Hello again. If you have been wondering what I’ve been doing lately, then wonder no more. For I have done pretty much nothing interesting. I’ve been working on Salvage Team and Audatia during the days, and spent evenings playing video games, board games and roleplaying games.
The reason I’ve been silent in here is because I have had many forums where to share my groundbreaking observations and thoughts. At work, in my gaming groups… Logging them here has felt unnecessary.
But now I’ve been summoned to write about roleplaying in Finland, in the present and in the future. While I feel that extrapolating the future is probably beyond my capabilities, I shall share my observations of the present, and what I hope of the future.
Here in Oulu, I’ve been roleplaying a lot of different things, mostly on a whim. I’ve tried to improve and test myself in a myriad of games: Linear, Deus Ex-like conspiracy investigation, Lovecraftian horror, realistic fantasy, light-hearted Star Wars crime drama, straight Werewolf the Forsaken and others I might have forgotten about. Some of them have been system tests, like the Dawn of Worlds-based realistic fantasy thing (failed because of too many players), while some have been explorations into new systems, like Edge of the Empire.
Regarding other roleplaying games, trying out new things has been a theme around here. People have been crafting their own rpg systems, either scratch-built or modified from existing ones. Very few people have stuck with one game for extended periods of time. Almost no-one plays D&D, except for a few nostalgia-driven forays into the ancient first and second editions in the form of ready-made adventures. Others play Cyberpunk where they have built over the years a book’s worth of history and lore. Yet others play KERP, the Middle-Earth Role Playing Game, Dungeon World (or at least they used to play it a few months ago) and other, lighter games.
Then again, for the past few months, starting from my Werewolf campaign, Storyteller has gained a strong hold over the people. One of the players is planning on starting a Werewolf of his own, where he hopes to fix the stupidities of Storyteller. Right now I’m trying to get a Changeling campaign off the ground and am in the process of running a Wizard the Stolening mini-campaign series. Additionally, there is a lot of activity in the grim darkness of the far future, since there has been two full Only War campaigns, one active right now, Dark Heresy one-shots, Rogue Trader and now Deathwatch, where I’m playing as Battle Brother Nobilitus, an Ultramarine Tactical Marine and possibly the best individual in the galaxy.
Wizard is one of the most interesting of games I’ve ran recently. It all started with a one-shot game where a group of university students found an ancient tome of magic spells under a barn. I wanted to integrate Magic the Gathering’s more amusing spells into a modern setting. In the end, it evolved into a long mini-campaign series, following one of the emerging group of Wizards and ultimately the fate of the world now that magic is back.
So that is the present. I am doing preliminary thoughtwork for a sci-fi game set in the universe of Endless Space, using a heavily modified Edge of the Empire. Additionally I’ve thought about a mini-campaign series set in a sci-fi universe of my own, which would follow the evolution of humanity when a synthetic human replicas enter the fray. I would also like to finally run a Changeling campaign where the players play as themselves.
About the future. I’d like for our roleplaying groups to keep on doing new things and keep an open mind. There are precious few people who can do the latter, who have the strength and courage to sacrifice their free time into testing and pioneering instead of sitting in their comfort zones and keeping playing the same old games in the same old settings with the same old themes.
I want to see experience new things! Learn new techniques! I want to play in an atmospheric horror game, I want to be entangled in a complex web of romance and intrigue, I want to play as an entire group of people, I want to have dialogue with myself, I want to share control of a character with many players. I want to play as myself, I want to play as someone I know. Try it all. Challenge myself. Find myself. Improve myself.
Sadly, as I mentioned, there are only a few people who share my interests. The future of roleplaying will very likely be the same as now: People doing things they like. Some people will keep playing D&D (the best and only edition), some people will juggle between Cyberpunk and Storyteller, and some will be game for anything. Some people will always gather around the kitchen table with dice and paper, some will embrace technology and replace the table with a tablet. Roleplaying is a group-based activity, and those groups will most likely stick together. As our acceptance of connectivity increases and the technology evolves, perhaps our pool of like-minded gamers will no longer be limited by physical distance, but for now the most efficient way to play roleplaying games is face-to-face.