Nice Job, DM! Feat. WG Ashwood

Ever find yourself thinking how awesome it would be to make money as a DM? Us, too. Well, back to reality! Welcome again to Nice Job, DM! where we interview DMs who have to make a living like the rest of us, but who also have cool day jobs.

Today, we're on our best behavior interviewing WG Ashwood, who works full-time as a training administrator! A man of many talents, he also has experience as a chef (?!) and currently streams Let's Plays and TTRPG Actual Plays on Twitch and YouTube. You can also find a fresh video on TikTok from him every day at @ashwoodaudio. As a charity streamer, a portion of every dollar he makes goes to support a variety of causes and organizations to make the world a better place.
Please introduce yourself!
I'm your fancy-focused charity streamer, WG Ashwood from AshwoodAudio.
Can you tell us about your day job?
I am a training administrator for the city of New Orleans. Specifically, I facilitate a lot of the compliance training required as part of a government organization and utility. Ethics, harassment prevention, and safety all fall under that umbrella. I'm especially proud of my safety offerings.
That's incredibly specific! How did you get into that line of work?
Working with others to train and improve has always been a passion for me. I started out professionally as a chef, and one of the most important roles you can have in a kitchen is teaching others the menu and getting them up to speed. I was in kitchens, both local and international, for close to 10 years. I had some stellar mentors and always wanted to pass that relationship along. During the pandemic, restaurants weren't the best places to be. So I tried teaching high school. A rewarding experience, but much harder than any kitchen gig. Eventually, I got the option and moved to HR training.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of being a trainer is that moment when something clicks for your student. It's that lightbulb-"Aha!" instance where everything comes together in their head. You can see it in someone's eyes and there is a real energy there when a concept just slides into place in their brain.

That sounds very rewarding, what advice would you give to people who are interested in government training?
It's important to have a desire to help others. Training is one of those jobs that is entirely in service to other people. You're working to further someone else's understanding and benefit an organization as a whole. It's because I want others to succeed at their roles that I thrive in this field.

Speaking of roles, when and why did you start DMing, and for what systems?
I started DMing in 2018 and what feels like out of necessity. There's only so many actual plays you can listen to before going, "I need to tell my own story!" Right? So I really wanted to get into TTRPGs and I roped in half my kitchen staff and some other chef friends. Once a month, we'd get together, build a cheese board, roll some dice, and call it "Kitchens and Dragons." It started out as just D&D 5e. But I've also run Call of Cthulhu, a modern campaign set in New Orleans, and most famously Trash Heist!
Ummmm, Trash Heist sounds AMAZING. Please say more.
It's a version of the Honey Heist system I made that features raccoons instead of bears. People love our rambunctious rodents that are always going for the next big score! I wish we could get the gang together more often. They've so far heisted from a recycling plant, saved Christmas, pulled a jailbreak, and more!

Fantastic - how often do you DM these days? 
I DM as much as possible. With conflicting schedules, that turns out to be only once or twice a month, personally. On stream, we try and put together actual plays for our big charity events. That's where Trash Heist started!  We've had our most successful charity months paired with Trash Heists and it's all on YouTube for those interested. 

What is your favorite part of DMing?
My favorite part of DMing is getting to tell a story with my friends. There's something about collaborative storytelling that you don't get from other mediums. Jokes, drama, and suspense are coming from all sides. As a DM, you start writing and you can never be sure where the story is going to go, because you're inviting your favorite people and some math rocks to write the next line.

Can you tell us your best memory from the table? 
It all started with a cursed book. I told the players they would be rewarded handsomely for turning it in. Of course they wanted to have a look inside. A few rolls later and one player became possessed by an avatar of evil. This led to some really funny and heart-wrenching moments. The player kept it a secret which ratcheted up the suspense. It all came to a head with a touching and dangerous exorcism where they had to fight the party. In the end, the book was destroyed and the player's soul saved. I didn't see any of that coming when I first introduced the book.

Do any skills you use for your day job help you when you DM?
I think of training as a lot like DMing actually. It requires clear speech, active attention to your group and their needs, and you need to keep everyone focused and entertained. Training has helped sharpen these skills and taught me to adapt my lessons (or sessions) to each unique group.

What advice or house rules would you share with new DMs?
I always say don't let the rules get in the way of a cool story. No one is going to remember fondly the time you fussed over 5 feet of movement. They will remember getting off that cool attack though. And remember that you're all on the same side. If the players have a cool cinematic idea in mind that blows up your plans, you should be hoping for high rolls alongside them. 
And my last piece of advice, get a set of Dice Envy dice!
(Note from the editor: we did not ask him to say this, but are flattered that he did).
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