As you listen to the GROGMEET22 podcast, why not browse through some of these images from the event. You find more write ups and reflections from Clarky, Stef, and Graham . (Let me know if there are more).
Join us at GROGMEET22 where we meet Chris McDowall, author of Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland.
At GROGMEET22 we had a great gaming experience with members of the GROGSQUAD. In this podcast we look back on some of the highlights.
Introduction to Chris McDowall. Chris talks about his formative years as a gamer and the influences on his design choices.
12:00 A GamesMaster Prepares – Dirk and Blythy discuss their experiences GMing the multi-table Mothership game and the other great games.
01:12 GamesMaster Prepares more – A discussion of more games played, including Old School Essentials using these great pre-generated characters.
Thanks to everyone who made the event possible.
I know what I like in my wardrobe. Study the incredible PROGMEET illustration to win a prize.
This weekend is GROGMEET 2022. For some long forgotten reason it has a progressive rock theme. Some of the games have taken their influence from Prog Rock classics from Genesis to Gong.
The wonderful illustrator Simon Perrins was commissioned to produce this incredible image.
You can win a prize for listing the most references to prog, gaming and music that you can spot.
The winner with the highest verified list will be announced on 20th November 2022.
Closing date is 17th November 2022 (midnight).
It’s that time of year when we are preparing for the GROGMEET convention in Manchester and, this time, online.
Blythy and Dirk discuss the history of the meet-up, give some tips on how to start one yourself, discuss the thorny issue of ‘player sign-ups’ and run through the games they are running at the event.
Ottawa Tom shares the first game he played, the last game he played and the game that means everything to him.
Why not catch up on Frankenstein’s RPG before the GROGNARD files meets up with it!
GROGMEET art is by Simon Perrins.
Support the podcast on Patreon.
GROGMEET2020, the fifth annual meet-up of the GROGSQUAD, had to be held online to avoid pathogens. It didn’t stop us having a fantastic weekend which included a Pub Quiz, a Mausritter Tournament Dungeon, and an eclectic mix of games over four time-slots: seventy sessions in total.
To end the event we recorded this live panel in the Zoom of Role-Playing rambling (with an audience of over 50 people!).
We don’t normally promote stuff on the GROGNARD files, but there’s always an exception to prove the rule.
I implore you to pledge to The King of Dungeons KickStarter, before it’s too late.
One of the most articulate and engaging commentators on the RPG scene past and present is Baz Stevens, from the What Would the Smart Party Do? podcast. Along with his co-host Gaz, he has always been incredibly supportive of the GROGNARD files and has contributed to several episodes. Over the years he has challenged and informed my thinking about RPGs and made me a better player.
He’s written an RPG rules set within a framework that imagines “Adventuring as a career” in a way that is flexible enough to fit in any setting. What would your obligations be to your guild? How would the clauses a contract be negotiated? How do you compete in a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is chasing the same gold piece?
At GROGMEET this year, the game is being set in both Glorantha and the worlds of Earthdawn.
The rules are based on 13th Age but stripped down to the essentials, so there’s a familiar old-school feel to how the rules operate. The character creation is great fun (you’ll spend evenings just generating interesting player characters with quirky features) and the resolution is quick but puts drama first.
The rules are written in a disarmingly chatty style that is like a mate, enthusiastically explaining how to play while drinking a pint.
Many GROGSQUADers are supporters of the campaign already, but in case you missed it, this is your alarm call. The best adventurers always have an eye on the prize.
Dirk the Dice
INTRO: This is an unusual GROGPOD as it was recorded live at GROGMEET 18. Ian Cooper talks about HeroQuest and there’s a chance for you to win a copy of the game thanks to our friends at bonhomiegames.uk
Show us your favourite handout, character sheet, floor plan, prop, mini or any other physical item you’ve produced for your gaming before the end of Feb to be in with a chance of winning.
INTERVIEW: Ian Cooper talks about his formative years in gaming, oral story telling, Greg Stafford, HeroQuest and his Coming Storm campaign.
GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN: Blythy joins me in the Room of Role-Playing Rambling to talk about generic systems. Want to know more about Judge Dredd in the world of GUMSHOE? Then check out Steve Ray’s play reports.
OUTRO: Patreon thanks, the latest news about the GROGZINE and the plans for the next episode.
These are a selection of sights from last weekend for the archive. The sun sets on another GROGMEET.
The next meet-up is online on 12th April 2019 for Virtual GROGMEET: A chance to participate in the GROGMEET for Patreons who can’t make the trip to Manchester, or for people who attended who would like to have a crack at one or two of the other games available.
According to Tabletop Gaming Magazine, GROGMEET is the UK’s favourite “Manchurian” RPG games event; who can argue with that?
Back in the eighties, we would dream about having people to play with and it took thirty odd years for us to reach out and find more gamer friends. What started out as an experiment has become a regular feature of our gaming calendar. This year there were more events as we added a couple of ‘fringe’ meetings for those in the GROGSQUAD who arrived early on Friday and could stay a little later on the Sunday.
It’s now a three day event, how did that happen?
Mad Lab may have changed locations – transforming itself into a replica of Eddy’s shed complete with woodworking tools, 3D printers, and blood-splattered walls (eh?) and there were lots of new faces replacing familiar ones – but the atmosphere was the same as always; GROGMEET creates an enthusiastic, sometimes eccentric, energy fuelled by a friendliness that’s hard to ignore.
A meet-up rather than a convention with an emphasis on games – play’s the thing – but there’s also plenty of grog at GROGMEET as the convivial chats in the pub are often the most memorable moments of the weekend.
It’s a testament to the munificence of the GROGSQUAD that there was a stunning display of raffle prizes donated which generated £402 for Mind (the charity supported by the 24 Hour RPG in 2018).
The following table features five highlights and a fumble from my own personal experience of the event. There are other blogs popping up with different perspectives from The Welsh Wizard, Gaz (from the Smart Party), Guy Milner, Pookie and Keehar.
- GROGFIGHT – an Old School Brawl & Crawl
The Old Scouser himself, hosted an opening fringe event that was ambitious in scope: four tables, four systems, four GMs, in four hours with twenty players moving around which would include an old school brawl and dungeon crawl. The four tables represented four dimensions where the five adventure archetypes had been dispersed by a Soul-Forge that they had destroyed. Shards of the Soul-Forge had been scattered to different dimensions as had the souls of the adventurers. Simultaneously, the characters had to rediscover the Soul-Forge and bring it together. Are you keeping up?
My table was The Fantasy Trip, the MetaGame skirmish rules from back in 1978, designed by Steve Jackson and a forerunner to GURPS.
The location in my dimension was The Lamia’s Lips brothel in Endlespace, a ruined, decadent place at the end of time. This was my homage to the dungeons I created as a spotty teen. The brothel was the kind of puerile juvenilia that might be found in ‘zines in the 80s. I even used the Harlot Random Encounter table from AD&D’s Dungeon Master’s Guide, really.
There were hilarious scenes where the Wizard, whose magic didn’t work in the presence of halflings, was chucking ‘Saucy Stumpets’ off the balcony to land on the blind-fighting, eunuch hobbits below.
When the Soul-Forge throbbed, new players joined the table and the situation was explained to them: “We’re in a tower with a domed roof, with two circular chambers underneath.”
Soon the innuendo became tiresome and the players a bit ‘judgey’.
I don’t think the Lamia’s Lips will be opening again.
2. The Price of Breakfast
GROGMEET eve (6pm-9.30pm-ish) is the more traditional ‘pre-GROGMEET’ slot for newer games or a more experimental approach to older games. Doc Con ‘Cowie’ pitched an idea for West End Games Price of Freedom (1984), featuring the characters from The Breakfast Club, at UK Games Expo.
I was excited about the prospect as the game was extremely controversial in the pages of White Dwarf when it was reviewed. The concept of America being occupied by the Soviets and the armed struggle against the Red army was seen as problematic in the fevered context of the cold-war. Letters to White Dwarf reflected this moral panic. Throw John Hughes into the mix and there’s a winning formula.
The rules have an unfair reputation for being overly crunchy, as it is a war game after all, so in spite of its endless modifications and precise ‘statement of intent’ turn management, the mechanics worked really well for simulating a cinematic, yet lethal battles.
Doc Cowie has an indefatigable energy and the game cracked on at a pace. He offered us the option of three modes of play: ‘Punisher’ mode which were rules as written; ‘Red Dawn’ which meant that the opponents took damage one step higher than the player characters; and A-Team where the ‘death’ step is removed from the player characters. We went for Red Dawn mode and put the lethality to the test immediately at a check-point.
I was flagging a little and my ability to insert John Hughes references into my responses was failing. My reference to Abe Foreman, Sausage King of Chicago, fell on deaf ears as I’d lost the ability to speak due to lack of sleep the night before.
There were some great moments in the game, as well as epic scenes of conflict, the Doc wove in the ‘dad-issues’ themes from the movie which produced satisfying moments.
I got to see Molly Ringwald take down a helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, so I can cross that off the bucket-list.
3. The Dying Earth
I’m a massive fan of Jack Vance. His Dying Earth novels in particular are a firm favourite, so I was very keen to participate in the RPG based on the novels designed by Robin Laws.
I was Quens a pedantic character who was a master of pettifoggery details who finds himself in The Hotel Grand Perdusz a manse of Urbotast, a magician, who has seemingly trapped the player characters into a contract to be his servants. The morning after the apocalyptic, party the night before, we had to work out what had happened to the previous servants and extract ourselves from eternal slavery.
The hotel had plenty of exotic locations to explore and NPCs to interact with, to piece together evidence: not so much ‘whodunnit’, more of a ‘how did they do it and can we escape in the same way’.
I had great fun trying to extract myself from employment by challenging “a contract predicated on the supposition of negligence” and bamboozling my fellow companions. There were elaborate arguments about haberdashery, petty pugilism over the status of one character over another and moments of hilarity as three different characters were persuaded to dunk themselves, head-first into a septic tank.
The epic escape at the climax hinged on a single dice roll. A real thrill, superbly handled by the GM Steve Ray (@OrlanthR).
If the session was transcribed, it would read like a Jack Vance story and I can’t give it a bigger compliment than that.
4. Gaming for Greg #WeAreAllUs
The weekend coincided with a memorial celebration of Greg Stafford’s life and work. Gamers all over the world were encouraged to include Greg in their games to connect with his spirit. I never met him, so it was great to hear the stories from people who had done. Over the weekend we played in Glorantha (RuneQuest and HeroQuest) and Pendragon, but he was also apparent in the other games too. His rune was the Soul-Forge, the instructions to closing the damn in Price of Freedom and many other inventive name-checks to the Grand Shaman of Gaming.
At the end of the day, the attendees clapped, cheered and shouted Waha! to thank Greg for his contribution to the hobby. I hope they heard us in Berkley.
5. The Room of Role-Playing Rambling with Ian Cooper
Memories of Greg appeared in the live recording of a future GROGPOD (Jan ’19) about HeroQuest. Ian Cooper is the line editor and he gave a fascinating interview about his formative years in the hobby, a demonstration of the core mechanic of HeroQuest and some tips on oral storytelling.
He chose Tolkien (the world builder) over Moorcock (the pulp, hack) which proves you can’t have everything.
It was a fantastic event and ran like a dream. I anticipated it being more complicated, shepherding people around Manchester, but it was easy as everyone was so laid back about it all.
The pre-work left me a bit too knackered, so there’s a few changes that I’ll need to make next time, but I’m not complaining because it was great seeing everyone enjoy themselves so much.
There’s enough in my second wind to start planning the next one; the GROGSQUAD have asked for a theme of ‘Anthropomorphic Animals’. Sigh.
Next: GROGMEET Scrapbook
Last year, we reached a tipping point where we realised that most of our Armchair Adventuring was taking place online. Our never-ending quest to get more people to play games with continues. To support our endeavours we created virtual GROGMEET to complement the annual event in November.
Some of the GROGSQUAD wanted to discover online play for the first time and have the opportunity to play with the GMGMs that make GROGMEET in Manchester such a distinctive experience.
Squadron members from all over the UK plus others from British Columbia, Australia and North America were joined games of Numenera and Maelstrom and others listed below.
Of course the curse of online play bedevilled it with glitches and interventions from real life, but it was an enjoyable event by all accounts.
Hopefully, new gaming connections were made during the event and this is the beginning of more groups forming, because “play’s the thing”. Dirk