‚ÄćDevon Chulick:

We're talking to a bestselling D&D designer, an editor and a Guild Adept for DM skilled, a host of the Designers Den on Twitch, co-host of D&D Roundtable podcast, Social Media Coordinator and Community Committee for Baldman Games, and an RPG director for MomoCon. So Ginny, anyone in the industry when they hear your name, they're like "Oh, amazing."

 

Ginny Loveday:

Apparently. It's weird.  

 

Devon Chulick:

Is it? It's such a small community too, so it's like bound to happen that you're just going to meet everyone. But I've never met anyone that didn't have amazing things to say about you.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Oh, well, that's good to hear.

 

Devon Chulick:

I'm sure you've done tons of interviews and talked to tons of people. I'm going to ask kind of a classic, how did you get started with Tabletop RPGs?

 

Ginny Loveday:

We go way, way, way back in the Way Back Machine. I have always, since before I can actually remember, been into geeky things. I was a kid who always had my nose in a book so grew up reading every science fiction and fantasy book I could get my hands on. Didn't actually play a role playing game until college.

 

Devon Chulick:

Whoa!

 

Ginny Loveday:

I know, right? I lived in a very small town in Tennessee, though.

 

Devon Chulick:

Okay.

 

Ginny Loveday:

It wasn't really a thing. It was a little more than an hour to areal city. We didn't get into the city very much. That would be Memphis, which isn't a big haven for tabletop role playing games.

 

Devon Chulick:

Yeah. Barbeque though.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Oh my God. That's a whole other interview. I have opinions. So, college my friend Katie Cole asked me if I wanted to play a game. She didn't actually tell me what we were going to do at all. I just agreed because game, yes. So, I show up and she's got some books out and we're going to do a D&D Campaign, she says. And I'm like, "I don't know how to do it, but, yeah, I'm in." So, I learned how to play, we had a really good 4th edition campaign was what we actually ended up doing.

 

I played some 3rd edition and 3.5 but didn't really truly do much of those. I mostly got my start in 4th edition, which I actually don't like. But people have opinions on that as well. But I did a campaign there, did have a lot of fun with it. But despite 4th edition being what it was, we had a good group, and so really kind of fell in love with, like the idea and the concept of role play games and sitting around a table with your friends and making this whole shared vision. And then 5th edition came along, and I fell head over heels in love with 5th edition D&D and that's where the story really begins, though, isn't it?

 

I needed to play and all of the time, needed it in my life. So organized play became a really big thing for me, because as any adult will tell you, it's very hard to find five of your actual friends who are available on a Sunday night and Monday night and Tuesday night and so on, so forth, any given night of the week. But I could go to this game store in town, Sci-Fi City, on Saturday, and there would be people guaranteed and I could play D&D.

 

Devon Chulick:

That was your that was your intro to organize play, which you are heavily involved with?

 

Ginny Loveday:

I am. I started going to that every single weekend. My friend Jay Anderson was organizing that game store, kind of making sure the games were scheduled and people showed up, blah, blah, blah. That was on the far Eastside of Knoxville, Tennessee, where I lived at that point in time. I worked on the far west side of Knoxville, Tennessee. I got some people into my work into D&D. You got to spread the gospel. We didn't want to drive all the way to the Eastside of town because they all lived on the Westside. There was a gamestore across the street from my work and I went in there and I told them, "We're going to play D&D here, which side of the week would we not bein your way?" Not, "Can we play? We are going to play, just tell me when it's not a hassle for you." We did that and then word got out that there was D&D on the west side of town.

 

Devon Chulick:

I imagine a West Side story, like the Jets and the finger snapping

 

Ginny Loveday:

So then, it all kind of spiraled and then I was organizing on the west side of town and eventually we had Tuesday nights. This is one of those game stores where it's like alleyway sized. So, we're cramming two six-foot tables together to make as one table. So, six of those tables into the store and there's literally no room for customers to look at products. But we werebringing in money like anything tangentially related to D&D, these playerswere buying. And snacks, also all the snacks.

 

The store bought the adjacent storefront and we put in more tables, and then we still had too much demand. So, we took Thursday night andthen we took Monday night and then we did Sunday. If I could get a DM for it, Icould see players. I was at one point in time, I, I personally was running seven games a week. Because I didn't want, like new players to not be able toplay. I was running all these games so that I could convince these people to DM. It worked.

 

Devon Chulick:

Okay, so here's the question, do you prefer being a player or a GM?

 

Ginny Loveday:

Oh, that's hard. I really enjoy both. I enjoy playing, I enjoy getting to tell the story with my friends. And I super enjoy GMing, especially for new players, because you get that compersion,  they get all this joy out of learning this game and seeing that they can be whoever and do whatever they want and making new friends. I know I'm big on compersion, relationships, my D&D, my whatever. I get joy from your joy, if you're happy, I'm happy.

 

Devon Chulick:

I know that is one of the most fulfilling things is to see other people happy by something you enjoy and they get to experience it.

 

Ginny Loveday:

I mean, even if they're not happy because I'm DMing, but I'm at a convention and people are at a completely different table and they're having so much fun with D&D, it's a thing I also love. It's vaguely related, but also unrelated, I'm polyamorous and just like the same kind of thing, I get compersion from when my partner has another partner who makes him super happy and everything, I'm just like, "Yay!" Because I love this person and obviously this other person can see all these good things about that and we're all happy. So other people playing D&D, and I'm like, "They love what I love, and we love. Ahh!" Yeah.

 

Devon Chulick:

There's a lot of pride in a lot of joy coming from those experiences. I've already heard a couple of probably what are some of your proudest moments as a GM. This store expanded with all these extra game nights and space from something that you started. What is another very proud moment ofyou as GM?

 

Ginny Loveday:

Well, not even as a GM necessarily, but kind of even higher than that. So, we did this expansion and then we realized at that point in time, the organized play adventurously, was still doing coordinators. So, if you had a local coordinator in your store, you'd get the adventures and the certificates for magic items from Wizards, and you could run them at your stores. And wedidn't have one of those. And so, we were like, but we want the stuff. So, Jay from the Eastside, me from the Westside said, "Let's apply." So, we applied and then we were we were doing that, we were rock and roll. We were growing the Knoxville community even more from there because now we had all this cool stuff.

 

Then the regional coordinator for the Southeast quit. So, the Southeast region is Virginia, down to Florida, over to Louisiana, up to Missouri and across, a big region. I'd been a local coordinator for, I don't know, five, six months, but I was, for giggles, I'll apply. Well, they choseme. Then I am responsible for these 300 and something stores in the Southeast Region and spreading the gospel, evangelizing the good word of D&D.

 

Devon Chulick:

Amen.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Have you heard of organized play? And do you want people to play D&D at your store? Let me help you with that. That was actually kind of one of my proudest things, right? Because I got to recruit all of these community leaders who brought this passion in to getting D&D at their local…well, most of them had much larger regions than the local store because I started with nine people and I grew it to a team of 26. But the region, remember again how big the region is.

 

Every store that wasn't in like a 40 mile drive from any person fell into my hands. So, I was calling these people up, being like, "Hey" and they were handling all the others. So, D&D is booming in the Southeast. We're reaching out to every local convention, we're getting conventions to do D&D and everyone's just thrilled. And that's kind of like…God, I don't know how I had time for all of it, I still don't have timefor everything I do.

 

But it was, you know, even bigger than just like being a DM and getting that single table of people like literally thousands of people in the Southeast gain this access to D&D because I was so passionate about getting people out there to do the thing. Setting them up with the tools to be like, "Okay, so you don't really know how to train DMs. All right. We've got some people who do. We're going to put together some presentations and some materials so it's not intimidating so you can train some people up." So, Birmingham or Raleigh or Jackson, Mississippi, wherever it is, can have a gamestore. And you go in and they're like, "Well, how do I teach people to DM? And you're like, "I have materials for you. Mr. Store Owner."

 

Devon Chulick:

Ginny, you're by far the most opposite of a Gatekeeper that could ever exist.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Yes.

 

Devon Chulick:

You are are a gateway.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Absolutely. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Welcome.

 

Devon Chulick:
That has like a gravitational force pulling people into it.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Yes.

 

Devon Chulick:

You must have had to deal with some sort of gatekeeping. How does that affect you? Because it happens in every community, gatekeeping. Here's someone who has done so much for the hobby as you have, you found really great ways to deal with it and might have experiences worth sharing.

 

Ginny Loveday:

I absolutely have. I mean, even more being a woman, in what was traditionally a male-dominated space, I've had some terrible incidents. Actually, one of them strikes me as super hilarious. It did then and it does now more. I'm going to tell this one person it's funnier or one. I am the RPG Director for MomoCon down in Atlanta, which has like 40,000 attendees. I'm in there, in the RPG hall shuffled through some papers, getting stuff together, helping people get their characters. And some "Grognard", some old white dude, not to say old white dudes are awful because many of them are wonderful. But this guy had a bug up his butt. He comes in and, you know he's looking about. He looks a little lost or wondering what's going on. It's hard to tell.

 

So, I approach him, "Hey. Hi, how are you? Are you looking for something?" and he's like, "I want to play some games." I was like, "Okay, easy enough. What do you play, I'll help you." And he's like, "I'd like to speak to someone who knows something about RPGs." I literally took a step back and was like, "Okay." Stood there, waited. And he's like and then he points at my Assistant Director, who's a male sitting at the table literally on his phone because he's not actually on shift. "Does he know D&D?" By the way, my Assistant Director did not know D&D, he's more Shadowrun person, Pathfinder, which I mean, Pathfinder/D&D, kind of the same thing. Then he just walks past me,  he goes over to this guy, "I got some questions about D&D." So, my AD of course is like, "You gotta talk to her" and points back at me. So, the guy turns around and I'm like, "Hi" and I wave at him.  

 

Devon Chulick:

Oh, my God. It never it never surprises me the terribleness of some gatekeeper's that just are just so engrossed in these very toxic views.

 

 

 

Ginny Loveday:

And that one obviously is a comical example and one that was, for the most part, pretty nonconfrontational. I've also had those incidents where you would have…I am a very…I got this from my mother, I'm a very strong willed and opinionated woman. I also don't really know the most part how to keep my thoughts to myself. So unlike some people regardless of their gender, they like to avoid confrontation and when something bad goes down, they'll just sit there and kind of dwell in it and start to feel really bad and take all of that in and it ends up being a very negative experience for them.

 

But I've definitely been at those tables too, where I'm at a convention, it's six people that I don't know and me and DM that I've never met. I may or may not be the only female, I may or may not be the youngest person there, which also happens frequently. Not so much anymore, but it did when I was first doing this, because I've been doing conventions for like seven years, maybe a little more. But sit down and we're doing D&D and everything seems fine. Then, I'm like, okay, so I'm going to do this. And then someone will butt in, "Well, what you actually want to do, because your character is this, the best move is this." And I'll just be like, "Are you playing this character or am I because if you're playing it, then you can give me the $15 for my ticket, I'll leave.

 

Devon Chulick:

Oh, that is so cringe.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Yes, and for the most part, generally, that actually is my reaction. Like, "Do you want to play it, because I'll sell you my ticket?" But I also completely respect that there are many other people who would just quietly shrink and be like, "No, I'm going to do my firebolt like I was trying to do." Because I am who I am, when I see someone else get cornered in that situation or whatever, whether it be sexism, ageism, whatever-ism, you know, I do take that opportunity to look at the table, speak up and be like, "Hey, not cool. Everyone plays their own character. You can make a suggestion, but no one's beholden to do what you want to do. This is this is not a 'you', 'yours' and 'centered around you' game."

 

For the most part, generally in a convention setting, I've had one person get upset and go to convention staff about me, but I was convention staff. So, it wasn't my convention, but you know, Baldman Games runs D&D at Gen Con, Origins, Winter fantasy, the big D&D conventions. And I've been part of the Baldman Games staff since I started doing conventions. And so, they know me, they respect me, they know that I'm not trying to cause ruckus or take anyone's crap.

 

Devon Chulick:

Yeah. It's even worse when a man is trying to take away or infer on the position you have. I can only imagine how…you seem really well at managing it. But I don't think everyone can and it's really unfair. But you seem to just power through like a superhuman.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Kind of you know, it's taken a lot in my life to get me to the point to where I have the confidence, I have the assurance and it's like, thankyou for your opinion, but no thank you. but I know that everyone else doesn't have that. When I'm running an event or when I'm helping organize a store or anything in order to minimize gatekeeping, I try to set very clear expectations. We're doing online events now, we'll go with that, for example. For Baldman Games, I'm the community management, social media and all of that. So, we have not only server rolls, which start with don't be a jerk and then go into specifics on this kind of language isn't tolerated, these kind of, you know, no harassment, no slurs, no insults, no ageism, sexism, any isms, all of that.

 

But then we also go into specifics on our code of conduct about what is permissible in a gaming space. One of the big things is, play your character. Let's see, no vulgar or sexual language, no unwelcome remarks, no persistent advances, sexual whatever, no interrupting and speaking over someone, don't be disruptive. And, you know, game masters should allow everyone the chance to shine and to bring their character to the table.

 

Those are rules that we set out from the beginning. And we also use safety tools like the X-Card then we make sure that our DM's know to tell people when they're going through the safety tools, like tell them that theX-Card can be used too not only if an in-game situation, someone's getting a little dark into something that we're getting into kidnapping and, your sister was kidnapped and that really kind of triggers you. Which is legitimate. Ifsomebody I knew was kidnapped, too, I also probably wouldn't want to deal with it.

 

Devon Chulick:

Yeah. And you don't wear that on your shirt, so nobody knows that's a trauma you've gone through.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Right. And they don't they shouldn't have to know. If it's uncomfortable you X-Card and that's it. But we also make sure that they know that they should tell their players that you can X-Card for an at the table situation. If someone's behavior is getting to a point where they're making you uncomfortable, you can X-Card. Everything stops, you can have a private conversation with the DM away from the table or the DM can just stop and try to rest the whole tone of the table. They might not necessarily know what the problem is, but generally a DM knows when someone's being disruptive at the table and if someone X-Cards that point in time, they try to tone that person back, reel him in.

 

Devon Chulick:

You have such a wealth of information. The first time you GM'd, you teleport back in time, you right now, what do you tell yourself when you first started? What advice would you give?

 

Ginny Loveday:

So the first time I DM'd I was not expecting you to DM. We were playing through Horde of the Dragon Queen, it was a home game. A couple of sessions into it, we decided that we were going to round robin DM, that way, everybody got a chance to play and everyone could…because it was a fairly linear story and you just read your chapter. Everyone else had been DM before and I'm like, okay so they're all going to DM, cool.

 

Devon Chulick:

And good, I don't have to do that.

 

Ginny Loveday:

My friend Kevin's like, "All right, Ginny you're up next week" and I'm like, "I'm what now?" He's like, "Up next week" and I was like, "I don't know how." And he's like, "Sure you do. Read your chapter, let me know if you have any questions." I was like, "Uh, okay." I don't think it went terribly. But the advice that I would give me, would honestly be just chillout, it's fine. It's cool, relax. Because I got myself really worked up into almost a panic attack honestly. Because I was worried that I was going to ruin everyone's D&D experience. And even a bad DM very rarely ruins your experience. You're just like, "The story could have been better."

 

In order for a whole table experience to be really ruined, there has to be something truly super awful. Like the story just completely derailed in a way that everyone hated, the box text killed your character. Or the rules had been this and then all of a sudden, they were inconsistent and the rules were this and therefore bad things happen. That's not fun. If I'm just kind of hesitant and unsure of the story or whatnot, I'm like taking a minute ,everyone's going to have fun. So, I was just like, you know, but. I had a really supportive group of people because I read the chapter and I'm like, okay this is pretty straightforward we're going to go to the hunting cabin, they've got these places to explore. This is the thing they need to find that takes them to the next chapter where I don't know what happens because I'm not going to read it.

 

And these are the monsters. All right. Let me get all the set blocks. I know how to run combat because, you know, we've been doing this game for a while and so. Honestly, the best advice for like a new GM and the advice that I always give to anybody is to just go easy on yourself. The only person who's going to know if you mess up the story is you.

 

Devon Chulick:

That's so true.

 

Ginny Loveday:

I would say I can't think of a single player, but there are the odd players out there in the world who have the books memorized. But for the most part, players aren't going to care if you don't have the rulebooks memorized, if they're like, all right, I do this and you're like, I know I've heard the name of this bill, but for the life of me, I don't know what it does. You're like I cast Evard's Black Tentacles. "Okay, explain it to me, what does it do?" And, you know, they tell you and then you're like, "Okay, got it." So, you know where this this area here is where you're putting it saves. All right, this is now what happens and then you go on with your life.

 

It's not as intimidating as people make it out to be. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have this whole system. You don't have to come out of the gate with bells and whistles. You're telling a story, you're telling a story with friends. It might be friends you already know, it might be brand new friends, but in essence, it's the same thing no matter what you're doing. You set up a situation, they tell you what they want to do, you resolve that situation, you set up a new one, they tell you what they want to do.

 

Devon Chulick:

Describe, decide, role.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Yeah, it's just a loop. You just have to be able to actively listen, take it in and move with that. As long as you've got that back-and-forth interaction like it's a good game. How far did you get? No one cares. Did you do the quest as written in the book? No one cares.

 

Devon Chulick:

Did you have fun?

 

Ginny Loveday:

Absolutely. Probably, yeah.

 

Devon Chulick:

You've worked with so many people, are there any women in the community who have inspired you that you would like to shout out?

 

Ginny Loveday:

I have a lot. I'm going to start with the first one, Paige Leitman. Paige has been absolutely instrumental in D&D career, I guess. When we tell our story, we both pretty much say that we owe our lives to D&D, which is it kind of feels like an exaggeration, but it's not. It's true. Our lives would not be what they are without D&D. My friend Katie Cole, who ran my first game of D&D. Claire Hoffman, who is the pillar of organized play for the D&D. She's done every organized play campaign since the second one. Amy Lynn Dzura, one of the admins, Satine Phoenix, Fenway Jones. Let's see, LaTia Jacquise. Let's see who else? And then I guess my other kind of role models from within the Baldman games are Cindy Moore and Laura Thompson and Janine Hempy, those are those are my core group of women.

 

Obviously, that is not an all-inclusive list. And if you're not on that list for me, it doesn't mean I love you any less, I love all of you. But those are people who specifically had an impact on me in the D&D community. There are so many others that I look up to and respect and admire, but you don't have that relationship with. All the ladies who worked on Rime of the Frostmaiden. I've worked with them on writing stuff. I have been blessed to have the experiences that I've had within the roleplaying community and to have been able to meet and work with all of these people and it's really been an honor.

 

Devon Chulick:

Amazing. If there's one thing you could say, the tabletop RPG community, what would you like to tell them?

 

Ginny Loveday:

That's a hard one. I mean, in general, to the tabletop RPG community, I mean, mostly what I repeat to people out there is that keep doing what you're doing, you're amazing. And each and every one of you who is doing something, whether it's just playing with other people, running a game, creating content, doing behind the scenes work, you have an impact on more people's lives than you know.

 

Devon Chulick:

Ginny, my heart is just swelling with the joy that this interview has given.  

 

Ginny Loveday:

I've got a little pineapple's on, I'm a ray of sunshine today.

 

Devon Chulick:

You really are last thing. When do you want to promote? What do you do? What's good, what's happening right now?

 

Ginny Loveday:

What am I doing? Two things, three things…well two of them go together so, three and a half things. I've got my podcast and my Twitch Show that I do, D&D Roundtable with Paige Leitman and the Designer's Den on Twitch that I do. Then there's two products that I want to pitch. My most recent publication was an adventurously epic DDEP 10-01 Terror in the TenTowns, it goes with the Rime of the Frostmaiden season. My friend John Connors Self and I worked very hard on that. We put a lot of thought into it to tie it into the horrors of war, the importance of unity in times of isolation and how everyone has a uniqueness that brings value to the world.

 

It also, for the first two and something hours of that, you do not have to pick up dice to play. There's huge combat at the end, but the beginning of it is intentionally very free form to allow each table to come up with how do they convince the specific town to bring their people to the defense of this other town? Because you all need to stand together, or you all fall separately. And then furthermore, like, what do you do to convince them past that to call on their allies? And so, you have a lot of leeway to whatever your pillar of play that you love is, role play, exploration, combat, you can do it. I have people who played it like seven times and they're like, it's been different every time. So, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who's had kind words.  

 

Finally, not published, but the thing that I'm super proudest that I'm working on this year and that I'm going to get out before the end of the year is a project I'm working on with my mom. I know. So, I've been doing a bunch of stuff for my mom, brainstorming and all stuff related to the D&D character that she made. Because I wrote an adventure about him and then she wanted to do more stuff and it's kind of snowballed and we're doing a lot of stuff. But this one, it is a book of quest designed for new DMs, new players. So you'll want to be an adventurer and it's going to be like a series of one page quest starters with a bunch of snide commentary and narrative fluff in the voice of Simon, her character. But it'll have everything that the DM needs. The four Ps, what's the problem? What are the perils? Who are the people? And what's the payout?

 

Devon Chulick:

My gosh, the four Ps, I don't know why I've never heard of that before.

 

Ginny Loveday:

I don't know if I actually made that up myself.

 

Devon Chulick:

I mean, if you did this is the moment it's been solidified in content.

 

Ginny Loveday:

But when you're when you're writing a quest, what does the DM need to know? They need to know those things because that's what your players are going to ask. And we're going to do it on a bulletin board style, one quest per page, but everything you need will be on that page. So a DM can take that one page, start a campaign from it or do a little one shot, because people don't know if they want to do a whole thing, and turn it into a campaign. So, a bunch of really solid ideas. And Mom's been coming up with all kinds of great stuff. Her village of garden gnomes, her and her neighbor growing all have stories and we're incorporating a bunch of those into this and it's just been so much fun. Coming 2021. So you want to be an adventurer

 

Devon Chulick:

Oh, my gosh. Ginny, is there any last questions you'd like me to ask?

 

Ginny Loveday:

Oh, goodness. I don't know. But no, pretty much anything else anybody wants to know about me you can find it all on my website ginnyloveday.com. And if you want to run a game with me or play a game with me, you can find me on StartPlaying.

 

Devon Chulick:

I love it, thank you so much, Ginny.

 

Ginny Loveday:

Yeah, no, thank you.

‚Äć

Find Ginny online at her website

Book a Game with Ginny at StartPlaying.Games

Posted 
May 2, 2021
 in 
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