We spoke with Katy Morgan, a professional Game Masters about gaming, her experience in the community and more.



StartPlaying:

First, to start off, how did you get started with Tabletop RPGs?


Katy Morgan:

I think I have that very classic story, that I listened to the Adventure Zone and watched Critical Role. It was about four or five years, the timing is hazy, because now I feel like I've been doing it forever. But I needed something to fill a void in my life. I had already loved the McElroys, so I started listening to The Adventure Zone. I'm a big voice actor nerd, so I love all of the voice actors that played Critical Role and I just started watching that. D&D was something that I had never--I grew up Pentecostal, so I knew the Satanic Panic very well. 


It was something that I was sort of a little bit scared of and then thought, "Oh, this won't interest me, this is just for a subset of people and I am not it." But I watched that show, listened to that show and I learned that it could be something that was narrative, that told a story, that brought people together. It was instant love. Since I got into it, I haven't looked back. It's been something that fills my days with joy. 


StartPlaying:

I love that. Do you prefer being a player or a GM?


Katy Morgan:

I actually equally like both. I know that's probably a cliché answer, but I love the side of the GM where you get to surprise your players with these calls and things that you've prepped for days and days. And there's nothing like watching the look on your player's faces when you drop this secret that they've been gunning to figure out, I love that side. But then I love being a player too because I love being on the other side of that secret being dropped. I love helping my GM build this world that they have in their head. Altogether, I just love the collaborative process of it, be it being a GM or a player. 


StartPlaying:

That's awesome! What is your proudest GMing moment?

Katy Morgan:

One of my proudest GMing moments was a home game of D&D. Two of my players, they're great friends in real life, but their characters just could not stand each other. One of them was just this annoying little flea to the other one. And the other one was just very pompous and very full of themselves. It was just this great dynamic that they had built. It's so funny that my greatest moment is fostering this antagonistic dynamic between them because at one point one of the characters that doesn't really have--it was the Warlock against the Rogue, and one of the moments was the Warlock wanting to get the upper hand on the Rogue and they got their hands on an immovable rod. 


Making the call that yes, the Warlock could have rolled to try to impede the Rogue's movement, just a crazy movement speed, with this immovable rod. It was like this split second, "Should I let them do it?" and I was like, "Yeah, it's fun. We're not in the middle of a battle, just have some fun for once." I know that's a crazy moment to be my proudest moment, but it was literally a moment that everyone still talks about today. Just, "Hey, remember when we did that funny thing?" And I loved it, I just thought it was so much fun. 


StartPlaying:

That's actually a good segue to my next question, when something just feels so right. Was there a moment where GMing just felt right? As in everything clicked for you as a GM?


Katy Morgan:

I think I've had many moments like that, honestly. I've run a lot of Bluebeard's Bride, which is a Feminine Horror RPG powered by The Apocalypse System. A lot of moments in those games really stick out to me as I'm doing something right. When I'll see my players visibly getting uncomfortable and shivering from fear and, "This description is gnarly" I'm doing something right, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I've had many moments like that. And each moment still shocks me because I definitely get that feeling of being GM where you don't want to let your players down. You don't want to be a disappointment. You want to give them the fun they're here for, because you're taking the time out of your life to sit down and play this game, so I want to give my players something great. I've had many of those moments where I'm like, I'm doing something right. I've seen you, you're scared, you're visibly affected by this and I think they're all great moments. 


StartPlaying:

That's awesome. You do so much. You're on an Actual Play, you’re a professional GM, is there something outside of the TTRPG portion of  your life that TTRPGs has also influenced?


Katy Morgan:

I definitely think that it has made me a lot more of a creative person. Before I got into TTRPGs, I always had that creative streak, but I'd never had any way to really foster it and explore it. So, being able to tell stories with these ideas that I've got in my brain, it's really made me more of a creative person. It's made me want to branch into other things too, more writing, more podcasting, that sort of thing. And just find a way to really foster all of these creative endeavors that I've got in my brain. I also think it's made me‚ÄĒnot much, I'll never be the most patient person in the world‚ÄĒbut it's made me a little more patient. You deal with so many people from so many different backgrounds and so many different walks of life, it's definitely brought up this need for understanding in my brain. I want to make sure that I'm patient with everyone I come across now because if it takes you awhile to figure out what you're doing to do, I'm okay with that now.¬†


StartPlaying:

With all this creativity, it would lend itself to worldbuilding and writing your own adventures, does that mean you prefer homebrew adventures over pre-written adventures?


Katy Morgan:

I give kudos to anyone who can run pre-written adventures, modules, that sort of thing. My brain does not work that way. I have tried to do them. In my first ever D&D campaign I actually ran The Lost Mines of Phandelver, but I got to a certain part in it and I was like, I can't do this anymore. So, I segued off of it into this world that I had written, into this universe with rules that I had made and things like that about my universe. I didn't want to be in the forgotten realms anymore. 


Since then, I've always done that in any Tabletop RPG I've ran. I've run multiple sessions of Monster of the Week on a stream before, three seasons of it, it was all my own making. Everything that I've run now, I completely make up on the fly or with prep before because it works better in my brain if I had my own idea to go by. 


StartPlaying:

That's awesome. I think that's a great way to approach it because it just allows so much room to grow into other things if need be. 


Katy Morgan:

For sure. That's definitely not a dig on anyone who does pre-made adventures, because that's a special kind of talent that I don't have. Every pre-made adventure I've played I've really enjoyed and walked away going, man I wish I could run that. 


StartPlaying:

Shifting gears for a moment, gatekeeping is a big topic within many communities and the Tabletop RPG community is no exception. Have you ever had any experience with gatekeeping in the community? How did you respond to it?

Katy Morgan:

I've definitely had that sort of gatekeeping experience where, "You haven't played enough games, so you don't know what you're talking about." Or, "You have only been in this hobby for four years, I've been in it since I was playing beside my mom at the table when I was two years old, and you don't know what you're talking about." I've definitely had that before and I think that personally for me, I've come at it with a, it doesn't matter how many games I've played, what I've played. There's a lot of old school games that I haven't played, and I probably never will play because they're not my taste, and that's fair. So, I've come into it with this thinking that as long as I'm at the table and I'm having and I'm learning something and I am growing from it, that their gatekeeper ways, they honestly don't bother me anymore. 


This is a hobby for everybody, it truly is. Every day we're fighting more and more for that and I'm excited to see the way it grows and I'm hoping that it grows past gatekeeper-ing. In my opinion, keeping people out of the hobby is so unhealthy. It doesn't help it grow, you're not going to get these fantastic creators who are bringing in more and more games and supplements to some of your favorite games. People are still coming in and making supplements for D&D and expansions for things like that, that make the games so much better than it already is. You can't tell me that I don't know as much about games as you do just because I haven't played them as much. My experiences still matter. 


StartPlaying:

That's great. My experiences still matter, that's a good takeaway. Let's say you could go back in time to when you first started GMing, what advice would you tell yourself?


Katy Morgan:

Probably not to prep as much and to not worry about my players. I started playing with three people who had never played any Tabletop RPG before, we started with D&D. I had only played two sessions before ever. I just distinctly remember being so stressed out that I would mess a rule up or they would get something wrong, and I'd have to struggle to fix it. Or I would get something wrong, and I'd have to struggle to fix it. If I could go back then, I would just be like, listen none of you know how to play this game, if you flub a rule, it's okay. You're just going to make it  your game, you can make it up as you go. 


Now, I'm a totally rule of cool type of person, in any game I play. I did start as a, we need to follow these rules, this is how the game goes. I wish that I would have told myself to let that go a lot sooner than I did. 


StartPlaying:

I think that's great advice for any GM who's starting out. I would love to know about the women in the community who inspire you or that you'd like to shout out?


Katy Morgan:

I definitely am totally inspired by, and I'm biased because she's my best friend, but Summer Matthews on Twitter @justasummerjob. Her worth ethic and the way that she is continuing to do a ton of things constantly is so inspiring for my lazy self. The way that she is wanting to constantly create and constantly make safe places in the community for Off the Table, which is a community that she's a Founder of, I'm a Co-founder of. Our other founder, Juni Baker, @StellarEmpress on Twitter is also just this amazing beacon of kindness and understanding. Both of those women, the talent is so amazing, that I can't…it just amazes me every single day. They are both wanting to bolster safe environments for everyone, for marginalized genders, for people of color. You see a lot of people saying that in the community, but you don't see a lot of people actually doing the work that it takes to actually make those environments feasible and they're both doing it every single day and it really inspires me. 


StartPlaying:

If you could say one thing to the Tabletop RPG community, what would you tell them?


Katy Morgan:

I think I would go back to what I  said before, that everyone's experiences matter. The more you keep yourself gated off from other people, from people of color, from marginalized genders, from people who don't experience the same thing as you are, you're going to live a very sad life. You're not going to learn anything, you're not going to grow and evolve. I have no qualms in saying your games are going to be extremely boring. You're not going to get anything out of them. If you feel like you are, that's great, but it's such a sad experience, I feel, keeping people out. This industry and this community is growing every single day and it's very important to grow along with it. 


StartPlaying:

That's such great advice. You're also a streamer, you play a lot of streamed games. What is some big difference from playing in a home game to playing a streaming game that you think is good to know?


Katy Morgan:

I definitely think being mindful of your audience is extremely good to know. I encourage if someone is new to streaming, don't pay attention to the chat, don't let them get to you or anything. I've been in experiences where I've had hateful chat come up and you have to remember that while you're playing for an audience, it is so much easier to put yourself in that mindset of this is just come friends hanging out, we're just having fun. You have to remember that at the end of the day this is your game. What the audience says or wants from you, it's not going to affect it. I think being mindful of your audience. 


Even if you want to go into it and perform completely for an audience, that's also fine. Just be mindful of what you're doing. I think that was one thing that when I got into Tabletop streaming, that I played. I played a lot more streaming games than I did home games at first, so I was very performative and very over the top and I wanted to give a good performance for an audience. I found that you didn't need to take that into your home games a lot. That when it's just you and your friends you can dial it down a bit. 


I think it's very important to find that middle ground and that balance between when you want to be performative and when you don't want to be. I think that being performative a lot burns you out. I know that there are a lot of times when I just don't want to stream because I don't want to be a character. I feel it's a lot easier to not be that character when you're playing with your friends off of the stream. 


StartPlaying:

Totally. What is someone who is like, I like Tabletop games, I learned by playing D&D. If you could suggest a new game to try and they don't have any preconceived notions of other games, what would you recommend to them?


Katy Morgan: 

I think they would be based on the tone they want. If they wanted something serious and that was how their D&D games and it was skewed very serious and darker maybe, all of my suggestions are Powered by the Apocalypse because that's my favorite system and I haven't really met a Powered by the Apocalypse that I'm not fond of. I would definitely recommend Monsterhearts. I think that it's a great exploration of growing up, especially under this queer umbrella and finding out who you are dealing with a society that sees you as something different than you are. 


It's dark, it can be lighthearted, it can definitely be what you make of it, but it's a very simple system. It is one of the simplest PbtA I've played. You use the 2d6 system and the stats are very easy to understand, the roles are very easy to understand. 


If you wanted something that could be more lighthearted, was very action orientated, which I think a lot of D&D players are very into, Monster of the Week is a great system that really prioritizes combat and fighting monsters of the week. It's the sort of system where you have a new monster that you're going to face and a new mystery you're going to solve every time you play. I think that it's a great system that can really dig into the bones of what a lot of people I see like about D&D, which is the ability to defeat whatever holds you down. I think Monster of Week is a great system to show that. 


StartPlaying:

It's such a fun system!


Katy Morgan:

I love it so much!

StartPlaying:

What is a TV show or movie that could use a great Powered by the Apocalypse adaptation?


Katy Morgan:

This is me just being very into a brand that I love. I would love a mash up of all the great teen girl classics, Mean Girls, Heathers, Jawbreaker made into this Powered by the Apocalypse with sort of a Monsterhearts/Alas for the Awful Sea type of mashup. You would have a playbook, but you'd also have an identifier, so you could play a popular band geek or something like that. I would love that because then you could have a ton of different personalities that could come in and play that game. I really love the inherent messy and pettiness of teenage girl movies. They're so good and I think it would be really fun to bring that into an RPG. 


StartPlaying:

Yeah. Outside of the interview, I would love Jawbreaker, Drop Dead Gorgeous, those are some of my favorite movies. A Mean Girls kind of Tabletop RPG could be so much fun. 


Katy Morgan:

You could definitely achieve it in Monsterhearts because you have the queen playbook that gives you that sort of role you want to play. But I would love an RPG that was specifically for making your own Burn Book, utilizing that somehow. Something like that would be very good. 


StartPlaying:

What are you doing right now that we should follow, check out, play, etc.?


Katy Morgan:

I'm a Founder and a Social Media Manager over on Off the Table, that's @Off_theTable on Twitter and Twitch. We are a very inclusive community where we try to play a lot of Indy RPGs, we really go away from a lot of the mainstream things right now. We are completely community driven and funded. One big thing, I guess, is we take care of our own. 


We really love having new people come in. We love letting them have a great place that they feel comfortable hanging out in. We're currently doing a couple of streams right now where we have two all BIMPOC shows, as well as an Latina/Latinx show, we're really trying to get those marginalized voices out there and have their stories told. 


We also have a couple of Podcasts out. We have Missing Annie Lee, which is A Fear Itself Podcast. If you love things like IT, Twin Peaks, spooky, mystery type of things, it's a Podcast where it's told with two different GMs with some recurring cast members, two different arcs and we're reaching 5/5, so halfway through both arcs. 


We have another Podcast called Of Black Glass, which is an AP The Watch Podcast. It's a whole game about fighting toxic masculinity. It is a beautiful game. I was actually weary to play it because it sort of reads as a war game, but it is not about the war itself, it's about how the war affects you and affects NPCs and affects the world. It's so beautiful. 

We've got 30 episodes of that, so that will finish next  year. We're getting really ramped up into these personal relationships right now and it's been such a pleasure to listen to it back because it's one of the most fulfilling things I've ever recorded. 


StartPlaying:

That's amazing. Thank you so much for speaking with us. I'm really excited to share this interview with everyone else. I'm going to hit stop recording here…Actually before I do, is there anything else you wanted me to touch on that we might have missed?


Katy Morgan:

I think that it's very important to remember when you talk about women in gaming that all of our experiences are different. It's very important to remember the women of color who experiences are completely different than ours, especially from mine. I'm a white woman, I might be less privileged in being in the queer community or things like that. But women of color go through so much before they are constantly looked over and aren't listened to. I think that when we celebrate women, we definitely should be pushing women of color to the forefront. 


Feel free to follow Katy on Twitter and check out her open games on StartPlaying.Games. 



Posted 
Mar 31, 2021
 in 
Game Masters
 category

More from 

Game Masters

 category

View All

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
Posts to Your Inbox

No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.