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.
A quick trip to the Nine Hells can be pretty tiring but don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Settle in for another week at the fire as we chat with the NFL’s #7 Tweeter Johnny Stanton. From football to slaying dragons, Johnny is a lover of TTRPGs and exploring tons of different fantasy worlds. When he isn’t getting fit for the field, he leads his friends on an epic Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Check out everything our favorite fullback has to share about his love for the community and the game.
Julia Roth: Let’s chat your TTRPG back story! How did you find yourself at the table?
Johnny Stanton: I found myself at a table after asking my local comic book shop if there were any D&D games held there. I was going to school in Las Vegas at the time and was hearing more and more about TTRPGs and watching videos. I thought I might really enjoy this, so I asked the front desk at my regular shop, and they said there’s a game on Sundays and that I should reach out to the DM. The rest is history!
JR: Favorite world to adventure in?
JS: I run my games in an altered version of Faerun/Sword Coast. Honestly, it is just a homebrew setting with the same city names because of the way I started my campaign. I love every world I play in, but getting to play a campaign in Ravenloft was pretty beautiful. There’s so much personality to the Strahd games.
JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?
JS: My favorite one-shot adventure is played in other non-D&D TTRPGs. I think horror games are best as a one-shot. I just ran my first game on 10 Candles, and it was amazing. Plus, I love running games of Dread as well. The Jenga tower mechanic is so fun and makes games so tense. I write my own one-shots, and I really like the ones I’ve made for those games.
JR: Backstory or class first?
JS: Personally, I write class first. Usually, pick out a subclass and figure out an oblique way of using the subclass to inspire a fun character. I like to use constraints to expand my creativity rather than have no constraints and then feel limited later on by what classes I can make them.
JR: Favorite spell and why?
JS: Telekinesis. So many shenanigans you can get up to.
JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?
JS: My favorite character to play was a Minotaur Hexblade Warlock named Bandaa Swifthorn. He had this tragic backstory of being a prisoner to a monster he was supposed to slay. When he was freed, the monster gave him a part of herself in the form of his pact weapon.
JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?
JS: I really enjoy warlocks because I think it grants such amazing possibilities in creating your character. You inherently get to design two major characters, your PC and their patron, and their relationship together. Makes them feel so fleshed out.
JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?
JS: Nothing I can speak of specifically. But I try to give them a signature weapon or spell. Helps them be fully visualized in my mind.
JR: What is your favorite system to play within?
JS: I play 5e 95% of the time. When I don’t, it’s usually around Halloween when I run a horror game. But I’m really excited to expand my TTRPG horizons. Vampire: The Masquerade is the next one I can really see myself getting into.
JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?
JS: Wildest adventure was probably going to Hell, Michigan, to create a portal to the Nine Hells during a Grilling Competition. Those are the kinds of games you find yourself in when you join Spontanium for one of their randomized sessions.
JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?
JS: The most impactful moment was from my friend who used an item in front of the BBEG to destroy an item and hinder his progress but sacrificed himself in order to do so. It was such a shocking moment that it really affected me. After the session, he revealed that he was going to be leaving the group because his newborn son was on the way!
JR: Favorite dice to use?
JS: I have so many, but right now, one of my favorite dice to use is Wyrmwood‘s Raised Obsidian set. They look so cool, and I like how the numbers are raised instead of set into the dice, but they can be SO hard to read in the dark since they’re black on black. However, very soon, I believe my favorite dice set will be the Golden Gridiron set I collaborated with Die Hard Dice on making, which should be announced very soon!
JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?
JS: Definitely charm through an entire court. A good DM will give an opportunity to every player to use their character in their own way to disarm a noble and win the trust of a prince. To me, RP is more fun than combat. But I REALLY love combat too.
JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?
JS: My favorite monster might be a displacer beast. I plan on getting a tattoo of one soon.
JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?
JS: Nothing superstitious, but my DM has gotten us into the habit of doing some improv drills to get into the mode of thinking on our feet. Usually, it just devolves into us giggling a bunch before we sit down at the table.
JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?
JS: I don’t know a whole table, but my answer for one play to sit at a table is former running back Marshawn Lynch. He is hilarious, has the improv skills as we saw in Murderville on Netflix, and would be such a chaotic force in a game.
JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?
JS: There is so much to look forward to (and so much in the works that I need to keep secret) that, honestly, I most look forward to my next session.
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