Anyone who has attended previous Grogmeets knows what a special event it is and why it is considered by many Grognards to be the RPG event of the year. When this whole Covid thing started, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking Grogmeet would go ahead as a face to face event, seeing as it was at that time many months away. But as had happened with so many things, Grogmeet became virtual transforming into Grogmeetish. Sticking closely to the original formula of Grogfringe Friday, game sessions on Saturday and an interview with community luminaries on the Sunday morning, @theGROGNARDfile also took advantage of the online format and added a pub quiz and extra gaming sessions; for me it has proven that an online event can come very close to the real thing.
Thursday 12th November, Pub Quiz
An addition to the standard Grogmeet formula, the pub quiz was deviously constructed with the cunning of the best of Grimtooth’s traps by @theGROGNARDfile and @sjamb7, 40 brain teasers with a large picture round and some really challenging questions. The event started officially at 8 and provided half an hour to chat and sort out tech issues with the quiz itself kicking off at 8.30. It was a lot of fun being quiz master, seeing the team dig deep and coming up with some great answers, in some cases identifying the right answer then talking themselves out of it. The main thing was we had a good few laughs, and in the final reckoning the brilliantly named “Sod off Brian Ansell” came fourth.
Then it was off to the Mitchester Arms for a few more beers and chatting until the early hours.
Friday 13th November, GrogMaus
As has become a bit of a tradition, the Friday of Grogmeet known as Grogfringe features a multi-table game that myself and other GMs help organise for @theGROGNARDfile. Last year we had five tables running Mothership and in 2018 a somewhat chaotic, but high fun content multi-table, multi-system bar room brawl and dungeon crawl. This year the system of choice was Mausritter, a super light game of anthropomorphic mice adventuring in a human world; with the event being online there was scope for more tables and so we had eight games with 4 or 5 players each. Like last year’s Mothership event, each GM devised an encounter but this time there were points involved – Grogfringe had gone competitive! There would be five encounters in the 3.5 hour slot and 25 points available for each.
It’s always great to play with the old gang, but refreshing to have some new faces along. So it was for my table – a couple of familiar faces and three new players (to me at least). We were also delayed by a couple of technical issues, which combined with my poor session timing (I don’t like to rush players when they’re enjoying themselves) lead to us only completing four adventures. There was no way we would be able to contend with the speedier parties, but we had a load of fun and a good few laughs along the way. All of the encounters were amazing, my only regret was that we didn’t get to play all of them. The encounters we played were:
- Temple of Gloom (my encounter, turns out it was far more lethal than I had expected)
- Zom-Brie Mouse Eater (featuring @sjamb7‘s cheese terror, the mice didn’t know whether to eat it or kill it)
- Jewel in the Skull (@Corsair1973‘s challenging puzzler with a clever alchemical dice rolling puzzle)
- Incy Wincy Glider (@doc_griffiths‘ rooftop encounter proved a devious challenge that brought out some real clever thinking)
The encounters we didn’t get to play are:
- A Kestrel for the Brave (@theGROGNARDfile)
- 28 Squeaks Later (@OrlanthR)
- Jacques Monterey Secret Agent (@Lintillaz)
- Squeeky Clean (@Sam0Vail)
The post game virtual pub session was initially dominated by the usual post game analysis (i.e. players blaming other players, GMs and the dice) but with an early start in the morning I ducked out for some shut eye.
Saturday 14th November, Grogmeet Day
The Saturday of Grogmeet is the heart of the event. As a face to face convention it has a morning and afternoon game slot with the evening reserved for more boozing. The virtual event had four slots, 10-1.30, 2.30-6, 7-10.30 and 11.30-2 (to accommodate overseas players, this suited folks 5 or more hours either side of GMT).
10-1.30 Vikingr (GM: Me)
I prefer to run my games in the morning when I can as I know I’ll be fresh (provided I haven’t drank too much the night before). When planning I browsed through games from my ‘to run at least once’ pile and pulled out the underrated Vikingr and a home brew adventure I had last GMd a couple of years ago. Based on the WEG Star Wars D6 system it is fast in play and really captures aspects of (what we perceive at least to be) Viking culture – raiding, shield walls, the gods, omens, oaths, sailing and ship building. It gives lots of options for more grounded campaigns through to those where omens and the gods are emphasised. I had another great band of players who really engaged with the spirit of the game, playing to their archetypes and doing lots of great viking stuff! For Odin!
FoundryVTT really came up trumps as well with the PDFFoundry module, although I had a couple of issues with some macros I had put together, but overall it did a great job.
2.30-6 Talisman Adventure Game (GM: @boreders)
I was drawn to this game as I wanted to see what this new Talisman RPG was about and from past experience of @boreders‘ games knew it would be a great session. The adventure itself was based on the Talisman Timescape board game with @boreders creating encounters on the fly based on the cards pulled from the deck. It was gonzo in the very best sense capturing the spirit of the wildest DCC adventures and more, with our party of an Elf, Dwarf, Sprite and Ghoul (the friendly kind obviously) travelling across a plane of chaos to a gravity free space of floating sleeping folk, a space ork controlled spacecraft plunging into a massive jewel, a jungle where Elton John had partnered with John McCririck desperately scheming to win back their space station and a sneaky/fighty encounter by our party on said space station. All to retrieve the living stone (which we did, hurrah!) Really great stuff.
7.30 – late Liminal (GM: @BudsRPGreview)
Liminal is a great game, I’ve played in a small campaign and a one shot previously, and knowing @BudsRPGreview‘ devious mind (at least a little), I knew this would be too good a combination to miss out on. I don’t want to give any spoilers as I know @BudsRPGreview plans on running it at least one more time, but needless to say it was an adventure with a clever theme, engaging set pieces and plenty of twists. Post game a couple of players suggested jumping on to the Virtual Pub again – I did for 2 or 3 minutes, but realising I was truly knackered after a brilliant days gaming I took my leave.
Sunday 15th November, Grogmeet Podcast Interview Day
As has become traditional for Grogmeet, @theGROGNARDfile invites one or more guests on for an interview, usually following the format and style of the podcast. This time a different approach was taken, with guests @PaulFricker and @the_smart_party tackling a round of Thunder Phase questions with a bit of audience participation at the end (“everyone shout Thunder Phase”). All great stuff and very interesting, a really nice way to finish off the weekend.
And that was it. Wow. What a few days it was, so much great gaming with so many great people. I’m not one for going on about communities, but it really does feel like the Grogmeet community is something special. A massive thanks to @theGROGNARDfile and @sjamb7 for all the organisation, for all the GMs for doing such amazing work and to the players for diving in with such gusto – you’re all ace!
A final observation. Many of us who were disappointed to see face to face Grogmeet cancelled for this year, but there are some real pluses for virtual events. It’s much cheaper and really convenient (nothing beats an evening game sitting in your pj’s and drinking tea from your favourite mug), and it allows players to join from all over the world, players who otherwise would not be able to make it. It means we all have the opportunity to engage with a wider variety of people as well which just enriches the whole thing. Grogmeet 2021 is going to be interesting – whatever form it takes I desperately hope we can all get together in Manchester.