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.

Take a seat by the fire and put your feet up, adventurers, because we have another tavern chat. This week we sat down with the stealthy rogue master Stephanie Elizondo. She can be found at the Average Adventuring Party table sneaking about with her friends and husband, Steve Trinkl. When Stephanie isn’t hoarding dice and dealing damage, she serves as AAP’s resident graphic designer, prop/cosplay maker and book lover. She’s a geek we all love and inspire to be. Keep reading to check out everything she had to share about her love for the TTRPG community.

Keep up with Stephanie through her social media! (Twitter/Instagram/Everywhere Else)

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Stephanie Elizondo

Stephanie Elizondo chasing her cats.

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

Stephanie Elizondo: My first TTRPG group was actually Steve’s first TTRPG group. They would run games at our apartment, and I would stay out of the way or help Zane, the GM, set traps on the board and otherwise listen in. Between them having so much fun and Steve (my now husband) and Zane hyping it up, I finally broke down and had them deal me in as a rogue (more on her later).

At this current table? Steve was joining the group and, again, hyped it up and said this group could use a rogue and gave me those damn puppy eyes. Now you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming from it. Most fun 8 hours of work a week ever.

JR: Favorite world to adventure in?

SE: Elura, the setting for our current main campaign. It’s been our longest-running environment, and I’ve gotten maybe a more than a little attached. I want to see everything we absolutely can before our GM permanently shelves it.

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JR: Favorite one-shot adventure?

SE: I think when we were test driving 13th Age. The characters involved showed up later in our first mini-campaign for Elura, but the first game was a one-off, inconsequential story. I got to play Thea, my bookloving divine warlock, who was just fun on her own as a sheltered librarian. Then I wanted her divine patron to be an old-school biblical eldritch abomination angel, and THAT was just *chef’s kiss*. Look, there’s a REASON they start their interactions with “BE NOT AFRAID.” Also, warlock suddenly became my second favorite class.

JR: Backstory or class first?

SE: Class and personality. I often don’t give my characters a backstory at creation and just let it build organically as we play. Sometimes this means I’ve got to make quick mental adjustments when the GM throws surprise character backstory at me in game, but that’s why we describe this game as a little bit of math and a lot of improv.

JR: Favorite spell and why?

SE: Feystep/Mistystep. Free (yay, elf trait!) short-range teleport makes for great dramatic moments… you know, when I remember to use it. Fave spell I’ve only seen in action in games, not ours? Silvery Barbs. It is such a great and so very broken reaction cantrip.

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JR: Who has been your favorite character to play?

SE: Oof, probably a tie between my two elf rogues. Ligh was my first character and is a fun, cheerful, sweet-faced murder machine who would tease and confuse the hell out of anyone around her but never intentionally do anything that would screw over her packbonded party. I could turn off my brain a little and just be a giggly, stabby, yet endearing agent of chaos.

Ardith has been my longest consecutively played character and my main character in our current campaign. She’s been wonderful improv practice (you know that thing about adjusting backstory on the fly I mentioned?), and watching someone who’s angry at the world and indifferent to 99% of the population slowly expand her “these are the people I would protect with my life and soul because I love them unconditionally” group has been GREAT.

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

SE: ROGUE. Rogue, through and through. But my brief dabble in Warlock? I’d love to repeat; it was fun! Mostly, I like high dex builds that can do serious damage. I’m ok being squishy if I have a chance to dodge and hit them where it hurts.

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

SE: A lot of my characters have been creators of some kind, more often in fine art but also in science. I’ve had two artists, an artificer and a botanist, planned an alchemist. And all but two of my characters have intentional PoC traits because, hey, I’m Mexican-American and proud of it.

JR: What is your favorite system to play within?

SE: I’m pretty adaptable, but I’m really liking our current main system:  13th Age. It’s familiar enough if you’ve played any DnD (especially 4th ed), plus the escalation die in combat and adding your level to stats makes progression quicker; arguing whether your backgrounds are relevant is fun, and daggers aren’t a freaking paltry d4 damage.

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

SE: Probably our Prowlers & Paragons mini campaign. Is it possible for five superheroes not to know what the hell is going on and get EVERYTHING wrong for 10 episodes? Apparently, yes, if we’re playing them!

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

SE: The anxiety-inducing shit-ton of attack and damage math I had to do during *SPOILER*?

Ok, for real. In our very first group, playing 4th ed DnD, Steve decided to GM a game for our murder hobos—I mean, party. A cult had kidnapped a baby and were intending to sacrifice it to raise a demon/dark god. You know, typical evil cult stuff. The party tracked them down to their temple and proceeded to murder their way through to the inner sanctum where the cultists were warming up the baby-sacrificing implements.

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Now, what we, the party, didn’t know, was Steve had set up this scenario to try to get our lawful good wizard, played by Kurt of Sidekicks & Sidequests, to make a hard moral decision about killing this soon-to-be evil-possessed baby.

What Steve, the GM, didn’t count on was our determination to slap this down before things got bad and that the rogue (me!) was willing to take advantage of a potion of 15-minute unlimited feystep obtained earlier to make it happen.

So I used most of my turns to teleport my way down to the altar, snatch the baby before the cultists could complete their ritual, and bolt for the door while the rest of the party cleaned house. Day saved, we returned   the definitely not-possessed baby to its parents, got paid, and went to cause havoc elsewhere while I grinned down the stink eye coming from across the table. Sorry, still not sorry; love you, Steve!

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JR: Favorite dice to use?

SE: Oof, I’m a 100% a dice goblin, so this is hard. The sparklier, the better, and we recently moved, and I’ve just now got the rest of my dice collection somewhere where I can access them easily. I’m currently very fond of my Prismatic Glow d20 chonk (DiceMonster/Hamster Parade), Pure Starlight and Aurora Borealis sets (Dispel Dice), Galaxy Purryhedrals set (GreenLeafGeek), and a matte glass d20 with cats on the 1 and 20 that I got from a friend.

Now that I’ve found the rest of them, probably going to at least add my Dorian and Royal sets (Firebolt Dice) to the mix. I’m holding Knifedancer (Dispel again) for our last mini-campaign in our main game. I’ve also got two or three sets from EverythingDice’s vault Kickstarter that I’m excited about coming in hopefully soon.

Which die do I like to roll in game? That sweet, sweet damage die.

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

SE: Give me the dungeon horde and resulting property damage, PLEASE, because I’m a quiet antisocial introvert who is socially awkward but will happily wreck shit. I am trying to play more social characters to improve this, but it’s slow progress.

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JR: Favorite TTRPG monster?

SE: Displacer Beast. I’ve been intrigued by the weird ass beasties ever since reading through the beastiary section of an old DnD PC game manual/supplement that we could never get to work (Curse of the Azure Bonds;  it was a floppy disk, and someone bent the metal bit so it wouldn’t go in/pop back out if inserted and made unhappy sounds if you tried to run it). Plus, have you seen the MTG card with the baby displacer beast? So. Freaking. CUTE.

JR: Good luck charms or rituals before a game?

SE: “Dinner will be decided BEFORE we start recording.” Yeah, we will go round, and round way too long over that, and this expedites things. I have given a dice set or two a holy water bath to cleanse drama vibes before game and offered to bring said holy water to game if anyone else needed it. Also like to arrange my dice by die size and have the highest number face up. Oh! And boba tea, because the place nearby is fabulous and tasty!

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JR: Who is sitting at your dream table?

SE: I would love Matthew Mercer, Aabria Iyengar, and Art!Dad himself, Liam O’Brien, singly or collectively to join our AAP cast for TTRPG shenanigans. 

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

SE: I mean! Drawing more interesting characters from our games and actually finishing said artwork! Maybe having enough new designs so AAP can make new silly merch! Seeing more awesome art from other artists in the TTRPG sphere! VOX MACHINA SEASON 2! Upcoming MIGHTY NEIN SERIES!

More pretty dice from my fave dice makers?  😀

Tavern Talk Thursday: DAMION POITIER

Julia Roth
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