Finnish roleplaying game features penguins

July 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Society for Nordic Roleplaying (that we recently founded) publishes two roleplaying games in Finnish this summer. Ikuisuuden laakso and Itran kaupunki open up new topics for roleplaying.

The philosophical Ikuisuuden laakso (“Valley of Eternity”) is Juhana Pettersson’s first roleplaying game. It is a tragic RPG set in the Antarctic, in which the players take on the roles of hero penguins living on the borders of penguin society. The life of a hero is not an easy one, even if they are penguins: she must sacrifice everything in her battle against skua gulls and leopard seals, but will always remain a stranger in the eyes of her fellows. The anthropomorphic animals are a cleansing, distancing element in Ikuisuuden laakso, but obviously they also provide comedy.

Juhana Pettersson is a Helsinki-based game designer and journalist. As the editor-in-chief of Roolipelaaja magazine he is a pioneer of RPG journalism. He has also written the much lauded non-fiction book Roolipelimanifesti (“Role playing manifesto”) in 2005. Pettersson has studied media art in France.

Pettersson has been an Antarctica enthusiast for a long time. In 2008 he created the Antarctica-set larp Snowstorm, and in his blog he presents and reviews books and films set in the region. “Years ago I looked at a map of the planet, and said to myself, there’s a white area at the bottom, that I don’t know anything about. Since then I’ve read everything about the southern continent I’ve been able to get my hands on. My dream is to some day visit there, but before that I’ll have to settle on designing games about penguins.”

“The penguin is the everyman of Ikuisuuden laakso. A penguin is noble and foolish at the same time, and can thus avoid the ubermensch ideas which traditionally arise when dealing with the topic of heroes and heroism,” Pettersson says.

Norwegian surrealism

Itran kaupunki (“The City of Itra”) was originally published in Norwegian as Itras by, and is the first roleplaying game translated into Finnish from a language other than English. The game is set in a surrealistic 1920s city that is controlled from the mysterious Moon Tower, and whose streets are filled with the strangest of figures. Itran kaupunki draws from the tradition of roleplaying games, surrealism, futurism, and Norwegian children’s literature.

The creators of Itran kaupunki are Ole Peder Giæver and Martin Bull Gudmundsen. Giæver has roleplayed since he was ten. He works as a journalist in the Norwegian online paper ABC Nyheter. Gudmundsen studies psychology at the Oslo University.

The Society
The Society for Nordic Roleplaying works to facilitate the development and growth of Nordic roleplaying culture in Finland by making works published in other Nordic languages available in Finnish.

We also work to keep the local scene vital by publishing groundbreaking new games by Finnish designers. The Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are at the vanguard of global roleplaying culture.

Nordic games have broadened the horizons of what can be done in the roleplaying medium and broken barriers between roleplaying and other artforms such as performance art and theatre.

So far, English has been the language of Nordic cooperation. Ideas have been exchanged at international forums like the annual Knutepunkt event, but actual roleplaying publishing has remained a national affair. Games published in Norwegian or Danish won’t reach audiences in other countries because of the language barrier.

Both games will be published at Ropecon on July 31st, 2009. Ropecon is held annually in Espoo.

More information on Itran kaupunki and The Society for Nordic Roleplaying: Mike Pohjola, email mikepohjola@gmail.com

More information on Ikuisuuden laakso: Juhana Pettersson, email jlp@iki.fi

The Society for Nordic Roleplaying: www.nordicrpg.fi

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Knutepunkt, day five: Sunday

May 4, 2009 at 9:14 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Jaakko had convinced me to play Jiituomas Harviainen’s Prayers on a Porcelain Altar in the morning just after breakfast. It was the perfect thing to do in the morning with everybody tired and hungover.

The game was about a bunch of arrogant young actors the day after the entrance exams to the Finnish Theatre Academy. They’d partied heavily, and everybody had hazy recollections of what happened last night. A sort of murder mystery structure there (”Who slept with whom? Why am I bruised in the stomach?”), but just enough to give us something to play on.

The real core of the game was in the interplay between the characters. Nobody was feeling too great physically, everyone was nervous about how they did in the exams, trying to make others feel bad or just pick a fight for the hell of it. A great thing to play in this tired state of mind when everybody could just sit on the couches in nearly horizontal positions and slander others.

Harviainen had plugged this as ”a game where everybody is really hungover and nobody remembers anything about last night”, which had put me off for a long time, but it turned out to be quite meaningful and interesting. I’d heard someone had performed Faust in the previous day’s run, and gave myself permission to recite Hamlet. (Having done a piece of the same monologue in Klingon the previous night and now redoing it in more length in English gave it a slightly surreal context for me.)

All in all, a very interesting experience. Harviainen is definitely one of the foremost con larp artists I know of.

After the game it was time to pack our bags and get on the busses that took most people to Oslo Central Station and the rest of us to Gardaemon Airport. Our plane didn’t leave until seven so we had many an hour to spare at Peppes Pizza talking about larp and business and roleplaying and art and science and research and life and whatnot.

Tobias Wrigstad made two rapid-pace interview videos asking people at Knutepunkt what they thought was the cool. The One Cool Thing videos are on Youtube here and here. Apparently there’s lots of other similar videos from other cons, so I guess it’s some sort of indie rpg con trend.

Apart from the amazing Knutebook Larp, Universe and Everything, I got three other great books to bring home with me. One from Tronsmo was Lipstick Traces – Secret History of the 20th Century recommended by Martin to me some months ago. Claus Raasted had published a photo book about the larps he’d ran in 2008. It’s almost two hundred pages long with awesome pictures. And finally, I got a signed copy of Itras by, the Norwegian tabletop rpg set in the surrealist 20s. It’s being translated into Finnish even as we speek. More or that later.

I was a bit worried about being allowed back on the plane without my passport or any sort of ID, but fortunately I managed to talk the airport personnel into contacting Finnish immigration who gave them permission to let me through security.

All in all, this was a great Knutepunkt. Relaxed, inspiring, with just the right combination of heavy partying, sotto conversations, larping, rituals and theory.

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