Like going for a walk

IMG_2917Go for a walk.

But do it by this fun, quirky, experience-provoking recipe.

Often-game designer Jackson Tegu says he also creates “experiences”, which could sound smart-ass, but just seems smart given what I know about certain conversations (and Jackson).

“But it’s not really a role-playing game, is it?”

It wasn’t really meant to be, but I’m flattered you should draw the comparison.

Ha!

(Jackson probably wouldn’t go “ha!”, he’s much too friendly and courteous).

So, this new thing (experience) plays on some strings I’m sloppily and randomly acquainted with over several years. At its core, it’s an elegant new (I believe) take on “psychogeography”.

I won’t bother to research it all right now, because I’m tired after a long and personal telephone conversation. But my associations to the word are:

* something the situationists were into in the 60s.
* something about how you experience cities and other places.
* something Alan Moore writes about in the back of From Hell.
* something that reminds of that one exercise, the “magical mindset”, Grant Morrison wrote about in the Pop! Magic essay on his homepage years ago, where you go around interpreting everything you see as having great personal significance, which in turn reminds me a lot of my own experience with psychosis.

Somewhere in that landscape, we find these recipes Jackson has devised.

Let’s look at one I tried out today:

Await Further Instructions

1. Go in the least familiar direction until your breathing changes.
2. Wait for the new sound rising, & go towards where you heard it come from.
3. Go only as far as you could see when you first heard the sound, & wait there.
4. Someone who catches your eye will appear, go to where they caught your eye & wait.
5. Pick up the least dirty thing you can find.
6. Await further instructions.

My experience:
1. I started off near Stortorvet in Oslo, a place I’m intimately familiar with. I thought it would be hard to figure out where I was supposed to go, but my eyes soon landed on a small bystreet I rarely use. My breathing changed when I coughed.
2. I heard a bird, sounding kind of tormented. This was near the High Court and the governmental building the terrorist tried to blow up. The area is still scarred, 5 years on.
3. The poor bird seemed to be chirping from one of the nearby facades. I paused.
4. At first I thought it might be the young woman with the colorful backpack, but it turned out it was a man with a bicycle helmet, further down the street. I went where he used to stand.
5. I found something that probably belongs to a bicycle tire, in front of a door with a security camera and lots of wires.
6. I just had to look up. A long cobweb, trailing in the wind. Giving me new instruction.

IMG_2937

I found Yesterday’s Remains.

I also tried one called “Yesterday’s Remains” (see photo), but I think you caught the gist of it.

The Follow PDF also has a meandering, but brief and thoughtful, essay on the thinking behind these recipes, and gentle guidance on how to get into the groove.

It’s free for download here, where you can also explore other experiences, games and texts, and consider if these are projects you’d like to make a monthly donation to support.

I think Follow could easily work in the form of postcards left at hip cafés, a gamified app/webpage, a cryptic QR-code stuck to a toilet wall. I’m glad it’s this clunky PDF that I printed out at work. Feels real.

So what is it like, experiencing?

Like going for a walk.

Like being a poem.

Publisert i Uncategorized | Legg igjen en kommentar

Ragequit

(Offentlig post)

Jeg har bestemt meg for å skrive på Facebook at jeg har bestemt meg for å slutte å skrive på Facebook!!! Argh! Ynf! Vrede!!

Jepp, det blir en av *de* postene.

Hvis du synes det er teit og jeg heller kan holde kjeften min går det an å la være å lese. Men kanskje hvis jeg skriver flinkt nok får en eller annen leser et eller annet sted et lite frø-via-ord inn i huet som kan ligge og gnage og plage, eller kanskje frigjøre huet så ræva følger etter. Aldri godt å vite.

Jeg hadde total Facebooknedsmeltning før påske. Det har mest med mitt frynsete hue å gjøre, men også en hel del med hvordan akkurat dette mediet fungerer. Med ordvalg («unfriend», hva slags demon var det som klekket ut den der og la larven i Zucky’s sinn?), mix av jobb-og-privat, konstante varsler og strømlinjeforming for maksimal, daglig samhandling, samhandling, samhandling.Intermittent reinforcement, den pussige kvasiintimiteten og illusjonen, i alle fall jeg gjerne får, av at alt fremstår som en melding til Akkurat Deg.

Flertallet av norske brukere, sist jeg så en spørreundersøkelse, er lurkers. Jeg er en av fluene som spreller ivrigst i nettet av ord og gøyale gifs. For en rus!

For et motbydelig sted! For et mekka av muligheter for instant, virtuell fucking… altså, vi kan jo endre verden hvis vi vil. De kan jo skifte stemningen blant noen hundre tusen brukere fra surpompete til ganske blid med noen manipulerte ord og fraser.

Hvis de vil (dette er ikke en fantasi eller OP-leser-for-mye-sf; det er et av eksperimentene de har gjennomført som er dokumentert og offentliggjort*).

Egentlig ønsket jeg å *deaktivere min konto midlertidig*. Det viste seg å ha noen for meg uakseptable konsekvenser, særlig denne: cirka tre år med poster og kommentarer fra min hånd i gruppa Rollespill.info (som jeg har lagt ned noen dugnadstimer for å bidra til å få opp og stå), kanskje en tidel av arkivet(?), ville bli fullstendig utilgjengelige. (Så vidt jeg forsto, aldri riktig godt å vite).

Min sære hybridløsning ble å bryte digital kontakt med ytterligere 300 kontoer. Totalen på slike UNFRIENDS siden høsten 2014 er nå ca 750. Alt fra perifere medelever på barneskolen jeg ikke hadde noe kontakt med de seks-sju åra vi var «venner» her til tidligere kolleger jeg ikke hadde noe videre kontakt med de fire-fem åra vi var «venner».

(Jeg har følgende jævlig rare gammalmannsforestilling jeg gjør mitt ytterste for å legge av meg: ord har en betydning. Det er håpløst umoderne og neppe noe særlig konkurransefortrinn, sånn jeg opplever idebobla som serveres meg som «konsensusvirkelighet» i disse dager).

Min FB-mettelse skyldes til dels noen ytterst få enkeltpersoners bruksmønster (det er statistisk sett lite sannsynlig at DU er en av disse), men først og fremst dynamikken til FB som medie. Blant annet den særegne evnen til å mure meg virtuelt inne med enkeltbrukere hvis tekst-persona jeg får brokk av. Det er mange, mange av disse UNFRIENDS (nærmere bestemt 749) jeg gjerne treffer i det analoge og har kontakt med fra tid til annen, som jeg likevel ikke føler behov for daglig digital samhandling med. De fleste er helt ok, «har sine sider» osv. Som de fleste av oss.

Det er en sær kollektiv vrangforestilling vi har levd i som kulturkrets, i cirka ti år snart. At det er «naturlig» å pleie nærmere daglig kontakt med nesten alle man har møtt. Det virker som et flertall (meg inkludert) tar spillets regler for gitt, uten vel noen gang å ha fått dem forklart, eller gitt sitt samtykke til at «ja, slik vil jeg gjerne at min sosiale virkelighet skal være». Jeg er temmelig fascinert, men også litt frastøtt. Nysgjerrig på veien videre. Og dette er, tro meg på mitt ord, ikke ment i normativ forstand. Sånn opplever jeg det. Men jeg gidder ikke å gjenta det for hvert bidige avsnitt.

(Huff, håper ikke Paisley leser dette. Han vil sikkert avskrive meg som avfeldig og gammel på det spydigste riksdansk, hvis noe sånt finnes. Og for så vidt ha rett. Har jeg blitt en sånn en? Er det naturgitt å bli en sånn en når man nærmer seg 40 og noe og ennå ikke har klart å sylte ned en brorpart av den daglige oppmerksomheten i barn? Aner ikke, ikke det heller). Sånn opplever jeg det.

At jeg har mine høyst private og litt særegne oppfatning av digitale intimgrenser, ønsker for hvordan akkurat jeg vil bruke mediet osv ber jeg om toleranse for. Akkurat som jeg har en slags forventning om at andre finner ut av å bruke denne teknologien, kommunikasjonsplattformen osv slik det passer dem best. Sånn opplever jeg det.

Jeg skrev ikke dette til akkurat deg.
Jeg skrev det til akkurat deg.

(Ja, jeg vet det finnes noen titalls andre muligheter enn «UNFRIEND» til å regulere sin FB-«opplevelse». Jeg bruker også disse).

* http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2014/06/28/facebook-manipulated-user-news-feeds-to-create-emotional-contagion/#553a8d045fd8

Publisert i Intertubes, Uncategorized

n u l l

«Does it feel like you are thinking faster?»

I’ve prepared the ritual space, I guess you could say. If you’re inclined to think that way. Nothing out of the ordinary. Cleaned the living-room table of some dirty dishes and shit. Wiped up some coffee stains.

The door to this apartment is now locked.

The door to this apartment is now locked.

Do you get the significance of that?

Probably not.

There’s some music in the background. Spotify. The playlist I made for the space fantasy campaign. This is what I’m hearing right now: https://open.spotify.com/track/0IoAritQOHK6TeQRVUyxpq

Texts obviously written by someone tripping have held a certain fascination for years. Whether it be anger-trip, alcohol-trip, trip-trip…

Sometimes I just have to excuse myself. Can’t get into it. Too oblique, too personal.

But sometimes, it’s like they manage to … let me in to that headscape.

This isn’t even my language.

Good thing about a text is you can

stop reading

The door is always open.

You see the significance of that.

Oh, right, sorry. Didn’t give you the context. I won’t give you all of the context, because it’s boring, private and not original in any sense.

Monday, I had something like a panic attack. A real soft, lightweight version. Nothing to write home about, really.

So now, Wednesday, I’m on sick leave with hypomania.

Blogs are great for this kind of text. Personal bullshit, rants. Fanzines too, when they were around. I hardly ever read all of it. But I’m sort of glad they exist. That connection? That sense of…

Over a decade ago, I did one of those 24 hour comic things. Where you sit for 24 hours straight to write and draw. And I did it. I completed it. It wasn’t a great comic, but it felt good. Like a small accomplishment.

And I obviously enjoy those states. Some impro exercises. Flow, channelization, the Zen. I’m always going on about this. For years, now.

Went to an impro class yesterday evening. Real cool initiative among some local larpers. Low … up-and-coming-drama student factor. Laidback, friendly atmosphere.

And that stuff, man.

It’s like…

I can tell you as many times you want, I can write as much as I want about it. But if a given reader never tried it for herself, she’d… probably have a harder time understanding my jam (here’s the “stating the obvious” you predicted, M).

That’s not unique. My friend who’s a cop can walk down the same streets as me, but see different things. Someone was raped over there. There was a suicide in the apartment behind those windows. Drunken streetfight happened in this very spot, a couple of years ago.

Obvious, right?

Psychogeography. Nothing mystical about it. All very common-sense, street smart stuff.

But if you ever have a chance, if you’re ever centered enough…

Try entering a social situation or just navigate the street during rush hour in this condition, or a similar state.

Use the tools.

See people

Play the game

Know it’s a game

Know it’s not a game

Remind yourself you’re not Shunryū Suzuki

you’re just you

dealing

Think I’ll end this ritual. (Got what I came for)

Do another

Play another game

Be another man

Forever and ever and ever until I croak.

Thanks for taking the time

It’s raining outside. Like hard, spring rain. I’m very blessed to have a veranda I can stand on. Smoking.

 

And now; here comes the Sun

Publisert i Religion, Rollespill, Skriveri, Tanker, Uncategorized

Fastaval: Some games I played and didn’t

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This year’s theme was «Back to the 80s». Photo: Fastaval.

Fastaval: annual Danish roleplay/board game/freeform/mini-larp convention with a heavy focus on DIY and self-made scenarios. Big award show on Sunday. Always in Easter.

I feel I did something 24/7, but it’s odd how few games I actually got to play. Many good conversations, though. I even had fun dancing, which I hardly ever do. Was a bit stressed out over some card-printing problems for the game I participated with, Old Friends (with Jason Morningstar), but it worked out in the 11th hour, with good help from the Info crew and my eager scissor-hands. Old Friends is a mini-larp (5 players) about retired ghost hunters. It uses funky impro-inspired masks and keyword technology Jason has devised.

I was supposed to run Oliver Nøglebæk’s Trigger Warning, which is a concentrated 2 hour exploration of a simple core method; meditating over some pictures by turn. I liked the set-up and instructions, and would love to try it someday. The method seems solid, I found some of the “secrets” a bit heavy-handed. But there is gold in there, that can be scavenged by people interested in that sort of thing.

I was also supposed to GM The Intrepid Seven by Jacqueline Bryk and Evan Torner, which I’m not sure really needs a GM. “Queer polyamorous terraforming space-colonists”. All seven characters are married to each other. And there’s rub-arm sex. Larp-y. The set-up looks daunting at first, with its 116 pages, but you only have to read about 40 (GM and one character booklet) and maybe talk to others who ran it to figure it out. Those who got to play seemed to really enjoy it.

The abovementioned GM-duties were cancelled due to lack of players in both cases (and honestly, I was so tired it was probably for the best).

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One of the five leather masks Lars Bayer made for «Old Friends». Photo: Fastaval.

Ran a game by Terese Nielsen, I Mit Sted/In My Place. Parents and teens drama with a body-switch twist, like that movie. It worked nicely, I had a very cool group of three Danes and a German. They helped me get started by, on their own initiative while I was out of the room, drawing a relationship map on the blackboard. The scene cards were a great play aid. The script I received was a bit convoluted, with some forward-referencing issues. I understand it will be cleaned up before posting it to the amazing Alexandria.dk database (thousands of Danish con scenarios from the past several years. Check it out. Many games in English, but they can be hard to find. Search for Fastaval or “Otto” and start exploring).

Also got to be an NPC in Jackson Tegu’s Glitch Iteration for about 5 minutes. It’s an incrowd larp that won the Golden Cobra design contest one year. I played a short game experiment by the same author called… uhm… something about Little Red Riding Hood? Nice 10 minute, go rounds type deal. Then an interesting debrief/discussion. I like those little experiments. I think I learned some stuff about some stuff. Bit of the old introspection, y’know? Tegu was a guest of honor at the festival.

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Otto Channel made sketches on-site, and ran their show in the Café every night. Photo: Fastaval.

I didn’t run Old Friends, because I’d switched GM duties with others, recruited GMs among my January playtesters and because I’d recently run it three times. Read through our script again on the plane home. Identified some annoying typos, among other minor things. «Off» has many places been changed to «oft» by some autocorrect or the other. Things like that. We’ll put it online soon.

I was signed up to play some of the #Feminism nanogames, but was just too tired. Finally received my booklet, though. Great layout, 30 mini-games. I think the layout is pretty much best practice in this branch of niche gaming: accessible, clear, making pick-up-and-play easy. Interesting and inspiring anthology. I’ve been lucky enough to playtest one game and participate in two others before Fastaval.

There are also several on-going status- and in-joke based incrowd larps going on all over the festival at any given time of day. You can drop in and out at will, if you’re elite like me.

Hope to see you next year.

(Oh, and here’s a thoughtful blog post by one of this year’s Otto winners, Troels Ken Pedersen, about the pros and cons of the awards and the annual scenario writing competition. In Danish: https://planbrollespil.wordpress.com/velkommen/bloggen/ ).

 

 

Publisert i freeform, Laiv, Rollespill, spilldesign, Tanker, Uncategorized | Merket med | Legg igjen en kommentar

Red October (larp, Norway 2011)

6642174089_34f4ee0225All photos: Marianne Gunderson.

(Rød oktober. Larp, southeastern Norway 21-23. October 2011.

Organizers: Even Tømte, Erlend Eidsem Hansen, Solveig Rydland, Martin Knutsen.)

The moment I realized I didn’t belong in a communist party was, for some reason, as a 17-year old, at the conference «Socialism from Below» in Oslo. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other comrades, my left arm raised with clenched fist in a 45 degree at the leaders and the red flags on the scene, singing the Internationale.

This weekend, I stood exactly like that again.

Red October was a semi-historical Norwegian larp, with lots of fictional license. The game’s fiction was set to the Norwegian maoist(!) group AKP(ml)’s autumn camp in 1975.

«The Workers’ Communist Party (Norwegian: Arbeidernes Kommunistparti, AKP) was a Norwegian communist party (1973–2007). AKP was a maoist party and one of two communist parties in Norway (…).

6642172213_9a7f3e6f46_zAKP was founded in 1973, as Arbeidernes Kommunistparti (marxist-leninistene). It did not participate directly in elections, but members had «activity duty», meaning that they were to work for the party’s goals – passive members were not accepted. The precise number of its members is unknown.» (Wikipedia)

«Arbeidernes kommunistparti (AKP) is a revolutionary party working for a fundamental change (a revolution) of the way that Norway and the world is governed. Our goal is communism, a society without suppression and class distinctions, where a majority of the people – with the working class as the most important power – will govern.» (The now defunct party’s website, in English)

My character was comrade Børre (an alias), self-proletarianized academic, currently working at a nursing home. Self-proletarianization was a concept this group had, whereby students or members with a middle-class background would start working in factories or other working-class occupations as a strategy for «raising consciousness» both among themselves and the true proletariat. There was some (deliberate) tension in the larp whether being a nursing assistant was «truly working class», in a marxist understanding of the term.

Meetings and activities
6642170095_8c76a23a05Political meetings and discussions were central to the larp, and opinions among the players post-game were a bit divided. I thought it worked quite well. I found release for my inner heckler, but I’m also genuinely interested in several of the topics we discussed, even the more historical ones.

In the debrief session after the larp, several players who were less active in these discussions said they liked them, as they felt the debates strengthened the larp’s illusion. But some thought it was a bit dull in the long run, which I can fully empathize with. Maybe some more practically oriented workshops would have been good for the balance. The female players had a «women’s culture workshop», for instance, where they produced models of vaginas that were baked in an oven and used for decorations. That sounded fun, but my character was not allowed to attend (because he didn’t have a vagina).

There was also a workshop on «reconnaissance» out in the woods around the cabin that felt kind of ridiculous, but which some of the characters took suitably seriously. There was also a cultural evening with political songs, some theatre and poem recitals.

6642174225_279f38fb79Some of the topics discussed seem equally relevant today, like certain feminist issues or the Palestinian cause. These also, naturally I guess, produced the liveliest debates. Many players had prepared thoroughly, reading up on the historical period, statistics and the official party standpoints in the 70s.

The Meta Cabin
To explore relationships between various characters, the organizers provided us with a smaller cabin away from the central play area, which functioned sort of like a Black Box. It was used for dream sequences, scenes from the character’s past, inner monologues and similar techniques. I went there only once, with two female colleagues my character had a crush on. We played out the thoughts the characters had during the meeting about women’s lib that had been held just before we visited the cabin. These gradually turned into inner monologues-riffing-on-each-other about the relationships between these three people. It was a nice sequence, and provided interesting backdrop for the rest of the larp, even though we didn’t interact that much after the cabin visit.

Prep
Many players were well-prepared for the larp, with studies, costumes and props (like an authentic typewriter, books and mint condition magazines from the era). Play felt very «real» to me. Some groups stood out especially, like the Palestine Committee (there were three Palestinian players present at the larp, and a thorough historical lecture with slides) and the women’s band Furia (who organized the cultural evening and had written several songs especially for the larp).

«Compendium»
6642147109_02cb59225bAt Norwegian larps, there has been a tradition of providing the players with a prewritten document detailing the rules and the setting. I really liked the one we received prior to Red October. It had a clear vision for the larp, brief and relevant information about the larp’s «universe» (Norway 1975, and especially this particular political group) including a timeline, a clear summary of safewords and other rules, practical matters, a brief introduction to the characters and their relationships and more.

My experience
In the last few years prior to this larp, I’ve mostly attended one-evening chamberlarps. Usually humorous or lighter games. It felt good to once again have a few days to get properly into character. Red October felt kind of personal. A realistic play style, my youthful background from certain political scenes, thorough preparations and skillful players all contributed. I got a taste of what made me get such a huge kick out of larp when I started out eleven years earlier; deep immersion, shadows of real emotions («bleed»), being someone else, elsewhere, in another time.

You can see the rest of Marianne’s ingame photos here.

[Note: this is a more or less direct, somewhat abbreviated, translation of my post-larp blogpost from 2011. Two of the organizers have on occasion linked to it, and asked me to make it available in English. It’s a simple, subjective blog post, but hopefully it will be of interest to some of you. I’ve added some context and explanations for the benefit of non-Norwegian readers, but not delved much deeper than that.]

Publisert i Laiv, Politikk?!, Uncategorized | Legg igjen en kommentar

The Night Shift

Before We Wake: a short-larp about dreams. Copenhagen Thursday 6th of August to Saturday 8th 2015.

Dreams have been an almost lifelong source of fascination for me. I remember writing down and illustrating a dream in answer to a school assignment when I was 11. Something about a blue giant, maybe Zeus, resting against one of the neighbor’s houses where I used to live. I like the quirky, personal symbols dreams generate, and the strange stories they tell. Or those we tell about them after the fact. I’m also fond of weird fiction and surreal elements in stories and games. So I was excited to take part in Before We Wake, an experimental larp designed with the aim of exploring the players’ own dreams.

The event took place at Copenhagen Music Theatre, which has a large black box space. Thursday was dedicated to workshopping, then the roughly 50 players were split in two groups for separate runs; Friday and Saturday. I played in the second run.

The pre-game workshop was a walkthrough of the method. The larp itself was divided into three acts, with the first two almost functioning as another rehearsal for the “proper” dream-creation in act three.

At its best, I found the larp delivered some truly dream-like and intense moments. At the same time, however, it presented us as players with quite a roleplaying challenge, dialling both fixed character and coherent narrative down to near-zero.

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Scenography

Both the black box and its equipment were utilized in an effective way. Sounds and lights were continuously “DJed” to echo and affect the player’s actions. A projected video of abstract shapes filled the back wall with shifting light. The room where the larp took place was sparsely decorated with some thin trees and special tape serving as barriers (barriers which the players on my run happily and repeatedly broke through and stepped over; they were constantly being replaced by the organizers). Then there were some podiums placed on top of each other to serve as staircases, cliffs, mountains or hills as the dreams necessitated. It was a cool backdrop for such a game.

The players had been instructed to dress all in white, and were also provided with two sets of white theatre garments of some sort to play around with, one for the head and one for the arms. The white clothes created a striking visual contrast in the dark room.

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The Night Cafe

The play area had two main zones, used in every act: in the Night Café (with tables, chairs, water to drink and some snacks) you’d play the “dream envoys”, discussing the ongoing dreams from sort of detached meta-perspective, maybe even planning dream content. Elsewhere in the room, you were inside some vague, collective, shifting dream space. Either as part of the abstract, semi-conscious weaver-creatures, or playing the dream envoy playing your dreaming self, playing whatever characters you happened to be in the dreams of others. So the feeling of having one fixed character was not really there for me, most of the time.

The dream envoys are not you, but live inside you and try to communicate important messages to you through dreams. Or something to that effect. It was all a bit abstract to me, but reminded me of a peculiar concept my friend Matthijs Holter, who has a deeper interest in dream interpretation than me, has tried to explain to me without much success for a couple of years. In brief, he seems to believe that such “entities,” separate from ourselves, do in fact exist in our dreams and occasionally appear to us directly. Make of it what you will.

These beings gathered in the Night Café, where we were still in-character as dream envoys, but observing and discussing what happened in the dream space from a more detached viewpoint. The dream envoys could also make plans for dreams together, and collaborate if one of them had some specific content they wished to explore.

There were physical items stacked on shelves in the Night Café, small objects like those found at a flea market. We could bring these into the dream space. In the workshop, quite a bit of time was spent on somehow connecting these items to imagery or themes from the dream journals we had been instructed to keep in the month leading up to the larp. I had a hard time figuring when, or whether it would be a good idea, to introduce concepts from my own dream journal during play. It felt more natural to react to what happened in the game, and riff of other’s input, like with other kinds of improv.

I didn’t spend much time in the Night Café. A couple of the organizers acted as waiters. When I visited, they also prodded me – in character – about how things were going, suggesting things I could do. I read it as friendly concern for me as a player (“Is he having fun? He doesn’t appear to be into it.”) but it also felt a bit pushy or “outside the game.” Simply put: I didn’t know exactly how to relate to them. I did have a couple of nice experiences with other players though. One brief exchange with a Swedish player involved our dream envoy characters sitting at a table talking about ourselves – the players – our “issues” and troubles, what message we needed to hear, etc. We managed to juggle this conversation without going into too many specifics, without revealing the players behind the mask in a way that would “break the game”. I’ve enjoyed that style of metagaming or “fourth-wall bending” in role-playing games and larps for years, and this game catered to that.

A Danish player later requested that I set a scene for him, and gave me some keywords for what he wanted the scene to be about and what characters we were to play. This kind of meta-planning dreams in character was part of the design, and something the organizers had encouraged. I think it was the only time I experienced it directly. We went back into the dream space together and played out a brief scene with me as sort of a coach or GM. It worked: it had a simple narrative structure, and the player told me later on he got a kick out of it, so that made me happy. And for the only time during the whole larp, I pushed through with what we were doing even though other players came running and wanted to change the scene from our “journey of self-discovery in some temple ruins” to “the house is on fire, you have to run away” when the sfx smoke machine was turned on (with perfect timing for what we were initially up to). I don’t think it was a problem for anyone; they had their dream, we had ours. But it goes to illustrate the challenge you’d sometimes have getting any kind of coherent narrative with this design, even for five brief minutes.

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Weavers

One of the things we rehearsed in the workshops was the concept of the weavers. These abstract creatures generated dream-stuff in the setting the organizers had envisioned. The technique was similar to contact improv: starting with their backs towards each other, player groups of two or more would together form a weaver creature. Responding to, echoing and shaping each other’s movements and sounds, they’d gradually become more and more synced. It was a fun exercise, especially when we got into those weirdly synchronized flow states you sometimes get with that kind of improv: forgetting yourself, becoming part of the group, acting in an odd way as one. During play, I mostly saw the weavers in action at the beginning of the three acts, as far as I recall. We were instructed to let the weavers feed us “themes” and other content for the dreams.

I felt a bit ambivalent towards the weavers. I liked them during the workshops, when I had those small, weird, collective flow moments I just described. But the instruction of trying to extract specific themes from the weaver’s actions made little sense to me. I didn’t feel they operated on that symbolic level. They were more generative of moods and feelings. I don’t think I brought much content from the weaver-state (intuitive, exploring, feelings, moods) to the dreamer-state (to me: more verbal, cerebral). And I was unsure how I was expected to do that.

I also had kind of an erotic experience as part of a weaver unit in the first act. Collective… heavy breathing, panting, hugging, softly touching, dimmed lights contributed to that. I don’t think it was just me, and I heard a similar moment related from the run on Friday. I was a bit unprepared for the intensity of it just then, at the very beginning of the larp, and withdrew from the situation after a short while. I was torn between the feeling of “oh, this is very nice, I wouldn’t mind for this to continue” and “oh, I hope the players I don’t know won’t perceive me as some kind of creep” and, to put it bluntly, “getting a hard-on in these thin, cheap, white pants will certainly not look very smart.”

View from the Night Café. Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

View from the Night Café. Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

In Conclusion

The production felt very professional throughout the pre-game and play, and I mean that in a positive sense. The organizers appeared confident, as though they had really thought the concept through and knew what they were doing. We were told this production had been in the making for one and a half years, and you could really tell. I’ve always been impressed, almost a bit daunted, by this aspect of larping; that volunteer organizers make such an effort for the benefit of the player’s experience.

I had great trust in the experienced organizers, and am usually happy to try out experimental designs. Parts of the larp did a nice job of generating a dream-like quality. It was an interesting production to witness and be part of. Nevertheless, it didn’t quite “do it” for me this time:

I realized over the weekend that out of all the things I appreciate with the larp medium, one of the core things I want to do in role-playing is simply play a character. The second most important thing might be for some kind of coherent, meaningful narrative to emerge from play. Both “character” and “narrative” were dialed down to near-zero in Before We Wake. I assume this was a conscious design decision. Your main character, the dream envoy, was “workshopped” by briefly closing your eyes, and envisioning the character in a room, behind the box containing your “items of meaning”. There were few later exercises directly related to strengthening or trying out that character before we started playing.

Play did generate some scenes that felt very dreamlike: shifting characters, more focus on mood than action or clear-cut narrative. I also experienced kind of a forgetfulness that reminds me of my dreams. It is hard to keep track of the “story” in dreams.

I enjoyed just strolling around playing secondary characters or even sort of game mastering other people’s dreams. I never really felt like a main character, as I usually do in other roleplaying experiences. The concept of utilizing content from my dream journal sounded interesting. In practice, however, I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out how to go about it. I found the concept for transferral of subjects, motifs and themes from journal to the game itself too flimsy.

The design gave us many good toys and tools, but we were also given quite a roleplaying challenge. With no fixed character, we were to play out dream content personally significant to us, but in a setting that worked a bit like “the collective unconscious,” where all the other players and their impulses also had a say on the ever-shifting story. We were to be inspired, maybe, by our own dream journals and the unpredictable results of an exercise in contact improv.

Sometimes it was nice just to look at the game unfolding. I had momentary flashes and scenes that felt both a bit profound, and very dream-like. Feedback during the brief post-larp round and online afterwards indicated many players had a great experience.

These remain, obviously and as always, just my reflections.

Larp designers and project managers: Nina Runa Essendrop, Kristoffer Thurøe, Jesper Heebøll Arbjørn, Sanne Harder, Mathias Kromann Rode, Kirstine Hedda Fich, and Peter Schønnemann Andreasen.

Webpage: http://beforewewake.dk/

More photos from the game.

Improv-instructor Alex Fradera attended the first run Friday, and has some interesting perspectives about the design: After Waking: Thoughts on Before We Wake.

Danish larp organizer Peter Munthe-Kaas delves deeper into the design of both workshop, scenography and game structure than I have done here: http://munthe-kaas.dk/blog/?p=646

Swedish author Karin Tidbeck was very happy with her experience, and writes about it in this short blog post: http://www.karintidbeck.com/britas-holiday-village/2015/8/9

Danish participant Thais Munk has also written a personal blog post about his experience: https://thaismunk.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/before-we-wake-about-dreams-a-damn-wise-silverback-gorilla-and-blackbox-larp-as-a-media/

(Many thanks to Alex Fradera, Martin Nielsen, Dave Chapman and Evan Torner for valuable input on this text).

Game mastering Danish larp. Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Game mastering Danish larp. Before We Wake 2015. Photo: Karin Pedersen / Mathias Kromann Rode / Kristoffer Thurøe (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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Not the Travelling Circus Manifesto

The Circus will change with every show, in every new location it appears.

Will there be boffer weapons? Will there be a black box? Will there be formalized rules? Will there be an attempt to create a 360 degree illusion, or could a pen symbolize a rose? Maybe, maybe not.

The Circus travels far and wide. Tanzania, Palestine, Russia, Czech Republic, North America, Brazil, even the Nordic countries are frequently visited by this colorful, ever-changing spectacle. Everywhere; learning, changing, adapting, playing, challenging, creating, getting to know, partying, laughing (sometimes crying too).

It learns from local traditions, shares its own traditions freely: acts, tools and tricks.

You can never know for sure who belongs to the Circus. Maybe that businesswoman who just passed you on the street is a member. Maybe your shrink? You’d be inclined to think that dreadlocked neo-hippie juggling on the square would know, but he turns out to be clueless.

If you want to be a member, you are. You don’t even have to travel. You’ll be there, if you want to. Close your eyes, or open your laptop. You can stay on this road for as long as you please, take a break and come back when you’re ready.

The Travelling Circus didn’t start when the first story was told in a paleolithic cave, not with the pageantry of sixteenth-century Europe, not with the theatre of spontaneity in 1910, not at the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Canada in 1977, and certainly not in Gary Gygax’ basement. Yet all of those are spiritual ancestors.

There is no such thing as The Circus.

Just draw that magic circle, and you can summon the show.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publisert i freeform, Laiv, Rollespill, Tanker | Merket med , , | 1 kommentar

Sources for Public Domain/Creative Commons images

Photo: Giulio Zannol (Creative Commons/Flickr)

Photo: Giulio Zannol (Creative Commons/Flickr)

Useful for games, blog posts, articles etc:

Flickr lets you search specifically for Creative Commons-material, mostly photos.

Wikimedia Commons has a huge repository, a lot of which is historical.

Wikimedia also has category-specific lists of Public Domain image databases, like art and history.

Old Book Illustrations

Internet Archive Book Images, huge volume of book illustrations in the Public Domain.

DeviantArt: Do a site-specific search on Google Image Search. E.g: «owlbear site:deviantart.com»

Select Search Tools -> Usage rights. Select, for instance, «Labeled for noncommercial reuse». (Still turns up a lot of irrelevant results, but I guess it’s better than nothing).

http://fossilbank.wikidot.com/ has a bunch of links to free/open licensed artwork.

Stock photos that doesn’t suck

Pixabay.com

Free photography, UX photo resources and Image Search

Icon-style art from TheNounProject.com or from Game-Icons.net

Thanks: Yanni C, Nick W. 

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My games

2013-07-12 12.03.25 (2)This is a list of all the games I’ve made I could think of, including links where available. Some are long, most are very short. Many are playable, some less so. Hope you’ll see something of interest. In English unless I specify it’s in Norwegian.

Not Chaos Magic (Really!), 2015
My contribution for David Schirduan’s 200 Word RPG contest. I see some clear thematic links with entries further down on this list. I’m actually quite happy with the text. I don’t know if it’s REALLY A GAME, but it sure is about some subjects I’ve been thinking about a lot for the past decade+.

Øyet (Norwegian), 2015
A one page collaborative storytelling game commissioned by the Norwegian National Museum of Art for an exhibit they had about juxtaposing scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies with 19th century illustrations of the Norse sagas.

Me& Matthijs' children's book on role-playing includes some rudimentary rules to get started with.

Me & Matthijs’ children’s book on role-playing includes some rudimentary rules to get started with.

Rollespill (Norwegian), 2014
A children’s factbook about role-playing games, published by Cappelen Damm. Includes some simple rules designed by my co-author Matthijs Holter.

The Hirelings, 2013
Published in Larps from the Factory, an anthology of Norwegian short larp scripts. The Hirelings is a D&D-themed comedy, utilizing a lot of techniques and exercises similar to theatersports and improv. With Håken Lid.

[…]

2013-09-21 09.06.45 (2)Fiction – a flexible freeform framework, 2013
With Elin Nilsen. Fiction is designed to provide a framework and some guidelines for both inexperienced and experienced players to lean on when improvising a game from scratch.

Small talk the RPG, 2013
Is it a game? Is it a blog post? Maybe it’s just common sense?

Dagsrevyen (Norwegian), 2009
You’re newsmen in Norway in the 60s, and all the news are very strange. A very rough outline of a game. I actually still think the core idea is sound, but don’t really believe in the game as it stands. Can’t even recall if I ever playtested it.

Itras By, 2008
Itras By is a surreal role-playing game by Martin Bull Gudmundsen and I, with the kind assistance of several friends. We started working on it in 2001, so it only took us seven years to finish. Unlike most of the games on this list, it’s a complete role-playing game book. It’s been translated to Finnish and English, with French, German and Catalan editions to follow (or so I’m told).

2012-02-28 18.57.44 (2)[…]

Impressionist roleplaying, 2006
Some notes I made after running a brief improvised session at the small gaming festival HolmCon. Not exactly a game, more an outline of some GM techniques and philosophy for a certain style of play.

Grab Life by the Balls, 2006
More existentialist drivel, probably written in a state of hypomania. It was fun and weird to see this again, especially including the translated forum comments. I’d forgotten about Skjalg’s translation. Thanks, man!

Legio (Norwegian), 2004
A playful meditation over personality and character traits, inspired by chaos magic. I seem to have returned to these topics over and over again.

[…]

Matthijs was the editor of Imagonem, and I think here I finally see the thematic link between all these games: I made them to impress Matthijs! (He was actually quite impressed by Itras By. Then again, he contributed setting material and designed half the system).

***

That’s what I could come up with and find online this evening. I may have forgotten something. At least one game I know of, we took offline. There may be some sketches on forums or social media that I’ve forgotten.

A lot of what I’ve written in relation to role-playing games these past 20 years has also been more in the form of advice, reviews, interviews, blog post doodling and stuff like that, sometimes with a touch of journalism. But not game design as such.

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Games you can play with social media

goldenI’m not thinking here of apps or hangouts. I mean text/layout/image-based stuff.

Cryptic Profile Image Rebus
Yesterday, I changed my profile photo on FB (because I’d been using me friend’s profile photo without his permission for a day or so, and I thought it might be weird or creepy to continue doing that. It was as sort of a joke. Or a game. Enough about that). I didn’t have a recent selfie I was happy with, but some stray thought led me to use a simple golden apple I found on Google Images. In my head, it was an obvious reference to Greek mythology and Discordinanism, but I didn’t know how many would catch that. It was fun to see people who were «in on the joke» comment («fnord», «Kallisti», «something in Greek» etc). Another girl told me to «go to bed», but that was because of another game we were playing that evening, that started in the comments under a friend’s posts.

Selfie-miming
Once I asked people to give me some kind of adjective or person to portray, and I’d do a series of selfies in the comments section where I try to have my face «portray» those words/emotions. That was kind of fun. I did a similar ask-me-to-draw-stuff recently. AMA could be another variety. You could also do those with specific themes. Another FB friend had a nice thing with «let me give you a compliment» last year, that really spread around (I think she came up with it).

Surreal status updates
For a while last year, I think it was, people in my feed would write something weird about not believing anyone read their posts and writhing on the living room floor in a sleeping bag or something. I enjoyed those status updates. I could immediately tell it was a game, but I didn’t know what it was about. So it was kind of a mystery too. I eventually googled it, and found it was some European(?) politician(?) who had started it as some kind of awareness-raising campaign for breast cancer(?) or another good cause. If you commented on one of the posts or PMed the poster, they would tell you about the good cause and that now you had to post some similar weirdness. I didn’t like that aspect of it, because I don’t like being told what to do and would rather have important information communicated to me in a direct, accessible manner. Also, the fact that I’m not exactly sure what it was about today makes me doubt the effectiveness of this way of «raising awareness». But I enjoyed the posts before I got to know the answer. Game.

"Let's fill Facebook with sexual-satanic imagery. I received "Baphomet eating out a nun" from A*** M***, and challenge S*** E*** to post an image of "the witches' sabbath"."

«Let’s fill Facebook with sexual-satanic imagery. I received «Baphomet eating out a nun» from A*** M***, and challenge S*** E*** to post an image of «the witches’ sabbath».»

Annoying chain-letter
There are also the «Let’s fill Facebook with art/comics/cheese/whatever» things that sometime happen. They easily get to be too much for me, because when everyone is doing more or less the same thing, it soon amounts to spam. We have them on G+, too, with the hashtag-something, but so far I mostly enjoy those. Smaller and more theme focused community there (for me, at least).

«This is your team»
And the one were you write some kind of list (like «This is your D&D adventure party»), and a description of each person, and then the reader will fill in with semi-random people from their «recent friends box» or something. Those can get a bit spammy, too. But they’re fast and fun to write, as I tested with the theme «supervillains» earlier this spring (see below).

Role-playing
I’ve sometimes tried running something a bit similar to text-based roleplaying games in the comments section. But the intitial post has to have very simple and very clear rules for it not to descend into complete chaos after a short while. And depending on the rules, you may or may not have to set aside the time to be present for the game.

Supervillains team
I wrote this annoying-but-sort-of-fun style game for Facebook:

You’re the leader of a team of super-villains.

To find out who’s on your team, check the people in your “friends-box” to the left on your profile page.

From left to right:

1) The mutant with a grudge against humanity:
2) The cosmic trickster demigod:
3) The vengeful android:
4) The shape changer from a parallel dimension:
5) The symbiotic costume from an alien planet:
6) The despotic wizard-ruler of a fictional Eastern European nation:
7) The radioactive genius:
8) The half-man, half-beast creature:
9) Your even more evil twin:

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