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.


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