We’ve got so much ground to cover in this week’s opening D&D news segment! Greg & Shelly discuss D&D Live 2021, D&D Celebration, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, The Wild Beyond The Witchlight, Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos and much more! Afterwards we welcome the DM of Transplanar RPG, Connie Chang for another edition of How To DM! In this week’s edition we cover how to create villains with complex motivations and backstories. For our special interview this week, we talk with two seasoned veterans in the RPG landscape as well as consultants for a D&D featured episode of Young Sheldon, Violet Fermin and Mike Olson!

Dragon Talk is executively produced by Greg Tito, Shelly Mazzanoble & Wizards of The Coast. Show production by Lisa Carr & Ryan Marth of Siren Sound. Podcast recording, editing, mixing and mastering by Ryan Marth & Siren Sound.


Here’s a guide to when each segment on the podcast begins:

00:00: D&D news with Greg Tito and Shelly Mazzanoble

11:09: How To DM

47:14: Interview

1:40:34: Outro

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Podcast Guests


Violet Fermin is a long time Dungeon Master, player, and event coordinator. Her involvement in the D&D community expanded when she became an organizer for her local store's D&D Adventurers Leagues events, helping plan 15+ tables of games biweekly. Through her role, she helped pioneer the more widespread use of tools to promote safety and inclusion in her local AL community. In 2020, she has helped larger events including the D&D AL portion of San Diego Comic Con transition to virtual planning and gaming. Finally, she was brought on as the D&D Adventurers League Coordinator for Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop through which now plans regular events and trainings to expose more people to both D&D and the software to allow them to play with their friends no matter where they are.


Mike Olson has been freelancing in RPGs since 2009 for companies including Cubicle 7, Arc Dream, and Evil Hat, with credits including Fate Core, Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game, Shadow of the Century, and many more. He's also written four Adventurers League adventures and is currently collaborating with Jim Zub on Skullkickers: Caster Bastards and the Great Grotesque, a D&D adventure based on Jim's Skullkickers comic series. Mike's first brush with D&D was in 1980 on a cruise ship to Alaska, when some kids on board put an AD&D game on the list of ship's activities, and RPGs have been a big part of his life ever since. He lives in Temecula, California with his wife, their two young kids, and a dog.


Connie Chang (they/he/she) is a queer and trans, 1.5-generation Chinese-American professional GM, TTRPG culture writer, and game designer. They're passionate about running games that tell dark, gripping stories about flawed people, broken worlds, and finding hope at the bottom of a well. Follow them on Twitter for cat pics, check out their all-transgender D&D stream Transplanar RPG, and support them on Patreon for GM tips, tools, and services!

Your Podcast Hosts

Greg Tito

Greg Tito has had weird and long career as an Off Broadway stage manager, a playwright, a theater carpenter, a secretary, an RPG designer, a games journalist, and now a PR/Marketing person. He has loved Dungeons & Dragons ever since 1985 when he found an old copy of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide on his brother’s bookshelf and he honed that love of fantasy storytelling in the dark streets of Sasserine by way of the Upper West Side gaming group he joined in 2004. He moved his family (wife + two young kids) to Seattle in 2015 to work on D&D and he’s never looked back.

Shelly Mazzanoble

Shelly Mazzanoble will always play a magic-user. There. She said it. Enough pretending to want to break out of her comfort zone. She’s a magic-user. She’s also the brand lead for Avalon Hill and loves talking about that one time she played Diplomacy and SOMEONE (okay, it was Ben Petrisor) stabbed her in the back and took over her beloved Russia. If you enjoy tales of sorcery, board game upheavals, and reasons her 3 year-old is crying (HINT: She tried to make him eat a Nutella crepe), find Shelly on Twitter and Facebook.