Saturday, May 28, 2005

PTA international

At the moment I'm reading (or rather listening to, but that's a terminology we are still not used to, I think) Naomi Kleins No Logo. I haven't reached very far yet, but it seems well written, interesting and a pleasure to read. There is one thing, though. I listen to what she says, all the facts she has collected and I go: "That's great! I didn't thought the world was that good already", while she seems to come to the opposite conclusions all the time.

We all know about the big brands gettings spread over the world. But what about the small, the almost infinitesimal ones? Matt Wilson posted a map of the global spread of the sales of his game Prime Time Adventures in the time span October 6 to March 3.1. PTA is well known in the indie-community, but it's still a very small product. In that period of time he shipped 229 copies. Mostly Europe and North America, of course, but still a very good international spread I think. Beauty, right? (As a counterweight to Klein I should give you a link to the place were Swedish globalization messiah Johan Norberg blogs.)

I should mention I got these links originally from Jonas K. He is kind of a fan of PTA. I read a description of a story he and others from our gaming community started, it really seemed like a blast. I would like to try it out sometime.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I did som time wasting friform-websurfing. And I really got knocked out by one thing, a scenario by the group Vi Åker Jeep (We go by Jeep). Inga spår efter Alex (No trace for Alex) can be found here. I haven't read all of it, mostly parts of the text to the game masters [sic.]. I would really like to play or game master it, but requiring eight players and two game masters it's a bit heavy to get going. The textbase is also quite huge.

I won't say too much more about it here, but it includes a lot of really neat techniques and possibilities, of which the most confusing arguably is to give the GM:s meta-roles. They play different GM-characters, outside of the fiction, but it's intertwined in the game. Very confusing and beautiful. The game itself has a lot of emphasis towards player control, through techniques that to me seems to be more The Forge than Swedish Friform.

Vi Åker Jeep write more about techniques they use here. These are all picked from their game The Upgrade. Greg Costikyan (of Paranoia fame) actually writes about playing the scenario.

(BTW I must add that I really like Paranoia XP. It's the only traditional rpg:s I have seen that really works as game. I have had huge amount of fun with traditional rpg:s. But fact is that they are usuallly just a bunch of background and some isolated pieces of system. Paranoia gave me a very intense play and the mechanics really worked in it's aim to give good character play. But maybe this was only due to the GM?)

Government on role playing

In Sweden everything must be classified by government; otherwise it doesn't exist. Back in 97 Ungdomsstyrelsen produced this paper (in Swedish) about roleplaying as a hobby activity in Sweden. I guess (I hope!) that such a paper would look quite different if written today. It's not meant to be read by role players, but that makes it an even more fun read for us.

In addition to the obligatory what is role playing there is also some statistics. They claim that around 20 000 people in Sweden engage in role playing regurlarly. Mor interesting, though, they estimate that approximately 200 000 young Swedes people have played at least one tiume during the last year. It seems like an extremely high number, but if it's true it should be higher now.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Games in limbo

It was this meme surfacing at Andy Kitkowskis homepage

It's really simple. I call it the RPG Design Plan Hit List

STEP ONE Think back to all the ideas (anything you've thought about for more than 5 minutes or so) in the past year or two.

STEP TWO Post about your ideas. All of them. A good couplea sentences each. Tell us what excites you about these ideas. Feel free to throw in spoilers and looks under the proverbial hood- It's not as if any of us are going to steal your ideas (that would imply that we have time to even consider writing something not on our personal Hit List). If you want to keep the ideas semi-private, go ahead and lock down the entry to "friends only".

STEP THREE With the above, post a likelihood of actually getting around to writing and publishing that game.

STEP FOUR Comment on other people's game ideas. Tell them what you like, what you'd like to see, etc.

Johnny Bode

The main priority right now is definitely Johnny Bode, which I have written about earlier. I won’t write more about the mecanics now. It’s a game with an explicit game system, (something I’m not very interested in otherwise) for short sessions and intensive play. One of the few games were it’s recommended to drink alcohol while playing. It’s not a drinking game, though, so it should be small quantities. Me and Jonas just have to finish this. it will be finished.


A short friform scenario, with a quite strict frame and without a game master. It’s supposed to be played by three players, of which no one has read the game. The flow is quite different from ordinary friform games: The game is divided strictly into four scenes, which each features the same three characters, but the players will characters between each scene. Instead of playing a character through the game, each player has a feeling attached to them. In the first scene character A might be aggressive and character B feeling guilty. Their players will change characters to the second scene, but keep the emotion. In first and fourth scene the will play the same character. For every scene each player will read a short document about the character she will play and the setting of the scene. These texts are not to be read before the game.

The characters are pretty much constructed to my satisfaction, but making the scenes fit this schedule is of course harder. There is still much to do, but I really hope complete it during the summer.

Terrorist larp

This larp, or lajv as I would rather call it to keep the Nordic terminology, is the only one I consider to be in an active phase right now. I was very into it a few weeks ago, but the two games above has moved in to take over my interest. But I still have some hope to finish this. If we at all are going to do this we will first write the most of it and then start to organize the game itself.

The game is going to be about ten political activists (or perhaps you would call them terrorists) and their social interactions in a conspiratory apartment. We are not going to use a totally straight forward lajv game flow, but will take use of a couple of techniques.

First of all the game will be cut into scenes, probably five. Each scene might be between one and two hours and all of them will take place in the apartment. Between scenes things might happen both in and outside of the apartment. The scenes will be explicitly cut and one person from the staff will tell very briefly what happened between scenes.

Secondly we will make use of something similar to a technique used in the small lajv Viljan (made as a side arrangement to Vreden). There it was called fifteen minutes of fame. Every player will have to at least once go to a specific place in the room. The game will be automatically cut and a spot light will be directed at the player. He will speak about things he’s thinking about and maybe things that has happened between scenes. (A very similar technique is actually used in Jared Sorensons InSpectres.)

Nothing is written on this game. There is no time plan, but I have hope to have it done in near future. I won’t write all by myself, but I have to start writing and then get people to help me.

Campaign larp

We got quite far in the creation of this lajv, the amount of text was not evene a fifth of the needed amount, but much of the structure was set. The thought was an initial game with around twenty people, where the heritage of an old and very rich toy fabricator was going to be divided. The main aim was to create it to be very open ended so that follow up games could be constructed with almost any combination of the original players. It should be easy for players as well as organizers. But still it was a quite big project, and we ran out of energy. But the structure is still there to be picked up. We might pick it up one day. But not in a while, that’s for sure.

The Mafia-sauna game

This is thought to be very simple and short game to play whenever you sit in and sauna and want to avoid normal socializing. The setting is the giant cyperpunk city of tomorrow, probably not on Earth. As long as anyone can remember the city has been a battlefield for mobsters. During centuries the mob leaders has tried to kill each other with a never decreasing frenzy. This has lead to an extreme paranoia. Now when they meet they always do this naked, in a sauna.

It's very important that you play this game in a sauna. Each player will have three characteristics and some special ability. In the beginning I wanted to have a game master, but this is out of the question now. The system will be a very simple distribution system.

I might complete this game, it seems like fun and it shouldn't be too hard. But it's way down the priority list.

Importance of conflict

The other day I began a text about GNS, explaining my view on the whole thing, but I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t have anything interesting to say about it. But I will say this.

The whole wave of narrativistic games that emanates from The Forge and people inspired by The Forge discussions is a very good thing I think. They give a lot of new impulses to rpg design and point out some of great flaws of traditional games that are taken for granted. I also want move away from traditional games, (and have of course, there are a lot of alternatives out there already) but generally my departure from the tradition is in opposite direction than the typical Forge persona.

One of the many things that is often mentioned as a goal by these designers is stripping the story told to the bare bones of plot. Many of these games seem to come down to mutual creation of plot by giving focus to conflicts. After one conflict is solved you jump ahead to the next. For me that is totally uninteresting; of course it’s always fun to create stuff with friends, but for me it contains none of the kicks I get out of role playing. And there is one more things.

Plot is boring. It’s almost always needed, but with almost the same frequency also the most boring part of all kinds of fiction

And if there is anything more uninteresting for me, that’s the pure conflict, that exists only to be resolved in one way or the other.

When alone in the gym I like to listen to Henry Rollins spoken word record Black Coffee Blues. In the track monster he utters these wonderful lines.

It seems like I can confront myself all day long, but I can’t go from there. Confrontation takes little thought. I have always been good at the things that take little thought. Sure, you can confront. But what do you do next? That’s what tells you what you are.

When you roleplay you occasionally see into another world, not all the time, but you get these glimpses. When an intellectual young woman, who have spent all of her life at a university talks about gender structure in society, what does the 35 year old punkrocker think? Or more interesting, when she raises her right eyebrow to mark that she expects an answer, what is his reaction in that moment to that gesture. Just imagining that you might know something about it is really, really cool, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Werewolf Demo Part 2

We played part two yesterday. The session had somewhat low speed, I liked it, but it got even more apparent what I like the most.

Just talking
We play these five werewolves that have very recently moved into an old house. The family that lived there before us was also a werewolf pack and - as might be suspected - people in the nearby town Manitou Springs thought them to be really strange fellows.

The day after moving in we went into town to fix electricity, buying clothes and stuff. We had to take lunch there and found a typical diner. A diner like the ones in Twin Peaks or Pulp Fiction, a kind we don't really have in Sweden. We played this by taking our in game fika, (break for coffee and cookies, that governs the life of all grown up Swedes) pretending it to be meatloaf or whatever we ordered. It was maybe twenty minutes of talking in character and looking at the diner and ordering food. It was really cool; that's what I like.

I like those scenes and I like the common bed for all the werewolfes and the special made bathroom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The whore of the east

My friend Fredrik sent me this picture, saying he took this from a window in his apartment. He lives in Shanghai, (the whore of the east) so it might just be true.

I guess normal people who see this want to travel to see this amazing buildings and to figure out how it is to live there, in this place that is so different from [enter place of residence here]. I feel that too, I admit, but most of all I immidiately got the impulse that I would like to play a character that has a specific relation to these buldings, discover that persons feeling. Isn't that the most interesting thing in the world? I might be damaged by role playing.

By the way, my next door neighbour comes from just outside of Shanghai. I guess I will continue to study him. I really have this thing of interviewing instead of discussing whenever I meet someone from a foreign country. For a long time I did that with my girlfriend too, I think. But most people like to talk about themselves, so it's usually no problems.Posted by Hello

GothCon picture three

I just have to show this picture of the skull. It hade really nothing to do with the game we played, but Orchis och Svettis (friform design group) use it as a gimick. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

GothCon picture two

We Look nice, right? It's just a skull in a pentagram. (It's a real skull) Kristoffer didn't like this at all, since he has this religious thing going. But he didn't say anything, 'not to hurt' the game master. Very nice of him, I think. (And that's me to the left.) Posted by Hello

GothCon picture one

After GothCon I got a heap of pictures from the event from Linnéa. Here is one...telling the truth I guess, as pictures tend to (?). We are all nice normal people. Promise Posted by Hello

Friday, May 06, 2005

Playtest of Johnny Bode

We did the playtest today of my and Jonas Johnny Bode - rollspelet. First I should actually say something about the game and the myth it's bult around. Bode himself is a very unusual character - today mostly known in some student environments for his porno songs, but during his long life he had several careers and more personal tragedy than one family usually can hold. If I was to tell the story it would be too long as well as not very coherent. Read on the net, there is a quite good article in Swedish Wikipedia. A much worse, but very typical, piece of article can be seen here. The most famous biography is En herre i frack (1992) by Bengt Nyquist och Ingmar Norlén, which is where I have learnt most of what I know about him. In 2003 Norlén published Jakten på Johnny Bode, which I think is an enlarged version of the former book, but I have yet to read it.

To understand the game, though, you don't have to know anything about him. But it's probably a good thing to know something about Stockholm in the '30s. In the game you always play strange characters from the party elite in Stockholm, around 1934. But it's not really 1934 and it's not really Stockholm. It's the mythic '30s.

Each game is strictly diveded into scenes, typically as many as the amount of players. Each scene is divided into two parts. The first part is the short dining phase (dineringsfas), where all the players are eating together and talking about old memories. One of them mentions something about a specific event: "Do you remember that night in August when we had a breakfast ontop of Karl Gerhards dog?" After this initial statement everyone mention one peculiar fact about the night, because it's usually about night. It's almost always about parties and about famous and decadent people in the '30s.

Then the adventurephase (äventyrsfasen) commence. Now the player who made the first statement acts as a game master, at the same time as he is playing a character. All characters have a few (typically 3-5) abilities ranked 1-5. These abilities can for example be Fat 3, Odd sexual needs 4, Night club singer 2 or Good toaster 5. Each player has five cards in hand and when using an ability he usually plays one card and either substracts or add the ability from it. The gamemaster makes a interpretation of the outcome. All court cards have speical uses, which give the players more control over the game flow, but I won't go into them here.

When the game master thinks the scene has come to a good end he breaks and you continue with the two phases of the next scene. Another player is now the game master.

When we played it today we were quite in a hurry and had only time to play one scene out of four, but the scene turned out to be quite long. I must say the game had a very nice flow and I think we all had a hilarious time. Anna and Linnéa caught the idea of the game without any problems, in spite of being a bit sceptic before start.

Of course there were a few things to think about.
  • I think there is a risk for scenes running too long, (this is a game which should end before two hours of play) so give a bit more strict advice about what the role of the game master is, should be a good thing.
  • I thought on beforehand that the number of abilities should be very low, but after the game everyone seems to think that we should have a bit more of them.
  • As of now we have three kinds of special cards. The players really enjoyed them and wanted more of them. We are thinking of different ways of doing this.
We will change a few details as of now, but keep everything that is seen as core. It woul be interesting to play it with Jonas K, he always have these points of views that are totally new to me. Sometimes very good. We might continue this session later, we'll see about that.

We are only a few, and we are fighting

One of the more bizarre ingredients in my life the last year is the role playing theory fights. We have had a great schism in our small role playing group here in linköping. In the end I think it all will end in everyone having more insight than before.

Gathered on one side in this debate (most of the times) are me and Jonas. I guess our place in the debate has been defending friform (this is not even what we play mostly; but it's not always easy to choose side in a debate). Another Jonas have had a lot of new views, of which many have emanated from The Forge and allies. I will call him Jonas K for clarity (which is a bit silly, since I have known him much longer than the former Jonas; but what can a man do?).

A few more people have been caught in the middle of these debates. At the moment I must say I feel we have a quite good mutual understanding and a I really feel like this has helped me to get a much better understanding of the medium.

The point, though

But really, the point is really creating games. Jonas K has been quite efficient in this so far this year. I think you can find all of his games here, several of them (three I think) are from the annual dogmautmaningen (dogma challange) at the forums at I haven't played even one of these games yet, but I hope to. Especially since most of them are designed in ways that are very unfamiliar to me.

The most productive in our gaming community is Tobias. His magnus opus (so far) is Millennium. He has also had quite some success in dogmautmaningen, and this year he was the total victor with quite some margin. I'm not sure at the moment where to find these games, but I will link them later. I have made a character in Millennium once, but never actually played it. (Edit: Tobias dogmagames are actually very easily found to the right at his Millennium page.)

Orpheus and more

By the way, we heard from Bishop again

The Orpheus campaign is really good, and we have alot of good internal stories. But it's by far the the longest campaign I have ever played and I'm not too big on epic campaigns. It's simply getting a bit too long, but I'm still very curious of what will come. I usually like my characters best when they are new to me. As you easily get tired of yourslf, you get tired of old characters.

Actually there will be som Orpheus tomorrow too, only scenes of the more domestic kind. I'm really looking forward to the actually; they might be interesting. The background for the scenes are: Tadeusz (my character) and Nagi (Annas character) are a couple since quite a while. Nagi is not only former Orpheus agent, but also native american freedom fighter from a family full of native american freedom fighters, who all have quite some problems with white people, even when they are of Polish heritage. No my Tadeusz will try to be acknowledged by the family. We will do this in short, but probably quite intense scenes.

I still haven't decided how I will play, if Tadeusz will be diplomatic or aggressive. Anyway, i think might be interesting.

This won't take much time, I think. After this we will probably do a short play test of my and Jonas Johnny Bode - rollspelet (Johnny Bode - the Role PLaying Game). The version of the game that is existing now has been in existance for over a year, but has nevere been playtested, most dy to that everyone else around us always talk in extremely negative ways about this game. I really can't understand why they hate us just because we have had a few thoughts about creating a game that is neither basic roleplaying nor d20.

Anyway, now we have gathered the courage to try it out. Regardless of how it turns out I will push for a new playtest soon.


In Istanbul Turkeys first IKEA opened today. Large cues were created immediately, as in all countries. They also prepare to open a store in Izmir, Turkeys third city. In Izmir they have Izmircon (to keep the rpg theme). IKEA is better on spreading around the globe than our RPG:s.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Werewolf: The Forsaken

It was quite recently it struck me that what gives me the biggest kicks in roleplaying is socializing, especially meeting new people - in character. It's really hard to explain why it's like that; but one explanation I have thought off is that
  • it is exciting, maybe the most exciting thing in life, to meet new people,
  • but I'm so damn tired of introducing my own self to people and I'm just so damn tired of my own self that I really don't want to talk about it.
It's really (at least in Sweden) seen as quite polite, when you meet a new real person, that you present yourself as the physical person the state accept you as (yes, I define myself through the state). And you always have to the same things about the pathetic life you are living.

But of course, there's more to it than that. Talking to a person while - in the shared imaginative space - having a complete different history than your real is simply amazing. It enables so many questions and feelings that you normally can't reach.

I remember being S'Rin Foug, (Fading Suns) a quite good body guard, mediocre person and outright bad opera writer, who only wants to be A terrific writer of operas, a nice and warm person and actually not at all a body guard. I remember being him on a geo stationary station talking to nobles and tecnicians and finally meeting the greatest opera star in known part of the galaxy. I remember being Hedlund in Aurora Borealis, a quite ordinary worker in the '30s, suddenly sitting together with all this important people planning a trip to the South pole. And they were actually listening to me! I explained to these engineers and all kinds of big people what my dogs needed and what they could do and they planned accordingly. Truly amazing for Hedlund.

Yesterday we played Werewolf: The Forsaken, the first installation of the online demo game. It was a really nice session. The thing for me was the meeting with the other players. Everyone made good interpretations of their characters and I'm a quite a bit curious still about everyone of them. That's a very good sign. My character Mike Berringen is closer to me than my characters have been in quite a while (I have played a lot of rapists lateley, I'm really tired of that. It's a heavy burden to carry, even when he just shares mind with you for a short while.) and that was a really nice experience. He cares much for his political views, left wing they might be, but it's the same kind of conviction.

One small detail is hard to understand, though, but that's an American thing. It says in his background that he earlier used to carry a gun for self protection. I guess this is a normal way of thinking in US, but for me more than absurd that a normal computer nerd (blogging is his main business) would get gun. US must be the only rich country where this is considered a reasonable way of thinking.

One detail made a lasting impression on several of us players. The huge bed made for a werewolf pack and the specially constructed bathroom with room for a lot of simultaneous guests. Our characters (and we) were quite surprised at this. But they soon found it very normal. After all; this is a pack of wolves. The pack instincts colliding with the modern world is an important concept in W:tF. This is beautiful.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A late night note about a discussion

Eirik Fatland about Panopticorp
PanoptiCorp was, for me, an attempt to do something a bit more contemporary and a lot more light-hearted than - say - Kybergenesis, Europa or OB7. Something to show that LARP can deal with serious issues through play and humour rather than tears and existential crises. It failed.
The famous Mellan Himmel och Hav (right before I went into Larping, but it might have been too much for me anyway) was supposed to show happiness instead of angst in serious larp. A very good lajv, everyone say. But it kind of failed in the happiness department it seems, with some scenes getting extremely heavy and full of dark feelings. I think they even broke game once because it went too far.But I have heard different versions about this.

I guess Moira is going to try for something along this line. I think, they definitely try for something diffent, but I really haven't understood the goal of the game.

But this is not really my point for the moment. I really just want to say that I would like to make a lajv where half of the players are, let's say bosniaks, (the moslem population in Bosnia) and the second half are Swedish. They never speak a word of a common language and the two groups have extremely different roles, different in the hierarchical ladder, but als with totally different play. Nice, right?

Good night

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wave of mutilation

I have really done quite little role playing so far this year, but now I seem to have fallen into a role play frenzy. I have written here about the latest things played and here is the continuation:

  • On Tuesday Werewolf: The Forsaken, the new WoD Werewolf. Jonas will game master (since he got it for free and is supposed to write a review. It will be interesting to go back to dice.
  • The coming weekend Anna will resurface in Linköping for a couple of days. I'm not really certain what we will play. It will at least be Orpheus, but hopefully something more.
  • Mellanrummet, a lajv by NCID, in the beginning of June. I'm really looking forward to this game. These people are serious in their work and I like the approach towards us players that Erik Stormark shows.
  • A lot of writing ideas. But you never know if I actually write something.

The name of this entry has nothing to do with the content. It's just the name of a good Pixies song.