Jeg er ikke død. Jeg bare later som.

Saken er at etter at internettet kom tilbake i oktober i fjor, så har jobb og studier bare hopet seg opp og det har blitt litt lite av alt som er morsomt og for mye av alt annet. Forholdene er ikke bedre nå, bortsett fra denne uka, for da har jeg vinterferie. (Før du begynner å snakke om de «heldige lærerne», kan jeg røpe at jeg har 50 stiler og 60 korttekster å komme igjennom i løpet av ferien.)

Trist som det enn kan være har jeg dermed ingen energi igjen til å komme meg på verken JenteCon eller HolmCon til helga. Vinterferien skal brukes til – foruten all rettinga – å få spilt litt rollespill. Sove litt. Hente seg inn.

Saken er nemlig den at jeg har tenkt meg på Arcon. Men jeg må først vite at jeg får ta meg fri den fredagen og at jeg ikke må på planleggingsdag mandagen etter. Jeg har også tenkt å sette opp mitt eget spill – gisp!

Det stemmer. Morgenfri skal foreligge i en brukbar versjon og jeg skal ha et ferdigskrevet scenario til Arcon. Ingen andre enn meg vil sannsynligvis være i stand til å kjøre det, og jeg kan dermed vinke modulkonkurransen farvel, men det gjør ikke så mye. I’m not in it for the glory. Eller, jo, litt. Men ikke så mye.

Ellers arrangerer jeg ikke mindre enn to laiver: An Evening on Newhall 4. mai, en laiv i Firefly-universet. Og en annen laiv som ikke har navn ennå, som skal avholdes siste helga i juli. Avvent mer info.

Peace out.

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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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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!

This post is in English in case some of the foreign guests want to read it. Hooray!

The seventh HolmCon is my third I think. The con has grown since then and though some people are always expected to participate, there are a lot who can’t come and a lot who comes along who’ve never been before. This year even a few people I didn’t know and can’t remember the names of.

Friday:

I hitched a ride to Holmestrand with Aleksander and Rasmus. I liked not having to rely on the train and also my crappy memory of which bus to take and where to get off. Instead I dozed off in the car.

When we got there there was an official opening, sort of, and then on to the games! My first game was a traditional Swedish fantasy RPG run by the resident Swede.

Drakar och Demonar: Trudvang (Dragons and Demons)

This game is written in Swedish and seems to be a proper, traditional, standard fantasy game. You have brave warriors, thieves, priests, and so on. I played an 807-year-old elf, but he/she got to do very little in the game mainly because I was very tired, didn’t understand the system, was overlooked whenever I tried to state that I was doing something, and sat next to Tomas who (in all fairness) has a very, very loud voice.

Sad to say, I wasn’t very impressed – especially not after Torgrim told me that this wasn’t even the latest edition of the game (the latest edition is stripped of unneccessary rules, he says). What I did enjoy was the story, which seemed really exciting, and Magnus’s portrayal of the Storm priest. The game master was also a very sweet fellow and of course I always find the Swedish language both hilarious and quite beautiful.

Dice roll: 25 (on 7d6)

After DoD I just hung around, seeing as nothing could really pull me out of my tired stupor that had come with listening to my friend Frida make ice cream in her kitchen at two a.m.the night before when I was supposed to be sleeping in her living room. I love Frida but her planning is sometimes a bit off. Still, I didn’t mind because I had the next day off anyway.

Me and Karina settled in the appointed girls’ room on the second floor and I pumped the air mattress for poor Eevi who didn’t get a bed. After that I felt very manly and strong, because MAN that was exhausting! I slept like a very sleepy log after that.

Saturday:

Breakfast! I was in charge of the bacon and that went very slowly, with me having to swat away guys wanting to take a helping before it was all finished. Pow! Kitchen power. I missed mayonnaise but that was the only think that bothered me.

Then the first order of games started, but with me, Haakon, Aleksander, and Rasmus going to the store to get dinner supplies I missed the start of Fabula and had to skip it. Instead I played the RPG poem Catherine – a game about care, one of Matthijs’s smaller, slightly controversial games.

Catherine – a game about care

I played this with Karina. The characters were father and daughter, and the scenes were set through cards with descriptions. I played the child, Catherine, who had Downs Syndrome. Karina played her father, Chris. We had a couple of touching moments and I used my slight insight into the topic of Downs to try and play Catherine realistically. Sadly we skipped out on a few possibilities for traumatic events because I had decided to play Catherine as a very sweet child.

The discussion afterwards with the two other paires who played it at the same time, was interesting.

Dice roll: 35 (on 7d6)

Neuroshima Hex!

After that I played a board game with Matthijs, Michael, and Haakon. I managed not to lose! Neuroshima Hex! is a Polish tactical board game where you need to protect a base on a map of hexes by playing tiles of soldiers or other effects that attack the enemy bases or nullifies enemy threats. The game is a board game version of the RPG Neuroshima, heavily inspired by Fallout, Mad Max, and similarly themed media.

Dice roll: 34 (on 7d6)

After this, it was five o’clock and I was in charge of dinner. Chili! I recruited Haakon to help me fry up some mince meat (2,4 kilos!) in batches. He was followed by Aapo, one of the resident Finns, who kept me entertained for an hour with small talk over the frying pans (plural). Karina helped with the chopping and saved my eyes from dying an oniony death.

Sadly there was only three heater plates on Matthijs’s stove (how does he DO that living with a wife and three kids? Or are there four?) so I had to cook the rice and one pan of chili while waiting to put the other one on until the rice was done.

Recipe for sweet potato chili (enough to feed a small con)

  • 2,4-2,5 kilos of mince meat or meat cut into small pieces
  • 4 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 large red peppers, chopped
  • 7-8 large sweet potatoes (yams), diced
  • 3 zucchinis, diced
  • 6-7 cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cans of corn, including the juice
  • 5 packs of spice mix with smoky flavour (or substitute 400-500 grams of meat for the same amount of bacon)
  • 3 large red chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 whole garlics, finely chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • cooking oil for frying (olive or corn oil)
  • salt to taste
  • Spanish pepper (cayenne) to taste
  • 2 cans of Guinness or Kilkenny ale
  • 1 portion of rice for each person
  • 3 boxes of crème fraîche (for each person to mix a spoon into his chili if he wants)

Fry up the meat (including the bacon if you choose to go in that direction – we didn’t because of a Jewish guest!) in portions in a hot pan. Divide into two large pots. Oil the pan up and fry garlic, onions, and peppers in portions and divide between pots. Add chopped zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, and corn, and the spice mix. Add the ale and a little water if necessary. Put lids on the pots and boil, then simmer for about an hour. Check sometimes if it needs more salt or Spanish pepper. Shake the pot a little or stir the chili at times to prevent it from burning and make sure all pieces are cooked equally. Chech if it’s done by forking a piece of potato – it should be soft. At the very end, add chopped cilantro and stir. Boil the rice on the side. Serve with an optional helping of crème fraîche.

After dinner I got a tremenduous round of applause and a lot of pats on the back. I was a happy camper.

Onwards to:

Nerd Karaoke

Ole Peder had arranged a playlist on Spotify as well as a mic for singing along. The songs were for a large part Weird Al or Monty Python, and the rest I had barely heard of before. Still, I enjoyed listening to the show.

Dice roll: 30 (on 7d6)

RATS

After the karaoke I took my five brave players to try out my own game, RATS. Matthijs was too tired to pay attention to the rules lecture (understandable, really) so he dropped out and I had Torgrim, Jørn A., Olav, and Ken along for a ride. Ken played a historian called Archimedes, Jørn played a fish mutant called Omega-3, Torgrim played a telepanimus who never manifested, and Olav played an Arche with a bird totem. Their mission: To put a solar panel into the rays of sun coming through a grate in the roof of the Underworld – without the panel getting stolen or themselves getting killed.

As Torgrim started to nod off around midnight we decided to call quits and I had some helpful advice on rules.

Dice roll: 30 (on 7d6)

After that we went upstairs to talk thrash about White Wolf. I had some Chunky Monkey ice cream and listened to the small talk until the Swede wanted to sleep on our sofa and we moved the talk to the kitchen table where it died around four a.m.

I slept like the dead.

Sunday:

I woke as Matthijs rapped on our door, from a dream about my friend being pregnant and being zapped with a sort of machine that made her unpregnant. Not have an abortion, but be unpregnant. Useful! Too bad it was only a dream.

I didn’t sign up for anything on Sunday since I was a bit panicked about having to catch my flight home – even if the plane didn’t leave until half past four from the nearest airport. So instead I sat with my laptop by the Dresden Files table and made posts for Rondak’s Portal while eating a panna cotta. Then I played another board game:

Diamant (Diamond)

Played this board game (or rather, card game) with Anders N., Matthijs, and Fredrik – and I won! The goal was to get as many diamonds as possible. I got 34.

The game is set up by placing cards on the table which signify rooms in a cave or mine. Each card portrays either a number of diamonds or a threat. For each room the players must decide if they want to call it quits (and get to keep their diamonds) or go further in. If two equal threat cards are placed in the same cave or mine, everyone in it will die and lose their diamonds. I did quite well for a first-timer I think.

Dice roll: 33 (on 7d6)

Compared to previous years I played very few games and did a lot more hard work. But I think it was nice and I got to meet a lot of lovely people, as usual. HolmCon is starting to become a real tradition for me, something only to be skipped in a crisis.

The ban on T-shirts still seems a little unnecessary, but unlike a few of my stuck up friends (who seem to be hating HolmCon on the somewhat incorrect notion that it’s pretentious and elitist, and their opinion that banning T-shirts is wrong), I can have fun without a T-shirt… but wearing other clothes, of course.

I 2011 kommer jeg ikke på Arcon. Hvordan vet jeg det? Jo, fordi jeg skal reise til San Fransisco. Hvorfor til San Fransisco? Fordi jeg har lyst. Derfor. Det beste tidspunktet å reise på var dessverre like før Arcon. Så alle mine planer om å være i Oslo tidligere den uka og hjelpe til på conen, er rett ut vinduet. Gode intensjoner, og alt det der.

Siden jeg sitter og skriver på Draug-scenariet til årets Hexcon, som også var planlagt å kjøres på kommende Arcon, slo deg meg brått at jeg kommer til å trenge arrangører til å sette det opp på Arcon siden jeg ikke kommer til å være der selv. Frivillige får rekke opp en hånd rundt april en gang.

Men det var dette Draug-scenariet. Teaser-teksten er som følger:

Uttakleiv 1903

Vinteren 1903 står en snøstorm over Vestvågøy midt under Lofotfisket. Kvinner og barn i det lille bygdesamfunnet på Uttakleiv venter og ber til Gud om å få hjem sønner, fedre, brødre, og ektemenn. Men vil Gud høre dem, slik som vinden uler? Eller er det noe annet som uler med den?

Uttakleiv 1903 er første del i Vestvågøy-trilogien, som jeg har planlagt å kjøre de neste tre con-syklusene. Trilogien blander ideelt sett skrekksjangeren med folkeeventyrsjangeren, og følger medlemmer av tre slektslinjer på Vestvågøy gjennom 100 år.

Scenariet blir satt opp på Hexcon den 6. november, for de som er interesserte i å hive seg med. Samme dato arrangerer jeg også 3:16-scenariet til modulvinner Ingvild Borgen fra Arcon 26.

Jeg må jo også innrømme at Hexcon kom på meg som julenissen på kjerringa i år som i alle tidligere år, selv om datoen ble satt lang tid i forveien, og plutselig satt jeg her og tenkte «Hvorfor er ikke scenariene mine ferdige ennå?» About that, så er jo heller ikke Exodo, farvel ferdigskrevet ennå, og blir nok ikke det heller. That (star)ship has sailed.

Men jeg skriver også på et 7th Sea-scenario jeg skal kjøre for jentene mine neste helg, og man skal ikke se bort fra at det kan bli et kommende innslag på en eller annen con. Og så har jeg lovt å ferdigstille RATS til HolmCon 7d6. Crikey. Det er nesten en god ting at jeg er arbeidsløs.