Episode 18 (Part 2) Judge Dredd RPG (with Marc Gascoigne)


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INTRO A new review on iTunes

WHITE DWARF @dailydwarf “2000ad and Me” a personal reflection on the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic

GAMES MASTER’s SCREEN Marc Gascoigne returns to talk about Fighting Fantasy, EarthDawn (!), The Black Library and Angry Robot. Also, the famous ‘lost’ RPG – Dark Future.

JUDGE BLYTHY RULES an examination of the system and setting of Judge Dredd RPG

OUTRO Details of the GROGSQUAD patreon campaign and an interesting project to document the early years of Games Workshop.

Episode 18 (Part 1) Judge Dredd RPG (with Marc Gascoigne)


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INTRO: Warning, there’s an unnecessary David Bowie impression in this bit, as the Judge Dredd Board Game appeared in Labyrinth.

POTTED HISTORY: (00:05:00) A brief publication history of Judge in RPGs and news of the forthcoming game from EN Publishing.

OPEN BOX (with Marc Gascoigne): (10:44) We are joined by a giant in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing. He tells stories about his time editing DragonLords fanzine , working with Games Workshop and designing Judge Dredd.

DAILY DWARF: (00:48:24) @dailydwarf writes an introduction to some of the great material that appeared in White Dwarf, before the sun set on its coverage of RPGs.

ATTIC ATTACK: (01:07:00) Blythy joins Dirk in the loft to reflect on 2000ad and how it influenced our play.

OUTRO: (01:37:00) Dirk is running Judge Dredd at Spaghetti ConJunction in Birmingham on 10th Feb 2017. Also, there’s news about how to get PDFs of the GROGZINE and the forthcoming Virtual GROGMEET.

Now & Then: Diary of an RPG Gulliver

Now and Then is an occasional series of blog-posts from members of The GROGSQUAD, sharing their stories, hints and tips and images from their ‘thawing out’ after the Deep Freeze. First, is Rog Coe, who you may recognise from the ’18 GROGZINE, he laid out and illustrated the scenarios in the distinctive White Dwarf style, he also wrote the Call of Cthulhu adventure. Find out about his return to gaming:

“Draw The Blinds on Yesterday –  through the lens of The Professionals: Cultists and the desperate battle it out with shotguns blazing, while Fire Vampires fly, and in the shed a combine-harvester fires up…”

The realities of real life seem to slowly cripple your gaming over the years.

It’s like being an RPG Gulliver, slowly pinned down by ropes, hammered in by little people; and not just your children; partners (no matter how easy going) work and responsibilities, all cause that time-destroying mallet to swing.

Gaming changed from 90’s Traveller sessions of 8 players round the kitchen table all weekend, down to 3 player D&D games in the 20-teens, crammed in the man-den once in a blue moon; and ultimately to nothing.

Until all you can do is lift a hand clear of the ropes to read an old supplement or click on a certain Bolton-based podcast.

‘Play is the thing’

Like an activation code for a sleeper agent, the Grognard Files’ steady drip of ‘newstalgia’ re-ignited my urge to play. The first ropes snapped, and the idea for the ‘RPG Club’ was born (catchy name I know).

It would have to involve new blood as well as the few old regulars, be in a venue that everyone could get to easily, and (at least until it was fully fledged) involve one shots, so it would feel light and fun, and if people didn’t like a system one time, (especially the first time players), there’d be something new the next.

Most importantly other people would have to step up and run their own adventures after my initial run of four, after 30 years of always being the GM I’d finally get a chance to play again. Grogmeet had whet my appetite.

And it’s worked so far, very well, we’re three games in, and everyone’s having fun.

We meet on the 1st Friday of the month, (be there or miss out), in a stylish games café, (full of everyday people of both sexes, all ages, all gaming), with good food and drink, and in reach of a disreputable pub (for post-game analysis).

We’ve got a core of up to 8 potential players, with a couple of super subs in reserve so there’s been a good number round the table for the first games, and likewise the number drawn to the pub after is increasing, people whose Venn diagrams might not coincide have an excuse to get together to game and beyond. I rolled in at 1.45 after the last game; don’t judge me, there was a lot of adrenaline to counteract!

“Albuquerque Starport Rebooted: Lazarou the Carrin appears, destined to die from a beak full of Force Axe – but not before a missile from his ‘lil friend’ cracks the concourse dome, pouring sand and sand sharks into the finale mix.”

Games I’ve had sitting on the shelves and never played are being dusted down, there’s fun to be had mashing up, retrofitting and adrenalin-pumping old scenarios, ‘Pimp My Module’ if you will. Like an awful singing show on TV – if they do well as a one shot a glittering campaign may await next year.

I’ve stretched new muscles GM’ing, after playing in a different style to long campaigns, it’s a lot of prep work each time, yes, and more of a workout because of the pace, but the results are worth it. Pre-gen bios for the players for instance, a new thing for me, have led to much fuller interaction, players are bringing relationships and grievances to the table.

And as the one shot is not so daunting for first time GMs there’s more than one player now reading rulesets and putting together a scenario. It’s not just a re-awakening of the group, it’s an evolution, into a many GM-headed beast.

My initial stint is up after our next game, (Marvel Superheroes RPG does Strikeback), and a new GM has the next game ready: ’55-ish Days At Peking’ where we’ll be playing troops of the colonial powers holding out against hordes of Boxers.

“Are we the baddies?”

I cannot wait. Rog Coe

One-D-Six – Queen Victoria and The Holy Grail


The last time I played GOLDEN HEROES was in 1986 and it was the worst experience of my RPG life.

I’ll recount the story in Episode 20 of the GROGPOD (due in April, 2018), but it was that bad that I stopped playing RPGs for a while afterwards. ConVergence 17 provided a cure for my GMitis that I experienced at the beginning of last year, so I was confident that it would have a similar restorative effect on a deeper, more profound RPG wound.

I don’t mind admitting that I was pretty tense in the run up to the game. Memories of that ’86 experience kept resurfacing as I read through the rules. My anxiety wasn’t helped on the day by rail-replacement providing a similar nightmarish journey that I’d experienced on the way to Spaghetti ConJunction last month. I was 45 minutes late. Welcomed to the gaming table by slow hand-clap.

I needn’t of worried. I was amongst GROGSQUADers and they totally bought into the game and brought their own imagination and gaming insight to the adventure. It was cracking fun and I have a new found love for super hero games.

Here’s the play report, I’ve tried to avoid spoilers for the scenario as I may run it again at a convention near you…

The usual format : 5 peaks and one bum-note.


Anyone who has played GOLDEN HEROES will know that part of the fun of the game is its random character creation. Although more modern games allow you to pick your feats and abilities, with GH, you have to spend points to get a roll on a ‘table of powers’ or on an ‘advantageous background table’ to generate your hero.

I didn’t want to lose this element of the game so, I created a card deck of powers and advantageous backgrounds and let the players to draw at random. They had 8 counters to spend on drawing from either deck or they could re-roll one of their initial attributes (which were strictly 3d6), or enhance an existing super power.

The character generation process was slick. Within 40 minutes we had seven heroes. The Players managed to pull together interesting and convincing origin-stories for them all too.

The Players got into the spirit of ‘comics code’ adventures

I provided a back story: they were part of a secret army that the monarchy had retained following the formation of Parliament. King Charles II secured this clandestine army and deployed them to protect the Empire and latterly the Commonwealth.

In a secret medical hospital in a remote part of Dartmoor, the King Charles Academy was founded, to enhance the army through experimentation and future tech..

One of the players coined the excellent team name:


Intangible Man: a rich industrialist whose molecular structure was displaced through years of self-experimentation. His gravity manipulation was decisive in the final scene, preventing the Holy Grail plummeting into the depths of Hell.

Sub-Opitmo:  A psionic grifter who inadvertently stole some of the future tech developed by Intangible Man’s company. The stolen glider was activated at the most opportune moment.

Mercuria: a wily, silver-skinned, indefatigable, super-fast agent who had adopted the properties of a super car that she’d stolen. Her ricochetting ‘steering’ wheel weapon was hurled at vital battle scenes.

Catalyst: Dr Colin Jervis a highly accomplished Chemist who was a director of the King Charles Academy. Probably better known for his years at Eaton, using molecular chemistry to enhance his right-hook in boxing. His famous ‘Sunday Punch’ is delivered with a cry of ‘It’s time for your Chemistry test!”

Captain SpyFly: Connected and ‘connected’ with a cyber-super-brain of valves and switches, the best that the sixties could offer. He was an agent in active service thanks to his chameleon ability to slip into the shadows.

Newton Einstein III: A psi-onic expert who provided temporary super powers to the team at their hour of need, but most notable for his phenomenal strength,

Professor Penn: Affected by his encounter with a Tibetan mystic and demonologist, he has insight into ancient ways and used his powers to conjurer fantastic beasts to do his bidding.



The Armchair Adventurer rule is that every session needs to start with the characters hitting the ground running; in medias res. The adventure had a fairly conventional ‘you meet a wizard in the tavern’ opening (albeit the wizard is a cryonically persevered corpse of Queen Victoria and the tavern is the vaults in Buckingham Palace).

Therefore, I devised a scene ‘twenty one years before’ in 1963 where the Imperials are asked to stop a run away postal train, heading to London. The train is carrying high value packages and is being robbed by thugs ‘Buster’ and ‘Ronnie’ helped by Skyrider and Beacon (characters that come with the starter set).

It was a fun knock-a-bout encounter that they resolved through clever application of their powers and gave us all a feel for how the game works.

I also managed to sneak in a subtle nod to Diana, Warrior Princess, in the opening scenes.



Queen Victoria and the Holy Grail was the second scenario pack published by Games Workshop and was written by Marcus L Rowland. It has a both a dungeon AND a dragon, but its old school credentials do not stop there. The scenario is on rigid tracks on a rail road so defined that it inspired the pre-credit sequence. There are many instructions to the Scenario Supervisor along the lines of “under no circumstances allow …” or “the players will not be able to do …”.

However, it does have a cracking set up, a great villain at the centre of it, some creepy elements, and a couple of cracking set pieces. Once things were loosened up a little, to meet modern sensibilities about player agency, it worked well.


What about jeopardy? That’s the issue with super heroes. That’s why the third act Marvel movies are so eye-poppingly disorientating – crash! bang! wallop! this has GOT to hurt!

The joy of this scenario is that the final scene is a dramatic climax, on the top of a famous London landmark, and it worked really well with all the characters having a decisive impact on the story.

Newton, a character that had been relatively quiet throughout, punched the dragon repeatedly with decisive blows. The villain was pushed into the very flames of Hell (even though the scenario said that she shouldn’t be killed). A very satisfying conclusion.



Spyfly’s cybernetic brain was working overtime attempting to decode the clues to unraveling the conspiracy behind the events. It would have been better deployed trying to calculate the division of damage. Divide it by eleven?

During the course of the six hours, I developed ‘mental arithmetic’ as a super power.

That said, overall, the rules played much easier than they read: fun, loose, the potential to send characters to the brink of incapacitation (in exciting ways) and emulated the genre very effectively.

Another ConVergence triumph. Thanks to Snowy and Kris for organising and to the players (Amy, Neil, Steve, Conrad, his mate Martin, Ian and Blythy) for making it such great fun. The GROGNARD file on GOLDEN HEROES will be released in April.

Fanzine Scrap Book: Nick Edwards (Part Two)

The second part of  memoir and ‘zine scrap book. If you can help Nick find some of the ‘zines that he worked on, (Runestone, Iron Orchid and Manic Depressive) then please let me know and I’ll pass on the details. If you have a collection or a story to share then get in touch, we’d love to hear it.

Another gratuitous shelfie from Nick’s Collection 

At some point, I either threw out or sold all the games and zines (including copies of my own zines), or had them thrown out for me by my mum.

That was that, until about 2004, by which point I had a career in business journalism and then general management in publishing.

I was ill in bed with some kind of horrible virus and in a kind of comfort food kind of thing, re-read Lord of the Rings over a couple of days. It was a reconnection with the past, and a revelation; the new film had just come out so that may have contributed.

At the same I was in a very bad marriage and my Dad was dying. In retrospect escapism was what I needed!

Over the course of some months, I gradually dug back into the past. I rooted out some stuff in my parents’ garage which had escaped the 80s purge – some White Dwarfs and some games.

I rooted round on the internet and found a blog by someone calling himself hyperbear which was a writeup of a Call of Cthulhu campaign in Delta Green universe. I was amazed how gaming had moved on since I had been away – it was dark and gritty with really good stories. I bought the Delta Green sourcebooks on ebay (really expensive) and read them like books. I started reading yog-sothoth.com  (everyone seemed much nicer to each other these days).

Then I went crazy on ebay and basically bought everything I had ever owned and more – all the games from the 70s and 80s, a pretty much complete set of WDs and whatever zines I could get (sadly I wasn’t able to find any of mine – clearly the market had voted on the need to keep them for posterity!). I got the original white box D&D set, the first edition of Call of Cthulhu, obscure things like Metamorphosis Alpha, Land of the Rising Sun, Bunnies and Burrows etc. Just like when I was 14, I bought many more things than I could ever play or even read.


Round about 2006 I started actually playing again. A friend (ex boss in fact) used to play D&D with his brothers decades before and was still into scifi/fantasy/Lovecraft so was open to discussing Delta Green. In fact we did the first session in the bar of the Groucho Club (the show biz private members club in Soho) without dice or paper based on an idea I had been knocking around set in modern Britain and using the Pisces section of the Delta Green campaign. Over the course of the next few years we ran through a sprawling campaign with a session once a month (which I wrote up in a yog-sothoth blog) mashing up DG scenarios, my own stuff, an old WD scenario from Marcus Rowland, bits stolen from different campaigns and then culminating in a present-day version of Beyond the Mountains of Madness. It was pretty messy and I am not the best games master but I was pleased with it overall – I seem to remember one of the characters ended up making the ultimate sacrifice at the end (if you have ever done that BMOM campaign you will know what that entails) which was satisfying. By this time we had a group of five players and since then I have run a number of games: a couple of shorter Delta Green campaign, a Cthulhu-esque thing set in the far future, some rule-light adventures set in Lankmar, and most recently the Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign for 13th Age. I started going to Dragonmeet again (and am going to UK Games Expo for the first time in June).

So now almost 40 years after first opening the red box Basic D&D set, I am happily married with three boys (12, 8 and 3), living in South London and managing about 130 commodities analysts for my job.

Despite all of this responsibility, a part of me will always be 14. I basically like all the things I liked when I was a kid but just have more money to indulge it. And my Christmas lists these days? Last Xmas my mum bought me a Mansions of Madness expansion pack which pleased me greatly.

Scrap Book

Journal of The Senseless Carnage Society
Runestone 3 which has, perhaps, my first letter published – I have apparently just bought Call of Cthulhu and expect Bill to get cracking writing me some material


A song from News from Bree 21, one of the very early (1977) zines. I have a hazy memory of joining a D&D game at Games Day run by editor Hartley Patterson a few years later
A Paul Mason scenario from Thunderstruck 3 – this is one of the few zines to print the year it was published March 1982 so I would have been 13 and a third when I bought this.



Fanzine Scrap Book: Nick Edwards (Part One)

A glimpse into Nick’s gaming library in this wonderful shelfie

Another entry in the Armchair Adventurer’s archive. GROGSQUAD member Nick Edwards was an active collector, contributor and correspondent to the British ‘Zine Scene back in the eighties. He contacted me about helping to fill gaps in his collection, specifically Runestone, a ‘zine he was involved in. He very kindly agreed to share some of his collection and his experiences to add to add to the expanding Armchair Adventurer Library.

I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons when I was in primary school, aged 9 or 10 in 1980 – by my older brother who played with a couple of friends in the pub over the road (the landlord’s son was the DM).

Playing in a pub was great as we were allowed the amazing treat of a free coke each. It’s also why the smell of stale beer that you get in old pubs always reminds me of childhood. Pretty soon I bought my own gear (the shop in Bristol was Forever People which made up the entirety of my Christmas list for a number of years) and in those first few years we ran D&D (then AD&D), Traveller, Bushido, Gamma World, Golden Heroes, Boot Hill, Aftermath and a few I can’t remember. Pretty soon I was keener on DMing than playing.

For AD&D, we played through Tomb of Horrors, the Giants series, the Slavers series, Queen of the Demonweb Pits and so on. Call of Cthulhu came along and captured my imagination, as did creating my own scenarios and even games. I remember running Order of the Silver Twilight from one of the early campaigns and the lack of combat was eye opening. This was a time when the hobby was reinventing itself regularly as games and gaming became more sophisticated – from the dungeon to the wilderness to the city to story-driven and looser adventures. Through senior school I continued playing with a couple of other friends although it had largely petered out by the time I was 15.


At the same time, I had started getting into the fanzine scene. I answered ads in the back of White Dwarf. Dragonlords was the early one that everyone has heard of but I remember Acoloyte, SEWERS, Beholder, News from Bree, among others. The early ones were largely about the mechanics of the games themselves and written by students but Dragonlords seemed to start a move towards more general.

Being at school, living in the countryside and not knowing anyone who had ever been university, I found this completely engrossing. Fanzines were a major thing when they came through the post. It was a glimpse of a different kind of life, more intellectual, more challenging and with better music (I liked heavy metal at the time and my musical taste today remains an odd combination of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, The Smiths, Joy Division and Talking Heads – basically everything I liked between the ages of 13 and 17 but mixed together.

I started writing letters to the zines and meeting some of the people at conventions like Games Day and the weekend one at Warwick. Presumably I was quite annoying – sorry guys. New fanzines came out with a fairly clear split between Dragonlords generation who had since graduated and those edited by schoolboys. The latter had a higher chance of being pretty lame but everyone was fairly understanding.


I started by co-editing a fanzine called Runestone by a guy called Bill Lucas – I can’t remember how it came about but a belated thanks to Bill (I was probably too self-absorbed to be grateful at the time).

Following that, I did my own thing called Manic Depressive (why I chose that name is beyond me – I wasn’t) which, I seem to remember, was a collection of mini-zines by other people (there was a term for it which I now forget). Then I did maybe half a dozen issues of Iron Orchid, which was all me and which I have fondest memories of – I was experimenting with design, politics, music and the gaming had largely disappeared (at this point the cool zines were largely devoid of actual gaming which was fine but there was a bit of a whiff of embarrassment about RPGs). And finally I co-edited (or perhaps I was more of a contributor) of some more occasional fanzines by Jez Keen, called Love in the Garden (his other zine was Next Stop Jupiter). He was more talented and older than me – so again I am grateful for the hand-up. The whole thing was a lot of fun but then the scene began to fracture – there were more cliques, more anger and feuds. Looking back some of it was just bullying. There wasn’t a lot of empathy or compromise – people with poor social skills are attracted to roleplaying after all (I count myself in this). People started to publicly drop out, closing zines in protest. I remember being sad about it at the time though I probably took my share of sides.

By the time I went to university (Warwick – chosen largely because some of the best fanzines were produced there a few years earlier). I was largely out of the scene and had certainly stopped being interested in the games. (to be continued)


A typically ‘robust’ opening to a Letters page from Thunderstruck explaining to editor Tim Kalvis just how shit he really is. Fair play to him for printing it all


Opening page from Shadowfire 1, one of the new wave of fanzines. I liked this one a lot though I think Richard Lee only did three issues
Reviews page from Imazine 13 where Paul Mason makes my heart swell with pride by being kind about Iron Orchid. Bless him. It is the only evidence I own that any fanzine I did actually existed!


Virtual GROGMEET 2018

Play is the thing.

There’s a point in all gamers’ lives when the reading, thinking and talking about games needs to end, and the playing begin.

Ever since we put that small ad in White Dwarf back in ’83, one of the missions of The Armchair Adventurers has been to extend our group and play more games with more people.

Thirty five years later, thanks to GROGMEET we have finally managed to realise our goal: games with great people. What can we say? We’re late developers.

We want to extend it further for those who can’t make it to GROGMEET, (or those GROGMEETers who just want to play more games).

Virtual GROGMEET ’18 is here.

It’s a chance to play online games and meet up with fellow members of the GROGSQUAD.

It takes place on 13th April  (virtual GROGMEET eve) 20:00 – Midnight and 14th April (Morning) 10:00 – 13.30 and (Afternoon) 14:00 – 17:30 (all times are BST (GMT +1))

This Saturday (3rd March), the games will become available for sign up to Patreons for a couple of weeks, before they are released generally.

Once you have signed up, your email details will be sent to the GM to contact you to make arrangements for your session. The slots are for guidance only.

Here’s the line up so far …



Title: Shattered Hope (introduction adventure)
Number of Players:  4
System: Dark Heresy (1st ed)
Brief description: Make ready your chainsword, strap on your bolter, and say a prayer to the God-Emperor, for Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy. You as the the closest ‘Inqusitor’ agents are sent to a world to deal with a particular problem. – this quick start is for those wanting to learn the system and explore the dark universe.
Beginner level …. there will be blood shed.
GM: Jon Dawson


Title: Forgive Us

Number of Players: 5

System: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Brief description: 

1625 was a plague year in Norwich. History tells us that it was an outbreak of the Black Death. History is wrong.

Hired to retrieve an item from the Tenebrous Hand, a powerful criminal gang in the city, our players may well find out what really happened. Or die trying…

Beginners welcome.

GM: Neil Benson


Title: “..and the dragonewts are dancing..”

Number of Players: 4

System: Heroquest Glorantha

Brief description:  Dancing dragonewts have been spotted not he edge of the Tula and you have been asked to investigate. Buried memories of your initiation resurface and you find your self reliving that very odd experience.

GM: Andrew Jones


Title: Enemies Within

Number of Players: 4

System: Night’s Black Agents

Brief Description: “…the miners are the enemy within” 1984, deniable assets required for active measures: suppressing subversion in Leeds, UK. Industrial relations are about turn nasty. Late Ken Loach meets early Tarantino.

GM: Dirk the Dice


Title: Sabeurs & Savants

System: Cthulhu Hack

Players: 4-6

Brief description: 1800, Napoleon has invaded Egypt intending to become a new Alexander the Great. Accompanied by scientists, he also intends to uncover the secrets of this ancient land. He’s despatched the player characters a mixed bag of scientists and soldiers to uncover an artefact from the desert sands….


GM: Keehar




Title: Better Living Through Chemistry

System: Judge Dredd RPG

Players: 4

Brief description: In the aftermath of the Apocalypse War, life is hard in Mega-City One, even for the Judges in Sector House 170. Widespread desolation, mutie incursions through the Cursed Earth Wall, and a scarcity of resources are making it hard to uphold the Law. But new teams are being put together to ensure the citizens are kept in line, and that law and order are maintained. While fighting crime on the mean streets of the Mega-City, the players will need all their skills and cunning, but can they also find… better living through chemistry?

GM: Alan Gairey



Title: Dr John Dee’s Crows

System: Maelstrom

Players:  4

Brief description: Join the original Men and Women in Black protecting Queen Elizabeth’s England from Threats Corporeal, Magickal and Supernatural.

GM: Ian ‘Doc’ Griffith



Title: Who wants to live forever?

System: Numenera

Players: 4

Brief description: The Queen of the red fleet pirates seeks immortality. She hasn’t aged for decades. Some say it’s just an illusion. Others think she found the Drowned City, a place legend says holds ancient secrets that can bestow immortality. Maybe you’ll find out the truth when you meet her to discuss a special and secret task.

GM: Blythy


Title: Mistaken Identity

Number of Players: 5

System: WarHammer Fantasy Role Playing

Brief description: Wanted! Bold Adventurers…

His Excellency the Crown Prince Hergard von Tasseninck of the Grand Principality of Ostland hereby gives notice that he is currently resident in Altdorf and wishes to engage the services of a party of skilled adventurers as soon as possible, for an indefinite period.

Would-be applicants are forewarned that they shall be required to undertake a most perilous mission into unexplored regions of the Grey Mountains. The matter is of the utmost delicacy and absolute discretion is required.

No laggards, cowards, or dwarfs need apply.

Mistaken Identity is the first adventure in the Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition and due to to be revised and re-released by Cubicle 7 for their new edition.

GM: Asako Soh