Fastaval, Mark Rein-Hagen, Bona the Robot!

April 14, 2014 at 9:55 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m going to spend Easter at the legendary Danish gaming convention Fastaval. (This is my first time, so forgive me, if I’m off on some details.)

Unelma keltaisesta kuninkaasta.

Fastaval is not your average convention — it specializes in incredibly tight auteur-designed roleplaying scenarios. A bunch of people run each scenario for players, not just the creator. There’s awards for best scenarios in different categories.

The Society for Nordic Roleplaying published a collection of these scenarios translated into Finnish a few years ago, called Unelma keltaisesta kuninkaasta ja muita tanskalaisia roolipelejä (A Dream of a King in Yellow, and other Danish roleplaying games. Edited by Kristoffer Apollo, Juhana Pettersson and Tobias Wrigstad).

Because it’s my first time at Fastaval, I want to get as much out of it as possible. I didn’t have time to offer my own scenario to be run there, but I will be running the scenario Stories from Bona: The Robot by Jesper Bisgaard, René Toft and Ulrik Høyer Kold. It is atmospheric sci-fi, inspired by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag’s images with automated agricultural machinery, giant satellites and rusty robot wrecks scattered in the Swedish wilderness.

In Stories From Bona: The Robot you play four children living in central Sweden backwater that take a stand against superior forces and lose. The scenario is melancholy rural science fiction for those who go back when they think about the future. It is quiet counterfactual social realism in large landscapes.

Simon Stålenhag: Decoy.

I’ll also be chatting with legendary Vampire: The Masquerade creator Mark Rein-Hagen about role-playing games, crowdfunding, and other interesting stuff. That’s at 16:15 on Saturday!

Special guest talk: Q and A with Mark Rein-Hagen and Mike Pohjola
Crowdfunding your game – How and why?
In the last few years published RPGs, card games and board games have discovered a new form of financing: crowdfunding. It allows designers to bypass the traditional channels of publishers, distributors and retailers and go straight to the gamers who get to vote with their wallets.Fastaval guest of honor Mark Rein-Hagen (Democracy Card Game and I Am Zombie) and Finnish rpg designer Mike Pohjola (Age of the Tempest) discuss their crowdfunded games, the how-tos and no-gos when funding games on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and alike. Audience participation welcome.

I’ll also have some special announcements about my beginner-friendly role-playing game Myrskyn sankarit (Age of the Tempest), and I’ll carry around an ultra-rare copy of the English translation. It’s not for sale yet, but feel free to check it out if you’re around!

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Crowdfunding a roleplaying game for kids

August 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m making an entry-level tabletop roleplaying game for kids. I started playing the D&D Red Box when I was 9, and so did pretty much everyone else in my generation. There hasn’t really been anything like that available in Finland, and from what I can tell, not really anywhere. (If there is, please correct me, but definitely nothing over here.)

Therefore I hope to publish a tabletop roleplaying game for kids 9-13 years old, and I’m raising money for it. Myrskyn sankarit (“Heroes of Storm”) is based on my earlier tabletop RPG, Myrskyn aika (“Age of Storm”) that was also the setting for the larp Dragonbane. Here’s the crowdfunding site: http://www.indiegogo.com/myrskynsankarit

The story is about a group of brave rebels who live in the forest and fight against an evil witch emperor, in the vein of Robin Hood, Star Wars and Knights of the Round Table. And yes, it will have lots of strong female characters, as well!

The initial version will be published in Finnish, but while I’m at it, why not aim for a bigger thing.

If I raise enough cash (and I think I will), I can publish this in Finnish. Hopefully we’ll get some supermarket distribution, but at least it’ll be available in all the gaming stores and the like. Now, after that, the translation into English won’t be too big a hassle. (I already have people to do that.)

But for all this to work, I need money NOW to pay for the printing, storage, postage, marketing and so on. I’ve just added a special international friendly “Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen” Perk for $75 that will get you a copy of the Finnish language box, a PDF of the English translation (if we get to that), and eventually a boxed copy in English or whatever your chosen language is (if we get to that). If the project doesn’t reach its funding, you won’t pay anything,

Here are the other Perks in English, in case you want to invest more!

We’ve already raised almost half of the money (in less than a third of the time), have 350 Facebook supporters, and yesterday the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.com decided to honor us by having Myrskyn sankarit as one of the featured projects on their homepage! Please participate, and help spread the word!

http://www.indiegogo.com/myrskynsankarit

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July 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I’m designing an adventure for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess roleplaying game, and need funding! The author of the game is a Finnish-based American, James D. Raggi IV, and he has about a dozen simultaneous crowdfunding campaigns going on. (There’s some other cool ones, as well, you can see them on the same page.)

I Hate Myself For What I Must Do is an exciting, maybe even provoking, weird fantasy heavy metal adventure, illustrated by the amazing Joel Sammallahti. The adventure will be made, if we reach the $6000 budget. (But if we don’t, you won’t lose anything.) You can participate here! (You’ll also be helping me get more intimate with the mysteries of crowdfunding for a big project I’ll launch later this month…)

Lamentations of the Flame Princess presents I Hate Myself for What I Must Do by Mike Pohjola, illustrated by Joel Sammallahti

A village tormented by a blasphemous priest.
A vile daemon summoned upon the world.
A curse which cannot be lifted.

At dusk you still considered yourself one of the good guys. Hardly perfect, but you tried to do the right thing. But now it seems the right thing is the wrong thing, and before sunrise you must become as despicable a person as possible.

You hate yourself for doing all this. But you have no choice. Or so you keep telling yourself. Your noble end justifies whatever horrible means you must take.

I Hate Myself For What I Must Do is a Lamentations of the Flame Princess weird fantasy heavy metal adventure by Mike Pohjola.

Yeah!

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Turku Manifesto in Polish

April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Manifesto of the Turku School has been published in Polish as Manifest Szkoły Turku! The translator Oskar Mieczkowski was my host at Copernicon in Torun where I was the Guest of Honor last year. If you can read Polish, check it out here. Or read the Vow of Chastity here, and follow the comments, too.

Po tym, co do tej pory zostało tu napisane, łatwo domyślić się jakie są wzajemne stosunki pomiędzy Szkołą Turku a innymi szkołami myślenia o RPG – czyli pomiędzy Turkuistami a gamistami i dramaturgistami. Szkoła Turku walczy o bezpośrednie, ale też długofalowe cele eläytyjistów (immersjonistów) i symulacjonistów.

The English version and all the other Turku School texts are available here. The Manifesto has also been translated into French, Slovak, Russian and Italian.

The Manifesto of the Turku School is a roleplay-related controversial art essay focusing on character immersion.

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Nordic Larp Talks and State of Play

April 11, 2012 at 8:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you’re interested in what’s going on in the fields of participation, interaction or roleplaying, I recommend spending this evening at Club PRKL in Helsinki or online following the webcast. It’s the publishing of the new Solmukohta journal States of Play followed by Nordic Larp Talks.

The doors open at 6pm, the excellent book States of Play is published at 7, and Nordic Larp Talks hosted by Johanna Koljonen starts at 8!

States of Play is edited by Juhana Pettersson and has dozens of really interesting articles on the design, theory, documentation and results of the cutting edge Nordic tradition of live roleplaying. My article Folk Fantasy deals with Täällä Kirjokannen alla and what I think might be the dawn of a new era in the fantasy genre. The book is also published as a free PDF.

Now, here’s some info on Nordic Larp Talks:

We are proud to welcome you to Nordic Larp Talks Helsinki 2012 – an evening of entertaining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling lectures about projects and ideas from the Nordic tradition of live action roleplaying games.

The talks are presented by writer, radio & television host as well as winner of the innovator category of this year’s The Swedish Grand Journalism Prize award, Johanna Koljonen.

You can follow the talks live streamed on nordiclarptalks.org Wednesday April 11th 8pm EEST or at the PRKL club in central Helsinki, Kaisaniemenkatu 4.

Speakers
Mike Pohjola – How to become a god
Johanna Macdonald – From stage to larp
JP Kaljonen – The interplay between player and man in the street
Jesper Bruun – Experimental Larp Design
Lizzie Stark – Playing in Graveyards: Terror collides with larp in New York City

My presentation, How To Become A God, deals with the history of drama from Dionysian rituals to reality television, and beyond, and how all of this relates to roleplaying. While doing that, I’ll also answer a puzzling point in Aristotle’s Poetics that’s been bugging theatre scholars for three thousand years.

See you there!

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Trailer for Son of Man

September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

My autobiographical Jesus novel Son of Man will be published tomorrow in Finnish. As I’m writing this, the translation rights are still up for grabs, but in the mean time here’s a trailer for the book. If you represent a publisher or know of people who do, make sure you check it out.

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New Knudebooks online!

February 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

The roleplaying conference Knutepunkt 2011 is going on as I type. For the first time since 1999 I’m not attending, but I’ve written a short essay on one of the books. Yes, one of the books, since this year they had three books! You can download them all as PDFs.

Do Larp has manuscripts an blueprints for several recent larps, Think Larp has academic articles on larp, and Talk Larp has various rants and essays on larp. That’s the one I’ve contributed to.


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Nordic Larp is coming out!

December 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My friends Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola have been working for eighteen months on a huge photo book about the most ambitious larps in the Nordic countries. Nordic Larp will be published today Wednesday. I got my copy Tuesday afternoon, and it’s worthy of much praise!

The book has thirty excellent live roleplaying games from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Some games I’ve been involved in creating (Luminescence, inside:outside, Europa, PanoptiCorp, Dragonbane), in others I’ve been a player (Helsingin Camarilla, Ground Zero, The Executive Game, Hamlet, Zombie, Mellan himmel och hav, Silmäpuoli merirosvo), and all of them I’ve heard lots of good things about.

During the fifteen larp years in the book, the scene has deal with gender roles, society, cancer, Norway’s Nazi occupation, the mafia, nationality, insanity, capitalism, Shakespeare and the homeless, and adventure with vampires, dragons, steampunk spaceships, pirates and dead spirits that communicate through radio. Many of these in the same game.

My article In Prison With Kafka and Beckett is about inside:outside (2001-2002), a larp Eirik Fatland and I designed, and Irene Tanke produced, that was my first larp to be exhibited in an art gallery. The book has eight pages of text an Frode Dybvad’s photos for the game. While the pictures are good, many more articles are much more visual, since the originals were somehow lost in the Faroe Islands in Frode’s bag. (I think this accurately displays what a huge undertaking Stenros and Montola had in getting photos of some of the older games.)

Since a larp is an immediate work that cannot be recorded or reproduced, editing and publishing a book like this is a great deed for the whole culture. Without one the visionary live roleplaying games of old would remain only in the dimming memories of its participants and turn into vague stories told over proverbial campfires, but now they are documented with visual proof. With this book the history of Nordic larp is immortalized.

I obviously haven’t read the whole tome yet, but after browsing it, I can tell it’s full of interesting articles and brilliant photo pages. The book will be available online and in select bookstores, but you can also get it at the publishing party today on Wednesday, Dec 22th.

There will be four or five simultaneous parties held in Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, at least. The parties kick off at 19:00 local time. The Stockholm part fill be held in Betahaus (Skeppsholmen 30), and in Helsinki the location is Dubrovnik Lounge (Eerikinkatu 11). Locations for Oslo and Copenhagen will be announced here.

The parties are also connected to each other with a live stream. You can also watch the video online in real time, or take part by Tweeting (#nordiclarp). (I promise not everyone there dubs themselves a Social Media Expert!)

Welcome!

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The Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain

September 20, 2010 at 7:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I took part in the Game Chef 2010 contest for designing roleplaying games upon a given theme and a list of ingredients. (Like the Iron Chef, I assume.) The theme was Journey, and the ingredients (of which you’re supposed to use three) were Desert, City, Edge and Skin.

I thought, what roleplaying on some level isn’t about a journey on the edge between the desert and the city? But skin? That’s something interesting.

My submission is The Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain. It’s a roleplaying game where Lilliputians explore the hand of Gulliver who just washed ashore. Your finger represents your Lilliputian character, and the Game Master’s hand is the Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain.

It’s the world’s first manual-digital-tactile roleplaying game. Check it out! http://www.pohjolafilmi.fi/gamechef/The_Hand_of_Gulliver.pdf

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The Golden Dragon!

July 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The main event of the roleplaying year, Ropecon, is just behind us. For seven years this is where the lifetime award Golden Dragon has been given to roleplaying luminaries, people whose games I’ve played as a kid, whose stores I’ve frequented and whose magazines I’ve read. In other words, I have quite alot of respect for these Grand Old Men of Finnish roleplaying.

Therefore I was both proud and humbled to receive the same recognition. In my thank you speech I was very touched but managed to speak for the future of the hobby.

A summary of the Finnish press release:

PmWikiMike Pohjola has been influential in the field since the mid 90s. His live roleplaying games have been played in cultural centers and art galleries. His publications include the roleplaying games Myrskyn aika (2003), Star Wreck Roleplaying Game (2006), and Tähti (2007). In addition Pohjola has published Sanaleikkikirja (2008), and the YA novel Kadonneet kyyneleet (2008).

Pohjola is also a founding member in The Company P, that won the International Emmy for Best Interactive Tv Service in 2008 for Sanningen om Marika. Right now he’s working on The Conspiracy For Good mega-project that premiered last Saturday in London. The Nokia-sponsored Conspiracy For Good is a project that combines participatory storytelling and gaming and lets players search clues with new mobile technology to progress in the story and help charities. The creative visionary of the project is Tim Kring, the showrunner of the tv show Heroes.

Thank you so much! It’s a really great feeling to be recognized by your own people in such a way.

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