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.
Hello adventurers! The winter season is upon us, and we have a friendly fireside chat waiting for you. This week we talked with “The Chronicle” – Ron Ogden. He is the co-dungeon master and producer of The Dungeon Run and a lover of all things TTRPG. He is currently running a Kickstarter with Seasons of Adventure that is perfect for the holiday season. It is a D&D 5E advent calendar with daily minis and more that lead to a playable winter adventure! You can find out more about the project here!
Julia Roth: Let’s chat your TTRPG backstory! How did you find yourself at the table?
Ron Odgen: In high school, I was introduced to AD&D by a friend. I immediately took to this gameplay style. The gamified escapism helped me cope with my anxiety and became a hyperfocus of my (at the time) undiagnosed ADHD.
Pantheons and the Gods, specifically, were very fascinating to me. AD&D, with its large Pantheon, was perfect for my hungry curiosities. In college, 3.5 came out, and a friend happened to be starting the next chapter of his ongoing campaign. So I joined. Through this campaign, I learned what being a part of a decade-long D&D game was really like. It was incredible.
JR: Favorite world to adventure in?
RO: I’m a big fan of homebrew, and I think 5e homebrew is a significant reason why D&D is so popular now. Because I’m a Pantheon enthusiast, homebrew allows me to insert my own petty, vengeful, hopeful (and every other emotion possible) style Gods to see how the players and the world itself react. Not every adventure needs heavy-handed Gods, but for me, the Gods never took a backseat position in the most intriguing mythologies.
JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?
RO: I wrote a one-shot for The Dungeon Run called “A Town Called Ricochet,” which was essentially a high fantasy Spaghetti Western. I enjoyed DMing this one-shot because the players took their time to find their motivations and played true to the tropes.
The characters played by Michael Sinclair II and Erika Fermina were delightful additions to the usual cast. I was particularly proud of using a campfire story mechanic to help inspire history among the PCs, many of whom had never played together.
JR: Backstory or class first?
RO: This one depends. Sometimes I want to play a class I haven’t had as much opportunity to play and use that class to create and inspire backstory. Conversely, if I have a strong character concept that then inspires my class choice.
For example, I recently played in a show DM’d by Gabe Hicks called Fortune & Fate. I had a strong character concept of a chemist responsible for transforming himself into a cute, furry humanoid. Artificer seemed to really fit with this character concept. D&D‘s MtG sourcebook Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica has a Simic Hybrid race that also worked quite well. That character became “Red Wigglebottom,” the red panda Simic Hybrid Artificer chemist.
All this to say, it depends on my mood and what inspires me at that moment of character creation.
JR: Favorite spell and why?
RO: This one is tough. I first thought Magic Missile, but I wish Prestidigitation was a spell. If the cantrip was IRL, it would take the place of every major modern appliance. You could clean your body in approximately 30 seconds. Food could be cooked in 6 seconds. Tools, smells, elevator music, and so much more would be at our fingertips instantaneously. It’s efficiency at its finest.
JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?
RO: “Uggo Ragefist” hands down. This was the character I developed for season one of The Dungeon Run. I put a lot of myself into this character. Uggo was a traumatized, gentle giant who was a reflection of my own history and upbringing. He was both a hero and a deeply flawed individual.
I’m incredibly proud of the story arc that Uggo brought to the show and his growth as influenced by his “family” (the party). Through this character, I got to honor the strong and independent women who raised me. Uggo also demonstrated strength and vulnerability, showing that the two are not mutually exclusive.
JR: Do you have a particular race/class you enjoy?
RO: I like playing characters that have a moral viewpoint. Often this leads me to Paladins and Clerics, but I also love to multi-class. This may be reflective of my own jack-of-all-trades persona and my desire to constantly learn new things.
JR: Is there something that you build into every character? A fun trait or a special item?
RO: For me, voices are a big part of the traits that I use in my character builds. They are a gateway to finding a unique voice, both figuratively and literally.
Additionally, much of my fantasy character creation revolves around concepts found in Philosophy. Whether it be naming them using my favorite philosophers or embodying the principles in the character itself. Uggo, for example, was a story of the id and the ego.
JR: What is your favorite system to play within?
RO: Without a doubt, D&D 5e. I enjoy many other systems, especially World of Darkness/White Wolf. However, it’s 5e that really allows you to explore all of the cool IPs. It gives you the freedom to homebrew easily.
JR: Tell us about the wildest adventure you have been on?
RO: I played an evil campaign as a spiked-chain Earth Genasi Fighter. The choices were difficult, the gameplay was distinct, and the story was incredible. It was epic, from fighting do-gooders in a volcano to invading the Gates of Mount Celestia.
JR: What has been your most impactful moment at a table?
RO: Again, we’re back to Uggo (I really loved this character immensely). This one is a bit of a spoiler for anyone catching up on season one of TDR. Level seven Barbarian Uggo made the ultimate sacrifice to save his people. He gave up all seven levels to become a first-level Paladin. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but it felt very true to the character and his growth.
JR: Favorite dice to use?
RO: I like to use dice that are themed to the character I’m rolling for. So, needless to say, my favorite dice set is constantly changing. Or, you could say, it’s all of them. This may also be an excuse to continually add more dice to my collection…
JR: Would you rather face off against an entire dungeon of undead or charm your way through a royal court?
RO: Can I choose a royal court of undead or an undead royal court? Lol. Clearly, I’m risk-averse to dungeons.
JR: Favorite TTRPG Monster?
RO: Death Knights. They just look incredibly badass.
JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?
RO: I’m not particularly superstitious; despite having such a fascination with Gods, rituals are not really in my repertoire. I’m just always excited to play!
JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?
RO: There are so many incredible people that I hope to play alongside one day. However, I’m extremely fortunate that the group on The Dungeon Run is my dream table. The Dungeon Run started as a casting call several years ago, and we’ve not only become a good team at the table but great friends. And that’s the ultimate hope for any game I’m a part of.
JR: What are you most looking forward to within the TTRPG world?
RO: 5e has brought many new ideas, diversity, and inclusion to the D&D space. Primarily, that is driven by the ability to create new products and stories within the system. This means I’m constantly looking forward to all of the new content to expand my own play. If only there were more in the day!
I’m especially excited to share projects I’ve been working on, from the new season of The Dungeon Run (as Co-DM) to launching my first Kickstarter as a creator (a 5e playable advent calendar).
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