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.
Settle in, fellow adventurers; this week, we are chatting with the incredibly talented badass Linsay Rousseau. She has a packed backstory that has led her on her own set of adventures before returning to the TTRPG community and acting sphere. Rousseau is currently playing in Dragonlance: Echoes of Krynn and prepping for her upcoming series, The Die Is Cast Gaming. Check out just how much she loves fantasy worlds and being a part of the TTRPG community.
Julia Roth: Let’s chat your TTRPG back story! How did you find yourself at the table?
Linsay Rousseau: I played a little when I was in high school, but it was at a time when girls weren’t exactly encouraged to play D&D, so I kind of let it go. I’m a bit of an escapist, so I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy, growing up reading books like the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Dragonlance, and things like that. Also, movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Neverending Story. I played a few games here and there over the years, but nothing serious.
It wasn’t until I moved to LA in 2016 and found an amazing group of voice-over actors who had an ongoing campaign that they let me join. We played for years, and that’s what really got me excited about it. Then COVID hit, and I doubled down on D&D and was live streaming with a few groups multiple times a week and then found a few other home online games, and it’s just grown from there. I mostly played in homebrew games, so I actually wasn’t all that familiar with the official Wizards lore for many years.
JR: Favorite world to adventure in?
LR: This is a hard one as, like I said, I love homebrew. In an early game I played in, I created a homebrew character that was a cross between a ranger and a druid and a cross between an elf and an ent. I love the freedom homebrew worlds allow you. That being said, I’ve finished up the Hoard of the Dragon Queen in one of my home games and have absolutely loved it. I’m also part of the Dragonlance: Echoes of Krynn live-play podcast and absolutely love playing in the world of Dragonlance. We launched the show before Wizards even announced the Dragonlance extensions.
JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?
LR: Also a hard one. I did a one-shot for Jaspers Game Day with a bunch of Australian folks from Split the Party, and the one-shot they created for that was so much fun. Around Halloween time, I did a one-shot that the DM put together based on Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, and it was loads of fun.
JR: Backstory or class first?
LR: It depends. If it’s a long-term game backstory, for sure. I love to work with the DM to create a character that utilizes the lore they’ve created and find a way to fit my character in. I create some insane backstories for my characters. If I’m playing a one-shot or battle royale type game, then I definitely min/max the character and chose what race/class will be best for the campaign and the party. I also prefer martial classes to magical classes and will default to that for one-shots since I’m so familiar with them.
JR: Favorite spell and why?
LR: Like I said, I’m more of a martial character than a spellcaster, but Ranger was my first class, and I still love playing rangers. I’d say that Zephyr Strike was my favorite spell, but then Wizards went back and changed it because they felt it was a little too OP. I’m a big fan of Faerie Fire because I think people totally forget about it, but it does an amazing job of adding advantage to any future attacks. Though I’ve had a lot of fun with Rope Trick. I was in a game, and the party got to this boss, and we were having a really hard time with it, so I cast Rope Trick; we all climbed up and just hid out in the extradimensional plane until the creature went away. It really pissed off the DM, lol.
JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?
LR: Man, this is also a hard one as I’ve gotten so attached to several of my long-term characters over the years. But I think my favorite would have to be Rana, a Tarve Ranger that I created for a homebrew game that went on for a year or so. I really loved her because I created the Tarve race. It was a mix of an elf with ent-like qualities; if you looked closely, her skin looked like bark, and she also had some innate druid qualities. She left her people to explore the world and ended up spending centuries in the forests, mostly communing with animals and plants. I rolled a really low charisma for her, so when my party found me, I had so much fun using that low charisma to always say the wrong thing at the wrong time and unintentionally start fights.
She’d been isolated from people for so long that she just didn’t know how to properly socialize with them. She was fiercely protective of animals to the point where we went to one village, and a silver dragon was keeping a bunch of dinosaurs captive (yes, I said dinosaurs); I talked to them and realized how miserable they were and ended up releasing them and spearheading a dinosaur revolt. It may have resulted in the death of a few locals. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, and I was playing in a shorter four-part game, or something like that, and wanted to create a character like Missy/The Master. So I created a Changling Wizard/School of Illusions character, and the DM let me create a few special abilities and items for her, and it was so much fun playing her how I thought Miss/The Master would be.
JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?
LR: I like to play around with different races and classes, especially for shorter games. But I would say Rogue and Ranger are my favorite classes. I absolutely love the Swashbuckling Rogue and will be playing one for my upcoming streaming game with The Die Is Cast Gaming. But I’m also playing a Gloomstalker Ranger in a home game now, and she is powerful. For races, I don’t think I’ve ever played the same race twice. I’m having a lot of fun with a Simic Hybrid Gloomstalker Ranger because she has several special traits that are really fun. Tabaxi are always fun because of their special abilities. For The Die Is Cast Gaming, I’ve created a Variant Tiefling who has wings, and I’m really excited to play her.
JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?
LR: I always let the backstory and the dice determine my characters. So if I have a really low role that goes into a skill, I find a way to make that work for the character. Like I said above, my character Rana had an abysmal charisma score, but I had so much fun playing to that. I think that each of my characters is pretty unique, and I create what is best for the campaign. I will say, most of my characters usually have some sort of big secret that they will have to reveal to the party at some point.
This forest gnome rogue I created ended up being part of an underground resistance movement fighting back against discrimination against gnomes and dwarfs. Another character was disguising her gender because women were discriminated against in her city, and she wanted to be a fighter. As I said, I like to go deep with my backstories. As for items, if I can buy a cloak of displacement, I will because the disadvantage on all attacks is pretty sweet.
JR: What is your favorite system to play within?
LR: I’ve always played 5e or a homebrew variant of 5e like the Lord of the Rings Games, which I played for a while. That was a very interesting adaptation of 5e and honestly pretty hard, but really fun. I love 5e because it’s all I know, lol.
JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?
LR: There are so many, lol. I don’t know if this is wild, but it was certainly fun. I was playing in a homebrew game as a swashbuckling rogue gnome who was secretly working in an underground resistance movement that her party didn’t know about. We had just arrived in a new town, and I had to try and find a way to sneak into the royal court. So while the party decides to go shopping for the day, I decided to sneak off into the sewers.
My DM was completely unprepared for this and had to quickly throw together these sewer maps and such and all the places where I came out. This went on for quite some time, me just exploring the city through all these sewers as the rest of the party shopped. And when I returned, they hadn’t even realized I was gone. I guess it’s not that crazy, but it resulted in a lot of laughs.
JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?
LR: Oh man, I have laughed and screamed and cried during games. I love the role-playing aspect of D&D, it’s why I got into it, and some of my games have gotten pretty emotional. There was one long-term game I was in, and one of the players needed to leave the game in real life, so the DM put together this big send-off. There was another character who had been in love with this character, and when she died, we went through this ritual of trying to bring her back, and it failed. The player of the other character then gave this heart-wrenching emotional eulogy, and all of us at the table were balling our eyes out. It was so emotional. But this is what D&D does. It has the power to elicit so many emotions.
JR: Favorite dice to use?
LR: I might have a dice problem. I have collected so many sets and contributed to a lot of Kickstarters. But all my dice are purple or have purple in them. I then pick the dice appropriate for my character. For one character who was a wood elf, I used all stone or gem dice, I’m playing in a League of Legends game, and that character’s dice are all metal. For another elf, I use resin dice that all have flowers or something inside the dice.
JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?
LR: Oooo, good question. I love epic combat, but as I said, I love the role-playing aspect of D&D because you never know what will happen, so charming my way through a royal court sounds really fun.
JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?
LR: Also a tough one. I don’t know if I call it my favorite, but it’s definitely one of the most frustrating to fight, a mind flayer. They’re psionic creatures resistant to magic; they do psychic damage which can be hard to combat; they can even extract and eat your brain. They have really powerful spells and are brutal to fight.
JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?
LR: I don’t know if I have rituals, but as I said, I carefully select the dice I’ll use for each character, so that might be like a luck charm.
JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?
JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?
LR: I’m just looking forward to more amazing adventures and meeting new fantastic people who all love D&D. I found such an amazing and supportive community that I don’t really have anywhere else. It’s nice to be able to connect to people over such geeky content. I’m really looking forward to my new streaming campaign with The Die Is Cast Gaming. We’ve got a great group of people and will be diving into a slight homebrew world set in the Forbidden Realms. I really love the character I’ve created and how much of my backstory is intertwined with the DM’s world. Where ever this crazy D&D journey leads, I’m excited to go.
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