Cabin Flavor

Bilde 27.08.2017, 09.11.39Sometimes you rent an entire fishing village on the west coast for a week, so 120 people can play-pretend they’re in occupied Norway during WW2.

Other times, you settle for a cabin in the woods for a one night game of 9 players. Which is what my organizers did this weekend.

A lot of Norwegians are into outdoorsy activities, which means there are a fair amount of cabins of varying standard reachable from population centers.

There was a 4 km hike to reach the cabin.

For the larp this weekend, we pretended we were in 1969. All the characters knew the eccentric trickster “Uncle” Waldorf, but not each other. Everyone thought they’d be meeting solo with him, but it turned out Waldorf wasn’t even present. But he had written individual letters to all of them. With specific instructions. The full title of the larp was Uncle Waldorf’s Testament, so you might be able to picture how it went. Genre? Sort of an odd, medley of noir, light crime fiction and the purely farcical.

The lost son, the shady business deal, the lover, the other lover…

This sharply focused, deceptively simple set-up helped provide a fun and intense play experience on par with longer big-budget events I’ve sometimes attended. Game time was Saturday at around 2 pm to Sunday morning. The cabin had no electricity or running water, and there was an outhouse. This used to be your standard Norwegian cabin setup in the era of the larp, today it’s almost a bit exotic. Character descriptions were kept brief, similar with the onsite rules-walkthrough (cut/brake, that’s about it. Some notes on play style and genre).

Bilde 27.08.2017, 09.06.49Play was fed and generated by the letters, giving certain instructions. The non-present Waldorf NPC was a successful con-man, and a bit of a dick. He wanted my character to write his wife and admit the Christian small-time publishing house he ran made most of their money from erotic literature and forgery, for instance. Why would the characters demean themselves like this? In the hope of securing a part of Waldorf’s significant riches (and in my character’s case: perhaps avoid having livelihood and marriage destroyed).

Bilde 27.08.2017, 08.45.38For me, the larp really hit home. Was an energizer, rather than draining me. Helped me enter that fizzy simulated-hypomania fugue state that lets me connect, free-associate, take charge, hang back all in a natural flow I get a bit high on. A kick, pure and simple!

And the night sky beyond the city lights… it was pure Disney. Two shooting stars, one with a big tail. The blood red crescent Moon before that. I’ve been to the great Norwegian outdoors since I was a child. But I forget. I always forget.

I think something like half the Norwegian larps I’ve attended have been in a cabin. Usually more people than this one (we were nine. It was a private event, rather than an open-invite). This wasn’t a black box, there were no meta-techniques. Just focused, tight play, good improv, a fairly basic “testament plot” that worked like a charm. And the secret ingredient in most Norwegian larps I’ve really enjoyed: continuous in-character play until we’re done.

Bilde 27.08.2017, 07.11.47

The view from the cabin. 07 am Sunday 27th August 2017. 


A solo game that takes 10-20 minutes to play

1. Write down a thing that you want to do, but haven’t done yet.

2. Roll a die.

3. Let’s see what happens!

– On a 2-6, add 3 times that number to your age. Describe a change in your life. You didn’t do that thing you wanted to do yet; explain why. Now go to step 2 again.

– On a 1, you die. Oops! No need to describe or explain anything, you’re dead.

Shrine Master


Itsukushima shrine, torii gate. Photo: Joe deSousa/Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Of course he knew the Empire was built on airy, at times vulgar, symbolism. He was, after all, an educated man. He knew how to interpret the Laws of the Elders. Could equally well listen to the speech of the stars as kiss one of his concubines below. He believed neither in ghosts, nor in symbols as anything other than representations.

Still, a part of him; one might say the child, believed firmly in the virtues:

1. Fidelity to the large and the small family. Even when the decisions of the concubines or the Emperor seemed enigmatic.
2. Friendliness and good will towards strangers.
3 . Ritualized blasphemy by the altars along the roads, at night.
4. That you will reap as you sow.

Now he was standing by one of the altars, on the road to the Imperial City. The sunset painted the sky in shades of gold, pink, violet and orange. But not red, that color had been forbidden by the Emperor.

Soon the star-song would begin.

The altar was a scrawny, ancient spike of stone. The little roof that was supposed to protect the sacrificial gifts; fire, incense, beautiful stones, blood, flowers and perfume, against wind and weather would probably break down completely in a few hundred years.

He left a small, twelve-sided die for the enjoyment of the altar-eaters. Said a silent prayer to The Guardian of the Road that the ghosts he didn’t believe in would leave him alone this night.

On the long way home.

Shrine Master is about building those wayside shrines. It uses the Soft System.

The Soft System

Character set-up
Relations (max 3)
Twists/ story seeds/ complications/ intrigue magnets

Skill/ability check results

On a modified roll of 1d12:

12. Critical hit
11. Yes, and
10. Yes, and
9. Yes, but
8. Yes, but
7. Yes, but
6. No, but
5. No, but
4. No, but
3. No, and
2. No, and
1. Conflict escalates

With a table you can add modifications to die roll results. E.g: you have a relevant ability = +1, bigger chance of yes-roll. Very difficult task = -1, etc.

The results are interpreted by another player (one who’s character is not attempting the action. Everyone can make suggestions.)


At the beginning of each session, the players get one Whimsy card each (draw two cards, keep your favorite). They can be played at any time during the game, the player interprets the result. Inspiration can be used to buy more whimsy cards, at the rate of 1 Inspiration point = 1 card.

Original whimsy cards:

Inspiration points

Any player or the GM may award one (1) inspiration points to another player during a session. These can be spent [in interesting ways] to hack the narrative, setting or outcome of die rolls.

They are awarded when:

– A player does or says something unspeakably cool.
– A player acts in accordance with Goal or Problem.
– A player complicates matters in interesting ways.

The inspiration points are awarded immediately.

Inspiration points are dialed back to zero at the start of every new session.

Can be used to make small additions to the GM’s descriptions, add detail to the setting (the GM forgot to mention), auto success, introduce (useful) NPCs, buy a new whimsy card, etc.


Give others a chance to speak. Hear what they say. See how you can build or act on the information they impart to the story.

Accept, and add
If something is stated or established in the fiction, it’s probably true. Characters and ghosts may lie, and you may forget details. But try to stay with what has been said. Add your own details as they come to you. Don’t try too hard. Say the first thing you think of. Reincorporate elements that have come up previously.

Decline, but offer
It’s perfectly fine for your character to refuse a suggestion, but try to come up with a counteroffer. Don’t block or stall the game. If you get stuck in discussion-paralysis; act. Make up something, like an accusation. Do something stupid.

Just pause. And breathe.

Before you add a new element, consider: what has already been established? Can I re-introduce it into play? Will it create contrast, or shed new light this time around?


The home village. Photo: dynamosquito/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stay fluid
Be willing to discard your plan, or even better; don’t plan for a certain outcome. Pick up on the creative “balls” others throw out for you to play with. Go along with ideas. This is key to having fun in this game.

Let the story emerge
There are no true secrets here. There isn’t a prewritten plot to discover. This story will emerge during play, and you will see the totality in the end. Relax. Give your character and the ghosts time to play their hand, say their piece. Watch what the others do. Listen.

You don’t have to be funny or smart. Let the words come to you at their own pace.

Your little village needs a new wayside Shrine, the last one was torn down by the forces of nature. You play the Shrine Master and her henchmen. They will gather holy materials for the shrine, and build it where the last one stood.

Random story table (d12)

1. Another Shrine Master, searching for the same material as your group.
2. Sex in the City: your materials are located in a brothel in the Imperial City.
3. Sacrifice Emotion: you must recall and reenact a childhood memory to empower the Shrine.
4. An Infidel Demon tries to usurp your shrine. You must battle it with your wits.
5. Consumption: shrine building proves costly. You must get day jobs. It’s terrible after a life spent adventuring on the road.
6. Enabler: you meet a wrinkled old crone who offers to make shrine building easier if you make a sacrifice.
7. Tallest tower: an essential shrine component is located in the top of a near-inaccessible tower. It symbolizes our vain efforts.
8. Priestess: you must also recruit a priestess to cater to the shrinal needs. She must be a virgin, and very hideous.
9. A special kind of stone is required for the shrine. You must establish a quarry and safely transport the stone to your home village.
10. The Shrine Master’s concubines approach her for a favor, interrupting the quest.
11. Harmonious ritual: the group must create a ritual to empower the shrine.
12. Personal demons: the entourage have to confront and battle their personal, manifest demons in order to complete the shrine.

Game master instructions

Because all new indie games must be AW hacks:

Thunderous roar: Give brief, short descriptions that relate to the setting. “The crystal shines like crimson terror. It’s cold and hard to the touch. Electric fragrance in the air.”
Address the characters, not the players.
Show, don’t tell.
Abrupt change: every time your attention strafes something you own: a secondary character, an object, organization or relationship: consider killing, destroying or altering it for good.
Name everything, make everything human: create a list of names before the game. Give the secondary characters simple, understandable, human motivations.
Ask questions, build on the answers: “when did you first understand you’d be building a shrine? Why do you want to build the shrine? What does the new location look like?”
Give them what they want, reveal the consequence.
Be a fan of the characters: give them what they fight for, let them build their shrine… but only at the very end.

Support wheels

To be used if there is inaction or you’re stuck. Choose something from this list that will fit what has already come to pass. Shake things up, good:

Separate them.
Take a prisoner.
Give them a dilemma/tough choice: you can save one friend, not both.
Announce future threat: a great, big column of black smoke on the horizon. A nasty noise in the bushes. A rumor spreading.
An eye for an eye: hit them the way they hit your secondary characters.
Reveal your hand: state what you plan to do, execute.
Take away their stuff (except what truly defines them)
Activate their flaws.
Explain possible consequences and ask if they still want to go through with the plan.
Offer an opportunity that comes with a price.
Always ask: “what do you do?”

Other tips
Maps, handouts.
Ask follow-up questions: «yeah, tell me; what does it look like on the road? What will the shrine look like in the end?”
Digression and detail, sometimes.
Go around the table, give everyone spotlight.
Take breaks. Take your time.


The game ends when the shrine components are assembled, and it’s erected by the road near the character’s home village.

Go around the table. Ask the players what their character added to the shrine, and how it looks in the end. Go in great detail, this was the goal after all.

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Create three discrete nanogames in 2016 (well, actually it’s perfectly fine if they are related or intertwined, hacks of each other or something else).

By some definition of nanogame:

1-4 players, 15 minutes to 2 hours game time, short texts, with 0, 1 or several GMs.

Word limits are good, e.g: 200, 412, 777.

Publish somewhere. Please do share the link with us (in comments, at conventions, on microblog media). Play the games of others. Test your own.

It’s not a competition.

Random Nørway

An OSR inspired romp to bring Nørway to your table.

Crowdsourced on

On a roll of 1d100:

  1. Lutefisk is served. Aged stockfish and lye. It is gelatinous in texture. Its name literally means “lye fish”.
  2. Social Democracy: hear it SQUEAK! Now you have to share. (Toll booth, taxes, guilds etc).
  3. Winter Depression. Moods turn dark.
  4. Hyggelig. Uncomitted pleasantries. A sparkling fireplace. Hot chocolate.
  5. Saving throw vs. Fjord (or there will be a terrible avalanche & mini-tsunami this session).
  6. We come in Peace! Next encounter, the characters must attempt dialogue/diplomacy before attacking.
  7. Wellfare region: free healing @ the next temple. Taxpayer crowns pay any fee.
  8. Snow falls slowly from above, succeed on a will saving throw. On a fail immediately leave your current situation, isolating yourself in a wooden mountain cabin for no good reason.
  9. trollTroll attack! Real troll, not those skinny-ass Monstrous Manual bitches. Big as a mountain (it IS a mountain). Completely stupid.
  10. You need skiing proficiency to traverse this area.
  11. You hear a gleeful scream! 1D6 children on skis and sleds are coming right for you! Roll a reflex save.
  12. Law of Jante: Anyone who excels or implies that they may excel compared to their peers loses one level. Per transgression.
  13. Enjoy Norway: Unless you consume only Norwegian produce, you may neither regain hit points nor spell slots from resting.
  14. Karma Shield: You may kill civilians, make deals with villains, or even further the world hurtling towards apocalypse, this will neither impact your alignment, self-image or standing in the world.
  15. Peace Treaty: an unstable, patchwork and ridiculously unbalanced peace agreement reigns in the region, brokered by The Friendly Kingdom years ago. Characters may be hired as “peacekeepers”.
  16. hygge

    Jævla hyggelig.

    Mandatory Sunday hike: parts of the second day of down time MUST be spent on a walking trip, either on foot or by ski. Roll a difficult Diplomacy to get out of it, otherwise roll a Con check against exhaustion. Tagline: “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing!”

  17. Your rations consist of only fish. Roll an endurance save against scurvy once every week of adventuring.
  18. Brown cheese: Looks like soap, tastes like caramel and nothing like cheese. It’s illegal to not like it. It burns remarkably well.
  19. Scandinavian Crime: A series of atrocious murders takes place in the most harmonious location of the campaign world. The local law enforcement turns out to be at best chaotic stupid, otherwise Lawful Evil. The players must solve this on their own. Anyone expressing disbelief loses a level.
  20. The Kindly King opening a road (encounter). The King is bored, but friendly. Unarmed, low level.
  21. Rogue Princess: You meet the Norwegian Princess. Each round she randomly casts a spell. Roll 1d6:
    1: Speak With Dead.
    2: Cure Light Wounds.
    3: Prismatic Spray.
    4-6: Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter.Whichever spell she casts, the party must pay her 100 gp appange per spell level, until they leave the encounter.
  22. Zone of Credulity: belief in the supernatural, healing and hedge magic is particularly strong in this area. +1 modifier to all magic-related throws. +2 for healing spells.
  23. Were You Raised In A Barn? You must leave your footwear by the door whenever you go indoors. Keep your socks on.
  24. Tax Free! In any foreign country, you must buy alcohol whenever it is offered. This will lead to penalties, whether through encumbrance or inebriation. On the plus side, you paradoxically gain the number of gold pieces the beverage would have cost you. You may not, under any circumstance, abandon the booze, you must drink it all.
  25. Gender quota: At least 40% of the party is now female. Roll randomly.
  26. The Red Danger. You have a constant paranoia conserning invations from the Northeast.
  27. Hallingkast: Unarmed Attacks against hats have Reach.
  28. Government Grant: Government Grant: Provided you spend 4d6 hours formally organizing your party and writing applications, you may receive 100 gp per party member to supprt your next venture. You receive an additional 900 gp per party member under the age of 26*.
    *If you have any party members under the age of 26, you may claim have a 100 times the number of sub-26 party members you actually have, and receive 1000 gp per claimed member. If you fail a Bookkeeping roll, you have to pay back the money, and your alignment is shifted one step towards Chaotic Evil.
  29. Norwegian stiffness. Locals engaged in social conversation by the PCs have -1 penalty to AC due to stiffness. PCs suffers disadvange on persuade rolls. Consuming alcohol negates both effects.
  30. Pant: All potions cost an extra 5 SP, which is reimbursed if the empty bottle is returned to the vendor.
  31. Friday Night Firefight: everyone is drunk and want to fight, fuck or “just get to know you”.
  32. Tight-lipped egalitarianism. Social advantages due to high social standing, (f.ex nobility, fame or a succsessful adventuring career) are lost if ever mentioned or referred to directly. They function as normal as long they remain unspoken or only indirectly mentioned.
  33. Dugnad: the party is press-ganged into 4d6 hours of tedious, heavy labor, rewarded with a minor gift (worth 5 gp, usually in the shape of food or wine.) Attempts at exchanging the gift for money or demanding wages will be met by hostility. You don’t get a gift, but maybe “lapskaus” which is a kind of stew Uttrykksikonet smile
  34. dugnad


    Kidnapped by the Russ: It’s the first half of May. You are suddenly overwhelmed by 20 hammered 18-year olds dressed in red jumpsuits who takes you into their bus and drives you to a random location and leaves you there.

  35. Bunad: this traditional costume is ridicoulusly expensive, and made of so thick, heavy fabrics that it offers a +1 AC. If worn with all possible silver jewellery, it gives an additional +1 AC, but the cost increases to “a metric f*ckton of cash”. Foreign-made bunads are available at 1/3 price, but they will give a severe disadvantage to social rolls with locals if discovered.
  36. Predator policy: The livestock of local farmers is beset by setting-appropriate predators. Hunting, killing or otherwise harming these predators will result in harsh punishment from law enforcement.
  37. bunad


    Nordic Social Awkwardness: You are unable to initiate dialogue with anyone unless they talk to you first. Intoxication removes the restriction. Other characters with the same trait will give you a -5 charisma reaction if they are sober, but a +5 reaction if they are intoxicated.

  38. The List: The establishment the players are trying to enter is currently hosting a private event, and they are not on The List. (Ignore this condition if all players are human and/or females with Cha>12). Also ignore if the party’s barbarian belongs to the same tribe (“treningssenter”) as the bouncers.
  39. Constitution Day: Everyone currently not hung over gains +1 bonus to every roll. Anyone drunk may ignore the penalty from being hung over, and gains an additional +1 to every roll. Anyone drunk and wearing a bunad gets +4 to every roll. On the down side There Are People And – Most Especially – Hordes of Kids Everywhere, which causes an Entangle effect. Your bonus from being drunk and/or wearing a bunad is reversed for the Entangle check. Being hung over also causes a -4 to this roll.
  40. schafer

    Norway’s one single remaining wolf.

    Hellemyrsfolket: Any character reading this book must succeed on a Will save or suffer 1d4 Willpower damage due to depression.

  41. Adventure NAV: You go to the office of unemployed adventurers seeking a quest. After waiting in line for 1d8 hours and filling out 1d4 forms roll a d20 and consult the tiltaks-table. On a roll of 18+ you get a quest. All other rolls result in 2d6 goldcoins of Trygd.
  42. Western Weather: While travelling on the western coast, players must specify every day that they have packed waterproof clothing and/or umbrellas at the top of their packs, or be considered Drenched (Every 1d12 hours, they must make a Con DC12 roll, or contract Man-Flu).
  43. Lucky Seafarers: Immune to sea-sickness, increases speed of sea-travel by 25% and decreases risk of sea-bound incidents by 25%. 25% chance per day of sea-travel to find a lucky barrel of valuable oil.
  44. Situation aspect: Strange customs in small places. Leaving urban Norway, the party meet lots of weird people doing very peculiar things while speaking words in an almost dead language. The party could end up drunk in a barn, or chased up a mountain by aggressive degenerates.
  45. Dialectical: You are able to speak several versions of the language, which may all be entirely illegible to other speakers of the same language. Roll d20 per person to see if two people happen to speak the same dialect (they must roll the same result).
  46. berrrgen

    Lovely weather in west-coast capital Bergen.

    Pol-ferd. You arrive at the village seeking potions to heal your wounds after a dangerous quest. It turns out that only one shop in the village may sell potions. They have a long list of exotic (and heavily taxed) potions. Roll a d6. 1-2: Potionmonopolet is open! 3-4 it’s closed for the day. Come back tomorrow. 5-6: it’s closed because of a national holiday. Come back next week.

  47. Double the price of any potion costing 300 gp or less. Halve the price of any potion costing 600 gp or more. (You should have bought potions on the tax-free store. Eventually take a Harry-trip to Sweden where potions are sold at 60% of Norwegian prizes.)
  48. Snillisme: For the rest if the session, the GM lets everyone roll dice twice, and choose the result they like best.
  49. We Do Not Sow: You gain a +4 to any roll to search for hidden treasure. If you find treasure under water, or gain treasure from sea monsters, roll normally on the treasure table, but increase any treasure found fivefold. This bonus if permanently lost if you share with foreigners, especially foreigners who live where you found the treasure. Whenever you attempt to spend the treasure, you must make a Will save or you will instead give it to The Elderly.
  50. Hel ved: The orientation of the bark in stacks of firewood is taken deadly serious by the locals. An Easy Perception or Intelligence test will reveal the local preference.
  51. Pacifist militia: While you may own arms, these must be constantly hidden or locked away in very secure circumstances to avoid accidents. You spend the first 1d4 rounds in combat finding your weapon, but you cannot fumble.
  52. lutefisk

    Lye fish. Yum-yum.

    Snowdiver: If you spend at least 15 minutes in a very hot environment (such as a sauna), you gain 15 minutes of immunity to cold effects.

  53. Conscription: All characters roll 1d6. If they roll a 6, they spend a year doing military service. While time consuming, this gives the characters proficiency with small arms and a +2 to any survival rolls. They also get a +4 Morality bonus on social checks with npcs who have also been in the armed services.
  54. Not racist, just a an idiot: Gain a +2 bonus to any check where you try to shift blame to immigrants.
  55. Religious Inscrutability: You may dismiss any questions about your religious views with the phrase “It’s a matter of personal conviction”. Doing so invalidates you from participating in any discussion or decision of a religious nature.
  56. bd5e48c55

    Beer prices in Norway.

    Travel Fever: The night before the onset of an adventure, you break out in fever. -5 to all rolls the next two days.

  57. You order a beer at a tavern – check for heartattack when you get the bill. Loose 100 GC (noen får sette en passende pris).
  58. Navelgazing: For the remainder of the day you are unable to talk about anything but yourself. You lose all social interactions automatically.
  59. Splinter-Eye-Beam: You project your biggest flaw onto someone you meet, criticising it loudly and maliciously.
  60. Nostomania: Whenever you encounter a new person, you must make Will roll or do your best to get them to tell you Where They Are Really From. The DC is doubled if they are non-white or non-human. You are oblivious to any negative reaction to this behaviour. If you get them to reveal their lineage to you you get a +1 bonus to your next roll. If you can establish any relation or common point of origin both of you get a permanent +1 to rolls to aid one another.
  61. Nordic Cuisine: Whenever eating foreign food, it will immediately become your favorite food. Eating your favorite food gives you +1 moral bonus on all die rolls with a 5% chance of diarrhea for the day.
  62. Olympic Potion: This very secret potion gives you unlimited endurance and double hit points in cold weather, but your nose and mouth will produce a constant stream of slimy mucuous as long as the potion is in effect. If you ever admit to drinking the secret potion, you will be affected by 1d6 random curses.
  63. Personal Space: Adjacent characters suffer penalties to all social interactions towards you. Sitting next to someone when there is room one seat over is not possible without gaining penalties yourself.
  64. Everyone’s Related: When you meet the next stranger, no matter the circumstances, you are compelled to discuss their ancestry until you find a common relative. Roll against Will with -5 to be able to break away.
  65. Peace Prize: Once per session, you can give a «Peace Prize» to a monster you encounter. This will make it too confused to attack anyone for 1d20 turns. You will receive the same amount of XP for defeating a monster in this way as if you had killed it in combat. (You are not allowed to attack the monster while it’s suffering from the effect of the Peace Prize)
  66. jantheigen

    Norwegian Eurovision contribution. True fact.

    Greener Grass: You will never be satisfied with what you have, always craving something just beyond your grasp.

  67. What’s the recipe? Whenever eating food in someones home, you must ask for the recipe. If you succeed a diplomacy check this increases your standing with the individual and you gain +2 to Profession (cooking) for 48 hours after which you forget the recipe.
  68. Pølse i lompe: Hot dogs in Norway are served in a soft potato flatbread called “lompe” with ketchup and mustard.
  69. Leave me alone: In order to make first contact with anyone you don’t know, you must first succeed on a will save.
  70. In The World’s Richest Country. If you are in any way affiliated with the state (this includes having the benefits of a Government Grant or We Do Not Sow) people will never be satisified with what you do, rather whining about shortcomings, and any quest bonuses are voided.
  71. Rake-Fish: A dangerous, putrid undead trout living in remote mountain lakes. If you manage to catch one of the Rake Fish, you can try to eat it, but that requires a saving throw against curses. If you successfully eat the Rake Fish, you get 500XP, if you fail, you get Botulism.
  72. Raspeball: This ball of ground potato and flour has a local variant in every settlement of the land, usually with its own name.
  73. Gutta på Skauen: If reduced to 0 HP during an encounter, you may immediately withdraw to the nearest wilderness area instead of being knocked unconscious. If your opponent is later defeated, either by your own allies or someone else, you may emerge from your hiding-place and declare victory as if you had been involved in the encounter all along – with a full share of XP and loot.
  74. 710


    Tåkeprat: You gain a +5 circumstance bonus to any bluff check made to avoid answering a question, by engaging in “tåkeprat” for an exceedingly long time talking tangent nonsense, making it seem as if you’ve answered the question. Other characters can neither react with hostility or friendliness as a result of the answer. Aka “Fogspeech”

  75. The dungeon of Jante: In this dungeon all the monsters are level 2. The monsters ignore any adventurers of level 1 or 2 entering the cave. But anyone who claims to be level 3 or higher will be not be tolerated.
  76. Birkebeiner: The stat effects of middle age are +1 Dex, Con, Cha; -1 Str, Int, Wis instead of the normal adjustments.
  77. Trønder Rock! This rare artifact stone can only be used when you are reduced to 0 HP. Produce the Trønder Rock and howl «ÅÅÅÅ-ÅÅÅ-ÅÅ» as loudly as you can. For each party member that replies «Levvå Livet!», gain 1d4 HP (This can only be used once per session, and your character has to wear a leather vest and bolo tie for the rest of the session)
  78. Inferiority issues. Don’t mind us, we’re just, here and… uhm, hope this wasn’t your seat.
  79. Horrible pronunciation: Regardless of points spent, you will never be able to pronounce foreign languages correctly. This gives you a -2 charisma reaction speaking the language, however you only spend 1/2 the amount of required points and time to learn a new language.
  80. Smalahove: A charred, smoked and boiled sheep’s head is served as a local celebratory dish. Enthusiasm is expected while eating this dish.
  81. Once on the Eurovision Song Contest: a scruffy-looking bard seeks company. He offers vaguely racist tunes for entertainment.
  82. The three part cooperation: All wages are agreed upon by the heroes union, the heroes employers association and the government once every second year. It’s useless and very unsocial to oppose this.
  83. aage.jpg

    Trønder Rock

    Lokalhistorie: Finding NPCs with proficiency in Knowledge (local history) is a trivial task, although this is at the expense of the availability of any other skilled NPCs.

  84. Tur: When the party returns from a quest without finding any treasure or gold, they will claim that they were not on a quest, they were just out for a «Tur», instead.  A lovely nature experience is just as rewarding as XP, and nobody ever lost any hitpoints from fresh air.
  85. Huldra-Theodor_KittelsenHulderfolk: Nubile young women and attractive, bearded men encountered in the mountains should be checked for cow’s tails, otherwise the character risk being trapped within the mountain for at least nine years.
  86. Bergtatt: (compulsion) [mind-affecting]. Whenever encountering a Troll, you have a % chance equal to your charisma to charming the Troll making him obsessed with kidnapping you away to his cave, inflicting no harm on you. Female only.
  87. Cold? This isn’t cold!: You gain a +2 to your next save vs. cold or frost effects, by invoking that one time (probably back in ’86), when it was REALLY cold. Referencing an incident related to army service gives an additional +1, but only if you also make a point of showing how not cold it is (removing your hat or gloves, unzipping your jacket, etc).
  88. Snowtanned: You are exceedingly white, giving you a +2 circumstance bonus on hide checks in snowy or otherwise white areas. However exposure to sun in temperatures above 25 degrees Celcius gives you a horrible sunburn after only 2 hours and a -4 dexterity adjustment. This will heal after 2d2 days if you remain out of the sun. After 3 sunburns you are immune to this effect for 1 month.
  89. Karsk: Potion brewed by coffee and moonshine.  -1 INT, +1 CON
  90. You have outstayed your welcome. Not-very-subtle glares, silence and other social clues notify the party it’s time to leave. Failure to do so may result in ahem’s and throat claring unpleasantness. Better just leave.
  91. No such thing as bad weather. Physique stunt. +2 to survive any weather hazard if dressed in good clothes.
  92. Confiscated: all possesions worth more than 1000 GC will be confiscated on the border to pay for your wellfare services.
  93. Drunk-at-arrival: When engaging in overland travel for more than 2 hours you must succeed a Will DC 18 save or arrive completely smashed at the scene. Traveling comfortably (i.e. not by your own effort) for more than 4 hours removes the saving throw completely.
  94. Per Spelmann: You end up making a bad bargain while very drunk, trading your most valuable item for a cow.
  95. Uføretrygded: If you choose not to heal and instead being permanently wounded you get 1000 gold pr. wound every session for the rest of your hero’s career.
  96. Obnoxiously rich. Mild hindrance. -4 charisma when talking to people with less money than you.
  97. Regional birthplace bonuses:Finnmark: +4 to ride skill when riding reindeer. +1 intimidate.
    Nordland/Troms: +2 to perform joke. +2 to occupation fisherman.
    Trøndelag: +2 on any alcohol related roll.
    Namsos: +2 perform rock music.
    Møre og Romsdal: +3 to barter related skills.
    Oppland: +1 to attack and damage against trolls.
    Sogn og Fjordane: +2 climb, +1 to charisma if lawful.
    Hordaland: +20 feet range to sound related effects.
    Hardanger: +2 perform hardingfele.
    Telemark: +2 perform langeleik.
    Stavanger: 10D6 extra starting money.
    Jæren: +5 speed in flat terrain.
    Agder: +2 knowledge religion.
    Vestfold, coast: +2 navigate sailing boat
    Vestfold, inland: +2 profession farmer
    Østfold: +2 language: Swedish.
    Hedmark: -2 intimidate, +2 to charm related skills and spells.
    Oslo: Knowedge nobility and royalty +2. +2 gather information.
    Svalbard: +2 saving throw against cold effects.
  98. Kaare Berg asks to join your party as henchman. All is well. All manner of things are well.
  99. Peer Pressure Vulnerability: Whenever 3 people or more agree on something you must succeed a DC 15 will save or state that you agree with them and comply with any requests or suggestions. You may later change your mind if no longer observed.
  100. Reodor Felgen: Ancient wizard living on top of a cragged mountain. His minions are unholy hybrids of men and animals. Felgen is a master trapmaker and few adventurers survive the perilous climb to reach his lair. The only treasure there are his demented inventions and blueprints for doomsday devices.

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Cat Wizard

C_W“You press “go”. Three other avatars start blinking dully on the screen. Looking up, you see three other faces peering over their bus seats. Looking around, trying to identify the other wizards. Your eyes connect. Finally one of you, a woman in her late twenties with a snake pattern tattooed on her neck, gets up from her seat. Approaches you, waves at the others. She leans in, smelling of cigarettes. “Are you ready to do this fucking thing”?

Cat Wizard is a roleplaying game about a renegade app and its maverick users. The app is banned from app stores in its current incarnation, but is still downloaded and put to use by those who want to affect change in themselves and the world. (…)”

Download the game here (PDF).

Cat Wizard won the competition Båtsj today. It had a setup similar to Game Chef: make a playable roleplaying game in a week.

As one of the authors, together with Trond Ivar Hansen, I must admit I don’t really think we delivered that. But it’s a nice concept sketch, with some good ideas we might develop further someday.

It’s the first time in a couple of years we’ve had a competition like this locally. Michael Stensen Sollien ran the R.I.S.K competition for about ten years, the last time was in 2013. It resulted in some of the earlier games you find on this blog, and created a good creative buzz in our tiny community of game designers.

Båtsj, this year’s new competition, was hosted by Christine Vean and the Facebook group 6 games were delivered by the deadline. By way of comparison, the recent international #Threeforged contest had 102 contributions. And the annual international Game Chef now runs parallel competitions in several languages.

For Båtsj, the games could be written in any of the Scandinavian languages or English. The winner, Cat Wizard, happened to be one of two English contributions. The other one was Bunker 13 by Wilhelm Person. The experienced Swedish game designer has promised he’ll develop the concept further in the coming months. Check out his contribution here.

It was fun and frustrating to try out this kind of challenge again, and I really liked the buzz it created in our teeny tiny scene. Just like the good old days.

Event cards for A Depressive Game of Swedish Realism

An Itras By hack

You draw an event card when the game master instructs you to do so. You, as player, interpret the card. If you interpret it wrong, the game master will take away your character sheet and write some illegible numbers on it.


Forgot to take your pills? One of your character’s diagnoses kicks in. Describe how it affects the situation.

Silence is a blessing. Words seem meaningless. You could talk, you just don’t want to.

Norra Begravningsplatsen. Photo: Pelle Sten (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Norra Begravningsplatsen. Photo: Pelle Sten (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Normal. For the rest of the scene, your character has perfectly normal reactions to everything that happens.

The State. The character receives some unpleasant news from the government (e.g: via mail, sms, radio, or newspaper). What is it?

Divorce. Some relation in the scene is broken up. What is it, and what will the separation cause?

Mediocre. One of the characters or NPCs present in the scene has a mediocre quality, something she’s only sort of adept at. Describe what it is.

Defender of the People’s Home. Your character’s ambivalent loyalty to the social democratic ideals of the Swedish welfare state prove to be an advantage in this situation. How?

Alone in the crowd. You feel overlooked, grey and insignificant in this situation. Give us an inner monologue.

Understood. For the remainder of the scene, everyone will be quite understanding of the character’s actions, no matter what she does (it’s due to class, childhood, culture, circumstances, etc).

Bullying. Is your character the victim or one of the bullies?

Ace of Base. Some nice pop music makes you briefly forget your troubles. You may turn on music, dance, smile, sing along. When it’s turned off, everything will be worse than it was.

Photo:  Sigfrid Lundberg (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Photo: Sigfrid Lundberg (Flickr/Creative Commons).

The drug. Some drug affects a character present in the scene. Which and how?

News. The media tells of a person, place or event the character is intimately familiar with. What are the news?

Keep it in. Characters and NPCs may not express their emotions or cause a scene.

Stasis. There is no change in this scene. Everything will remain the same. There is no interesting conflict, relations and resources will remain the same as they were.

Cancer. Cancer has somehow affected a character or NPC in the scene. How?

Hangover. Someone in the scene, maybe your character, has a strong hangover. How does it affect them?

Bad Childhood. Why is the childhood trauma of one of the characters or NPCs in the scene triggered?

Joppe is dead. Someone dear to the character passes away. It could be a pet, a person or something more abstract, like hope.

Microinjustice! Something slightly unfair happens. E.g: someone helps themselves to the last piece of cake without asking if anyone else wants it.

Death. Your character dies. There is no afterlife.

Next installment: Knald! Cards for a Game of Danish Hedonism and Voluptuousness.

Impressionist role-playing

Photo: .christoph.G./Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo: .christoph.G./Flickr (Creative Commons)

Re-reading some of the games on this site for another post I’m working on, I stumbled over Matthijs’ “Qualia”, a Game Chef contribution I’d completely forgotten about. It seems it was inspired by an improvised, short session I ran at HolmCon in 2006. I remembered taking some notes from the session, where I tried to formalize some of the procedures used, and looked it up on the old web forum we used to frequent. Here’s the translation:

Impressionist role-playing

– Lasts between 20 minutes to a couple of hours at the most.
Emotion, intuition, empathy, collaboration and mood takes precedence over rationality, planning, considering, competing and coherence.
– There is no conflict system. You don’t prepare scenarios in a traditional sense. It’s not important that there are conflicts or goals in the game. The aim is to, together, create moods and chains of association with both traditional and more experimental role-playing methods. It’s a kind of a role-playing jam.
– You agree on some mood or theme you’d like to bring forth or create allusions to.

bob_dylan_desire600The game master says: «I’d like to play a game slightly inspired by the Bob Dylan-record «Desire»: Romani, tarot cards, Northern Africa, starry nights, wind in the palm trees, golden jewelry. The players present their suggestions and associations. You agree on something.

– The players are by turn asked to describe their characters, in reference to the theme/mood you agreed on. When the next person describes her character, she’ll also tell us if she is somehow related to or connected with some of the other characters.

Håken describes Fatima, who every day sits on the beach baking bread. Magnus describes the English pilot who’s lived here for ten years, since his plane crashed during the second world war. He eats Fatima’s bread. Matthijs describes Fatimas father.

– There’s a game master, who on one level directs the game fairly tightly, and on another level gives the players almost completely free rein. He sets things moving, but listens to the players all the time. Sometimes, he’ll establish the scene, at other times he’ll ask the players: where is your character now? What is she doing? What does she see? What are you thinking? The game master has sort of a privileged function, but uses it to inspire and kickstart his fellow players. The guideline is what feels right then and there, and whatever whims and fancies strike the players.

The game master says: Fatima had a dream tonight she wishes to share with the pilot. It’s up to Fatima to relate the dream. The game master says: A card comes blowing along the beach, landing next to the pilot’s hand. What does it look like? The game master says: you find something by the plane’s wreckage. What is it?

– The game master makes sure everyone gets to participate, or that they’re happy in their passivity. This requires attention and empathy.
– The game master and players will often dwell on details.

Photo: Antonio Chinotti/Flickt (Creative Commons)

Photo: Antonio Chinotti/Flickt (Creative Commons)

A crab moving in the sand. The sparks from Fatima’s fire, ascending towards the sky. The smell and sounds from the ocean.

– This kind of dwelling is a challenging part of the method. It will primarily be brief (in real time). You don’t want long monologues from the game master, but rather activating the players and grooving together.
– The scenes are spotty, not necessarily connected, based on whim and associations that happen during the game. They’re first and foremost related to theme and mood, not action. Characters can also be replaced as warranted. The same player doesn’t have to control the same character throughout the whole game.
Accepting the ideas of others. You’re mild, accepting. The players are encouraged to take initiatives in the fiction. They don’t compete for attention. Trust the game master will help distribute attention and steer the improvisation to shore. If a player says something it will more likely than not be true in the fiction. What the characters do is accepted and used. What the players say is accepted and integrated.
– The game master distributes control over secondary characters and other elements in the game world after his own discretion and the needs of the fiction. One player could be asked to describe the dreams of another character, control some of the people in the other character’s memories, or be asked to create and control secondary characters as the need arises.
– You don’t address things outside of the game. The players are in an imperturbable dialogue with the fiction and each other, nothing else. This is kind of a collective meditation/visualization. The intensity the game format requires also causes it to be a relatively brief experience in real time.
Free association. If an occurrence in the game, a dialogue or description gives the game master an idea, he should try to chase it and see it through immediately.

Fatima’s father is talking to Fatima about her mother. The game master cuts to the same beach 20 years earlier. He describes Fatima’s mother, recently bathed, dressed in a silk gown on the beach. He asks the player Barbro, who just showed up, to portray the mother and ask what she says. Fatima’s father speaks with Fatima’s mother about Fatima’s grandmother. The game master cuts to a new scene on the beach, 20 years prior to this again, where Fatima’s grandmother is speaking with Fatima’s father. Barbro is asked to play Fatima’s grandmother.

– The players are also encouraged to associate freely, but their narrative rights are not as wide-ranging as those of the game master. The idea with having one guiding director is to preserve the harmony of the game.
Cut tightly. Even though the action is dwelling and slow, the singular scene will often be brief. The game master manages this, and cuts to new scenes whenever he feels it’s right.
Surprising angles. The game master is open for new thoughts on the content of play, in addition to using traditional techniques like time jump, player control over secondary characters, dream sequences, cut scenes and tight cutting.

Fatima’s father is resting in the hammock. It strikes the game master there must be many smells around him. He instructs Matthijs (who plays Fatima’s father) to briefly describe some of the smells in the hut. He asks the other players to make short statements about associations Fatima’s father has as he notices the various smells.

– The game master ends the game in a fitting way whenever it feels right.

Suggested experiment: play an impressionistic role-playing game with a soundtrack. Try to let the story and moods work in harmony with the record. It should probably be something without lyrics, or with words the players don’t understand. The challenge here will probably be the music not responding in accordance with the player’s actions, and the shifts in tempo on the album might crash with the tempo in the game. Worth a try.

Revisiting this nine year old text was sort of interesting. I didn’t work more in this direction, at least not in a structured way, but I think I’ve internalized some of the principles and methods. Some of it seems screamingly obvious, some methods and ideas very traditional. I don’t know. It was nice to see again.

The post fostered some interesting critique and feedback on the webforum back then, all in Norwegian, alas.