April 23rd, 2011


A Fistful of Kronur

I can unreservedly recommend the laxsmorgås at Junggrens Cafe in Gothenburg. This more than made up for my decision to sleep through the free breakfast at my hotel.

My first talk at GothCon went pretty well: about 25 people in attendance (the convention is about the size of DunDraCon, 1500 or so gamers) asked about everything from writing to design philosophy to what my least favorite RPG is (once more I brought out The Morrow Project as my whipping boy -- there are undoubtedly worse RPGs, but few more disappointingly inadequate, even in their day) to cunning attempts to get me to speak ill of Call of Cthulhu ("Surely Trail of Cthulhu must be better in some way ..."). Good time had by all.

Then a sneak off to wander the streets, canals, and battlements of Old Gothenburg. I learned that the sculptor of the statue of John Ericsson (yep, that John Ericsson) committed suicide over a controversy about the statue's trouser leg. I learned that my scenario set in Gothenburg needs a tiny adjustment to cover my confusion of the statues of Carl IX and Gustav Adolf (oops). I learned that for a city built on a mud flat, Gothenburg has a vast surplus of hills. Combine that with the convention site (a university campus built on one of those hills in 1906 = many many stairs) and GothCon rapidly becomes the first fully aerobic convention in my experience.

Then back to the con to hang out with the astonishingly fecund Swedish RPG design scene. Plus the likewise-fecund Finnish RPG design scene, in the person of James Raggi, whose OSR game Lamentation of the Flame Princess just keeps on looking better, and whose publication of Zak S' terrific Vornheim: the Complete City Kit is like the first crash of Johnny Ramone's guitar across the bow of fantasy arena rock. Vornheim is, as I have said elsewhere, like the Sex Pistols covering Ptolus.

But yes, Swedish game design. Lots of good stuff which I'll get to once I have my book pile out again, but I wanted to single out Operation: Fallen Reich, an Anglophile (and Anglophone) RPG of occult WWII country-house comedy of manners adventure gunplay. I think that covers it. To continue our metaphor, Operation: Fallen Reich is Spike Milligan covering Weird War II. Designed by two Swedish advertising men, the game looks absolutely perfect: clean, ideal 1939 British graphic look, and (modulo the effects of Swedes writing in a second language) an excellently arch tone. It needs one quick tune-up from a suitably arch Britisher -- and, one suspects, an Anglo-American publishing partner -- to be absolutely the smash sensation of whichever GenCon it appears at. (Oh, and the chargen system is also available in a board game which is, if anything, even better looking than the gorgeous corebook.)

Then dinner at Gothenburg's finest Chinese restaurant (stop your snickering back there, the oyster sauce was nicely piquant) with the previously-hosannaed Anders and Tove Gillbring of Rävspel, a lager or two with my handlers Alex and Emma, and so to bed.

Hence, the missed breakfast. But not missed, Bob.