Posted by: NiTessine | July 27, 2009

Ropecon Draws Nigh

I apologise for updating even less than usual. I have a good excuse.

Screw that, I have an excellent excuse.

As some of you may remember, I’m the RPG admin for Ropecon this year. Ropecon is the biggest Finnish RPG convention at around 4,000 visitors per year, and to my knowledge the  largest gaming convention in the world run by a non-profit organisation. (According  to the Society for Nordic Roleplaying, we’re expecting 10,000 visitors this year, but I wouldn’t place money on those numbers.)

Anyway, the Ropecon week has now begun and though it’s been hectic with the convention and work and a number of other things, now it’s really picking up. On Thursday, there’s Arpacon, a free one-day event aimed at people who are new to roleplaying. It’s a new thing we’re trying this year, and we hope it turns out well. Like Ropecon, it’s held at Dipoli, a conference centre in Otaniemi, Espoo, that looks like the stars are right and at any moment the door of the Cantina will open to reveal the form of the Great Cthulhu, roused from his slumber of eons.

Seriously. They say there isn’t a single straight angle in the house. While I know this isn’t exactly true, they aren’t exactly abundant. This is like my eleventh Ropecon in Dipoli and I can still get lost there. I only figured out the layout of the bottom floor two years ago. Last year, I had trouble finding the room where I was supposed to give a presentation. It’s a confusing place, but in a really cool way.

We’ve got RPGs. There will be about 140 sessions of scheduled RPGs running over the weekend. Some games of note:

  • Charlie ei surffaa (Charlie Don’t Surf): A Vietnam War RPG running on some sort of houseruled admixture of Twilight: 2000 and Phoenix Command. I believe it’s now the campaign’s fourteenth year at Ropecon. There are some hardcore GMs that run so many games over the weekend that they’re just given their own table and freedom to make up their schedules as they see fit. These guys are given their own room.
  • Pathfinder Society: Paizo’s organised play campaign. With Living Greyhawk gone, they’ve taken over the tables previously reserved for the LG crowd – though in actuality, the GMs haven’t much changed. There should be at least ten sessions of PFS running throughout the weekend, by my count.
  • The modules of our module writing  contest – seven high-quality adventure modules from different writers that will be run throughout the weekend and then be graded by the players. As an additional incentive, we have an expert jury giving constructive criticism of the competition modules (and when I say “expert”, I mean “as qualified as it gets this side of the language barrier”). This is another new thing we’re trying and I hope it goes well.
  • Those GMs who get their own table? One of them is James Edward Raggi IV, a fellow RPG blogger over at Lamentations of the Flame Princess. He’s running six sessions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition over Friday and Saturday. Incidentally, I recently interviewed him for Roolipelaaja, and the issue should be coming out just in time for Ropecon. As a fringe benefit, I scored some copies of his publications, including the yet-unreleased No Dignity in Death: Three Brides. This stuff is made of win and awesome, in that gritty old school D&D way that leaves you with single-digit hit points in the darkness at the bottom of the dungeon after your torch went out with all your friends dead or worse and ominous footsteps approaching. (As an aside, Thanuir of Cogito, ergo ludo is also running a couple of games. Actually, I think Gastogh from The Small Dragon’s Den is the only Finn on my blogroll who’s not running games or working the con in some other fashion. Not sure about that Ludosofy guy since I don’t know who he is [or, indeed, whether it even is a he].)

Amusingly, not only will there be way more D&D 3.5 games running at Ropecon than 4E games – we’ll also have more AD&D 1E games, and possibly an equal or greater amount of 3.0 games. (This has nothing to do with me. I am impartial in my job and have turned away no willing GM, and do not foresee ever doing so, unless some asshole tries to run RaHoWa.)

In addition to RPGs, we’ve also got LARPs, miniatures wargames with tournaments for both Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 as well as Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures. We’ve got card games, with the Finnish Championships of World of Warcraft and Munchkin running at the con and a 24-hour Great Dalmuti table. Oh, and that Magic: the Gathering thing, too. We’ve even got board games running around the clock at Täffä, one of the adjacent buildings. And then there’s the speech programming – presentations, panel discussions, Guest of Honour speeches…

We’ve got strong theme programming this year. The theme is Myths and Secrets, and we’ve got a bunch of presentations on different mythologies – Arabic, Japanese, Russian… you name it, we’ve got it. There’s also a presentation about historical assassinations which is the single piece of programming that I’ve sworn I will see, and one about cryptology, and then there’s this one three-hour presentation by a policeman about real-life crime scene investigation, and about a hundred things more.

Oooh, and the guests of honour! From the RPG side of things, we’ve got Suzi Yee of Expeditious Retreat Press, purveyors of quality game supplement and OSRIC modules. They may be remembered for such works as the ENnie Award-winning A Magical Medieval Society – Western Europe and the WTF-inducing one-on-one module Pleasure Prison of the B’thuvian Demon Whore. Also, Joseph Browning is tagging along.

Our other guests of honour are L. Scott Johnson, designer of the Vampire: the Eternal Struggle CCG (oh, hey, we’ve got a tournament of that, too, whoda thunk it), Malik Hyltoft, a LARP luminary from Denmark, and the Finn Antti Malin, the reigning Magic: the Gathering World Champion.

I’ve here only scratched the surface of the excellence that will be Ropecon 2009.  This post may read like an advertisement, and, well, it is. However, I’m not getting anything out of this. It’s a non-profit venture. My pay is a badge and an invitation to the post-con party. I am getting that famous t-shirt, but I have to buy it. And, well, I’ve been promised cookies, but that’s not from the con organisation.

We’re all just doing it for the awesome.

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Responses

  1. Speaking as someone who did your job for years…

    The non-shift in GMs/DMs between editions is not exactly new: when I was doing this thing, the shift from oWoD to nWoD (as the difference between old-school World of Darkness and new World of Darkness by White Wolf is know), I noticed the same. In Finland, oWoD and WoD LARPs were huge. Really, really huge; you couldn’t throw a rock in an university city without hitting someone who played either oWoD or WoD LARP or both.

    First, there were still tons and tons of oWoD games going on, enough to warrant a room and section of their own. The numbers of nWoD games remained low.

    Then the numbers of oWoD games began to dwindle away, small enough that they were rolled together with “horror” games; the number of nWoD games did not go up in a significant fashion.

    What’s the score today between oWoD and nWoD?

    Because that is what you might expect from the future of 3.*e and 4e in Finland when it comes to ‘con games.

    I suspect this may have something to do with the fact that the games are more aggressively marketed on the other side of the Pond, and the support they receive from the game manufacturers is stronger; there seems to be this sweet fuck-all attitude to international gamers when it comes to pushing material for them to adapt, as if they expected us otherplacians just pick up the steam of Americans and then just roll with it on our own.

  2. By a quick glance at the games listing – online at http://conbase.ropecon.fi/programs/public/all/time/12?id=16 – I can spot five WoD games, all of which appear to be Vampire: the Masquerade.

    Huh.

    Of course, there’s also the organised play contingent. It used to be Living Greyhawk, now it’s Pathfinder Society, and it’s the same people, same dedicated DMs. Nobody is doing Living Forgotten Realms after we jumped ship.

  3. Yeah. And in 1996-2002, WoD games had a constant presence of 40+ WoD GMs per ‘con, or thereabouts, with a notable drop after the shift from oWoD to nWoD.

    So the chances are right now that in Finland…

    1) Pathfinder will have some kind of good future, because it is actively supported both by the fans and the company.
    2) 3.* and 4.* games in ‘cons will continue to dwindle to a degree.

  4. The numbers in the Society for Nordic Roleplaying press release are a result of a different way of calculating how many people there are in an event. Ropecon has traditionally calculated a person who visits the con for three days as a single visitor, while the standard in Finland for this kind of event is calculating visitor/days. So, 9000 people could be 3000 people per day.

    Ropecon’s method is certainly more intuitive, but does a great disservice to the con because nobody else is doing it like this.

  5. The Ludosofy guy will run one game of Liquid Crystal and is indeed a he.

  6. I am. I am also mumbling something about role-playing theory.

    (Thanks Tommi.)

  7. From what I can tell, it would seem I am the only DM openly running 4e in Ropecon.

    I was surprised, as least year there were like 10+ games. I would’ve wanted to play myself on Friday. Oh well. Impromptu oWoD and ORE weirdness it is!

  8. Ludosofy: I figure I’ll be mumbling something about rpg theory next year. Probably a tad less academic, though.

  9. Ishi, in addition to you, there are two GMs running a competition module that’s 4E. It should not be too hard to figure out which one it is. The blurb doesn’t publicise it, though.


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