I write this while whistfully looking back on a life reaffirming event that I was lucky enough to take part in a week and a bit ago: Grogten (the name cleverly derived from us all being Grognards in the RPG sense, or Grognerds as my other half more accurately phrased it, and the event being set in Tenby – we’re nothing if not a creative bunch!) An elite team of gamers who came together a few years ago to solve a problem that no one else would and save Lemuria in my then fortnightly Barbarians of Lemuria game were made an offer by the gobby red-headed barbarian princess “Red Sonja” (aka @davepaters) to attend a gaming weekend in Tenby in January 2020 and thus the event was born.
The details of Grogten 2020 were reported on here, the tldr being it was bloody amazing. The planned 2021 event, like so many others had to go virtual, but we still managed to squeeze in a good few games online in the January. Unsurprisingly I did a write up of that as well. Approaching the end of 2021 we all desparately hoped the January 2022 event would go ahead, although the snappily named Omicron variant caused us some sleepless nights (especially after @JimjimTheGrim caught covid in early January). But we showed it, in a triumph of grit, determination and good old grognardish pluck over… well, everything that could have ambushed us.
Grogten 2022 promised to be the event of RPG events; it was bigger with 3 and a half days of gaming, a dining menu to die for and a whole load of beer, wine and spirits all within a lovely seaside town with possibly the best pasty shop ever! Could the experience match up to our expectations, would it put a huge smile on our faces and another inch or two on our waists?
I set out early on the Thursday morning for the 4.5 hour drive from Crosby to Tenby, a route that cuts across the heartland of Wales and takes in some fantastic scenery. Last time I did this drive I ended up going down some dodgy country lanes and had to make a nerve wracking detour, but this time it was a pleasant drive enjoying the landscape and listening to some top podcasts. @Sam0Vail, @carlclare, @jaje7406, @OrlanthR and myself arrived at roughly the same time, joining our affable host @davepaters. After parking up and a bite of lunch the gaming started.
@davepaters kicked off the gaming fun with an extra length session of Golden Heroes running the classic Legacy of Eagles adventure. Creating characters was part of the fun of the adventure being a mostly random process… whether the dice favoured the other players or I made some bad decisions, they all came up with actual superheroes whereas I came up with The Mystic Sensei, a martial artist with some psychic skills that he didn’t have the ego to back up. Now I don’t want to spoil the adventure if you get to play it, but it was huge fun with some epic set pieces that were straight out of comic books. While The Mystic Sensei proved useful at smashing one or two mooks, the other characters were truly heroic, battering down the supervillains… still he had one lucky roll right at the end that meant his ‘control’ psychic ability brought the big bad supervillain to heel, thus saving the world.
Thursday tea was a wonderful taste of Saffer cuisine, a delicious plate of Bobotie made by @jaje7406… must eat Bobotie again.
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
Friday morning a covid free @JimjimTheGrim arrived just in time to join us in character and village generation for Beyond the Wall, perhaps the best of all character creation systems in any game I’ve played. Using a series of playbooks for character archetypes such as The Witch’s Prentice or The Would-Be Knight, a series of rolls on random tables tailored to each archetype flesh out the character with events in their lives, people they interact with (who often become NPCs in their village) and places of significance (which become locations in the village, taking their place on the village map). The tables also give stat increases, skills, equipment and spells as well as establish a relationship with at least one other character, so by the time the process has been completed you have a nicely detailed party with a common background and shared home. My character was based on The Elven Ranger playbook resulting in Talindra, an elf who wanted to heal the gap between humans and elves and turned out to be quite handy with a bow. Nice stuff with just a few dice rolls.
@davepaters as GM took one of the Scenario Packs and used it to build the adventure on the fly. There were events in the village with strange undead creatures attacking, which following a bit of investigation lead us to the opened barrow that seemed the source of the troubles in the village. The outcome was fantastic, unless we’d been told I doubt any player would have guessed that the adventure was generated as @davepaters went along – it was tense, interesting, challenging with a really satisfying conclusion. As the game came to a close the last of our party arrived… as they say, a @mcookie123 is never late, he arrives precisely when he means to.
We finished the Friday off with a fine meal of steak fajitas cooked by @jaje7406 and @JimjimTheGrim, a quick game of Flamme Rouge, a few fine beers and spirits and a fantastic RPG pub quiz put together by @Sam0Vail. I was right into the quiz and took it far more seriously then I should have; in the end myself and @OrlanthR were drawing for first place, with @OrlanthR snatching victory from my hands at the last moment in the tie-break. Well done @OrlanthR and thanks @Sam0Vail for the work that went into it.
Pendragon Mythic Greece
On the Saturday morning @davepaters passed the epic GM baton to @Sam0Vail who had prepared a lavish, Harryhausenesque adventure set in Mythic Greece. We’d created characters the day before, and I was looking forward to playing the role of my Demi-God Diomedes who was arrogant and annoying – such fun!
This adventure saw our band of commoners, heroes and demi-gods on a quest to rescue the Pricess Alexandra, the missing daughter of King Liandros. It had everything, tense dungeon adventure, epic overland travel and a tough finale that could have easily resulted in a TPK. It was like experiencing Jason and the Argonauts or Clash of the Titans for the first time.
@Sam0Vail did a great job in turning the already impressive Pendragon system to Mythic Greece, with custom character sheets and supporting materials – it was a great combo that riffed off the source material perfectly.
Even after that epic game our Saturday was far from done. We had two types of curry to choose from for tea (@mcookie123‘s Duck Vindaloo and @JimjimTheGrim‘s Lamb Curry) with a load of rice and tons of poppadoms and naans – never have I felt so stuffed and satisfied with curry! And then we answered the call of Dr Frankenstein’s RPG himself (@davepaters to you and me) to record a face to face first episode of the new series for a monstrous Science Fiction RPG. We were discussing two topics: setting and character generation. You’ll need to listen to the podcast yourself to find out what happened, but I can say we had a proper laugh doing it.
The Sunday Lineup
To get more games in we split the Sunday into four slots, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The morning games were Mork Borg with @OrlanthR and Vaesen with @mcookie123, the afternoon Liminal with @carlclare and WFRP with @jaje7406, and player allocation was determined randomly. I can only talk about the games I played, but I know the others were ace as well.
I grabbed this at UK Games Expo last year and besides a read through haven’t done much with it, so I was keen to play. @OrlanthR ran the Sepulchre of the Swamp Witch adventure and after some quick character generation we were on our way into the dungeon. Mork Borg didn’t disappoint, it captured what I love about old school play, being gritty and brutal and ending with a near TPK.
@jaje7406 ran us through Bait and Witch, an adventure in the Ubersreik series, a clever setup that lead us down the wrong path and to jumping to incorrect assumptions with disastrous consequences. A perfect WFRP city adventure.
Pirates of Tenby
It was with a tinge of sadness that we knew the weekend was drawing to a close with @mcookie123 and @OrlanthR heading home following the afternoon sessions. But for those of us that remained there was still one treat, Pirates of Tenby using the Barbarians of Lemuria system. @JimjimTheGrim was our GM for this and took us on a discworld-like romp through a fantasy Tenby with a Davey Jones heart in a box (which turned out to have legs), a charming yet disturbing snake woman and a game of rugby. It was a great way to round out what had been a perfect weekend.
By the time we finished the game most of us were knackered and like all good things, the weekend came to an end with those of us left heading back home on the Monday morning.
What a weekend it was though. A huge thanks to @davepaters for hosting us and for all the extra work he put into it, and to the amazing GMs who ran such wonderful games (I’m the only one who didn’t run a game, seems to be part of the Tenby tradition). Also a shout out to the two Grogtenners who were unable to make it this year, @dracowie and @KiernanEd, they were missed, We have dates booked in for next year and I’m already looking forward to it!