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Interview With Riley Gryc

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Riley Gryc | @RileyGryc

she/her

This week we have a wonderful interview for you from TTRPG writer, designer, GM and facilitator, Riley Gryc!

Riley told us about her first experiences with TTRPGs, and the importance of fostering an inclusive, positive space at your table.

She also shared some great advice for all you TTRPG writers out there, and the importance of being a sponge!

How were you first introduced to TTRPGs?

When I was around ten years old, my best friend invited me over to his house. He was a couple years older than me, so we didn’t hang out with the same folks, and a friend of his was running a Ravenloft campaign. I opened up a 3rd Edition book and rolled up a half-elf ranger. Two decades on, I’ve been playing ever since!

How could we ensure more women feel comfortable jumping into D&D?

Shortly after I had come out as trans, a friend of mine invited me to a private D&D game where everyone else was trans and queer. We unfortunately didn’t get to play for long together as that ancient evil scheduling reared its ugly head once more, but the time I did have with that group completely transformed how I felt.

I had never been in a space like that before, specifically safe and focused on a group like ours. Since then, I’ve been at other similar tables and the feeling has been much the same. And I think if we’re wanting more people in the hobby and better ways to help introduce them, fostering these safe spaces is of the utmost importance.

If you think about it, D&D tables were for a long time safe spaces for cis white nerds to congregate: pockets of safety away from school and real life where they could be themselves and felt safe to do so. It’s the same for any group as well; roleplaying takes a degree of vulnerability, not only because you’re acting out but also because adults are often refused places to safely “play.”

If we want more women to feel comfortable jumping into D&D, we need to have more of these spaces that focus on the safety and comfortability of solely women and femmes.

What has the TTRPG community come to mean to you?

On the back of my right hand, I have a tattoo of a d20 that’s landed on a one. For years, it served as a reminder that even though we fail, there’s still more rolls to make afterwards. And for a long time, that’s what TTRPGs were for me: a safe escape from reality. But what I’ve found in the TTRPG community, specifically on Twitter, is a group of people who – more often than not – are genuinely caring and some of the brightest and most creative people in the world. I’ve found friendships that I’d never thought I’d have, and gotten opportunities that have enriched my life. To put it plainly, the tabletop roleplaying community has meant the world to me and I cannot imagine having gotten through the last few years without the friends I’ve made from it.

As a TTRPG writer and designer, what advice would you offer to anyone looking to start writing their own games and creating their own worlds?

Play a lot of different games. Read a lot of books. Watch a lot of movies. Play video games, and listen to stories from friends and absorb as much of the world as you can. If you broaden your scope and really soak up all that you can, you’ll find something that interests you, something that you want to write more about, and tell a story about. And once you have that? Write. Just get it down. Don’t worry whether it’s good at first or not, just put the idea to paper and have it so that there’s something to look at. Those would be my two best pieces of advice: be as big a sponge as you can, and write what you can immediately when you have an idea.

What safety tools do you use at your table? And what difference did their introduction make to your games?

Since 2020 I’ve used Stars and Wishes at most games I’ve run and the difference that simple addition to the end of a session has made has been wild. It’s given my players and myself a wind down time not only where we can detach from the bleed and emotion of the game, but reflect and tell each other what that session meant. I have entire Discord channels full of those notes from past sessions, and as a GM it’s nice to be able to not only go down that rabbit hole and remember how much fun we had, but also be reminded of what things really worked and what players still desire. It’s been a really enriching experience and it’s brought my groups all closer as a result I think. I highly recommend it for anyone who hasn’t used them before.

Thank you so much to Riley for sharing her insights and such great advice. Make sure you’re following Riley over on Twitter. You can also catch her in two epic upcoming shows:

Launching on July 12th, Harsh Realms, a Stranger Things-style Kids on Bikes adventure is set in Seattle during the late 1990s. You can follow this tale over on Girls Run These Worlds.

July 16th is the premiere of Avatar: Reclamations, where the intrepid crew of benders goes to the Fire Nations to figure out a strange mystery, over on TeaTRPG.

Image description:
Riley is smiling at the camera. She has shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes and is wearing black framed, rectangular glasses. She is wearing a dark grey baseball cap and a yellow and grey T-shirt.

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