Shardae (She/Her) & Lyssa (She/Her)
Who better to kick off our Women’s History Month celebration than the queens of the deep dive, the feminist fact checkers, The Slovenly Trulls! We spoke about how to encourage more women into the TTRPG space, what first inspired the Slovenly Trulls podcast and how Shardae and Lyssa first met. Read it all here folks!
How could we encourage more women to get involved in the D&D space?
There are two answers to this question.
First, feature more women in digital and mainstream media playing D&D! Whether it’s in fictional TV shows or D&D live streams or featured creators on social media, the more women who are at the forefront, the better. When people see themselves represented, they are way more likely to try new things and find new passions, D&D included.
Second, play with women! Create safe and welcoming tables where women feel like part of the experience and not a commodity. Women are people, too. Women are nerds, too. Treat women as equals and listen to their opinions on things. Whether it be about safety tools or how women NPCs are depicted, listen to what women have to say and have a conversation with them rather than brushing their concerns aside.
How did you two meet?
We met through D&D! We were both studying in London and Shardae needed another player for her campaign. Our mutual friend suggested Lyssa. Flash forward a few years and now we share two long-running D&D groups and have birthed a feminist podcast.
How did The Slovenly Trulls Podcast first start out, and what inspired your name?
There’s a long version of this story, but we’ll keep it short for the sake of your beautiful graphics.
During the pandemic, we, like many others, were in desperate need of things to do in quarantine. On top of that, as two creatives who just graduated from arts programs, we were specifically in desperate need of a creative outlet. In late 2020, an opportunity presented itself when two very sexist quotes from Gary Gygax (one of the forefathers of D&D) and Johnathan Tweet (a lead designer of D&D 3rd edition) resurfaced on Twitter.
Shardae found these quotes and shared them with Lyssa. We proceeded to rant at each other for no less than three hours about our thoughts, feelings, and where these two men found the audacity. Somewhere during this time, the question of context came up. Who were these men? What were their stories? Why did they feel comfortable saying such sexist things publicly?
From there, our first episode was born, and we’ve been putting our research nerd brains to the test ever since. The Slovenly Trulls name comes from the infamous “harlot table” from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. We found the table in our research for the first episode and the name just spoke to us!
As the queens of D&D deep dives, what is a favourite fact you've discovered in your research?
For Shardae, it’s the random bits of Forgotten Realms lore she learns. The one that sticks out the most still is from our drow series when she learned that drow invented potions of magic resistance to protect their babies from dying of magical overload in the Underdark. How friggin cute is that?!
For Lyssa, it’s seeing how her Finnish heritage has inspired some of the original lore of D&D. It’s always weird to see something like Loviatar, the blind Finnish goddess of death and disease being turned into a BDSM goddess in the Forgotten Realms! Sure, Finnish culture is a bit weird but it’s not that weird…
Through your research, how would you say D&D has evolved since its invention and what can this tell us about its future?
The first edition of D&D was definitely a product of its time and of the predominantly straight white men who made it. In fact, you can trace societal shifts in every edition from the 70s until today. The art, the rhetoric, the names of adventure modules, the player base—everything has changed in some way, shape, or form and become much more progressive and inclusive as a whole.
D&D has made so many positive changes throughout the years, and we are huge fans of the steps they are taking to make the game accessible and a safe space for everyone. This evolution has not been perfect and D&D will never be perfect but the effort is there and, for us, that gives us hope for a bright future.
Lyssa is taking a selfie with Shardae behind her, both wearing sunglasses.
Lyssa has blonde hair, tied back and is wearing a white jumper, whilst Shardae has long red hair and is wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans.