Helsinki Tampere All Night Long – A Dresden Files Campaign

I’ve briefly hinted at this madness before. However, I never fully explained the insanity of this campaign concept. The project has languished for long, with my gaming  time taken up by the Serpent’s Skull campaign (now nine sessions long, and we’re hoping to squeeze in a tenth and wrap up the second adventure before everyone heads back home for the summer). However, there have been slight nudges towards it becoming reality.

The core idea is that there are two groups of players in a single campaign of The Dresden Files RPG. One of these groups is based in Tampere, where I live most of the time. I am the GM for this group. Their characters adventure in Tampere and the surrounding areas. The other group, then, is based in Helsinki and is composed of Alter Ego members. Their characters adventure in Helsinki. With the other GM, Joonas, we’re developing some plot threads that extend from one city to the other.

Of course, since the two groups occupy the same world, it is possible for members of one party to visit the other, if the player is around. The train ride is a reasonably short trip and some of us (mostly me) make it frequently anyway. This, of course, makes it possible for the GMs to also have player characters, to be played in the other town. Also, characters can be tied together through their story aspects across the divide, though it seems that only my PC from the Tampere group will have one of those.

Yes, this campaign plan is ridiculously ambitious. However, I am convinced it can work. We have a campaign website at Mekanismi, which is yet another point of awesomeness for it. It’s in Finnish, so you foreign devils won’t get much out of it but you can admire the header image I whipped up in five minutes with Paintshop Pro. I envision there being an in-character part in it once the campaign really gets going, where the characters of different parties can communicate with one another.

I think that the primary stumbling stone here will be GM communication. We two have to keep a lot of balls in the air and know what the other is doing. Apart from that, once the game gets going, it should roll under its own power, pretty much. There are also some questions about game frequency and synchronization. Both groups have to occupy roughly the same position in their diegetic timeframe so that a visiting player won’t end up doing the time warp again, but I don’t see that becoming a big issue. If this were D&D, I might also have concerns about experience gain and power levels, but Dresden Files RPG isn’t a game that lives or dies on party balance.

As things stand, the Tampere group has finished character generation and city generation except for a few last touches. At the time of writing, only my character (that cop from the local precinct) is up online, but the rest will probably follow soonish. The Helsinki group has done their city but don’t yet have characters. Our group includes an electromancer and a werewolverine, among other things.

This is a very slowly brewing project and has been in the works since last October or something. These things require some patience. I hope we can squeeze in at least one session of play before my players scatter in the four winds for the summer.

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Announcing the Ropecon 2011 Scenario Contest

Well, I can finally talk about this one.

Like the two previous years, we’re having a scenario writing competition for Ropecon 2011. While the con’s theme this year is Finland, I noticed a golden opportunity the likes of which you stumble across once in a lifetime and decided to take the contest in a more international direction.

The contest, this year, is in English. My faith in the Finnish roleplayer’s ability to produce good text in English is strong, and I’ll be doing a minor editing pass on the scenarios before putting them onwards to the judges. I doubt it’ll be even necessary, but nobody need be afraid of an imperfect command of the language ruining their chances. As for the doubts expressed in a few places that the modules being in English would deter game masters from running them, I need only take a look at the Fantasiapelit list of the best-selling RPG items from the last month to figure that reading English is going to be even less of an issue than writing it. This hobby is fluently bilingual, over here.

And why is it in English? Well, our judges are all Americans, and they don’t read Finnish all that well.

And why are all the judges American?

Well, they’re our Guests of Honour Frank Mentzer and Erik Mona, plus the Helsinki-based James Edward Raggi IV, three men who’ve probably forgotten more about adventure writing than I’ll ever know.

I’m terribly excited about being able to make this happen, and already the interest in the competition has been higher than the previous years. It’s a bold move and I’m taking a conscious risk here, but if it pays off, I will have pushed into being something glorious and magnificent.

The announcement can be found at the Ropecon blog.

Of course, the competition is only open to people who will be coming to Ropecon, but then, why would you not be coming to the most awesome gaming convention in the world?

There’s also a Facebook event, and a Finnish-language discussion at the Pelilauta forum.

Exciting!

Sign of Life

It’s been quiet here, and I apologize. It’s been because my BA thesis dragged me under and for nearly a month I’ve been buried under an avalanche of critical texts about Robert E. Howard and Solomon Kane stories, and the last week was spent pretty much entirely between my four stone walls and working. I finally got a first draft tortured out of my keyboard and mailed off last night, and I now have a couple of days of breathing room before I get told how much it sucks and what I must do to fix it. It ought to be worth it, though. The most popular topic in the pro seminar group seems to be black feminism with a smattering of queer theory, and I just subjected them to roughly 4,500 words on Robert E. Howard, lavishly sprinkled with big quotation blocks from the stories. Aaanyway, this isn’t my LiveJournal. (Also, I would hasten to add that I have nothing against black feminism or queer theory – or blacks, women or homosexuals for that matter – but what we have here is a rather stark contrast.)

The one day within the last week that was not spent working on my thesis was spent proofreading a collection of Danish RPG scenarios that’s coming out soon from the Society for Nordic Roleplaying. I translated an introductory essay for them, from English to Finnish. I do not consider myself at liberty to disclose any details before the Society has done their own announcements, but it will be a big, fat bastard of a book, and contains things weird and beautiful and horrifying.

Interesting things are afoot. The second issue of the International Journal of Role-Playing came out last week. It’s available as a free PDF and contains peer-reviewed, academic papers about RPGs. Really interesting stuff. If you’re into reading academic papers, that is. If not, might be a bit dry.

For the less academically inclined… Fantasy Flight Games has announced a fourth Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game, Black Crusade. If you thought your Dark Heresy party was a bunch of Nazis and your Rogue Trader crew embodied the worst excesses of British colonialism, here are the real bad guys of the setting. Oh, yes, we will get to play the cultists of Chaos, the disciples of the dark gods! I read Dan Abnett’s Ravenor Trilogy last year and thought the villains were far more interesting than the protagonists of the piece, and will definitely be picking this one up.

Incidentally, for the board game geeks out there, they also announced a second expansion set for Twilight ImperiumShards of the Throne. For those of you not in the know, TI is the king of board games, a galaxy-spanning game of conquest and intrigue. It’s awesome, and tends to take all day. Especially with full eight players.

Another nifty new upcoming thing is the Grindhouse Edition of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG. Though the content is mostly the same as in the box he released and promptly sold out last year, the art is going to be amazing and there will be all kinds of little tweaks. I’ll have to score myself a copy of this, too. He’s also releasing Zak S’s (of the Playing D&D with Porn Stars fame) Vornheim: The Complete City Kit. And a load of other stuff. The man owns my wallet.

No gaming of my own for a while, unfortunately. Both me and the another member of the group have been wrestling with our BA theses. He’s doing his thesis on Iain M. Banks’ The State of the Art and Look to Windward, by the way. I’ve been reading Banks like crazy so I wouldn’t get spoiled. Also, William Gibson for a presentation I have next week for my Anglo-American Science Fiction course. Ah, the sacrifices we must make in the name of education.

Also, Wizards of the Coast released the coolest thing they’ve done in years, the Polearm Quiz. 18/22, and that ain’t luck.

Ropecon is also in the works, and I have something of spectacular awesomeness to announce in a couple of days. Watch this space. Or don’t. If it in any way concerns you, I will make damn sure you know about it.

Gorgeous Blogger

Also, I got tagged with this Gorgeous Blogger thing by Never Play Poker with the GM. It’s a challenge to answer a few questions about my blogging and then tag others. Well, I’m game.

1. When did you start your blog?

As you can see on the right, the archives start in March 2008. The first post to Worlds in a Handful of Dice was on March 24th, which means we just turned three two weeks ago. For some other stats, this is the 151st post on the blog, and I’ve had 74,830 page views.

2. What do you write about in your blog?

Roleplaying games, duh. Mostly I seem to discuss Paizo Publishing and Pathfinder RPG. I also used to take shots at Wizards of the Coast every now and then, but it got old and they haven’t done anything warranting my attention lately. Nowadays I also seem to discuss Nordic larps and RPGs despite not larping. Also, Ropecon and gaming conventions in general. This is probably the only RPG blog on the internet whose chief topics are D&D and art larp. I’ll write about anything RPG-related if it sparks my interest, though.

3. What makes your blog special compared to others?

Momma said I’m special. Well, probably that D&D and art larp thing. Also, this is my blog.

4. What made you start blogging?

I figured my RPG-related posts were starting to bore the nongamers on my LiveJournal, and felt that WordPress would be a better platform for this type of stuff anyway. Of course, there’s also the drive to write that I think afflicts most bloggers, along with a certain exhibitionist tendency and a desire to show off, and a blog serves admirably.

5. What would you like to change in your blog?

The update rate. I haven’t been paying nearly as much attention to this blog as my readers deserve, of late. Also, I was thinking of changing the header image at some point.

Also, I’d like to tag mxyzplk of Geek Related, with whom I notice I agree about pretty much everything except the Solomon Kane film and who’s a fine writer and James Edward Raggi IV of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, with whom I agree even about the Solomon Kane film (though we may differ on Sucker Punch) and who’s a damn fine game designer.