Episode 12 (Part 2) Games Workshop & Citadel (with Tim Olsen)


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INTRO – We’re still taken aback at the scale of response to the first part of this episode, but we’re conscious enough to issue a warning about Hob Nob balls.

POTTED HISTORY (3.49) – Kindly provided by @hobgoblinorange  who provides an overview of the major players and developments in the miniature figure art in the early 80s. He recommends the site The Stuff of Legends which features lots of images of Citadel miniatures from back in the day.

GMSCREEN (11.29) We return to the wonderful Las O Gowrie in Manchester to continue the interview with Tim Olsen, the former manager of Dalling Road branch of Games Workshop. TV and ZZ Top emerge as he faces the annecdotamator.

If you want to see Tim’s TV AM appearance you’ll find it here from 16:00 (John Noakes!)

THE WHITE DWARF (25.45) @dailydwarf returns with the second part of his Small but Perfectly Formed essay, examining miniatures in White Dwarf before it became all about miniatures.

ATTIC ATTACK (37.14) We climb into the attic of the all-new Dirk Towers to look at some of the interesting minis from our collection.

POSTBAG (01.06.34) There’s been a great response from listeners to the last episode, share some of the game shop memories from all over the UK. Including Alegis Downport who did a great piece on Tunnels and Trolls on his blog. There’s also the last word from Tim Olsen.

Thanks to everyone who joined the Patreon campaign this month. You’ll get a name check next time when I’ll share the details of the next ‘zine.




This year’s GROGMEET will be held at Manchester’s Mad Lab, in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter, on 11th November from 9.00am – 6.00pm.

Tickets are now available here

You’ll be able to play two games during the day, hosted by fantastic Games Masters, who will be bringing the best of old school games: Judge Dredd RPG, Paranoia, Warhammer Fantasy Role-playing and Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes; and new editions of old favourites, such as Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest and D&D. There’ll be some vintage miniatures too, in a pick up and play game within the Dwarven Forge.

Sessions will be from 10.00-1.30 and 2.00-5.30
The GROGNARD files annual ‘zine will be launched and all attendees will get a copy.
GROGMEET eve – why not make a weekend of it? We’ll be arranging a meet up on Friday night – with Nights Black Agents, Numenera and Feng Shui II available to play.
Our friends from All Rolled Up too will be there!
(Games may be subject to change, but a full list will be available prior to the event)
What’s the GROGNARD files?

A podcast, that talks complete bobbins about table top RPGs from back in the day. You’ll find it at theGROGNARDfile.com.

What’s a $5 Patreon?
The podcast is supported by a Patreon campaign to help cover the costs and to help the development of associated projects. $5 backers can get a discounted ticket for themselves as a reward.
Will there be food?
Hob Nob biscuits will be available. You will need to provide your own food. Mad Lab has a ‘bring your own’ policy as long as you tidy up your own mess. There’s Common, opposite the venue and supermarkets nearby.
Will there be drink?
Tea, coffee and orange juice will be available free of charge all day. Mad Lab are happy for you to bring your own too.
Is there a minimum age requirement to enter the event?
11 plus. If a game is not suitable, we’ll indicate it on the game sign up. The content of ‘zine may not be appropiate for under 17s.
What are my parking options for getting to and from the event?
Manchester is well connected with public transport and the motorway network. The nearest multi-storey is on Tib Street.
How can I contact the organiser with any questions?
I’m available on twitter @thegrognardfile or email me dirkthedice at gmail dot com.
What’s the refund policy?
Happy to refund if you can’t attend. Please give as much notice as possible if you can’t come as it will mean that I can open up cancelled tickets to the waiting list. The GMs will have prepared great adventures, so I want to make sure that there’s people play them!
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
What’s the fee?
The fee is what Eventbrite charges for its services. I absorbed the cost last year and I was left a bit short for the room hire, so I’m going to charge it seperately this year. 

Episode 12 (Part 1) Games Workshop & Citadel (with Tim Olsen)


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INTRO (15 secs)

This is an unusual episode as it is about a place more than a thing. This is about the remembered place that was Games Workshop, when we were kids, and the magical lead figures we found there.


The story about how school friends came together to form Games Workshop and how it grew and grew …


I am joined by Tim Olsen who was instrumental in the early days of GW. He was the manager of Dalling Road branch, then Manchester, before taking the first stores to America. He is a fascinating and lovely guy. You’ll enjoy his contribution.


The first part of @dailydwarf ‘s contribution to the episode where he talks about his experience of using figures in his games.

OPEN BOX (46:08)

Blythy joins me to talk about minis, memories and how we consume games. There’s a riot going on in the background, sorry about that, it is the sound of Bolton I’m afraid.


A call for the submission of your memories of Games Workshop and a thank you to Patreons.


The Complete White Dwarf Open Box Index

Every GROGNARD needs this in their lives!

The @DailyDwarf Blog

Ever wondered in which issue White Dwarf reviewed Nomad Gods? Or who only gave Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes a measly score of 4? And when did Open Box notoriously review itself? Well, wonder no more.

This is an index of every product reviewed in the Open Box column of White Dwarf magazine, from issue #1 to issue #93, Sorcerer to Chase. Each entry lists the name of the product, the publisher, the type of the product, and the name of the reviewer (with their overall score out of ten if available).

[From issue #94, Open Box became Marginalia – this featured not so much reviews as adverts for Games Workshop-only products. After a while this struck even Games Workshop as a bit of a waste of time, and finished in issue #100. I haven’t included these entries.]

Issue Product Publisher Type Reviewer (Score)
1 Sorcerer SPI Wargame Rob Thomasson…

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The Pseudo-Nymph


When moving house, many things resurface that have been buried away for years; I’ve found stuff that I thought was long gone. These artefacts form an unnecessary archive to a life that has been lived. I’m a curator to my own life for a world that doesn’t really care. I’ve cleared the loft with a ruthless abandon – throwing away cards, files, knick-knacks, magazines and tatty books without a second thought – an instant life-laundry.

During the clear out, I found a batch of 50 of The Pseudo-Nymph, an anthology of Science Fiction stories and poetry that I produced in 1991. It was the practical part of a dissertation I wrote about SF micro-publishing in the UK. The essay had one of those meaningless convoluted titles, that I can’t remember, but it included material gathered in an interview with David Pringle, the then editor of Interzone and the Games Workshop fiction line.


The late 80s were a boom time for the number of small press titles emerging from different corners of the UK and covering the whole, diverse range within the broad church of the genre. The New SF Alliance (NSFA) was a loose coilition of small publishers who got together to support distribution from a single address. The Pseudo-Nymph is a collection of illustrated material from each of the magazines that formed the NSFA.

DREAM, later NEW MOON SCIENCE FICTION, was a magazine that put SCIENCE back in science fiction with plot driven stories that avoided experiementation, they gave Steven Baxter his first break, among others. THE SCANNER was a more off-the-wall magazine that liked to have humour as well as more serious pieces of both fiction and criticism. WORKS was one of my favourites as it tended towards short, short fiction and mood pieces. AUGERIES was one of the early and most respected of the members of the alliance, while NOVA was newer and more off the wall.


The most inspirational was Chris Reed’s BACK BRAIN RECLUSE which pushed the boundaries of desktop publishing design and had an eye for the emergent ‘slip-stream’ experimental SF which was just about gaining transaction at the time. He was the enthusiastic patron of the alliance who did all of the publicity and PR on behalf of the the small press. More importantly, he was a great distributor of micro-publishing, bringing rare and interesting fiction to the UK from the backwaters of the USA.

There’s some really good fiction included in the collection. I let each of the editors choose one of their favourites from the their magazines. It resulted in many of the stories having similar themes: altered states and displaced time. It was the artwork in The Pseudo-Nymph that caught the attention of the reviewers. There are a couple of striking pieces, including examples from some artists that will be familiar to gamers: Dreyfus who contributed to Elric! and Call of Cthulhu for Chaosium and Alan Hunter who often illustrated Lew Pulsipher’s contributions to White Dwarf).

The Pseudo-Nymph struggled to find an audience. In the pre-Internet time, it was difficult to get the message out to audiences, despite the valiant effort of the NSFA to find readers, I sunk the printing costs into my big student overdraft and was left with loads of copies. I must have kept a batch of them ‘for old times sake.”

I’ll keep searching, I know there’s a copy of GOLDEN HEROES around here, somewhere.

In April, I will be sending $5.00 Patreons a copy of THE PSEUDO-NYMPH and pulling the remainder out of the hat to send to $3.50 supporters, as a ‘thank you’ for their support.

One-D-Six – The Fire Opal of Set


Ours is not the only existence – not the only time stream on which there is an Earth. There are others and, like the planets in space, there are an infinite number…

Luther Arkwright, Roleplaying Across the Parallels, is a supplement that has been developed for Mythras (RuneQuest 6), based on the worlds created by Bryan Talbot in his great comic strip from the 1980s. Back in the Imagine episode of the podcast, I pledged to convert The Fire Opal of Set, an  adventure that appeared in issue 14, from Traveller to Mythras and run it at ConVergence, the new convention in Stockport.

The player characters are Valhalla agents, with special traits, who are sent to eliminate disruptors who are manipulating the time-streams with various nefarious schemes.

It came round faster than I anticipated and the conversion required more work than I appreciated (I’d forgotten the effort required when creating Mythras pre-gens and NPCs), but on Saturday I had a fantastic time, overcoming my recent GM doubts to participate in a cracking 6 hours.

The success was down to the original scenario written by Bryan Talbot and James Brunton as it’s an incredibly inventive, full of imaginative twists and turns, and down to the players, who were all very engaged with the their characters and were up for having fun in the story.


Here’s my 6 part digest of what happened – 5 great moments, and a duff fumble – that’s the format.

1.Escalation Dice – The scenario sets up a race against time as they have to seek the FireFrost codex which is concealed on a disruptor knight known as Monkton. The FireFrost is a powerful weapon that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse.Fire Frost Briefing.jpg

The original scenario was intended to be run over several sessions, but this was a one-shot, so it needed forward propulsion to keep things moving. The player characters travelled through the time-streams via the TPV (a glorified TARDIS, but with pipes), otherwise known as ‘The Van’. It’s a precious bit of kit, so it would disappear if they didn’t get back in time, which would leave them trapped in time.


My big escalation dice made its debut appearance … they raced on quad-bikes – falling off and being attacked by wolves with human-like faces. Later, they defied the entropic effects of FireFrost that almost sent them plunging to the Earth from the charter flight. There were several races against time to make sure they reached the van. The big dice worked perfectly to create the tension as time counted down, encouraging them to move on to the next parallel.

2. 00-66-74 Post Urban Collapse

The team are in search of one of Monkton’s indigenous pawns by the name of Snorty Hargreaves in a London that has been affected by successive chemical attacks. The atmosphere is toxic.

The Thames is arid and the ruins of London are overgrown. Snorty is dead. They discover that he is a revered supplier of much needed drugs to the people of TomsTown.

Through questioning and slight of hand the team discover that his death has been faked and the drugs he is supplying the town are contaminated by poisonous substances.

A zither was playing as they made their exit.

3. 03-02-47 Cha-no-yu on a Dark Afternoon

After some bargaining, the team agreed to trade some of their precious luck points in exchange for additional ‘game changing’ equipment. This included a unique Hokusai print that is only available on one of the time parallels.

They arrived at a parallel where Japan dominated Earth and the disruptor pawn was the Emperor’s geisha. Fortunately, she had weakness for exotic items so they used the print to get into the Emperor’s Palace.

Following an elaborate infiltration scheme they avoided being drugged and ended up with the geisha slung over their shoulder as they made a getaway in a chopper.

They extracted the information they needed and reprogrammed the TPV to head towards their target!


4. 00-73-87 Puritan Protectorate Variation

The TPV was destroyed on appearance on the banks of the Thames.

They headed for The Maze, a rag-taggle buildings in a London where the fire of London hasn’t brought in ordered town planning… yet. Cut-throats, pimps and other n’er do wells gather in the mean streets.

A new NPC voice was added to my repertoire as I characterised Harry Fairfax (one of Luther’s contacts from the comics) as Danny Baker. He gave them a lead to Monkton and built up the tension, “He’s a crackshot, he never misses, I’ve seen him take out gorrillas!”

“He’s been out with a gorilla?” a player asked tentatively.

The sadistic and brutal abilities of Monkton filled the team with dread when they finally hunted him down to the Merry Widow, where he was stripped to the waist using a woman as human shield, with his mad piercing, blue eyes.

“His brown eyes are blue, the codex is hidden on a contact lens!” they realised as hell-fire broke lose as they tried to apprehend him.

5. The Valhalla Team

They managed to recover the codex and head to St Pauls’ Cathedral to Monkton’s TPV to return to Zero-Zero as incendiary devices ignited around the city.

It was a testament to the ingenuity of the players that they all managed to survive a deadly adventure using a deadly system. They were innovative in the application of their traits: The gadgetry of Vladek Kasyatkin got them out of some tight spots, Persephone McPherson’s analysis of drugs revealed the treachery of Snorty Hargreaves, Boston Singh nutted the geisha with his steel skull cap when she tried to drug them, Mycroft von Neuman devised schemes and launched grenades to provide cover for escape and, last but not least, Orlando Bridgeman*, the leader, used his slight of hand and tactical approach to give the team an impressive edge over the disruptors.

Thanks to Ed, Ste, Ian, Neil and Tom – it was great!

Also, thanks to Snowy and Kris for organising the event, Element Games is a good venue (with beer!) and highly recommended. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

6. Dice Loss

Every time I play somewhere away from home, I always lose a die, this time I lost 2 D12. At least I won’t miss them much.

*Interesting Bolton fact – James Brunton, the author of the scenario, lived in Bolton. Orlando Bridge is a railway bridge in the town!


Episode 11 – Top Secret RPG

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For your eyes only. Don’t accept this Podcast if the seal is broken.

INTRO: I love the world of espionage and this is the first in our ‘Spy Sequence’ that we’ll be peppering through the next year. We’ve had another iTunes review too – please give us one if you haven’t already.

OPEN BOX: Top Secret was one of those games that we only played a few times, but it made a lasting impression on us. In this section we remember those early games and I challenge Blythy about whether or not he really likes spy-based games.

POTTED HISTORY: The game emerged from a single vision, born from a college dorm, in this section I talk through the history of the game. If you want to hear the story from Merle Rasmussen’s mouth, then seek out The Dead Game’s society’s interview with him from 2014.

JUDGE BLYTHY RULES!: We roll a character and Judge Blythy complains that there are far too many tables. In a thrilling exchange, there is a transformation as Judge Nutmeg transforms into Mr Hand-Wavey Davey.

THE WHITE DWARF  DRAGON: Top Secret didn’t appear in White Dwarf, so we turn to Dragon – a magazine that fully supported the development of Top Secret.

STARBURST MEMORIES: Blythy and I discuss our favourite spy moments from films and television in a brand new feature that includes an overly complicated audience participation feature.

OUTRO: There’s a chance to play Top Secret if you join our Patreon campaign. This is a thank you bit for all those who are already supporting us.