Roadworthy: Craig Langrall

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.

Craig Langrall is a Roadworthy Judge who runs games for goblins and hobgoblins alike at a shop called Token, in Annapolis, Md. Craig is a part of the Gongfarmers Local 779, Rollcall for Initiative. The Local’s founding members are Craig, his kid, and his kid’s friends, whose after-school gaming club initially introduced him to Goodman Games and the world of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Craig first got into tabletop roleplaying games in the 80s, through a rather unusual set of circumstances. Craig’s grandfather had been an engineer in the Army Air Corps, and after he retired his grandfather continued to do additional engineering work to fill his free time. One of those jobs was designing display cases for Games Workshop in Glen Burnie, Md.

The next time I saw [my grandfather], he said, ‘I’m doing this job [for Games Workshop], and I told them I had a grandkid,’” Craig described. “‘And they said, ‘maybe your grandkid would like this.’ And I don’t know what it is, but here it is for you.’ And he handed me a Warhammer fantasy roleplaying book, which I think had just recently come out as the old paperback.”

While Craig branched out from the Warhammer game as he grew older, the games he played as a child continue to influence his participation in the tabletop hobby to this day. In particular, the Original Adventures Reincarnated (OAR) line appealed to Craig, and acted as his first introduction to adventures from Goodman Games.

Craig found the OAR line while running games for his kid’s after-school RPG club. At the club, Craig had been working with a 5E conversion of The Temple of Elemental Evil that he felt was lacking the same “oomph” as the original. Coincidentally, Goodman Games had just recently released its own iteration of The Temple of Elemental Evil, one of the first Dungeons & Dragons modules that Craig had played as a kid.  

“So I picked [the Goodman Games version] up and just absolutely fell in love with it. I really loved the treatment of the original material,” Craig said. “I loved the new art. I loved the pieces of old art that made it back in. I really enjoyed the interviews.”

After happening upon OAR #6, Craig collected many of the other OAR books. When OAR #8: Grimtooth’s Old-School Traps came out, Craig saw yet another opportunity to re-play some of the adventures he loved as a child.

“So I checked [the crowdfunding] out…because I had loved Grimtooth when I was a kid. You know, back when you’re 12, it’s fun to be ridiculously mean-spirited to your friends and put all sorts of weird death traps in,” Craig said. “We would take turns running weird traps on each other and so it was just fun to see that back.”

Grimtooth’s Old-School Traps is also how Craig first learned of DCC, when he saw that the crowdfunding page had options for both Fifth Edition and for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game.

“[Grimtooth’s is] actually how I discovered DCC,” Craig said. “I just absolutely fell in love with it because it was like I was the same age again as the kids I was running games for. It was like being that age and rediscovering something.”  

That emphasis on discovery and play is a big part of what draws Craig to the hobby of tabletop gaming. According to Craig, the rule sets of tabletop gaming is one way that kids and adults alike can engage in imaginative games.

“I think one of the most beautiful things about this hobby is that it lets kids play make-believe again. I mean, it lets adults play make-believe again,” Craig said. “For whatever reason we as a culture, as a society seem to lose that permission to just play cops and robbers, or knights and dragons, or Calvin and Hobbs-style escapades in the backyard…And for whatever reason, we slap in even the thinnest of rule sets on top of it and it makes it OK again.”

At Token, Craig now runs regular Roadworthy games both for his kid’s friends and for other local gamers in the area. 

“We had some adults who would see the games and say, ‘Hey, do you run anything that’s not for small chaos goblins?’ And I said, ‘Sure, I can do chaos hobgoblin tables too,’” Craig said.

Craig’s advice for Judging games is to figure out what happens in the world of the adventure first, even if the players don’t do anything, and to be willing to improvise the rest. Flexibility in storytelling, after all, is part of what makes tabletop gaming unique. 

“When I used to run games, I used to try to write out everything. There’s that whole concept of, if you have everything laid out and you need the player characters to do things in a certain way, just write a book,” Craig said. “If you plan 20 different things, your players will inevitably find the 21st. So don’t plan for what they will do, just plan for what happens if they don’t do anything. Because your villain, your NPCs, your well-meaning sidekicks aren’t going to just sit around and do nothing.”

Name/Alias: Craig Langrall / Doc Webb

Number of Road Crew Games Run (So Far): Road Crew Games thus far in 2024: 44 (I run a weekly OAR game on Wednesdays and Fridays and a biweekly Tuesday night DCC game)

Alignment: Neutral. Prep your world, know the rules, listen to the players, and let the dice tell the tale. A little order balanced with a little chaos makes for the most fun.

Favorite Monster: Fungal or plant creatures. Absolutely can’t get enough of these guys. Whether it’s a classic like the vegepygmies from Barrier Peaks, something new and unknowable like the flying mushroom lobsters from Chanters in the Dark, or an unsettling and relentless threat like shambling fungus-controlled corpses, they’re always unexpected and feel fresh in a fantasy or sci-fi game largely dominated by more fleshy foes.

Inspiring Book/Movie/TV Show: The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett has been hugely impactful on me, both as a Judge and as a human being in general. Pratchett’s writing taught me that fiction and fantasy can be hilariously funny, insightfully satirical, heartbreakingly sad, and world-changingly kind, all at the same time. His work also helps me remember that no story, no matter how legendary, should ever take itself too seriously.

Coffee or Tea?: Coffee. Can’t start my day without my hot brown morning potion.

You have five words to send to aliens from another planet, to convince them that Earth is totally worth invading. What are you writing?: “We have dogs and rain.”

Author: alana

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