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 well-done job deserves a reward, so settle in for another chat by the fire. This week we sat down with actor, writer and video game voice-over director Josh Dean. Chances are you have seen this Prince in one of those darling Hallmark movies that release around the holidays or on Blindspot or heard his iconic voice in a plethora of video games. But when he isn’t working hard in the entertainment industry, he plays TTRPGs alongside his wife, Celina Dean, and friends. Check out all the exciting things that have happened at his table and what he loves about the community.

Keep up with Josh Dean on his social media! (Twitter/Instagram)

RELATED: Check out more Tavern Talk Thursdays!

Josh Dean

Ashley Johnson and Josh Dean standing next to each other in the Blindspot.

Julia Roth: Let’s chat about your TTRPG backstory! How did you find yourself at the table?

Josh Dean: One of my dearest friends, Matt Young, who I believe has been featured on Tavern Talk before, had been asking me to start playing for a few years, but I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I’m a video gamer, so I’ve had experience with many of the concepts and rulesets of DnD and the like, but I felt like the commitment to learning the rules and rolling all those dice would be too much.

Ultimately, he wore down my resistance, and I wound up in one of the best groups to play with of all time. I think by the second campaign, my wife Celina joined up, and our group was formed. Due to a ridiculous joke made on the first or second day, we are called the Lid Lords.

JR: Favorite world to adventure in?

JD: Actual pen and paper wise, I’ve only played DnD 5e. We did a many months long Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign. I was familiar with the setting thanks to the board game Lords of Waterdeep, and our DM for that one, the aforementioned Matt Young, did a great job of painting the setting and going along with our absolutely terrible and overly complicated plans (which almost immediately collapsed.)

JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?

JD: I haven’t done a ton of one-shots. Another previous guest on Tavern Talk, Mr. Chris Tallman, ran a hilarious royal rumble-style battle where we all got to make high-level characters. I was destroyed almost immediately, but Celina played a still legendary (to us) Arakocran with a rather bracing voice who won by just grabbing people and flying as high as she could and then dropping them.

JR: Backstory or class first?

JD: It switches for me. As a video gamer, my instinct is to min max. I learned early on from another Lid Lord, star of screen and other bigger screen Derek Mears that the most fun is had by doing what is true for your character, even if it’s a terrible idea, and letting the chips fall where they may. Since then, it’s been less about the class and more about the backstory. Honestly though? I think most of us choose our character based on what voice or accent we think we could do for two years.

RELATED: Kevin Parr Chats Questline, TTRPGs and Storytelling

JR: Favorite spell and why?

JD: I’m just about to wrap up only my second campaign as a spell caster (I’m generally drawn to the Rogue classes). This may be cheating the question, but the Find Familiar/Dragon’s Breath combo is a good time. A fire-breathing Octopus? Come on! Or, in the current campaign, an acid-breathing Owl named Tim.

JR: How have your Princely experiences affected your gameplay? Do you go for the knight in shining armor type?

JD: I haven’t yet. I like playing dastardly and/or dumb characters. I’ve been considering going for the Knights in shining armor type, but as I said in the backstory or class question, that’s mostly because I do a passable Patrick Warburton, and I could definitely play a Kronk adjacent character for a few years.

JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?

JD: A Rogue Thief Half-Elf named Quill. He was a kleptomaniac, so while everyone was talking to the town’s mayor or the high priestess or whatever, I would sneak off (we play remotely, so that’s normally via text with the DM) and try to steal stuff. I’d wind up running back into the room, being chased by mummies and throwing everything into chaos.

Or if a battle wound up moving to another location, I’d sneak back and loot bodies before the rest of the team was finished fighting. By the end, I wasn’t allowed to hold any special items or gold we found along the way. I was just trying to play the truth of the character, but I think I may have committed too hard because now no one trusts any of my characters, even if I’m just a kindly old divination wizard.

RELATED: What The Legend of Vox Machina Renewal Could Mean for the Future of TTRPG Live Shows

JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?

JD: As I mentioned, Rogues are my fave. They’re just the coolest. Honestly, I think it’s because of a random Dragonlance novel I read when I was ten. Weasel’s Luck. That wasn’t even my genre, but I got it for a birthday present and gave it a read. I guess I like the idea of relying on wits and training and that even a little stinker can accidentally do some good. While getting rich in the process.

Headshot of Josh Dean.

JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?

JD: To me, the flaw is the thing that made my favorite characters so special to me. It subverts the idea that you’re making heroes and gives the character depth and realism, allowing you to play them and keep them interesting for longer.

JR: What is your favorite system to play within?

JD: Why, DnD 5e, the only system that I can confidently name!

JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?

JD: Part of what makes our group so fun is that every two or three sessions, we get ourselves into completely avoidable, absolutely batshit crazy situations. I remember fondly, in my first-ever campaign, we were sneaking into an icy mountain fortress and wound up in a barracks of some kind. Of course, we failed a stealth check and tripped into a suit of armor or some damn thing, and one thing led to another.

RELATED: Chera Meredith Chats Inspiration Behind Closer Than You Know and Learned To Design Games

Fast forward to our cleric being chased under a bed by timberwolves, attempting to hit them with a fire cantrip and setting the bed he was hiding under on fire. Or that time with the mummies. Or when we attempted to sabotage a rival tavern by putting a dead body in a barrel and using mage hands to roll it to their front door on a busy night. Oh, or when Quill tried to confidently (and unnecessarily) jump our prized Devil’s Ride onto a raft on the river Styx in Avernus, missed, and was saved by the scruff of his tunic, though the Ride didn’t make it.

JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?

JD: I’d probably have a better shot at telling you about impactful moments others have had. Or if I’ve had impacts, they probably haven’t been of the positive variety. 

JR: Favorite dice to use?

JD: Digital. I still can’t keep track of all those things. I’m a Rogue! You know how many dice a sneak attack takes later on!?

JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?

JD: I will always take the fight. My wife and I have 16-month-old twins, and since them, we’re often a little bit undead ourselves by the time our weekly game comes around. 

The face of the party probably shouldn’t be unshaven and bleary-eyed, right?

RELATED: Keep up on The Legend of Vox Machina with our recaps!

JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?

JD: I remember having the OG Monster Manual as a little kid. Again, no idea how it came to be in our house, none of my sisters played DnD, and I didn’t play, but I loved reading that thing. It was awesome for my imagination, but I also didn’t understand half of what I was looking at or how to pronounce any of it. That being said, the two that stuck with me are the Bugbear (I think it was just nice to say) and the Gelatinous Cube. I could picture that one, thanks to Jello.

JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?

JD: Nope! Though I do like a little bourbon. Or some Coke Zero and Lay’s Salt n Vinegar chips.

JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?

JD: Honestly? The people I get to play with every week.

JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?

JD: The Lid Lords are maybe going to try out a shorter Call of Cthulu campaign. It’ll be a nice change after five years or so of 5e.

Tavern Talk Thursday: CELINA DEAN

Julia Roth
Catch Me