Role-playing culture and presentation

It’s been a very full six months for reconnecting to the physical and social activities here in Norrköping. Getting to GothCon turned out to be too demanding, but otherwise, I participated in various ways at Närcon (spring), Lincon, a service/play event for Ukrainian kids, Närcon (summer), Augustifesten, and just now, Kulturnatten. Only some of it was focused on Adept Play particularly, but that has turned out surprisingly well. I’ve expanded live play at Spelens Hus to three sessions per week instead of one, with a much wider age range as you’ve seen in a recent post.

All of this, through most of the summer through mid-September, has taken so much time that I haven’t been able to keep up at Adept Play. I’m many games and sessions behind in editing and posting videos. But it also afforded a high-intensity training in how to show and tell role-playing, both procedurally (which I feel good about already) and cuturally, which is the tough part. I thought I’d share with you the very interesting details about the latter topic, based on one of Kulturnatten activities. 

OK – participating in the Spelens Hus activities for Augustifesten wasn’t very different from similar appearances: I set up a table with tons of historical, striking-looking, or odd role-playing materials, as well as a few handouts, and it’s easy to enter into a conversation about the activity with anyone of any age and with any degree of familiarity, including none. 

But this time I was also invited to spend Saturday afternon at the library instead, in a room dedicated to local game design. They were mostly card and board games; I would be the only role-playing design person.

The main organizer was Rustan Håkansson, whom some of you probably recognize as the author of Tribes (originally self-published as Tribes: Early Civilization, now revised as the Kosmos game Tribes: Dawn of Humanity). Rustan and I had been communicating on-and-off in a kind of, “let’s hang out, oh wait, I have to be somewhere this week” way for a while, and I was always a little wary because I am not really into the general meaning/activity of “gaming” and its commerce.  But Rustan and everyone else there turned out to be fantastic, really welcoming and very interested in what I had brought, and I had a lot of fun learning about their games too. 

My work-area was a little smaller than the Spelens Hus space I’d used, so I had to focus it down a bit. Here’s what I had out on a table: 

  • Old stuff: Dungeons & Dragons (Holmes), Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition with a folder of my current play materials, also my diagram of D&D history
  • Design sequence: The Clay That Woke + tokens and character sheets, with a printout of A Guide to Viricorne with paper cut-outs of its tokens and plaques
  • Frogs, a map, and dice for playing The Pool
  • Some of my games: Sorcerer, Spione, Shahida, and Circle of Hands

This array turned out to be very useful for any combination of discussion and play, with varying focus on design depending on the person. I also had managed to produce some new handouts, attached here. You’ll recognize some of the diagrams and some of them will soon appear in coursework. This is really what I wanted to share here and prompt some discussion.

So check them out please! They’re still a bit rough and I think I’ve spotted some unnecessary repetition and other style problems. Let me deal with that stuff. I’m interested instead in your thoughts or questions about the content.