Episode 2 (Part 1) Call of Cthulhu RPG

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Introduction – The origin of the game

Section One – Open Box – reliving the memories of playing the game for the first time and the faltering start.

Section Two – Judge Blythy Rules! – The Armchair Adventurers’ Resident Rules Lawyer discusses the finer points of the rules and style of play. We also speculate on what horrors have faced British Prime Ministers.

Section Three – White Dwarf – @dailydwarf talks about his early experiences of playing Call of Cthulhu and selects his favourite item from the pages from the halcyon days of the UK’s best gaming magazine.

Section Four – An invitation to listeners to contribute their stories of playing Call of Cthulhu in the early days.

Look out for a Micro Grod Pod coming soon featuring a list of our favourite CoC supplements and a current online pricing guide.

Episode 3 will feature TRAVELLER RPG

Runequest RPG Ep. 1 (Part 2)

The second part of Episode 1 of the GROGNARD files which covers the potted history of the games.

In the second episode of the GROGNARD files podcast, Dirk the Dice looks at the history of the game, where did it come from and where was it going back in 2015.

Potted History: Glorantha was the glorious creation of Greg Stafford. This is the story how his creation became a fantastic role-playing world and spawned different editions of RuneQuest.

Post Bag 27:00: People were actually listening to the first part of the episode. Dirk reviews some of the responses to the discussion about RuneQuest and the ‘duck’ issue.

ReMaster Refelction 37:00 looking back on the first episode, eight years later.

Support the GROGPOD on Patreon.

Current Vacancies: Crew Members Required

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I’ve been preparing for a future podcast about TRAVELLER RPG and have found myself falling into a vortex of reading and re-reading the material that I once knew so well. I rarely refereed the game back in the day, but I was an enthusiastic player. I loved the potential of world-hopping: encountering the weird and the wonderful and being stuck with them in Low Passage for a week.


Even the die-hard, rose-tinted fan will admit that most of the published adventures produced by GDW, in the little black books, were a bit weak. They provided a sketchy plot, a little local colour and a couple of plans and expected the referee to busk the rest while on the fly. If you were being generous you could describe them as a ‘framework’ for your gaming group to build upon. If you were being honest, you’d have to admit that they were a bit of a swizz.

There was an exception that proved the rule in the form of THE TRAVELLER ADVENTURE, which was the first real attempt at creating a ‘role-playing’ campaign pack, all the others seemed like deck-plans for a table-top SF skirmish, war game.

I played the adventure twice, and both times it was completely different, because of the style of play by the referee. The first time was brisk and combat heavy. The second was bureaucratic and talky. Both versions were wrapped in an intriguing plot.


I’m going to play it again… this time as a referee in an online game, and you are invited.

I need a crew for THE MARCH HARRIER, a 400 Ton subsidised merchant that serves the worlds of the ARAMIS TRACE. The subsidy is owned by a blind trust based on Regina and the crew will have a broad discretion in selecting cargoes, destinations and charters, providing basic financial and contract obligations are met.

THE MARCH HARRIER has been running the assigned route for over five years. It’s built up a credit of 80 weeks can begin operations outside of the ARAMIS TRACE at any time.

Presently the ship is in dock at the space port in LEEDOR the capital of ARAMIS …

The game will take place fortnightly in short sessions (in the style of a space opera serial!) online.

‘Session Zero’ will commence on Wednesday 23/09/2015 – Google Hangouts, using the Roll 20 app. Commencing at 21.00 until about 23.00 – a chance to meet your fellow crew members and to walk through the decks of THE MARCH HARRIER.

If you are interested … then please let me know and I’ll get you on the roll call … join me – it’s going to be a blast!

Runequest RPG Ep. 1 (Part 1)

This is where the GROGPOD began. We started playing RPGs with RuneQuest, so we start with the podcast with a history of the game.


It was a steep learning curve, but this was where the GROGPOD first began. This is a remastered version of the original recording. Nothing has been re-recorded, but the levels have been balanced, some light editing of pauses, and chapters added.

In this first episode, I open up the Runequest GROGNARD file, as it’s the game that we first played all those years ago.

Open Box – revealing the content within the 2nd edition box set produced in the UK by Games Workshop

The White Dwarf – @dailydwarf selects the best Runequest feature from White Dwarf magazine.

Judge Blythy Rules! – @sjamb7 our resident rules lawyer talks through some of the finer points of Runequest and argues the toss over Ducks.

Games Master’s Screen – Five Runequest supplements randomly selected using my Grognard table with a buyers guide from @Edinthesand

Coming soon, a Micro Grog Pod containing the Origin Story  and complete history of Runequest. Until then – enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Vicari-Con 2015

Thirty years ago I went to Dragonmeet Convention in that there fancy London. I’d only just turned 17, so it was a big deal that I’d managed to organise the trip myself. My parents were surprised, given that I was struggling with the most rudimentary tasks, such as “picking up socks from the floor.” Planning the journey involved travelling to Manchester to buy the tickets from Games Workshop – there was no online agent – I handed over the cash to the guy at the counter with an air of sophisticated superiority, as if I was joining a private members club. He explained that there were no spaces on their specially chartered charabanc so I would have to arrange for my own transport. No one else from our group was able to come, for various reasons, so it meant I had to travel alone. In order to keep the costs down, I arranged to travel overnight on the National Express with the safe assumption that I would sleep in my seat, ready to wake refreshed and ready to explore the delights of the gaming delectation that would await me in the Royal Agricultural Hall.

It didn’t work like that. I spent the whole night sat next to an over-weight, old fella, who rubbed his inside legs constantly during the entire journey. The combination of the rasping friction noise and the fear that he would make a move on me while I slept, meant I stayed ‘on watch’ all night. When I arrived bleary-eyed in London at 5am, I wasn’t sure what to do, the convention didn’t open for 5 hours and there was nowhere to go.

I decided to head to Hyde Park and have a lie-down on a park bench. I hadn’t been settled down for long before a police patrol car, cruising through the Park’s pathways stopped. “Where have you come from pal?” asked the copper in a friendly manner, clearly believing that I was a runaway (my sandwiches wrapped in a spotted hanky on the end of stick were an obvious give away.) I did the sensible thing and explained that I’d come to the capital to “Role-Play”. They exchanged glances.

They left me alone, with a few warnings about talking to strangers, and not sleeping on park benches, in case I was taken advantage of in my sleep.tumblr_mz3lumyKsh1r1g40zo1_500

At the convention itself, I spent the entire time in a sleep deprived delirium, walking between tables and stalls in a confused haze. After all the effort of getting there, I wasn’t sure what I was meant to do. It wasn’t like Northern Games Day, that I’d gone to a couple of years before, it was ten times bigger. At Northern Games Day, I’d managed to get into a game of Runequest with an enthusiastic Games Master and 6 other players. I’d never played the game outside of our group (when I say a group, it was me and friend). Playing with other people, for the first time, I realised that we had interpreted some of the rules incorrectly.

There were no games available, so just wandered around, in slow circles with a fixed grin on my face.

In the afternoon, I’d arranged to meet up with a group of players of a PBM, The Gadiators’ Gazette, including the Games Master who had drawn a t-shirt using felt-tip pens, so he could be identifiable in the crowd. Once we’d exchanged stories, we talked excitingly about Call of Cthulhu which was beginning to gain popularity. None of us had managed to bag a game, so we decided to run an impromptu game of CoC off the hoof, with no characters, dice or story. I sat in a corner, drifting in an out of consciousness, while the voices around me merged into a Charlie Brown’s teacher’s drawl.

I’ve been thinking of these Dragonmeet memories over the past few days thanks to the social media coverage of GENCON. In the comfort of my own armchair, I’ve been watching twitter friends meeting up, like I did with my PBM friends. I’ve enjoyed the cos-play, the live play beamed by periscope, and the seminar feeds (particularly the exciting announcement about Moon Design’s take-over of Chaosium).

The Armchair Adventurer’s club are heading south again at the end of the year to Dragonmeet 2005. I’m looking forward to recreating the experiences that I’ve enjoyed vicariously this week.This time, I’m taking no chances and getting there the day before so I can have a good sleep.

If there’s an old fella rubbing his legs on the train, Eddy can sit next to him.

1d6 – The Great Ones Undercover

You should never judge an RPG by its cover, for that way madness lies. Fail your SAN roll and you can end up spending your hard-earned pocket money on something completely rubbish. I’m still falling into the trap of impulsive purchase due to great cover art (combined with eBay and red wine).

Over the past week, I’ve been sharing tweets of some of the best covers for Call of Cthulhu supplements.

Naturally, I have a fondness for the early Choasium covers that managed to be both evocative of the scenarios that they contained, but also inspiring in their own right. One of the difficulties for early players of CoC was getting our heads around the concept (which was markedly different from other RPGs) and the Lovecraft mythos.

The wibbly, scrunchy and indescribable alien monsters that feature in the game are, by their nature … indescribable. The early covers helped to illuminate embryonic Keepers and players on what the monsters looked like as they slowly went insane.

1 – CRITICAL HIT – The Original Cover of The Masks of Nyarlathotep


There is something about the intensity of this image that is utterly mesmerising. It also features Nyarlathotep in my personal favourite of his many forms: Python-faced Hulk.

2 – Shadows of Yog-Sothoth


The first supplement that I got and I chose it purely on the basis of the cover. I struggled to understand how to run CoC when I first bought the game. I assumed that it was fantasy-horror meets tommy guns and brown derbys; this supplement introduced the idea that the game was about encountering alien strangeness in the distant corners of Earth.

3 – Fungi from Yuggoth


Dubbed “The Poor Man’s Masks …” by Eddy in our group. He originally was the Keeper for the campaign back in the 1980s and I’m very excited at the prospect of returning to it in the coming months. This cover captures the unique sense of adventure and creepiness intrinsic to CoC and has been shamefully redone with a rubbish cover in later editions.

4 – The Second Edition Cover Art


The haunted house. The graveyard. The glow of a lantern. The b-movie sensibility. The subtle curl of a tentacle. I’m sold.

5 – The Sixth Edition Cover Art


This later edition captures the essence that Shadows of Yog-Sothoth does so well … alien strangeness. The blue glow and the foreboding presence towering over a ship gives the sense of the insignificance of the human race.

6 – FUMBLE – Atomic-Age Cthulhu


A decent supplement let down by a lurid cover. The fall-out over shadowed by people falling out with axes. It fails to capitalise on an enticing proposition … genuine Mad Men!

“Is this on?” … creating the Grog Pod

A couple of months ago I decided that I’d have a go at producing a podcast. I have been enjoying sharing some experiences and memories of classic RPGs via twitter, so thought that it would be good to develop this further with a podcast. I’ve written a couple of episodes which each focus on a featured game. I was inspired by Jim Moon’s approach to podcasting. His Hypnogoria family of programmes are in-depth explorations of the weird and wonderful from his archive. Jim gives his personal reflections as well as providing detailed, engaging research on his chosen subjects. I particularly enjoy his obit. pieces, I recommend his Brian Clemons episode and his recent series on Sir Christopher Lee.

I also like the magazine format of RPG Gamer Dad’s podcast. He is rediscovering his love of role-playing games through his young family. He has an infectious enthusiasm and great interview guests. I urge any games designer to get on the podcast, because immediately after an endorsement from RPG Gamer Dad, I can help myself, I have to buy it!

The GROGNARD files is the name of the Podcast that I’ve written, but now in the painstaking process of recording. I have developed a new-found appreciation for the effort of all podcasters. They make it look easy. The creation of the first episode is proving to be a painful birth for all involved.

First – I can’t seem to find a quiet place to record it! My first attempt was blighted by the low hum of the dishwasher in the other room and the dog barking at me because she thought I’d gone mad. The next attempt was interrupted by Mrs Dirk bursting in asking what make of car seat we have, as a friend needed buying advice. This morning, I got up early to have a go, and child number 2 thought he would join me as he was feeling a bit unwell. Now the neighbours are using a chainsaw on their privets. Will everyone please SHUT UP!

Second – I don’t have the best diction and often get tongue-tied. I was once edited out of a corporate video for being too boring. Playing back some of the early efforts, I can understand why. I’ve had to go back and re-record sections because I’ve not understood what I’ve said, never mind anyone else. Also, we have our distinct pronunciations of some of the fantasy words, that didn’t matter before, because only we heard them. How will people feel towards me saying Y-RUMS instead of WORMS for the bits on The Empire of the Wyrms Friends. Let’s face it, Y-RUMS doesn’t sound as daft, does it?

Third – I don’t think I was prepared for how technical that it was going to be. I was expecting to do it all in Garageband and press a button. It turns out that there’s a bit more to it than that! There’s a section in the podcast where I will be recording a discussion over Google hang-outs, and I still haven’t really worked out how I’m going to achieve it.

Any way, it’s coming, and I expect the first episode (about RUNEQUEST) to be available at the end of the month/ beginning of August. In the meantime, keep checking back here for updates, and ANY advice would be appreciated (on how to stop a chainsaw).


It’s a Kinda Magic – RQ6 Magic for Glorantha


RUNEQUEST 2nd Edition created something of a paradox when it came to magic. Unlike other systems, characters didn’t need to be part of a particular class to cast spells; magic was available to all. The advantages of this are obvious, there’s no need to depend on a cleric character to heal the adventuring party, because all the characters are sort of clerics, worshiping gods in exchange for spells. The rules more accurately simulated combat compared to a game like D&D, so fighting could be deadly, the tactical use of a ‘Battle Magic’ spell could tip the balance and keep characters alive.

It was the game mechanics that created the paradox: there was magic everywhere, but it didn’t feel very magical, because it was so matter of fact.

Battle Magic gave additional points towards chances to hit, increasing damage, or improving defence or a resistance to damage; there were an assortment of ‘detection’ spells; and the most powerful spells could befuddle, disrupt or demoralise an opponent. In addition, there were a handful of spells that did practical tasks like ‘glue’ and ‘repair’ and a few others that did interesting things but it was unclear of how useful they could be (Lightwall, for example). Once a character progressed in status in their chosen cult, characters could get access to ‘Rune Magic’ which was a bit more powerful, but pragmatic and munchkin-like in its deployment (Mindblast is particularly nasty).

It was also difficult for a standard adventurer to attain Rune Magic as the spells were limited to Rune Lords and Rune Priests, and it takes a lot of effort and hours of play to reach the appropriate level to gain the use of Rune magic.

Back in the day, spells were merely part of the adventurer’s armoury, enhancing the sword and the shield and providing the means of sticking a limb back on in the heat of battle. In recent months, when we have been playing through the classic supplements BORDERLANDS and GRIFFIN MOUNTAIN we’ve been more canny with the use of spells. Particularly the NPCs, who have used magic in unexpected and ruthless ways to spice up encounters: summoning elementals or becoming invisible at key moments in the encounter; it still feels rather mechanical and rules heavy.



Subsequent editions of the rules tried to address these deficiencies by adding more types of magic and some additional rules to boost their power. RQ3 was a more generic system that introduced sorcery as a school of magic. The Games Workshop version separated the rules into basic and advanced and this editorial chopping and changing made the rules around magic unintelligible. Our group concluded at the time that ‘Sorcery is for NPCs only’. None was encountered.

We are about to return to the COLYMAR CAMPAIGN – from the Moon Design SARTAR: KINGDOM OF HEROES campaign pack – which I am converting from Heroquest to the Runequest 6 rules. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been painstakingly studying the rules around magic so it can be introduced to the campaign. I say painstaking due to the different levels of conversions at play: as a group we are getting our heads around Runequest 6, which are generic rules (an ADVENTURES IN GLORANTHA supplement is due out this year) and the Heroquest supplement is “story-based” with no character stats to give clues to the magical ability of the NPCs.

The SARTAR … supplement provides phenomenal detail to the setting and revises some of the original Chaosium material. Glorantha is a very magical setting, so I’m keen to reflect the essence of the SARTAR supplement which brings some sense of awe to spell craft and feats of spell craft.


The SARTAR supplement actually provides some meaning to Runes and the affects that they have over characters in Glorantha. As part of character creation, Runes are selected that reflect the character’s soul, temperament, personality and magical drive and Games Masters are encouraged to award characters according to their actions that bring them closer to their runes. Progression becomes a ‘Rune Quest’.

HEROQUEST’s magic ‘rules’ are very fast and lose, allowing the players to create any magical effects as long as it’s consistent with he narrative. I like the potential of this free-form approach as it will allow our group to get inventive around the table, but I know from experience that such freedom will blow the players’ Grognard brains: “we need the rules, we live and die by the rules.”


RQ6 provides five schools of magic: Folk, Theist, Animism, Sorcery and Mysticism. Thankfully, the rules are very clearly written and easy to understand in principle – the real test will be at the table – but I have the wireframe of the mechanics sussed out, so I don’t think there’ll be any problems. In essence, casting magic is a percentage based skill that can be adjusted using the ‘step difficulty’ modifier or it can be resisted by targets using the ‘opposed roll’ mechanic that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Folk magic is more or less a straight swap for Battle Magic, but much more toned down. In Glorantha terms, they are spells that exist outside of the provision of the gods as they are passed through the generations via charms and handy cantrips.

Animism is the manipulation of spirits to the bidding of Shamanistic cults (such as Darka Fal) and Mysticism is a transcendental  magic that will be available to the Elder Races such as Dragonewts.


Theist Magic is more or less Rune Magic with two ‘skills’ associated with its application. ‘Devotion’ is the measure of the cult member’s status and progression through the religion and ‘Exhort’ is the skill used to coerce the gods to intervene and provide the aid requested. To fit within the society described by SARTAR: KINGDOM OF HEROES, levels of Devotion and the availability of spells will be awarded for participating in rituals with the clan and for taking actions that fit with their character rune affinities.

Sorcery, in Glorantha, is more esoteric and throw-back to the Second Age and the God Leaners who worshiped Malian, the invisible god, who stole knowledge and artefacts from other cultures. The Sorcery rules are interesting because they allow for inventiveness from the players. It’s possible to Invoke sorcery from ancient artefacts, spell books, or demons from another plane. The spells in themselves are not particularly spectacular until the sorcerer uses their ability to ‘shape’ the outcome by combining spells together, or extending the range or duration or increasing their magnitude.

It’s possible for characters to remain loyal to their gods yet still teach themselves the powers from an ancient grimoire. It’s going to make things interesting and provide some unexpected twists and turns in adventures.

We are meeting on Roll 20 next week, where I hope to introduce some of these newly learnt elements to the adventure as they choose their next path. I’m hoping that the fuss-free crunch provided by RQ6 will allow for some interesting flights of the imagination.

It will be great to inject some magic into the magical world Glorantha for my long-in-the-tooth group… if they can get over not being able to pepper targets with a multi-missile.

1D6 Adventurers’ Arsenal

Remember when there were supplements that featured pages and pages of new weaponry? It was like a big macho-catalogue for players to pour over and calculate what was needed to kill every melon-farmer in the room… Some rulebooks went to great lengths to fetishise the descriptions of the weapons available; the early editions of Tunnels and Trolls, for example, was notable for the weird and wonderful descriptions, alongside detailed illustrations of exotic armoury.

There never seemed any point to this level of variety as players often settled on a combination of their favourites. We were RUNEQUEST players and the 2nd Edition rules provided slim pickings for the adventurer in search of a set of irons for his caddy. The ancient world setting meant that there were only a handful of equipment staples.

The following list has been compiled in conjunction with @sjamb7 – Blythy The Cautious – the master tactician – and rules lawyer at our table.

1 – CRITICAL HIT – The Sling


Every adventurer should have a sling in his utility belt and get good with it too. They are light-weight, concealable and ammunition is never very far away. The RQ rules mean that they can be lethal in the right hands too. One of the first games we played with an ardent D&D player nearly came to an abrupt end when he went gang-ho towards a crack squad of Trollkin slingers. In seconds, he was on his back with a shattered knee-cap.

This is what Malcolm Gladwell says in his book DAVID AND GOLIATH:

Slinging took and extraordinary amount of skill and practice. But in experienced hands, the sling was a devastating weapon. Paintings from medieval times show slingers hitting birds in midflight. Irish slingers were said to be able to hit a coin from as far away as they could see it, and the Old Testament Book of Judges, slingers are described as being accurate within an ‘hair’s breath’. An experienced slinger could kill or injure a target at a distance of up to two hundred yards. The Romans even had a a special set of tongs made just to remove stones that had been embedded in some poor soldier’s body by a sling…

Also, doubles as an eye-patch or, if you are Purdy from The New Avengers, a bra.

2- Broadsword


Our characters were usually strong and quick enough to carry a Bastard Sword, but often we would go for the Broadsword because … its a classic. With a medium shield combo, you can’t go wrong.

Also, its the name of a great Album by Jethro Tull with a brilliant Iain McCaig cover which was a perfect accompaniment to a role-playing session.

3 – The Composite Bow


The missile-weapon of choice for most discerning adventurers. With good-timing and a multi-missile spell its possible to pepper a broo with arrows before they’ve even had time to fart noxious fumes in your general direction.

What makes the use of a bow interesting is that it can shift the adventurer’s luck if the arrows find their mark. More often, it is a spectacular disaster, but when it goes well, you can’t beat the satisfaction of taking out an opponent from a distance.

4 – Spear


A two-handed spear is awkward looking thing at doesn’t stand up to much parrying. A one-handed spear, on the other hand, is a great way of keeping critters at bay and it looks good too. Many of our characters adopt the legionnaire tactic of chucking a spear before advancing with a sword and shield.

5 – One Handed Axe


Popular with starting characters because there is a low base-chance. Before too long, it’s possible to be adept at cleaving heads. They’re also a useful tool for the adventurer needing a swiss-army knife of equipment without being overly encumbered. They also have the advantage that they can be chucked too.

Our group likes throwing things at an opponent!

6 – FUMBLE – The Flail


I once had a lengthy debate about the merits of the flail with a D&D player (the one that clobbered by a sling) when I was playing a cleric. I went for a mace rather than a flail and he was trying to persuade me to go for the damage advantage of a flail. The aim of a flail is to scatter and scare multiple opponents when faced with a skirmish. Get out of my way!

I refused on the grounds that they look stupid.

1D6 Settings

I’ve been making impulsive RPG purchases over the past few weeks, burning through some Christmas gift cash. There are much more important things I need such as food, clothes and other essentials, but it wouldn’t be in the spirit of gift-giving if that tenner from my Auntie went towards a tank full of diesel for the car. Instead, I’ve been browsing through eBay looking to expand my RPG horizons.

I’ve been drawn towards a couple of games purely on their setting, as they both seem to offer an opportunity to explore imaginative corners of worlds that I find fascinating. I used to have the JUDGE DREDD RPG back in the day, but I’ve lost it along the way, I think we only played it once. What could be more appealing than to patrol Wincey Willis Plaza to apprehend a perp in Rusty Lee Block? Mega-City One is such a rich setting that the scenarios write themselves. I seem to remember being a bit po-faced about it when I was 15, but now I can see the humour would play well with our group.

I didn’t know anything about THE DYING EARTH RPG, produced by Pelgrane Press, until I spotted it on a shelfie. It was released in 2001, long after I’d stopped buying new games, and it’s one of those new-fangled story-based rules that sound interesting, but I can’t imagine actually playing them. The rules are very entertaining to read and worth it for the little quirky ideas and the additional detail around Vance’s Dying Earth.

This is the first of our One-D-Six lists. This is how it works – roll a d6 – 1 is a critical, while 6 is a fumble!

1 – CRITICAL HIT – The Young Kingdoms


The setting of the cyclical history of the Eternal Champion, which was conceived as an antithesis to the anodyne Middle Earth. The world of Elric is by turns exotic, nasty, inventive, diverse and fantastical and a natural setting for a role-playing system. The battle between chaos and law and the mastery of the elements and demons gives a very immersive and convincing magical system.

We were Moorcock fan-boys back in the day, so we would love the sense of being bit-players in the stories that we knew well by occasionally meeting characters from the books. Our Player Characters were Non-Player Characters in the stories of Elric.

2 – Dying Earth DEmap

Recently I’ve been rediscovering Jack Vance’s world set at the end of time, with the sun fading, a world where magic is freely available. Reading the yellowing pages of the paperbacks that I devoured as a teenage is a nostalgic trip, to a place and an author that I adored.  It’s well documented that Gary Gygax took his inspiration for D&D magic from Vance, but other than ‘levels’ and the limits to memorising spells, the Dying Earth is far removed from the generic setting of GreyHawk. Foppish characters with razor-sharp wit, combined with elegant use of language make Dying Earth strange and wonderful.

Although we’ve never set any adventures in Vance’s world, after reading his books over the summer of 1986, my style of GMing was never the same, all of my Runequest Adventures were inflected through the prism of Vance. In 2005, when we had a brief dalliance with D&D, I created Azir Voon, a magician character inspired by the books of Vance. He studied at the Vermillion University and believed that that magic could be comprehended through the physiology of the eye. His motivation for delving through dungeons was to collect more specimens for his collection.

3 – Mega City One


Thanks to the recent publicity around the return of the Dark Judges and the Dredd Mega Collection, I’ve returned to Mega City One after a thirty year break. As a setting it’s sharply satirical, hyper-real and darkly humorous and the judges have a great Player Character motivation to stay ahead of the perps.

4 – Cthulhu (1920s)


Watch a season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE and you can appreciate why the roaring twenties is such a rich setting for role-playing. It has it all – gangsters, conspiracy, the rise of the KKK, republicanism in Ireland, and much, much more. This was a period of analogue globalisation, where it was possible to travel the world, but very slowly.

Cthulhu in the twenties works well because it was the age of exploration and plundering of ancient sites. It is possible to create world-spanning adventures yet create the experience of being isolated. Alone, with nothing but a brown derby… roll SAN.

5 – Glorantha


For much of the eighties, we were in a love/ hate relationship with our parallel existence on the plains of Prax. We loved the character of the place, the other worldly gods and creatures; we hated the fact it was so dense and that there were so many supplements that we couldn’t afford.

Now we are more relaxed and have a more laid-back attitude to the place, as we appreciate that OUR Glorantha can be very different from the published version. We have three versions in play at the moment: one in the corner of Prax, at the end of The River of Cradles in the employ of a Lunar noble; another campaign in the plains of Balazar, carving a living as a mercenary under the wary eye of the Lunars; and finally, a campaign set around Sartar, where barbarian clans are in open rebellion against the Lunar occupation.

6 – FUMBLE! – Gotham 


I’ve never really been a fan of the ‘Supers’ genre of RPGs, preferring grit and jeopardy to sheer fire-power. If I had extending limbs, I don’t think I’d bother leaving the house.

If the recent TV series has told us anything, it that there is nothing intrinsically interesting about the Batman’s stomping ground – it’s New York with 40 watt bulbs – it’s the characters that give the place its colour. Specifically, it’s the bad guys that make the setting interesting, even the Batman is a bit boring. When’s the Penguin coming back on?