NOTE: the opinions expressed in interviews are those of the guests, not necessarily those of

Today we hear from Grant Nordine of the Game Master Monday podcast. You can see Grant’s work here:

Let’s jump right in!

How did you get started in ttrpgs?

I started getting into TTRPGs during the pandemic! We were all locked inside with nothing to do and I found myself craving social interaction. Luckily, I’d started learning about dnd thanks to a podcast (shout out Rude Tales of Magic!) and decided there was no better time to start learning the game. It’s all snowballed from there and now this is just who I am as a person.

What made you decide to get involved in actual play shows?

I’ve always loved writing, acting, and directing so learning about this medium that combines all three with elements of chance, gameplay, and improv just spoke to me. I started listening to a wide variety of shows like Slay the Stars, Dude Where’s My Drift, and the aforementioned Rude Tales of Magic and wanted to get in on the action. After a few different attempts and PLENTY of trial and error, I landed on the concept for Game Master Monday! 

Did you have a background in performing before starting actual plays?

Huge theater kid. I’ve been acting since I was 13 years old. I did it for all of high school, studied acting in college, and picked up a few awards and paychecks along the way as a stage performer, film actor, singer, puppeteer, voice actor, you name it. The AP space is my main outlet for the performance bug these days and I’m super grateful for that.

Could you tell us some of the main differences between playing an actual play versus playing a “home” game?

You have to approach actual play differently than you would a home game, I think. Actual Play is inherently a performance, there will be real people who listen to you and hear your cadences and jokes and style of play; you have to be cognizant of what is “good audio” or “entertaining” when making actual play because it’s a show! Home games, while there are elements of those things in keeping your table engaged, don’t have the caveat of needing to be consumable or follow certain story structure rules. There won’t be this absent character from your table who’s only job is to observe and determine if they want to hear more or not.

Game Master Monday features a new adventure in a different game system each episode. How did that idea come up and how do you decide what system to play each week?

The original idea for this came from an old podcast of mine where I would simply invite my actor/comedian friends over to my house to play a ttrpg that I was vibing with and we’d record and slap it on as a bonus episode for the show. When those episodes started becoming the most fun and rewarding to make, we pivoted to just doing that full time and I’m so glad we did! What an honor to meet and work with so many great roleplayers and game creators over the past year and a half! 

As for picking a system, my coproducer Jenny and I will comb through games we’ve collected via purchases, things that sounded fun on social media, and even games that we get sent via our Discord. We have a fast turn around time, so we’re usually looking for systems that we can teach ourselves (and our guests, who are cast every episode for that specific game) pretty quickly, ones that typically have a game master so we can fill a host role, and ones that fit our shows style and sense of humor. We primarily feature indie titles, so you’re typically hearing a system on our show that may not have been featured in an AP much if at all!

Do you (or your team) write a new one shot adventure every two weeks, or do you make use of pre-published adventures?

Both! The vast majority of what we do is me writing an adventure using whatever system we happen to be running that week. But we’ll often get modules for established systems or even system-agnostic games that really speak to us and typically our coproducer Jenny will run those episodes because that’s very much so her bread and butter. I’m a very blatant homebrewer and love finding a story inside of a system, so I’ll typically spend a couple of weeks with a system and figuring out what genre or tropes to run with and then throw a brand new cast right into it.

What is your current favorite ttrpg?

Arc: Doom by Momatoes! I wanna grab anybody who’s thinking of starting an actual play podcast who doesn’t know what system they wanna run yet and throw this one right in their face. The game is on a timer, it’s stats and rules are heavily based on roleplay and making big choices QUICKLY, its genre agnostic so you can do basically anything you want with it, I can’t speak highly enough of that game. 

I also vibe very heavily with Roe Caufield’s Play Ball! But that’s because I’m a huge sports nerd and I’ve never found a system quite like Play Ball that combines my love for melodrama with my love of goofy sports anime.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into actual plays or podcasting?

I feel like everyone says something like “take an improv/writing class” which yeah definitely do that, but I think most important is understanding what you’re coming into and not trying to be something you’re not. I see so many APs fail to gain traction because they wanna be the next Critical Role or Dimension 20 or Transplaner and quite frankly you’re not gonna be. Be the first of YOUR show and find your specific voice. Seek out cast members with diverse and unique points of view who look and live differently than you do! If you’re proud of what you’re making and you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your craft, you’ll have fun and be happy. 

Thanks, Grant!

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