Posts Tagged ‘Elias’

It’s a brand new year!

So, last year, I had aimed at writing 52 blog posts – here and two other places. Well, that didn’t happen. It almost did – if I had finished my (unofficial) advent calendar, I would have been there. Then life (and Chrstmas) happened. Ah, well.

But what my mad dash towards the end told me, was that I really want to do more with this blogging stuff. The blog’s been more or less in limbo for a while, as I didn’t play a lot of roleplaying games – or games of any kind, really – and I didn’t have a lot of energy or drive to write stuff. Well, that’s changed. I’m playing more games, and I am feeling more of an urge to blog. Plus, I have some projects that I want to write about (but more about that a bit later).

In any case, I want to make some adjustments to the way the blog works. These changes may not be noticeable to anyone outside of me, but I’d still like to state them clearly.

I write about all manner of games (and sometimes other things)

When I started this blog, I was mostly focussing on writing about roleplaying games. Since then I’ve had much more time for board games than for roleplaying games, not to mention computer games. Roleplaying games still fascinate me more, and I will probably still spend more time talking about them than about board games, particularly in relation to how much I play them. But as I play many more board games, and as I play more indie computer games, I’m starting to notice things in those two genres that is interesting – and often ways in which the three types of games are similar, or ways in which they diverge.

I also want to write about films, books, and maybe even podcasts. When I started the blog, I said it was about storytelling, and that is still my focus – when  I play board games or computer games, I mostly prefer ones with an interesting and engaging story (a topic I might very well return to). Generally, if I can see the connection, I’ll write about it.

I often write reviews

I like writing reviews. And I like finding out what I think is good or bad about something. My biggest challenge is often convincing myself that there is merit to my opinion as to what is interesting or noteworthy in something. I’ll try to be bolder, and rely on you, my readers, to call me out when I’m wrong.

I write often – whenever something is on my mind – but I endeavour to be brief

I have a tendency to be long-winded. Once I get going, I just keep on rolling. But that also means that writing a post becomes more of a task, and that makes me refrain from doing so. I want to write more often, but the average length of the post may well decrease. You don’t have time for idle chatter anyway.

I think one problem for me is that I feel like I have to be intelligent on this blog. I will try to allow myself to be searching and questioning when I write something – you guys can help me find an answer.

But about what?

And that is it. My blogging endeavour for this coming year is to write more regularly, and more interestingly. There will still be play-reports from whatever I’ve been playing, but hopefully, they will be interspersed by more posts about other things.

Like I said before, I have some projects that should help me come up with more content for the blog, just as I have some ideas for things I want to explore.

But before I do that, I would like to hear from you guys. What should I be writing? Which posts have interested you? What are the strong points of this blog so far? What do you want to see more of? Concrete ideas for posts are welcome, as is all manner of constructive feedback.


This is the second of two posts describing seven role-playing games that changed my life. In this post, I’ll go from number four to number one in the reverse chronology. There is something very appropriate (but coincidentalI about this division: apart from Alternity, the games of the last post were all games I first encountered after I left school. Now we get to the games I played in my first years as a role-player – the formative games, as it were.

Dungeons & Dragons

Seeing D&D on here is probably not a shock to a lot of people. What might surprise some is how high I put this on the list. That’s because D&D wasn’t really the game that brought me into roleplaying. Sure, the second “real” role-playing game I played was a short campaign of AD&D. But we never really got off the ground, and though I thoroughly enjoyed it, what really got me into the hobby was being in a “class” where Vampire, Call and Shadowrun were where it was at. Sure, we played Dungeons & Dragons – but it wasn’t really as cool.

Where D&D really got going for me was much later, when I had become the teacher of the class, and was organizing fantasy LARP with a group of three other guys. We hung out a lot, and soon we decided to start playing a campaign. One of the others was the GM, and the point was to play a very “political” game with no real dungeon crawling, and more story telling. In other words, this was the game that taught me how cool campaigns can be. I haven’t been so privileged as to be part of a lot of great campaigns – but this one lasted around a year, I think, and was really, truly, great. We were on the same page, we developed our characters together, and we just had a real blast. I think that is the greatest thing D&D has done for me. Sure, it showed me how much fun role-playing can be much earlier – but really, at that point I was already well and truly hooked.

Call of Cthulhu

People who remember last week will know I have tricked you – a little. You see, I said last week that Call almost took the place of Alternity. Well, it did – it was one of those games that taught me the joy of the ordinary man, even (or maybe particularly) in the face of the extraordinary.

But Call taught me something else as well. It taught me that you can play a role-playing system without using the system. In reality, most of the CoC games I played were free-form. We all had a Credit Rating and a Cthulhu Mythos score (usually 0 – we always played starting characters), and we certainly had (too few) Sanity Points.

But we rarely actually used the stats much during the game. The Basic system was very clunky, complicated and confusing, and we didn’t really need them. We used the stats to figure out who the character was, and that was a great reason to have the stats, but we almost never tested them. That also meant that at some point, the stats started to disappear. In that way, playing Call could be considered going from a trike to a bike with training wheels: in the beginning, it feels the same, but gradually, the wheels come off, and you hardly know the difference, because you were not using them anyway. And so, Call helped me get into rule-less scenarios,” scenarios with no system, which took up most of my rpg attention for several years, and also prepared me to accept Fastaval scenarios.

Like with Alternity, Warhammer FRP could go here as well: it also helped me understand this. Warhammer was more martial, and much simpler (and better explained) than Basic, and so we tested it more. But really, we only used it for fighting, and many Warhammer scenarios didn’t really have fighting.


Hey, what did you expect? I started playing in the late ‘90ies – of course Vampire was going to be on here. And my first real roleplaying game was in fact a Vampire 2nd edition game – I played a biker type Bruhja, who was quite violent.

Later on, Vampire was all the rage. I bought all the WoD books I could afford. I wasn’t actually all that into Vampire, being more attracted to Mage and Werewolf. But everybody else was a huge Vampire fan, and I was more than happy to play – and GM – it.

Much later, I ended up GM’ing a Vampire: the Requiem chronicle that lasted for more than a year of playing at least once a week. I was living in a dorm, and two geeks who were my closest buddies at the time created a character each. I had an idea for a short introduction that ended up taking most of the time we had. That’s where I really learned what an organic thing a role-playing game can be – and how much the game gives to you if you can just sit back and listen to it. I had a fair bit more than “bangs” – but after the first session or so, I think I wouldn’t have needed much more. I could have just brought one or two bangs to the table, and all would have gone well. Of course, part of what kept the game running so well was my preparation.

And so, Vampire (and WoD in general) was the game that taught me both to be a player, and to be a GM.

Fighting Fantasy

…which brings us back to the very beginnings.

Little Elias is about 7 years old. In the after-school care, some of the older boys are playing a game. Little Elias, 7 years old, really wants to join.

The older boys are playing Fighting Fantasy, and I was hooked. For several years, I wanted to “talk a game” with my parents. I wanted  the “Monster Manual” for Christmas, and I gobbled up the “Choose your own adventure”- books in the series. Yes, indeed, I was well and truly sold. Seven years old, and I was a role-player.

Another game taught me a lot about the tropes of dungeon crawling: Hero Quest. But by the time I met Hero Quest, I had known Fighting Fantasy for years.

Fighting Fantasy is also a game of a simplicity I didn’t encounter again until certain indie games more than a decade and a half later. Three stats it had: Strength, Stamina and luck. Everything was dealt with by using one or two of those. And yet they managed to have a book of more than a hundred pages of some of the most imaginative monsters I have ever encountered.

It was not a very good system. But by golly, did it ever catch my imagination. And twenty one years later, here I am.


Wanted: Partner in crime

Fastaval now less than a week away. I am chief of the Info this year which means I have plenty to do answering emails, organizing and packing my own stuff (I’m leaving Monday to go set up for the con). With all this on my mind, there is one more thing I can’t help thinking about: whether I should write a scenario for Fastaval next year.

On one hand, I would really like to. I am thoroughly engrained in the organising side of Fastaval’s twin crews of the organisers and the creatives. But I feel that I should belong as much to the creative side of things, something my experience writing both my contribution to the Empire 40k and Antihero has underlined. On the other hand, I don’t think the way Antihero was created is the best way. Antihero was written in a sense of: “Oh, shoot – deadline’s around the corner!” Writing it was also in many ways a lonely process, as I am not currently in an environment where I often run into other role players, let alone people with an interest in scenario writing. That will, hopefully, change before the next scenario writing season comes around in earnest, but it has still helped me come to one important conclusion:

I want a co-writer.

I want to write my next scenario with somebody. Both as a measure to help the writing process along – I find it easier to do that kind of thing if I’m obligated to someone other than myself – and as a way to help me develop my understanding and style of roleplaying. In other words, I want someone who knows something about roleplaying and scenarios. Not neccesarily a veteran (though it could be), but someone with a perspective that complements my own – alike enough that we can agree on a vision, different enough that we will bring something different to the process. I want someone who wants me to challenge them as much as I want to be challenged by them.

So, what do I want to write? Good question. I guess I would like to write something different than both Under My Hive and Antihero. I might want to write a more classic kind of scenario. Both UMH and Antihero have been indie-like storytelling games with the GM in a very pulled-back, mediating kind of role. While that is the kind of game I often like to play, I also like many other kinds of game – like the more classic scenario with a strong GM and a story for the players to go through. I might like to try something along those lines. Maybe a scenario with very loose constraints and a lot of player interactivitiy. It might also be a GM-less thing. I haven’t played a lot of GM-less stuff, but both UMH and Antihero have had very weak GMs, and for Antihero, I considered whether the GM was actually necessary (there is actually a version provided in the scenario in which the GM plays a main character). So why not try to take the plunge, and do without a GM?

Another kind of scenario could be the retro scenario. It seems that dungeon revival is the hot retro fashion these days at Fastaval, with scenarios like Dungeon, Lydia’s Funeral and Kristian Bach Petersen’s Reservoir Elves, Magician: Impossible and Apocalypse Drow in the lead. Maybe it’s time to be avant-garde retro and make a bloodsucker revival that can show today’s kids that you don’t have to glimmer to sparkle. White Wolf just came out with the Vampire: the Masquerade 20th anniversary edition, and this year’s “Whole Con” is Dancing with the Clans, a game of Camarilla Disco. How about “Fear and Loathing in Lasombra” or some similar ironic nostalgia about the hottest games of the late ’90ies? I have a feeling that there is a Vampire/chick-flick crossover just waiting to happen – “Legally Brujah”?

I have also been doing a few “Fictioval” scenario previews that might be turned into actual scenarios. Like Kthulhu Kindergarden (kiddie investigators in an Arkham daycare facility). Or how about Love in the time of Chess, a sad game of chess prodigies using chess as a mechanic?

Continuing on the retro from before, it seems that half the blogging community has fond memories of Planescape. Maybe it would be an idea to bring Sigil to Fastaval. Giving the setting an indie motor and sending the players off to some corner of the Planes.

What to do?

So, if you might be interested in a partnership for next Fastaval, don’t be a stranger! Write me an email, or approach me at Fastaval, and let’s see if we can come up with an idea we can both agree on. It could be some of what I’ve mentioned above, some of what I have mentioned earlier on this blog, one of your ideas – or something we come up with together!

Antihero: Supporting characters as main character antitheses

A while ago, I wrote about my thoughts on the main characters of my antihero scenario. But what I really wanted, was to follow it up with this post, which explains my thoughts for some of the important secondary characters in the game. And at the end, I’d really like your thoughts.

Now, the Antihero scenario has a main character – the Hero – and four secondary characters: the Sidekick, the Elder, the Villain and the Coveted. The main conflicts of the game build on these five, and each player will control one of them. But these are not the only characters. And this brings me to an idea that I want to incorporate into my scenario: that each main or secondary character has a supporting character who is his antithesis.

Lemme explain what I mean with antithesis. An antithesis

” is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition.” [link]

Thus, the antithesis character is one who is a counter-proposition to a main/secondary character, and who by doing so makes that character more sharply defined.

For instance, the Coveted is not impressed with the hero’s appearance, and will not bend to his will. This makes him interested, and he must strive to win her. Her antithesis is a village girl, who falls head over heels for the hero, and is blinded by his flashing smile and his heroic exterior. Similarly, the Sidekick is not fooled by the hero’s appearance – he helped create it. He is old and cynical. His antithesis is a young boy, who looks up to him and wants to be him when he grows up. His heart would be crushed if he knew the truth about the Hero – and I predict it will be crushed when the hero’s bluff is called at some point during the scenario.

Now, the question is how to use these characters. Should a character control his antithesis himself, allowing him to sketch his own counter-proposition? Should it be controlled by the characters opponent (on the two axes I talked about last time), allowing him to help define the opponents position, and cause a bit of trouble for him? Should it be controlled by someone on the other axis? Or the GM, maybe? Maybe you’d want joint ownership – or maybe just a common pool of all of them, so that anyone can use any character?

I should note that “control” does not mean  “play.” Control is all about who has the right to define and use that character. Whose character-sheet is he on? That person might ask someone else to play him, but even then, they have final say in the matter.

I think I tend towards having joint ownership between the two people on the axis. The problem with that is that you can risk a fight over the characters – or can you? Is that even a problem? Maybe communal ownership would be better, allowing anyone to use them – with the risk that no one will.

I’m also debating whether to give the Hero one. He could have a failing local guy who thought he could be a hero, and who’s intimidated by the hero. On the other hand, he’s likely to get loads of screen time anyway – he doesn’t need help.

What do you think? What will work? Do you have experience with this kind of thing?

The Empires Strike back – also, Geiger counts again.

I am currently teaching a group of 9th and 10th graders roleplaying games (though I’m interpreting it very broadly, and including a lot of board games). This week, I had three (almost – more like 2½) whole days – so now was the chance to do something with a longer scope than the usual three hours every Monday. So Tuesday, I had them play Geiger counter, while Thursday, I had three of them run a short story from either Imperiet or Imperiet 40k each, with the others rotating between the three games.

Zombies in inner Copenhagen, and Werewolves in Miller’s Hollow

Tuesday, they played Geiger Counter. Turned out we had just about enough time to do it, then talk about it afterwards.

One group started out with a great idea: to convert Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow into a Geiger Counter game. That group had most of the strong players in the class, so I left them to their own devices, and they seemed to do pretty well.

The other group consisted of mostly inexperienced and weak players, so I decided that I needed to nurse them quite a bit. In the end, I was faced with a dilemma: to what extent should I coach and coax them into playing the game how I thought they should play it, and to what extent should I allow them to play on their own, and experience the game on their own. I think I was rather controlling; on the other hand, I feel like it was my duty to make sure everyone was having fun, and when  someone fails at setting a scene in Geiger Counter, they risk taking the story down a road that’s unsatisfying for someone else, and can leave a story thread hanging unresolved and unresolvable. So I felt justified at the time, though I have since been wondering whether I was doing it wrong.

New hope

For Thursday, I had asked three of the more promising students to prepare three different short scenarios: Averheim Averessen by Johannes Busted Larsen from Imperiet, and Hendes Mørke Skønhed by Morten Greis and Under my Hive by yours truly from Imperiet 40k.

Hendes Mørke Skønhed went very well, as I knew it would. First of all, I had given it to the strongest of the GMs: a guy who’s big and mature, and is doing a performance line here – so I knew he could do both the whispering and the screaming, the two things that, to my mind, makes the scenario great and lifts it over a mere dicefest. It’s a scenario that uses some cheap tricks to great effect: though it is not really a “semi-larp,” it assigns in-game effects to how you act at the table. At times, you need to be quiet, or more aliens will arrive, at other times, you need to scream and make gun noises to get dice. It makes for a great effect, and I wasn’t particularly surprised when all my students seemed to have enjoyed it.

Averheim Averessen went pretty well as well. This scenario lives off of stress and confusion. It should be played as semi-larp, with everybody doing something all at once. The scenario instates real-time limits to its scenes, and asks for hectic activity within these time limits. Add to that that the action is often completely ridiculous, and it is a sure comic hit.

And finally, Under My Hive. I have a very ambivalent relationship to this scenario. As far as I know, it only got played once at Fastaval that year. On the other hand, that group apparently really enjoyed it. I have run it once myself, last year at around this time, when Hyggemester David asked me to put it up as an intro scenario for Hyggecon. I think people enjoyed it, but I didn’t get a whole lot of feedback. My group certainly went ok.

So, it was with mixed feelings I gave it over to a student to run. And unfortunately, he didn’t quite get it – and his first group of players didn’t, either. Under my hive is a story telling  game. The game revolves around a Russian roulette motif, but the real game is the memories the players have to tell every time they get the gun, asking them to explain why this town is worth fighting for, why they hate their opponents, or how they have made the town less attractive to the opponents. It’s a rather cerebral exercise, and if you aren’t used to telling stories in roleplaying, it can be difficult. And so, the first group played it as a Russian roulette game, and were done within half an hour.

The second group, however, got it. They didn’t finish within the hour and 20 minutes they had – which means they must have been telling a lot of stories. This second group contained some of the stronger players, and I’d made that group from the people I thought would appreciate the game. It didn’t play in the third round, because there weren’t four people who hadn’t tried it yet – the others were played with three players instead of four, something which is not ideal, but which is doable. That is much more difficult in this scenario, where you are supposed to have two pair sitting across from each other.

Anyway. Hurrah for the two Empire anthologies. There are a couple of scenarios that I’d like to try myself, and some I’d like to run with these kids – and it’s great to know there’s a backup plan available.

Ps.: If you wonder why I skipped Wednesday, we had only half a day, so we played games. One group had something to finish up, while the rest played Shadows over Camelot. They didn’t have a traitor and won comfortably, so they need a traitor next time to keep them humble, methinks…


That is not dead…

…and with strange season, dead blogs may wake again.

So, I had a first half of the year with relatively little in the ways of roleplaying and other things fit for this blog. I did play a bit, but not consistently, being a teacher at a school without any significant game playing presence and far away from other roleplayers. I did play one (semi-successful) round of Geiger Counter and one pretty good round of Venetian Tragedy. I, of course, also went to Fastaval’s amazing 25th anniversary, but I was mostly engaged in the organizing team, and not so much in the creative group. I did get to run Brabrand (which was a very enjoyable experience, though I was unfortunately kindly asked to sacrificed the great blockbuster of the year, Fifteen Men, to do it) and play a very intense and thoroughly enjoyable game of Venetian Tragedy, playing the lecherous cardinal opposite Johanna Kohljonen’s grand old Venetian dictator, with my girlfriend playing a very gleeful Spirit of Revenge, nudging us all towards the place we were all heading anyway: towards a very nasty and horrible end (Hurra!).

So, anyway. I had a bit of a roleplaying draught. And thus, I had very little to put up here.

That’s changing. I can now see a decent amount of stuff to write about here, which means I’m reopening the blog. This stuff is, amongst other things:

  • That I have moved closer to… everywhere, but particularly Copenhagen. This means I can now join stuff happening in Aarhus and Copenhagen, and would even feel like I could invite people down here to Slagelse for a night of gaming (and offers for both are welcome).
  • That I have moved to a school with a significant contingent of roleplaying students. These guys are keen to play, and we are in talks about making a mafia LARP at the school. I am also teaching a roleplaying subject, in which I am including a lot of boardgaming – not least because I’m alone, and I want to be in charge of showing the students new games, so I need to be in charge for a lot of the games – and thus, I need to split the group.
  • That I want to write a Fastaval Scenario. There, I said it. I will hand in one, maybe two, synopsees, and I haven’t decided what I’ll do if they don’t accept it. Give it to another con, possibly. I have two ideas, one of them an old, but never realised, idea about an anthology-scenario (no, not scenario anthology, but a scenario composed of short scenarios) about Søstrene Grene, the other a scenario about a fraud who will be required to get real.
So, that’s it. Filemonia is back. I think I will also post about boardgames, nerdy fiction (I’m currently reading A Song of Fire and Ice), and maybe even computer games. Only time will tell.

The obligatory post-Fastaval post

Everybody and their aunt seems to have made a post of their thoughts about what happened at Fastaval. Having been busy, I haven’t gotten around to it, till now.

The Empire 40k

This year marked my début as scenario-author, on a contribution for the anthology “The Empire 40k”: “Under My Hive.” So, I decided that this year’s GMing choice would be the anthology. It ran Thursday and Saturday at 9 o’clock (brrr!) and knowing that I have a tendency to get to bed later and later during a Fastaval, I chose to run it Thursday. As it turned out, I was one of two of the authors to run it that morning, and so, Kristo asked me to run the start-up for it that morning. I was more than a little surprised when I realised we’d be starting no less than 10 groups that morning (And, as I recall, we missed less than a handful of players).

I’d chosen to run The Interrogation, Space Hulk: Her Dark Beauty, and Under My Hive. In the end, I ran the first two (more on that later).

My group of players consisted of one author, and three young players. Two of the youngsters seemed like very decent players; the third had a tendency to dominate, and wasn’t the greatest player. In particular, I made the mistake of giving him exactly the character he wanted in The Interrogation: the violent one. I felt myself avoiding him, because he kept on leading the game on to a very bloody path, when the depravity of the Interrogation can take so many forms. I didn’t feel we really attained what had attracted me in The Interrogation; that multifaceted story of fall.

Space Hulk went much more according to what I had hoped. We whispered and screamed, the players died in spades, and only won when the second to last player gave his life to help the last one escape with the Power Armour. Epic!

Paradoxically, while I enjoyed Space Hulk far more than The Interrogation, My players (who had all wanted to play the Interrogation, and were more ambivalent about the other two) had enjoyed The Interrogation more. This might have had something to do with the fact that I was measuring my experiences against the written texts.

And, by the end of the day, I hadn’t played my own scenario. I had chosen not to play it based on a number of very valid arguments, but part of it was, that I simply didn’t believe that what I’d written was playable.

Come Saturday, the, to my knowledge, only session of the game ran, led by Kristo and including one of my friends as player. And so it was that I was suddenly assaulted by an enthusiastic player, who assaulted me with a “I didn’t know you’d written anything,” and continuing to tell me how great their session had been. Later, Kristo came to tell me who well it had worked, and finally, the judges sought me out to tell me that they thought I’d really hit the “short story” form, and that they’d really enjoyed reading my scenario. Well, what do you know. I was pleasantly surprised, and have vowed to get around to running it myself.

I guess it’s kind of silly to write a scenario for Fastaval without running it yourself, but I’d signed up to do it about a year ago, and when the deadline rolled around, I barely had time to complete it in time.

Ah, well. At least, now I know it’s not an insurmountable task to write a scenario. Next time, I’ll write one in “feature length.”


After taking a nap Thursday afternoon, I was ready for Salvation Thursday evening. I got in a really strong group, with Troels Rohde Hansen as GM. Troels had been a playtester under Simon (the author), and that helped a lot – he knew how it was supposed to go.

Salvation is very much a sandbox. But it is a sandbox that shows you a clear direction. And it worked splendidly. I got a character of a type I wouldn’t normally go for – which resulted in me grunting my way through most of the evening as the antisocial, rugged character of the bunch. It was so much fun. The scenario is about a gang of wild west bank robbers, each of which is somehow broken in the head. And, oh boy, did we do depravity. It got an Otto for best roles, and it had really deserved it. The characters were perfect for sparking some of the most meaningful acts of cruelty I’ve seen in a role-playing game.


We had a pretty good team in the Info this year. A couple of old veterans had returned, and we scooped up three new recruits, but apart from that, it was mostly a bunch of old friends. The highlight of our convention was clearly our strike on Saturday. Usually, the Dirtbusters strike, giving the Bunker a number of demands which usually include at least one thing that we’re supposed to provide. This year, we decided to do a sympathy strike, not answering questions for a couple of hours.

Apart from that, a couple of very unappealing things came our way. First of all, somehow the game evaluation sheets had not been printed, and we had to deal with a lot of confused an annoyed people who couldn’t get an evaluation form, and couldn’t get a straight answer as to when they’d be there.

This year, as well as last year, I had the honour of being responsible for awarding the Golden Plunger. The Golden Plunger is the Info’s award for the participant who’ve made the greatest contribution to Fastaval. Some years, someone will have done something spectacular and noticeable, like when Daniel Benjamin Clausen ferried drunk people to bed when it suddenly started to snow in the middle of the night. But this year, the field consisted of a number of hard workers, who all qualified by having done a great job over the course of the con or, in one instance, over the cause of several Fastavals.

Hell/Heavenly Monday

When one is part of the organising team of Fastaval, the cleanup is always viewed with a certain anxiety. Last year, Hell Monday turned into Troublesome Tuesday. So this year, the school had given us a deadline at 4 o’clock. Which, along with a considerable effort on Sunday, must have been responsible for the relatively unproblematic day we had. The school was closed at 4 o’clock, with only a bit of transport left to do.

It wasn’t perfect, though. I was awoken by my mattress exploding at 8.30, and so, me and another Infonaut woke the organisers up gently and quietly. And I’m glad we did, because ten minutes later, two Dirtbusters came screaming into the room and started shouting orders, then leaving. When I went to the kitchen, shortly before nine, they were somewhat confused, and didn’t know what was expected of them. And, worst of all, no one was there in the kitchen to move people along and get them started on the cleanup. We have to work on that for next year.

Apart from that, I didn’t like the Sunday. Sunday wasn’t. There was a bit of roleplaying in the morning, then cleaning in the afternoon, then waiting for the banquet. Come on! We can do better than that! It must be possible to make a Sunday that doesn’t feel like the whole thing has ended. It certainly didn’t used to feel like that.

Next time…

is going to be grand! We have a great general, who has already started – and he’s started with the thing that most failed this time: the location. Between him and the amazing scenario crew, next year is sure to be something to look forward to.

Oh, and if you want to be part of it, come to the evaluation and startup meeting this weekend in Aarhus.

[PR] Geiger Counter: Frigid Fear

I just came home (this thing was written 24 hours ago, but only published now) from playing a game of Geiger Counter. We were five people: Ole, Andreas, Oliver, Jacob and me. We enjoyed the game a lot, and everybody was more than willing to give it another go sometime. Oliver is going to write a play report as well, hopefully including a scan of our map.

For those who don’t know it, Geiger counter is a storygame in which you jointly tell a survival horror film, along the lines of the Alien films, 30 Days of Night, the Sphere, or a host of other, marginally similar films. The idea is that you have a cast of characters, most of whom are going to die, up against a “menace,” that is, some kind of nonhuman threat that is going to increase its threat trough the film, then be fought down by the surviving protagonists. You take turns as the director, framing scenes, as well as being responsible for one main character each.

We had a long brainstorming session, finding different elements that we wanted to include. Andreas wanted a zombie game, I was quite intent on playing something with cramped spaceship corridors, and Oliver wanted “body horror.” Then, someone (I think it was Oliver) mentioned radioactivity, and we started riffing on nuclear plants. I said research station, then suddenly, someone said old Russian base under the Ural lake (or something along those lines). In the end, this is what we came up with:

  • The movie is set on an underwater research base under Antarctica.
  • The base had been closed and forgotten when the USSR collapsed. Now, it’s been reopened.
  • The menace is some Cthuloid thing, with plenty of tentacles, spawned from experiments made back then, and inadvertantly released by the new scientists.

The characters were as follows:

  • Vasilli Gregorin(Oliver): A russian bureaucrat, intent on keeping the base running.
  • Michael Lloyd Adamson (Jacob): A Canadian marine biologist who wanted to open up the secrets contained in the station.
  • Jorge Dreyer (Ole): An Argentinian of German decent, Jorge was the security chief who wanted to get out of there alive.
  • Captain Yankowich (Andreas): A russian naval captain who wanted to make sure the Russian secrets contained within the base never saw the light of day.
  • Dr. Ramin Zanjani (me): An Iranian doctor, who was looking for certain secrets to take with him from the base. I considered making it plans for a nuclear plant, but didn’t think it fitted him. On the other hand, the way it ended up was far too goody two-shoesy.

We made survival dice be some characteristic about the character that would make him strive to survive. Mine, for instance, was his rock-fast believe that the world WORKS, provided by a synthesis of his Islamic beliefs in a higher order, and his scientific beliefs in a logical, sensible world. Others had stubbornness, selfish self preservation, and a curiosity making it imperative for him to find out MORE.


The trailer started on the surface, graduately zooming in on the base, maybe showing the nuclear reactor. I missed a voiceover or some dialogue, but in the end it turned out fine. After that, we tried coming up with a good name, eventually settling on my suggestion, “Frigid Fear.”

The game itself

The game then proceeded to the preview. Here, two Russian scientists were walking about the storage of the underwater base, stumbling upon a box they didn’t know. They open it, and light pours out. The screen “shatters;” opening credits.

The next scene was the three characters coming down from the surface (Andreas, Jacob and me) coming towards the base in a submarine. After that, we had a scene with me being rushed to the scene where one of the scientists had been killed and the other had vanished. I took a look at him, then rushed off to the med-bay. Then I framed an alternate shot of the same, seen from a dark corridor, a pov shot from “something” slithering about at floor height.

[In retrospect, the opening scenes were not that good. We should much rather have framed the scene when the newcomers arrived at the base, thus having an opening scene of everyone. This way, Oliver wasn’t properly introduced to the plot untill relatively late in the game.]

After that, Andreas discovered some strange marks on a wall. Discounting it as rat markings, he orderd a goon to fix it, then went to the submarine bay, where he and Ole had a row, because Ole had ordered his men to load Andreas’ submarine. As a matter of fact, Andreas’ character would have wanted to do the same thing. But out of stubbornness, he countered Ole’s orders, and the submarine was unloaded again. Then, after I’d had a row with Ole and Oliver over gaining access to dead crew’s files and quarters (something I really wanted in order to be able to spy), Andreas and a goon found one of the dead scientists sticking out of a hole in the wall. When the goon tried pulling the scientist out, he was suddenly being pulled in instead, and Andreas failed to save him, instead finding himself Lost in the corridors.

Jacob went to the lab, and talked to a female scientist. She showed him a new kind of sea urchin they had found that had developed a very lethal toxin. We had a great scene with me (as the scientist) describing the effects, and Oliver (as direcor) cutting to shots of a goon suffering the effects.

After a scene of Oliver not noticing the lost Andreas on his surveillance screens, the poisoned goon arrived in the lab. I went to Oliver to show him; in the meantime, Jacob arrived in the lab and started examining the dead goon, when something sprang from the dead flesh and at him. He won the confrontation, and was able to get the mask off, before it could reach him.

When I returned Jacob and I examined the thing, discovered its cells were mineral in nature, then being attacked by the dead corpses that had arisen, animated by the Meanace. Using the medical equipment, including a saw and a laser cutter, we fought our way out.

Meanwhile, Andreas saw something going into the reactor room and down into the reactor water. Ole and Oliver arrived, and tried getting him out of there. Andreas won a conflict with Ole, and Ole became Hysterical when he saw what was down there.

Out in the corridor, Jacob and I, still chased by the creatures from the Med-Lab, suddenly ran into another monster. We tried running on each side of it, but we lost, and I was injured, Jacob had the corridor be Overrun. We barely managed to fight our way into the reactor room.

In the reactor, Oliver, Jacob and I were attacked by the Menace. We lost. Ole hit the emergency button, then left in a hurry, while Oliver was presumed dead, I was Alone on the other side of the containment doors, with the overrun corridor on the other side, and Jacob was Trapped in the reactor room.

Jacob had an encounter with one of the reanimated creatures, beating it soundly with the crane for lifting out the fuel rods, then spotting some sea urchins down in the reactor water. Andreas made Ole pull together, then they armed and gathered their goons, and set out down the corridor to rescue me. They failed, however, making the storage area from the prelude become Overrun as well. This, however, allowed me to leave while the beasts were engaged, and go to the lab. Here, the computer was done analysing the urcin’s toxin, and I could start working on something to fight the creatures, while looking for the documents I had really come there for.

Oliver woke up from being “dead,” and saw Jacob fotographing the things in the reactor. He tried getting the camera from Jacob, so he wouldn’t reveal the problems in the base, but lost becoming “hysterical” (we interpreted this as him losing all hope). Meanwhile, I encountered Andreas, who was going to destroy all the research. I’d just finished the “menace repellent,” but he wouldn’t listen, and just wanted to destroy everything. In the end, I tried attacking him with the toxin, but he shot me, and burned everything in the lab. (We had planned this scene, so that, no matter what, one of us would get our goal in that scene).

Ole and his goons made a barricade in the storage, but were all killed, Ole being turned into a mutant. Oliver set the reactor up for meltdown, then they all got ready to leave in the sub. (The sub-bay had been blocked by me earlier, but they found a way to get out).

While they were leaving, the hive mother suddenly left the reactor where she’s been living, exiting the base through a panorama room with all sorts of aquariums and Soviet memorabilia, all of which was destroyed when the creature crushed the glass of the room, and the water swept in.

Back in the subbay, they encountered Ole’s character as a monster, before finally leaving in the sub. They fought the creature with the sub, first using it’s robot arms to cut its tentacles, then raming it, thus killing it when it was cought in the explosion of the dying base.

Andreas, Oliver and Jacob all made it to the top. However, Oliver wanted his character to die, and the Menace still had a die left. So I scripted Ole’s revenant character coming up, eating Oliver, then attacking Jacob, who gave it a sound thrashing. The end.

Or rather… there are still a few sea urchins attached to the bottom of the ship…


We all really liked the game. However:

  • The condition “overrun” is too hardcore. A minus 2 to all rolls effectively means that the meanace is unbeatable, making it impossible to beat the menace there. As that is the buyoff, a location being overrun effectively makes it unusable for the rest of the game. The minus should be reduced to 1, so it is easier to beat. Or maybe the buyof should be changed – all the other conditions can be bought off with play and not with dice, but Overrun needs dice to be bought off.
  • We interpreted “Hysterical” very liberally, as paranoid, broked, etc. However, it might be a good idea with more psychic conditions, so that you can more easily have non-physical conflicts.
  • We took too long to start fighting the menace. That meant that none of us got any conditions until the second half of the game, and that too many characters survived. It also meant that we didn’t define aids till very late in the game.
  • We learned how important it is for the Director to set his scenes very sharply: He needs to set it quickly, and be very specific about the purpose of the game. What are we trying to accomplish, here?
  • It really helped that someone were keeping track of the Menace and the secondary characters, so that we alway knew what was established. We need to do that even more. For instance, we had a great secondary character that only appeared in one scene. Maybe you need something corresponding to the map where you can draw every secondary character you introduce?
  • We had two locations called “nondescript corridors” (though one quickly contained the creatures’ lair). However, we made the mistace of attaching them to other rooms, thus turning the map into a physical map, instead of just a visual index of locations encounters. Next time, things like the corridors and roads should maybe somewhere where you’re not tempted to connect it to other rooms – becase that ties our hands, and makes it difficult to set new locations. And, really, it’s not that important WHERE the corridor is, as long as we know it’s a corridor.

All in all, Geiger Counter is a good game, and one we’re likely to try again. One thought for the next edition, though: the rules needs more explanation. As it is, many rules are only properly explained in the examples, making it difficult to quickly find a rule.

Thus ends my report on last nights game. I am happy to say that Geiger counter lived up to the hype online.

Hello world!

I have long wanted to start a blog. Today, I was at a seminar on utilizing the web better – for instance writing a blog – an I thought: “This is it! Now or never!”

And here we are. This is my first post in my brand new blog. I am going to post about role playing games, writing, booksI am reading, conventions I go to – anything I feel is appropriate.

On the other hand, one piece of advice the lecturer (Abelone Glahn) gave us was: “A blog is not a diary!” So, sorry – I am not going to hang my dirty laundry out to dry here.