Back when I was a teenager (in the early 1980’s) I played a lot of role playing games and my favourite game was Runequest, but that all changed when I went to college. I put down my dice and picked up a pint glass and left gaming behind.
however over the years I always look back on those times and wonder if I could relive some of the excitement those games gave me. 5 years ago I tried playing the Star Wars RPG Edge of the Empire, which was fun but there was something missing.
then last year I started listening to the Grognard files podcast and decided that I wanted to try and play an old school RPG again, just to see what it was like. well my opportunity came on the last day of the UK games Expo when I booked myself into a game of the brand new version of Runequest and the GM was Dirk the Dice himself.
my thinking when I booked the games was, lets play one game and get it out of my system. just one game, there’s no harm in that is there?
well the day of the event arrived and I made my way up the stairs into a small conference room in the Hilton Hotel, to find a few tables already with players on them and ours which was empty. slowly a few others came in and we mingled and made small talk in the way that middle aged men do when they don’t know anyone else, but then Dirk arrived and we took our places at the tables and looked on expectantly.
I noticed immediately that the rest of the players had notebooks, pens, dice and in some cases rule books, all I had was a couple of dice and a head full of memories.
Dirk introduced the game and the character sheets and gave us a quick briefing before allocating our characters to us, we were playing a scenario called ‘The Broken Tower’ which is in the Runequest 7th edition quick start guide (available for free on the Chaosium site here)
my character was Harmast, a Noble Farmer-Warrior, he is a slightly arrogant deal maker and whilst he doesn’t like to use his sword he does have great skill with it, it was as if the character was made for me (he also had 2 riding Zebras, who I named Spotty and Stripy)
the scenario opened with Dirk reading these words
You’ve been on the road for a couple of days, riding
in pursuit of the thieves that stole a large portion of your
tribe’s cattle—one of its greatest sources of wealth. In the
course of this heinous crime, they slew two of your kin
and wounded another: simple herders, not even tribal
warriors. Zarah, your clan-chieftain’s wife set you—her
boldest and most able-bodied allies—to follow, recover
the cattle, and exact retribution for the insult.
One of your injured kinsfolk recognized members
of the Greydog clan among the raiders, particularly a
man named Danakos, an ambitious and bitter Greydog.
The raiders’ path led in the direction of Lismelder tribal
land, specifically to the Greydog’s home village.
I decided to make a comment asking what else we knew about the crime and Dirk looked at me, grinned and said ‘make a Lore test to see what you’ve found out’
we had been playing for minutes and I had to make the first roll of the game, not only that it was the first Runequest roll in over 35 years. my hands were actually sweaty when I picked up my d10’s and made the roll.
‘thats a success’ said Dirk and gave us some extra info. I was just staring at the dice almost in shock and missed what he said.
the next 3 hours flew by as Dirk guided us through the scenario to its climatic ending which rather fittingly ended with one of the characters rolling a critical hit and finishing off our last enemy.
I witnessed a master class in how to GM a game, Dirk was totally animated throughout the game and let us make our way through the plot, I only once saw him a little perplexed but we had spent 10 mins trying to agree where to park our animals so we could take a look around a mysterious tower when he wanted us to move on.
at the end we all clapped Dirk and said our farewells, I shock Dirks hand and said thanks for the game, I actually wanted to hug him, but he’s a northerner and probably not used to us emotional Welshmen so a simple handshake was the best thing to do.
you probably want to know if the game got role playing out of my system?
Hell no it just reinvigorated me for more games, yes I’m afraid Mike the Roleplayer is back, its like those 35 years in the wilderness never happened
later this month myself and some mates down here are getting together to play the Broken Tower and once again I’ll be playing the game, I hope I get Harmast so me and my zebra Spotty can ride off into the sunset looking out for some cattle