Friday, July 29, 2005

Systrarna Cederschiöld

Introductory notes about men and their scenes

Only a few months ago Jonas K. over at Jonas dagar turned down invitations both to lajv-(larp) and friform games just by saying he didn't like that type of play, admitting membership in the sprawling indie scene. Discussions continued after that in the same manner as in the last couple of years. Maybe the pace was a bit faster now, discussions took place at our and others blogs instead of at parties and in private forums. The audience (mostly silent and maybe imagined) makes you erase some of the really crappy things you want to write in the heat of discussion. The simple insights that bridged the gap was the following two things:
  1. Clarity. Nothing is more important than clarity of appropriate style of play in a certain game. Otherwise you put both friendship and fun at great risk.
  2. What kind of rewards you can expect to get from a game is very strongly dependent on the style of play. Players has to be aware of this and follow this.
I guess something like this has been invading Jonas head. Because a while ago he GM:ed a typical Swedish friform game (I have sadly not finished my text about it. Before I do that you have to do with his own.) and now he and Helena Ferry wrote a lajv. Seven characters, the writers included, played this little family tragedy last Wednesday in Jonas' and Helenas' apartment.

The game

Once there were four sisters Cederschiöld. But during twelve years there have been only three. The parents forbade anyone to mention the fourth in their presence. She should be forgotten. At 28 years of age Marianne feels it to be time to reconnect with her sisters and she invites them all to her apartment in a not too flashy neighbourhood outside of Göteborg.

The lajv began with a huge clash when the three sisters descended from high society to the world of Marianne and Roger (played by Helena Ferry and Jonas Karlsson, respectively). The steepest fall was the one experienced by the oldest sister Wictoria (played by Ingela Vretblad) and her husband Ernst Hjelmsäther (played by me). Wictoria hade married Ernst mainly to get a name higher up in the noble hierarchy.

Alice (played by Julia Klingvall) was the only sister with a traditional career, working as an achitect. Her husband Konrad (played by Jonas Liljenfeldt) leads a computer company, but seems to have different views on life than his wife.

Charlotta (played by Elisabeth Öberg) had made a somewhat unusual choice in life by living as a not very well paid artist. Neither Alice nor Wictoria are comfortably with this or that she seem to be satisfied with being single.

The above is a scetch of the starting point for the game. Everyone played just beautifully and each of the seven characters had an interesting part in the play. Jonas and Helena had on beforehand been very clear on what style of play they wanted. Accept other players ideas, don't block, be creative. In contrary to the common idea of creating a story line they had actively tried to rid their texts from story arc; wanting this to be created by the players during play.

I really enjoyed it, but had of course a few comments. Two things are of interest for in the context of this text.
  1. I think it would have been good with one or two common memories for the sisters. This isn't necessary, since the whole style of play was inviting to determing such things during play. But the sisters had very little discussion about their common past and I think it would be good to put some stress on that part.
  2. The game became somewhat static. Quite soon we found a role for each character and kept it there for the remainder of the game. I think very small measures could be used to create somewhat more drama. During almost all of the game we sat around the table. I think more things would have happened if just hosts had asked us to move to the sofa or move around freely with coffee. I personally was definitely lacking possibilities of talking to other characters alone.
It was great fun. I know that Jonas plan to put the whole game somewhere close to his blog, probably after a tiny bit of rewriting. Read it. Play it.

A coincidence in addition

Playing my characters wife was Ingela Vretblad. As it turns out she also visited Mellanrummet (see earlier post) and even played one of the four satanists. It was indeed very interesting to compare out different experiences and different takes on playing satanists in night clothes.


Now read more sides of the story. Choose if you want to hear the gospel according to Jonas or Helena (Helenas text is in Swedish).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


The most talked about Swedish larp of this year, Kejsartemplet (The emperor Temple) has ended. And with a tremendous success as it seems. Frenzing players at G-punkt talk about that the impossible has been done and some people are convinced that they will never again see a larp as good. Surely some bad critique will surface, but it seems to be safe to say that the larp was an unusual success.

I wasn't there - and I didn't even consider it since joining a traditional fantasy larp would force me to do a lot of work that I'm not really into - and can't say too much about what was going on. As far as I know it was a bit unusual in that they let humour be part of the world building and the scenario. As subtitle they used the quite remarkable statement Everyone can be a priest ("Vem som helst kan bli präst"). This describes the main story arc; a new religion is to be constructed in the country. There will be a competition for the creation of a new religion with new rituals. (Could that easily be done in the US in a larp with four hundred players? According to what I have heard about American larps and religion, no.)

There are pictures. Mikael Enmalm contributed with these (1, 2, 3, 4) links and said (on G-punkt) that there will be more.

BTW. I have several texts to write for this blog. Sometime this week anyway there will be a few that should have been written a while ago.

It should be mentioned that Kejsartemplet mainly was a village-larp, with the ambition to create a real city. The plan was to have 130 buildings and I understand the reached well over 100 (obviously a few were forgotten). All player reactions that I have seen so far witness of a feeling of beeing overwhelmed by the lifelike feeling of the city.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A weekend in Stockholm

Writing this I'm at Arlanda Airport soon to board a flight through Amsterdam and from there to Istanbul. A good time to write a few notes about last weekend.

My main reason for going to Stockholm was the seminar for upcoming larp Moira. Sweden has a tradition of larps with huge preparations. When the main focus is not on clothing and material, as in fantasy larp, there are drama exercises and seminars.

Moira isn't in anyway standard in setting and aim, and a lot of preparation of minds is necessary. During this day I finally grasped quite much of the setting and the general style of play which the two leading artists, Karin and Anna is trying to make us join. But there are still great gaps in my understanding of my own character. The story and concept of my main character and his sister is really great, but there is really work to be done on how to play him. He is acting as a kid, for a non-actor like me that's a quite complicated trick to do.

On Saturday night I choose not join the larp crowd to their pubbing. Instead me and Henke - an old friend at whose place I stayed - went to a party filled with people I have partied with in Stockholm many times.

With quite an hangover I woke up on Sunday to meet Tobias Wrigstad and he took me to the meeting for Knutpunkt (the annual Nordic art-larp meeting). Too few people showed up on the meeting and the organization is still lacking people. But they have backup plans and they will make it work, of course. The question is as always, through how much tears?

After that meeting I hurried back to the locale in Sundbyberg that we used the day before. There Anna-Karin Linder held some drama exercises for the crowd that I will be with in the larp. Quite fun and good, but I really have to talk more with Anna-Karin about our characters (we will be siblings, in a way).

Now I have a flight to catch.