I visited Oulu for a long weekend last month, to participate in the game carneval around there. It is a most fascinating experiment, a gaming convention distributed into theme-coordinated events along a month’s time and funded as a cultural project. (They even paid my travel expenses, which is one surefire way of getting me to visit your town.) My weekend at the carneval indicated that participation had been horridly undercoordinated, though; I have personally met more gamers from Oulu than the handfuls that appeared for the events during my weekend. Other than that, though, a top-form programme.
A quality gaming convention leaves you with more reporting than is really healthy. I’m going to limit myself to just two things this time around:
- At the Forge I’m telling about an excellent session of the roleplaying game Dead of Night we managed on Sunday. There were also fine session of Contenders, Best Friends, Primetime Adventures and such there, but DoN was the highlight of my convention.
- At the Finnish Boardgame Association forums there’s this thread about the boardgame tournament I arranged on Saturday. I have yet to do so, but I will post the results and my own notes about the success of the event in due time. It was a most fun and rewarding day, I just haven’t had time and energy to write about it yet.
Other than those two, I got many, many answers to my questions about Glorantha while I was in Oulu. This was mostly thanks to this most excellent friend I have there, Olli Kantola; we have plenty in common with Olli, but in addition he’s also a delightful source of Glorantha scholarship, so I took the opportunity to both read his Glorantha books and to ask him about the more intricate details of the setting. Just consider:
- The Orlanthi barbarians have an indigenous cultural rite and magic for the creation of towns, from a time when they were a bit more civilized than they are during the third age. The great prince Sartar established the rules of the city ring so that different clans and tribes could interact with each other in an urban setting. The thing is, what does the city ring do, concretely? Who are the chosen leaders of the urban orlanthi? Olli’s rather distressing interpretation was that cities are theocratic institutions that draw their ability to negotiate with tribal kings from the large specialist temples that are situated in the cities. As clans and tribes are weak in the city, the Orlanthi turn to their cults for guidance. I’m not sure I like this from an Orlanthi viewpoint, as it implies that city culture is fundamentally destructive of the fundamental ties of Orlanthi society. City dwellers have much fewer ties than the rural Orlanthi.
- I never knew that there are insect men in Glorantha. Timori or Tomori or something like that, I think. The God-learners brought them all over the world from Pamaltela or somewhere, because they were so obediently monotheistic.
- According to the new Runequest books, the Empire of Wyrm Friends is a huge pyramid scam. I never found out how the empire was destroyed in the end, though; perhaps that was because the destruction hasn’t yet happened at the time of which the new Runequest tells. Other sources tell of some draconic catastrophe, I seem to remember, but I don’t remember reading about who or what caused the great draconic plan to go wrong to that degree.
Anyway, I camped at Olli’s place during the weekend, so I got plenty of opportunities to indulge my Gloranthian curiousity. Other than that… well, we had a pretty lame seminar on Monday about pedagogy and gaming. I wasn’t at my best there, mostly because I was throttling with rage at the half-assed quality of thought presented. It didn’t help that the entire audience consisted of teachers who didn’t know anything about games. It would have been nice if they could have even given us some indication of the kinds of problems game designers could try to solve for pedagogy, but even in that regard I was frustrated; the only topic that really warmed the pedagogues was putting age limits to computer games.
But apart from that, great fun all around. I recommend going to Oulu to anybody, especially if you manage an invitation from them.