Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Friform wiki

Martin Swahn of Frispel has put up a wikipage for discussion of friform. Discussion will be in Swedish, so the huge troops of eager Americans will have to wait. It's here, and it's still totally empty. I guess I have to start it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

All that Jazz

We have now for a while been reading about Mike Pohjolas new lajv (larp) All that Jazz (homepage in Finnish and English). I think it will be a fun event, but I won't go because of my problems in dealing with reality. But a couple of things have struck me.

Firstly, they tell us that emotional realism is the style of play. Hooray I say. This sounds like what you can expect from a Pohjola larp and that is also a quite good description of the type of play that fits me. But parallel with this you have the hilarious world description, where all players come from planets descibed as The goth planet, The western planet and The gangsters'n'jazz planet. Earth is the leading distributor of media in the galaxy and other societies choose parts of our popular culture. I can't really figure out how this background in a good way will benefit this style of play. I would really like to hear the reasoning behind this!

Secondly, isn't it nice to see Pohjola, the writer of the Turku Manifesto saying something like this:
However, in contrast to several of my previous larps, I urge players to take the enjoyment of the other players into consideration and play in a style that encourages participation.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

International LARP

Clash of larp styles

When starting this blog one of my main goals was to describe and learn about role playing outside of Sweden. The focus has to a large extent drifted away towards other things, but the international aspect has been surfacing a few times. One good way to learn is through contrast. I have already mentioned Jonas thing on Swedish fantasy larps. A comment there led me to a discussion (in English) about the Italian group Ordo Solis (about which I have been reading before, they seem to travel much through Europe) playing at a Swedish Enhörningen (The Unicorn) larp. Another piece of the puzzle is given in an article by one of the Ordo Solis members.

At times the above mentioned discussion get a bit heated. Of course it's about the Italians and the Germans doing OOC during the larp, and them beeing surprised of how 'hardcore' the Swedish players are. Things get even more strange when you understand that a lot of people in Sweding throw a lot of crap on Enhörningen for lacking in seriousity. I have heard several people calling their larps unplayable because of too low standards on players. In addition this larp, Vågskålen, was a beginners larp. (Let me just make it very clear that I have no opinion whatsoever, I have never joined a fantasy larp and don't know what they are like, but I'm positive that anyone larping in Sweden can agree with that certain groups of larpers have held these opinions of larps by Enhörningn. Vågskålen specifically got good reviews by all parts, as far as I have seen.)

My own, mixed thoughts

The larps I have gone to have all depicted a reality (or non-reality) closely related to some point after 1930 and they have all been short, the longest being a bit more than thirty hours. In the larps I have been to it would be unthinkable that anyone would OOC in front of other players without a very good reason. My experience with bringing new players to larps is that you never have to tell them this. When you explain that you have a role and that you will play for a certain amount of time noone misinterprets this.

What I'm trying to get to is the tradition of OOC in larp. I'm told that this was common in Swedish larps until the middle of the 90's. One obvious reason is of course that fantasy larps by tradition are very long, which gives more time for boring periods and reasons to talk OOC. But I still think that the main reason is that in fantasy larps the equipment is the main interest. To have such genuine interest for equipment (which I totally lack, I lack interest for my real self's clothing too) might of course increase your immersion in your role, but others might join the event just because of their interest in equipment and then take less seriously on the playing.

There are obviously a lot of people who have a huge interest in medieval equipment but without the interest for playing characters, as the existence of SCA proves. What we have in Sweden is a quite clear division between these two interests.

Monday, June 20, 2005

LinCon 2005

LinCon is over and it turned out to give me a lot of good roleplaying events. Surprisingly much so.

When planning our games, it seemed like the available scenarios generally had a much lower quality than the ones we had to choose from at GothCon. Before that con we had a quite long argument about which to choose and had it been possible we would have liked to play a few more. But now only two events seemed interesting enough to apply for.

But. These turned out to be very good and gave me a well needed fix of friform.

Friform...för en liten stund (Friform... for little while)

I went through the con Thursday night when everything was starting up, but the real start was Friday morning with this quite unorthodox friform arrangement by Jocke Tang from S.A.R.Z. I think this group usually act as arrangers of boardgames and such, but Jocke seemed to be a scarred veteran of friform and improvisational drama.

The event was held only two times during LinCon, the first at three Friday morning and the second at ten same morning. This was a pity. I'm quite sure people would have gathered to later events, if only by rumour. Me and Anna joined the latter occasion.

In total we were seven players, excluding Jocke. He started with typical drama exercises. I have never done that kind of stuff, but it seemed to be exactly what Anna sometimes want our group to try. We haven't listened to her so far, but maybe we will...

I really liked to try these exercises out, even if the success varied much. One quite successful exercise was the freeze play. Two people entered the stage and made a scene up. After a while the GM goes "Freeze!" and the players freezes in the exact position they are in. Two new players take their place and use their physical position, but play a scene without connections to the first. The only one I remember was this one:

I start with my finger pointing at another players face.

Me: "What are your take on the meaning of Sartre's "Inauthentic human"?
Girl (agressively): "What do you think?"
Me (Lowering my arm): "I don't know, I just woke up."
The exercise I found to work best was a kind of nested freeze play. It began with only one person on the stage, who was free to do whatever scene she felt like. In our case a girl started with lying on the floor, seemingly fleeing from someone while throwing rocks in protection. In less than a minute someone of the other players were supposed to step onto the stage and start a completely new scene, but using the physical position of the person already on stage. In our case the fleeing girl became a girl posing for a magazine. A third person comes in to start a new scene, a fourth person and so on. Finally we had a scene with seven participants. The last person to enter find an excuse to leave the scene. Now the nesting comes into play: when we drop a player we go from the seventh scene to the sixth, from sixth to fifth, until we have an empty stage.

Next we played a few scenes from Taxi by RÖ30 (it can be found here). This scenario, which I had read parts of before, consists of about forty shortly described characters. The GM give roles to the players and let one or more be passangers in a taxi, while he plays the taxidriver himself. It's definitely a nice way of playing. Several of the scenes were very enjoyable, but I think that they generally would have benefited from being played slower and each for a longer time.

When I talked with Anna afterwards she found it a bit strange that anyone could write this as a scenario and claim authorship over it, since she meant that this again was almost exactly copied from a very common drama exercise.

I still haven't reached the best part. For the second half of the event Jocke used a scenario called Töreboda. It's an ASF scenario written by Gustav Edman (also the author of Under sommaren). I haven't seen the scenario text itself, but according to my understanding it consists of thirtysix characters and no predetermined story. The setting is Töreboda, an existing smallish city between the two big lakes in Sweden. The characters are people like the local drunkard, the social workers, an immigrant family, people working in the supermarkets and so on. The GM gives roles to the players and starting positions. From there everyone just cooperates to give life to these characters.

I thought Töreboda was really great and I would have liked it to go on for another hour, at least. As of now everything that I have described took place in two hours, and I haven't even told everything at all, so I gather that you understand that this was two quite intersive hours.

Huset - rum för vilsna historier (The House - room for lost stories)

This is a very ambitious joint venture by Frispel and NisseNytt. Their LinCon visit featured six different scenarios, all meant to be of shorter play than traditional con scenarios and all with a certain connection to the same house, but the location and history of the house change between the different scenarios. According to the homepage of the project there is also a seventh scenario, which they didn't bring.

The idea of their con arrangement was to give two scenarios in the time where you usually play one. All scenarios were written for four player and since we played twice we worked through four of them.

AVid fyren (At the lighthouse) was our starting point the terrible Saturday morning. The scenario was a very well crafted horror scenario with the typical dichotomy of the present characters on one side and historic events on the other and some common points to tie it together. The most remarkable about the scenario was the handouts, which were almost terryfing in their beuaty. I won't even try to beat that!

The characters gave very good possibilities to make a lot of interesting play - even if I would have enjoyed somewhat more personal information - but it could have been better if I had been less passive in the beginning. I was really slow started this time. Vid fyren is written by Anders Björkelid and he was also the one leading our play.

BRight after that we played Den som tar emot mig, tar emot er, (Whosoever receiveth me, receiveth thee) a scenario written and game mastered by Johan Nilsson. In many ways simpler than Vid fyren, it's a surrealistic story about four people coming to a house to see how it can be used for benefit of the small parish they represent. I think this scenario would get a faster and more interesting start by making the characters a bit more complex. On the other hand, that might be beside the point of the scenario, that's up to Johan to decide. Because what stays in you memory after playing is not the beginning, but the end, where you really get a chance to dissect your actions. We all liked the ending very much and Johan gave us much freedom to do what we wanted to.

CSunday. Morning. Hard. Hard. But good scenarios were waiting, so I managed to get up in time. Jakten på Josef K. (The hunt for Josef K.) started our day. Again a scenario by Anders Björkelid and once again he game mastered us. As can be understood from the name this was a Kafkaesque scenario (Josef K. is the protagonist of Kafkas The Process) with all the references tucked in nicely, but in surprising ways. The whole sessions was filled to the brim with the humour that made me read all of Kafkas books in my teens and some of them several times. Jonas has recently failed to read through The Process, personally I see this as a good alternative to make him understand Kafkas sense of humour.

Need I tell you that I loved this? It was also very easy playing my lifeless character and very much fun making up our interpretations (always wrong, wrong) of the rules guiding us in the world of bureaucracy and the strange kind Kafakesque destiny; a destiny not determined by gods, but by a faceless system of bureaucrats.

It made another problem of my own playing style obvious to me. Whenever I sit at a table with a GM to play a scenario I have a hard time not thinking of the GM and his plots. When playing away from the table I more frequently really play my character, instead of being careful not to steal the show from the GM. This is a bad way of playing, at least with GM:s as capable as these; they can always handle me playing out my character. I must learn to stop worry and instead love the bomb.

DMetanoia was our last scenario on the con. It was arranged and game mastered by Martin Svahn. This is a scenario of mutual storytelling only for people who have played a few of the scenarios in this project. It was very free and open for us to connect to the three scenarios we had recently played. It came out as very intense improvisation play for around ninety minutes. We had a lot of fun, and I think several scenes were quite successful. Though it might have been good with a bit bigger concistency in the scenes played. We jumped very much, changed characters and plots started were often soon thwarted by fits of unbound imagination.

We played very physical, reminding of what me and Anna did earlier with Friform... and that is something that I like. When talking with Martin after the game I got the feeling that it didn't go according to his vision (it was the first time he played this scenario) and he was maybe even a bit dissapointed. But anyway, we had a blast.

In addition

...we also played one completely improvised scenario from the traditional Rollspelsbaren (The role playing bar). A Jim GM:ed us through a story of taking place in Chicago of the twenties, full of gangsters, guns, tea and men in blue suits with terrible powers. It worked well and Jim seemed to be very used to this style of play and listened carefully to what we wanted and made it all end in the usual catastrophy. On time. Good.

Saturday night we played an Orpheus session, which both had drama and personal katharsis. Actually, there were personal katharsis in abundance for everyone.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Why we have to learn Danish

I have quite recently been told that the Danish Friform-scene is superior to the Swedish. That didn't lead me to try prove it right or wrong. When Martin Svahn from Frispel told me almost the same thing again during LinCon this weekend I just had to look it up and compare.

If we only count free, dowloadable scenarios the selection in Danish is far beyond the one in Swedish. The largest selection of Swedish scenarios that I know of is Sveroks Scenariobanken. Compare this with Alexandria that claim to feature over 2500 scenarios in Danish (a lot of this is not friform, of course). But don't start there! Instead, go to Project Rlyeh. Their claim to fame is having one hundred of the best scenarios from Danish Cons. Some of these are system based, but most aren't. I haven't look at everything, of course, but what I have seen so far is really impressive. (All these links may be found to the right.)

I will better my Danish. But at the moment learning Turkish takes up most of my learning language-slots.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Discussions, discussions

Ben Lehman, over at This is my Blog has promised to do a write up of American LARP:s. I'm looking forward to this, I'm really interested in this. Jonas Barkå responded with starting a write up of Swedish/Nordic LARP at Unrealities of mine. He has so far covered fantasy LARP and will apparantly divide the description into at least to more articles.

Tobias Wrigstad has some kind of debate from their quite different views of role playing with Jonas Karlsson at his Tobias blogs. Jonas K. has written answers there and at his own Jonas dagar. Meanwhile, me and Tobias have an ongoing e-mail debate about friform and related issues. It might or might not be published. But we keep everything in English, just in case.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Friform, lajv, tabletop

I have been thinking about an article about the general differences between friform and lajv, not so much becuase of the interest of knowing, but to be able to speak about it and analyzing hybrids. Especially since there are certain types of games that fall in between these genres as they are usually used in Sweden. At the moment I feel Like I don't have to, because Vi åker jeep has done it for me.

These are observed differences more than anything else, and it doesn't at all explain how table top really is played. Table top is there as a contrast. I would like to discuss some details, but I will do that a bit later.

Updates of the day

Today I have added quite a few links to the right, among them several to homepages of Swedish groups creating friform or lajv. Most of those pages are seldom updated and very little new stuff is added. I think Vi åker jeep might be the most active at the moment. They write in English too, for the benefit of human kind.

In an earlier post I was talking about games in process. The scenario I there called Trivium has now got name that will follow the poor child the rest of her life: Om Klara (About Klara). It stalled for a long time, but I have all the scenes fixed now and now it's only between me and my keyboard. I'll have it punched out in a while. It's not going to be grand, it won't gather crowds. But it might very well be ok.

Saturday, June 04, 2005



Now I sit at my parents house in the middle of the forest in Småland and try too act like the son they think I am. But inside huge chunks of another person is still floating around, colliding with my own self. They will go away soon, I know that – since I am quite sane actually – but right now my mind is definitely divided.

In this post I won’t say too much about details of Mellanrummet, since there will be a second installment in two weeks. After that I will post a comment with more info about Mellanrummet itself and the as well as our groups characters.


I had a real nice time. I would say Mellanrummet is to the regular lajv as chamber music is to concerts; closer and more intimate. That is, it very much the kind of play the homepage claimed to offer and that I had thought and hoped it would be.

The whole game was about the meeting of foreigners, as far as I’m concerned. Many of the characters were very fully developed and if you didn’t get full response at a certain place it was very, at least for me as it happened, to quickly find interesting play against someone else. Often in lajvs I fall out of activity and then loose both interest and immersion until I succeed to find a focus for play.

The bigger the better

Not at all, really, but was it up to me, the time of play could have been a bit longer. I think we went on for less than five hours and I think the characters had substance for a while longer. As well the experience might have gained a bit on a little more players. But I know that this was because a lack of players and players leaving the project soon befor
e play.

A very good part of the whole process was the creation of our group. We were four (Anna, Linnéa and Jonas) players that prepared together. We did this work at a private forum we share with a little more than ten other persons, were we created a quite large body of texts about the characters. We also did a couple of small prelajvs. This is a very good thing to do, not only because you get to practice your role, but because it let you have distinct common memories to refer to in game. This process was a lot of fun and the best part: it really payed off during play! The play in the group was very enjoyable.

I see now that Jonas already has made
a post. Read.

Thank you very much, NCID and all the players!
Vi ses på nästa lajv.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Obligatory reading

One You should read what Jonas K. has to say about Stephen King and Vincent Baker. Two Read what Vincent himself has to say about character sheets! Everyone should read that, even my mother (well, you don't have to). At the moment, Vincent Baker is the shit, even if I think his blog is a bit too ugly. Three During the day I have updated the links with a few blogs to Forge-related people. Later I will see which Nordic links to rpg creators are worth having there. The problem seems to be that most of them doesn't update very regurlarly. That makes them much mor uninteresting.

Me and GNS

Ben Lehman over at This is my blog has made a post about me and GNS, named Sven and GNS. In that thread only Ben and I are allowed to make comments. He will try to explain GNS to me there, which will be a very interesting experience. I started to write an answer, but decided to read a bit more before answering and will wait until tomorrow. It seems so simple at first, but the more pondering you pour down the thicker it gets.

The original reason for this whole thing was a question I posted at Ben's GNS / Big Model Openouse post over at his LiveJournal blog.