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.
Another week, another trip to the tavern. Pull up a chair because we are chatting with the Average Adventuring Party‘s Michael Bradford this week. He started playing TTRPGs in his teens, where he fell in love with monks and telling a story with friends. Now he brings this love of TTRPGs and storytelling to our ears alongside his friends at AAP. Keep reading to find out what else he loves about the community and what monster is his favorite monster.
Keep up with Michael Bradford on his social media! (Twitter)
Julia Roth: Let’s chat your TTRPG backstory! How did you find yourself at the table?
Michael Bradford: Back when I was 12-13, I played a Human Monk named Hwan Kanei with a friend from Band class. That was back in D&D 3rd/3.5 days. I always loved writing and fantasy, so the thought of being able to tell a story with dice and friends was intriguing! The last 20+ years have seen me go through many adventures and friend groups, sharing some amazing times together!
JR: Favorite world to adventure in?
MB: Earthdawn! (Shadowrun) The setting is right up my alley (though the end result has always been horrible, horrible death when running in the shadows!)
JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?
MB: An un-recorded Avatar: The Last Airbender game set at the outset of the 100-year war. It was a blast playing an earth bender bounty hunter/scout taking vengeance on the Fire Nation for war-time atrocities. Jasper managed to make an entire outpost of Fire Nation guards disappear with no trace.
JR: Backstory or class first?
MB: A bit of both. It depends on how the creative juices have been flowing. Most of the time, I have backstory first and figure out how to make it happen. If I’m hitting a block, then the class will give me a starting spot!
JR: Favorite spell and why?
MB: Prestidigitation! One of the most “useless” spells is one of the best roleplaying tools around! Always getting clean clothes? Check. Fun little lights for entertainment? Double check! Always able to make my food the tastiest imaginable (or the enemies’ food always taste rotten)?! All the checks! For a spell that does no damage and has no definable in-game statuses, it is extremely versatile in the hands of an imaginative player!
JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?
MB: It’s a tie for me… Ashamel, the gnome bard, has always been my first answer for this. He was created because I hated gnomes and hated bards. I went in with ZERO expectations and ended up playing him for 5+ years, valiantly sacrificing him to save the world and giving him a great resolution from Chaotic Jerk… I mean Neutral to a Chaotic Good hero that will forever be a fantastic character. That said, Iocus the Minotaur Monk has been growing on me quite a bit. Check out the Average Adventuring Party podcast and see if he can be a fungi for you too!
JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?
MB: I’m actually quite versatile. I do enjoy minotaurs, as a rule, but I just enjoy getting to play with friends. Hell, I recently played a Chaotic Evil pixie lawyer, so I can say… I’m flexible.
JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?
MB: A sense of humor is inevitable. I make too many puns in the real world to be able to push a serious character for too long.
JR: What is your favorite system to play within?
MB: Cypher‘s been pretty flexible, but overall I don’t subscribe to favorites. I prefer more narrative, less crunch these days because I’d rather tell a great story, but there have been very few systems that I have actively disliked.
JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?
MB: Well, there was this one time I was playing a Yuan-Ti bodyguard to a princess. The GM was introducing some players to D&D and wanted my experience to help tell this cool story. Well, at the beginning of this story, we were on a flying dwarven airship crossing the desert, and a wyrm landed on the ship to kidnap the princess. Innocently enough, I asked if I was at my post beside her, which I was. I asked if I could react, so we rolled initiative, and I got one action to do something.
— The Average Adventuring Party Podcast (@average_party) April 16, 2023
I turned into my large-sized snake form and grappled this large wyrm. He botched, I critted. The wyrm failed to break free, and the party got to act. The wizard, in his infinite wisdom, decided to cast downdraft on the wyrm, which was on the prow of this flying ship. Hurricane-force downdraft on the front of the flying ship caused it to catapult everybody off. Everyone but my monk died from the fall, including my princess. Needless to say… we all had a blast, lol.
JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?
MB: When Ashamel willingly sacrificed his life and destruction of his soul to destroy the Cauldron of Nerull. Very poignant moment for the character who started as a very selfish and self-centered character. The legend said that only a willing sacrifice would destroy the cauldron. Knowing there was no hope of resurrection and that he would be truly, irreversibly destroyed, he made the choice without hesitation… That was a proud moment.
JR: Favorite dice to use?
MB: The kind that don’t have a hoodoo curse from a previous dice life.
JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?
MB: Charm through the royal court. Which would probably find a way to end horribly with a necromantic ritual, causing me to fight the undead royals at that point, judging from how my die rolls usually turn out.
JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?
MB: The good ol’ Rust Monster. It’s not the deadliest. It’s not the meanest. But every time you see that giant rusty flea, someone’s going to have a bad day…
JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?
MB: Not so much as a charm or ritual, but I make sure to bring enough drinks to last me for the whole game session, plus extras to share in case someone forgot theirs! Taking care of the party isn’t just something you do in-game!
JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?
JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?
MB: The completion of our current saga on the Average Adventuring Party podcast! I want to see that high-level-minotaur monk action! What happens in the Centaur Lands? How does Iocus’ wife feel about him running off to “adventure”?! Find out next time on Dra… oh… wait… wrong story with dragons.
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