Out of InitiativeMar 21, 2023
OOI Episode 30 - Overcoming Writer's Block
When the creativity is flowing, everything is shiny and exciting. But when it comes screeching to a halt as writer's block kicks in, it can be hard to find the motivation to keep creating. In this episode of Out of Initiative, Sarah and Morgan talk about the different ways writer's block presents to them and how they overcome it.
OOI Episode 29 - Factions with Tabletop Journeys
Bring your TTRPG sessions to life with factions! In this episode of Out of Initiative, Sarah and Morgan chat with Tabletop Journeys' Lewanika, Josh and Glen about their upcoming Kickstarter that will bring nine new factions to GMs as well as help parties create their own factions to influence the leave a mark on the world they build together.
OOI Episode 28 - Theater of the Mind vs Maps
In this episode of Out of Initiative, we explore the age-old debate of theater of the mind versus making battle maps. As longtime players ourselves, we’ve experienced the pros and cons of each approach, and we're excited to explore this topic in-depth. Join us as we discuss how these two styles of gameplay enhance or detract from the overall dungeon-crawling experience, and the various creative strategies that can be employed to get the most out of both.
OOI Episode 27 - Empowering Players to Run a Game (so you can take a break)
We love running our TTRPG games as much as the next GM but it's critical we take breaks from session prep and running games to be a player. Plus, you'll get some always helpful perspective of being back in the player seat while a member of your group takes the big omnipresent seat at the head of the table. But before you can get to playing, you'll need to help get your player-turned-GM set up for success. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss how they recommend starting a conversation to bring a player into the GM seat, what resources and experiences you might want to give them and what Sarah wishes Morgan would have given her before their current campaign (live and learn on this one, Morgan).
Episode 26 - Write This, Wing That Part 2
Part 2 of our series on running a TTRPG session! Running a TTRPG might look like improv and while it does sometimes lean on improv elements, there's much more to GMing than making things up on the fly. You'll need to combine session prep and quick thinking to make the perfect formula for your games. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss what they bring to the table each session, what they prep and what they make up in the moment.
Episode 25 - Write This, Wing That Part 1
Running a TTRPG might look like improv and while it does sometimes lean on improv elements, there's much more to GMing than making things up on the fly. You'll need to combine session prep and quick thinking to make the perfect formula for your games. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss how pre-written modules can be an important starting place for new game masters and how we can learn from them to decide what we should write and what we can wing.
Episode 24 - Love & Lore with Legends & Lattes Author Travis Baldree Part 2
The intersection of D&D and Hallmark movies exists and it's a great place to be. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan chat with Legends & Lattes author and audiobook narrator Travis Baldree to dive into cozy fantasy, coffee shops and found family. This episode contains some spoilers for the book Legends & Lattes.
Episode 23 - Love & Lore with Legends & Lattes Author Travis Baldree
Episode 22 - One D&D and Implementing New Rules
For as much as we can enjoy shiny new things, the old adage of "out with the old, in with the new" doesn't exactly capture the stress around change. From learning new rules to the fear of getting those rules wrong, the One D&D announcement has a lot of DMs re-examining 5th Edition D&D and making plans for the future (or like, determinedly not). In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss sections of the One D&D unearthed arcana and talk about if or how they plan to implement changes at their tables, house rules they'll be implementing immediately and the things they're most excited about with this new edition.
Episode 21 - The Magic of Custom Items with Logan the GM
Custom magic items and subclasses are more than en vogue for GMs like Logan, they're a way to build story and give players the freedom to not feel obligated to fit a niche. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan chat with Logan the GM about building and tuning custom magic items, getting inspiration from anime and how Vogueing and the drag scene inspired a bardic subclass that's serving more than just vicious mockery.
Episode 20 - The Bottle Episode
Whether it's for character building or to fill the void left by an unplanned session, using the concept of a bottle episode can serve your story well. From combats thrown in to buy time to situations and prompts that help players build out their character's arc, this is a tool every storyteller should have in their arsenal. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss what bottle episodes mean for writers and GMs as well as examples of how to implement this tool in your next session.
Episode 19 - Character Growth & Building Safe Spaces with Intimacy Choreographer Ashley Love
If there's a bit of ourselves in every TTRPG character we make, then intense moments of loss, love and everything in between can get kind of... personal. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan talk with Intimacy Choreographer Ashley Love on building boundaries and safer spaces at your TTRPG table and how that will help you tell an immersive story you and your party will love.
Episode 18 - Exploring the Multiverse with Tabletop Journeys
You don’t have to wait for the next Spelljammer book to find a good multiverse adventure. In fact, you don’t even need to step away from your computer. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan talk to Josh, Lewanika and Glen of Tabletop Journeys as they dive into TTJ's most recent release, The Traveler's Guide to the Multiverse.
Episode 17 - Session Zero
Sarah and Morgan are back for Out of Initiative season 2, talking about session zero. Everyone wants to skip to the good part but session zero is an opportunity to establish boundaries and consent with your players and a critical moment to manage expectations to ensure everyone has fun at the table.
Episode 16 - Oops, All DMs
In the first season finale of Out of Initiative, Sarah and Morgan invite this season's guests for a round of trivia and hypothetical rulings. Nonsense ensues in this game show-themed episode.
Episode 15 - Creating Campaigns That Will Wow Your Players
Structuring a campaign that leaves room for player choices is a challenge on its own. Adding in creating stories that are compelling enough to keep the players and GM engaged can seem like a daunting task. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss story structure, adding rewards and consequences for character actions as well as opening lines of communication when actions might have very dire outcomes.
Episode 14 - Getting Into Character
It's time to slip into something a little more... character-forward. In this special in-person episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss tips for building believable characters and how to embody those characters for roleplaying at the table. Costume optional.
Episode 13 - Evil Campaigns
From Dexter to John Wick, characters who do bad things can be the most fascinating. Sarah and Morgan discuss the challenges, benefits and nuances of running a campaign or telling a story from the perspective of morally gray or evil characters.
Content warning: This episode contains mention of violence, murder and villainous themes.
Episode 12 - Be a Better Player
Making a few changes in how you engage with D&D can enhance your experience and make the game more fun for everyone involved. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan talk about tips to help be a better player in any TTRPG game.
Episode 11 - Roll the Dice with Romance
Love is in the air! Building relationships with other player characters and NPCs can add exciting depth to your TTRPG games. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan share their experiences with romance in D&D and offer tips on how to add some love to your table (with express consent, of course).
Episode 10 - Where to Start with Endings
Endings are tough. Writing and planning for endings is even harder. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan discuss closing out stories in D&D and in fiction and the unique challenges that come with each kind of ending.
Episode 9 - Random Character Generation
We use dndbeyond to generate random characters and give them backstories that justify their absolutely absurd builds. We also ask the hypothetical question, "Who takes just one level in Monk?"
Episode 8 - Making Magic (Items)
Epic fights and intricate plotlines are only part of the story, especially if you're running a TTRPG. Magic items are the thing that separates adventurers from heroes... but sometimes the options are too complicated, over- or under-powered or just don't fit the character and party. Enter: the fantastical world of homebrew magic items. We discuss creating custom items to match your players' needs, sources for inspiration and what to do when your players have a different idea for how an item should be used. We're joined by fellow DM Isaac, who is the reason Sarah and Morgan are sisters by marriage.
Episode 7 - Worldbuilding Woahs and Woes
Every story needs a world to take place in, from fiction to TTRPGs. In this episode, Sarah and Morgan talk about tips to create an immersive world for your story from simple prompts that start it off to expanding ideas into entire societies. Buckle in and let's talk worldbuilding!
Episode 6 - 90's Music Story Generator
Flex your improv muscles with some randomly generated prompts consisting of a 90's top 100 hit and a genre. These quick story ideas are sure to spark some ideas for your TTRPG game or NaNoWriMo mid-month slump.
Episode 5 - Chaos as a Tool
We're joined by a member of our D&D group and the most chaotic player we know, Kyle, to talk about adding chaos to TTRPG stories in ways that create exciting roleplay and plot moments. Chaos requires give and take - sometimes a character needs to ease up on the chaos to ensure everyone else is having fun at the table and Kyle talks about some of the cues he goes on in the moment to guide those decisions as well as out of game discussions that keep chaotic characters in check.
Episode 4 - NaNoWriMo
It's the best time, it's the worst time, it's NaNoWriMo! We're talking about how we write and sharing tips to get you through the month with your sanity in tact. Whether you're writing your next TTRPG campaign or the next great novel, we've got you covered.
Episode 3 - Scary Done Light
Costumes? Check! Sense of impending doom in a story? Check!
If you want to add scary moments to your TTRPG game or writing, consider some of these tactics. We'll share examples of how we incorporate tension, dread and humor into our writing to bring the horror to life without relying on overly gruesome or startling imagery.
Episode 2 - Dicey Beginnings
In the beginning, we learned all about our favorite storytelling method at a table with a bunch of other nerds. There was improv, rule fatigue and a steep learning curve but it transformed into a hobby that we're passionate about and a seemingly bottomless well of story ideas.