Table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.


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INTRO: The GROGNARD files is dedicated to Greg Stafford (1948-2018)

OPEN BOX: Graeme Davis talks to us about the genesis of the 1st edition of WARHAMMER and some of the plans for the new edition. You find out more about his long and distinguished career in gaming on his website.

WHITE DWARF: The Daily Dwarf reviews the articles that appeared in White Dwarf for WARHAMMER, it’s a long list.

JUDGE BAZ RULES!: Baz Stevens from The Smart Party podcast (The UK’s Premier RPG Podcast… mmm?) joins us in the room of role-playing rambling to get deep and dirty into the rules.

OUTRO: Join our Patreon before the end of November to get a hard copy of the zine.

The last time I went to Leamington Spa it was in 1996, when I was on my way to a posh event at Lygon Arms, a nearby luxury hotel. It was ‘black tie’ and Mrs Dirk pointed out that I’d only brought my DM boots, so we had to call and buy some emergency shoes.

It is now the home of a mini-con for RPGs with the exotic title of ‘Owl Bear and the Wizard’s Staff’ which took place last weekend. It was hosted by the ever genial Asako_Soh who brought together this epic Tweet-Up. It was great meeting twitter friends and online gaming buddies who I usually see in a tiny window in my computer.

The venue was very good as it big enough to accommodate 10 gaming tables with up to seven players at each. When it isn’t hosting gaming conventions, it is a place where bands practice, so the acoustics were good. There was atmosphere, but the sound from other tables wasn’t distracting.

I’ve written about the game I played, and the samosas, so here’s some images from our trip.

I didn’t need my emergency shoes.

Thanks to  for organising a great event. 


The Proclaimers have let themselves go


A great logo by @MsGloriaSunset and dice tray by AllRolledUpUK


RuneQuest’s Back! @dimbyd – a RuneMaster, bringing Glorantha to the con scene


Warwick Spice 


Come, it’s time to keep your appointment …



Blythy taking his players to a place where time changes like the wind


Wayne Peter’s Savage World had props, craft and everything!


This lot look like they’re for the chop. The karate chop!



This is the play report from last weekend’s RuneQuest marathon at The Owl bear and Wizards Staff mini-con held in Leamington Spa.

I took my players through not one, but two QuickStart adventures: firstly, in search of The Broken Tower, from the ENnie Award-Winning, Free RPG Day supplement, produced last year; then in the afternoon they explored A Darkness at RuneGate (as yet unpublished preview).

I’ll do a Scrap Book about the mini-con, until then, here’s the game report, delivered in the usual format. There are five highlights and a final fumble.

RuneQuest Glorantha

The day before the event, the physical books were finally available to purchase. The PDF has been with us for a couple of months, but there’s nothing like a rule-book appearing in the material plane to bring imagination to life.

Against this background of fevered anticipation for the new game I approached the two sessions as a ‘demonstration’. Most of the players had a very limited experience of the RuneQuest, so I decided to show-case its capabilities.

Rules lawyers, cover your ears.

I also went with the run of play rather than limiting proceedings with a pesky rule. The runic inspirations were enjoyable, so I wasn’t going to ruin things by saying ‘you can’t do that’. It’s called maximum game fun (MGF), I believe.

I must of done something right as one player bought the game using his phone before he left.

RuneQuest Paraphernalia 

IMG_2295 2.jpg

“They look like something from Biscuit Week on Bake Off” Daily Dwarf

I had a bad case of ‘gamers’ back’ on the Sunday. Schlepping all of my gear in a ruck sack for two days took its toll. There’s just so much wonderful stuff for RuneQuest to share. I used my new Q-WorkShop, turquoise dice-set, complete with its hit location ‘left-leg’ bias. There are new ones on the way apparently, but I think it’s traditional for the left leg to be the first place hit. It always raises a cheer.

The Glorantha Source book was also useful to share with the players. During down-time it was an opportunity to flick through and admire the art and study some of the cult relationships. One of the players was well-versed in the cosmology of Glorantha. He was playing Sorala, the pre-generated character from the rule-book who is the scribe from Nochet, an initiate of Lhankor May. I was very grateful when he provided information about Dragon Pass at different points during play as it prevented a GM info-dump.

Last, but not least, it was the Strike Rank tracker from Infinity Engine what broke the gamers back. This is a beautifully engraved wooden strip with rules and a twelve phase gauge to keep a track of turn order. There’s also matching Rune tokens which can be used on the tracker and to mark ‘augments’ when characters have active ‘runic inspiration’.

It’s hard for an old dog to learn new tricks. In the thrill of battle, I forgot to refer to it, using instead my ‘keep it in your head’ system that I’ve used for years. That said, the tracker is a nice thing to have at the table as a talking point and useful for explaining strike rank initiative order rules.

The Broken Tower

This is the forth time that I have GMd this scenario: the first time was around the time of its release, the second was recorded for The Smart Party and the third was at UK Games Expo. This time the players really bought into the mythic setting and brought their own ideas and concepts to the scenes, there was more of an eerie quality to the journey through the bad lands.

They were certainly a single-minded party of adventurers who were determined to complete their task. Vostor, the Lunar exile, was particularly forthright.

The Grey Dogs never stood a chance.


Asako-soh was the genial host for the day and he looked after us throughout the weekend. The night before he arranged a meal at Warwick Spice, there were samosas for lunch and a GM goody bag containing a liquorice pipe.

Lunch was a time to re-group and say hello to podcast listeners.

The highlight of the weekend came from a couple of people who were grateful to the GROGPOD as they had started playing regularly thanks to listening. Like the samosa, they gave me much needed nourishment to get me fired up.

A Darkness at RuneGate

Thanks to Richard August, one of the members of the GROGSQUAD, I was given a preview draft of a new QuickStart that’s in development. Rich is one of the writers who designed the adventure. It was a real privilege to playtest something that only a handful of people in the world have played before.

If you know Rich’s work from such supplements as Three Faces of the Wendigo you’ll know that he has a real flair for the macabre. A Darkness … is no exception. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s an investigation with a pervasive stench of the horrific.

The players enjoyed the distinctive ‘The Wicker Man’ folk-horror elements as they encountered people of RuneGate who had embraced a new way of life, adopting a sinister, yet appealing serenity while those around them were in disorder.

RuneQuest fans new and old will enjoy the climatic encounter.

QuickStart apart

The pre-generated characters that appeared in the original QuickStart appear in the new rule book. I used the new ones as they are laid out over two pages which makes things easier to spot, however I failed my roll and missed the fact that there are some new features in the character sheets.

“How does sorcery work?”


I made something up. MGF. Right?




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Intro: It has been a summer of love for the library – there’s too much on there!

Open Box: We’re in Port Street in Manchester reflecting on the campaign

The White Dwarf: Daily Dwarf goes Against the Giants.

Games Master’s Screen: What’s our favourite class?

Ed’s Shed: Ed decides to ‘bring out the Gimp‘ when he creates a dynamic, digital table top.

Outro: Find out more about the Patreon campaign and the next GROGZINE.

IMG_2335.JPGWork has commenced on the annual ‘zine that we put together as a ‘thank you’ to Patreon backers of the Podcast, who keep us going with monthly tips into the hat.

The previous two issues are available to Patreons on PDF as hard copies are extremely limited. The print run will be determined by the number of Patreons at the end of 2018, so if you want a hard copy, you’ll need to sign up before the end of November.

This time, we’re looking beyond White Dwarf and taking our inspiration from some of our old school, favourite ‘zines such as the peerless DragonLords.

Russ Nicolson is on board to produce another wonderful cover for issue three and GROGSQUADer Marc Laming will be reimagining Daily Dwarf again.

The content list for the main magazine looks like this so far:

Steel Hearts and Straight Razors – an epic WarHammer Fantasy Role-playing scenario from Rog Coe –

Lempfahle hurled himself into the undergrowth, sprang up the high boundary wall and jumped down the other side, before pelting into the dark city streets.

Minutes later, he paused for breath outside a workshop, despite the interruption he still had a decent haul safe in the bag at his side; he’d lost his tools, but he could buy more. He exhaled with relief, it looked like ‘Three Balls’ had pulled it off again.

It was then he saw the blue glow from the corner behind him and the skittering of barbed feet as a vision of chaotic horror raced shrieking toward him….

Author Niall Hunt goes in search of his past and the Midlands Role-Playing Club

There’s no school like the Old SchoolThe Old Scouse Role-Player, Neil Benson, provides an introduction to the OSR

Ramshackle – Nick Edwards looks back at the appeal of the Judges Guild

FRP Family Tree – FRP writer Sean Hillman looks at the different directions that d100 games have grown towards.

Still Golden? – Jerry Nuckolls found Golden Heroes 1st edition after hunting for it for thirty odd years, what did it reveal?

More content is promised from great the great GROGSQUAD talent pool: watch this space for more.

This year, depending on your pledge level, you’ll get a bundle which will include The Collected Daily Dwarf Volume 3, with essays on the Golden Age of White Dwarf about Judge Dredd, Paranoia, Golden Heroes and more.

For the first time, you can ‘own’ the dubious wisdom of Judge Blythy in his ‘Book of Judgment‘ where he hand-picks and analyses 10 of his favourite mechanics.


Not sure what you’ve missed in previous years? Thankfully, Pookie has provided his usual forensic analysis on his long-running, always interesting, Reviews from R’Lyeh.

All this is due to be released in January 2019. Keep watching for updates.

Hi everyone,

Hope that you have enjoyed your Summer. I was lucky enough to have a couple of weeks in the USA: a week in San Francisco, searching for locations from my favourite movies, admiring the Bay Area that provided inspiration for both Greg Stafford and Jack Vance; then a week in LA battling  the hoards in DisneyLand.

Like most holidays, it gave me a little time to do some navel-gazing, so here’s some fluff and lint that I found there:

GROGFRINGE– On Thursday 30th August, I’ll be making tickets available for The Old School GROG-FIGHT that will be taking place at Fan Boy 3. There are 20 places available for a classic bar-room brawl across four different locations, using four different systems. Ever wanted to floor an orc with a bar-stool using the rules of The Fantasy Trip? Now’s your chance. Neil Benson (the Old Scouser Role-Player) is hosting the event between 13.00 – 17.00 as a warm up for GROGMEET eve.

BLADES … after dark. You may remember thatlast year I GM’d a 24 Hour game of RuneQuest for charity. This year, I’ll be taking part again for 12 hours playing Blades in the Dark. Sponsors will be able to create a list of items, targets to be stolen or assassinated during the game. This year it for the benefit of MIND (which will also be the GROGMEET raffle charity).

RuneQuest Glorantha– if you have not played RuneQuest Glorantha and would like to, then let me know as I’m looking for players. Put your name in the comments. Game is likely to be scheduled for January next year, online using Roll 20 and will be for new RuneQuest Glorantha players only.

Smart Party – Our friends at What would the Smart Party Do? Podcast have recently interviewed Satine Pheonix, the community manager for Dungeons and Dragons (R). I always think their pod is worth listening to, but this is an extra special treat. A great interview that explores the differences and similarities between the UK and US gaming scene and is brimming with boundless enthusiasm. These are cooperative games, why does the scene seem so competitive? What can we do to engage more people with the hobby? Great, inspiring stuff.

Vintage – I’ve found a podcast that you might enjoy. The Vintage RPG Podcastfrom Stu Horvath and John McGuire looks at games from yester-year in an insightful yet unpretentious way. I’ve listened to the first couple and enjoyed their emphasis on playing and how the artwork shapes your imagination.

Vance – Next year we have some GROGPOD episodes planned that look at some of the influences that we had back in the day – a review of some of the media that shaped our imagination, Starburst Memories of such classics as Robin of Sherwood and, dare I say it, Lord of the Rings.

This is an advanced warning of one of the episodes, so you get the all important reading in before hand so you don’t get left behind. Next year, The Design Mechanism, producers of Mythras are producing a Lyonesse RPG. On my holiday I revisited the novel and managed to generate a few sides of adventure/ NPC ideas.

Never under estimate Vance’s impact on the development of RPGs. Check out this further reading recommended by Neil Benson about the impact of Vance on Dungeon Crawl Classicsand this one from Jon Hancock about how it could have been a RQ killer.

Adios amigos


Enthusiastic GROGSQUADer Dr Cowie is a frequent convention attendee and self-confessed Chaosium fan-boy who kindly agreed to file this after action report about this year’s GenCon event on the Streets of Indianapolis: Born to Game!

This year I attended GenCon for the sixth time, taking both my sons for the fourth and fifth time respectively. Why would anyone endure the predictably ghastly missed plane connections and jet lag over and over again?

Each year sixty thousand gamers descend on downtown Indianapolis, streets are closed off for parties with live bands, beer and food trucks abound, restaurants have custom menus, retail staff dress up and join in – even the airport has gaming tables set up in the departure lounges. It’s enormous (the Lucas Oil Football Stadium is only the third largest space), but incredibly friendly and relaxed.

Speaking of friends, the first time I attended GenCon I went on my own, and it was frankly a bit overwhelming. But apparently if you have tens of thousands of people in one place gaming and chatting and eating and drinking – turns out lots of them are lovely. And every year you know more and more of the people you bump into and it feels more and more heading back to a small town full of gamers where people know your name.

But of course, you are there to GAME! GenCon is a chance to play with incredible DMs and players (usually incredibly good, though sometimes…) Over the four and a half days the boys and I played Runequest, Champions, Pathfinder 2E, D&D 5E, various boardgames , a quick LARP session and finished with our traditional Call of Cthulhu on Sunday afternoon. Oldest Boy tends to go for at least one all nighter with Sith Yoga to perk him up in time for breakfast – easy enough if you have the stamina of a teenager and you’re below legal drinking age in the US.

Then there is the GenCon Exhibit Hall. You’ve probably seen the videos, but like so much about the convention it’s difficult to get your head round without being there. This year there were over five hundred exhibitors, many of which have large dedicated areas for demos (or queues!) or have several different locations because you just can’t get round the hall in one day. Everyone you’ve ever heard of in gaming is there, usually trying to sell you something but extraordinarily prepared to chat. Name dropping is almost pointless, if anyone attending the convention cares about a “celebrity” they’ve probably already spent ten minutes pestering them about gnomes in WFRP4E.

But everyone has One Special Thing* you don’t get elsewhere. In some ways GenCon is thirty or more different conventions simultaneously with a couple of thousand people at each. Do you love Magic the Gathering? Pre 70’s wargames? LARPs? Pathfinder? Miniatures? Cosplay? Virtually anything you can think of brings hundreds of excited people together – not really interacting with the other conventions but mixing in amiable (if sometimes slightly bemused manner) in the Exhibit Hall and across the city.

After all this; why am I not recommending that everyone grabs a ticket and heads over? Lots of reasons. It’s expensive – about £2,000 each all in for me and the boys (though you can save a lot of money by staying further away from the con). It’s huge and baffling the first time. There is a non zero chance you will spend over twenty four hours getting home, and lose your luggage while you’re about it. Most importantly – you can meet equally lovely people a lot closer to home at UK conventions (though the beer is more expensive at Expo).

But, even after all these warnings, if you’re ever thinking of going, give me a heads up. Over a pint at GROGMEET (if you’re going) I’ll tell you the tales we couldn’t print – and it would be great to have other GrogSquadders at GenCon next year!

*My Special Thing is stalking Chaosium employees. Luckily their huge generosity (or maybe poor security) has given me the chance to playtest a possible Dragon Pass remake with Chris Klug, and to play Gods War with Sandy Petersen. This year I’d like to thank Todd Gardiner for running the organised play, and Scott and Tracey for awesome Runequest and Call of Cthulhu sessions respectively. But ultimately – where but GenCon can Jeff Richard drag you through the Big Rubble and Michael O’Brien take you behind the scenes at the Second Battle of Moonbroth on the same day?


The crowds begin to gather

Jeff Richards reveals a Secret Shield (coming soon)

Thanks to Scott, our awesome @Chaosium_Inc GM who took us through the Broken Tower…

OK, competition time! Of which iconic picture is this a perfect reproduction? PS Thank you @Chaosium_Inc for loan of shield. PPS My son is being a lizard.

Escape from the Big Rubble, before Jeff Richard’s voice completely gives up…

But we got away with a Wyrm’s treasure. Well, a handful of it, anyway..

MOB uses his awesome antipodean acting skills to portray the misery of a tortured talking horse.

After being lost in transit: Triumph! Can’t thank you all enough for support with Divine Intervention!

Most important, @GraemeJDavis confirmed that Gnomes will definitely have a nonzero chance of appearing in #WFRP! (Not a guarantee)


Looking buff … Cthulhu arrives at Fan Boy in Manchester

My favourite FLGS, host of GROGMEET eve, FanBoy Three has a small collection of vintage RPG stuff for sale in a discreet corner of the store. I often dip in to see what’s on offer, as it’s usually at a reasonable price and often some real treasure can surface. 

Normally, I can curtail my irrational impulses to buy things in a physical ‘bricks and mortar’ shop as I’m browsing with the default setting of “do I really need this” which usually short-curcuits my desire to buy things for the sake of it.

Last month was an exception. I went to Manchester with my good friend Judge Blythy and had a good old drink. After a few pints of Neck Oil we went to visit the vintage corner of FanBoy Three; It was like an analogue version of a Sunday late at night when I hit eBay after the bottle. The normal rules did not apply. I filled my real-life basket with old copies of White Dwarf, a couple of Citadel Companions with their covers missing, a dog-earred copy of Champions and, most interesting of them all PSI World.

There was something compelling about the title. “PSI World” sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?

Blythy kept repeating “are you sure” over and over; but he always does and the Neck Oil was drowning out his Jimothy Cricket advice.

The Armchair Adventurers are not collectors, we are players: if we get it, we play it. Them’s the rules. 

PSI World was released by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1984, written by Del Carr and Cheron with artwork by Bill Willingham and Matt Wagner. It feels like this was their home game that has been transformed into a commercial publication. The main rule book doesn’t offer much about ‘setting’ focusing instead on the convoluted character creation and the barmy combat. The authors encourage you to create your own ‘near future Earth’ setting where there are people with PSI powers and the ‘norms’ who feel threatened by them.

It’s a shame that they didn’t have more confidence in their own setting which is given more detail in the ‘The PSI World Adventure’ included in the box set. It details the history of the emergence of the PSIS and how they have become persecuted in a stratified society. It’s possible to play characters from different sides. The same setting is used in some of the other supporting material that was published for the game; all currently available for download at drivethru.rpg.

The rules are not crunchy, they’re clunky, (there’s a skill for riding a bicycle for goodness sake) but there are elements in here that I like and with a bit of work, could be entertaining. 

I have an idea that has been insipired by Wild Wild Country, a documentary currently playing on Netflix about the Indian guru Bhagwan Shee Rajneesh (Osho) and his community of followers, that could work in PSI World. 

Maybe it will surface in 2019. Maybe it’s the Neck Oil talking.



This is all you get for ‘rationale’ and setting in the core book. It suggests that there needs to be some conflict, but it’s up to you to determine what form it takes.


Although PSI World is very laid-back about the setting, it’s very specific when it comes to the price of Mens’ Slacks


The craziest Hit Point calculation ever? [(STR+WILL)/2 +END/2] = HPN then HPN x 1d3 = Hit Point Base THEN consult a couple of tables for additional STR, WILL and END modifiers.


The adventure included in the box set provides the ‘play-test’ setting which is interesting. I like the idea that Player Character ‘norms’ can suddenly develop a PSI skill, mid-adventure, on the roll of a 1 on a D100


Meet Elton McGuire, an Empath Cop: “Do you feel lucky punk? I’ve got a feeling that you don’t” 


Norms can get more ‘education’ therefore access to more skills. Still a bit boring though. Decided to give Julie a cool ‘MagJet Pistol’ to compensate.


Don’t browse drunk people


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INTRO: I’ve got one of those blowers with a feather on the end to celebrate our anniversary and the release of RuneQuest RolePlaying in Glorantha.

MOB RETURNS: MOB talks about all the different ways that you can play in Glorantha: 13th Age, HeroQuest, but especially RuneQuest. Here he talks about how RuneQuest appeals to the gamers from back in the day, through its legacy supplements and how it can appeal to new gamers who have discovered Glorantha through The King of Dragon Pass. He also talks about some of the new releases, such as the Bestiary and 6 Ages as well as some of the fan initiatives such as Encounter Role-Play. He also reveals the plans to create a site for Glorantha fan material using a similar model as The Miskatonic  Repository.


JUDGE BLYTHY ROLLS: We discuss ‘how to get started in Glorantha’ with an emphasis on ‘play’s the thing’.

ACTUAL PLAY: Gaz and Baz from The Smart Party podcast with Matt Hart from Steam Forged Games join Dirk in a Diana Jones Award winning segment of Actual Play. If you want to see more then head to their site.

JUDGE BLYTHY ROLLS AGAIN: We discuss character creation using the new rules. I try to appeal to the Judge with my new gizmos from Infinity Engine and Q Workshop.

OUTRO: There’s three months to go to join the Patreon campaign to receive a hard-copy of the GROGZINE 19.