Sunday, July 31, 2005

Free background music

More free stuff!

Matti Paalanen have made lots of nice tracks well suited as background music for roleplaying.

Essence - Orchestral and soundtrack music mostly suitable for fantasy.

Divinity - Ambient tracks great for mystery and horror.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Illuminati - Old school gaming

I just finished a game of Illuminati, the first time I play it in about five years. For quite a time now I have wondered how it stands up agains the newer German boardgames, but until now I have never gotten around to examine this. As I remembered it from the old days this is a really good game. Is that still true, or have time made it obsolete? Is it currently only worth playing wearing funny hats?

From left: Kristoffer, Me, Sven, Linnéa

Sure, Illuminati has aged but it is still fun. I give you it is not a game where everyone can win until the end, as is the norm today. You can get crushed early and never recover, and everyone can gang up on you to make sure this happens. Even so it got very much character and style. Not only is the theme wonderful but the general mechanics are actually well designed.

Illuminati is still a good game but not quite as great as I remembered it. I have to downgrade it from an eight to a seven on BoardGameGeek. Hmm... I wonder if the fact that I lost has something to do with it?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Free is good

I know this isn't going to be very new to most of my readers, but I still want to make a short post on it.

DriveThruRPG sells electronic rpg books in .pdf format. They initially got a lot of flak from using DRM, a system to copy protect .pdf files. This turned out to be more of a problem for their customers than the pirates, so they have now changed to having your name in small print on each page of the book. Much smoother. (This is really starting to sound like paid advertisment.)

The best part is not the store but the free stuff! They almost always got a free full product for download, and you even get the date when they will change to a new one. Right now it is Abberant d20. There is also a free section with some smaller things, but if you do some digging you can find more free full products. I have found CJ Carrella's WitchCraft and Twilight: 2000. There is also a (not so) secret code that will give you a free Exalted mainbook. Start by ordering the book but instead of paying enter "freeexalted" in the relevant field (you will see it).

I hope someone learned ar least something...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bad RPG: The Fun

We all love reading about bad rpgs! For some reason it is much more fun than the good ones, and what's even better, you do not have to spend money on buying them. No commitments.

I just stumbled on The Wraeththu Report over at Jeff's Gameblog. This guy has really gone to lengths collecting all available information on the game. I will give you a short preview: You play hermaphroditic goths with flower shaped penises. I'm not kidding.

Tell me if you managed to get through it all, complete with the linked forum posts. Actually , you can tell me anyway. I like getting comments to my posts. And no, it seems like F.A.T.A.L. still have the title of worst rpg of all time.

On another note, I actually got the last two books to review for the next issue of Fenix* after just two days of waiting (link). Looks like I will have a resonable time for reading them (Predators and Ordo Dracul).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Reviewing

I have finally, due to being away on vacation, gotten hold of the latest issue of Fenix*, containing no less than five World of Darkness reviews written by myself. They looked good and as usually it was a special feeling seeing your text in print. Also worth mentioning was the good work done by Anders and Tove (the editors) in layouting the Werewolf adventure (of which my only contribution was proofreading).

At the same time I got two new books to review, City of the Damned: New Orleans and Mysterious Places. Will I get another book or two to review after the deadline? Only time will tell...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

GeekSpeak with Fantasy Flight

Christian Petersen, the boss of one of my favorite board game companies Fantasy Flight Games, have been intervied by BoardGameGeek. I have not listened to it myself yet, but I would be suprised if it isn't interesting. The files below are only the first part of the interview, so be sure to check back on BGG for the last two chapters.

Full information
File in .mp3 format
File in .m4b format

Friday, July 15, 2005

White Wolf withdraws proposed pay-to-play policy

It had to happen. Due to the outrage following White Wolf's new pay-to-play policy the company has withdrawn the current version of the document. A new version will be designed, promised to be less limiting and taking many of the current fan concerns into account.

Read about in on the White Wolf LiveJournal, forum, or rpg.net.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Mellanrummet - the full monty

The second performance of Mellanrummet* ,by NCID*, has been finished for a long time. Time to tell the full story of this very interesting lajv (larp).

As you can se on the webpage (if you know Swedish) the participants did not get much information at all about the "story" of the lajv. You got to know the theme (guilt), some short stories with dark and personal themes, and some religious quotes. Except for date, time and general playing guidelines (The only actual game rule was no violence), that was all of it. When preparing your character you had to make a real person, without any information on the environment you was to play this person in.

When registering for the event we made the choice to play together, that is our roles was to be connected to each other in some way. The group was me, Sven, Anna and my girlfirend Linnéa.

I liked our roles from the start. We were to play a group of Laveian satanists living togeather and running an café. There was very little info about the characters, to the point of us being a bit upset about it. We did get lots of info about satanism but nothing that couldn't easily be found on the net. I already knew all the info we got so it did feel a bit thin. In retrospect this lack of information may very well have made our roles better by forcing us to design the characters in a way that we ourselves could easily relate to. No risk of "not understanding the role". We know that other people got more detailed roles, and it would be interesting to know how their experience of the lajv differed from ours.

Johannes, played by Sven, was the central character of the collective. His strong beliefs and charismatic personality had made it possible for him to found a small grotto of Satanists who lived and ran a café together. He had converted two women, Eva (Linnéa) and Tove (Anna), by being there for them in a difficult part of their lives. We realised that this sounded very much like a destructive cult, but made a point in that the experience was constructive for everyone involved, and that both women were stronger and more independent than ever before.

Even thou he was clearly a full memeber of the group, my character Carl was someting of an outsider. His rootless childhood had made him never rely on anyone else and had also put him in contact with criminal circles and drug use. His primary interest in Satanism was magic and rituals. Most of his spare time was spent painting and writing, with writing actually making him almost enough for a living. Being more independent than the others he had some problems with strict rules of Johannes. To Carl, there was no other true rules than the will of the self. He also did not agree with the others in their wish to keep the true focus of the collective a secret. As a very overt Satanist himself, he feelt no need to hide his belifes.

Below I have posted the text I wrote on Carl as a part of the preparations. It's in Swedish, so foreginers are out of luck. I will not refernce this part in the rest of the post, so just scroll past it and continue reading.


Carl

Bakgrund: Carls föräldrar skilde sig tidigt, och han kan inte minnas en tid då de visade kärlek för varandra. Allt bråk om vårdnaden, allt baktalande av den andre och alla nya partners gjorde att han inte kände sig hemma vare sig hos mamma eller hos pappa. Men det finns mycket att ta sig till i Stockholm, mycket att fly till. Han spenderade mycket tid i vad de flesta skulle kalla ”dåligt umgänge”. Inte som en del i något speciellt gäng, utan snarare som en vandrare bland dem, en observatör. Under de tidiga tonåren greps han av polisen flera gånger, oftast för att ha brutit sig in någonstans bara för att undersöka eller för att se om det gick. Senare började han experimentera med droger främst cannabis, LSD och psilocybin. Det är något han fortfarande använder ibland.

Skolan var alltid problematisk för Carl. Själva kunskapsinnehållet hade han inget problem att ta till sig, det var strukturen som störde. Han ville inte inrätta sig i skolans tider och normer. Hans föräldrar lyckades övertala honom att börja på samhällsvetenskapliga programmet, men efter två år där hade han inte fått godkänt i speciellt många kurser. Till mamma och pappas stora förtret bytte han till estetiska programmet med inriktning bild och formgivning. Det fungerade bättre och de frivilliga kurserna gick åt till skrivande. Strukturen var fortfarande ett problem så betygen var dåliga, men ett bra resultat på högskoleprovet gjorde att många val stod öppna för högskolan.

Det blev inte blivit så mycket med universitetsstudierna. Han tog litteraturvetenskap A och en del poäng på Teoretisk och Praktisk filosofi. Mest jobbade i kassan på Konsum för pengarna skull, och skrev och tecknade för sin egen skull. En del pengar kom in från publicerat material, men det var inte så mycket. Mycket kom att förändras med Kollektivet.

Satanismen: Det är mycket som tilltalar Carl i satanismen och LaVeys läror. Han har alltid varit en individualist. Inte nödvändigtvis en ensamvarg men en som gått åt ett annat håll så fort gruppen inte passat honom. Mörkret och mystiken fascinerar honom, något som är tydligt i hans konst. Carl upptäckte satanismen i slutet av högstadiet och han läste mycket om det och umgicks med personer från många olika ockulta sällskap. LaVeys enklar och raka läror var något som ständigt återkom, och idag är det grunden i hans livsfilosofi. Johannes anser nog att han tar lite för lätt
på lärorna och blandar in för mycket från andra inriktningar. Carl svarar att en sann satanist skapar sina egna budord, och att en gud inte har något annat ansvar än att vara sann mot sig själv. I praktiken skapar inte de här meningsskiljaktigheterna så många problem, och Carl accepterar de regler som Johannes satt upp. Dock händer det att han ibland vägrar berätta om detaljer ur sitt liv, något de andra tycker är lite underligt.

Det är ofta Carl som leder Kollektivets ritualer. Inte så mycket för att han ger dem större spirituell signifikans än de andra, utan mer för att han älskar dess estetik. Han kan spendera dagar med att dekorera rekvisitan som ska användas, så att den ger den avsedda känslan av kraftfullt mörker. Genom att se till att alla detaljer passar
ihop perfekt hyllar man satan i sig själv.

Kollektivet: Carl hade gått och funderat ett tag på att starta ett satanistkollektiv. Han hade till och med hittat ett Café med tillhörande bovåning som stod tomt. Det borde gå att hyra billigt. Problemet var bara att han saknade några att flytta in med och Carl var inte rätt person att övertala folk till det. Johannes var lösningen på
problemet. De hade haft kontakt med varandra en tid efter att ha möts genom sitt gemensamma författarintresse. Så fort han fick höra om idén blev det fart. Johannes tog tag i det hela med sin överväldigande karisma, och det dröjde inte länge än de var fyra i Kollektivet. I början kände sig Carl en aning undanskuffad av Johannes, men den känslan försvann snabbt. Mer familj än så här hade Carl aldrig haft och för varje dag blev banden bara starkare. I Kollektivet kunde han både vara sig själv och bidra till något större. Balansen mellan det gemensamma och det privata visade sig fungera perfekt.

I caféet är Carl en mångsysslare. Han kanske är den som bidrar minst till den gemensamma driften, men han drar in hyfsat mycket pengar på sitt skrivande och tecknande. Sedan inflyttningen har hans förmåga att fokusera på ett jobb ökat, vilket gör att han kan illustrera och skriva beställningsjobb. Det senaste året har han blivit allt mer eftertraktad.

Klädstil: Carl klär sig nästan alltid i svart och är den i familjen som ser ut som en satanist. I övrigt så varierar han sin klädsel rätt mycket, från kostym till skinnbyxor till renässansutstyrsel. Däremot har han aldrig några metal-tshirts på sig, även om han lyssnar en del på sån musik.

Personlighet: Carl är inte speciellt framfusig i sociala situationer men ändå rätt utåtriktad när det väl tar fart. När han väl fått kontakt med en person så kan han tala på om magiska teorier och olika filosofier.

Det är mycket svårt att få Carl att visa att han är upprörd över något. Snarare kan han visa ett irriterade lugn under de mest pressade situationer. Blir han ansatt i en diskussion så blir han aldrig hetsig utan snarare elakt odräglig. Med komplexa antydningar och en odräglig överlägsenhet försöker han få den andre att tappa besinningen.

De andra i kollektivet kan ibland tycka att Carl verkar lite okänslig på sättet, men de har förstått att det bara är så han är och det har gång på gång visat sig att han verkligen känner för familjen.

Carl rör sig långsamt och kontrollerat, ständigt betraktande något i sin omgivning som inte alltid är uppenbart för människor omkring honom.

Det ska också noteras att Carl är rätt bra på att manipulera andra om han anser det behövs. Han kan tillfälligt lägga sig an med en helt annan personlighet om han tror att det kommer gangna honom. Det rör sig mest om sådan som att övertala en restaurangägare om att göra ett bord ledig eller slippa en parkeringsböter. Det hela skulle nog fungera ännu bättre om inte Carl envisades med att alltid klä sig i svart.

Sex: Carl har provat homosex, bland annat med Johannes, men kommit fram till att det inte ger honom något. I övrigt så gillar han sex i samma utsträckning som folk i allmänhet. Egentligen är inte rituell sex något han fokuserar på i sitt magiska arbete, men han gillar både det och "vanlig sex". Han har inte så ofta sex utanför kollektivet, mest för att han inte tycker det är speciellt intressant att ragga. De andra kvinnor
han isåfall ligger med kommer oftast från allmänockulta kretsar i Stockholm.

Familj: Carl är enda barnet och han har ingen kontakt med sin
familj. Ni vet att hans pappa är tandläkare och heter Lars och att hans mamma är
revisor och heter Lena. Han pratar mycket sällan om sin barndom.

Ok, lets continue on the lajv itself. After some waiting at the site of the event, we were released into the venue for the actual game. Our characters had no memories of anything after a certain point in time. This time was in the middle of the night, as we were having tea after engaging in a sexual ritual. We all wore morning gowns.

The room we entered, together with around ten other persons as confused as we, was stylish in an old fashioned way, with heavy furniture and old weapons lining the walls. We were all instructed by a man to get seated for dinner. This was weird. These random people were having an buffet seated along on a big table. In one end was several men, quiet and dressed in white. In the other end a collection of frantically chatting men and women dressed in black suites.

As you may have already guessed (and as we actually guessed before the lajv) we were all dead. Not only dead but stuck in between lives because of some kind of mistake in the cosmic order. There were angels and devils but none of them could tell us anything really useful. Our characters couping with this situation was the main point of the lajv.

One very important part of the game was when the imps tricked us into confessing our sins, mostly for their own amusement. This was traumatic for both the confessor and the listeners and spawned all kind of interesting situations. Carl never confessed, maybe the only one not doing so, but some of the confessions in our group was without guilt and regret.

Another important part was when Eva told us that she had decided to murder her former husband, who had severely abused her. The collective gathered and tried to convice her that there was other and less risky ways to get a satisfying revenge. We all swore to help her, if we somehow managed to get back to our lives.

The later part of the lajv (which lasted for an evening all in all) was the most interesting for me and my character. I felt more and more disconnected from the collective, as they started to feel sympathy for the others and pity them in their weakness. As the time passed, my contempt for my adopted family increased. In the meantime I had handled the situation by considering it as intersting and worth studying in detail. I associated with the imps (very obnoxious in the beginning, but not that bad when you got to know them) and the angels as much as I could. I did not gather much infomation but being dead I figured I had all the time in world.

The lajv ended abruptly when one of the angels announced that the problem had been fixed and that we where to be transported to our new lives. Everyone but two got sent to a lower level of reality, where the world was darker and grimmer. We all got especially bleak possitions in this reality, myself being a street urchin in South America. One of the lost souls got sent to heaven and one was found not really dead but just in a coma.

My last thought in the game was considering my new life, naturally with some fear but in the same time the conviction of me being able to handle and rise from it.

That was it. In conclussion a good larp. The only part we that did feel was a bit weird was our (and some of the other souls) strict sentence. The organisers hadn't read our roles and how we had developed them. To us they felt like comparably nice persons who had actually managed to forge a life where everyone could be honest to the others and realise their true potential. We was of course not flawless but being sent to the lowest levels of hell seemed a little to harsh. Not that it mattered that much, it was only the last minutes of play.

All in all the most important part of the game was the interactions in our group. This was made possible by our extensive preparations, like very detailed characters, lots of discussion on the dynamics of our group, and running a short pre-lajv to test and get familiar with the characters.

I look forward to the next larp by NCID*. Rumors says that they will go back to lovecraftian myths (as in their last game Aurora Borealis) and even vaguer rumors that it will maybe be a more physical experience.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

LiveJournal feed for Unrealities

Adam Dray has created LiveJournal feeds for my site as well as several other gaming blogs. Makes things easier for LiveJournal members to keep track of my site.

Thank you Adam!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Big brother White Wolf

More than once have I wondered exactly how you are allowed to use the roleplaying games you own. With books and movies things are easy as the main way of consuming them is in a rather passive and "simple" way. Roleplaying games are a bit different. By using them you have to alter and use the material in ways the holders of the intellectual property never thought about. This in turn has lead to a culture of great freedom when it comes to the liberties taken with the material. People run games at conventions charging fees to cover their costs. Magazines publish unofficial material about the games (at least here in Sweden).

The reason for the rpg companies to allow this freedom is obvious. The games has to be able to be used to be popular. Most companies in the business do not got the money for heavy advertising, relying on fans to spread the word about the games.

This way of handling it may be about to end. With the beginning in 2006, White Wolf will ban all money transactions connected to playing their games if you do not belong to their official fanclub. It do not matter if the money is only for covering venue or material costs, as long as money changes hands you will have to register and pay.

I have been running an Orpheus chronicle for about two years. I occasionally charge my players a small amount for paper costs. This will now be considered illegal by White Wolf. Not that I will ever pay for this, but I really shouldn't have to break a law just to play the game as it was originally intended.

Read all about it at and cry...

Update: White Wolf seems a bit worried about the massive criticism on their new policy and seems ready to modify the rules a bit. Still stupid...