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061: Managing OneBookShelf’s Marketing with Lysa Penrose

 

You know, when I first started to realize that there was a whole TTRPG community out there in the Twitter-verse, Lysa Penrose was one of the first people I started following. Brenton and I were also trying to figure out how the heck DM’s Guild even worked, so finding her and seeing the incredibly large amount of projects fae touches was really inspiring. So when I finally got up the nerve to ask Lysa on the show, I was ecstatic fae said yes. So it is an absolute pleasure to introduce y’all to Lysa in this episode. Lysa is the Marketing Manager at OneBookShelf, which is the company behind sites like DM’s Guild and DriveThruRPG. And we definitely talk about what that means, what her journey has been like throughout multiple roles in the TTRPG space. We also talk about Design Dash, a Twitch show that Lysa co-hosts and Lysa’s love for crafty endeavors and bees! Lysa is just an incredibly kind and supportive person, and I had such a wonderful time recording this episode.

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
  • 00:03:32 Lysa Introduction
  • 00:10:52 Lysa’s journey with OneBookShelf
  • 00:21:34 What Lysa does as the Marketing Manager
  • 00:25:18 Merging OneBookShelf with Roll20
  • 00:32:41 How Design Dash got started on Twitch
  • 00:42:17 Lysa’s crafting endeavors
  • 00:47:11 What has been the most challenging part?
  • 00:51:20 What has been the most rewarding part?
  • 00:53:07 Upcoming projects
  • 00:54:10 Where can people find you?
  • 00:55:01 Wrap-up

Find Lysa & what we talked about:

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Transcript

Courtney:

Hello & Welcome to Episode 61 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.

You know, when I first started to realize that there was a whole TTRPG community out there in the Twitter-verse, Lysa Penrose was one of the first people I started following. Brenton and I were also trying to figure out how the heck DM’s Guild even worked, so finding her and seeing the incredibly large amount of projects fae touches was really inspiring. So when I finally got up the nerve to ask Lysa on the show, I was ecstatic fae said yes. So it is an absolute pleasure to introduce y’all to Lysa in this episode. Lysa is the Marketing Manager at OneBookShelf, which is the company behind sites like DM’s Guild and DriveThruRPG. And we definitely talk about what that means, what her journey has been like throughout multiple roles in the TTRPG space. We also talk about Design Dash, a Twitch show that Lysa co-hosts and Lysa’s love for crafty endeavors and bees! Lysa is just an incredibly kind and supportive person, and I had such a wonderful time recording this episode.

For a quick bit of business: 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 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. I’ve got some absolutely AMAZING guests coming up, and you will not want to miss them!

Another way you can support the show is by leaving me a review on your favorite podcast player, and it may even get featured in an upcoming episode! Today, I have a lovely review from MrLich, saying: 

Excellent Content – Varied Guests!
I find the show to be a refreshing view on the ttrpg scene with a wide range of guests covering any number of topics. Courtney is bright, clearly spoken, and asks excellent questions. It’s the stuff you want to know about people making their way in business in RPGs.

Thank so much for this review MrLich, especially because I know you had a difficult time getting it up on Apple Podcast!

That is all for now, so sit back and enjoy this conversation with Lysa.

Courtney: 

Hello friends. I am joined by the amazing Lysa Penrose, the RPG marketing manager at OneBookShelf. Hi, Lysa, how you doing tonight?

Lysa: 

Hello. Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I am doing, I am doing… the world is hot right now. The upper half of the world is hot.

Courtney: 

Do you have AC?

Lysa: 

No, we were just talking about we’re in the Seattle area. Does anybody have AC? That was the like biggest shocker when I moved here.

Courtney: 

Yeah. I was briefly in Oregon before this,

Lysa: 

Mm.

Courtney: 

but no, even then I was in a house that had AC so what am I saying? It’s it’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. So to just start us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and I mean, where you’re from before Seattle?

Lysa: 

Well, I have worn many different hats in the RPG realm, specifically Dungeons and Dragons. Currently I am the marketing manager over at OneBookShelf. So you might know it as Dungeon Master’s Guild or DriveThruRPG. But I started all the way across the country in New Jersey as a fledgling D&D player, I’m, I’m a critter watching critical role and eventually organizing a bunch of game nights over in New Jersey for the D&D adventures league.

Courtney: 

How long have you been in Seattle?

Lysa: 

Oh, my goodness. I guess it’s been four years now. Time feels mostly fake, especially the last few years.

Courtney: 

Time is weird. I just realized a couple weeks ago I hit like, oh, I moved to, Oregon four years ago. That didn’t last long. All right. so, yeah, I mean, I know you do a lot within the space, but do you get to play in any campaigns just for yourself for fun?

Lysa: 

so I used to get to play in a bunch of campaigns when I was doing a lot of TTRPG streaming. I feel like that was like the one way to gather my friends and hang out with them. If we had to be on a zoom call for a stream we could make fun happen. Aside from that though, I’ve mostly been playing more like video and computer games recently I’m really into Phasmophobia. Which if anybody knows me, they know I’m like a big baby. I’m very scared of everything. And that is a very scary ghost hunter game. But I’m very much enjoying that and I have a number of rules light, like sort of like 20 page or shorter games that folks have been writing for a challenge that I put up on drive through. So I have a list of games that I really, really, really wanna play. I’m trying to like recruit friends to learn a new game with me.

Courtney: 

Yeah. I feel that. It’s like play a D&D a lot, but I also have so many other interesting indie games now that are sitting on my shelf. And I just want more people to try them out with.

Lysa: 

Yeah. I mean, we’ll probably, maybe we’ll talk about it more later, but I’m running a DriveThruRPG first game design challenge Pocket Quest. So folks are creating a bunch of summer camp themed games. And so I will just say there are games where you play like a teenage dinosaur, and you’re at the last summer camp ever because the extinction event is coming soon. So you are flipping over cards and using a Jenga tower as part of the game. And maybe you will do arts and crafts one day and you get to role a stegosaurus making like a God’s eye or a friendship bracelet or maybe a volcano is erupting and you have to deal with that. Folks have been really creative. And how could you not want to play a Dino camp game?

Courtney: 

I mean, I really wanna know like more about what Dino camp involves?

Lysa: 

Yeah, I mean, so the, okay, so this game is called Extinction at Camp Summersaurus. It’s by a publisher called and I hope I’m hope I’m saying this right. Anaphis Press, and it’s actually their first DriveThruRPG game. It’s extremely cute. They all kind of look like baby dinosaurs almost, which makes me feel like very scared for them. I think the cover actually has a volcano erupting in the background. But you like divide up a playing deck and everyone has their like own portion of the deck. And each day everyone flips over a card and depending on if it is a heart or a club or whatever the suit is, you get to pick something off of a table that happens that day. And so I think hearts are probably the table where it says good things happen. But I think if it spades, if I’m remembering correctly, that means something related to the extinction event. Is going to happen and you have to remove pieces from a tumbling block tower, a Jenga tower. And if that topples, that means everyone has gone extinct just a fun, a fun twist to summer fun.

Courtney: 

oh my gosh. So eventually everything is gonna go extinct because it’s Jenga, but that sounds so cute.

Lysa: 

Cute and, and totally horrifying. They’re also like very, very gentle games. There’s one that is A Summer on Telltale Island, which I love because the publisher Odd Fellow Games– also their first DriveThruRPG game– has created like a bunch of cool handouts. So the, the game master is like illustrating this island that all the campers have been sent to, like, as you’re playing and you get to select a camp badge you want to earn, and if you complete the mission associated with the camp badge, you get like a really cool ability. Like some of them are really awesome. Like you can shoot fireballs or you can walk on water. And some of them are ridiculous and definitely for shenanigans players who are bards in Dungeons and Dragons, which is stuff like you have impossibly strong teeth.

Courtney: 

Perfect. And you said this is part of Pocket Quest.

Lysa: 

Yeah. So it’s Pocket Quest. It’s our first Pocket Quest I guess People have like a week to finish it. So I don’t know when this is, this is going up, but if it is August right now, if you’re listening to this and it is August 2022 or later, you can go on to DriveThruRPG. And we are spotlighting all of these different games that are 20 pages or less, so nice and rules- light, easy to learn, and they’re themed around summer camp. And so there’s everything from like really gentle games about arts and crafts, or like competing to be the coolest kid at camp to apparently dinosaurs. And then another one of my favorites that someone actually just submitted called One Eldridge Summer by Two Cat Club is one where you play camp counselors stuck in a hellish time loop because your campers summoned demons, instead of doing arts and crafts.

Courtney: 

That’s exciting. well, okay. So yeah, I mean, we talked about like, you’ve got obviously this one project, but let’s just jump into a discussion about, you know, your job if that’s okay.

Lysa: 

absolutely.

Courtney: 

So I’d love to hear about your journey with OneBookShelf: how it’s started and how that has progressed over time.

Lysa: 

Absolutely. So I started with the Dungeon Master’s Guild marketplace specifically. And before I was working for them in any official capacity, I was a creator on the marketplace. I was one of the first creators in a program called the Guild Adepts which is now sort of on an indefinite hiatus, but the program originally was to spotlight different creators. We got access to Wizards of the Coast titles ahead of time and artwork. And we got to create some really cool things. through that I got to know the folks at Dungeon Master’s Guild, and eventually they were looking for a community manager for the marketplace. And I was very excited about the prospect of getting to help creators there. I was also very involved with the D&D adventures league. I was the community manager for that organization, at that time as well. And they published things on Dungeon Master’s Guild. So I just felt like I could really champion the different communities. So I started it out as community manager which was a lot of I mean community management, like the name, social media management, but also kind of like operations management and kind of being a sort of the publisher representative for the community creators on the site. Lots of hats stacked on top of my head. And eventually that role grew into being the brand manager over at Dungeon Master’s Guild kind of expanding the scope of what I was working on. Earlier this year, I actually made the shift to working more broadly with OneBookShelf sites and I am now the marketing manager. So I get to work with Dungeon Master’s Guild and DriveThruRPG and Pathfinder Infinite, Storytellers Vault; basically, if it is RPG related on a OneBookShelf site it is part of my realm.

Courtney: 

That is a wild journey. I just feel like you have to have seen so many different changes, like through like both of the platforms.

Lysa: 

Oh, yeah. And even just seeing the community grow from when. I mean, even before I was a creator and I was just aware of Dungeon Master’s Guild and downloading, like purchasing myself different PDFs off of it. I really got to experience the creator community evolving. I feel like versus when Dungeon Master’s Guild first started, we have a much more diverse set of folks in age and gender in background creating D&D adventures, supplements, player options and because they have all of these different experiences in their lives, they approach the game of Dungeons and Dragons in really different ways. Some of my favorite things are stuff like the Domestic Adventurer’s Handbook or Eyes Unclouded, which is Studio Gibly inspired adventures or the Uncaged Anthologies which take tropes of feminine monsters and kinda flips the table on those. It’s just really cool seeing Dungeons and Dragons through all these different lenses.

Courtney: 

Yeah, I can only imagine. Like, yeah, I’d shop there and my husband publishes things on there, but you know, it’s like only this small slice that I feel like we see. And yeah, it’s just a really cool platform and a really cool community to be part of.

Lysa: 

Yeah, and I feel like DMS Guild has been around long enough that there have been folks who got into creating D&D things through this particular avenue, caught the attention of Wizards of the Coast, and other publishers like Kobald Press and Cubicle 7 and everybody, and now they’re working as like freelancers or some of them are being hired full time as staff on the wizards D&D team. And it’s just wild to me, seeing folks who went from self-publishing to realizing their like loftiest career dreams. It makes me feel really, really good because I feel like at Dungeon Master’s Guild and DriveThru, and I guess all of our sites– Enabling people to self-publish means that we are kind of breaking down barriers that might have existed in the industry before. So it might have been, you get to write for a third party publisher. If you go to a particular convention and you know, the right people to talk to, and you go to that specific networking event at a bar after hours at the end of a long con day. Those sort of situations don’t feel very welcoming or honestly safe for different types of people. I mean, speaking as a woman those situations don’t always feel super safe. It can feel very boys clubby. So instead we’ve got stuff like Dungeon Master’s Guild, where you can just self-publish your own things and you can network through the community on Twitter and find other creators like you and collaborate. It’s it’s been pretty awesome. It’s felt very fulfilling in that way.

Courtney: 

I would love to dig in a little bit to the differences or the progression because you got, you know, your community manager and then you are a brand manager and now you’re the marketing manager over like all of the RPG stuff. How has like getting into each of these roles and aspects of the branding, I guess, like how has that shaped how you think about tabletop games?

Lysa: 

Oh, interesting. I feel like, I mean, my relationship with tabletop games has definitely shifted. And evolved. I feel like I have grown a deeper appreciation for everything that goes into creating any game, whether it’s a D&D adventure or like a one page RPG. I think I’ve also grown a really distinct appreciation for the different ways that creators like different creators and different designers’ brains work and how they have different strengths or different ways that they approach stories. As a D&D player I’ve really enjoyed honestly all three pillars of play. I don’t know if that’s like a D&D like hobby term or if that’s really just from the D&Dadventurers league, which is kind of how I got into the hobby. But folks talk about things like combat exploration and like social interactions. And I feel like different designers combine those in different ways or focus on some in ways that I wouldn’t imagine. And I enjoy all three pillars almost equally. So just being exposed to so many different creators has Just really made me appreciate all of that all the more, especially in a show that I run for Dungeon Master’s Guild called the DM’s Guild Design Dash, which is like literally designers from Dungeon Master’s Guild, scrambling to create encounters based off a secret theme. And they only have 15 minutes to do it. Also they’re live on camera and people can see their design faces. And I feel like that really distills everything. I was just talking about where you really see people’s different approaches splashed on the page in a panicked creative fury.

Courtney: 

I love watching the Design Dashes and believe me, I have a lot of questions about that.

Lysa: 

Oh, yay.

Courtney: 

but I, I don’t wanna like, lose this train thought like too much. So we’ll get to that in a moment, but yeah, I mean, I definitely think that it’s, like that has to be just a really interesting perspective. Just being able to see so many different games or, you know, supplements within DMS Guild versus like completely independent, new creations that come out of like all of it.

Lysa: 

I think also especially, I mean, in all of my roles really, But I feel like it’s because I’m managing more sites and more interfacing with more publishers and folks who are involved in different games, this understanding has grown. But I feel like I have a different perspective on what the D&D community means. Than other folks who maybe are more involved in streaming or really just care about their own home brewed game or even folks who are just like hardcore play every hardcover book that WotC releases. From my perspective, I mostly interact with folks who are so passionate about Dungeons and Dragons, and so filled with creativity which I mean naturally stems from the hobby. But these are folks who are such big fans of this system, this game, these various worlds and settings that they want to make their own creations as part of this… this game or like expanding on WotC’s own creations. And so I feel like there is this very like heightened level of passion and sort of, I guess, like investment in everything that changes and happens with D&D.

Courtney: 

I would love to honestly get an idea of what it means to be the marketing manager at OneBookShelf. Like what does a typical week look like for you?

Lysa: 

Oh, my goodness. So part of why I started discussions at OneBookShelf about kind of moving me over to a marketing manager position and working with our whole umbrella of sites was that I was wearing like 10 million different hats as a brand manager, effectively the operations manager sort of like the creator support. And I was like, I would love to wear like one really focused hat and make that one hat as bedazzled as possible. Put rhinestones on that hat. But jokes on me because marketing also means a million things. So like in a typical week I am doing uh, like wildly different things and I try my best to focus a different weekday on different categories of things. Just so that I’m not Kinda like seeing a squirrel and chasing after it and that be, that’s like the vibe of my whole day. So in any typical week, I’m meandering through a few things. So I handle all of the sitewide promotions with a focus on DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Master’s Guild. But not exclusive to those. And that means everything from running like our large annual sitewide sales, trying to figure out how we can innovate on those. On any given year, we kind of do things a little differently. For example, we’re doing Christmas in July right now. It’s one of our, like most anticipated events because nearly everything on our sites are 15 to 25% off and it’s like every marketplace of ours. And this year I worked with a few publishers to kind of spotlight different titles on deeper discounts to get like more excitement and then also kind of boost the, the sale for everybody on the site as well. And so that’s figuring out what exactly the promotions are and coordinating with my team to get us graphic assets. I also Am meeting with different, large publishers, indie publishers, publishers, and creators of all sizes to figure out how I can support them in particular. So for example, Steamforged launched their Dark Souls RPG, and we knew that that was going to be a very interesting game for a lot of people. So I coordinated with them on how we could make a big splash about Dark Souls on our sites. Meeting with publishers could also mean like meeting with Paizo for Pathfinder I nfinite. They have a program really similar to the Guild Adept program I mentioned earlier called Infinite Masters. So Paizo spotlight s different creators gives them early access to their games and those creators make these really quality different supplements and expansions kind of like DLC for every Pathfinder release. And so I fully coordinate that. I’m writing a bunch of our newsletters every week or some of them are every other week. I am coordinating all of our sponsored content with different YouTube and Twitch creators, other partnerships with charities. And then we get down to special projects like Pocket Quest, which I spoke about. So passionately earlier and oh, also exciting on the Dungeon Master’s Guild side, coordinating our integration with Roll20. And I’m really excited, extra excited about that, cuz we announced just last week, as of this recording, at least that we are actually joining forces with Roll20 and becoming like a joint venture one company later this year.

Courtney: 

I saw that. And I wondered if that was what the delay was about?

Lysa: 

It was, I was

Courtney: 

okay.

Lysa: 

So we were originally going to record this a couple weeks ago. And I was like in the middle of helping with like preparing all of the announcement things and feeling very excited about it. And I was like, I will implode if I have to talk about everything I’m doing at my day job, but I can’t talk about this one thing. So you were very gracious, reschedule.

Courtney: 

okay. Well, I mean, yeah, let’s, let’s talk about that.

Lysa: 

Absolutely. I mean, it is. Like a, like a Mondo move for TTRPGs. You’ve got Roll20, who is like very focused on the virtual tabletop, also building their own marketplace. They’ve got like 10 million users. They’ve been building all of these relationships with different publishers and I’m very biased. It’s my personal favorite virtual tabletop. And also is the platform on which I first played my like first ever Dungeons and Dragons session. These days, you basically like can select your spells and everything is there. But many moons ago I was having my first character creation session. And we were all bonding while we manually typed in our macros. But they have been like innovating and creating all of these other features. So very, very exciting. But they wanted to Be able to continue like developing their virtual tabletop and offering a marketplace. And so on OneBookShelf side, we know that virtual tabletop is going to be a bigger and bigger deal in the future. But we come with like these amazing eCommerce sites and we’ve been working on a redesign of our base platform that should be rolling out next year. I believe. And so we’re improving the eCommerce experience. That’s our specialty and we work with so many publishers across the industry, and like our CEO has been in this business for like 35 years. Co-founded White Wolf. And gosh, it’s just like two superpowers coming together. So it’s like, it’s really exciting. It’s a really exciting move and I’m just like really jazzed to just kind of imagine what this could mean for like a really seamless experience between like shopping for things you want to use in your game, and then kind of immediately being able to use them and share them with your players and everything down the road.

Courtney: 

Yeah. So is the idea that like, okay, let’s say that you buy a map pack on DM’s Guild or through Roll20, whichever one you’re shopping through. And that map pack would just like automatically be able to be uploaded?

Lysa: 

I mean, I think that that is like the, the dream, right? Like for it to be as seamless and integrated and experienced as possible as sort of immediate next steps Roll20 is soon launching, like PDF support. So almost immediately you’ll be able to take any PDFs that you have and kind of upload them into your game. And there would be a viewer so that your players can look at the PDF within the game as well. And then soon after that sort of our next steps are we are going to be integrating your Roll20 and OneBookShelf libraries. So, whether you’re on the Roll20 site, or whether you’re on OneBookShelf, you can access your stuff. And, and I know a key thing for Roll20 folks is that users have limited storage. So our team is making sure that your OneBookShelf PDFs or your library over there does not impact your Roll20 storage which honestly unlocks a lot more space for folks.

Courtney: 

Yeah. Oh my gosh. I, so on the one hand, I am excited. On the other hand, I used to do like software integration, project management, and Lord, that sounds like such a big project.

Lysa: 

So I um, I pulled up our blog post about it. I believe we’re gonna have a combined team of at least 40, yeah, 40 technical wizards. 40 folks who are developers who work on code. Our team that has been really focused on the e-commerce side and there’s obviously on virtual tabletop. So I mean, separately, we all could have, as companies could have accomplished our goals. Right. But now combined, we’re able to do it a lot faster which we’re excited about being able to offer better experiences sooner.

Courtney: 

yeah, that is really exciting.

Lysa: 

On the DM’s Guild side though. Like, so before we announced our companies going on this, this adventure together we had previously announced that we were integrating Roll20 with Dungeon Masters Guild which that has been a request for so many folks, because right now what folks have had to do was if they wanted to use Roll20 for say an adventure that they got on Dungeon Master’s Guild, they would individually have to load in any like stuff that they wanted integrated into Roll20, and now creators can make those conversions for folks. And well they can create those conversions for folks. And soon they’ll be able to list Roll20 things. So you buy things on the DMS Guild marketplace and they immediately are like linked over to your Roll20 account.

Courtney: 

that is gonna be so great.

Lysa: 

Folks are really excited. I’m very excited about it.

Courtney: 

You may not be able to talk about this and if so, that’s fine, but I’m just curious, like how you think this is gonna impact the way that you market.

Lysa: 

Oh, that’s a great question. I mean, I think I, I, I don’t know how to answer because I guess at this point, I don’t know. I think it certainly will impact how we market. I know I’m already talking to the Roll20 team about like things that are coming up for some of our publishers, wondering if those are going to have Roll20 versions and how can we market these things together. So that folks know that they have PDF options and virtual tabletop options. And if we are choosing to do that at this point, do we know if that is going to be a smooth experience for them? If we’re, if we’re saying like these are a fun combo, is it gonna, is the experience gonna be a fun combo? Down the line, we know it will be, but. We’ve we’ve just made announcements. I’m eager to see what changes this is going to mean for just our general approach. And my role in particular. I do know that over at OneBookShelf, like I I have a director. Who’s also the director of publisher relations. And then I am the marketing manager and that is our marketing team. Roll20 has a few more folks who I’ve gotten to interact with a little bit. One of them’s also my best friend. So I’m, in general, for many reasons, very excited to be collaborating with them soon.

Courtney: 

That’s awesome. Okay. I feel like I could keep quizzing you about this for forever, but I do have other things like Design Dashes to talk about

Lysa: 

Okay. I, I love Design Dash so much. It’s one of my favorite things that I’ve started.

Courtney: 

Well, my first question is how did it start?

Lysa: 

Yeah. So at the time I was as one of the many hats, I mentioned that I’ve worn throughout my career in games. I was at the time, the social media manager for Dungeons and Dragons. They were in between community managers. And since I was community manager for the D&D adventures league, they asked if I could help out. And I lived in the Seattle area. So I was spending a lot of time in the office. And I think we were just having one of our weekly marketing meetings and I was talking to Bart Carol at Wizards of the Coast who does digital marketing for them over there. And we were just kind of throwing ideas back and forth on what we could do on the Dungeons and Dragons Twitch that would really spotlight DM’s Guild creators because I could do I don’t know, like a talk show or or something like showing different recommendations and, and do a stream myself. But I really just want the attention on the creators, not on me. And I forget what my initial suggestion was, but it was, it was boring and it sucked cuz Bart immediately came back with saying like, well, what if we made it like some sort of like competitive thing were there. They have to design on the stream. And then I think that immediately made me think of shows like Iron Chef or the Great British Bakeoff and Design Dash was born through that little brainstorming back and forth. We were going to invite designers onto the show. We would have them design something based off of a secret theme. We would make it the wackiest experience possible by giving them a ridiculously short amount of time to do it. And at the end everybody technically wins cause is about working together and we didn’t anyone to feel like competitive and bad about it. But there is a poll to see who returns next time. And that, that is how Design Dash started.

Courtney: 

Amazing. How long ago was that?

Lysa: 

Oh my goodness. At least two years at this point.

Courtney: 

what happened from, oh my gosh. Yes. We’re gonna do this little competition show to actually getting it started. Like, what was that process?

Lysa: 

I am a very, like if I get excited about an idea, I kind of stop everything like sleeping or eating until I make it happen. But at that time I was producing a bunch of different shows for the D&D Twitch. I was producing D&D Communi-Tea, a tea party talk show about Dungeons and Dragons. I was producing Tales from the Mists, a Ravenloft, actual play, for them. So I decided to go through that same process. So for folks who wanna pitch a Twitch show I put together a brief that talked about what I wanted the show to be and what my goals were for the show. And also what it was visually going to look like and the, the different types or categories of people who are going to be involved and invited onto the show. So I knew I wanted to spotlight creators specifically creators of best selling titles or folks, very active in the community. Or even like folks who have published their first thing. And it was, it was like super popular and they’ve come out of nowhere. Let’s get them on the show so that they could talk about themselves a little. And I knew that my goals were, I wanted to give creators some space in the spotlight. I wanted to let folks watching, know that they could make their own D&D things on Dungeon Master’s Guild. And I wanted to give folks insight into the design process. So wanted to show people designing. I wanted them to present their designs and be able to ask them some questions about their approach and how their encounter turned out, the, the way that it did. And then I also wanted it to be like really silly and fun. So I wanted to co-host so we could talk back and forth. And all of my streams that I produced for the D&D Twitch were very interactive. So I also knew I wanted an element where the live chat was involved. While the folks are writing their scenarios for 15 minutes, the host and I chat. And then we also are talking to the live chat about what sort of silly rubric categories we are going to grade all of the encounters on. So I put together a brief I showed it to Bart. He approved it. I collaborated with a graphic designer to create our overlays and starting soons cards and all of that. At that point I was very proficient in the other OBS, OBS studio for producing Twitch streams, and it was just kind of at that point, all that stuff was routine. it happened pretty quickly.

Courtney: 

That is awesome. How do you come up with the theme each episode?

Lysa: 

So my secret is I usually forget and I’m figuring it out the morning of. I feel like every time I’ve thought of one ahead of time, something comes up in the pre-show like backstage chat and I decide to switch it last minute. So it could be inspired by… I usually like to tie it to some sort of D&D setting or theme, or if they have a release coming up or something that just released, I like to tie it to that. If there is like a really exciting show coming to the D&D Twitch I’ll maybe tie it to that so that I can shout out that show and then sometimes. Just really silly things. I like to incorporate animals into the theme just because I feel like there’s a lot of different things to do with that. And it throws people off guard

Courtney: 

Yeah, that that’s fair.

Lysa: 

Usually it’s a combination of what is D&D doing right now, like as a company and like topics in the community zeitgeist. And then how can I make a ridiculous version of this?

Courtney: 

that sounds like the perfect formula. So, how do you select the new challengers?

Lysa: 

Well, when I started, I feel like it was. I mean, I still have so many creators that I would love to spotlight, but when I started, it was like, I had a queue of like a hundred people I wanted to invite all at once. And because I’m just like very personally active in the D&D community and the creator community in particular. I mean, I was a part of it before I started working at OneBookShelf. So I know folks who are active in the community who like to collaborate on projects, who like to signal boost other creators. And if folks are doing good things in the community, I wanna give them a spotlight. So that is a priority for me. I’m also, I don’t want to be biased like only selecting people in my circle. So I also keep a watchful eye on like every new title that goes up on Dungeon Master’s Guild, as well as titles that make it into our like most popular or hottest carousel. And if there are titles that folks are really excited about, I’ll look at that list of creators. Often there’ll be a collaboration. And so even if there’s some creators who I’ve worked with, maybe they’re working with somebody new who I don’t know, and I’ll extend an invitation to them. If there is anyone listening, who’s like, well, I can’t believe Lysa hasn’t invited so and so to Design Dash, they’ve been a part of the community forever and make amazing things. It’s very, it’s possible. I have invited them, but they are shy, shy beans. I’ve had people turn me down cuz they’re like, I’m nervous just being asked to do this, which I can relate.

Courtney: 

Yeah, like it’s one thing to, I dunno, be asked to like, come onto a video interview or stream or something where you’re talking as yourself, but then like to be put under pressure too, like, oh, just design something in 15 minutes while a whole bunch of people watch.

Lysa: 

Yeah. Like I. I honestly don’t know… if I weren’t a part of Design Dash and someone asked me to be on Design Dash. I don’t know if I would do it. so I, I fully get the people who are like, I’m very flattered. I like watching the show. I cannot ever be on it. I will break out in hives. And I appreciate tenfold, everyone who has enthusiastically and excitedly told me, yes, I would love to be on it because they think that it is like just like a really fun challenge. And I also, if you’re a, if you’re a DM’s Guild creator and you feel like I have ignored you or snubbed you and you want to be on Design Dash, I’m, I’m very open about what my work email is. It’s just my first name, like Lysa@onebookshelf.com. Like just message me it. It’s entire, I do have a list of who I’ve invited on before, but is very long at this point. So it’s possible. I just am misremembering that I had you on before. And then also sometimes I have a last minute dropout cuz of scheduling stuff. And so I’ll tweet last minute, like requests, like who’s who wants to come on Design Dash and, and save my butt. So look out for those as well. Cause I know some folks who really wanted to be on, I realized I hadn’t invited them on cuz they responded to those tweets.

Courtney: 

Yeah, that’s awesome. I do wanna switch gears. Like I realize we’re not gonna have a ton of time to do it, but I wanna just briefly touch on all of your entrepreneurial endeavors over the years. Cause like, okay, we’ve talked about, all of the community, like marketing type work that you’ve done for a while now, but I know that you also used to host a podcast and you’ve dabbled in things like soap and dice bags and jewelry, and you recently did a Kickstarter for a tarot game. I guess I would just love to get a little glimpse of the inner workings behind all of that, like, what is it that you enjoy about entrepreneurship? Like, is it that you just like to experiment with a bunch of different things?

Lysa: 

I, I feel like I mean, you bring up the word entrepreneurship and I don’t know, I don’t think that’s necessarily the wrong word, but I think what the word that probably comes to mind first for me is just, I just really love crafty creative projects. So if we’re talking about TTRPG specifically, I’ve been an event organizer, a community or social media manager of all the things I’ve been a freelance writer, I’ve helped co-author two of D&D’s hardcover books. I had my podcast for Behold Her podcast. I was a streamer. I was a producer. I just like, get like really, really excited about stuff. And I want to do everything. And that has been D&D for the past few years of my life and hopefully many more. But it, it was, I didn’t always play Dungeons and Dragons. So before I knew D&D existed, Or I knew it existed. Before I’d played D&D before I realized it was a game that could welcome me. I was very into creating soap. I think I got like a bar of soap on vacation once and it just made my skin feel so good. I was like, oh, I wonder how they made it. And then I started reading about cold process versus hot process and all the different kinds of oils and butters that can go into soap. And then what their different like fatty acid properties were and what those different acids and components meant for the property of the soaps. I have neatly tucked away all of that information in my brain. But I remember that so some things like, so coconut oil, if you put in a soap can really make things like very sudsy, but it is also drying. So you kind of wanna balance that with different oils. So I– this is now a soap podcast.

Courtney: 

Perfect.

Lysa: 

um, I guess I’m demonstrating like the level of depth, like how deep I go when I dive into something. And so there was that. For a while I was into sewing and I was making dice bags for my friendly local game store. For a while I was a silversmith. And I was making jewelry. That felt really powerful because I’m very scared of fire. And you need to use fire to silversmith. And I felt very brave and badass whenever I did it. I’ve loved knitting and fiber arts for so long. When I was living in New York city, I would teach at the green market. I would teach felting for folks, whenever they had like a homesteading festival. I would specifically only felt gnomes cuz that’s what I knew what to do. And I make a lot of tarot content zines and stuff. And my Oracle deck as well that the community helped me kickstart. And I think it’s just, I get really swept away by new interests and I really love learning things. So there’s a lot of them that… I’m kind of like a hobby hummingbird. Some of them are passing fancies. I might make soap again just for myself personally. But soap didn’t become a deep passion. I think D&D and games something that I found just very fulfilling and fun in a lot of different ways. And I think that’s probably why that one stuck. Honestly, I feel like I do wanna talk to you like offline about soap making, because I’ve recently been like, Hmm, I really like this soap and I wanna make it myself. Oh, my I, so I’ve been a writer for a long time. I studied journalism, and that was what I imagined I would be doing with the rest of my life. So I wrote an article about all my nerdy soap knowledge, For a vegan magazine called Chickpea. But I have the article on my website. So if you go into like my clips, you’ll have like a breakdown of all the different oils you could use, what attributes they contribute to a soap and also how to combine them in a safe way. Cause that’s another concern for soap.

Courtney: 

Oh, my gosh, I am going to do that as soon as we’re done. Lysa you have been on a wild journey over the last couple of years. And one thing that I like to kind of take a moment to do towards the end of all of my interviews is look back and just kind of recognize that, We do this because we love it. And hopefully we still love it after several years. But obviously there can be some challenges that come up. So is there anything in particular that you would say has been particularly challenging as you have just moved through this space?

Lysa: 

Yeah. Two things come to mind. The first is I feel like everyone says, like, there’s that phrase where if like you, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And I feel like that’s of like a gross simplication. Monetizing what you love and making that your career has definitely been… I mean, I love it. I find it fulfilling. I’ve loved interacting with the community and connecting with others through it, but it has changed my relationship with games. Because at a certain point I realized I’m spending my whole day doing TTRPG and game stuff. And while I was doing streaming and all of those and freelance writing for different publishers, spending my entire evenings for it. And I really struggled with work life balance and feeling like I was burning out. Like the burnout was real. And I feel like I’ve learned a lot from that, especially over the course of the pandemic. I feel like a lot of people have been reevaluating their values, like what’s important to them. And so I’ve cut back a lot, honestly, on like I’m basically kind of on hiatus for any freelancing projects. I feel so much FOMO. It hurts a lot to tell people that I’m not taking on projects. Feels good to recommend other people though. That always feels awesome. And I’ve made a promise to myself that at least for the rest of the year, probably all of next year, I’m not allowed to monetize any of my creative hobbies. I want to just create for myself and for joy. And I wanted to be able to focus all of that, like work, work, work energy onto my actual day job and doing the best I can as the marketing manager over at OneBookShelf. And I’ve been a lot happier. Honestly, since I made those shifts, I’m spending time with my husband and my cats and our 20,000 bees in our backyard. We have a hive and a garden and life feels more full than it ever has. I’ve always been very career focused, which is probably why I had a habit of if I love something, trying to make it my job. And. I’m just realizing there’s more to life than that. And I’m grateful for the past few years for teaching me that.

Courtney: 

I love it though, that you have been able to find a better balance. And I I’ll say personally, I really enjoy watching the stories about your bees and your garden.

Lysa: 

Oh good. Cuz I’m really obsessed with my bees and I’m scared people are like, oh good. Another picture of, of bees. Awesome.

Courtney: 

It’s such honestly, like it is a nice break from, you know, the rest of TTRPG, Twitter. That is lovely most of the time, but then it’s just like, Ooh, hello? Like bees!

Lysa: 

Yeah, I, wanna be respectful of your time, but like, if we wanted to have a whole other conversation about bees, there was so much drama going on with our hive this year. And also our hive this year has a completely different personality from our bees that we had last year, who swarmed and left us at the end of winter. No loyalty. But, but that would be an entire additional hour of conversation.

Courtney: 

oh my God. Like I’m so tempted. You don’t even know. Okay, so to flip around the original question, what would you say has been the most rewarding part of this journey?

Lysa: 

In general feeling connected with other folks, which means some specific people. I partially met my husband through my interest in Dungeons and Dragons. He noticed I was into D&D. And so he asked me out based on that interest. And then he found I out, I worked for D&D at time and was very impressed. So thank you, WotC for jump starting that. And, and I mess my, met my best friend TK through the game, but also in general interacting with folks in the community, other folks where TTRPGs have a very like deep emotional tie or like a meaning, or they’ve enabled them to fight demons that they feel like they have in their real life. Just getting to meet other people who have been touched in that way has been very enriching. And I also feel like because I’m generally a very open person about like different troubles that I’ve faced. And specifically through the tarot content that I create in the other Witchery content that I create. I feel like that particular subset of my community Has felt like they can be their more authentic selves in those spaces. And I’ve watched how that has kind of changed how they carry themselves and that if I could play even like a teeny tiny part of them feeling like they can do that, that makes like anything bad that has ever happened even a little bit worth it

Courtney: 

I love that. Well, I sadly need to wrap us up. So as we do that, I know we have barely scratched the surface of all of the things that you do or have done, but is there anything else, like upcoming or that you’re just kind of working on or will work on in the future that you’re excited about and allowed to talk about that we haven’t touched on?

Lysa: 

So as I mentioned, I’m taking a personal break, from my various projects. So I’m just gonna shout out again, a project that is very fond to me at my day job, because it supports indie and new publishers. Definitely in August and onward look out for all things related to our Pocket Quest challenge. I’ll shout out Extinction at Camp Summersaurus again, definitely look up that one. One Eldritch Summer. There’s also one called Camp Dowantchu Be Me about being the most popular kid. There’s so many amazing talented games and in August I’m gonna be like spend the whole time talking about other people. So that’s what I’m most excited about.

Courtney: 

Amazing. I will include some links to that in the show notes.

Lysa: 

Yes, please.

Courtney: 

Yeah. And if people want to find you, where should they go?

Lysa: 

Yeah. So to find me personally, I’m at Lysa Penrose, that’s Lysa with a Y pretty much everywhere, also LysaPenrose.com. And if you wanna follow like D&D, TTRPG marketing fun stuff that I’m doing it’s at DMs_Guild on Twitter and at DriveThruRPG. And if you want to see Pocket Quest happenings throughout August, the hashtag we are using is #PocketQuest2022.

Courtney: 

Awesome. I will be sure to you include those as well. Lysa, thank you so much for coming on. This was such a lovely conversation.

Lysa: 

This was really fun. And also you’re a great interviewer. You really put me at ease. So thank you again for inviting me.

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!

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