And so I guess that’s kind of my advice.

Courtney: 

I think there’s a lot of really good advice and wisdom in there.

Derrick: 

A lot of trial. Lot a error. Yeah.

Courtney: 

it always is. It’s it’s a grind and it’s just a matter of, okay, well, what’s going to work today and hopefully it’ll work tomorrow. Sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t.

Derrick: 

I would say I’ve seen just trying to be a good member of the community and engage here and there pay off a couple of times, mostly when people look at your account, you know, if you’ve reached out to them and ask them to be a guest or to collaborate with you, they’re going to go look at what you say and what you do. Because if you’re a jerk, they’re not gonna want to talk to you. But if they can tell that you’re friendly and genuine in your interactions with all of your followers and such, then they’ll know what kind of person you are and be more likely to give it a shot. I had Shelly Mazzanoble, one of the co-hosts of the official D&D podcast reach out a month or so ago and asked me to be on. And it was basically purely based on me just being around on Twitter and tweeting and, and, you know, starting conversations and this and that. And she saw it and she liked what she saw. So you never know who’s watching and what lists people have on their computer. I have lists, you know, I have a whole Trello board full of people. I want to, I want to have on the show someday. It’s way longer than I’ll ever get to. But yeah, people are constantly making lists of people they want to collaborate with and to be on those lists be, be yourself, be genuine and who knows what will happen.

Courtney: 

I think that is definitely really smart. And it’s, it’s so true. Like anytime that I’m scouting out for guests to like, that might be a little bit smaller and less well-known but they do something I think is cool. It’s always hoping that I scroll a little bit further down their profile and that it still seems cool and not, yeah.

Derrick: 

Yeah, no, no Nazi memes or whatever. Yes. You know, because they’re out there anyway.

Courtney: 

Yeah. I do want to make sure we’ve got time for some questions I like to ask in every interview. So when looking back at the last year, which its legitimately been a year since last April, as you kind of stumbled into making the show and it’s really just run with it and develop something truely cool. What would you say has been the most challenging part?

Derrick: 

As far as just like hours spent, it’s definitely the editing. That was super challenging just to, to learn how to do it, to learn how to make it sound good. And then to get better at it, to get faster at it. It’s just a lot of hours a week. And when you’re turning out an episode every week, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s just a lot of work and it took a lot of time. I did get a lot faster at it and I feel like I have a pretty good ear for it now, but yeah, that was just one challenging thing. I had done musical things in the past, but never like editing like this, you know, so very different and, and challenging. Also I think the whole building an audience and like being patient has been challenging as well. It helps to realize that the audience probably isn’t, unfortunately, isn’t that big for this kind of stuff. And like you said, neither you nor I is going to get rich off podcasting and that’s okay. I’ve accepted that. And, and realizing that it’s not a personal failing if you’re not growing, you know, by 50% every week or, or, you know, you have less followers than someone who’s started on Twitter at the same time as you, or whatever, it might be. There’s a million ways to compare yourself to other people. But as long as what you’re doing is fun and you’re enjoying it and other people are enjoying it too. Then I say, it’s a worthwhile and you should keep plugging away at it. So yeah, those have been some challenging things, comparing myself editing realizing that it’s going to take a lot longer to find that success that I think I deserve for my work that kind of stuff

Courtney: 

Yeah, I feel that I feel all of that. Editing is definitely the bane of my existence some days.

Derrick: 

There’s nothing you could do at the same time either. That’s the thing that bugs me the most. You can’t watch TV, you can’t listen to music. I, I, for a while, fooled myself into thinking, I could like watch a sports game on mute and edit, but like neither got done very well. I would either watch the game too much or edit too much and miss stuff. And so it was a failed experiment, but I tried, but yeah, there’s just nothing else that you can do. It’s just a slog and you’ve got to get through it.

Courtney: 

Yeah. There’s definitely been days where I just cannot focus on it for some reason, and I’ll catch myself on Twitter and be like, wait, I didn’t hear the last five minutes. Crap.

Derrick: 

Yep. And when you’re editing, you can get so nitpicky too, like, Ooh, that, that little breath there, like, I want to smash these two words together where there was an “um” in the middle and can I make it work and blah, blah, blah. You can get way too into the weeds.

Courtney: 

I will to say, I like my new editor because I get to edit via the transcripts and I can right. Click and click a button. And all of the ums and UHS are gone instantly.

Derrick: 

What do you use?

Courtney: 

Descript.

Derrick: 

Yeah, I have been recommended that by a few people. I’ll have to check it out.

Courtney: 

That alone has probably cut an hour out of editing depending on how much the person says “um” and “uh.”

Derrick: 

I’ve had people who say it every other word. And then I had a guest who I don’t think said it once. His name was Ben. He goes by, at NeverNotDM. And he told me afterward, cause I said, I don’t think you said a single said, yeah, I was on the debate team and this and that. And so I’ve drilled it out of my vocabulary. I was very impressed. I couldn’t believe it.

Courtney: 

That leads me to another question that I feel is related. Were there any like verbal tics that you didn’t realize that you had that you discovered?

Derrick: 

A lot of the time when I’m transitioning, when I’m, I’ve said, something, some witty anecdote to what they’ve said, and then I’m transitioning to the next question. I usually go. So it’s always, so, so, so that’s, that’s the one verbal tick I’ve got for sure. That’s, that’s probably the one that I recognize the most. I can see it, like in the wave form. I’m like, I guess there is my, so.

Courtney: 

I do it too. I’ve accepted that one. There was one where I would say the word just all of the time and I trained myself out of that. And then just replaced it with something else. So that was frustrating.

Derrick: 

just.

Courtney: 

We all do it. So we talked about what has been a challenge, so let us flip that around now and tell me again, looking back over the last year of this show and all of the fun things that have come out of it, what would you say has been the most rewarding part?

Derrick: 

Yeah. I think the conversations themselves are super rewarding. I love chatting with people who are super passionate about what they do, and I’ve been able to talk to a lot of really cool, really talented people. So that’s been a big reward. Also. It’s really rewarding to hear from people who say, wow, this show has made me run games better because that was the whole point. Right. And when someone tells me that, then I know that I have achieved my goal from the get-go. Lastly I love the before and after recording, where you just kind of shooting the breeze and you can just tell that you’re friends with this person, you know, like we just chatted for an hour and now we’re friends and I can call them my friend. That’s also really rewarding when you chat with someone and they’re exactly as they seem, and they’re really friendly and they’re funny and you get along with them and yeah, that’s probably my favorite part.

Courtney: 

I love that too.

Derrick: 

No pressure after we’re done recording here, I guess, you know?

Courtney: 

Oh God, you mean I have to talk to him again? Ugh.

Derrick: 

Yeah, if you don’t want to be my friend, just say so. It’s okay. I’ll accept it.

Courtney: 

no. I would actually like to be your friend, Derrick. Well, as we wind down, do you have any upcoming projects or goals that we haven’t talked about that you are excited about?

Derrick: 

Let’s see. I had a few other guests spots in the past few months that have been a lot of fun. As far as upcoming projects, I did mention T4C Studios and kind of working on some stuff with them. I don’t have anything specific nailed down right now, like dates or exactly what we’re going to do, but we do have some, some fun ideas for summer games, for summer streams. So really excited about that. I’m really excited about the rest of my season I’ve got here. The next three of my guests are, or I guess some of the fun guests that I’ve got coming up. So by the time this comes out, last week, I will have released my episode with Will, who does D&D shorts. And if you’re on Tik TOK or YouTube, you’ve seen him, he does the cool things you could do in D&D part, whatever. And he has a fun of a ton of fun animations and he talks about like crazy builds you can do as little Tik TOK videos. So he, he recently I had him on, it was a lot of fun. Mike, who is known as SLIFE flourish, who wrote The Lazy Dungeon Masters Guide and The Return of the Lazy Dungeon M aster. He will be coming out the same week ish as this. So that was really cool. And then next week I’ve got Kat Kruger coming on and Kat is the DM of D 20 Dames, which is an actual play show. All women, all femme cast and it’s kid friendly. And also she was the one who wrote all of the adventures that they put on the as little prizes for those nerds bites. You remember those D&D candy nerds that came out. It was like nerves surrounding licorice. So there are seven different adventures that came out as part of that. And she wrote all of them. And so that was really cool to, to chat with her. She’d written like young adult novels and stuff before ever getting into D&D. Yeah, that’ll be next week. Really excited for everybody to hear about that. Cat was super nice and loved the 20 Dames and love her other work too. So yeah, those are, those are some fun things for everybody to look forward to, including me. I can’t wait to hear it again.

Courtney: 

Awesome. Yeah. I mean, I look forward to listening to those. Some of them I will have already listened to by the time this comes out. Well, Derrick, this has been awesome. If people want to find you find your podcast, where should they go?

Derrick: 

Yeah. So we talked about it. I’m most active on Twitter. That’s at H N the number two DM. Hopefully it hasn’t burned down by the time this episode comes out. So yeah, I’m most active on there. You can also check out links to guest spots and to other social medias and to my podcast by going to link tree slash H N the number two DM. So the same way, the link trees also in my bio on Twitter. So yeah, you can find it there. You can find my podcast everywhere that you can find Role Play Grow. So you know, wherever it is, I guarantee you, if you’re done listening here, you can go search How Not to DM. You can find me there. Subscribe. You know, follow whatever it is on your specific platform and check out a few of my latest guests. We talked about it. My first season is a little rough audio wise, but if you’re a completionist, then start there. If not, just kind of pick and choose your way through the seasons find someone that you’re interested in, and start listening and yeah, hopefully, you know,

Courtney: 

I can promise that y’all will enjoy it. It is a lot of fun and Derrick’s got some really great guests and will, I’m sure continue to have some. But seriously, thank you for coming on today. This has been fun and I’ve enjoyed getting it to pick your brain on podcasting.

Derrick: 

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me on Courtney. A lot of fun, really enjoyed the episodes of your show. I’ve listened to as well. A few of my friends have been on, and then also lots of people who are doing lots of interesting things. And like I said, there’s so many different people, so many different talents in the TTRPG world. So I love that you’re giving a platform to them.

Thanks for dropping by! We would love to know who would like us to interview, so please drop a comment here on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Discord to let us know who your favorite creators are! If you’d like access to more maps and content, including downloadable PDFs of our adventures, check out our Maps Patreon or Podcast Patreon. We’re able to do what we do because of all our amazing Patrons!

Recent Episodes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *