Episode 5 (Part 1) Stormbringer RPG

 

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The cover on the copy we read in the library

“I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas.”  – Michael  Moorcock

 

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The subject of this episode is STORMBRINGER – Fantasy Role Playing in the world of Elric.

We have also opened a Patreon campaign to support the development of the podcast, and to help towards the production of The GROGNARD files fanzine.

If you would like to tip a few coins in the beret, then please go to this site:

The GROGNARD files patreon

SECTION 1: POTTED HISTORY (6:03)

Some background to the Elric stories.

The story of STORMBRINGER’s origins with new material from Ken St Andre – look out for a transcript of the conversation we had with him on theGROGNARDfiles.com, coming soon.

SECTION 2: OPEN BOX (16:59)

Blythy joins me in a faithful reconstruction of his teenage bedroom to discuss the early games we played of STORMBRINGER.

SECTION 3: THE WHITE DWARF (35:41)

A magnificent contribution by @dailydwarf about the dog-days of White Dwarf’s hey day and the brilliant The Madcap Laughs adventure for STORMBRINGER that appeared in the august journal.

SECTION 4: JUDGE BLYTHY RULES! (51:36)

The resident Agent of Law, Judge Blythy takes on the chaotic ‘Guantlet of Hand-Waving’ during an analysis of the rules

SECTION 5: THERE ISN’T ONE (01:23:00)

What to look forward to in Part 2 (supplements, a ‘show and tell’ of Moorcock miscellany’ and listener post bag).

Please write to us by commenting on the site or sticking a review on iTunes.

 

 

Episode 4 – RPG Games Cons Dragonmeet

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In a break with the usual format, The Armchair Adventurers are at risk of disappearing up their own fundament.

It’s too short to break in two, too long to listen in one go, so disappointing either way. Take your time, pause a little, as you listen to the blow by blow account of our big day out.

INTRODUCTION

It’s 30 years since we last went to a Games Convention. We went to Dragonmeet ’15 in December, this is a reflection on what we did when we were there and how things have changed in gaming in the meantime.

This introduction includes a A brief potted history of Dragonmeet, with extra bits of information provided by Modiphius.

OPEN BOX

The morning of the day before, Judge Blythy joins Dirk as we plan the trip and reminisce about Games Cons of the past.

WHITE DWARF

Everything comes back to White Dwarf and it’s coverage of Games Conventions back in the day were our way of enjoying them vicariously.

There’s a quote from Scott Dorwood who reviewed the podcast.

GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN

Some general reflections on our observations while we were there as well as a blow by blow account of some of the experiences we had.

Under discussion:

Call of Cthulhu Dreamlands using 7th Edition

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules distilled into 52 pages

How the market has changed, stuff we bought, and the apparent controversy around the benign Chaosium seminar.

We attend seminars featuring Ken and Robin Talk Quickly About Stuff and the “Is there too much Cthulhu” debate between The Good Friends … and The Smart Party.

While we were there, we interviewed Mike Cule, star of the stage and screen, and the author of RUMBLE AT THE TIN INN (amongst others) and one of the hosts of Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice.

ED’S BARGAIN SHED

Eddy, the resident bargain-hunter in chief, shares his Dragonmeet haul and takes on the 20 quid challenge.

POSTBAG

Listeners share their convention experiences.

Normal service will be resumed next time when we discuss STORMBRINGER.

 

A year on the Grog

I’m sat in the den, packing away the tinsel for another year, because Dirk Towers is saying farewell to the festive period. I’m back at work, serving The Master in return for food tokens, so I’ve begun to console myself in looking forward to 2016.

The first 6 months of the new year look like a veritable feast of gaming with an unprecedented 20 sessions planned between now and June. We haven’t done this much RPG since those heady days of the early 80s.

If we pull it off … if we pull it off … if …

HIGHLIGHTS

The next episode of The Grognard Files podcast will be about Games Conventions in general and Dragonmeet 2015 in particular.While I was there, I got a (signed) copy of Nights Black Agents and I’ve been reading it ever since. The hardback is packed to the brim with resources and enough inventive ideas for you to shake a stake at, but I’ve had a difficultly getting my head around it. I suspect that there’s less to the Gumshoe system than meets the eye. It’s an example of what my English lecturer, Chris Baldick, used to refer to as ‘periphrasis’, in other words, a lots of words to say something very simple.

That said, when I’ve watched actual play demos, it actually seems workable, and I’m looking forward to being the director of a Bourne-meets-Buffy type extravaganza because I think it will suit my style of Games Mastering perfectly.

There’s a great demo-game available for download that will get them into the pace of the action in media res with an exciting car chase emulating the high-powered super-spy genre with great panache.

Night’s Black Agents is an improvised story game that uses the idea of ‘spending’ resources to improve the chance of success for your actions. Numenera uses a similar principle and for most of today, in between nursing a sick child, I’ve been preparing my character, because we’re going to start playing next month with Judge Blythy as the Games Master (or whatever irrelevant variant on the GM title Monte Cooke Games have devised).

It’s ages since I’ve enjoyed creating a character as much as I did making the choices for the Numenera. It’s relatively simple and allows a great deal of flexibility for the player to use their imagination to develop someone that they want to play, rather than being at the mercy of dice rolls.

Zadie Zenokey IV (or Zen 4) is a nano (a kind of Numenera magic user) with the descriptor of ‘Mechanical’ which gives her a great insight into the ways of the Numenera magic. Her focus is flesh and steel, the source of her magic is through ports in her spine and cables under her skin to a cpu on the right-side of her brain and her cybernetic left-arm. Her back story concerns her ancestors who were all but wiped out by a virus, the survivors and subsequent generations developed mechanics to cope with their mutations. Zen 4 has developed a secret order who are seeking the remaining Zenokey so they can reunite.

“DO SOME OLD”

It’s not all about the new stuff. Some of the highlights of the coming months include the continuing campaigns of Fungi from Yuggoth (CoC) and the Aramis campaign (Traveller), keeping it old school.

In February, I’ll be opening the Grognard File labelled STORMBRINGER, Fantasy Role-playing in the world of Elric. Over the past few weeks I’ve been rediscovering Moorcock and hitting e-Bay, filling the gaps in my collection of supplements. I’ve been overcome with an impulsive desire to consume souls, however it seems unlikely that I’ll be sated, therefore I’ve decided that I’ll run a game instead. We have one scheduled for the end of the month.

In the coming months, the Runequest classic bonanza will be released from Moon Design’s epic Kick Starter campaign, marking the celebrations of 50 years of Glorantha. In the podcast we have talked about our group reviving some of the classic Choasium games, so I’m going to continue this endeavour by resurrecting another OSR classic for my group.

On top of all this Armchair Adventuring, we’ve been invited to a marathon session of D&D 5th edition, which is very exciting.

So, as I plug myself into the collective unconscious of work, facing minor disappointments with stoic indifference, I can console myself that there is an escape pod available. As long as the Fun Prevention Officer gives me the key.

Episode 1 (Part 2) Runequest RPG Micro-Grog Pod

This is a supplement to the First Episode of The GRODNARD Files – Runequest.

I give a potted history of the game, from it’s origins to the present day.

There’s also a selection from the post-bag, featuring the responses from the listeners of the first episode – and their opinion about ducks.

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Enjoy!

Episode 1 (Part 1) Runequest RPG

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It’s been a steep learning curve, but the period of waiting is over, the first ever GROGNARD podcast is ready for your consideration.

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!

“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).

Dirk

It’s a Kinda Magic – RQ6 Magic for Glorantha

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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.

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MAGICAL ADDITIONS TO THE LATER EDITIONS

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.

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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.”

ADDING SOME EXTRA CRUNCH

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

The Return to Apple Lane

Grindle’s Pawnshop was the first ever scenario that I ran, it came bundled in the box with RUNEQUEST. When it comes to RUNEQUEST, setting is everything, and the slim booklet of APPLE LANE was probably the most accessible way in to the world of Glorantha. It featured a hamlet set within the foothills of Sartar populated by interesting NPCs hiding secrets and lies. The siege at Grindle’s Pawnshop was the feature scenario. In the original, Grindle had purchased some exotic items from adventurers who had taken a crystal of Toothsharp from a gang of Baboons. Through the power of divination, Grindle knew that there was an attack on his shop planned, so he employs the player characters to protect his home, and more importantly, the artefact.

The Gamesmaster had to leave the room while the players decide where they are going to hide the crystal, which I always found a nice touch, an element that I preserved in this ‘remake’ or ‘revival’ of the classic scenario. The version that we recently played using the RQ6 rules was based on the scenario in THE SARTAR COMPANION that was published by Moon Design (for HeroQuest). There are elements of the old version (by way of a homage) but the story has developed to fit within the rich, dense history of the region provided by the supplement and SARTAR KINGDOM OF HEROES.

Below, there’s a run through of our game, it’s really there for our benefit (as a recap) but if you like that kind of thing, then please read on. Otherwise, you can leave now and do something more interesting instead. This was the third session using the Runequest 6 rules. Prior to this there was a character generation session and a couple of gentle encounters to get us into the rules. In addition to the character creation in the rules, I also walked them through some of the story elements provided in the HeroQuest supplements, so they could understand their role within the clan.

They are Olmarthings, a rebellious clan within the Colymar tribe, who are still reeling from the crushing of the Starbrow Rebellion by the Lunars five years previous to the beginning of the adventure. King Kangarl has been installed in the as a puppet and is rumoured to be consorting with a witch. He has declared Grindle Goodsell as an outlaw. A gang of thugs and mercenaries are being recruited to pay a ‘visit’ to Grindle. The Chieftain of the Olmarth, Gordanger, who’s father was the former king and an associate of Grindle. His father made an oath to Grindle as a loyal thane of The House of Sartar, to protect him. He has sent the player characters North to warn Grindle of the impending attack.

ASBORN’S STEAD

After a turbulent night on the edge of the Colymar Wilds, LEIKA and ORLAKOR took time to rest and dried their clothes in the relative comfort of Asborn’s stead. Their host introduced them to Garth, a member of the Blackspears, from the wilds. The Blackspears, also known as the Anmangarn, breed black bulls and are the custodians of the fabled blackspear – a powerful symbol of the Colymar tribe – they are fierce warriors who are both feared and respected by the other clans, despite being in an open feud with King Kangarl. Olgarth was very respectful towards Leika, he explained the young girl that they ‘rescued’ was almost certainly a thrall of the Lunar merchant. The language she speaks is Pelorian, a part of the Empire far to the north, beyond Dorastor. Asborn is concerned that the young girl refuses to bathe and that the women of the tribe have been unsuccessful in their attempts to reach out to her. The girl has made a small horse by banding twigs together. When Orlakor looked closer, it was a unicorn, with its horn removed, she handed the ‘horn’ to him.

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They started heading to Apple Lane so they could arrive before dusk. On the way, they saw the Lunar ‘slaver’ being attacked by trollkin riding giant wasps. They remained at a distance, watching the melee, leaving the merchant to his fate. They were too conspicuous, when the trollkin had ransacked the prone body of the merchant, they turned their attention to Leika and Orlakor who fought them off, thanks to a little luck.

THE TIN INN

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Apple Lane is a sleepy hamlet located in disputed territory between the Colymar and Malani Tribes.  It marks a crossroads between Jonstown, Runegate and Clearwine and it is surrounded by orchards tended by the Hiording clan. As they entered, they introduced themselves to a curious smithy who introduced himself as PIKU from the wandering metal-work tribe known as Third Eye Blue, so-called because of a blue circle tattooed on their forehead. He introduced his family – his wife Valeeda and daughter Yaku.

There was no one home at the Pawnshop so they headed to the Tin Inn, so called because of its tin roof, the sound of the rain hammering is deafening, but inside it was warm, full of a throng of bodies enjoying a hog-roast and their famous cider. There were farmers nursing their pots of ale, a several adventurers in black (probably from Pavis plotting suspiciously in a corner booth), travellers and the local thane.

Pramble a scholar and poet befriended Leika and Orlakor and embellished their story of Trollkin bashing as a tale of Giant slaying (drawing some unwanted attention from the others in the tavern). He also had stories about:

Hofstaring Treeleaper, the greatest king the Culbrea ever had. Over 100 years old when he fought Starbrow’s Rebellion, he was famous for his leaping ability and his incredible magic spear Chest-Breaker that fought on its own. He was almost killed when the Empire sacked Boldhome but escaped with his leap. Beloved by the Storm God, King Hofstaring summoned the great flood that destroyed the Lunar Army before the Hill of Orlanth Victorious. It is a source of great shame for the Culbrea that Hofstaring’s soul suffers in a Lunar Hell rather than serving as a thane of the gods as he deserves.

He also talked of rumours of the kin of the Chieftain of the Grey Dog Clan going missing in mysterious circumstances. After a while, he introduced them to Squinch Greybeard, a scholar, and Quackjohn, a duck who are both associates of Grindle.

PROTECTING GRINDLE 

Like everyone in the region, Grindle has had to sign a fealty to the Lunars and acts as the local tax collector. In his home, there is evidence that he is no longer the rich trader that once used his wealth to support the freedom of Boldhome.

He’s old and unmoved by the news that he is now an outlaw. Polite and gentle, he dismissed the idea that the Lunars and the Colymar king are after his wealth. He showed Leika and Orlakor his greatest remaining treasures:

THE EYE OF THE HALFBIRD – a gemstone that he got from one of the masters of luck and death over a decade ago. He said that it was the mortal eye of the immortal Halfbird – a strange creature born before the Emperor. Half of it proved mortal and is little more than a skeleton, the other half seeks to restore the dead half alive.

THE LEAD GRIMOIRE – a book that was recovered from a treacherous wizard some years back. He was outfitting an expedition to Cliffhome to speak to the Cragspider. He tried to recover the Grimoire (saying that it was important for a future meeting), but never pay back the loan.

THE IRON CARDINAL’S EGG – Originating from Wenelia from the ruins of the Slants. If properly warmed and tended, it will hatch a chick, but he was uncertain of the market value of a live Iron Cardinal!

Before long, a crowd of Tharlings, armed with an assortment of clubs and spears, began to gather around the shop. They were lead by Darsten, who began issuing threats through a ‘spy-hatch’ in the heavy-door. Leika and Orlakor laid traps and hid the artefacts to protect Grindle’s shop (and temple) being attacked.

“Grindle Goodsell you have been declared an outlaw by King Kangarl…” Darsten, thane of the Tharlings, parleyed for a short while, asking for Grindle to give himself over to the posse. The discussions were broken when a woman with her face painted half blue and half red rode into town flanked by Lunar cavalry. She hissed commands in a foreign tongue. She was looking for ‘the eye’ and insisted that it was handed over. Leika and Orlakor considered handing it over, but were persuaded by Grindle that it would not be good for the region if they conceded to the demands of the witch.

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Dronlan Swordsharp, the thane of Apple Lane, steps forward and declares that Grindle is under his protection and they should leave the area. There was a tense standoff until Erianda the witch, exasperated, dismounted, drew two iron scimitars and dismembered Dronlon. She then barked an instruction: “kill them all and burn down the place.”

She left with the Lunar soldiers. Seeing the opportunity to strike, Leika pierced Darsten’s throat with her spear, through the door. Orlakor picked off the Pavian mercenaries with his bow. Grindle stubbornly remained in his temple, invoking spirits of warding to protect his inner sanctum.

After a steadfast battle, The Tharlings were routed and the mercenaries killed. As they retreated they looked at Leika, framed in the doorway, and shouted, “Blackspears!”

Now, they need to escape, before the Lunars return and raze the Pawnshop to the ground.

Year on the GROG 2015

On the break of the new year, we had a Twitter conversation inspired (ripped-off from…) The Gamers’ Table Podcast. I can’t pretend to understand what’s going on and the odd relationships between all of the participants at Gamers’ Table, but I do enjoy the idea that they set a series of resolutions and challenges for each other in the first episode of the year. Our commitments are at risk at being buried in a Twitter timeline, so I have knocked up this post to remind the other Armchair Adventurers exactly what they’ve signed up to for the following year:

GROUP CHALLENGES

Over the past few years, our monthly meetings have been worked out on a month by month basis, as if we dare not commit to a regular session in case it begins to seem like a chore. When a session comes to an end and we are gathering the empty ‘non-alcoholic’ beer bottles, we tentatively flirt around the dates of the next session like its some kind of Japanese courtship ritual – we don’t feel safe on committing to a date there and then in case it offends some unwritten etiquette. This year, we have promised to: have at least one session a month PLUS one session virtually using Roll 20.

After the brilliant January session (playing Runequest’s Borderlands ‘The Condor Crags’) we were still dithering …

In 2014 we were all captivated by the potential of RUNEQUEST 6, but by our own admission, when it comes to Runequest, we are a little ‘vanilla’ when it comes to magic. In RQ 2nd edition the magic is as best ‘mechanical’ and at worse ‘a bit boring’. The RQ6 rules seem to offer a bit of pep and vim to the notion of magic with interesting, dynamic rules for different orders of magic. Therefore we set ourselves the task of: understanding the rules of RQ6 to make our settings infused with magic.

Last year, inspired by the brilliant Mark Barrowcliffe book THE ELFISH GENE, we began writing the memoir of The Armchair Adventurer’s Club with a view of releasing it as an e-book. We were 20 thousand words in when, as usual, we came to a pause and stayed there. In 2015, we are going to revive the project with the aim of getting some or all of it out there for the world to read, in the meantime we’ve pledged to complete the memoir for our own amusement. A curry in February has already been planned so we can pick up the pieces.

Finally, the most ambitious (therefore improbable) resolution is for us to attend this year’s Dragonmeet Convention.   Yeah, right … like the collective Fun Prevention Officers are going to agree to THAT one!

BLYTHY (@SJAMB7)

Blythy sacrificed his eye-sight in 1982 to painting 15mm Traveller miniatures (or minis as Gamer’s Table might say). They were a labour of love and enhanced our experience of playing Traveller back in the early 1980s. Traveller was the most prominent planet-hopping game in the UK back in the day, so it was one of our main systems. We would pour over the articles provided by White Dwarf to try and make sense of the worlds, to no avail, but as time went on, the scenarios in White Dwarf had moved-on at the same time that we had moved-on and weren’t playing Traveller as much. Therefore 2015 is a year that we will play a one-off Traveller scenario from WHITE DWARF using the fabulous minis.

EDDY (@EDINTHESAND)

Eddy was our ‘go-to’ Keeper, for Choasium’s  prolific supplements in the 80s. He led us through many of the greats from the period as he is the most enthusiastic lover of all things Lovecraft. Since the reunion of the group he’s been running Runequest … he is going to run a Runequest 6 game in 2015 in addition, he promises to run the Cthulhu campaign THE SPAWN OF AZATHOTH.

DIRK THE DICE (@armchairadvent)

I have always been totally obsessed by post-apocalyptic narratives. Back in the early 1980s, there were four posters on my wall: Madness – Sugg’s daft face gurning above my bed; Altered Images – Claire Grogan’s wonderfully pretty face gurning above my bed; the Starburst poster for Excalibur; and a poster of Mad Max walking along a desolate road with his dog. I really wanted the Fantasy Games Unlimited rules for AFTERMATH, but I could not afford it, besides Blythy was already running Gamma World. Now that I am older and have the capacity to indulge, I bought myself a copy of the AFTERMATH rules for Christmas. This year, I intend to run a one off game of AFTERMATH  even though the rules seem incredible complex.

So, there you have it. This time next year, you can judge us!