Interview with Dungeon Master Meaghan J
In Geekdom, we get to meet a lot of interesting people. We discovered Meaghan J through her podcast on Dragonlance and set out to find out more about her. What we found was not only someone who does great podcasts but who also is involved in many aspects of TTRPG including being a Pro Dungeon Master. Meaghan took some time to answer some questions about her projects and life.
GeekPost: How long have you been a DM? How long have you been a professional DM?
Meaghan: I began in the 90’s during 2nd edition, running Ravenloft modules for my friends. I stopped D&D altogether after high school, so I missed out on 3.0, 3.5, and 4th edition entirely, although I did run Call of Cthulhu several times for friends. At the start of the pandemic, I began playing D&D 5e online with friends which quickly led to running games for my friends. In the late spring/early summer of 2022, I began running D&D professionally through StartPlaying.games.
GeekPost: Geekpost has been following the ever-expanding services being offered by paid DMs with interest. What do you think are the advantages to playing with a pro Dm? Any challenges with offering this service?
Meaghan: The advantage is that your DM is a professional and has a clear, tangible interest in running interesting sessions consistently every week. Your DM is likely more experienced than an amateur DM who runs a game only a few times a month. Also, the other players are serious players who have invested their money into the campaign as well so even your teammates have a solid incentive to make each session as fun as possible.
GeekPost: So, you have been involved in podcasting since 2020 and are currently running the Dragonlance Nexus podcast as well as hosting your Ravenloft-focused podcast “That’s So Ravenloft”. What do you want people to know about these podcasts? What can they expect when they tune in?
Meaghan: “The Dragonlance Canticle” podcast was created a decade ago by the Dragonlance Nexus, a fan site which is now also a third-party publisher on the DM’s Guild. It’s a place for Dragonlance fans to hang out and talk about our favorite adventures, favorite novels, favorite characters, and news from the Dragonlance world. This last year we saw the release of “Dragons of Deceit” by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman as well as “Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen” by Wizards of the Coast (the first official Dragonlance product since the 3.5 content licensed to Margaret Weis Productions). 2022 was a very exciting time to be a Dragonlance fan and now that Dragonlance is open on the DM’s Guild and we have another novel to look forward to, 2023 should be just as exciting if not more.
“That’s So Ravenloft” is a passion project for me. I’ve always loved Ravenloft but I feel like it’s a bit underrepresented. Maybe it’s just overshadowed by Curse of Strahd. But I wanted a podcast focused on horror fantasy gaming. I was fortunate to find an excellent co-host in my friend Deanna (@DeannaWritesInk on Twitter.) As of January 2023, we are doing a series on vampires in real life, vampires in pop culture, vampires in gaming, etc.
I also have a podcast focusing on D&D novels called “Unaligned” and a podcast about the history of mountaineering called “Death Zone”. Both are currently on hiatus.
GeekPost: Here at GeekPost, we are very big fans of Dragonlance and Ravenloft. With Dragonlance updating to 5e, many new fans are discovering it for the first time. What about the world of Krynn keeps you coming back?
Meaghan: Dragonlance was my introduction to fantasy. A friend of mine let me borrow his copy of “Dragons of Autumn Twilight” by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the first Dragonlance novel, and I was hooked for life. Although my involvement in D&D the game has ebbed and flowed over the years, my love for the world of Dragonlance hasn’t. As a kid, it was the place I would escape to. The characters were my friends. It felt as real to me as the real world. Today, I work with the Dragonlance Nexus to keep the setting alive and to bring new players into Krynn. I am also currently running “Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen”.
GeekPost: You also mentioned being a fan of Ravenloft. We consider ourselves horror geeks here at GeekPost. Tell us about your love of the horror genre.
Meaghan: I’ve loved horror even before I discovered fantasy. My love of the genre started early with influences like the Castlevania series for the NES, the movie “Monster Squad”, the “Goosebumps” novels, and the TV shows “The Twilight Zone” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” The first horror movie I ever saw was “A Nightmare on Elm Street” when I was probably about 7 years old. It gave me nightmares, of course. Thanks to my older sister for that. As I grew older, I discovered gothic horror. When I began to play D&D, playing the Ravenloft setting made perfect sense since it’s kind of a fusion of fantasy and gothic horror. To this day, I consider myself an avid horror fan.
GeekPost: You have published works on DM’s guild, tell us about them.
Meaghan: I have a few small titles on the DM’s Guild under my own name “Meaghan J” including a short book of horror-themed subclasses and a short book of revolution-themed subclasses, but I’m most proud of my involvement with “Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything” by the Dragonlance Nexus and “Ravenloft Trinkets and Treasures” by Jeff Stevens. I will be publishing my own Dragonlance adventure under the Dragonlance Nexus banner called “Shadow of the Black Rose” in February 2023.
GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a Geek, and what does it mean to you?
Meaghan: I suppose I do, although I usually would refer to myself as a “horror nerd” or a “history nerd” rather than a geek (although I think we mean the same thing). To me, it means to be a member of a community of people who are very passionate about a shared interest. That interest can be broad like video games or specific like Mario games. In the old days, geek meant your particular interest was outside the mainstream although of course now geek culture is itself mainstream. It’s been an interesting transition for those of us who grew up feeling like outsiders because we were into Dungeons and Dragons or horror movies or even true crime. Some of us adjusted better than others. Honestly there are different types of geeks and all that’s changed is which geekdoms are mainstream. Baseball lovers have always been super geeky, they just were called “fans” instead.
GeekPost: What challenges have you faced in geekdom, and how have you worked on overcoming them?
Meaghan: I grew up in an era where playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering was seen as very un-cool. I did my best to hide it so don’t recall being bullied as a result of it (I was bullied for other things instead). I grew up in Connecticut where the Satanic panic never quite took root, but the games were viewed with suspicion by some. Fortunately, my parents were too smart to fall for that. In the late 90’s/early 2000’s, things began to change with the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Star Wars prequel trilogy as well as shows like “Smallville” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Suddenly, it was OK to like geek movies and TV. I still kept myself restrained, however. I might admit to liking fantasy novels if someone asked, but it’s not as if I’d talk someone’s ear off about the deep background lore of Krynn.
GeekPost: Last but not least, our readers love hearing about animals. Do you have any pets?
Meaghan: I am a cat person. I’ve owned many cats in my life, but my only pet now is a domestic shorthair named Nora. She was born in May 2020, so she’s 2.5 years old now. She’s very feisty and very playful, which makes living in a tiny apartment with her interesting.
A very big thanks goes out to Meaghan for taking the time to speak with us and telling us about everything she is passionate about. You can find links to everything talked about in this article by clicking the pictures/links or be visiting her on Twitter.