Mike Brunton, our special guest for Episode 29, suddenly passed away on 18th July 2019. This is the interview in full, released as a celebration of his gaming career. It also features Paul Cockburn adding a tribute to his old friend and colleague.
A year on the GROG – 2019
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.
In the meantime, why not vote (classes 8th Jan) for us and the rest of your favourite podcasts in a new poll hosted by EN World.
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.
I’d been scheming with Neil Benson about setting up an irregular session in Manchester when Newt Newport announced the re-opening of Go-Play Manchester: a monthly club of one-shot games at Fan Boy Three. I’ve no doubt that having a regular game club on our door-step is going to feature heavily in our gaming experiences in the new year.
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
Episode 25 – Review of 2018 (Featuring WFRP actual play)
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.
Podcast recommendations: How we Roll, The Chimpions, Vintage RPG podcast, and Appendix N.
1D6 wielding the WARHAMMER
We never played WARHAMMER Fantasy RolePlay back in the 80s, so we’ve been making up lost time over the past few weeks to catch up on what we missed.
The WARHAMMER Grogpods have been produced with the help of The Smart Party podcast. Baz joined us as a locum judge in Part One to dissect 1st edition rules: we managed to play using the rules with Asako Soh (from twitter).
The co-host of The Smart Party, Gaz, has been touring the autumn cons (including GROGMEET) with his WFRP 4e adventures. We played “Here comes the Prince!” set in an Empire backwater of his own design.
Here’s the play report from those sessions. Five highlights and a fumble.
1 The Enemy Within – Asako Soh revived ‘Mistaken Identity’ for last year’s GROGMEET and this year’s virtual GROGMEET. From the start of the session when we answered the call of a proclamation, it felt like we were in the throes of a classic.
It starts off simply enough with a straight forward across country journey, but an encounter with vile chaos sends the adventure spiralling into warped direction.
The adventure is cunning as lures the players into a tempting get-rich-quick scheme that quickly becomes complicated.
Phil The Dice Mechanic made the observation that the skills are very well considered in the 1st’ed as they quickly establish the character and their place in the world. He also observed that the critical tables are very lurid and colourful but at the top end of the tables, the descriptions are likely to reoccur. Never mind ‘hit left leg’ we had many ‘shattered pelvis’ results.
I thoroughly enjoyed the session, as it was full of sardonic humour as well as the gross-out pestilence. The scenario is smart too, probably a little rail-roady for modern tastes, but it never felt like that in Asako Soh’s hands.
2. Game for a laugh?
“I know that it’s a darkly comic game, are we playing it that way?” asked Matt.
“No, we’re playing it straight as games played for laughs are annoying,” said Gaz, carefully framing the scenario, “if comedy emerges then we’ll go for it, but otherwise it will seem forced.”
We solemnly nodded, before Gaz went into a description of our Lipsensnout Sausages and mash served by a man with sausage-like thumbs – we’d had wurst.
3. Get thee to Mittleburg
The marriage of Ines von Horgen to merchant’s son Frederich Friccen is rumoured to have been brokered to inject cash into the ailing fortunes of Baron von Horgen’s house, while elevating the common, yet wealthy, Friccen household to minor nobility. Scandal enough, but a week before the impending nuptials, Frederich has ridden off to Mittleberg for seven days of Volksfest revelry and a Junggesellenabschied to remember (or forget).
Our small band of ‘resourceful and discreet’ souls were sent to recover Frederich and treat him to ‘hair of the dog’ to get him back to fulfil his duty.
Mittleburg was packed to the jowls with grotesque NPCs who were brought to life with great gusto creating some memorable encounters.
Encounters such as Cunz Gunther, the sausage chef at The Boar and Truffle, or Juergen Schmidt who was abducted from a palanquin by our group, and forced to pay debts to the brothel in a wonderfully ‘Richard Lester’ Three Musketeer moment.
The setting in both editions is really rich.
4. Pre-Generation of the next generation
The character sheets were a little more complex than the 1st edition, but no less colourful.
Blythy was Magdelena von Horgen, an impatient, duellist of lesser nobility, who was easily distracted by her desire to seek out and confront her rival Marx Tuschman. She was guarded by her man-at-arms, who had seen better days, Hans Maiger (played by Mat Hart from Steamforge games).
Helping us to find out way around the city was Grete Vesars, a well connected racketeer (played by Dan, one of the original Smart Party).
I played Elspeth Voltz, a taciturn, single-minded Thief Taker who was more used to tracking down less salubrious characters. She is the impatient side-kick to the more deliberate Barold Loffen, an investigator, a literate and learned locator of missing persons (played by Baz).
5. Something wicked, this way comes …
Before long, we realised that there was something more pernicious at work. Rather than a stag-do that had got out of hand, the infiltration of chaos, symbolised by a dance-of-veils featuring a costumed sex-worker with a lobster hand and an exposed breast.
The final confrontation was satisfyingly horrific. The mechanics work differently than the first edition as it employees ‘degrees of success’ where oppositional tests are compared on a scale of 1 – 10 depending on the ‘tens’ rolled on percentage dice. There’s no example of combat in the rulebook, which means some of the finer points of ‘advantage’ are difficult to work out in play.
The comparison of scales of success means that if you fail less than your opponent, it is still possible to succeed: a rule that proved to be decisive in the final confrontation.
6. Corrupted files
We attempted to record the sessions for use as podcasts. When it came to playing the tapes, the file was ‘corrupted’, which was fitting, but frustrating. No one will hear of Mat Hart’s character dressed for a masked ball wearing a costume that made him look like he was riding a griffin, a la Bernie Clifton.
You won’t hear Phil The Dice Mechanic recreating Benny from Crossroads playing Werner, “SPEAK UP. YOU’RE VERY SHUSSHY.”
Fortunately, Gaz blessed the third attempt by Tzeentch, and it will appear in Episode 25 of the GROGPOD and followed up in a Smart Party bonus episode.
Episode 24 (Part 2) WARHAMMER Fantasy Role Play (with Graeme Davis)
INTRO: We’ve had another iTunes review (we’d love to get more!)
GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN: Graeme Davis takes us on a whistle stop tour around his career so far: check out this book-listing at Graeme’s site for all the references mentioned.
WHITE DWARF: @dailydwarf has given another insightful perspective of all of the adventures that appeared White Dwarf for the game.
OPEN BOX: Blythy and Dirk talk about Warhammer and how they can fit it in their gaming repertoire.
OUTRO: Only a few days left to register for a hard copy of the GROGZINE 2019.
Episode 24 (Part 1) WARHAMMER Fantasy Role Play (with Graeme Davis)
INTRO: The GROGNARD files is dedicated to Greg Stafford (1948-2018)
OPEN BOX: Graeme Davis talks to us about the genesis of the 1st edition of WARHAMMER and some of the plans for the new edition. You find out more about his long and distinguished career in gaming on his website.
WHITE DWARF: The Daily Dwarf reviews the articles that appeared in White Dwarf for WARHAMMER, it’s a long list.
JUDGE BAZ RULES!: Baz Stevens from The Smart Party podcast (The UK’s Premier RPG Podcast… mmm?) joins us in the room of role-playing rambling to get deep and dirty into the rules.
OUTRO: Join our Patreon before the end of November to get a hard copy of the zine.