As an extra to Episode 30, here’s the rest of the Actual Play. It also features a ‘Games Master Prepares’ segment about using The Five Room Dungeon.
These is a teaser for an upcoming special guest, listen to the show to find out more …
We’re continuing our Robin of Sherwood theme. We discuss Fate and use it to provide a sample play in Sherwood Forest created by the TV series.
We hope that it will inspire you to invest in some FUDGE dice and have a go at creating your own worlds.
In this episode we review our year in gaming and dish out our GROGGIE awards.
It also features WFRP actual play, hosted by The Smart Party.
Subscribe to their feed to catch the rest of it, when it is released.
INTRO: Thanks to a Poll of Patreons, we are examining a game that we never played back in the day … PARANOIA.
OPEN BOX: (with Paul Baldowski): Paul Baldowski was a writer for the Mongoose edition. He’s also runs Just Crunch which publishes The Cthulhu Hack. Also, make sure you check out the Fighting Fantasy accessories at All Rolled Up.
WHITE DWARF: @dailydwarf provides a survey of the surprising amount of PARANOIA material that appeared in White Dwarf after Games Workshop printed the second edition in the UK
ACTUAL PLAY: A sample from an online game of PARANOIA. You can’t beat a bit of bully.
GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN: One of Blythy’s clones talks about the game and why we never played it back in the day.
Intro: For this GROGPOD, we take a break from the usual format, instead of concentrating on a single subject, we are looking back at some of the experiences that we have had over the year.
Thanks to Phil the Dice Mechanic for his review
Groggies Pt 1: Our annual awards are determined by the random subjects written on the spurious envelopes. In this section we look back on the year in games mastering – some of the highs and lows – we award the Messianic Megalomaniac award for the year.
The Trial of RuneQuest: Earlier in the year, Dirk took the RPG Academy to Apple Lane. This is an edited extract. You can find the full version here and the you tube video here (if you really need to).
Groggies Pt 2: This is the Olive Kinnisberg Memorial Award for players, playing and players and the games that we play. There’s a mention of UK Games Expo, The Heroes Journey and Star Trek Adventures.
Postbag Pt1: Mark Hides has written a memoir of his experiences of RPGs in Sheffield. You can get his book here.
Groggies Pt 3 There have been lows as well as highs
Postbag Pt2 Rog Coe and Wayne Peters are regular correspondents to this site.
Groggies Pt 4 The new game that we have been playing and some of the hopes for the new year.
Outro: Thanks to Patreons and you’ll find details about the Spaghetti Conjunction here
I think my ‘old-timer’ body clock is almost getting back into synch after last weekend when I participated in the 24 hour RPG charity event.
WarGames, the huge games store that can be found on swanky Lords Street in Southport, UK, were the generous hosts for the event.
If you’ve listened to my appearance on The Smart Party podcast, you’ll know that I originally intended to run the new RuneQuest rules in Dorastor, however at the last minute, I decided to make things easier for myself and keep it old school: I ran the BorderLands campaign using the Classic RuneQuest rules.
I can run those games in my sleep, which is just as well as the plan was to run the game from noon Saturday to noon on Sunday.
The whole experience was tremendous fun and for a good cause too. So far, with the Just Giving account and cash collected, the event has raised a whopping £2281. Thanks to all the participants and the generous pledgers.
You know the format … 5 highlights and a fumble.
1.Once more, with character …
Rather than turn up with a fistful of pre-gens, we created the characters at the table (a session zero, if you will). The process took a little longer than I anticipated, but it allowed me to do a quick prima on Glorantha as well as the rules.
In the end, I think it was a good idea for the players to create their own characters as it allowed them to establish relationships and rivalries with the other players. There were a couple of siblings, for example, which meant that they looked out for each other more (jumping in the river to rescue a brother in distress), or they had deep rooted antipathy towards each other (“You are a coward brother!”).
A party of six mercenaries gathered at the fort of Raus of Rone, ready to tame the wild lands and broker deals with the local beast-riders and other nomad tribes in the region. The fusty old Lunar Duke-in-exile plans to create a new colony of settlers from the North, but first, order needs to be brought to bare on new frontier.
The episodic format was perfect for the 24 hour long session as it was straight-forward, “go there, do that” mission based with a punitive contract that encourages the party to break the rules.
One of the players was a veteran of the BorderLands campaign, so he became Gerontiios, the right-hand man of Daine, the Duke’s sergeant at arms, (the lapsed Humakt Rune Lord and stoical NPC confident for the players.)
Gerontiios was bold, leading the unruly sell-swords, around the wilds of the Zola Fell valley. They encountered High Llama riders, dinosaurs, chariot-raced with Morokanth, battled with crocodile riding ducks and much more.
3. Gift from the Gods
This being RuneQuest, there were limbs flying and fumbles galore, but I gave them a little advantage. At the start of the game I gave them a packet of wine gums. This was their luck pool. They could use the sweets to reduce their roll so that a near miss could be a hit.
In addition, some of the players had been given extra rolls thanks to sponsorship donations. They came in handy at some crucial moments.
There were other games being played: Numenera, StarFinder and D&D 5e.
The GMs agreed beforehand that we would have a common theme of “an evil presence, breaking through the dimensions, aided by acolytes in the different Universes.”
An obscure symbol would unite the campaigns, to identify the influence of this cosmic evil as it attempted to penetrate the different realms of the multiverse.
Using ‘whats app’, we shared elements that had escaped from our games. Ethan sent “500 tonnes of rock and dirt from a plane,” from Numenera which manifested in Glorantha as a rain of silt which formed into a congregation of Whirlvishes – a vortex of sand.
I followed Baz & Gaz’s advice and had a group of rival mercenaries tormenting the PCs. The Sartarite bandits led by Rattle Poisionknife, a Sartarite bandit who had a tattoo of the symbol on his arm and was leading some of the locals towards his sinister faction, who were intent on awakening the dormant Nosferal.
At midnight, Gerontiios was sent on a HeroQuest to another table. He ended up in a dimension of sound in Numenera.
A nano from the Numenera game manifested as a purple duck at our table. He taught the Flintnail masonries how technologies of a ‘lifting device’ to help them in the construction of the Duke’s Fort. He defied being tied by a Waha rope by reversing his temporal existence.
Delirium began to set in at this point.
5. Five Eyes
“Avoid Five Eyes Temple,” Gerontiios commanded. Once they eventually went there, he was hit in the face with a manticore stinger and left for dead. Thanks to Divine Intervention (and a couple of wine gums) the Red Moon goddess revived him.
The River Horse temple had been taken over by the revived soul of Nosferal. The Newtlings were now undead servants in his thrall.
Despite his depleted power Gerontiios explored the far corners of the river caves and was possessed by a disorder ghost, who unleashed Nosferal from his tomb!
6. The 4am Wall (fumble)
By 4am, the esprit-de-corps was breaking down somewhat. 16 hours of play and things started to fray. They struggled to motivate themselves to reach the lofty heights of Condor Crags.
“What the hell are we doing this for? Why are we here?” they exclaimed. I’m not sure whether or not it was in character.
“We are all of us!” declared Gerontiios, rallying the band together to make the final push.
As dawn broke, the players found a second wind, an Orlanthi wind, which blew them towards a final confrontation with Nosferal, Rattle PoisonKnife, and the zombified bone-dragon Kerrang!
Their enemies were defeated thanks to the cypher recovered to Numenera (water from the River Styx) and a few remaining wine gums.
This weekend I attended my first ever UK GamesExpo in Birmingham, now confirmed as the third biggest games convention in the world. One of the many highlights of the experience was the opportunity to participate in a game of RuneQuest Glorantha using the play-test rules. Andrew Jones (AKA @dimbyd) was working from a PDF, in draft format, of the core-rules to create an adventure for 5 brave warriors wishing to enter the Hero Wars.
Before I give a brief play report, there’s a couple of things to bare in mind:
I haven’t read the rules. I gave them a cursory glance in the bar, and it went something like, “what have they done with the sorcery rules then?” before Andrew took it away and said, “There’s no bloody sorcery in the game we’re playing.”
My perspective is from the point of view of a player and my thoughts on some of the key points that came out during the game and from my character.
Also, the adventure we played was one of Andrew’s own devising, and not the Quick Start scenario that’s due to hit participating FLGS on Free RPG Day 17th June ’17. I managed to speak briefly with Rick Meints on the very busy stall on the Saturday; he confirmed that 7000 copies of the Quick Starts have been printed. The PDF will be available from 1st July. I saw a copy and it looks a very smart, well presented production, that recalls some of the classic products from back in the day.
I missed the seminar talking about the release of the game, but it looks like the it will be available before the end of 2017.
So, in the usual format, this is five highlights and a final fumble.
The Adventure ‘Into the Upland Marsh’ was based on the notes found in ‘Dragon Pass and other adventures’, a collection of unpublished material by Greg Stafford, with notes from Sandy Peterson. Thanks to strange chaotic encounters we were urged by the Storm Kahn to venture into the Upland Marsh to the place known as The Howling Tower to break the source of the disturbances.
The handouts provided were maps drawn by Greg and the original type-written manuscripts, which added to the feel of an old school, new school mash-up.
The Characters The characters were enhanced by a rich biography which was generated during the character creation process. The rules weave the character background into key events are constructed around their personal heritage such as the activities of their grandparents.
The core attributes are the same however the character’s association with runes are significant and expressed as a percentage also, the formative experiences of the characters shape their passions. The level of devotion, hatred, and loyalties, for example, is also expressed as a percentage.
It’s possible to invoke passions to modify certain situations and enhance your chances. It can have an effect on the choices you make too. We encountered a fleeing Lunar war-band, the passions of some of the party meant that we HAD to attack, when a more tactical avoidance may have been more appropriate.
Combat The very first encounter was a horrific zombified broo which we set upon with relish. Within moments one of the characters, Mirava ‘no-nose’, had been hit hard in the left leg (yay!) and fumbled parrying, so hit herself in the face with her shield.
Many of the elements of combat remain much the same – blow-by-blow, descriptive and lethal.
Old school pedants may be interested to note that Defence modification is replaced with ‘parry’ being a catch-all term that covers the ability to avoid being hit, but strike rank is much the same as RQ 2e.
The broo unleashed a SIZ 70 Giant through a warp hole.
Ducks! Andrew didn’t have a copy of the bestiary, so the encounters were taken from various sources (including FANGS), which confirms its backwards compatibility. We headed to Duck Point and encountered the Death Drake named Cracked-Beak.
It was at this point that the player who had never played in Glorantha before, crinkled his forehead permanently.
Cracked-Beak was a great NPC who was willing to help with advice in-between revealing his obsession with finding and destroying a zombie Killer Whale known as Moby Duck.
Magic It was the application of magic that was the most significant difference. Healing is more readily available for one thing, which is much better than depending on someone learning Healing 6 to reattach limbs.
All characters had access to Rune Magic and were able to use elemental runes to enhance situations. There was a pick list of spells that could be used as long as they were associated with your character’s Rune.
In the giddy excitement of choosing something interesting, I forgot to apply the old faithful ‘BladeSharp 4’. It didn’t matter, as I rolled a crit at the crucial moment when the zombie Wyverns were attacking.
Thanks to my enhanced damage from my blessed sword I managed to do double-double damage. I know! It was an incredibly satisfying moment.
From what I’ve seen, magic feels magical and very Gloranthan in this new edition.
Sneezes A big thank you is due to Andrew for running the game, especially since he had been cursed by Malia and was ill in the run up and during the Expo.
I’m not so grateful that I rolled a CON fumble and now have a stinking cold.
When I was preparing Ep. 11 TOP SECRET, I was desperate to play the game again. I was keen to understand how the rules worked in play, as they’re paradoxical: a class and level game, that doesn’t really use class and levels; a neat character attribute generator that doesn’t tell you how to use them; a system of intuitive D100 mechanics peppered with clunky ‘outcome tables’.
I said in the GROGPOD: “It’s a narrative game trapped in a simualtionist rule-set”.
Is it really? Was it really a game of understated genius, or was it as Judge Blythy said “a bit weird.”
The only way to find out is to play the game, so the online GROGCLUB opened up for business last week to play the TSR module: Operation Fastpass (Code Name: Puzzle). It’s a scenario set in the Cold War era complete with ‘straight of central casting’ KGB agents.
The set up goes like this:
CLASSIFIED: Administrator – Priority A
SITUATION: Andrei Lerekov, a communist code expert, has sent a secret message indicating his desire to defect. Lerekov is the author of several military codes and has information of vital importance. He will be the guest speaker at the European Puzzle Editor’s Conference in Budapest.
OBJECTIVE: Help Lerekov to defect and ensure of his safe arrival in a friendly country.
AUTHORISATION: Administrator and Agents will operate under the authority of Section Mercury, ISB.
MISSION: Agent team will infiltrate the conference suite under cover, locate Lerekhov, neutralise enemy security, and get Lerekov out of the country. Security forces may include hostile agents.
Team personnel are authorised to use any means necessary to accomplish this mission.
CODE NAME: Puzzle
Here’s 5 highlights and a lowlight from the first session.
The Setting The pitch that I made to the players was that it was going to be Man from U.N.C.L.E. with eighties chic meets Ocean’s 11. I realised when preparing the session that this was best viewed as a period piece. Although the agencies involved were the ‘real’ KGB and GRU unlike THRUSH or SPECTRE, for example, there’s an absurdity to the scenario now that we know more about the actual state of Soviet intelligence. They’re pitched as ruthlessly efficient, but it is probably better to see them as comic caricatures, because that what they seem like now.
I like how TOP SECRET equips the players with the Spy-fi gadgetry which allows this tongue-in-cheek approach possible.
The Characters The players had great fun selecting actors from the period to represent their characters and they all adopted code names from a pack of cards, as they were known by the ISB as ‘The Lucky Deck. Once shuffled they were deniable assets installed behind the Iron Curtain.
KING of Clubs – Technician – Lead, Field Agent
QUEEN of Hearts – Assassin – Second in command
Diamond JACK – Infiltration
The KNAVE – Infiltration
The ACE of Spades – Investigation
JOKER – Technician
The Tourist The adventure is constructed as a Hotel Dungeon, with rooms of interest designed for exploration and encounters rolled on tables at various points of the action. There’s enemies, allies and traps … that’s right … traps … for the player characters to discover as they search for Lerekov.
I re-engineered the scenario so that it was suitable as a shorter, more action focused, session, but I’ve retained some of the encounters, such as the spy fiction enthusiast who has been keeping an eye on the ‘Ruskies’
He’s an American Industrialist, looking to make contacts, but also adding to his interest in the world of espionage by watching the comings and goings in the hotel. There was a great ‘side-scene’, almost ‘off-camera’ as the hapless ‘cobbler’, the KNAVE, sought his papers so that he could get the team out of Hungary. He wasn’t quite ready to tell the King that he wasn’t ready..
The Trade Craft
The best aspect of the session was seeing the players getting into the mode of thinking like spies. The KING and the JOKER did a sweep of the room to dry clean it before the rest of the team arrived to share their humint on the movements within the hotel. They found a bug in the light fitting, so they used a Fusion Jazz LP to turn their discussions into white noise.
They also used an elaborate bug system that dangled out of the window to listen to the room below, where they hear talk of the sinister myasnik, an infamous GRU general.
There was also a great scene where the Diamond JACK and the ACE of Spades exchanged a vital piece of information in an audacious ‘brush pass’ under the noses of the goons in the lobby filling with puzzlers.
The Imposter In a ludicrous piece of plotting, it turned out that there were TWO Lerekov ‘s at the event and they need to use a code word to determine which one one is which, unless the QUEEN gets them all killed first.
Roll 20. The only downside is the increasing flakey behaviour of Roll 20. In recent months, it seems that the platform struggles with more than 4 in a game. We soldiered on, because peace and freedom was at stake… Although, there was one agent, willing to take matters into her own hands …
The online GROGCLUB is one of the many benefits of being a PATREON of the GROGNARD files Including a chance to determine the subject of the end of the year podcast. The nominations are open this week, with polling taking place next week. There’s RuneQuest and Gangbusters planned later in the year. To find out more, on the page.