Welcome to Roadworthy! This is a chance to show off a Road Crew Judge and allow them to share their experience and wisdom. We provide these profiles to help provide insight into their personality and style, and maybe give up-and-coming Judges some advice on improving their game.
From Steel Town comes our next Judge. He’s been seen at many a convention in the past and online everywhere this year, so you might already know the face, but today you meet the man!
Let’s meet Judge Mike Bolam!
Roadworthy: Judge Mike Bolam!
What’s your name, where do you live (and game), and how would you describe yourself?
I’m Mike Bolam, I live in Pittsburgh, and I’m the founder of the DCC RPG Pittsburgh Group. We’ve been running Road Crew games in the Pittsburgh area since 2013! When I’m not gaming, I am a librarian who watches a lot of pro-wrestling and plays in a death metal band (Abysme).
How did you first discover Dungeon Crawl Classics?
I remember the DCC modules from the 3rd and 4th edition era, but I don’t think I ever played any of them. I had a couple because they looked awesome, but that was it. I remember checking out the DCC beta rules—I probably read about it on one of the “Old School” blogs.
At the time, I was getting pretty heavily into the OSR, and was playing in a regular Labyrinth Lord campaign. B/X is my favorite version of D&D, so Labyrinth Lord was totally scratching that itch. I also had some other OSR books like Swords & Wizardry White Box, Spellcraft & Swordplay, etc., so I kind of figured I didn’t really need another “Retroclone”.
When the book was released, my favorite FLGS, Phantom of the Attic Games, had a copy Gold Foil version. I thumbed through it and figured the art alone was worth the $60 bucks, plus it came with a free module. When I got it home and started reading, I totally fell in love with the game.
As of “right now,” how many Road Crew games have your ran so far?
I’m about to run my 14th game this year. I’ve run at Gary Con Online , Cyclops Con, DCC Days, and we moved our monthly in-store games at Phantom of the Attic to Discord/Roll20.
How did the quarantine change your gaming life?
I’m probably gaming more often than before the quarantine, but I miss seeing my buddies from our home game every week. I’m also missing all of my convention buddies! I’m seeing both in online games, but it’s not quite the same.
For Road Crew stuff, the FLGS where we’ve been doing games for the past six years barely has the space for two games, so it was usually just Stefan Flickinger and I running games at our events. Now that we’re fully online, we’ve added Jonathan Snodgrass, Dave 8cylinder, and Ethan Hammersmith, all tried and true DCC judges from the Steel City!
Since we’re no longer bound geographically, it has been a great opportunity to share the table with folks all over the country. Find us on Facebook for game announcements/sign-ups!
Give us a favorite gaming highlight from this year.
For this year, there have been a couple – June’s DCC RPG PGH Road Crew Game, where we had five concurrent tables and nearly 30 players was pretty wild. Running some sessions of the Greatest Thieves in Lankhmar Tournament as part of DCC Days. And I’m playing in Mike Curtis’ War Crawl Campaign.
What advice would you give to other Road Crew judges running online games?
Don’t be intimidated by running online—once you get the hang of it, it’s not really that different. Figure out your comfort level with the technology! Tools like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds are pretty neat, but you can have a great game just using meeting software like technology! Tools like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds are pretty neat, but you can have a great game just using meeting software like Discord, Google Meet, or Zoom. I ran a few sessions of Rats of Illthmar on Roll20 and incorporated all of the bells and whistles – the official VTT maps and tokens, line of sight and lighting, automated character sheets, etc. It was a fun experience, and something “different”, but it was a lot of work to set-up and manage.
Conversely, I ran my home crew through Shadow of the Beakmen the other day. We used Roll20 for maps/dice, but everything else was the theatre of the mind. I gave them PDFs of the character sheets. It was perfect for our Tuesday night beer and pretzels style game.