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I have often wondered if the Forge revolution happened because some players just had shitty railroading GMs. Since the players were shy geeks and could not talk with their GMs, they instead sought to modify rules systems to get around the whole problem of having to communicate with each other.
But we were in the business of bashing traditional RPG settings. In this latest blog entry the writer thinks he discovered the wheel by introducing a what he thinks is a dynamic situation into Jaconia (some people seem think he went off-canon by introducing dragons into the setting but Jaconia has no canon so deal with it!) and then goes off about the setting elements of Jaconia being aloof and static. Normally I would attribute that to either selective reading or severe dyslexia. However, since the game has been around for 10 years and he is the only one with a problem, I think he must have issues with seeing connections in general. If this is the case, no wonder reading traditional setting descriptions sucks. Not to mention reading books about real-world history or geopolitics.
The setting of Praedor is not up to me, of course. Petri has the ultimate say as to what goes in and what comes out but I think there are both referenced and implied connections right across the board. Unfortunately Praedor stories have been on a hiatus for a few years now and Petri always insisted on not having a canon because he wanted to be able to change anything at a moment's notice. I do know something of the wider future history because of our discussions but until they show up as stories, they are not going to show up in game material.
My own Praedor campaigns over the years have dealt with an impending civil war within Farrignia (with some involvement of Holrus), relations between pirate groups in the Inner Sea and most recently an attempt by the Court of Farrignia to influence the outcome of a civil war and a royal fratricide in Selfia. Just like everything else in the book, the setting consists of tools the gamemaster can pick up and put back (or even discard) at his discretion. There are obviously keys and matching sockets lying around but the blueprint of what the gamers are going to build cannot come from the author; at least not in an Old Skool RPG. And as we all know, those are pretty much the only games worth playing.
After a decade of Praedor, I have been having a break from fantasy gaming even if Deathwatch is a borderline case. I am hoping to kick off some more Stalker gaming once get back from the States later next month. Curiously, I've had more traction with Stalker/Japan than with the original Stalker/France setting. I really need to give the latter another go.
And that concludes the Winter 2011 period for this blog.
This is a quote from the website of Playground, the magazine for Nordic Roleplaying:
The theme of the first issue of Playground is bleed, the way fictional experiences affect people and how our lives affect our fictional experiences. What happens when you fall in love with a videogame character? When you ask your neighbor to murder you in the name of art? Is it possible to make a game about a subject like gang rape? Apart from bleed, we also talk about larp in Poland, the S&M games of J. Tuomas Harviainen and getting laid through roleplay.
<Insert rant here>
Frankly, they would not be art geeks if they did not do art geek things. While I may think they are colossal morons for wasting their very real talent, I would have been disappointed if Playground would have been something other than what it is. I think we all would have been. Besides, we traditional roleplayers have only ourselves to blame. These guys are willing to go through the hassle of putting together a magazine about their gaming lifestyle. Now gang rapes or getting murdered may not be our thing but we have just as many fingers and hours in a day to make our own rag. But it seems we have all decided to do something else and I am no exception. So Playground came, saw and conquered. Kudos to them.
Assembly Winter came and went. I am slightly bummed that now it is in Helsinki we are not having even what little seminar programming we had back in Tampere. On the otherhand, AssW 2011 was a cybersports bonanza! Team Fortress 2 is my favorite spectator sport after championship-level soccer, followed closely by the late CoD 4, Counter-Strike Source and finally Starcraft 2. I would probably like most flashier multiplayer shooters played in tournament form and have sorely missed CoD 4 tournaments ever since I watched it back in Tampere. But as a franchise that has a new game coming every year the Call of Duty can't really become a pro-gamer icon. It is like you would be replacing soccer with some derivate of it with every season.
Big thanks to Wabbit and Pararin for acting as commentators and turning the whole thing into a genuine sportscast. I only wish it would become regular thing not tied to any particular event (nudge nudge, wink wink) and it would, if I had enough money to do something about it. It is especially important in an obscure sport where the players can do all sorts of wild things at a dizzying pace (like Team Fortress 2). Just like all sports announcing, the announcer must be at least a couch-level expert in the game and have extensive background knowledge of the players. It is amazing that someone would do this and it is doubly amazing that they would do it so well.
Tthere is nothing happening right now but when there is, you can follow these guys at http://www.sett.fi/
Go cybersports! Suomi! Suomi! South Korea!
"Jiituomas" Harviaisen arvostelu Häirikkötehtaasta on ilmestynyt Turun yliopiston ylioppilaskunnan lehdessä ja sen voi lukea täältä.
Olen arvosteluun hyvin tyytyväinen. Harviainen kommentoi arvosteluaan henkilökohtaisesti kutakuinkin (ne muista ihan tarkkaa sanamuotoa) näin: "Se on hyvä kirja, vaikkei olekaan paras kirjasi."
Ylläolevaa Häirikkötehtaan mainosbanneria saa levittää pienen köyhän humanistikirjailijan tukemiseksi tämän uusissa kirjallisissa projekteissa :)
Ala-asteesta käytetään nykyisin nimitystä alakoulu, ja yläasteesta nimitystä yläkoulu. En tiennyt tuollaisesta mitään, mutta en ruvennut opettajien opetusmateriaalitarvikkeita julkaisevan kustantajani kanssa asiasta väittelemään. Kaikki -asteet on korjattu -kouluiksi, paitsi silloin kun ne viittaavat paikkojen silloisiin erisnimiin.
Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best and they don't come much simpler than this: the Mad Hermit of the Finnish RPG scene, Niilo Paasivirta, came up with an anomaly/artifact/placename generator for Stalker RPG. It is all in Finnish, unfortunately and so simple it is almost a joke. But damn! That thing actually works! The #praedor IRC-channel was beside itself testing it out and bombarding the channel with the craziest word combos and ideas of what they could be in the game. It is an instant idea generator when you are in the proper mindset! Keep hitting the area names and you suddenly have a Zone map in your head! Keep hitting the anomaly names and you soon have enough oddities and artifacts to give every xenologist in the Institute a bleeding ulcer!
I would say that My Best Roleplaying Game (well, personally I think it is The Best Roleplaying Game but the last time I checked I wasn't God) just got even better thanks to him.
Knock yourself out: http://www.ilmatar.net/~np/rpg/stalker/anomalia.php
And even if you get something that feels stupid or overtly funny, work with it! I would imagine that many of the things in the Zone have been named in a rather quick and coarse fashion (just like Lets-Get-The-Hell-Out-Of-Here Mountain in Antarctica).
I am currently gamemastering only Deathwatch but once my Kajak lecture course on Level Design ends in mid-February, I am adding two more campaigns. One is the continuation of Stakeru, the Stalker Japan Campaign in Hokkaido. One is a completely new adventure in and around Zone France, using all the tricks I've learned from Atomic Highway, Berlin Zero and the like since the last time.
Kanyah was easy enough to write about. But Arkangel, that is a whole different story. When Kanyah dives into the Link, she closes her eyes. And somewhere in the algorithmic universe of the Link, Arkangel proverbially opens hers (biological senses are meaningless to a Link-roaming neural-net AI). To be honest, my original idea for Arkangel was a bit like Cortana in Halo games; a companion and advisor that would follow and assist Kanyah from the Link. And when she would do a ghost run, her own perspective would switch to that of Arkangel.
But it (or she?) did not write itself out that way. Arkangel is nobody's servant and her respect has to be earned. She acknowledges she is one facet of the entity commonly referred to as Kanyah but would turn the argument upside down: Kanyah is her "meatspace shadow." Two personalities share the same identity, memory and sense of self. Yet they are completely different people, living in entirely different universes. Like a real self and a dream self but which is which? And although they share even their most intimate fears and desiders, they have and never will meet. Just like the heads side of the coin can never face the tails.
But damn it, Arkangel stole the show the moment I wrote her in!
Sometimes she wished they could meet. Cognition and memory were a ball of data they were bouncing back and forth across the Meat/Link boundary. Kanyah would draw her conclusions and Arkangel her own, even if this sometimes put them at odds. But they were not rivals in any sense of the word. Both had self-preservation instinct towards the Entity. Both sought to improve the odds, happiness and quality of life for the Entity. The dreams, desires and secrets of one were intimately known to the other and frequently shared. But there was always conflict, just like any person can be conflicted about important decisions or strong emotions. Having a ghost avatar just takes that to a whole new level.
I am less happy with my description of her Link run.
The network lit up around her like a spiderweb of light. It was a constellation of nodes and connections, oddly symmetrical and asymmetrical at the same time, floating in a void that seemed to echo the glow of the network with some strange energy of its own. Already the load of her processes was dragging the node she was in down. Warning signals were flashing across the connections to the nearby nodes and sooner or later the system would dispatch resources to investigate the anomaly. The Link was a spiderweb in more ways than one but she was neither the spider nor the fly. She was a scorpion intruding on the spiders domain.
It follows the HAX gameplay model closely. Perhaps too closely. I imagine I will leave it as it is for now and proceed with the story. There will be more ghost runs in the future and perhaps better, more creative ways to describe the experience will emerge. Then I can rewrite the less satisfactory pieces.
I LOVE it when I actually have something to write and rant about! Sami will be getting a box of chocolates from me at the next Ropecon for drying up my blogging powder. Unfortunately the scene is so quiet these days it may be quite a while before we get another bang...
I threw together a quick Praedor-style game system for Berlin Zero (or any other post-holocaust setting). It is a 10-page untested draft written with Open Office and certainly not release-worthy, but it is good enough for my personal use. I thought you might be interested. Here.
At pelilauta.fi the usual cast of fools is debating whether it is okay to fudge dice rolls if you are a Gamemaster. Of the many calamities Forge has wrought on our hobby, one of the worst is a generation of gamers who consider rule systems sacrosanct and that their rights as players are somehow trod upon if they are not strictly obeyed. To them, an Old Skool RPG like Praedor and gamemastering instructions like my usual toolbox approach (rules system is a tool box; you pick up a tool when you think it is helpfull and put it away once you are done) are poison. They actually went so far this time that Sami Koponen confessed he only released Efemeros #2, which was all about Praedor RPG, because he thought the game was faulty and wanted to fix it.
I have to say there has a been a slight change in my attitude towards Efemeros #2 since then. In the same breath Sami also makes a quick comparison between Praedor and Runequest. It has quite a few real gems, so do check it out from the previous link. It would be just unfair for me to repeat them here.
But let's return to the subject of the dice rolls. There is no one true to way to run a roleplaying game, even if you yourself think all the other ways than yours are stupid. However, the opponents of dice fudging usually base their argument on the idea that a non-Forge gamemaster is always a slave to the adventure's storyline and is fudging (Forging?) dice rolls to ensure that the adventure plays itself out as scripted. I can't speak for anyone else but as far as I am concerned, I call bullshit on that.
I am an Old Skool gamemaster. In short, what I say, goes. Players who feel their rights have been infringed on can find their own way out.
The "game" is in the interaction between myself and the players. Sometimes rules are used as tools to resolve issues but often a decision based on player actions or the Marjola Crap Die work just as well. I am not saying I have never fudged my rolls but I usually work through the interpretation of the results. And if my interpretation and the rules are at odds, it sucks to be rules. The purpose of dice rolls or rule mechanics is less about challenge resolution than it is about creating interesting situations that nobody could have foreseen. If I see an opening for an interesting and unseen situation that could be conducive to roleplaying, I am going for it, rules be damned. So yes, a hit is a hit but the consequences are up to me. And if it means I have to improvise (you know, the mystical art of making shit up as you go), so be it! In truth, that is what I am in business for. If I wasn't, I would be playing boardgames (boredgames?) instead.
FLOW & Stalker proved to me that quantification of player actions; i.e. allowing some degree of success in any circumstance is just as good for creating unforeseen and interesting situations as dice rolls. Very few actions in Stalker are complete failures; the player always manages to change something in the environment creating entirely new challenges, conflicts or encounters. I know there is a School of Thought that thinks this is only possible with dice. There is a also a School of Thought that thinks Earth is flat and sits at the center of the universe. Sometimes people are just plain wrong.
Oh, and one final thing. Forgers tend to be in favour of rotating gamemastership. Apparently they think gamemastering is an unwelcome chore that one of them must shoulder for the sake of the others. And to make sure the experience is as hellish as possible, they have stripped the gamemaster of his powers. I have been gamemastering for... 27 years because I like it. And sure, it is great fun to see a scenario play itself out according to plan. However, witnessing it crash and burn due to "interesting situations", whether created by dice rolls or unexpected player decisions is even more fun! And I'll be damned before I let some blot of ink on cellulose to take that away from me!
It is still January and I have this feeling it has been the dead of winter for six months now. Snow fell in early November and it has been cold, dark and miserable ever since. Today, I slipped on an icy curb for the first time and banged up me knee. I guess will be limping to the podium at Educa.
Meanwhile, my cyberpunk novel has apparently written itself since there are already 25 pages of it and I am still writing the fucking first chapter! My joke about 400 pages minimum does not seem so unrealistic anymore. And try as I might, at least this early part is not very cyberpulpish. While the story is relatively straigthforward and even "gamey", I am also using it to introduce new concepts and ideas that are vital to the setting. I do this by describing their effects on people and this includes virtual light, ghost running and various other things. Descriptions have always been my forte, so there will be a lot of those.
For some reason I can't bring myself to use regular expressions for dialogue (he said, she said etc.). Instead, I am describing the circumstances and conclude the paragraph with something about the person who is just about to say something. Then I write the spoken lines, up to five of them and it is for the reader to determine who says what from the context.
I score really well on the shooting range!
No shit? Have you ever been shot at?
Okay, heres the plan! Me and the boys will do the shooting but we cant control everything! If you see something you dont like, shoot first and apologize later, okay?
Okay! Bang! Bang! Bang! Two to the chest and one to the head, right?
If the exchange gets too long, I insert something descriptive before moving back into dialogue mode.
Jin chewed on the strange-sounding name for a while and decided it was good enough. It was two syllables, easy to pronounce and as he had already guessed pointed towards Malacca Hub. It would be easy to shout her name as a part of command if and when shit hit the fan.
Cyberpulp includes a certain amount of technology porn, or techsploitation. I am having real problems with it because it tends to turn a paragraph into a car advertisement. Therefore, my descriptions are low-key and function-oriented, even when describing something so awesome as a working power armour:
Young, eager, fidgeting his gun and flexing his left arm to marvel at the artificial sinews expanding and contracting between the armor pads. He had even drawn some crude tattoos on them with a red marker.
I have yet to describe a single gun, referring to them by their ammo instead: gyrostabilized rockets, nuclear glass, aerosnake (a self-powered and very accurate cyberprojectile) and so forth. The first actual battle still remains to be written. Let's see how that goes.
I have read the first ever review of Häirikkötehdas (sorry, no link until it has officially come out which still takes about a month) and it was very positive with certain reservations. Although I sometimes doubt my talents, the consensus of my readers tends to be that I deserve credit for the style, if not always the content. However, the fact remains that writing in a foreign language is hard no matter how fluent you are. I don't really think in English and knowing all the expressions, symbols and idioms is something a non-native just can't do.
Besides, every line of text in Dancer so far has been written at least twice. If I were to turn it into true cyberpulp, I would have to re-write the whole thing and probably shorten or summarize things from the earlier versions. And maybe I am deluding myself and the novel is a huge turd. Still, I am really enjoying myself. Writing Dancer has to some extent replaced gaming as a stress reliever activity. It won't last and my Fallout-quarantine has probably had something to do with it.
Translation: "Rovio, for fuck's sake get real!"
Everybody who has anything to do with games and does not have his head stuck up so far in his ass that his ears are covered knows about Angry Birds, right? But if you just came from another planet, it is a mobile game by Rovio Mobile which has done everything mobile game developers dream their games would do. With over 10 million purchases, an unknown number of sponsored downloads, pad and PC versions and even plushy toys, the Pissed-off Birds craze has swept the world this Fall and Winter.
I don't do mobile gaming anymore if I can help it but when Angry Birds came out on PC by Intell Apps, of course I had to give it a try. Except that OOPS! Angry Birds on PC supports only Windows XP and Windows 7! Any attempt to install it legally on Vista is met by an error pop-up of the OS not being supported. So I got to keep my five bucks and Rovio lost the entire Vista install base as a potential customer segment.
So, does the game have some kind of technical property that precludes Vista as a platform? Apparently not because I just miraculously happen to know that a cracked PC version from a well-known torrent site runs just fine on Vista! So once more pirates are giving better service and customer experience than the actual developers.
I've complained about this before but as much as I love being proved right this time the developer is fucking it up with my money. As a Rovio Mobile shareholder I am so pissed I could launch myself through their studio window with a slingshot! What the hell is wrong with you people? Did Intel put you up to this? Do you get bonuses for bad PR? Reading the contract too much trouble? Somebody there just had to try out his new Vista blocker? What the hell were you thinking? Oh, you weren't? Well start!
The old dragonheads back in Serpent City would throw together a bunch of thugs, dress them in battlesuits as if that would make them soldiers. Hed gone into action with these suits so many times before that they were practically his brothers-in-arms...
As those of you reading my Facebook wall already know, I began writing a novel set in the HAX universe. And for the first time ever, I am writing the whole thing in English. The working title has changed to Dancer. I lost the version number because that would only make people ask about Dancer 1.0. Then again, I could call this Dancer 1.0 and have every chapter be Dancer 1.1, Dancer 1.2 and so on.
Naming your novels is not as easy as you might think.
Startled, the woman looked up. She had an oval face with delicate features that just screamed mixed breed. Probably from somewhere in or around Malacca Hub. The prospector outfit did not do her any favors but in the right clothes and some make-up on she could have been stunning. Jin sighed. This was one of the many little drawbacks of living in the Wasteland.
Starting to write the novel has had two immediate positive effects: first, my depression vanished and stress levels took a nose dive. The day after the first writing session I was so pumped that I actually managed to motivate myself to go to the gym again. I just got back from my second gym session of this season and boy, I've never had it that easy on a 2nd session before. Usually the 1st session is easy, the 2nd session is sheer hell and on the 3rd session you finally get a sense of how you are actually doing.
Second, and this is the most astonishing thing ever: I am not sleepy during the day anymore. It is like my brains had shifted to a higher gear and are slowly dragging my body along. Oh, I know that it only takes a single lung inflammation to bring it all crashing down again but I am going to ride this high for as long as it lasts.
A lot happened during that century. Crises and wars over dwindling resources. An eco-lapse bordering on mass extinction. The true conquest of space and the founding of early colonies to feed the dying Earth. Then WorldCrash brought down the Old Order and very nearly the civilization itself.
Yes, it is not going to be great art or a literary masterpiece. Just honest cyberpulp with all the cliches, sex and action I can spare, although I freely admit I am an amateur when it comes to writing sex scenes.
Actually, I wonder if I should delete all that. I am meeting the publisher of Häirikkötehdas tomorrow to discuss how to pimp up me and my book in the Educa Fair. Will idolizing what basically amounts to trash literature and sleaze from the 1920's endear me to a target audience of educators and psychologists?
Okay! Bang! Bang! Bang! Two to the chest and
one to the head, right?
Yes, I am a bitter old man and an incurable cynic but I still can't help being relly excited about the themes for Ropecon 2011: Heroes and Finnish Roleplaying (with various interpretations).
This is great news! I have long been obsessed with the concept of heroes and adventurers in RPG settings (as evidenced by every fucking RPG I've ever written or even remotely thought of) and I am actually tempted to give a presentation on the role and concept of "heroes" in all my RPGs, starting with Miekkamies and ending with Berlin Zero. As for promoting Finnish Roleplaying that is something I thought the Ropecon was meant for and it is nice to see them take it seriously for once. As a sugar on top, they specify Finnish RPGs and RPG authors as sub-themes on their website and hell yeah! Being part of that scene myself I am interested in seeing what they come up with.
All in all, I have absolutely nothing to complain about the Ropecon's focus this year. Must be a first. With Finncon 2011 having virtual realities as a theme the Summer of 2011 is already looking great! Now the only thing I can still wish for is the same kind of weather we had last year. I know we all melted into small, whiny puddles of sweat but I said it then and I will say it again: it was worth it! I think I'll blow all my vacation time at one go again. 1,5 months of rest and recuperation sure tasted sweet.
Speaking of vacations, I just booked flights to Boston in March. It is a corner of the United States I've never seen before and we have some friends there. Besides, I get a chance to visit Pax East, a legendary games convention by these guys and with an especially Indie-friendly focus. I really wish Wirepunk would have something to show by then but if we do, it will be the Closed Beta at best.
I know it is fashionable to say "when it is done" when you are working in the Finnish games industry but still... with dayjob issues piling up on the HAX Core Team and causing us to miss our self-imposed deadline for the Beta, the New Year's Eve was one of somber reflection for Wirepunk. So close and yet so far. My morale is at something of a nadir right now. But we will recover. We must recover. I will start writing the HAX novel tomorrow. It won't speed up the game but will hopefully cheer me up.
Did you hear that the Finnish Army has called me into a Reservists' Rehearsal in April? The programme seems light enough, only 5 days with barracks housing at the Artillery School in Niinisalo, so I am planning to attend if my lungs hold out. Personally, I consider my wartime posting in the tank artillery to be a suicide mission but we are not at war and the doughnuts in Niinisalo used to be great. I was posted in Parolannummi (which also had great doughnuts) back in 1993 but did my Combat Equipment Specialist Training in Niinisalo, gorging on doughnuts and explosives for two weeks. It was great fun.
So, what's in store for BG in the coming year? Nothing you could set an exact date to but I do hope three things will happen before the year is out:
1. Stalker RPG will be released in English.
2. Burger Games publishes the first HAX e-book under a license from Wirepunk
3. Something will come out of NOMAD
There have been a few false starts already in getting Stalker RPG translated into English. Now the task has been assigned again. I can only hope we'll have better luck this time. And if we do, I have to review the option of writing a supplement in a new light. If I could do that in English from the start, it would serve both audiences. Stalker players in Finland tend to be older and well-educated people, so the language is not a real barrier. Note that if we don't get the game translated in the next year or two, I will stop trying. And that will be the end of the franchise.
#2 is not as much as a plan as it is one possible option. I will write a novel this year because A) I am burning with inspiration for HAX and B) I want to try my hand in writing fiction again. I also want to write it in English for both wider audiences and pushing my own boundaries. I am supposed to be a language expert but I can hear my skills crumbling away so little (or not so little) practise will do them good. I can't hope to match the scientific artistry of Quantum Thief but cyberpulp, low-brow entertainment in a high-tech dark future should be within reach. Besides, you know how I feel about Art and Entertainment: Entertainment rules and Art is something that may or may not occur because of it.
As for what really happens with the novel is up in the air. It needs a publisher so that I can apply for grant money and if nothing or no one else comes forward, Burger Games will be it. I really want to release it as an e-book and preferably through the ransom model as discussed before. Now publishers have within their power to veto this but Burger Games wont mind and I have really good connections to the Wirepunk leadership as well.
#3 is something that keeps me awake at night. Should I write another RPG, no matter how light-weight? Is it the best possible use of my time? Is it sufficiently rewarding now that Praedor has satisfied my popular and Stalker my artistic ambitions as a roleplaying game author? You all know my views on the state of the RPG scene, which is something the local scene activists love to argue about with me... all 5 of them. I don't really have an answer to that but the next generation authors are all busy writing their own RPGs to a dwindling audience of prospective customers they all probably know by face. My expressive pressure is still there and I've been tinkering with a Praedor Lite -rules system in my weaker moments. However, if I publish something I'd like it to make at least a little splash in the pond I throw it into.
So that's 2011 in a nutshell.
Oh yes, I've just received a call into a military excercise at Artillery School in Niinisalo in April. Barring sudden illnesses of lungs, kidneys or knees, I am going. It's been 17 years since I last got to fool around with deadly weapons and high explosives. I think it is high time to give this Russian Roulette another go.
...to be working in the games industry when I see something like this. But as a supporter of the freedom of expression, go ahead. I assume all the women depicted here were taking part in it on their own free will. And hopefully paid for it as well.
I the meantime, the parliament extended Hyvitysmaksu (an extra tax on the price of item that goes to the organizations claiming to represent copyright holders) to external hard drives. Could be worse; practically all memory-capable devices were on the firing line, including mobile phones. The big problem for copyright organizations is that putting a tax on an item because it can be used something just does not sound fair. Maybe every knife owner should sit a few days in jail to compensate for the knife-related murders? I can afford the cost as such but the principe having to pay something so fundamentally unfair and stupid is what bugs me. Hence my membership and half-active participation in EFFI (Electronic Frontier Finland), even though I am an author and a copyright holder myself.
Of course, if you ask the artists whether they want to have less money because something or other is morally wrong, the answer is obvious. By licensing the license the experience rather than the product, they have rationalized that selling a song on a CD that I then copy onto the computer, to an MP3 player and to a mobile phone would entitle them to four royalties instead of one. I am of the opinion that since it is all for my personal use, they are entitled to the payment once and that's it. Of course, if Teosto could decide freely, they would be paid for everyone who happened to be within earshot when I play the song on any device. Speaking of copyright organizations, what the heck is up with Kirjastomaksu (library compensation)? I have written three books and applied for Kirjastomaksu but they've always turned my application down. Yet there are hundreds of copies of my books in libraries all over the place. Can they do that?
My next book project has remained on planning stage, first because of Häirikkötehdas and now because of the Level Design Course I am lecturing remotely to the game development students at KAJAK. Being Finns they never give me any feedback and I know considerably less about level design than game design but I am doing my best. Most of the aspiring designers there will end up doing a little bit of everything that says "design" on the end, just like I do.
However, the course ends in March and there are already some things I can tell you. The working title is Dancer 2.0 and as you already know, it is a cyberpunk novel set in the world of HAX. This will be the first time ever I am going to have a female protagonist in my stories. I am keeping the nickname I used in my short stories; Arkangel but otherwise she is a different person. I don't like writing stories about newbs growing up. Vanha Koira was anything but and while Arkangel is quite a bit younger (and prettier), she is, or rather used to be, a "high-level character".
Unless one of my publishing sector contacts has better ideas Burger Games will be the publisher, under a license from Wirepunk. That leaves me free to try the ransoming model. I will use the first chapter Dance of Shadows as the sample and start writing. Most likely in English. You all know how the ransom model (threshold pledge) works, right? If the ransom is paid, the work is released electronically for free (read: something the e-book readers can comfortably access). I will also have a small print run of hardcopies made, complete with illustrations by Wirepunk's Lead Artist. That will be the collector's edition and the only thing I would ever have to sign. At least I won't be getting a carpal tunnel syndrome.
On December 8th, 2000 I spent the better part of the evening with Matkahuolto as they were trying to track down a shipment of game books I had ordered from a printing press in Oulu. The printing company had neglected to fill in the proper freight logs. We never found the official paperwork but fortunately the bus driver who brought the shipment down to Helsinki was sipping coffee at the next table. He overheard our conversation and thus my books were found. I lugged three heavy boxes into Fantasiapelit an hour before the closing time and every customer in the shop at the time lined up to buy one. From that moment on, Praedor RPG had been officially released.
That was 10 years ago to the day.
Happy Birthday Praedor! You are the most successful Finnish pen-and-paper roleplaying game ever and one of the most played ones. Fantasiapelit sold out its initial lot of 60+ books in three days and the whole shipment of 200 books in about two weeks. Since then the pace has slowed down a lot but the game still sells about a book a week, which is more that can be said about most RPGs that have come and gone through Fantasiapelit over the years. Today, the total sales stand at slightly over 1000 copies. It still being played and talked about. There are even LARPs around it every year. It is the reference point for all prospective RPG authors in this country. I am a proud daddy :)
Praedor RPG comes from a modern family of two daddies. Although no sex was involved, it is a brainchild of both myself and the renowned comic book artist and illustrator Petri Hiltunen. Petri had just won the Puupäähattu prize for being so fucking awesome and strangely this turned into a slow year for him. To pass time and stay in the spotlight he kept drawing and drawing. Our original plan of a dozen or so full-page images grew into a gallery of over a hundred images. We met regularly and I explained the new content that was coming up. He agreed on most of it, was frequently flabbergasted at the amount of information I had extrapolated from both his pictures and earlier Praedor comics, changed some things and outright vetoed some others. This included the playable mages but we agreed on a compromise on the role of expanded alchemy as a replacement. There was no canon and still isn't. Petri wants to be able to change anything at any time any way he wants, just like Old Skool GMs would do.
All in all, Praedor RPG has over 10K worth of art inside it. Petri will never make that much back but he was hard-pressed for jobs at the time. We did not expect to see any profit and at one point considered the option of dueling over it should any appear. Fortunately we agreed on an even split and he later told me that for years and years, whenever his wallet was about to run dry, there would be this unexpected "ding" of a Praedor RPG box being sold. It may have been not enough to live on but it was enough to make a difference.
One more person to thank for the success of Praedor is Jukka "Merten" Koskelin, The review in Magus magazine was positively glowing (okay, 3.5 stars out of 5) and prolonged the initial sales spike considerably. From what I've heard, Nordic the Incurable was considerably less impressed but at least admitted it was functional. The sad truth is that if the excercise were to be repeated today, there would be no Finnish RPG media to pick it up. I also have this creeping suspicion that there are far fewer roleplayers to go around these days but voicing this opinion in public tends to lead to heated debates, so no more about that. Personally, I doubt that the success of Praedor RPG could ever be repeated. The markets simply aren't there anymore.
Once upon a time they were, back in the days when Praedors roamed the land in search of loot and danger, much to the consternation of the new-wave roleplaying ideologues who began appearing around the same time. Ten years later Praedor RPG is still going strong. I wonder where all that new-wave crap has gone?
Happy birthday, Praedor!
Efemeros #2 is the unofficial Praedor world supplement, so stop whining!