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For some reason I wrote this review straight into Facebook. So here we go again, for all concerned...
17 hours in and I can say that I like this game a lot. It is a good game, even a very good game. But it is not a great game. It looks gorgeous and the setting, Ptolemaic Egypt, the last cultural gasp of pharaohs and mummies, is fascinating. I've never seen better water, the city of Alexandria is a close rival to Novigrad for the most impressive game city ever and the world graphics as a whole are varied, interesting and impressive. The action-rpg playstyle may turn off old AC fans but I am not one of them and while the open world has a slight MMORPG-feel to it, it does enough things right and dynamic to crawl out of that particular ditch. Well done so far. And the parkour feels smoother than in other ACs I've tried.
The open world is massive and almost imperceptibly divided into levelled zones like an MMORPG map. You can cross the borders freely, though, so the zones mainly help you find levelled content and enemies. There is also plenty of variety. Light jungles, epic seashores, rugged mountains and beast-infested wetlands abound. Sand deserts make you hallucinate if you stay there for too long but I love the desert nights. But the most impressive element of all are the towns and villages. If they've got the looks even halfway right, we are looking at the most important educational tool for casual archeology ever devised. And they have done a good effort in including all the trades and industries of the time, as well as the divisions between a Greek upperclass (set up by Alexander the Great) and the Egyptian lower classes. As for Rome, they are only starting to creep into the picture. Read some history.
Unfortunately AC:O is no Game of Thrones when it comes to writing and characters. Bayek is not bad by videogame standards but I would have liked a more drama-driven approach to the world. Now many things out there are just minigames to acquire crafting resources. And while I can live with hunting for skins, having to become a murderous bandit with a body count eclipsing Dzenghis Khan just to get some fucking wood is imbecilic. Please, give Bayek an axe! And let me dig some mines instead of these poor merchant's skulls! Killing and looting merchants and their escorts for crafting and drakhmas is effectively the grind of this game. I don't mind killing in videogames but I need more reason than that! Now I just feel like the bad guy! We, the medjay, are supposed to protect order and civilization!
That said, the dynamic combat was a welcome addition but its controls are a mess, especially if you are on mouse and keyboard and have to configure keys yourself (the default controls allow multifunction buttons but custom controls do not!). Luckily, you can always play on Easy and the game becomes forgiving for not doing all the combos and overpower moves the in-game hints are always frothing about.
Then there is the paywall. Having bought the Deluxe edition, I started out with a couple of legendary items and it soon became obvious I was never going to find anything better. So rather than explore the world in hopes finding something better, I am just grinding for drakhmas to get my shit upgraded to my level. That money grind is the second half of the overall grind in this game and there is plenty of it. The game is frugal with its coin, because it also constantly pushes the store into your face. I could, you know, just buy the fucking drakhmas. And if I did, I might also afford some of those cool outfits the tailors are selling. Or try my luck with lootboxes... sorry, hekata chest, for just 3000 drakhmas a pop.
I've only once had a total of 3000 drakhmas in this game so far. The storefront and that annoying superkid merchant can go drown in the Sea of Reeds for all I care.
So, lots of cool stuff but you have to grind your keyboard to dust to get all the crafting goods and money you need in the process, eh? Well, let me tell you about the unicorn. Yes, a fucking unicorn. I liked the game's stylish, almost philosophical low-fantasy approach to Egyptian magic and the supernatural and then that lootbox kid gives me a fucking unicorn as a quest reward. With neon-coloured sparks for hoofmarks. And it is way better than the horses in the game, so my serial-killing banditry really needs the My Little Pony. A fucking unicorn!
If anyone has seen my immersion, tell it call me every once in a while at least.
So, my overall rating for Assassins' Creed: Origin is +2. I play and I like it. With some tweaks it would have been an easy +3 but with the unicorn... no. Now, the setting has ample potential and while playing fast and loose with history, they get enough things right that my inner historical fiction fan is giddy with joy. If they had gone for a more simulationist approach with the world and more character-driven dramatic writing, we'd be in Witcher 3 territory and I'd be singing its praises. But as it stands, it represents several steps into the right direction for the AC brand. But it just isn't there yet.
Biting my fingernails! Every year, the Finnish
Tolkien Society hands out Kuvastaja Award to the
best Finnish fantasy novel of the previous year.
has made it onto the shortlist with four
other novels published 2016. It is
not going to win, of course. Everybody else on
the list is a real author and their
works are loaded with high culture and poignant
societal commentary. I am a fat old
geek writing pulp-influenced sword &
sorcery adventures and my only societal
merit is that Käärmetanssija passes the
Bechdel Test with flying colors.
No, I haven't actually read them, why do you
ask? (I will now).
In truth, I am beyond honored just be included
on this esteemed list. Praedor fans and maestro
Hiltunen might be forgiving towards my literary
efforts out of support and friendship, but by valar,
the Nazgul in the Finnish Tolkien Society sure
as hell won't be. If the Ringwraiths really
think Käärmetanssija has merit, even
someone as afflicted by imposter syndrome as I
am will find it hard to argue.
Bethesda just announced the Skyrim Survival Mode in its Creation Club. It can be yours for just 15 bucks or so, or for free if you partake in the beta but the resulting version upgrade borks some mods. Frankly, the more I learn about it, the more I feel like I have been playing a superior version of it for years. At the time of writing, I have played 1941 hours of vanilla Skyrim and 415 hours of Skyrim Special Edition, for a total of 2356 hours. I am now going to tell you how to Skyrim properly. Trust me, I know.
First, play it on a good PC and go for the Skyrim SE. Then sign up for nexusmods.com and download the mod manager. You have to run Skyrim once before you can start modding it, as it generates the .ini files on the first start-up. Make sure you got all the official DLCs. Being left-handed, I move with arrow keys, sneak with Del, use with End, jump with PgDn, sprint with Shift, access favorites menu with Enter and shout with Home. Sheathing and drawing weapons is mapped onto Backspace. Tune down the music and effect sounds a little. Add general dialogue subtitles.
One of the perks of playing Skyrim SE is not having to use most of the graphic mods. If you pushed the default options to maximum, the engine does a good enough job. As someone who lives in this bloody climate, I can also confirm that most graphics mod authors are not from here and have no idea what these latitudes should look like. Also, weather mods are completely pointless, the net result being that they just add more rain. I've also given up on lighting mods. I do use Realistic Water Two with the distance LOD edge patch but make up your own mind about that one. The other two visual mods that spring to mind are Skyrim Flora Overhaul (finally somebody knows how tall trees are) and Static Mesh Improvement Mod (small details make up the big picture).
Now, the heart and soul of Skyrim is EXPLORATION. Never use the fast travel, if you can help it. Don't disable it, though. Sometimes it is the only way to debug a quest, relocate a companion or reset a cell. Bethesda's QA promises are a joke and you should not believe them about Creation Club either. If you persist in roaming the world, there are interesting places, events and vistas to be had that are not on the compass. Also, I can feel my blood pressure dropping when I am just roaming the wilds of Falkreath. The necessary exploration mods are: Campfire, Frostfall and iNeed (basic version, the extended is buggy). Backing them up with Winter is coming cloak mod and Cooking in Taverns is recommended.
This package of mods does everything and more than the upcoming Survivor Mode. It applies the effects of cold, wet, dark and windy, as well as hunger and thirst. Now you have to pay attention to where you are going and some places become genuinely hard to reach. If you are venturing outside civilization, pack food, firewood and make sure you have a fur tent and water bottles. Apart from Falkreath and the Eastmarch volcanic area, all of Skyrim is freezing at night, so when the Sun starts to set, make camp and get a fire going. The Frostfall mod even gives you some new perks for being an outdoorsman. And make sure you are wearing furs (although at some point I always cheat and use Inspect Equipment -power to make my fancy magic armors equal to furs). Also, hunting becomes relevant. Venison + potato + leeks + salt equals venison stew, my favorite.
Curiously, there are bits and pieces of world design in Skyrim that make me feel that cold and wetness were originally meant to be important parts of the game. All that strategic positioning of ice floes, fords, rocks in the streams and so on is completely irrelevant if you play without Frostfall. And there is too much fun and interesting exploration challenges to be had with it for it to be a coincidence. Whirlwind Sprint Shout is the explorer's best friend. Followed by a good axe to chop deadwood with.
Immersive patrols and Immersive Citizens - AI work wonders to make the world feel more alive. Patrols from opposing factions fight each other and try to capture fortresses, which brings home the fact that there is a war on.
Relationship Dialogue Overhaul is also recommended because these cardboard-NPCs were originally meant to be much deeper than they are now. Many mods also require the Unofficial Skyrim SE Patch but I don't know if it really changes anything. There are still plenty of bugs to be had.
Amazing Follower Tweaks helps to get at least some mileage out of your idiot tag-along monster baits. Skill listings are especially useful since some of them just have the wrong default equipment. No spinning death animation finally applies ragdoll effects to Rieklings. And whoever decided to give them their default spin death animation should get his head examined! Immersive armors makes your character look more interesting by adding tons of new gear to make and wear in both light and heavy armor trees.
The second cornerstone of my fantasy experience is COMBAT. Skyrim's combat is often called poor and it is, especially in the beginning. Only when you get the perk that slo-mos power-attacking enemies when blocking does it get better. But with mods, you have options. Wildcat combat mod with Realistic Damage Plugin make enemies smarter and life interesting with a universal damage modifier of 2.5. Bandits wielding two-handed weapons can now single-shot you and mages are to be feared. Enemies also apply every mean of attack in their disposal. If it has a magic sword, it will fight with it.
This makes things more difficult but also much more interesting. Pulling back, making feints, ambushing, circling and locational damage *matter*. The game also remains enjoyable for longer, since even at high levels getting surprised and surrounded is likely to end badly. And as for dragons, boosting your magic resistance negates much of the breath but the bite, THE BITE!!! Killing a dragon before level 10 is a true feat.
SkyTEST Realistic Animals and Predators is the cherry on top. Bears have cubs, wolves have packs, deer have herds and carcasses float down rivers because the big-ass mudcrabs can cut a sabrecat in half. The big losers in this arrangement are the slaughterfish, but fuck them!
In Skyrim, STORY was always the weakest link (although I did not know at the time what kind of inane drivel they would write for Fallout 4). It's deficiencies are beyond any single mod to fix. Immersion and quest mods can help but the real difference is making lemonade out of the lemons.
Don't do everything. Instead, decide that this character is a knight at heart and he is going to be a Companion and a Dawnguard member. Or this guy will be spell-wielding thief, and so on. By voluntarily bypassing sometimes large sections of the content your story experience of the game is going to be much better and more coherent. However, this is really difficult to do if you are playing for the first time and the idiot game has no option to discard quests.
This was the original secret to my playing, long before finding Frostfall & Co. I would create new characters, give them new backstories and then focus on only certain aspects of the world and the game. That way Skyrim gave me a much better character immersion and story experience than most other contemporary games. By the way, you can kill the whole Dark Brotherhood when they first reach out to you. Everybody. For a mountain of gold.
Then there some mods that expand the experience beyond Skyrim. Falskaar is probably the most famous but I kind of fell out with it. On the other hand, Beyond Skyrim - Bruma is great and Beyond Reach is good. Bruma mod recreates the province of Bruma from Oblivion in Skyrim and it is AAA quality from top to bottom. I can't wait for the other Beyond Skyrim mods to get finished and ported over to SSE.
Then it is onto BALANCE.
Finally, and this is going to be controversial, I am using Uncapper. This little thing lets you edit the deep balance of the game. I have capped my skills at 150 but halved my level progression rate. On the other hand, I get two perk points per level. This has the advantage of allowing you to specialize early on, so that the storylines still have meaningful things for your young warrior, wizard or thief to do. But promise me that if you use this, you will also refrain from using the enchanting-smithing loop. It is a game-breaking exploit and I can't wait for Loot and Degradation mod to come out and make it go away.
Here are not all my mods. I am running 54 at the moment. But these are the ones that make my gameplay experience what it is.
As for my own adventures, I am at level 39 and have just finished off the Volkihaar vampires. I have Serana as my companion and dragon bone & scale sherpa. I now intend to hunt down all the dragon seats in Skyrim before moving on to Bruma. Eventually, my character will travel to Solstheim and taking out Miraak will be the final chapter in her story. But all that is still roughly 200 hours away.
Life in a dome.
And instead spaceships and space battles, it all hinges on rovers, the vehicles, the ability to traverse the vast expanses of desert, wasteland and unfathomably deep canyons separating the would be powers of the future. Without them, Humanity would be stuck inside domes, bubble tents and caves. And much like in mecha fiction, the vehicle with its idiosyncracies is as much part of the party as the player characters are.
Here is a rover.
In my first iteration of Rovers, which was actually playtested, I went too far with the idea of terraforming Mars. This time screw it, if you step outside without a suit your blood boils and on a bad day you can cook eggs with cosmic radiation. Any plans to drop a comet for seeding the atmosphere are decades away. So the rover, with its thick hull of Martian metals (no problem in lower gravity), is also your shelter from the cosmic elements.
Otherwise, the setting would be similar. There was a wave of early Mars colonization by nation states and International Cooperatives. Then a financial, political and ecological collapse on Earth removed them from the play. Instead, Earth is now ruled by The Cartel, a world government of powerful corporations. Some Martian colonies submitted to the authority of the Cartel but many did not, becoming the Indies, short for Independents. As the existing infrastructure on Mars was about to be seized by Cartel loyalist, Indies packed up and left, dispersing into hundreds of new colonies and outposts throughout the Red Waste, which is basically all of Mars outside the northern polar plateau.
Then the Xenolith Rush happened. Fossilized remains of ancient Martian life were found in Valles Marineris, deep in the heart of Indie territory. Besides the scientific value of knowing there once was a varied and sophisticated biosphere on Mars, the so-called cryptogenes extracted from the xenolith samples have unlocked entire new possibilities in genetic modification and bioengineering. As they cannot be copied or reproduced, they have become priceless and in some cases unique. There is a gold rush of sorts going on on Mars and it is centered on the Canyon.
Greetings from The Cartel
The Xenolith Rush has even split the Cartel. Red Corps invested heavily on Mars and run the infrastructure on the northern plateaus and much of the space traffic. For years, they were free to do as they liked, free from Earth intrigues. Now, following the Canyon Rush, the Blue Corps, effectively the rest of the Cartel, demand that the Cartel as a whole should take over the corporate effort on Mars, thus ensuring everybody access to xenolith prospecting. Red Corps are having none of it and tensions within the Cartel are mounting.
So what would you do? Prospect for xenoliths? Go hunting for bounties in bandits and claim jumpers? Make a mint ferrying basic goods across the Canyon that the mining camps just can't live without? Partake in the corporate intrigues for a complete planetary take over, for or against? Build a sandcastle?
After several false starts, Varjojen Kirja
(lit. "The Book of Shadows") finally got
underway, starting with an overview of Jaconia's
"shadows" in rough chronological order.
"Shadows" are how Jaconians refer to instances
where their mundanity and the world's eldritch
past cross paths. The peasants might not know
the origins of the nearby ruins or the name of
the city apparently buried beneath their fields,
but if it is old and dangerous it is a "shadow".
Praedors explore them on occasion but this is
Jaconia, and while all praedors are adventurers,
not all adventurers are praedors. Come to think
of it, one of Petri's earliest Praedor-stories,
"Barian", shows perfectly the invisible
line between your average sellsword and an
However, one thing is now obvious: I can't
write VK without constantly referring to Kirottu
Kirja (lit. "The Cursed Book"). The
previous supplement was such a massive step
forward that there is no going back. Unless the
rulebook itself gets updated one day, all future
supplements will refer to the rule changes and
tables presented in KK. Praedor RPG 1.1. +
Kirottu Kirja equals Praedor RPG 1.2
and the previous versions are not supported.
Even with its alternate character creation
system, Varjojen Kirja won't be such an
epic leap forward. That said, I'll do my best to
make it interesting and entertaining both to
read and to use in play. But unfortunately you
are going to also need Kirottu Kirja to
get the full mileage out of it.
The first supplement, Salaisuuksien Kirja
(lit. Book of Secrets), is helpful but
Another emergent feature in Varjojen Kirja
is the support for Praedor seikkailukortit
(lit. "Praedor Adventure Cards"). The
most obvious application are the adventures in
the Ruins of Warth, even if particularly lush
Location Cards need a bit of re-interpretation.
However, Danger Cards are applicable almost
anywhere with very few changes. That said, they
are by no means mandatory.
Which Kirottu Kirja pretty much is.
P.S.If you feel that the adventure or scenario you've had in your desk drawer since January 2001 or something would be a perfect fit for Varjojen Kirja, contact me and we'll see if you are right. My standards are high and my rewards are modest (and often paid under the counter for maximum shadiness). But hey, Praedor RPG is a Finnish-language tabletop roleplaying game. If you are doing this for money, boy are you in the wrong line of business!
Bloggaan suomeksi, koska nyt puhutaan kielestä
ja sanankäytöstä. Tapasin tänään Traconissa
erään Käärmetanssija -fanin, joka kehui
kirjaani vuolaasti. Yksi asia kuitenkin tökki ja
hän esitti rakentavaa kritiikkiä: pahisten
sukupuolitetut loukkaukset Nejahia kohtaan, eli
14-vuotiaan tytön kutsuminen "lutkaksi". Minä
puolustauduin Jaconian patriarkaalisilla
asenteilla ja sillä että tällaisella
loukkauksella haluttiin heittää Nejahin
sukupuoli vasten hänen kasvojaan. Jos Jaconian
avoin ja piilevä misogynia sai lukijan tuntemaan
itsensä vaivautuneeksi, sen parempi. Loppujen
lopuksi Nejah selvisi vähillä seurauksilla
sukupuoliroolien rikkomisesta, sillä minua ei
kiinnostanut kirjoittaa siitä sen syvemmin.
Mutta tänään esitetty kritiikki
sukupuolitetuista loukkauksista jäi vaivaamaan
minua ja pohdin sitä paljon kotimatkalla. Ne
sopivat mielestäni tilanteisiin ja ne sopivat
niiden roistojen suuhun jotka sen sanoivat,
mutta olisiko minun sittenkin pitänyt jättää ne
pois? Sisältyykö niihin nykylukijan näkökulmasta
sellaista painolastia, joka muuttaa sanojen
merkitystä? Tätä minä mietin ja ensimmäinen joka
huutaa "SJW:t pilaavat fantasian!" saa
Kysyin puolisoni Leenan mielipidettä asiaan, ja
hän kertoi ettei ollut kiinnittänyt asiaan
huomiota ja piti esitettyä kritiikkiä
omituisena. Se oli minunkin ensireaktioni ja voi
olla, että se oli ja on edelleen oikea reaktio.
En voi kirjoittaa roisia aikuisille suunnattua
fantasiakirjallisuutta jos varon jokaista
askelta. Mutta mitä
mieltä te olette?
Winter is coming (sorry, I've been
binge-watching Game of Thrones) and you
may have noticed I have not started a new
Fall-specific blog page yet. The pace of my
blogging has slowed down and doing a separate page
for just three entries felt of pointless. So I am
writing into the old .html file for the time
I went to GamesCom (a really
large game industry event and consumer expo with
350000 attendees) recently with a pneumonia. Came
back with the same, go figure. Not a bad
pneumonia, mind you. I'd call this just a
bronchitis because it lacks the
hallucination-inducing fever spikes of 40+ degrees
(my measured best is 40,9 degrees). However, the
official diagnosis says pneumonia on the account
of some noises in my lungs. This meant that
walking between the vast halls of Koelnmesse often
resulted in me hanging onto some railing while
gasping for air (Ventoline to the rescue!). Still,
I was properly impressed by the size of the event.
GamesCom is truly a feat of strength from
But I can't figure out why people
are willing to wait in line for two hours(!!!)
to play 15 minutes of some unfinished crap that's
going to come out in six months anyway. It's a
kind of "emperor has no clothes" thing and I felt
like shouting it at their faces. But if they
realized how fucking pointless it all is, such
350K people consumer expos would have no reason to
exist, would they? And don't get me started on the
complexity of the ticketing. Only Germans can come
up with something this complicated. Christ on a
bicycle, I wish all conventions I went to were
more like Ropecon. Except that at a
Ropecon I wouldn't have been able to sit down with
Richard "Lord British" Garriott and talk about
game design. Damn, nothing is ever simple.
Richard Garriott on the left, my
junior but invaluable colleague Aleksander
Nikulin in the middle and my ugly mug on the
Now, I am back. While Space
Nation keeps me busy during the days, Praedor
- Book of Shadows keeps me busy in the
evening. The project is still searching its shape
and format. All these false starts are frustrating
but no work is wasted as they get me thinking. In
my mind's eye, I am already looking up at castles
and towers built so high up in the Western
Mountains that the air is too cold and thin for
mortals. I am already passing my hand over arcane
runes carved onto a riverside cliff, now so worn
by time that even sorcerers could not read them.
Still, their magic is real and monstrous beasts
and unnamed deep water fish are drawn to the
waters around them. Jaconia wasn't born, it was
made. These leftovers of its creation emanate
enough power to make those gifted (or cursed) with
Second Sight sick.
Shadows of Jaconia are places magic,
danger, history and sometimes treasure. They are
usually leftovers from the untold millennia the
world was ruled by Sorcerer Kings and their
immortal minions. Whatever wars, crises and
upheavals shook the young world have been
forgotten by mortals and even present-day
sorcerers can recall only whispers and echoes. But
the places are real and draw in treasure hunters
and would-be adventurers. Becoming one carries
none of the same social baggage as becoming a
praedor but it is from this crowd of bandits and
tomb robbers that some of the best praedors arise.
So what do I want out of the Book of
Shadows? I want to unleash Jaconia as a fantasy
setting and show the doubters and naysayers there
is plenty of colour and adventure to be had even
in a world without orcs. And that Praedor
is not really a low-fantasy setting but pure-bred
Sword & Sorcery, where the pulp-fantasy roots
and the more complex and conscientious present
forms of the fantasy genre meet. I really don't
want to use the word "grimdark" but it is not
entirely out of place here.
So, what is there, between the
covers? This is still very much a work-in-progress
list but the current plan is as follows:
Yes, it is a long list and includes
a fair number of adventures. When I had some in
the Book of Secrets, I was told nobody
wants them. When I left them out of Cursed
Book, I was asked where the adventures were?
Make up your mind, people!
Once I have sorted out the version
1.2. stuff (character creation alternatives etc.)
I am going to start writing about Warth. If that
takes up half the book, so be it. I'll just drop
some of the other locales to keep the timetable
manageable. The release deadline is Ropecon next
year, which means I have to get everything into
print by late June or very early July. The
printing press did a good job with Cursed Book.
I just hope this time I make fewer mistakes in
preparing the materials. It was a bit of a
clusterfuck the last time around.
In related news, I was e-interviewed
and the results are now out there. If you
have any further questions, come see me at Tracon
on 9.-10. September.
It's been a few busy weeks since
Ropecon but I finally got to reading Seikkailijoiden
Kilta (transl. Adventurer's
Guild). SK is the latest
entry in the growing list of Finnish tabletop
roleplaying games. It is a 140-page softcover
book, slightly smaller than A4, with color covers
and greyscale interior. The font is large and the
whole thing makes a fairly quick read.
For the record, I really wanted to
like this game. I have long hoped for a
fantasy alternative to Astraterra without
the... creative math that plagues Heroes of
the Tempest. On the surface and from what I
managed to hear of the release presentation, Seikkailijoiden
Kilta fits the bill.
My optimism took a hit as soon as I
started reading. There is no division between
player and gamemaster content. The book opens with
a description of the adventurer's guild (a
multinational institution that explains away the
role of professional adventurers in this setting).
But then it goes into full World
Book mode and spills the beans on ancient history,
monsters and even powerful artifacts. Not only is
a good deal of that best left to the Gamemaster,
the reader won't get into the rules until page 68!
And character creation until page 94! I am a big
fan of world-focused RPG design but this is
Going to back to the world of Saranea,
it is an archipelago surrounded by the Outer Sea
that no one has managed to cross. At the center
lies the Realm of Vaults, the ruins of an ancient
civilization where monsters and magic now run
rampant. Obviously, the characters are supposed to
explore it and loot the treasures. Fair enough,
feels like home already.
It is surrounded by the Random
Encounter Isles... sorry, the Islands of the
Privateers that the adventurers have to pass
through to reach their hunting grounds. And on the
outside, facing the Outer Sea, lie four kingdoms,
conveniently located at the cardinal points of the
compass, each with a distinct identity and
Saranea is a very much purpose-built
world and while there is a fair amount of
backstory, it still feels artificial to me.This is
a shame, because my early Earth Sea -vibes
from this setting felt really, really good. Also,
if you are getting strong Astraterra
flashbacks from the map, trust me, you are not
And one more thing: Finnish RPG authors, please, please, please, put some scale indicators into your maps! It is not that hard! And anyone suggesting that the GM can decide the scale by himself (*cough* Bliaron *cough*) deserves a spanking.
Now, it is page 68 and we get into
the rules. The game uses the full D&D set from
D4 to D20 and the basic roll is D20 against one of
eight attributes with values ranging from 2-12 for
beginners, and up to 25 for veterans. There is a
level system (one per adventure) and for every
level you can distribute 4 points into your
attributes. Fair enough.
What I don't agree with is how the
game deals with difficulty grades. An Easy Roll
has no modifiers, so a super-talented beginner
with an attribute value of 12 has 60% chance. A
Challenging Roll has -5 to the value, so the odds
drop to 35%.
I belong to a school of design where
a difficulty grade means what it says. Easy Rolls
are not worth it unless the degree of success has
a clear and demonstrable effect. Most rolls made
when adventuring would be Challenging or worse but
having to apply a modifier to what is effectively
a "Default Roll" feels clumsy.
On the other hand, the difficulty grades are not really explained anywhere so... meh. The author also commits the cardinal sin of using examples with very poor odds and then allowing the character to succeed most of the time. Such examples are not representative of gameplay and can be misleading.
Curiously, character classes (or "calling") are described in the rules section rather than in the character creation. Combat may feel simplistic to some but it works and earns bonus points for not having an initiative roll. I hate those. Deadliness is low to moderate and dead characters can usually be brought back to life at some cost to the rest of the party.
Magic appears workable as well, although listing the spells only as a table at the end of the book feels cheap. It is mostly element-based, with Spirit as the fifth element. It all concludes with a multi-page adventure and several pages of tables for weapons and stuff.
I'd rather have all those tables in their respective sections of the rulebook and then again at the end of the book. All in all, the end feels a bit abrupt, as if the author had ran out of time, money or patience.
The book is easy enough to read but the grey splatter textures sometimes jump at you. Art style is cartoony, with a strong homemade anime feel. I am not a big fan of that style but images depicting events and locales are nice, even if they were clearly meant to be shown in color. Unfortunately, there are also many, many portraits of characters without background or context.
Oh well, you either like Picasso or you don't.
Seikkailijoiden Kilta is not a bad roleplaying game. It just isn't a particularly good one. I am sure it works great with the author as the gamemaster but despite its mechanical difficulties, I found Heroes of The Tempest way more inspiring (as Hornankattila shows).
The same setting would probably work just as well or even better with, *sigh*, some OSR rules. The pacing of content reeks, as if the author has been writing notes for himself rather than a coherent set of instructions for an uninitiated reader. Fortunately, being a quick read, a persistent reader is rarely completely confused.
Well, there you have it. The author is no fool but this is very much his "first roleplaying game". I fear that he will be discouraged by poor sales, hangs up his sword and we will never hear from him again. Because if he persists, creates more content, takes in feedback and develops a coherent vision of what he wants the game to be and for whom, Seikkailijoiden Kilta 3.0 could be awesome.
The largest speculative fiction conference in the
has just concluded in Helsinki. In theory, it
covers science fiction, fantasy and horror in all
mediums but there is, admittedly, a strong legacy
focus on literature. Still, with 600+ shows,
panels and presentations there was bound to be
something for everybody. The program palette was
quite good this year. Unfortunately, I had to skip
most of it because I was, and still am, struggling
with bronchitis. But sitting around, soaking the
ambience and talking to people both strange and
familiar almost made up for it. Also, this was my
second Worldcon and I've also been to six
Eurocons, so I already knew that
pacing myself was important. Worldcons are
five-day events and by day four, you could see the
battle fatigue settling in the crowds.
Pelit asked me for something to sell
at Worldcon and I brought them a batch of ten English-language
Stalker RPGs. To my delight, they sold
seven of them as well as a bunch of Praedor
stuff and I have to commend their attitude
throughout the whole thing. As their customers
crumbled over the days, the sales staff at PP
stand never wavered. They were as smiling and
fresh today as they had been on Wednesday.
For most intentions and purposes, Worldcon75
was a great success. We are still waiting for
the final numbers but with 6000+ attendees it is
already one of the largest Worldcons ever
arranged (update: around 7100 visitors,
second largest Worldcon ever). And it was smoothly
organized, too. Everything worked, everything was
more or less on time and the fact that they ran
out of room on Wednesday and had to implement a
strict quota of day passes was not really their
Because Christ on a bicycle, people! Me and
others have been ranting about this event for
years! The original allotment of meeting rooms was
based on tickets sold beforehand. Then half as
many of you barge in on the last moment and stand
around wondering why you can't fit into the rooms!
This is precisely the kind of event where you are
supposed to book your tickets well in advance and
anyone who asks why they weren't told this
deserves to get slapped! That extra space from the
exhibition halls could be made available this
quickly to alleviate the problem is a miracle of
I was a little miffed that parking passes for the whole event were not sold to the public (although I managed to weasel one on the account of being an programme participant) but otherwise I have no complaints about the arrangements. A great event by all accounts and my Praedor presentation for foreigners even had a grand total of one foreigner in attendance. You can see the slides here. So far a great job and we (myself and Leena) have already booked our tickets for Worldcons 2019 and 2020, held in Dublin and New Zealand, respectively.
Special thanks to all of you who came to me
asking for a signature or to tell me that
something I wrote (mostly Käärmetanssija) was
great. That is the true reward for being genre
author in Finland. People like you (and to a
lesser extent events like this, which is why we
tour them every year) that allow me to overcome my
imposter syndrome and write fiction in the first
place. Without you, I wouldn't be here either.
Also, congratulations to Johanna Mustapää
for winning an award in the Masquerade for her
beautiful, practical and comfortable "Farrignian
Court Dress" cosplay.
As great as the event was, somebody also let an
elephant into the room and I suspect the loxodonta
is going to stay there for quite a while. Most of
the foreign guests probably never noticed it.
However, in my circles the incident was impossible
to miss and I fear it will be the one thing for
what this Worldcon will be remembered for.
I'll let professor Frans Mäyrä explain what
I am not a larper but I was shocked and
disappointed by the decision as well. For the
Nordic Larp crowd, and Artante knows they are well
represented in the geek circles around here, this
was a slap in the face. Some have already sworn
off Worldcons altogether and I don't blame them. But
for the choice of medium, there go I. It was
a stupid decision, it was the wrong decision, it
was a royal fuck-up and I expect the Finnish
organizers will be explaining their actions in
future scene events until they are blue in the
face. A just punishment and hopefully a shot
across the bow for the future. What is the point
of having a globe-trotting event if the local
manifestation of geek culture and expression
cannot be demonstrated there? You'd be left with
something like this year's Eurocon. And
trust me, you don't want that.
Well, that's it. Next year, Worldcon is
in San Jose, USA. I won't be attending but
then there's going to be two in a row. My next
event is Devcom/Gamescom
in Cologne, Germany. It's all work, of course...
Now who do I have to kill to ensure that my cough
goes away by then?
Yes, it has been months since my last entry.
My father passed away on March 25th, after a
long struggle with cancer. We were close
and I was devastated. It sort of... brought
everything to a halt. I didn't have anything to
I had a lot of things going on in this Ropecon. Kirottu Kirja, the Praedor RPG supplement about Cursed Lands and all their horrors was written while the whole drama with my dad and his cancer was unfolding. It took me to some pretty dark and terrible places and I hope some of that has rubbed off onto the text. It is a 92-page hardcover book and I tried to keep the hardcover aspect of it a secret until this week. It didn't really cause much of a stir but what little feedback there is has been positive. You can get it from any major retailer of hobby games in Finland. Just follow the links on the right.
Praedor Adventure Cards finally became available as well (Pelikrypta), doing double duty as a large-scale mindmap of Borvaria and an improvisation tool for the gamemasters. Human ability to perceive patterns on random things is nothing short of amazing. I did a quick demonstration of its use in Keltsu Nova and the obviously random terrain felt complete logical to me: "okay, this Poison Grove is here because fluids are leaking from the Sewer Entrance to the north and emptying into the river, and the entrance was obviously revealed because of this Crater which also left this entire area being Tilted..."
As you can clearly see, there is an affluent area of well-preserved ruins along the river to the right but then the ruins become poorer and harder to traverse. Through great effort, our adventurers manage to penetrate the Poison Grove and bypass the Sewer entrance, only to find themselves at the edge of an Acidic Swamp. With rapids from the swamp blocking the way to the west, they returned to the ship at its hard-won anchorage just off the Poison Grove...
My both programme events were on Friday. I gave the release presentation for Kirottu Kirja and chaired the great 2-hour Praedor panel with myself, Hiltunen, Erkka and Jaakko Alamikkula, i.e. the thus-far published Praedor authors. Both of these events were packed, there was a sales spike of our books immediately afterward and the RPG stuff was absolutely flying off the shelves. If you were there, odds are that you spotted me doing a restocking run between my car and the stands of my retailers.
Yes, I am ugly. But fortunately Kirottu Kirja is looking great.
Well, now you know what I've been up to. Barring any other deaths in the family, I'll try to update this blog more often in the future. There is lot to talk about, both about my writings and those of others.
Muilta tekijöiltä Praedor.net
(print, stack and staple through the middle)