One-D-Six: The Sea Caves

On Saturday evening, I hosted the first Patreon, Online Grog-Club in the den under-the-stairs. Supporters at the $5+ level, who were interested in playing, were drawn from the beret to participate in a Runequest one-shot.

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When Rick Meint’s compiled the OSR Bundle for the Classic Runequest Kickstarter campaign last year, he included a never before published adventure, written by Greg Stafford.

The Sea Cave is an unfinished, brutal, zoo-type cave crawl. There’s some innovations built into the design of the complex: the way into the caves is affected by the Gloranthan tides, the players can choose to sail into the flooded caves or walk in during the low tide; also, the denizens of the cave have distinctive relationships with each other.

Despite its limitations, I liked some of the unusual encounters described in the supplement and thought that it would be a perfect, one-shot introduction to the mixed group of players invited to the session. Some of the players were old hands, who knew Runequest and Glorantha very well, others were returning after a long hiatus, while for some it was their first exposure to the delights of the system and place.

It was cracking fun, with tense, spectacular moments, plenty of atmosphere and laughs, lots of laughs.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) Ducks! 

Now, regular listeners to the podcast will know my opinion of ducks, but I was struck by the idea of creating a Humakt duck death squad just for the fun of it. Maybe I’ve been reading too much T&T.

Meet the team:

Brandi Coot – a wily bird who tried to be one step ahead of the opposition with great tactical acuity, using his giant turtleshell shield as to protect the team and using it as a makeshift life raft.

Purple-Eye – the broody one that skulks in the shadows with his two swords trying to convince Mal Hard to break his geas and use ambush tactics.

Moor-Hin – He’s adept with his griffin bone javelin and very tenacious. Very tenacious.

Mal Hard – the burly, healer who is tough enough to wield a bastard sword one-handed. He proved a crack-shot with the self bow too.

Rudi Blue-bill – The shortest and most eager to please, with the sharpest eye and skills with a throwing knife. His knife ‘BAK’ will return to the hand of the thrower on a whistle. Ducks can’t whistle.

2) Clackneed 

The only human in the team was a survivor of our Borderlands campaign. He had been wandering around the grantlands and Horngate with Daine’s sword. He is on the cusp of being a Rune Lord, so is heading to the Sea Caves to help him realise his ambitions.

He has raised the army to help Bryn Cor, the head of the fishermen, to rid the coast of a mysterious creature terrorising the fleet during the twilight catch.

He’s named Clackneed because he needs clacks. He became a mercenary to raise himself from poverty as an outcast.

By the end of the adventure he was Clack ‘kneed’ as every blow seemed to strike his legs. He was grateful of the support of his duck army!

3) The Sea Serpent The opening scene always carries the risk of being a damp-squib or a TPK. This one was almost both. It was extremely damp as it began on board a boat.

A couple of the ducks chose to push the boat along through the water, to get them to Corflu before nightfall.

The ship was attacked by a sea serpent, knocking some of the crew off their feet. Clackneed lost a limb (not for the last time). They all resisted the demoralising rattle to its tail.

The excitement came when Moor-Hin impaled the creature with his javelin. As the stricken creature plunged into the depths of the ocean, the plucky bird went in pursuit of his precious griffin-bone javelin. Deeper and deeper. He gripped on to his weapon and eventually managed to pull it out, before returning, coughing and spluttering to the surface.

4) The players are the thing …

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Eddy consulting the rulebook – still disputing the fumble rules after 30 years of playing together.

It’s always great to meet new players and this group bounded in duckdum very quickly as they rallied around the hapless wannabe Rune Lord.

Ruddi  – “Clackneed?”

Clackneed – “What? I’m busy.”

Ruddi – “WHISTLE!”

5) “There’s a Wyrm? How are you spelling it?”

It was ambitious to run this as a 3 hour one-shot and it proved too much.

They faced a dramatic encounter with a mermaid water spirit who was initially threatening the characters with her Wyrm, before revealing that the Wyrm is her enemy and she wants it destroyed.

There’s going to be an extra session to deal with the Wyrm.

Brandi Coot declared, “A worm? Who’s afraid of a puny earthworm?”

Cue my Harryhausan sound effects echoing through the cave and the collective headsets.

to be continued …

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6) We’ve joined a select group.

There must only be a handful of people in the world who have been in these caves. The brave pioneers are proudly listed at the front.

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The next Patreon, Online Grog-Club is due in February 2017. See the Patreon page, where details will be posted nearer the time.

Episode 7 (Part 2) Tunnels and Trolls RPG

 

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We return to ‘blast away the fiends of boredom’ with another T&T episode. This time we are joined by Big Jack Brass, Jon Hancock.

0.15 Introduction. We had feedback from non-other than Ken St Andre himself…

4.05 Open Box. Jon talks about his early life in role playing and why he was drawn to T&T.

24.04 Actual Play. Jon is the GM for Monsters! Monsters!, where the ill-kin are the heroes.

You’ll find more from the Whartson Hall gaming group at UK Roleplayers forums.

34.01 Gamesmasters Screen. Why is T&T so good? Jon counts the ways.

1.17 Actual Play. Blythy joins Dirk for a solo game and a reluctant example of actual play.

1.31 Postbag. Feedback and thank you to new Patreons.

A GROGNARD’s Guide to Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls

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It looks like our Tunnels & Trolls episode maybe our most popular podcast of the year.

I don’t want to appear like I obsess about these things, but it has already reached more hits than the previous couple of episodes about That Other Game (TM) put together* It demonstrates that there is a great deal of latent affection for Tunnels and Trolls from the UK GROGNARD community.

There have been many supporting comments via social media to0, from people who have shared our retrospective appreciation for the influence that T&T had on their formative years of role-playing. If you listen very closely, you can hear the sound of middle-aged men’s aching bones creaking as they reach for the loft ladder to reclaim their battered gold box from the attic.

For those who do not have an edition sealed in aspic, they’ve wanted to know how they can get their hands on a copy of the game to discover its under appreciated charms. The latest edition of the rules is available via drive thru , the Delux Edition, which was produced following a successful kickstarter by the oldest surviving RPG publisher Flying Buffalo. Unfortunately, hard copies are hard to come by in the UK, although I understand there maybe copies about to be distributed to FLGS.

DOORSTOPPER

It’s a striking production for those of us who are familiar with the 5th edition gold box, for this is a thick, perfect bound, book with mock-marbalised pages and fully illustrated with familiar images plus new artwork, notably Steve Crompton’s maps. The same team that put the game together over forty years ago are still working on the game: Ken St Andre, Liz Danforth, Jim ‘Bear’ Peters and the publisher Rick Loomis. There is a sense of continuity as they are still actively playing the game. There’s also extensive input from fans from the T&T community too.

As I fluffed about in the potted history section, the real joy from this version of the rules, comes from the sidebars, or call out boxes, featuring sage wisdom about the game and a running commentary about how this version compares to other editions.

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An example of the wonderful, sage advice in the side-bars

They acknowledge that the combat system is simple, perhaps simplistic, so there are some elaborations included here that I like, such as SPITE damage that makes it possible to score a point of damage if a 6 is rolled. The rules for berserker combat are good too, allowing a character to give up their ‘adds’ in exchange for exploding dice re-rolls. There are times back in the day when I’d like to have thrown myself at a crowd of orcs wailing and screaming.

There’s sort of bestiary included in this edition too, with descriptions of ‘ill kin’ such as Hrogrs (ogre), and the racial characteristics of some of the main monster races. There’s an entertaining debate about the moral relativism prevalent in the 21st Century and the difficulties creating opposition in the world of equal opportunities for monsters.

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TROLLWORLD

The book also provides elaborations and embellishments that have been developed by players and lovers of the game, including some notable characters and the Trollworld setting, which is described with examples of how the people and places have evolved during the gameplay. There’s an infectious enthusiasm built into the way that its written that really encourages players to discover and invent for the game themselves:

Any scenario, any piece of fiction or nonfiction can be mined for inspiration, from Sherlock Holmes to Kipling’s Mowgli, from classical Greece to the African veldt. Anything can be adapted with a little work and imagination on your part. Don’t stop at the tunnels! There are countless worlds beyond the dungeon.

GROG POD II

In the next part of the GROG POD episode I interview Big Jack Brass (Jon Hancock) about his experiences of playing T&T, where he makes the point that the editions co-exsist with each other. Part of the charm of this edition and earlier versions is that it happily lets you decide whether are not to apply a new innovation or not. There’s a WIZ attribute as an alternative to spending STR when casting spells, but if you don’t want to use it, that’s ok, carry on as you were. Character Sheets are provided, but if you’re happy to keep using index cards that’s ok too.

Also in the next part we’ll be looking at solos for T&T and there’s one provided here. Abyss provides an opportunity to put a dead character through the wringer to see if it can live on and return to play. It might persuade Blythy that resurrection in some circumstances can work, however he’s going to be less impressed that the spell names remain daft.

If anything, DING-A-LING looks even more daft in a fancy cursive font.

Don’t let them put you off, otherwise you’ll be missing loads of RPG fun. –Dirk

 

Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls is nominated for a DRAGON AWARD – help your fellow delvers by voting for it – find the details here: http://deluxetunnelsandtrolls.com

* I’m going off page views of the web site here, I haven’t worked out how to measure the feed yet.

Episode 7 (Part 1) Tunnels and Trolls RPG

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Yes, it’s time for Solos and … satisfaction? It’s time for Tunnels and Trolls.

Intro:

Caroline is in big hair and specs, because we’ve had another iTunes in America!

Potted History (4.00):

A quick run through of the origin story of T&T.

Open Box (8.23):

Brought to you from a replica of Dirk’s teenage bedroom, as we bring memories of the early games, until the dog signals that it’s time to leave.

The White Dwarf (30.22)

@dailydwarf has light pickings from the early days of White Dwarf, but there are some great St Andre pieces.

Judge Blythy Rules! (44.36)

We take time to delight in elegant simplicity.

Ed’s Bargain Shed (1.15)

The first games that Ed played were with T&T. Sister Barbara could prevent the discovery of Trolls and Girls at school.

There isn’t final section (1.22)

Update on the Patreon campaign.

Send in your Traveller questions and comments.

Details of the next part of the episode which will feature Big Jack Brass, Jon Hancock, in interview.

-Dirk

 

 

Armchair Museum of Stuff

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Today is the first anniversary of the Podcast.

Whizz. Pop.

The first episode had a painful birth, but I eventually managed to squeeze out the Runequest file on 7th August last year.

INSPIRED

My internet presence began as a lauded Anonymous Work Blogger who lost out on a prestigious Guardian Award (judged by Bruce Sterling, no less) to a prostitute in 2003. Since then I have had various projects that come and go, some more successful than others. When began to seriously to get back in to the hobby in 2010, I held the desire to translate it into something…

Originally we had conceived an e-book of our memoirs of playing games back in the day. I don’t really have a voice for radio, I’m a hesitant, low talkin’ slow talker, but I love listening to podcasts and have been listening to them for a long time, so I really wanted to make one of my own.

My podcast inspiration came from RPG Gamer Dad who was a fellow gamer from back in the day who was trying to rediscover the hobby that he left behind. His podcast is currently on an extended hiatus, but the candle that burns twice as bright, burns half of long, and I urge you to go back and listen to his back catalogue. He has a sense of wonderment and excitement about the hobby that I can never hope to reach. Thanks to RPG Gamer Dad, I was introduced to the rigorous approach of Mr Jim Moon’s Hypnogoria, a podcaster who takes care to research his subjects and present them from the position of subjective authority. Finally, the most important influence on theGROGNARDfiles is the late, lamented Word Podcast, hosted by Mark Ellen and Dave Hepworth who are veterans of the UK Rock magazine scene, who adopted the tone of two old duffers in conversation, sharing anecdotes and opinions on how the world of music was changing.

Of all the crazy projects that I’ve initiated, the podcast has been the most rewarding as it has put me in touch with so many great people, a whole network of gamers that I never really knew existed. The greatest element is getting feedback and the stories of people going up into the attic to recover the games they used to play back in the day.

CURATING THE MIASMA 

Our Patreon campaign has reached another goal which unlocks something for backers only: a fortnightly digest of media consumed by The Armchair Adventurers. This was an idea directly stolen from Ken and Robin Talk Quickly About Stuff as it is a feature that they offer, however it’s going to be more like the “Something for the Weekend” e-zine that Word magazine circulated weekly, pointing out interesting corners to explore in a world where you are constantly bombarded with ‘push notices’ and links.

The Armchair Museum is a newsletter that handpicks 5 – 6 interesting, entertaining and unusual things that catch our attention, with pithy comment from us. Pith, we have a lot of pith.

Books, films, music, magazines, TV series, adverts, apps, stationery, and anything else in an eclectic mix tape made just for you.

The first one will be released in September and in a ‘try before you buy’ it will appear here. The rest will be for Patreon backers only.

BEYOND THE FIRST YEAR

I’ve been asked a number of times “What’s your plan to keep going in the long term?” The number of old games is finite, so the format we’ve adopted has the potential run out of steam. Don’t worry, we have enough fuel in the tank to keep us going at least for the next 12 months. We’ve got interviews, campaign specials, DVD commentaries and lots more games to come. The podcast will keep coming while it’s still fun and not a chore.

Thanks for backing, commenting, reviewing and plain old listening over the past 12 months… here’s looking forward to another 12! Dirk

Get yer ‘zine on!

grognard-files-final.jpgHere at Dirk Towers, we’re currently beavering away over the first annual ‘zine that’s due to be launched at GROGMEET later in the year.

The hard-copy of the ‘zine will be available to PATREON supporters pledging $3.50 plus and to attendees of GROGMEET.

The print run will be strictly limited. We’ll probably print an additional 20 for our own private pleasure, but other than that, it will be PDF only.

If you want a hard-copy, please ensure that you have signed up before the end of September as we’ll be taking the print numbers from 1st October.

Also, make sure that you complete the shipping details on your PATREON profile, so we can get the ‘zine to you (Worldwide shipping).

The PDF will be available to all PATREONS ($1 plus) from December.

The content for the ‘zine continues to take shape, this is what you can expect:

  • The Armchair Adventurers’ Memoir – an excerpt from the memoir that we started writing in 2014 and ended up being a podcast instead
  • The Gladiators Gazette – the story of Dirk’s dabbling with the world of postal games back in the day.
  • Safe Word – A FATE accelerated Scenario set in the world of Jerry Cornelius
  • A Cut out and keep shrine to the actress Caroline Munro by design supremo Superlogo Boy
  • The Collected @dailydwarf – the first volume of essays selecting the best of the best from the hey day of White Dwarf

There’s contributions from Ed from his shed and the illustrious Games Masters of GROGMEET and much more.

Right, no more time to waste, my nose must return to the grindstone. Dirk

 

 

Episode 6 (Part 4) AD&D RPG UnEarthed Arcana

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This episode includes odds n’ sods, Old Scroates and Points of View about AD&D.

Introduction 00.15 

Dirk muses over the ridiculous, complicated numbering strategy adopted by the podcast and introduces Ric and Tim, the stars of this part of the episode.

Old Scroates (Part 1) 04.15

It’s not a proper theGROGNARDfiles episode without a cheeky mention of Runequest. Tim tells the story of playing with John Quaife, contributor to White Dwarf, back in the day.

Potted History (Part 1) 15.17

The original story of D&D.

Old Scroates (Part 2) D&D Tales 25.04

Tim and Ric share their experiences of playing D&D with reports of games they have played.

Potted History (Part 2) 36.29

What happened to D&D during our deep freeze.

Old Scroates (Part 3) 40.31

Tim and Ric address some of the issues that have been raised in our AD&D episode.

Post Bag 01.02

Blythy joins Dirk as we rifle through the bag of holding to pick out some interesting points of view. Please be aware that your head may rattle when the Demon Overlord appears.

Outro 01.28

Updates on the latest news from the Patreon projects. Please note that contrary to what is said in this bit, GROGMEET is not taking place 10 years ago.

Thank you to all of our supporters and listeners. If you get chance, please pop a review on iTunes. Thanks Dirk.