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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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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Mr Spock is not a member

April 26, 2010 at 11:26 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Zachary Quinto, the new Mr Spock is not a member: http://www.imnotamember.com/#373

Nor is r&b singer Joss Stone: http://www.imnotamember.com/#1017

Nor is Julian Lennon: http://imnotamember.com/#845

Nor is Greg Grunberg: http://imnotamember.com/#345

Don’t be a member! Record you denial on the site!

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Knutepunkt, Day two: Thursday

April 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

After sleeping rather long, the four of us join many others at the Oslo Central Station to board the Knutepunkt bus. We were almost on time, but apparently two full busses had already left.

On the bus I read the larp scenario ”School Trip” that I and many others will have to run after the opening ceremonies. Nobody was asked about wanting to do it, I think – film director and Knutepunkt founder Erlend Eidsem Hansen simply picked twenty people with game mastering experience, and gave them the task. Eirik sitting behind me was similarly burdened.

The location turned out to be next to a beautiful mountain-rimmed half-frozen lake. Cabins, a hotel, and a big lavvo by the shore. Lots of old friends came to greet and hug us. I shared a bunk bed with my P co-owner Martin Ericsson, in a cabin with five other people.

The event was about to start with a ritual (Norwegians are crazy about rituals). Erlend told the game masters to help him out with it, as the opening ceremonies would meld seemlessly into the game. Carrying torches and accompanied by drum and flute, we twenty walk slowly to the circle of the two hundred participants. Most of the participants are wielding unlit torches, and we go through them, picking the ones that will play in our runs of the game, and lighting their torches.

For my run of The School Trip, I was joined by Lars, Jeep veteran Tobias Wrigstad, and six other people, some of whom I knew, some not. I had some problems with the game – it was a seemingly realistic game about a class reunion that will be interrupted by the teacher showing off a time machine he’s invented, and giving the class a chance to travel back to a traumatic event in their youth. That is, traumatic for like two or three people in the group. The rest weren’t really interested in the events at all, and just wanted to leave when this opportunity was introduced.

Every game master was to run the game in their own fashion (360 degree illusion, jeepform, tabletop, with theatre-like physicality, or whatever). I wanted to make mine as immersion-friendly as possible, and felt this would require me to somehow explain away the disruptive time machine and create a strong sense of group and place with practically no props, sounds, lights, costumes or anything, or time to prepare.

What I had, though, was a lot of people with slightly strange hair and clothes (them being larpers) and a shared understanding of some geek trivia. So I decided to make it a Harry Potter game with the students having gone to a school for wizards. That explained the time machine (magic) and managed to create a suitably unique atmosphere for the hour and a half. Fortunately the room I was given happened to have lots of books in it, so that helped, too. Many thanked me afterwards, so I think it was a succesful solution.

After this we all rushed into the main hall to hear my good friend Joc Koljonen hosting a live talk show with about a dozen varied Knutepunkt goers talking about the stuff they’ve been doing the year before or will do at the event. This included Martin talking about Dollplay and Marika, researcher Jaakko Stenros talking about their pervasive game studies, and a Finnish British theatre professional from Teatteri Naamio ja höyhen, Johanna MacDonald, who’d never visited Knutepunkts before but realized (quite right) that larp has quite a bit to do with performative arts.

I tried to go to sleep around two to be able to attend Johanna’s programme item at eight in the morning. Unfortunately Martin was under the influence that ours was a party cabin, inviting people there to keep partying when all other rooms had switched off the lights. But that’s just part of the magic of Knutepunkt!

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Knutepunkt: Day one, Wednesday

April 21, 2009 at 9:18 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Arrived in Oslo without a cellphone, or a passport, or company, with nobody knowing I was coming. Not a great start.

I landed on my feet, though, visiting the brilliant Tronsmo bookstore, and then joining a bunch of A Week in Norway attendees for a game of Fat Man Down with the Jeeps.

That was a strange experience, a freeform roleplaying game about bullying an overweight man. One person plays the fat guy, the rest create different scenes where his weight has become a problem. At one point the fifteen or so of us made a circle around him, each playing an unflattering, unrelenting alter ego, criticizing him. Then we moved closer, started speaking faster and louder and on top of each other, until in the end we were almost touching him yelling ”Fat fat fat fat! Ugly ugly ugly!” Not an uplifting experience for anybody, but an interesting experiment nevertheless.

Later that night we went to see a participative theatre play called The Night of the Serpents. They played the film noir style story in a bar, occasionally asking audience to make sounds or movements. The audience being 50 larpers, things soon got out of hand, although we let them move the story in their own direction nevertheless…

After the play, the Knutepunkt journal Larp, Universe and Everything was published. Having now read about five articles, I can tell you it’s got some hooties. I spent the night at my Eirik Fatland and Li Xin’s place, together with the Danish illustrator and storyboard artist Lars Munck. I’ve organized a couple of larps and other art projects with Eirik, and he and Li Xin have even studied in the Taik Medialab for two years.

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We make TV Guide

April 5, 2009 at 4:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

We got some media time for Dollplay in Finland and Sweden. That is nice, but a bit obvious. For us Nordics it feels much more exciting to be noticed by TV Guide! Yeah 🙂

tvguide_dollplay_400

Did you see that? Right there next to a Galactica phone app and a Lost actor joke video! If this keeps on, we may one day be almost as big as the Youtube videos about guys watching a Youtube video about women throwing up!

tvguide_dollplay_zoom

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Star Wreck RPG on sale again!

April 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

The Star Wreck Roleplaying Game I designed and wrote is again available at The Wreck Store! There’s only a few copies left so buy, buy, buy!

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Heaven and Helsinki 2018 is up

April 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

My short film Heaven and Helsinki 2018 was filmed last summer, and is now ready to be watched on  Youtube. It took my so long to put it up that the lead actress Eeva Putro ended up doing it.

It’s a small adventure story set in Finland after an eco catastrophe. This is an inconsequential tidbit, but it’s set in the same world as my roleplaying game Tähti. You can even see an Evolution gig poster in the background.

I’m the screenwriter, director, editor and producer. Photography is by Aarne Tapola and sound design by Pekka Aikio. Alongside Putro it’s starred by Juha-Pekka Mikkola, Paula Laitinen, Risto Paalanen, Anne Liljeström and Topi Pitkänen. The crew also consisted of Paula Noronen, Tommi Kainulainen, and Tommi Kovala. All the music is by Älymystö.

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