I’ve attended the third and last of the primary Swedish conventions for me this year, excluding the big one, Nordsken, which I might consider next year. Närcon is not specifically about games as such, being, simply, all about the fun, emphasizing cosplay and music. Spelens Hus Norrköping has an ongoing presence there, recently under review for its purpose, and this year, I was part of that team.
With others’ very generous help, I did three days of four-and-a-half hour blocks of “introduction to role-playing,” composed mainly of The Pool, InSpectres, and Zombie Cinema, including a workshop during the first 90 minutes.
As an excellent example of how I really shouldn’t be allowed to do things, when I learned we’d have three days with available workshop time for me, I said: “Oh! Then I can do three workshops!” … and no one stopped me. (Next time, please stop me. Thank you.)
- Magical Fantasy
- 50 Years of Role-playing
- Role-playing Design
Given enthusiastic but not-numerous attendance at the workshops a Gothcon and Lincon, I decided the most optimistic and humble plan would anticipate six to ten people, probably less. That’s what I prepared for, in terms of the space I’d use and the materials to bring. Who was so surprised as me when thirty people showed up for the first …
Quick footnote: many thanks to MIFF for letting me use some overflow space for the following days! Also, the other quick footnote: people who attend more general events like Närcon are more curious than those at game-specific events like Gothcon – therefore, when you do something idiosyncratic, more people arrive to see what’s up.
Here’s the Powerpoint file for the first day’s workshop, which lifts slightly from the course Three Fantasies but diverges strongly into game procedures. In fact, doing so led me to think I might revise the course in that direction. Although it’s Powerpoint, I didn’t use a screen. I provided a three-page handout instead, with four slide-images per page.
The file doesn’t really capture the event, because my workshops are not merely slide presentations, but include activities. In this case, my plans for these were rattled by the unexpected attendance, but at least we tried some different spellcasting and some different purposes of magic. I didn’t manage to address, as I’d intended, the difference between magic as expression of ordinary or understandable things, vs. magic as expansion (out, away) from such things.
You can see that I went about as far as I could in one direction (cosmic, Hero Wars) and also about as far in the other (gritty, Hârnmaster), but mainly to point out that the intermediate concepts are vast and remarkably diverse throughout role-playing design. Really, magical rules design is one of my very favorite things, and I realize that it’s been badly under-served in the work at Adept Play so far. Let’s do something about that.
But that’s all extension from the real point, expressed – or rather, merely hinted – in the first slide and the lead image here. I’m thinking about the psychedelica just preceding role-playing’s first appearance, indicated by so many things … the band names (H.P. Lovecraft) (The Warlocks, renamed The Grateful Dead) (Hawkwind) (Ozrik Tentacles) and album titles (The Book of Taliesyn by Deep Purple) (Demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep) …
My argument for the participants was, in sum, that although we cannot turn the clock back half-a-century+, nor should we desire it, we can treat our time just as they did or that, bluntly, anyone can. And this is the medium to do it. Music was co-opted and sterilized. We need not be.