What is the real definition of a Grognard?

Well, here it is, Saturday morning. I got Mystery Science Theater playing (Episode 509 “The Girl In Lover’s Lane”), which features one of my favorite character names, Big Stupid (aka Bix Dugan). Anyway, I use that time to also catch up on my favorite blogs while sipping the overpriced hot brown water they label as ‘coffee’ at QuickTrip. It was during my routine blog perusal that I caught someone describing a fellow gamer as a ‘Grognard’. Their reasoning for doing so was simply based on the fact that the person was over 40 and grumpy. I couldn’t believe this gross misrepresentation of the term and immediately went to the Internet’s most fervently accurate resource, Wikipedia. Again, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The term to which an entire generation of gamers gave their Saturday nights defining was being besmirched and misused by the kids of today. Since I am a 40+ year old ‘semi-Grognard’ myself, I will attempt to set the record straight.

Games“Grognard’ is a French word meaning ‘grumbler’, or one who complains incessantly. The term made it’s way into the gaming world around the early 80’s, but it did not mean ‘grumbler’. After all, everyone who plays tabletop RPG’s or PC games is a grumbler. We love to bitch about anything and everything. Therefore, to call a fellow gamer a ‘grumbler’ was basically just calling them an average gamer.

The term ‘Grognard’, in proper gaming circles, refers to a person who annoyingly claims to know every rule and strategy for a given RPG, but rarely, if ever, plays the game. They spend their time sitting around the table lecturing everyone else about how stupid their previous move was or how they are mismanaging their army’s resources, yet never put their grandiose knowledge to practical use.

For our gaming group, that person was Kevin. He wasn’t always that way. He played most Games Workshop and other tabletop RPG’s quite well, and for many years. But then, something snapped. He fell into a sullen world of negativity and second guessing. He would still join us for gaming night, but would just sit there like a lump lamenting the idiocy of the current player’s move. Many a times people would challenge him to actually put his reputation on the line and do battle, but he would usually have a good excuse for not being able to play at that particular time.

I miss Kevin, who moved away about 14 years ago. I think every gaming group requires a bit of a Grognard in their midst. I believe it helps the group bond and become more cohesive and dependent, while also providing the group with a reason to argue (as if we needed a reason).

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