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

By some strange quirk of fate, this issue precedes the issue that was selected last week! Don’t blame me, blame the cursed dice of Hattifattener who rolled it on their d100 over on our Discord channel (if you’d like to join, then please let me know).

In this month a toilet caught fire on Air Canada’s DC-9 killing 23 people, Mrs Thatch was elected with a landslide and Octopussy was released. We needed something to cheer us up.

Fortunately this was the hey day of the hey day of White Dwarf and the covers don’t get much better than this John Blanche classic. As Daily Dwarf once pointed out, there’s about three scenarios at once playing out in that city. Inspirational stuff.

The internal content is just as classic. Part 1 of Irillian, ‘To catch a Thief’ one of the best ever Traveller articles (to my mind), Cthulhu Now! and a great Griselda story to boot.

I’d be really interested in how many of products and services that you used from the ads in this issue too.

P.S. If you look at the comments under the link to Issue 33 you’ll find a link to a copy – shhhh!

In the latest GROGPOD we watch Conan The Barbarian (1982) in the GROGGLEBOX section. There’s an animated difference of opinion between Judge Blythy who finds the film interminably boring and Ed in his Shed who declares it to be “The Best Fantasy Film of the 80s.”

It’s fair to say that I am somewhere in the middle of these extremes, but I do still carry the scars of disappointment from the first viewing. My expectations had been built by Starburst, the long running ‘Magazine of television and cinema fantasy’, as they had featured the film with some eye-catching stills from the film prior to its release. At the time I was in a vortex of playing one RPG session after another with my friends and the images alone provided fuel and adventure hooks for my games.

“The pictures are great, until they start moving,” says Blythy in during the discussion, while Eddy says that it’s “perfect RPG fodder.” I think they’re both right. One the one hand the film has great Conanesque set-pieces, Schwarzenegger has not yet acquired the charisma and screen presence that he would bring to his later films in the decade. I thought he was a klutz. Conan is not a klutz. He’s a thief, a mercenary, a brigand, a pirate, an adventurer and a king, but never a klutz.

He looked the part and maybe, with hindsight, it was enough to enjoy the film.

The reviewers at the time were savage, even in Starburst, with Arnold getting the bulk of their ire; not one of them would admit that, in the words of Eddy, “he’s perfect for the role, he’s a five out of ten.”

From Pegasus, the Judge’s Guild RPG Magazine. Read the final paragraph on the page.

By popular demand, it’s the return of the White Dwarf Book Club!

Every week, for as long as people comment, I will roll on a d100 and select an issue of the 1980s, UK-Role-Playing magazine, White Dwarf for us to read together.

This week issue 43 has been rolled apparently at random. It was dated July 1983 at a time when some role-playing companies were closing, or “turning their attention to making computer software games” according to Ian Livingstone.

Thankfully, the role-playing industry has since revived so that we can continue outsmart and pour verbal abuse on our friends.

Please comment below.

P.S. If you look at the comments under the link to Issue 33 you’ll find a link to a copy – shhhh!

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Know o prince … the GROGNARD files produces another epic (take your time …). We’ve been playing Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed of, by Modiphius and having great fun emulating the Hyborian world of Robert E Howard.

Jason Durall is an enthusiastic player as well as designer and he gives a great interview talking of his formative years in the hobby and how he approached the Conan project.

We take a look at the rules that seem to provoke a love-hate relationship in players. Are they really as crunchy as they appear?

Finally, Eddy joins us as we discuss Conan The Barbarian (1982). If you can persevere the pops and crackles of Zoom compression, you’ll hear a significant difference of opinion.

Newsletters, one-shots, an incoming ‘zine, why not join The Patreon?

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Loz Whitaker from The Design Mechanism returns to face The GamesMaster’s screen. He talks about The Eternal Champion, Strontium Dog and Mythras.

We have been enjoying a Hawkmoon series of adventures using Mythras using elements of Chaosium’s Hawkmoon and the Mongoose version.

Doc ‘Con’ Cowie shares his First, Last and Everything.

In a new section, we look at vintage magazines Different Worlds and Adventurer.

Support the podcast at Patreon.

Lyonesse RPG

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Welcome to a new GROGPOD about a new game that we are very excited about.

Lyonesse, Fantasy Role-Playing based on the novels by Jack Vance has been released by The Design Mechanism. We are joined by Lawrence Whitaker who tells us about the project and his formative years in role-playing.

Daily Dwarf looks at some of the other literary worlds that were brought to life in the pages of White Dwarf during its hey day.

STIMBOT5000 Andy Stimpson of Breakfast in the Ruins podcast tells us about the first game he played, the last game he played and the game that means everything to him.

Blythy and I look behind the Games Masters Screen to look for inspiration from Vance. We also cover The Dying Earth by Pelgrane Press.

There’s a new ad, produced by the UK’s Premier RPG podcast The Smart Party (I resisted the urge to put Premier in inverted commas).

Steve Ray has started Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes over on anchor.

Please support The GROGNARD files at our Patreon site to catch actual plays and other gubins.

In their podcast about Burnout, the Smart Party rightly advise caution against committing to a large book campaign; disappointment is almost inevitable because it’s difficult to sustain over a long period, when people’s lives are busy. When you do finish a big book campaign against those conditions, it makes it even more sweet.

Almost exactly 2 years to the day and 32, 2 hour long, sessions we completed The Two Headed Serpent in an epic finale. Every session had its thrills and spills, adventure and excitement as the players trotted around the globe, but the final session was great: every player made a contribution to the audacious saving of humanity from certain destruction.

Between the sessions, I created a recap in the form of a comic, which was one of those things that once I’d started, immediately regretted, as it was a time-sink. Now that it’s complete, I’m glad I did it for a record of one of the best series of adventures that I’ve ever taken part in.

It was down to the players, so I’m handing over to them to choose their highlights. Warning, there are spoilers.

The usual format is 5 highlights and fumble, but this time there are no fumbles, other than I’m sad it’s over.

Has to be the nightgaunts attacking the plane. The pilot dead and no one with above 2% pilot. Pure pulpy Indiana Jones stuff and a perfect example of how the system works using luck. Blythy

The disease camp in North Borneo, really loved how the plots slowly revealed there to culminate in a high speed escape whole defusing a mythos nuke! Phil the Dice Mechanic

There’s a few I can think off… Percy’s chat with Gary the Ghoul in Borneo is probably my favourite. Old Scouse Roleplayer

For me I liked the Icelandic base as it slowly collapsed while we were there giving a real sense of urgency, the theft of the brain case and the escape over the lava flow. Mark Kitching

My favourite bits were when Jock got to yell at some Bawbag before opening up with the devastating shotgun! Also, the scene where Percy was grappling Meadham and aided by Jock was driven into the whirling propellor blade! In 40 years, Jock is maybe one of my favourite ever characters. Sam Vail

For me, I loved Oklahoma (I’d just read The Grapes of Wrath) as it was a bit of a different pace from the high-adventure of the other episodes. I could see the players feeling disturbed and unsettled about what was happening and their role in it. I also loved playing gangster NPCs in New York and terrifying Neil, not his character, but Neil. Dirk the Dice

An introduction to the GROGNARD files RPG podcast

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Hello, my name is Dirk the Dice and this is the GROGNARD files podcast. If you are new here, then this is the place to begin as it provides a quick overview of what to expect from the GROGPOD.

It’s probably best to start at the beginning, but time is precious, so this introduction provides some recommendations to help you make your decision.

The GROGNARD files has been going on and on for almost five years with over 60 podcasts to choose from. I hope that you enjoy the back catalogue and stay around for some more.

To put a tip in the beret, then please head over to Patreon. Thanks.

Last weekend it was virtual GROGMEET and by all accounts, a good time was had by all who attended. Thank you for the GMs who hosted the games and to the players who took part.

Here are some of the stories from the GMs:

My virtual Grogmeet

Sam Vail:

The planning for my games began in January at our gaming weekend on Tenby, hosted by Dave Paters. I ran Strontium Dog for the first time in 20 + years and I remembered how much I enjoyed it and how much fun we had playing. So I decided to create a new adventure for virtual Grogmeet.

However, my first game of the weekend was scheduled for Friday evening where I was to run my Pendragon homebrew. Set in 1963, the Agents (knights) were investigating a mysterious death of a young Jewish University student from the London School of Economics. The trail led them to the dreaming spires of Cambridge University, where more information and a package drop led swiftly on to London via Cambridge train station and then on to Salisbury. Visiting a packed Italian restaurant, the Agents were able to follow the package to Porton Down where a shoot-out occurred in the rocket testing facility and the sleeper cell of Nazi scientists were apprehended. The players, Andrew, Howard, Mike and Clarky were great and after a slow start, picked up the pace and the action to finally defeat the Nazi’s and defuse the bomb. “It’s either the red wire or the blue wire.”

My second game was on the Saturday evening and was my Strontium Dog scenario called, ‘Jelly Manelly’s done a runner!”. My players, Mark, Andrew, Alister and Rob got into their mutations and the system pretty quickly and although I had already run that scenario a couple of times already, it seemed to take a different direction from the start. From the Anglian Everglades, to ZinZan Station and then to the planet Zamboo, we saw our Mutant heroes locate and capture their prize.

My final game was as a player in Carl Clare’s game of Ghost in the shell using the FATE system. Carl had captured the Mango feel brilliantly and as usual he had meticulously prepared for any direction we wanted to go. My fellow players, Jon, Tom and Ty were all deeply invested and having Tom, an experienced FATE player, really helped the game run smoothly. We went through the investigation and captured Herr Doktor in the final encounter. Awesome fun.

This was my second Virtual Grogmeet and an incredible time was had. Meeting new people was great and playing with some old familiar faces was a lot of fun. Thanks to all my players and GM for throwing themselves into the games with such gusto.


Great session of Ghostbusters on the first night of Virtual Grogmeet with players Kaum @rolistedpod , playing Dr Sylvia Townsend, historian,  Alister @awdscrawl playing David Bellamy, College gardener, Jon @jonac943 as Derek Trotter, College Porter,  Chris @theschwerpunkt as Colin Eliot, Physics DPhil student, Graham @graham_r_smith as Professor Adair, leader of the Ghostbusters and parapsychologist

The adventure was set in the Oxford of 1985, with the players starting a new franchise of Ghostbusters based out of Balliol College.  The scenario began with the characters celebrating St Scholastica’s Eve and starting their first meeting of the franchise, but was interrupted by the sight of a young Boris Johnson falling from his room and crashing into the stones of the quad. The brave Ghostbusters unravelled a mystery of jealousy and revenge, mourned over a murdered Nigella Lawson, concussed a dark sorceress with a tin of custard creams, and fled from the inn of the returned ghost of a medieval landlord, John of Barford, who was determined to wreak revenge on the scholars of Oxford. The adventure ended with the bells of the churches peeling out, weakening the spirit as the Ghostbusters firedup their proton packs forcing Barford him into a containment field.  

A good days work ending with a pint of real ale with Inspector Morse.


Call of Cthulhu – Poetry Night with Keeper Matt
Mork Borg with Sean Smith
Delta Green with Bud’s RPG Reviews
Doc RPG Griff got into the spirit of Punk Apocalyptic
Delta Green with Graham Kinniburgh

Same again next year?