The GROGNARD Files

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

Mike Brunton: a tribute

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Mike Brunton, our special guest for Episode 29, suddenly passed away on 18th July 2019. This is the interview in full, released as a celebration of his gaming career. It also features Paul Cockburn adding a tribute to his old friend and colleague.

Another GROGZINE, another magnificent Russ Nicolson cover creation!

The next GROGZINE which will be published in time for virtual GROGMEET next year.

I’m looking for submissions from the GROGSQUAD.

This time I want to make a bit different.

Previous GROGZINEs have featured articles and useable content like scenarios and reviews that were a homage to White Dwarf, Imagine and 80s ‘zines.

This time, I want to create a ‘peoples’ history of RPGs’, looking back at some of your home-brew creations from back in the day.

What were the worlds you created?

Who were your favourite characters?

What happened in your epic campaigns?

What were the conventions that you attended?

Who were you playing with and how did you get together?

I’m looking for articles, features, scenarios based on the ideas above: please let me know if you want to be part of the project.

It will have all the same illustrations and look and feel, but this time it’s all about your experiences. What about retro-fitting your favourite characters from back in the day to bring them into the 21st century? Or redesigning your favourite scenario to make it playable now? Or sharing the photo-scrapbook of your favourite session?

If you have an idea, or want to crawl up into the loft to discover your lost treasures, then contact me at the usual address: Dirk The Dice At Gmail dot com.

I would like to finalise content before the end of January 2020, so please contact me as soon as possible to discuss your idea.

Join us in a collective memoire of the 70s, 80s and 90s heyday of RPGs!

Dirk the Dice

Patreons who have recently joined since March will start to receive a hard copy of GROGZINE19, until they run out. Watch your doormat during September!

Running with the Gamers

It’s August, it’s the GROGNARD Files, it’s time for an update from GenCon!

Those of you who have read my previous update know the score :enormous, expensive, extraordinary.

So, let’s cover the Big Four, and, heck, let’s rate them out of ten to give this update some sort of tension and excitement!

Stuff! 

“Ho hum, time to pack…. Not sure whether to laugh, or cry, or cackle triumphantly…. Probably cry to start with #FirstWorldGenConProblems

Let’s begin with everything you will have already seen on the interwebs – the cavernous Trade Hall, the New Releases, the Gen Con Limited Editions, the queues, the crowds, the credit card bills… 

Those of you who know me will already have guessed I enjoy this – we had a record haul this year with over 200lbs of games and paraphernalia.

There’s a reason I bring my sons, and though I obviously love the bonding, it’s mostly the luggage allowance.

Top priority this year was unsurprisingly the Chaosium stand, where I ended up bringing back six of the twenty sets of preview Runequest books available for sale (sorry, rest of the world). 

The Trade Hall is almost Vancian, everything you can imagine and a lot more. Twisting and packed pathways through a bazaar lined with entreating booth merchants, bardic music, extraordinary and impossible sights – even the mysterious and forbidden…er… “delights” of the Cosplay Deviants gazebo! 

Have a look at the picture if you want to see what else I managed to find. Ultimately half of this pile was stuff for other people, so this is another reason I’m so keen to tempt you lot along – maybe someone else can share the fetch quests next year? 

9/10

Favourite Purchase – May the Lord above forgive me (because my bank manager won’t) I got a Beadle and Grimm Sinister Silver Edition for Ghosts of Saltmarsh… 

Favourite Paraphernalia – the Oddfish Games Adventure Scents. Sadly looking at the site online doesn’t really capture a good sniff at “Fetid Swamp”or the other extraordinary perfumes…

Food! 

18oz Cowboy ribeye with horseradish and gorgonzola butter. Come on, come next year, you know you want to….

Well, people seemed a lot more interested in pictures of food than anything else I tried to communicate about my trip, so I thought I’d better put it in. There is a lot of good food in Indianapolis – I’m not pretending it’s necessarily the hautest of cuisine, but they really do comfort food incredibly well and in the quantities you’d expect. There is everything you’d hope for – and the huge numbers of food trucks have a ridiculous amount of variety with (usually) short queues. 

8.5/10

Favourite Meal – the legendary horseradish shrimp cocktail, epic steak and gigantic bread pudding at Harry and Izzy’s.

Entirely Coincidental Weight Gain – this year 6kg. Perhaps I need to walk around the Trade Hall a bit more

Games!

The Pathfinder Room. The PSi World Room was twice as big (obvs)

Perhaps the one area where Gen Con doesn’t excel. Companies are always short of people running their games, and are happy to stump up con passes to those who run large numbers of sessions. Unfortunately this sometimes affects quality control, and the boys and I always have at least one really tepid game that reminds us how important a good GM is, and how lucky we are usually. 

The Fight In The Skies Society play Dawn Patrol all GenCon every year – Mike Carr is the only guy to have been to every GenCon…

This isn’t the norm, though; and on the flip side you have games you just can’t get anywhere else – epic Pathfinder games with fifty tables working together, demos of the new hotness, escape rooms, huge wargames; and, of course, you can find yourself playing with the designer of your favourite game if you get lucky….

But seriously, if you just want high quality and reliable quality games, DMs and fellow players, stick with Expo, or even better – Grogmeet :- ) 

7/10

Favourite Game

The outstanding “Flaming Star” by the “You Too Can Cthulhu” team – complete with sixties airplane LARP, video screens and *MILD SPOILER* the near thermonuclear destruction of America

People!

This is really the most important thing for me, and obviously the most personal.  It’s certainly why I go every year, and every year it gets better, as you meet up not only with your friends from previous years but also find new ones. The Trade Hall is a great place to meet and chat with game designers both great and small, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars with reliably good beer to continue the conversations. 

9/10 (would have been 10 – but, dear reader, you couldn’t make it)

As always, Gen Con is amazing, but don’t get too much FOMO. Conventions are 80% the people who attend them, and I’m sure everyone gets as much joy from their regular gaming group, or the local conventions they attend. 

On the other hand – if you ever want to give it a try, give me a shout, and I’d be delighted to go over the inside scoop…

Doc Cowie

Friday 08:11:2019 13:00-17:00

Now open for registration, a spectacular OSR event featuring ENnie Award winning MOTHERSHIP, hosted by very good friend Old Scouse Roleplayer at FanBoy3. If you are signed up for GROGMEET, you should have had confirmation that registration is open.

GROGMEET eve games and the main event will be available for sign-up in October.

The research vessel USS Arkhangelsk is at the start of it’s return journey back to Earth following an exploratory mission to the planet Goloka in the Ivaldi system. The ship’s course has been set, autopilot engaged; prior to entering stasis the crew gather in the cargo hold, the largest single room on the ship, before heading off to their cryo bays. Commander Scott Gorman addresses the crew, commending them on a job well done; the scientific mission was a complete success with the sample in storage being a real coup for the company. Better yet, the reports of a xenomorph presence in the area have been wildly exaggerated. 

A toast is made; champagne would have been nice but would hardly sit well during statis. Standard pre-cryo protein rations are eaten.  All is well and as the crew feel the anti-statis drugs kick in they head to their bunks, drifting into a deep sleep for the long haul, secure in the knowledge that the ships’ androids will see them safely home.

The 7th August is our 4th Anniversary.

The Podcast is entering the 5th year of production. There’s been 51 podcasts, over 50 blog posts, 3 GROGZINEs, 3 Volumes of The Collected Daily Dwarf, 3 GROGMEETs, 2 virtual GROGMEET, and over 500 hours of online play with Patreons supporters.

We do this for fun and we’ll keep doing it while it stays fun.

The GROGSQUAD patreon campaign

We have a Patreon campaign to support the different projects and incentivise us to get better at what we do.

Thank you to all the people who have come and gone and, especially, those who have stuck around over the years. In the current uncertain climate and with the ever-mounting portfolio of micro-subscriptions nibbling away at your income, it’s very much appreciated that you give us a tip every month.

Over the coming months we have more podcast content planned, including interviews, GROGGLEBOX, actual play samples, as well as the usual bobbins from Blythy and Daily Dwarf.

I’m sending out the final batch of GROGZINE19 to people who have joined us since March, so look out for them arriving soon. For GROGZINE20, I have a new idea, which I will share with you soon.

NEW GOALS

GROGSQUAD locker: A private space for fanzine PDFs and other shared resources. 
Monthly One-shots: Every month a 2 hour one-shot held on a Sunday evening between  21:00 – 23:00 online will be hosted by Dirk and Blythy on alternate months. 
Happy AP: Record and release raw recordings of the Monthly One-shots on a separate channel to the GROGPOD.
‘Zine Book Club: A monthly discussion about a zine from back in the day loaded into the GROGSQUAD locker. 

Thanks for your support.

Dirk and Blythy.

The Armchair Adventurers were only getting together sporadically in August 1987; our relationship with the hobby was in the throes of the freeze (we went to Games Day in London, advertised in this issue, then our regular games stopped).

There’s some interesting material in this issue that largely passed me by at the time.

The Book Club is taking a break while I’m away. Back in September.

Look forward to your comments.

December 1983, we all huddled in the school library to watch the Thriller video, Chris Foy had taped it off Channel 4 the night before. It was so good, we watched it twice.

Yes were in the pop charts with Owner of a Lonely Heart, as was Roland Rat. On the TV we were scoffing at A Day After Tomorrow, it looked like a walk in the park compared to A Guide to Armageddon, the QED documentary that had rattled our heads the previous year.

Strong on content this one: assassins, The Lone and Level Sands, Demons, Goblin Cults and a daft Giant game. Looking forward to seeing your views…

I was preparing the final touches on Episode 29, part 2, of the GROGPOD last night when the sad news of Mike Brunton’s sudden passing came through via Paul Cockburn.

Mike was very keen to be interviewed for the podcast and very gracious with his time. He enjoyed sharing the stories from his days at TSR (UK), working on Imagine, editing White Dwarf, acting as ‘the fixer’ for the Games Workshop design studio, finishing the colossal work on The Realm of Chaos supplement for Warhammer and his days working in the computer games industry. He conveyed his humour, his thoughtfulness, his imagination and industriousness in the short time we were together.

Our condolences to his family and friends for their loss.

In a change of schedule, we will release the full interview as a tribute to Mike in a few days. Part 2 of Episode 29 will follow later.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate his work with this week’s week’s Book Club with issue 85 from January 1987. Daily Dwarf refers to this as The Second Golden Age of White Dwarf, as Mike cleared the decks and injected a new lease of life into the magazine.

As ever, we look forward to your comments and contributions.

The dice have tumbled to number 65 featuring a cover that was replicated in plastic on the back page: The Fantasy; The Figure; The Finish.

May 1985, I was in deep with my PBMs. I couldn’t tell you what was happening in the rest of the world because I was locked in my bedroom writing entries to be licked, stamped and posted all over the country.

It was shortly afterward that I faked my own death to get out of it.

This issue features a scenario that nearly resulted in Simon cutting my throat with a scalpel; Smile Please is a bait and switch classic. This issue is at the height of when White Dwarf was picking up some of the debates that had been played out in zines for years: check out Mike Lewis’ article and Graeme Davis’ letter.

There’s loads of content to go at in this one!