Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Grognard Files - the right of reply

Readers with long memories may recall the last time I brought up an RPG podcast it was the North Texas based Save or Die podcast, dedicated to Basic Dungeons and Dragons, still my favourite version of Ye Auld Gayme - and still a great podcast, although its frequency has lessened somewhat of late (ahem). In the meantime I've had time to seek out another more recent podcast, this time from across the Atlantic pond: the Bolton-based The Grognard Files. Unlike SoD the Files cover a variety of early 80s RPGs; and D&D isn't even their favourite by a long chalk!

The net result is a boon to me.

Firstly, having binged somewhat on North Texan fare, I've become a little too accustomed to the pecadillos of its regular hosts and their various likes and dislikes. Former 'Armchair Adventurers' Dirk the Dice and his cohorts judge Blythie, @dailydwarf (through whose Twitter feed I discover the Files), and the lesser-heard collector Ed (he of the Bargain Shed) are fresh voices and opinions; and because the Files are still young and their focus shifts every month or so, from Stormbringer to Traveller to Call of Cthulhu to AD&D ("TM") to their particular favourite Runequest, there's a lot that's new to me. I never played those particular games outside AD&D, and everything else I schooled up on through whatever magazine or book I could, usually White Dwarf, which is rightly revered and fondly remembered by the Armchair Adventurers for not only introducing them to the various games and their communities, but adding to the same worlds and adventures in a way that resonates with me. The Files do an admirable job of explaining and deconstructing each system, with Blythie - a self-confessed rules lawyer, using his own set of powers for good in his analysis. I've learned a lot as a consequence - not just about those games, but about my own favourites.

And The Grognard Files is a lot of fun. It's very much informal, witty, intimate, self-effacing and utterly British in aspect. My RPG world has two hemispheres, the American and the British. Both are equally valid and fascinating, but I've made no secret that it's the British I gravitate towards more. The added and rarely-heard regionality of a small group of Northern players not hailing from "that London" just adds to the interest factor. And who can resist a bit of Hawkwind as a closing theme?

A recent half-week in Hawkes Bay for work meant that I had a lot of driving to do, so I took Dirk and Blythie on the road with me on a USB stick to play in the car on the way up, and the four-hour trip sped by very nicely indeed.

Coming soon is a look back at Tunnels & Trolls, another heard-of-but-not-played for me. I can't wait.

Very much recommended.

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