Welcome to another extra all about this year’s GROGMEET. This time it includes a live recording made at Fan Boy Three.
Frankenstein’s RPG podcast has been pulling together the best bits of role-playing games this year to produce an epic monster of a game. We got together to decide which would be the best supplement to support the game.
Another low roller, this time the d100 was rattled by Bud from Bud’s RPG Review, the ‘First, Last and Everything’ contributor for the latest episode of the GROGPOD. In the episode we celebrate 5 years of producing the pod which all began with Runequest. In the first episode, @dailydwarf declares Lair of the White Wyrm to be the best Runequest scenario: it’s a classic zoo-dungeon showing off the Gloranthean bestiary to the full.
It may feel a bit slight compare to some of the other issues we have looked at, but it’s a significant issue not least because Ian Livingstone, fresh from a trip to Origins, includes an interview with Gary Gygax. In the editorial, Livingstone wonders if Brits will ever have the stomach for a three day convention.
Last weekend, it was the virtual version of UK Games Expo, which included streamed-seminars where former member of the editorial team of White Dwarf Marc Gascoigne gave a shout out to The GROGNARD files. Much has changed over the past 40 years, not only can the Brits stomach three day cons, we can enjoy them from the comfort of our own homes.
If you’d like to play Lair of the White Worm, then come and join me and others at Glorantha Games where I will be running it using 13th Age Glorantha.
Let us know what you think of this issue by responding in the comments below.
Blimey, we’ve been doing this bobbins for five years! Good grief! In this episode, we go back to the beginning to look at RuneQuest with Jason Durall, as well as other highlights from his career in role-playing.
I’ve been making the plans for 2019 game. Mrs ‘The Dice’ took one look at January and said, “that’s a game twice a week, isn’t it?”
“Well,” I said, “some of them are shorter than others, so don’t really count as full sessions.”
She gave me the eye-brow raised, eye-rolling combo followed by a “oh yeah, I forgot about the ‘short ones’.”
It has been a project four years in the making, but once again, gaming is my everything and I’m saying: “it’s a good thing”
I’ve scheduled in the programme of podcasts for the next year. We’ve at least 12 months material to keep us going. I was concerned when a long time listener complained that there were too many interviews, but I think it’s talking to others from back in the day that keeps it interesting and draws new listeners to the GROGPOD, so I’m sticking with the format.
We have some great guests lined up too. They’ll be helping us explore our (very) loose theme this year: what were the influences on our gaming back in the day and how can they continue to inspire us?
The long promised episode featuring our musings on Robin of Sherwood is in production and will debut a brand new feature. GROGGLEBOX will be Eddy, me and Blythy talking about Seven Four Knights from Acre (season 1, episode 4). Do your homework before mid-February.
As much as I enjoy putting the podcast together, it’s only a means of finding more games and more players. I have some regular sessions continuing into the new year which is scratching that campaign itch that I’ve not been able to reach with one-shots. This has been thanks to online play, which allows me to disappear in my den for a few hours and be transported to other multiverses, while the rest of the family are waiting for a Hollywood handshake on The Great British Bake-off.
I’m looking forward to continuing the ongoing games as I’m playing with really great people. We’re currently in the dustbowl of Oklahoma in The Two-Headed Serpent for Pulp Cthulhu. All of the chapters are atmospheric, but I really like this one as it has a different mood that some of the others we’ve done. I really hope that we can sustain the momentum to the end of this campaign as every session has been both richly interesting and edge-of-the-seat exciting. There’s more adventure to come, I only hope that the game can continue at the punch and pace we’ve achieved so far.
The HeroQuest Glorantha Coming Storm campaign is getting to an interesting point in the story. Our Red Cow convoy as stopped off to make trade in Jonstown. Although our crew are mocked by the tribe as ‘Generation Cow Jumpers’ due to our disastrous initiation, we’ve chosen our sides and started a black-market of weapons for the Free Sartar movement, and it feels that we are becoming more important and valuable.
The one-shot that couldn’t be contained is continuing for Warhammer 4e. Hopefully you’ll have enjoyed the actual play recording of Lady Magdelena and her rag-tangle entourage as we try to make our way through the Old World. Gaz has offered to keep things going while they’re still interesting as we are loving playing the characters and discovering a game that completely passed us by 30 years ago.
We’ve also got further travels on board USS Thunderchild for Star Trek Adventures. I’m not a trekkie and the 2d20 system seems over-engineered for this ship’s engineer, but its really good fun because the players are great to be with and I’m enjoying playing a Tellerite with Vulcan tendencies.
Can I really squeeze in another regular online game? Turns out that the Wednesday night crew are back for one, last job in the form of D&D 5e Dragon Heist. I’ve decided, the time has come for me to play a monk.
On the 12th/13th April we’ll be hosting virtual GROGMEET (more details very soon) which is a great chance to learn online play and to get the GROGMEET experience if you can’t make it to the live event in November.
WHITES OF THEIR EYES
Online play is great, especially now the technical issues are minimised through practice and improvements in the platform, but it’s a synth-substitute to the real thing. Nothing beats the table.
Our sessions around Eddy’s table in his humble shed is one of the highlights of the month. It’s not the game or the cups of tea, it’s just great catching up with the three of us, doing what we’ve been doing for years. Eddy is enforcing his ‘corrective’ and making sure that we do not stray from ‘the old school’ by running Classic RuneQuest scenario set in Judge’s Guild Duck Tower. I’m looking forward to it as it will be the first time that I’ve been a player character in RQ since we finished playing Borderlands three years ago.
We’ll be on the road again too. We are heading for UK Games Expo. I’ve submitted some games to GM. On Friday evening I’m running my ‘The Savage Worlds of Strontium Dog’; Saturday Afternoon is an adapted version of FGU PSI World (I love it. 1980’s nostalgia for the 1950s riddled with teenage angst and nuclear anxiety) and Sunday morning is Lyonesse, The Design Mechanism’s stand-alone game based on Mythras, which won’t be out, but I’ve been promised a preview to share.
We’ll also be attending Convergence, The OwlBear and The Wizards Staff as well as hosting GROGMEET 19.
I’m behind with the layout and preparation of the GROGZINE, so I will be turning my attention to it over the coming weeks. I also have an idea of a side-project that will start to appear in Spring. On the You Tube channel, I’ll be showcasing a scrapbook of zines from the British scene in the 80s. This is Doc Con’s collection that will be archived for the nation.
I have loads more plans and schemes, but I need to put them to one-side while I perfect the manipulation of time and space, before Mrs The Dice’s eyes turn from a roll to a permanent spin. Dirk
I took my players through not one, but two QuickStart adventures: firstly, in search of The Broken Tower, from the ENnie Award-Winning, Free RPG Day supplement, produced last year; then in the afternoon they explored A Darkness at RuneGate (as yet unpublished preview).
I’ll do a Scrap Book about the mini-con, until then, here’s the game report, delivered in the usual format. There are five highlights and a final fumble.
Against this background of fevered anticipation for the new game I approached the two sessions as a ‘demonstration’. Most of the players had a very limited experience of the RuneQuest, so I decided to show-case its capabilities.
Rules lawyers, cover your ears.
I also went with the run of play rather than limiting proceedings with a pesky rule. The runic inspirations were enjoyable, so I wasn’t going to ruin things by saying ‘you can’t do that’. It’s called maximum game fun (MGF), I believe.
I must of done something right as one player bought the game using his phone before he left.
I had a bad case of ‘gamers’ back’ on the Sunday. Schlepping all of my gear in a ruck sack for two days took its toll. There’s just so much wonderful stuff for RuneQuest to share. I used my new Q-WorkShop, turquoise dice-set, complete with its hit location ‘left-leg’ bias. There are new ones on the way apparently, but I think it’s traditional for the left leg to be the first place hit. It always raises a cheer.
The Glorantha Source book was also useful to share with the players. During down-time it was an opportunity to flick through and admire the art and study some of the cult relationships. One of the players was well-versed in the cosmology of Glorantha. He was playing Sorala, the pre-generated character from the rule-book who is the scribe from Nochet, an initiate of Lhankor May. I was very grateful when he provided information about Dragon Pass at different points during play as it prevented a GM info-dump.
Last, but not least, it was the Strike Rank tracker from Infinity Engine what broke the gamers back. This is a beautifully engraved wooden strip with rules and a twelve phase gauge to keep a track of turn order. There’s also matching Rune tokens which can be used on the tracker and to mark ‘augments’ when characters have active ‘runic inspiration’.
It’s hard for an old dog to learn new tricks. In the thrill of battle, I forgot to refer to it, using instead my ‘keep it in your head’ system that I’ve used for years. That said, the tracker is a nice thing to have at the table as a talking point and useful for explaining strike rank initiative order rules.
The Broken Tower
This is the forth time that I have GMd this scenario: the first time was around the time of its release, the second was recorded for The Smart Party and the third was at UK Games Expo. This time the players really bought into the mythic setting and brought their own ideas and concepts to the scenes, there was more of an eerie quality to the journey through the bad lands.
They were certainly a single-minded party of adventurers who were determined to complete their task. Vostor, the Lunar exile, was particularly forthright.
The Grey Dogs never stood a chance.
Asako-soh was the genial host for the day and he looked after us throughout the weekend. The night before he arranged a meal at Warwick Spice, there were samosas for lunch and a GM goody bag containing a liquorice pipe.
Lunch was a time to re-group and say hello to podcast listeners.
The highlight of the weekend came from a couple of people who were grateful to the GROGPOD as they had started playing regularly thanks to listening. Like the samosa, they gave me much needed nourishment to get me fired up.
A Darkness at RuneGate
Thanks to Richard August, one of the members of the GROGSQUAD, I was given a preview draft of a new QuickStart that’s in development. Rich is one of the writers who designed the adventure. It was a real privilege to playtest something that only a handful of people in the world have played before.
If you know Rich’s work from such supplements as Three Faces of the Wendigo you’ll know that he has a real flair for the macabre. A Darkness … is no exception. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s an investigation with a pervasive stench of the horrific.
The players enjoyed the distinctive ‘The Wicker Man’ folk-horror elements as they encountered people of RuneGate who had embraced a new way of life, adopting a sinister, yet appealing serenity while those around them were in disorder.
RuneQuest fans new and old will enjoy the climatic encounter.
The pre-generated characters that appeared in the original QuickStart appear in the new rule book. I used the new ones as they are laid out over two pages which makes things easier to spot, however I failed my roll and missed the fact that there are some new features in the character sheets.
MOB RETURNS: MOB talks about all the different ways that you can play in Glorantha: 13th Age, HeroQuest, but especially RuneQuest. Here he talks about how RuneQuest appeals to the gamers from back in the day, through its legacy supplements and how it can appeal to new gamers who have discovered Glorantha through The King of Dragon Pass. He also talks about some of the new releases, such as the Bestiary and 6 Ages as well as some of the fan initiatives such as Encounter Role-Play. He also reveals the plans to create a site for Glorantha fan material using a similar model as The Miskatonic Repository.
JUDGE BLYTHY ROLLS: We discuss ‘how to get started in Glorantha’ with an emphasis on ‘play’s the thing’.
In Episode 22 of The GROGNARD files our special guest, Michael O’Brien (MOB) the Vice President of Chaosium, discusses his formative experiences as a role-player in Melbourne and how he was motivated to revive Glorantha by producing new material for the game that could inspire new players in the nineties.
The supplements produced MOB, under the editorial guidance of Ken Rolston, over this period was known as ‘The RuneQuest Renaissance’. The first volume in the series of supplements was based on MOB’s house campaign set in Sun County: RuneQuest Adventures in the Land of the Sun. He describes it as ‘Spartans in the Wild West’ as it focuses on a highly civilised society trying to cope within the wastelands on the edge of Prax. It’s a cracking adventure packed with loads of interesting NPCs and exotic locations.
At the centre of it all is the Sun Dome Temple, a distinctive building which is the seat of religion and government in the Sun County. The book explains the day-to-day life of the Yelmalio (Sun) worshipers, it also describes some of the local features, such as the Retirement Towers that hold Yelmalio priests waiting in solitude for great insight from their god.
MOB hasn’t lived in Austailia all of his life. After a career in Higher Education, he went to live in the United Arab Emirates for 10 years, he came back in 2014. He had a job in a university there, as part of the senior leadership, which was, “an interesting, yet demanding and intense job. There was not much opportunity for gaming during this period, because I think my entire life there was like a live action roleplaying game.”
“There were many great things about living in the UAE, I really enjoyed my time there. I did have some gamer friends, Andrew Bean who helps out at the Chaosium booth many times. He lived in the UAE and his wife and my wife would play board games there quite frequently as well down at the British club; she talks about it in her women in table-top gaming interview.”
Bear in mind that this was over a decade later than the publication of Sun County: “One of the most bizarre aspects of living in the UAE; if I looked out of my window, across to the break-water there was a building, a theatre, that was the exact image of the Sun Dome Temple. I found it fascinating.”
He said, “In many respects the whole place there very much looked like Sun County. It even has watch-towers spread throughout the desert and countryside like the retirement towers you see in Sun County.”
“I must have been channelling all of this as the book was written way back in the early nineteen nineties. Back then, I knew nothing about the UAE, my first experience was going into work one day at the University of Melbourne and my boss asked, “how would you like to go to a conference in Abu Dhabi?” I said, “I’d love to do that, where’s Abu Dhabi?” I had to look it up.”