Sep 25

A GM Reads: The Grognard Files 2017


My revised reading challenge for 2017 is to focus on what a GM can take from the books I read. I lift out characters, events, creatures, plots or themes from each book. As a GM, you still need to read the book to gain the most benefit, but each review brings a few ideas for the GM.


My writing schedule and ability to focus are currently disrupted by the builders digging up our concrete floor. Thus, I have time to write yet another review from shrinking backlog. The latest book under the spotlight is The Grognard Files 2017 annual, a pdf published by The Armchair Adventurers. The editorial describes the book like this:


“Unashamedly nostalgic,” is the epithet that is usually used to describe the GROGNARD files. When I came up with the name of the podcast, I didn’t appreciate that it was a pejorative term applied to backwards-looking gamers. I assumed that it was an accurate description of old-timers, sent away for 30 years, only to return and fight the old battles.

After just over a year it has been rewarding to engage with gamers with different backgrounds from all over the world; sharing our experiences from ‘back in the day.’ Many correspondents have started playing again after being away from the hobby for a long, long time: the grognards were not sent away, they were a sleeper cell, walking among us.The GROGNARD files was the trigger for which they were waiting.



The Grognard Files is another nostalgia trip for UK gamers of a certain age. The layout and style are clearly a homage to the early days of the great White Dwarf magazine. This combines with the content focused on gamers and their memories of roleplaying in the early years. Articles recall play-by-mail games and first adventures in new RPGs. Reading these articles was like sharing a story with an old friend.



For the GM

Yet, there is notable new content in the Files too. Safe Word is a Jerry Cornelius adventure for Fate Accelerated. The tone of a Jerry Cornelius story is a tricky one to reproduce. The GM will need to improvise extensively to deal with all the possibilities in this scenario. Yet, this is a strong reproduction of the style of Moorcock’s stories and a slice of London in 1975.


Another interesting inclusion is a short piece of Gloranthan fiction. This continues the tradition of White Dwarf, which featured the adventures of Griselda. The Grognard Files prints “To Run With Brother Dog” by Justin Hill. This is an evocative slice of tribal life, with a fascinating central character. Mine this story for a great GMC, who could be a useful ally or troublesome enemy according to how the Players react.



Happy Reading



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