Virtual Grogmeet 2022

“Nothing’s forgotten”. Favourite TV shows from your youth, favourite old games – nothing’s ever forgotten. Grognards – older gamers like myself – have a fondness for these unforgotten old favourites. The Grognard Files podcast is based around old (and sometimes newer) RPGs, and its host Dirk the Dice has run a series of conventions, face to face and online, celebrating those games.

This weekend was Virtual Grogmeet 2022. I batch-cooked meals and laid in snacks, chose favourite geeky T shirts, and looked forward to gaming from Friday to Sunday.

The first game I played in was Jules Hayley’s DCC “funnel” – a format where each player controls a number of inept characters through an ordeal, trying to keep as many of them alive as possible. Great fun, and my CofE minister steadfastly protected his granddaughter though my Wolverhampton butcher Michael died heroically at the last.

A convivial debrief at the online “pub” chatroom rounded off the evening.

Next morning was my turn as GM. The “nothing’s forgotten” quote comes from Robin of Sherwood, a big influence on my gaming. I tried to bring echoes of Richard Carpenter’s medieval fantasy to a game of Romance of the Perilous Land, a game set in mythic medieval England. I set it in the Anarchy, the Twelfth Century civil war, and tried to weave history and myth together. I had some really nice feedback from the players. My favourite moment in play was Howard’s white witch sparring verbally with her evil counterpart while they were both guests at an abbey and unable to confront each other openly.

More early medieval excitement after a quick lunch, as I played in Sean Hillman’s gritty historical adventure 757: The Flight of Beornred. I took the role of a Mercian noble arranging the escape of his liege lord after defeat by Offa. No magic, no supernatural here – just men trying to stay true to their oaths and trying to protect the victims of a civil war. Neil Benson had fun as Wilfred, a brave hammer-wielding warrior with shades of Wulf from Strontium Dog.

In the evening, I played the old Indiana Jones RPG – as Indy himself. Great fun, from a game which Robert the GM loved for its transitional place between simulationist and narrative-driven gaming. It was fun having to invent a series of Norse-themed traps off the cuff and explain how Indy evaded them. A beautifully dramatic ending saw the Norwegian archaeologist’s player choose to have her sacrifice herself to become a valkyrie, defending the Spear of Odin from the Nazis.

Next day saw a book club followed by author talk with game designer and writer Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. I learned a lot about both RPGs and approaches to writing from him. It was well-positioned in the weekend – three games in a day had been quite full-on, and this was a welcome change of pace to start the last day of the con.`

The last game was classic Traveller from Andy Random, with a classic tramp freighter crew on a dodgy mission, doing what we had to to earn enough to keep flying. There was a nice pay-off at the last as we discovered that we had been working for the good guys all along. I named my pilot character as the cousin of my old trader captain from Traveller in the 90s.

A good range of games, with some fellow players and GMs I knew before and others I met for the first time. As always, there were many more I would have liked to play. The British grognard community is a friendly and supportive one, and one I’m happy to be part of. Thanks Dirk and all who took part this weekend.

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