Episode 6 (Part 1) AD&D RPG Dungeon Master’s Guide



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Roll up! Roll up! Finally, the GROGNARD files turns it’s attention to the grand daddy of them all. Make some space in your pod box for a 2 hour spectacular.

Introduction. Dirk shows off his new turn table and invites you to add songs to his RPG playlist

1. Daily Dwarf Open Box. 7.04 – Find out how @dailydwarf was introduced to the hobby via Dungeons and Dragons.

2. Open Box. 11.08. The Armchair Adventurers talk about the early days of playing D&D with only one third of the rules and discovering the red box in ’83.

3. The White Dwarf. 32.39 @dailydwarf begins his personal selection of articles from the greatest RPG magazine of them all.

4. Open Box Again 41.00 The Armchair Adventurers rediscover AD&D in the early 21st Century.

5. The White Dwarf. 54.11 @dailydwarf continues his picks.

6. Judge Blythy Rules! 1.00 Judge Blythy pours over the finer details of The Dungeon Master’s Guide while Dirk rides in on a high horse.

7. The White Dwarf. @dailydwarf concludes his choices with praise for Lew Pulsipher’s contributions.

8. Thanks to new Patreons and a request for entries to our postbag. Next time we’ll be looking at The Player’s Handbook.

Author: Dirk

Host of The GROGNARD RPG Files podcast. Talking bobbins about Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, T&T, AD&D and others from back in the day and today.

23 thoughts on “Episode 6 (Part 1) AD&D RPG Dungeon Master’s Guide”

  1. Possibly my favourite episode yet (and not just because of the free magic item). We started out with the Red Box version after schoolmate Mark bought a copy of B1 In Search of the Unknown, sat next to me on the school bus, and asked me if I had any idea what it was….some kind of weird story with loads of numbers but with orcs and monsters like the Hobbit. Over the course of a week in 1978 we finally figured out we needed rules to go with it and tracked down a copy of D&D Basic from the multi-purpose games/twee crafts shop at the top of the appropriately named Steep Hill in Lincoln. I think it must have been right on the cusp of a half term or long weekend as I seem to recall contiguous days spent charging through dungeons with a party of characters imaginatively named Bid, Bod and Bert. One of our very first encounters was a single 1HD skeleton and as fresh initiates into the Harryhausen Argonauts experience the correct response to an animated skellie was, of course, “Run Away!” despite the fact Mark was desperately trying to reassure us we could comfortably beat the nasty and thus be able to go further than the first room of the dungeon.

    Somewhere along the way we got hold of a copy of both the PHB and Monster Manual for AD&D and for whatever reason it was decided I’d now take over the DMing reigns. After Mark’s long-suffering parents bought him a copy of the DMG for Xmas (failing to appreciate the Prime Directive’s insistence that he could not even open their gift because he wasn’t the Dungeon Master) there was no stopping us and the following 8 years or so were spent pretty much solidly roleplaying anything and everything we could get our grubby mitts on; like yourselves, RQ, Traveller, and Stormbringer all made an appearance by way of Aftermath, Bushido, Golden Heroes, Call of Cthulhu, Gamma World and enough rulebooks to fill the bookcases that still insulate two walls of my garden-shed office. But it was D&D that started it all and that will always spark the fondest memories, even if nowadays we all think it’s a bit clunky and that it’s much more fun adapting every setting under the sun to BRP (mainly because it avoids having to re-learn other systems as it’s still me who does most of the bloody GMing).

    Terrific podcast, chaps. Thanks !

    1. I love hearing ‘first encounter’ stories, thanks Ian. We too have had the temptation to stick to BRP during our renaissance. We pledged to push ourselves this year and have been playing new games. Watch this space for the report on how Nights Black Agents went!

      1. I’ve got more rulesets than I’ll ever have time to play and much as I’d love to try several of them out, our group now includes so many neophytes that the painfully few times we get to play anything means the decision to stick to BRP is a purely practical one to avoid more lost time explaining new rules. 1 year into the campaign and we’re still explaining which funny – shaped die is which… Next up is a BRP Lord of the Rings mini campaign because it seemed the most obvious touchstone/familiar point of reference for two new players who’ve never played anything but are more than familiar with the films. I am kicking myself, however, having realised this would have been the perfect opportunity to run a Star Wars rpg from one of the different versions sitting unplayed on the shelves…

  2. I’m really enjoying your podcast. I grew up playing D&D and then AD&D. I guess it was because it was all I could find in the hinterlands of Canada. After listening to your podcast, I’m glad I jumped on the Runequest Kickstarter.

    Can’t wait until the next installment!

    1. Very pleased to hear that it has got you excited about Runequest. I believe that they are being popped in the post as we speak!

  3. Enjoying your Spotify playlist, some of my favorite prog classics and bands, Yes, Tull, Rush. I’d never heard of Pallas and not overly familiar with Marillion (but awesome track). Back in the day only LP I ever remember us listening to was Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration. I think if I was to suggest something for your playlist today it would be Genesis’s White Mountain or Suppers ready… and maybe something from Alan Parsons Project or Tangerine Dream.

  4. That list is based on a mix-tape CD that Blythy and I put together in 2007. I think we had a rule about “no Genesis” as it get’s us into an argument. He is late Genesis. I’m early Genesis. He’s wrong, so I’ve put Supper’s Ready on the list.

    It’s a collaborative list, so feel free to drag and drop additional tunes in there … I’d love to hear your choices.

    All Around My Hat is in there for a special reason … a reason that we’ll cover in the D&D podcast, at some point!

  5. Contrary to your experience, I have found that beer and rpgs mix pretty well. The group I am playing with now meet at a local brewpub. Our sessions are only 2-3 hours, so passing out has not been an issue for us.

    1. Some people handle it better than others. I think part of our problem was that one of us was a designated driver, so when the madness started, the sober one just wanted to head home.

      I do great NPC accents once drunk.

  6. Hey Dirk,
    Great episode! I look forward to the next two where you discuss PHB and MM. Kudos to Daily Dwarf for starting with Holmes Basic! 😉 Such stories make DM Liz smile…

    As much as I look forward to your D&D coverage, I’m also waiting for you guys to cover FGU’s Aftermath! game. I’d like to see if my experiences with the game were duplicated ‘across the pond’ as it were.
    (aka DM Mike on the Save or Die podcast)

    1. Basic D&D is many people’s introduction to RPGs, so whichever set you encounter first (Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer) will always have a special place in your affections. And even though it’s not the greatest of modules, I also remember B1 ‘In Search of the Unknown’ fondly. (Except for the use of roman numerals for the rooms though – there’s a cold corner of hell waiting for whoever decided that was a good idea.)

      The podcast made me go back and read the 1st edition DMG, which I hadn’t looked at in an age – it’s as idiosyncratic and overstuffed as I remember it – great stuff. (It’s the only 1st edition manual I still own. All the others went in the great RPG sell-off of 2007. I also put the DMG up for auction, but nobody wanted it – make of that what you will!)

    2. Thanks for the couple of mentions that you’ve given us DM Mike – we’ve been reaching parts of the world that don’t normally come here!

      As for Aftermath, I need to recharge my calculator and come back to you (stats – for a cycle?)

      Loving your back catalogue too.



  7. Dirk, I’ll patiently await your calculator recharge. Though you might have a PC booted as a backup. 😉

    Daily Dwarf,

    Alas, I only have 2 print copies of White Dwarf…it was hard to get that mag in 1980s East Texas. LOL

    A few years ago I did pick up the White Dwarf CD ROM that GW released in limited form though. This post had me looking back at it for the review in question. I think Andy Slack put it best with:

    “But be very careful. This is no game for the novice, either as player or GM. You must know exactly where you are going, and why, before you let the first group of adventurers scuttle fearfully out into the daylight.” – White Dwarf, #34

    Complicated doesn’t begin to cover that game. Which is a pity, because it has a lot of great info on post-apok RPG in it. The rules are just too finiky, and we tended to run a stripped down version of the rules when we played back in the day.

    Don’t take a hit in area 12!

    DM Mike

  8. Dirk

    Thoroughly enjoyed this and your other podcasts. I started off with with D&D Basic Set in (I think) 1985, I was always the DM (you shalt have no other DM than me).

    There were no Cliff Richard Dragons, but I remember writing a massive dungeon crawl (no dice were hurt in its planning) in search of Pink Dragons. Strange what a 13 year old mind conjures up. I also remember a classic adventure to rescue the Mayor’s dog. Sadly unplayed. An attempt to keep things real…

    It used to take more time writing adventures than it used to take to play them and so I put the players through some real stinkers just because I had sweated blood for several weeks over them.

    We also played Warhammer (roleplay and battle), MERP and Traveller. Happy times (with the odd temporary fall out) that these podcasts bring flooding back. Thank you!


  9. I think there’s something to be written about the hours that were spent preparing for sessions. We used to have two nights a week that we designated ‘Scenario Nights’ were we would sit in each other’s bedrooms writing and plotting adventures ready for the weekends. You’re right, no matter how terrible the ideas were, we HAD to play the adventures because we’d invested so much time into creating them.

    Pleased to hear that you’re enjoying the podcast – it would be really appreciated, if you get chance – for you to stick a review on iTunes. It really helps people discover the podcast.

    Thanks – Dirk

  10. My congratulations on keeping up the tone of the podcast. You have managed an entire session about the DMG without once mentioning the Random Harlots Table: just the thing that you need when trying to decide if the lady of the night at the next street corner was a slattern, a slapper, a courtesan, a houri, a good-time-girl….

    It is possible that I am getting to be a dirty old man.

    I know what Hizzoner the Judge means about random dungeon generators but I think he’s got the wrong end of the stick in one way: they were for using before you sat down to GM not in the session. I have a couple on my shelves (long unused) HOW TO HOST A DUNGEON and the CENTRAL CASTING random dungeon generator. The first is more interesting since it tries to give you a system to create the dungeon’s deep history, how the great big hole in the ground came into being and the traces left by all of its inhabitants down the years.

    I never felt entirely happy with the results of the random systems but some of the computer applications do strike me as just the sort of thing I would need if I ever ran another dungeon bash campaign.

    And I know what Hizzoner means about resurrection as well but I still have a fond place in my heart for it. It features in EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE as a service you could have access to if you sacrificed enough of your accumulated wealth to bring a fallen comrade back: something that either made for party bonding or a lot of ill feeling. I remember in one GURPS BANESTORM game having an intense if inconclusive debate about what the going rate for resurrection insurance should be and should professional adventurers have higher rates. What does dying twice in two months do to your No-Claims Bonus?

    And in some SF games you have things like characters being re-created from cloned bodies and memory backups. I think this adds flavour rather than removes it.

    And as with hiring an assassin the quest to find resurrection for Unlucky Clem should be a story in itself.

    I was giving up AD&D just as you were first discovering it. A pity we never met: I could have offered you a good deal on second hand copies of the rules.

    And god! Lew Pulsipher! I have very vague memories of a couple of games with him back in the 70s. Not a lot of detail except that I think he didn’t approve of me, perhaps because I wasn’t a wargamer.

  11. Hey Dirk,
    Since you guys seem to be big Chaosium fans (CoC, RQ, Stormbringer), did you ever see the box game Worlds of Wonder? This was the one with intro to BRP along with Magicworld, Superworld, and Futureworld. I’d love to hear your opinions on it.

    DM Mike

    1. It was one of those games that we really wanted, but could never afford back in the day. Magic World remains a great rule-set and we have a session ‘on the slate’ and we will no doubt cover it in a future episode.

  12. Hey guys! Thanks for the shout out, I am Dave Buswell-Wible. Also, love your discussions of the old rules. I am about your age and discovered DnD first, but moved to all things Chaosium once I discovered it. I have not played much of late, since folks my age are busy with kids and family, as am I.
    Since you share a lot of my views, I would love to hear your take on the latest Gloranthan RPG: Heroquest. I find it difficult to wrap my head around, and go for the Fate RPG when looking for a more narrative game. The Fate guys, by the way, will be on the Wil Wheaton Tabletop game in this upcoming season.
    I look forward to getting to the UK some day to say hi (I am trapped in the USA at the moment). Cheers!

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