mars 2012

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The English abbreviated article can be found here.

This review will be entirely in English except for when I feel like deviating from that. 😉 This is so that wonderful foreigners Karina Graj, Li Xin, and Wilhelm Person (the self-titled «Weird Swede») can understand everything.

My more traditionally oriented role-playing friends have asked me: Why do I attend HolmCon when most of the time, I can’t stand the «hippie» indie scene?

To be fair, it’s not that I can’t stand it. It’s that I’m straddling the fence and I find it comfortable enough to step down on either side as I feel like. I actually happen to agree and disagree with both sides at the same time. The traditionalists can be too focused on dice, while the indie gamers don’t focus on them enough. It depends. And so far I’m happy with being friends with everyone.

Well… mostly.


I started off from Trondheim on too little sleep and made my way across half the country to Torp airport. There I had to wait for an hour longer to take the train in to Holmestrand. Happily I made contact with the mother ship and got picked up by the space shuttle Tomas as the train station, who happily told me about the exciting things he had done that day. Nice! And I didn’t have to walk.

When I arrived I made a short round of greetings and sat down with Håkon and Michael for a sandwich and some chocolate, not feeling up tp playing just yet. I always do this, I find – arrive at a con full of games just to sit down and faff about. I think that might be because I love the people more than the games, but you never know.


I hardly slept at all so when I woke up at half past eight I was knackered. Still, I needed to eat so I went down and grabbed some grub before getting ready for the first round of activities.

Football and role-playing games (Michael)

This presentation was half way lost on me not only because I find football one of the most intrusive boring things in the world, but also because I was so bloody tired. I did enjoy the tongue-in-cheek comparisons, but I think I was too tired to make my amusement very obvious.

8d6: 20

Testing a new science fiction game (Jens)

First of all I have to express how incredibly brave it is to come to this kind of con after only a year of gaming experience, to present an entirely new game sketch to us more or less seasoned veterans. Kudos for that.

The game itself came off to me as pretty mainstream with elements of manga/anime (I think the character portraits on the ready made characters contributed a little to that). The system was more or less standardized classical/traditional but with some quirks I liked – for instance, it wasn’t merely a «skill+stat» system, but rather a «stat makes your skill slightly better» system – which is more interesting. The setting, however, didn’t feel new – it felt like Mass Effect, 3:16, and a little bit Warhammer 40k. I felt a little fooled by the promise of post-apocalypse when in fact most of the tropes associated with post-apocalypse were absent – the world had moved on from the «end times» into «beyond the end times and into new times» which is completely fine, btw, but don’t call it post-apocalyptic. I think I also said as much.

All in all I don’t think our few hours of fumbling about (while being extremely exhausted from the previous night) did the game much justice. I think the game could really shine as a campaign, or as a very sharply focused one-shot… but sad to say, it didn’t quite work in the sense that we played it. But – that’s the thing about new and undeveloped games. They need to be tested, they need to be critisized, and they need to be encouraged. I hope Jens will take my critisizm and move from here with the intention to finish the game some day.

8d6: 26

Dinner making (not a game)

After sci-fi I went and got dinner going – tacos for everyone! As «head taco chef» I felt the lack of sleep weighing me down, but since I got some excellent and sexy kitchen assistants, I got to take a 20-minute nap before coming back to chop veggies.

It has to be said that while I was chopping, lots of grown men wearing name tags with female names on them were faffing about the living room/kitchen area conspiring in very feminine ways to take over something. That was my view on the playing of Dallas – the RPG (yes, from the TV series!). Especially memorable is Torgrim petting his little toy dog while peering shiftily over the rim of his glasses, and Jens squeeing with teenaged glee. Both played girls.

Blackout Poetry (Karina)

Then, in the midst of tomatoes and cucumbers, I got to play Blackout Poetry with Karina, Xin, and Erlend, which was not a game so much as a poetry exercise. We ripped out newspaper articles and blacked out the words we didn’t want to use. The rest would become a poem. Sadly I left mine at Matthijs’s house, but I have a picture of me holding it up (you can’t see the words though) courtesy of Xin. A lovely picture, albeit grainy! iPhones are not that good cameras.

I was nearly blacked out myself at this time.

8d6: 40

Mystics, Pirates and Skyships. Oh my! – Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (Olav)

After dinner I sat down to fulfill mine and Michael’s great three-month plan: to save the virgin! This, we thought, would be the right game to do that in. Of course we would break the traditional gender patterns and have my female fire witch pirate (yes, you can heap that many tropes on top of each other, apparently) save his male aristocrat bureaucrat swordsman married to another man. And these were just the character outlines – we hadn’t started gaming yet!

Of course we spent the first two-thirds of the game flirting in character and having conversations heavily loaded with innuendo. I was, as usual, a little shy because I get like that when playing games where I’m not feeling confident about the rules. It makes me hesitant to take charge of my character’s actions simply because I don’t wish to be punished for it later by making choices that won’t go with the rules system or the premise for the game.

We did some whacky fun adventuring as a group, but at the end it turned into more of a pissing contest between two players over «The Great Thingamajig» which in the end was pretty boring for me, playing a girl of action. I think I encountered more blocking of play in those last 30 minutes than in most other games I’ve played, but I also just think that’s «beginner’s sickness» for a group not entirely familiar with the game.

All in all I loved the premise and  would like to try the game again at some point. Maybe Arcon, or summer?

8d6: 37

HolmCon by night (not a game)

After everything else was finished, Tomas started a round of very dark Fabula, to which I only bore witness as an eavesdropper. Though you don’t really have to drop many eaves when Tomas gets his outdoors voice on. (It even woke me up at one time after bed, but hey, it is a con – I shouldn’t expect to sleep a lot.)

Me and Torgrim huddled in the sofa with my laptop to create a good old-fashioned traditional Star Wars character; an ex-con who had retired to become a sushi chef but got pulled back into the interplanetary power play by a Force Prophet. We spent a lot of time making him as kick ass as possible, before joining Håkon, Xin, and OP in the library for some light late-night chit-chat.


I got up after a surprisingly restful night to grab a few slices of bread and get my stuff ready for takeoff in the early afternoon. I even took the bedspread off and packed everything. The late-night Fabula players looked like they had just had sex, they had such a good time the night before. Creepifying! But also nice.

At breakfast we were all asked to speak one sentence about why role-playing is art. I said «because you can do it in a museum». I was by far the cleverest (I think), but I don’t really agree with the statement. I think role-playing can be art, but so can a urinal or a jar of poo. Is this really what we aim to juxtapose ourselves to?

World building workshop (me!)

For not having pre-planned this activity at all, I think it went pretty well. Since I got an odd number of participants, I opted to join in to make three teams of two. Participants: OP, Håkon, Jens, Wilhelm, Ken, and me.

We started off by using a sheet of paper and writing five things we would like to see in a setting, and five things we would hate. I called it the «Hot or Not» lists (very teen magazine of me) and we shared the lists around the table. Then we divided into pairs by drawing blind from the stack of lists, and I teamed up with OP, Ken with Håkon, and Jens with Wilhelm.

The pairs then used different methods of building a world. Our group just looked at the Hots or Nots and crossed out those we didn’t agree on, focusing on those we did. We made a thought map and drew lines. It looked like this:

We are geniuses!

In fact, we were so satisfied with ourselves we decided to make something of it. So we are.

Ken and Håkon made a dimension-travelling game where a submarine full of atomic weapons and Russians would enter a wormhole under the polar icecap and emerge on an Earth-like planet with sentient vegetation. Exciting! Jens and Wilhelm sketched out a diesel punk anime world in which the planet rotated so slowly, one side would always be scorched by the sun. With dragons! Also exciting!

So I was well chuffed.

8d6: 46

Daughters of Verona (Wilhelm)

Since it turned out we had some time left, a group of us decided to have the «weird Swede» do another run of his game from Friday night. We played it with a bit too many players, which made it challenging to get a word in edgewise for the more shy among us, butit worked out fine eventually.

The premise of the game is to play a Shakespearesque comedy where all you have to go on are character names/portraits (on cards), a character map (who in relation to who), and a list of «absolute truths» about this play, The Daughters of Verona. I started out playing one of the «blockers» (antagonists), and I particularly enjoyed the rules and tropes that I recognised from acting classes and Commedia dell’arte. Underway we could exchange cards with one another and the confusion added to the comedy. Sadly, since we were too many and also new to the game, we forgot to keep a thread running and deviated a lot from any consistency the plot would have had.

Never the less, I was very excited about this – maybe even more so than I was when I playtested Love in the Time of Seið a few years back. Somehow they remind me of each other, though they’re not really very similar.

8d6: 44

After this I got a ride to Oslo with Erling, also in the car were Torgrim, OP, and Magnus (whom I’d hardly talked to at all at the con, barring a welcome hug when I arrived – which makes me sad, because all the times I’ve played with Magnus I’ve had an awesome time).

People to thank:

  • Matthijs, for putting up – and putting up with – 20 insane nerds in his home, no less. Gods, you’re awesome, man.
  • Torgrim, for being the only other traditionalist present (I think?).
  • Jens, for sharing his new game.
  • OP, for being an awesome partner in world building.
  • Ken, Michael, Andreas (and an apology if I forgot anyone else pitching in) – for being my kitchen crew.
  • Erlend and Karina, for being so gorram positive and happy all the time.
  • Michael again, for being my man-sel in distress.
  • Tomas, for the pick up at the station and Erling, for the ride to Oslo.
  • And everyone else, for making the con a better place.

Less good stuff:

  • I couldn’t sleep much the first night. No one’s fault, just bad luck.
  • Who peed on the bathroom floor all the time?
  • A ton of dried beans in water that no one ended up using, I think.
  • Stop leaving the bread on the counter – it dries up!
  • I didn’t get to play with Matthijs or Magnus. Boo!
  • Missed: Dina, Anders, Lasse, Håken, Øyvind, Skjalg, Martin, Aleksander… and I want to see Rune, Jimi, Kaare, and Kjetil there at some point too. Come ooonnnnn you guyyyysssss!