Arkiv | april, 2015

Fastaval 2015 – Deranged

12 apr

Every year at Fastaval I am blessed with a wow!-experience. This year it was Deranged by Jeppe and Maria Bergmann Hamming and took place Friday morning.

You could almost feel it immediately after the door was opened. We were met by classical music and a wall decorated like music paper. Almost ready to start, but first we needed to make the groups. We started with the international one. So far this Fastaval I had only had one activity out of four in Danish and I often end up in groups with the same people, so I hesitated marking that I would gladly play in English. But when I saw that the only international person, Heather, was someone I didn’t know and the first Dane to mark was Lars, who I hadn’t played with this year, I signaled and shortly after Simon did as well. Then we could observe the others forming a line according to their knowledge of classical music and the groups being divided on this background.

We would probably be part of the half with some knowledge of classical music, although none of us had German romance as our strong side. But I don’t think it really mattered – what mattered was the willingness to feel the music and the story.

The story was that of the composer Robert Schumann or at least how his deranged mind could have remembered it. The characters were Schumann (the old Robert Schumann remembering the story – but also the player with most secondary characters), Robert (the young Robert Schumann), Clara (a pianist and composer – married to Robert) and Felix Mendelsohn/Johannes Brahms (friends of the Schumanns). I got the role as Felix/Johannes. I had expected to mainly be supporting the story of Robert and Clara, but it was not so much a love story of two persons as a love triangle or even a polygon of love, with music as a common mistress to us all.

Music was omnipresent. There was a composition for each scene as well as a melody for cutting. If I said “So stehn wir” we would all chant that, either as a crescendo increasing in intensity or decrescendo decreasing, until out GM Tor would start the tune by Brahms “So stehn wir, ich und meine weile…”. Each player had their own cutting tune: “Ich will meine seele” (Robert), “Sie liebten sich beide” (Clara) and “Die Rose, Die Lilie” (Schumann). These tunes were used for the warm up, where we were saying them in different moods.

The scenes were all hanging on the wall decorated as music paper with four lines and divided into three main sessions. At first we were only allowed to take scenes from the first one. After having played at least one scene from the first session, we could open the second one by taking a scene from there – and after having played a scene from the second one, we could open the third. We could always jump back to the previous sessions and we could play a scene more than once. So we did. E.g. we played Robert and Clara’s first kiss twice.

Anybody could pick a scene while the cutting-tune was playing and it was supposed to be in silence. We did so most of the scenes, but once in a while we shortly discussed the direction – I was one of the big sinners there. But still we created a story that was fragmented and coherent at the same time.

After Fastaval the soundtrack of my fasta-blues this year has been classical – the tunes of the characters, including the short tunes used for cutting (but not “Die Rose, Die Lilie”, which is too hectic for my taste). The scenario and music has stuck with me. So if I’m to recommend one of this year’s scenarios for a rerun, this well-composed scenario would probably be it. I would gladly play it again or be GM.

Fastaval 2015 – Things that happen to other people

12 apr

Thursday evening I was exhausted. At the GM briefing I was quick to say that I’d gladly sit this one out, if we didn’t get enough players. The scenario was Things that happen to other people by Tor Kjetil Edland. He had done a lot of preparation, so I felt bad about not being in the mood for it. Tor brought alcohol-free wine and a warm broth for the scenario and had prepared a soundtrack.

We were one player short for two groups, so I volunteered to be the last player of the group. I let the others decide which role they wanted and ended up with the role as the overprotective mother, Anneka. The other roles were my son, my best friend and her brother.

In the scenario we were citizens in an unnamed country in civil war, where the main roles are people who decide to flee the country with small intermezzos as other roles observing from the outside.

The storyline is very interesting and I think it works with the undefined country that could in theory be here or anywhere. It makes you think and it makes you identify and sympathize with the characters. But I had trouble with my character, because if I stayed true to how the character was defined, I felt that it would be a brake for the game and the story – so I tried to back out of some of the scenes, so the others would get a better flow. The scenes were cut long and towards the end I was extremely tired, but otherwise I think the experience was fine.

The topic of the scenario lured me to sign up for it, but it is more storytelling than fits my taste – I don’t like the playbook and prefer scenarios where I can bleed, feel or laugh. So it was not the right choice for me, but I think that within the genre, it was a game that works well.

Fastaval 2015 – And I lost my fangs…

12 apr

And now to something completely different… from the heavy mood in Distance, I moved directly to the room, where I was to run And I lost my fangs… by Cleo. It was the first time in many years I played a vampire-scenario, normally I tend to choose social-realist scenarios. But this scenario sounded so entertaining that I had to try it. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I got a group with four young boys, of which most had some years of experience, but there was also one participating in his first Fastaval and I really wanted to give them a great experience.

I had read the scenario before coming to Fastaval, but I literally had to run to make it to part of the GM-briefing, so I needed to find my head again. In a situation like this, it is awesome that Cleo had made a short introduction, where you can run it even if you have just gotten the scenario in your hand. So I could quickly get a good overview of it.

In the scenario the characters are famous vampires who have lost their fangs. They are having a session at Toothless Anonymous, where GM is the shrink, who is supposed to SNAL (Smile, Nod and Listen) a lot. Then we had some small games for them to get aware of their situation, accept it and bonding with each other.

There is a chance of big variation in the groups. The players can choose many different characters. In our group it was: Edward Cullen (Twilight), Claudia (Interview with a vampire), Count von Count (Sesame Street) and Vlad Dracula (The one and only). Other options include Selene (Underworld), Spike (Buffy) and many more.

I had a great experience as GM and often felt like laughing (but restrained thinking of how sorry I felt for the characters) and it is my impression the players did so as well. In fact that is what I heard – that pretty much everybody had a good experience in all groups, no matter their age and experience. So where there are some scenarios that have a high ceiling (the opportunity for an extraordinary experience), this is probably one of the scenarios I have played that has the highest floor – i.e. you are guaranteed a good experience.

Fastaval 2015 – Distance

12 apr

I started my Thursday playing Distance by Morten Jæger. I was in the international group run by Simon, who had just learned shortly before that he was to run it in English. As a translator I know how difficult that is and I think he did great.

We started by getting comfortable being close to each other. One of the warm up-games was to stare each other in the eyes – a game where I forgot to blink and ended up with tears in my eyes. But it was important with being comfortable with the other players – after all we were to play couples.

In Distance there are three players, each playing the wife in one and husband in another of three couples. The men were soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, but the main characters were the wives back home, how they managed and how everything was changed when the men came back home.

I was a little nervous that the scenes with Skype-sex would be awkward, but they were supposed to be that and ended up being it in a proper amount. In general we played it in a mellow way –more mellow than it was supposed to be, as far as I can understand – which worked well with my preferences. I liked that we got an everyday drama with sudden explosions. I think the way the characters were divided between the players, was good – that in pairs of two we formed a couple, but also had the meetings between the women.

With Distance I had a great time. We had a good interaction between the characters and created a good story together.

Fastaval 2015 – Hope was the last thing in the box

12 apr

A spring-weekend I was in summerhouse when my phone rang. I couldn’t hear much due to the bad reception, but what I could hear, was a request if I would run another scenario at Fastaval. Due to the communication difficulties, it had to be a short discussion, so I said yes.

When I finally, the day before Fastaval, had a chance to look at the scenarios, I kind of wished I had asked about the length or at least had looked at it earlier, because 65 pages can feel like a marathon. Luckily it was interesting to read. I had never before heard about Terry Fox and as a running enthusiast, it was a fascinating story for me. But the fear was lurking in the back of my head: can I manage to prepare it properly.

The next day, when I had arrived at Fastaval, I was quick to ask if the prints had come. They hadn’t. I often went to the Info to ask for them, but the prints weren’t there. So it came clear that I wouldn’t have the chance to underline passages, making some notes for myself. And I could really have needed the notes. I had difficulties figuring out which parts I was supposed to read aloud and which ones were only GM-notes.

But the GM-briefing helped a bit and there we got the prints. All players showed up and we divided them into groups.

My group consisted or less familiar faces from previous years. I started by telling the background of the story, a little bit of warm up and asking them about their preferences regarding role-types and table vs no table.

To sum up the story: many years ago a guy named Terry Fox got his leg amputated because of cancer. He wasn’t satisfied with the treatment cancer-patients got, so to raise awareness, he decided to run from Canada’s East coast to its West coast on his artificial leg, a run getting known as The Marathon of Hope. He came little more than halfway, but died. He had become famous and many Canadians remember when they saw him. Many years later, in 2014, the characters found the artificial leg in a box at their work. They decided to take it as a sign that they should finish the run with Terry’s leg. All of them had their own struggles and their own individual reasons to run.

There were three types of scenes: 1. Running-scenes (/guided meditation), 2. Conflict scenes (where some of the characters’ issues could be triggered) and 3. Choice scenes (where the characters faced a dilemma).

For the running scenes, it was up to us whether we wanted to actually run or to sit at the table. Based on the player-group, I decided that we should run. For the conflict scenes, I might have been to eager to trigger the characters to create some dynamic. I admit it was not my best performance as GM, but the players seemed to have had an ok experience with the scenario.

It was a difficult scenario to run, especially when having had too short time to prepare, but I have heard groups that had a great experience with it. For my own preference I felt I had to talk too much as GM – I’m a very lazy GM, who likes to just facilitate the game and leaning back and just observing the players for most of the time. For me it would have been better with shorter introductions, shorter guided meditations (i.e. less GM talk) and the info about Canada in an appendix (making it possible to prepare the game in shorter time). But I find the story interesting and I like the idea. So for a group who likes telling epic stories, I think it can be a very good experience.

Fastaval 2015

12 apr

I will write individual posts about my experiences, but start with a short general description of my Fastaval 2015. Since my Fastaval this year was more than 50% international, I will write the posts in English.

I was lucky to get a ride with Simon and Oliver from Århus to Hobro, thus getting in the mood with some roleplaying talks already on the way there.

I checked in, placed my stuff at the usual space in the sleeping-room (where Lennart had saved a spot for my ascetic sleeping pad next to his huge air matress), then went andsaid hello to those, who were already there and played a little bit of boardgame (Bohnanza).

Shortly after arriving, I had asked for the prints of scenarios. I was to GM four scenarios and even though,I had already done a quick readthrough of them, I always reread them shortly before I run them, so it stands clear in my memory. For this I prefer the printout, so I was a bit anxious when they weren’t all there and especially that the scenario I was to run Wednesday evening, Hope was the last thing in the box, wasn’t available yet.

From Wednesday to Friday afternoon, I had activities in every module, and I had underestimated how much energy that takes: especially Thursday where two of the games were some, I was supposed to GM. Because of that, I was quick to say that I would be ok not running the scenario, when too few players showed up, but when we were one player short, I ended up being a player instead.

Friday I got a lot  new energy from playing Deranged so decided standing in reserve line for the short scenario bloc afterwards. In the evening I finally had the chance to sit and enjoy a beer in the café, reading the last scenario I was GM’ing and talking with a handful of the wonderful people who are also a part of the Fastaval-experience.

Saturday I started the day GM’ing Grotesque and as a minor twist, ended up running it in English – I wasn’t prepared for that, but it ended out well, once we were past the difficult start. The rest of the day went with talks, beer and entertainment in the café. The burlesque/cabaret show was good, but mainly for the songs – no need to take off clothes, the singer had an enchanting voice.

Sunday was a day to sleep long. Toast for brunch. Observing a game of Hivemind (an interesting boardgame designed for Fastaval). Helping the café to rearrange. Helping Cherisse to find more translators. Then getting ready for the Otto-party.

The last few years, I have been sitting at the international table for the Otto-party translating and I was happy to do so again. I was also happy to see Jeppe and Maria win three Ottos for Deranged, my best experience this year and one of the best of all time. Shortly after the show I went to the café to my only watch this year and enjoyed the party.