Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Moira full; Lajv catastrophy

I haven't larped for quite some time and I'm really not satisfied with my own achievements on the ones I so far have gone to. I had really thought I would be going to Moira, but now it's full! My bad not sending in my registration I guess, but I didn't think it would be that popular. I'm writing it now, there might be a small chance, even if they say they have quite a lot of backup players already.

Obviously there will be quite an amount of non-Swedish speaking people, which will be playing in their native language. It would be interesting to hear which nationalities will be present. The Nordic LARP-environment is quite used to play with eachother. My only experience is playing with Danes at U-359. The problem there was of course that we were supposed to speak the same language (Russian!) and at least for me it was ofte a bit too hard to understand what they were saying. Especially in the motor room, surrounded by the huge sound of the engines. As long as you speak different languages in-game it's a quite different story.

Now I will write them an application anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More on linguistics of water salesmanship

At the same time as I wrote about Dune yesterday I sent a letter to Khalid about his Arabic and Islamic themes in Frank Herbert's "Dune" page. He responded quickly to my email and also updated his page to reflect what I said. Very excellent.

We also talked about other things. I knew that Turkish has a lot of Arabic words, (obviously the mentioned 'sihir' is originally an Arabic word, also meaning 'magic') but it has never struck me that a large part of the Arab world uses a lot of words with Turkish origin. This is of course especially true for the parts which have been under Ottoman rule, as Egypt.

It was very interesting for me to see his list about the origin of Herberts terminology. As I told him It was interesting to learn that when we during our adolescence screamed Kull wahad! when surprised, we in reality screamed in Arabic.

More Middle East

I thought this blog was supposed to be about my roleplaying activities, and not the Middle East. But at the moment my activities are either boring or nonexisting, so you have to without them.

Firstly Israel

The Israeli Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons we can read at www.ynetnews.com. I have never played D&D, nor have I been in any military. Both are probably needed, but definitely not fitting for people with my mindset. (And I don't mean this in a boasting "I'm too free of mind for you" way. I mostly mean that I'm lazy and unstructured.) It strucks me that they have strong similarities in their absolute hierarchy; in both systems you simply continue to get more powerful, gather more might or you die. This in stark contrast to normal society (or other, more modern games) where something in between is the more common reality. (Thanks to Fredrik for the link)

Then Iraq

You should all read Riverbends latest post where she writes about why Chalabi should have the Nobel peace prize. It doesn't matter if you don't care about Iraq, she's such an excellent writer that her control over the text is enough. And this time more poisonous than ever. It has nothing to do with RPG:s of course.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Cries of water in fiction and reality

I thought I had left Turkey for now, but i have to get back there in this blog. I have to write about an epiphany that was brought to my by the wonderful clash of nerddom and reality. Or should I say between the perceptions of water sellers in Arrakis and Istanbul.

It was in Taksim

Taksim is the modern center of Istanbul. While the average tourist quickly visits Tapkapı, Hagia Sofia, (Aya Sofia) and Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) and maybe, maybe fights her way along the narrow streets up to Sulimaniye mosque many never even crosses the Golden Horn and have no idea about the real city center, that is Taksim a few kilometers north of the tourist quarters. (See this map)

I don't even think I noticed it the first time we went to Taksim, but one of several times there I hear immediately when we get out of our bus: "Soo, sook soo. Soo, sook soo". Boys are selling 0.5 litre water bottles and yelling this "Soo, sook soo. Soo, sook soo. Sook soo. Sook soo." Anyone who bothers to read these ramblings should understand that I was directly transported to Arrakis (and to all our ignorant friends, we are talking about the cult classic Dune by Frank Herbert).

Water sellers on Arrakis have two distinct yells for making themselves heard: "Soo soo sook" and "Ikhut eight". When this is originally explained in the book it says that the origin is "unknown". From when I first read this book about ten years ago I took that as a nod to the reader that its origin lies in our world. The authentic Turkish yell above should be spelled "Su, soğuk su" and means simply "Water, cold water". "su" should be pronounced as the Swedish "so", speakers of English will never be able to learn anyway, so don't even try. "soğuk" is a bit harder, but first of all skip "ğ", this "soft g" is a very arcane letter and only Turks understand the difference. "o" sound very similar to a Swedish 'å', so you have something like: "Su, såok su".

When I understood that I had to write this I wondered if someone else on Google has noticed this. Not quite it seems, but partly. I found a nice page about Arabic and Islamic themes in Frank Herbert's "Dune". About this the writer Khalid says:

Water-seller's cry on Arrakis. Sook is a market place. In Turkey, street vendors will peddle juice by shouting 'Suyu'. 'Su' also means drink.

So he misses the part of the expression, but he should be excused since it seems like his main point is the arabic influences. He has no explanation for Ikhut Eight, though. I really thought this to be arabic.

On a bus over the Bosphorous

There. On a crowded bus I saw a man filling in a character sheet. Only once, but it's fantastic, right?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Turkish role playing


Well it was a saturday, it was incredibly hot and I was standing in a Games Workshop store in Istanbul. During most of my visit in Istanbul so far it had been cold for the season - still very warm for a Swede who thinks everything above zero degree Celsius outdoors is like entering a wet bathroom floor without noticing. But now it was well over thirty degrees and me and Seden was happy to escape into the the very typical air conditioned mall where Sihir ('magic') was cramped into a very diminutive room.

Comercially RPG is very small in Turkey, as far as I can understand it. I got my first perception of Turkish role playing from A Day at Castle Krachfeld, which is a very neat and to-the-point page about a one time LARP that was held in Istanbul. In addition to that the LARP was based on Kafkas very short story The Law - which, if I remember correctly is also included in the unfinished novel The Castle - and with very clear vision of the formalistic part of the LARP. Even if it might seem just a touch too bare boned it's very Nordic, if I may say so.

During my time in Turkey the feeling of need to find out more about the RPG situation in the country grew. At least I should find a shop if there was one in the whole of Istanbul. I have glanced through several Hungarian RPG books, without knowing a single word of their language. It is of course very important to know about RPG in different languages. (Yes you can feel it too) So I e-mailed one of the guys who were behind that Krachfeld thing and asked about places that sold RPG:s in Istanbul. He answered with a very friendly letter in which he gave me two names: Sihir and Kayie Kafe, both in Beşiktas district on the European side.

Well, through some internet work Seden found Sihirs whereabouts and we went there on a crowded bus - as always - crossing the Bosphorus by the first bridge and then into the center of Beşiktas . I guess only a very certain kind of person would understand my joy of standing in that extremely small store, half the size of my student room, filled with only Warhammer stuff. I haven't even ever played Warhammer, the only GW game I have played is Bloodbowl. At home I wouldn't have cared at all to enter the store, but now it was a sudden break in the exotism. There were two men in there. They explained that this other place, Kayie Kafe, now was closed, but after talking a while they mentioned a place called Gerekli şeyler - Necessary things.

Gerekli şeyler

A couple of days later this took us to a much smaller mall in a completely different part of Istanbul, which we found thanks to help from Sedens father. I must admit I don't remember which district, but it was among cars and people as always. Problem was the shop had moved. Seden talked with several people and strange enough a guard knew to tell us that the store had moved to a place nearby. More to the point; he said that it had moved to behind Teşvikiye mosque.

Teşvikiye mosque was just outside the mall and we went past it to what we grasped as behind, but to no avail. Seden talked with more people and as far as I understood the term behind Teşvikiye mosque was locally quite well defined to a certain street. We searched for a quite long time and I was now getting a bit distracted by the fact that I had spent so much of our common time in Istanbul at finding a place where RPG:s are sold. As a last measure we went into a pharmacy to ask the personnel. The woman who talked to us said she might have heard of this Gerekli şeyler, but didn't really... I could understand that. So we went out, we both wanted to get out of this extreme heat and Seden made a claim of the kind: "We will check this street only and then give up." I agreed.

A boy came running out from the pharmacy when we were only ten metres away from it. I guess he found it hard to talk to us when we spoke with the woman, but now he told excactly where to find these necessary things we were looking for. It wasn't very far, but we had not found it without him.

Then finally the store. They mostly sold comics, but had a shelf with american RPG and also the Turkish translation of D&D Players Handook. I guess I regret now that I didn't buy that book, but I will have the opportunity next time.

Conclusion and why Ravenloft?

In all this, in this description of my hunt for RPG:s for sale in Istanbul one little detail stands out as a really typical Turkish characteristic. The boy who ran after us to tell us about the whereabouts of the shop. That kind of incidents happens all the time when walking Turkish streets. Never be surprised and accept the help.

There are also other things I noticed. During the time in Istanbul we went through several bookstores and I saw a lot of translated RPG fiction books. And judging by their position in the store they sold really good. It was Ravenloft, Forgotten Realmes and other stuff. If they even translate the fiction, I thought, then they must translate even more RPG:s. Right? Not so. The guy I talked to in Gerekli şeyler said that Players handbook indeed was the only RPG book at all existing in the Turkish language.

When at home in Sweden I had to e-mail one of these companies that made these translations of D&D fiction, Ankira and ask if these notions really where true. He was a bit surprised by my letter he said and he said 'yes' and explained the reason for only translating novels and not the games themselves to be of copyright character. I couldn't really understand that. He also said that a company called Arka Bahçe planned to do game translations.

This about Turkish RPG.