Welcome to Tavern Talk Thursday! This is a weekly column where we chat with a member of the TTRPG (tabletop role-playing game) community to learn more about how they found themselves at the table, what they love about tabletop gaming and other fun things. Think of it as a little sneak peeks into the minds of our fellow players and DMs.
Taking on a jackalwere and living to tell the tale is something worth celebrating. Grab your favorite ale and settle in because this week, Ginny Di is here to share favorite tidbits of the TTRPG community. Our favorite extravagant cosplayer takes the Mask of Many Faces invocation to the next level with her DIY projects. She found a home within the TTRPG community and shares her music, roleplaying tips and more on her YouTube channel. Ginny has also helped create fun one-shot adventures like Bard Behind Bars. Check out her fun cosplay-inspired calendars and preorder your 2023 one!
Be sure to keep up with Ginny Di on social media! (Twitter/Instagram/YouTube/Spotify/Patreon/Official Website)
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Julia Roth: Let’s chat your TTRPG back story! How did you find yourself at the table?
Ginny Di: Although I had a few brushes with tabletop gaming over the years that didn’t stick, it wasn’t until I started watching Critical Role that I felt like I really “got” the appeal of tabletop gaming. Watching them tell a story in character and experience an adventure together was a lightbulb moment for me. I started playing in my first campaign soon after that and then eventually started DMing as well. The years since have been spent exploring all the different ways you can play beyond the way the cast of Critical Role plays!
JR: Favorite world to adventure in?
GD: Most of my playing and DMing has been in homebrew worlds. All of which I love and feel deeply connected to. Right now, my main game is in a world called Cordreia that my close friend and DM Jesse has created. It’s a beautifully developed world with a full history that I’ve really loved exploring. But the fact that I’ve barely touched the established worlds of published books is something I’ve been really interested in changing lately. The next game I DM will definitely be utilizing a campaign setting (although I’m not sure which yet!). I’m really interested to see just how that changes my DMing and how it changes the way I homebrew my own worlds!
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JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?
GD: I’ve run a few one-shots written by friends, pulled from books, or created myself, but by far, my favorite way to play a one-off game is to grab a Grant Howitt one-page game and just get really weird. The structure of D&D works well for an ongoing game, but when we’re only gonna spend a few hours playing, and there are no consequences down the line, there’s something very fun about just going off the rails, and his games are built for that. Many people have heard of “Honey Heist,” which is one of Grant’s, but my favorites I’ve played are “The Witch Is Dead,” where you play a witch’s familiars trying to avenge her death and maybe resurrect her and “Goat Crashers,” where you play a bunch of goats crashing a human party. They are sheer chaos, and I adore them.
JR: Backstory or class first?
GD: I think people would assume I’d say backstory, but I almost always start with class! This is partially because I try to be very aware of what the rest of the party is shaping up to be like before I select a class. I want to make sure I’m bringing something helpful to the table and that I’m not just duplicating somebody else’s skills. But it’s also because I find it easiest to be creative within some sort of confine. If someone just said, “invent a fantasy character! Go!” I would totally panic! There are just infinite options — how do you pick?! But when I have the structure of a class in front of me, I find it much less difficult to come up with creative ideas inspired by that structure.
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JR: Favorite spell and why?
GD: Based purely on the fun of it, I have to say Vicious Mockery. I’m one of those obnoxious players who likes to throw out one-liners during combat anyway. So actually making it part of the attack justifies my urge to chew the scenery, haha! And there’s just something so wonderfully bardic about insulting somebody so hard that it literally hurts them.
JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?
GD: This might be a silly answer because I’ve only played her in a one-shot, but I think it’s Na’Krasha! She’s a half-orc barbarian who originated as a character on my YouTube channel, but I got the opportunity to turn her into a PC and play her in a streamed game (Fool’s Gold), and she was so much fun. I tend to create characters with a lot of depth and complexity and a strong moral compass for ongoing campaigns. But Na’Krasha is just a blunt instrument with a fun accent, and there’s something so satisfying about that!
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JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?
GD: Honestly, I’ve enjoyed every class I’ve tried so far in different ways! But since most of my gameplay time is spent with the same characters for long periods of time, I still haven’t worked my way through all the core classes and races, let alone all the ones from additional books. I’m very into tieflings and elves from an aesthetic perspective (as a cosplayer). But I have no real race preference when it comes to mechanics. I guess I’ll just say that I tend to favor casters. Although I’m playing a barbarian in one game right now, and she’s a delight. There are too many fun options to make up my mind!
JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?
GD: Nope! I try to make each character different. If they have any similarities, they’re probably just my own character traits leaking out!
JR: What is your favorite system to play within?
GD: I’m a D&D 5e player first and foremost, just because that’s what I learned first, and that’s what all my friends play! I’ve played a little Vampire: The Masquerade, a little Changeling: The Lost, a little Call of Cthulhu, and a few other experimental systems, but I’ve never played any of them long-term enough to really get used to the system. I’m not opposed to other systems. But for me, the mechanics are just the vehicle through which we play, and 5e has enabled my friends and me to do all the things we want to do so far!
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JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?
GD: In one of my ongoing games, we ended up in a situation where the big bad was escaping on an airship. I had a split second to make a decision about whether or not to split the party. But we’d been tracking her for so long, and we had no idea where she was going next. So, I just said, “screw it,” and Dimension Doored onto the ship as it was leaving. One of my party members managed to grab a trailing rope and scale it to join me on the ship. But the other two were stuck behind! (We kept TELLING our barbarian that the cursed sword that forced her to kill any creature that damaged her before she could do anything else would end up being a problem someday!)
For two whole sessions, we were bouncing back and forth between the rogue and me, basically soloing an entire airship full of baddies, and the other half of the party defending our mansion, then calling on our dragon ally and chasing the airship on his back. I really thought we might’ve been toast. We were all out of our seats and yelling by the time we crashed the airship and escaped on dragonback!
JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?
GD: When I got to play with Cast Party as a guest for two sessions, my character Clio had enlisted the party’s help to recover her late mother’s journal from the captain of the guard, who had been obsessed with her and had taken it. I expected for Clio to drop a bunch of sassy limericks and maybe get the satisfaction of beating up the guy who had creeped on her mother, but instead ended up with (spoilers…)
JR: Favorite dice to use?
GD: Oh god, this changes every week. Right now, I’m very into “Cloudscape” from Dispel Dice, and a few weeks ago, I was rolling nothing but “Surge” from 1985 Games. Probably next week, I’ll have fallen in love with a completely different set.
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JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?
GD: Oh, definitely the royal court! Even when I play characters built for combat, I can’t turn off the part of my brain that wants to solve problems, negotiate, and dialogue. There are so many times where I’ll ask a question or tell a lie in character that I think is really smart or convincing. And then I have to actually roll for Persuasion or Deception. The numbers on my sheet do not match up with the numbers in my brain! It’s probably because, as a real-life person, I definitely use Charisma-based skills to move through the world. I’m a writer and an experienced public speaker, and my whole job is communicating. So when I’m confronted with a problem, in-game or out, my gut always tells me that talking is the answer.
JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?
GD: I feel like this changes every time I encounter a new monster, either as a player or DM. There are still tons of monsters in the Monster Manual that I’ve never fought against or thrown at my players. So many of them demand specific strategy and understanding, especially at higher levels, which makes them fun but also challenging. I ran a Nilbog recently (from Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse), and it was an absolutely ridiculous combat. It was nearly impossible to hit, and very little damage was dealt even though it went rounds and rounds. I think monsters like that, the ones that really bring a new and interesting mechanic to the table, are a lot of fun. Otherwise, it can be so easy for combat to just become round after round of everybody hitting something until it eventually dies!
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JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?
GD: Honestly, as much as I like to joke about it with dice, I’m really not a superstitious person. Most of my rituals before games are practical. Getting everything organized and reviewing my notes. Or when I’m hosting, I’m very much a “clean everything up, decorate the space, prepare snacks” kind of host.
JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?
GD: Most people would probably list off their favorite TTRPG creators here. But the idea of playing with or DMing for my favorite people in this industry induces so much anxiety in me!! When I have had the opportunity to play with people I look up to, I usually turn it into a really stressful experience for myself. I’m constantly worrying about whether or not I’m being weird or doing a good job. The honest answer is that my dream table is my closest, most creative friends. The ones that I feel completely comfortable with, where we all get each others’ humor, and we’re all fully committed. The only thing stopping me from having that all the time in real life is scheduling — and geography!
JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?
GD: I should probably be answering this with some major upcoming book, but right now, I am the most amped about the actual play show Dimension 20, which I’ve finally started watching after years of people recommending it to me! The current campaign, “A Court of Fey and Flowers,” is just a few episodes from the end, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I got so invested in these characters so quickly. I can’t wait to see how all their various dramas get resolved! It was an actual play show that got me into D&D in the first place, and whenever I find a new one that really has an impact on me, I take some of it with me into my next game. I think it’s such a treat to get to see the ways other people play and then pick out the bits you like for your own use.
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