Pidin Ropeconissa esitelmän Praedor-yleisösessioiden historiasta, valmisteluista ja peluuttamisesta. Esitelmän kalvot ovat liitteenä. Esitelmän jälkeen tuli useampikin kysely siitä miten minut saisi sinne tai tänne peluuttamaan.
Tulen kun kutsutaan ja kaikki alkaa yhteydenotolla, mieluiten sähköpostitse.
Jos paikka tai tapahtuma on sellainen, että kuka tahansa voi ilmoittautua sessioon, pientä pelimaksua vastaan tai ei, hintani on pullo coca-cola zeroa, tai kaksi pulloa jos paikka on niin kaukana, että minun täytyisi yöpyä matkalla. Jos paikka tai tapahtuma on kaukana, järjestelyt minun puoleltani voivat olla vaikeampia ja se mutkistaa aikatauluja, mutta minä vastaan niistä ja aiheutuneista kuluista.
Voin ottaa enintään kuusi pelaajaa ja pelaajien hankinta ja ilmoittautumiset ovat kutsuvan tahon vastuulla – eri paikoissa on erilaisia käytäntöjä. Session pituus on neljä tuntia. Praedor on kirjoitettu aikuisille ja nuorille aikuisille, mutta yleisösessioissa ikäraja voi olla alempikin. Muutan sisältöä ja kuvausta pöydässä olevan väen perusteella muutenkin. Käytämme yksinkertaistettuja valmishahmoja, eikä aikaisempaa kokemusta Praedorista tai ylipäätään roolipeleistä ei tarvita. Kiinnostus fantasiaan tai spekulatiiviseen fiktioon noin yleensä on toki eduksi.
Seuraavaksi pitää sopia ajankohta. Yritän rajoittaa yleisösessioiden määrän korkeintaan kahteen kuukaudessa ja mieluiten viikonloppuihin (lauantai). Toisinaan tästä voidaan joustaa, mutta joskus minulla on myös omia matkoja tai muita tapahtumia. Kellonaika on 12->, joskin kauempana olevien paikkojen osalta on huomioitava myös matka-aika. Tulen ja lähden yleensä junalla.
Kun kaikesta tästä on päästy yksimielisyyteen, lisään yleisöpelin omaan julkiseen keikkakalenteriini ja asia on sillä sovittu!
Ville Vuorelan Kavalan kirjan julkaisuesitelmä Ropeconissa 29.7.2023.
Kavala kirja on Praedor-roolipelin kuudes lisäkirja, joka täydentää maailmakuvauskirjojen sarjan. Kavala kirja vie meidät suurkaupunkien varjoihin, petollisiin maalaisidylleihin ja myrkkyä tihkuviin hoveihin. Varjot ovat täällä yhtä syviä, mutta hirviöt kulkevat kahdella jalalla. Kavalan kirjan pääpaino on Jaconian yhteiskunnassa ja ihmisissä, juonitteluseikkailuissa, valtapeleissä ja säätykuvauksissa.
Burger Gamesilla ollaan ikikiitollisia Diceblastersin mainioista seikkailuista, joita he ovat julkaisseet omilla sivuillaan. Yhdessä Tarinoiden kirjan kanssa, Praedor-roolipelin seikkailutarjonta on yhtäkkiä muuttunut harvasta suorastaan ylitsevuotavaksi!
Verivartion tarina jatkuu!
Taivaan Suuren Suden epäonninen valloitussota on saanut Jaconian hämmennyksen valtaan. Aateliset käyvät keskinäistä kamppailuaan, kuninkaan valtaistumelle on tunkua. Valtapelin keskellä vaeltavat käärmetanssija Nejah ja hänen praedor-kumppaninsa Vanha Koira ja Korpinsiipi, seurassaan salaisuuksia kantava Musta markiisi. Matkasta selvitäkseen heidän on suoriuduttava lukuisista maagisista ansoista, yliluonnollisista ilmestyksistä ja ihmishirviöistä.
Petri Hiltusen kuvittama.
Vaskikirjat julkaisee uuden Praedor-novellien antologian vuonna 2023. Kuka tahansa voi tarjota novelliaan, mutta teemana ovat Kirotulle maalle (Borvariaan tai Warthiin) sijoittuvat tarinat. Lisätietoja Vaskikirjojen kotisivuilta:
Hopeanväriset Praedor-kolikot ovat muuten samanlaisia kuin kultaiset sankarikolikot, mutta ne ovat lähes aitoa hopeaa (ero on atomitasolla – ei ainuttakaan hopea-atomia). Niitä voi nyt tilata myös postitse. Katso tuotekuvaus.
Vantaa, 01600 Suomi
Historian toinen Joulupraedor peluutetaan 16.12. Oh My Gamessa. Joulupraedoreissa otetaan sellaisia vapauksia kaanonin suhteen joihin ei ehkä tavallisesti sorruttaisi. Se on myös vuoden 2023 Praedor-kiertueen päätepiste. Tapahtuma on jo täynnä mutta kannattaa käydä vilkaisemassa infosivua peruutusten varalta.
One thing that really drives home the age of Praedor franchise is the character of Ferron in the comics. While much of the setting has evolved, the lead character in the comics hasn’t changed all that much, gear included. Even looking at him in Taivaan suuri susi, while the contemporary youth probably didn’t notice a thing, teens of the 80s like myself (and Petri too, I suppose) would notice immediately that he is wearing pretty picture-perfect heavy metal concert outfit of the day. With spike-studded bracelets and everything. That was the cool look 30-40 years ago. I think I still have one of those bracelets lying in drawer somewhere in my parents’ house.
Although rarely discussed, Praedor has always had more than its fair share of heavy metal romanticism. It may be more visible in the early works where the artist’s angst is still more pronounced, but it has never really gone anywhere. And when I daydreamt about Praedor TV series in the previous entry, I obviously thought of the proper soundtrack as well. Now, different people have differing visions for it and that is all fine good – the official Praedor Inspiration Music CD by Markus Staaf is clearly inspired by barbarian themes with heavy drums and brass. My personal choice for Nejah’s stage entry music is “Golden cliffs” from the Two Worlds 2 soundtrack. Darn if I know what Petri would put in there.
For a TV series, I would use a fair bit of fantasy-inspired heavy metal themes, mixed in with more melodic soundtracks as needed. Theme song in particular would have to be fantasy metal. And no, I would stay away from Clannad “Legend”, even if I do love the first two seasons of Robin of Sherwood. Celtic vibes and Praedor do not mix, no matter how much I wish they would.
If Clannad sends the wrong message, what is the right message? Well, as a musical genre, 80s heavy metal carries an edge in attitude, a distortion of conformity and a threat in terms of energy and power. Much like the praedors themselves, it is nihilist, independent and selfish. It also has an undertone of idolized toughness to it, sometimes spilling over into machismo (and toxic masculinity, although luckily most of that bullshit has been buried for being shit). Praedors are though, the setting is tough, life in Jaconia is though and so on. Crying gives away your position to the horrors in the ruins, so please refrain from doing so until safely back across border.
Of course, these are all musings of an old man. The world has moved on and heyday of metal is as distant to us as the peak of Chuck Berry was to it. I once lamented in social media that I had a player in Kouvola come to the table, browse through the rulebooks and then leave saying that he was looking for “magic fantasy”. Someone then commented that he was looking for “high fantasy rap” but what he found find was “sword & sorcery metal”. I have to confess I really liked the sound the of that. Just don’t think it too long or too deeply, okay?
“Hey Burgeri! Both Praedor and Stalker RPGs have sold thousands. Yet Stalker RPG is out in English, French and soon Korean. Praedor RPG is still just in Finnish. What gives? Surely it wouldn’t take that much to have it translated into English?”
(Usually they then tell me some story of foreign friends taking interest in Praedor).
Me: “Yes, I could probably afford it. But here is the rub: Praedor RPG is a licensed product from an active, living franchise. It is meant to supplement the comics from Petri Hiltunen and not the other way around. Get the comics translated and published, and the RPG will follow. But not before.”
“But… but… it is just so weird reading and hearing about this grimmer fantasy stuff in Finnish…”
Me: *Sighs and quietly picks up a genuine 18th century Indian saber. It has seen death before.*
Thinking about a Praedor TV series made me imagine the opening episode in my head. That lead me to think about one of my pet grudges with the Finnish RPG scene – public disdain for the Finnish language in RPG and fantasy vocabulary. I have always hated that attitude and I hate Finglish (English terminology shoehorned into Finnish inflections and grammar as we speak) even more. None of my esteemed colleagues would do anything like that, of course, but you still run into these comments on social media. Back in the webforum days they were endemic.
I’ve put in a lot of effort to make all the words used in Praedor RPG products as Finnish in origin and etymology as possible. Sometimes this meant leaving things out when they did not have a Finnish-language counterpart. Some compromises had to be made. For examples, halberds (or polearms) are “hilpari” in Finnish. This is a medieval loan from the German “hillebard” but has been in use since at least the 14th century, so I let it pass. Sure, the French have something like twenty names for various types of polearms but they are all “hilpari” in Praedor RPG. Period!
Unfortunately, by the time the second edition of the Praedor RPG rolled around, it had way too many historical re-enactment fans that kept pestering me to include a gambeson in the armor list. In a moment of weakness, I did so and have regretted it ever since. Gambeson is a French name for a padded leather-and-quilt coat, often lavishly decorated so and worn either as a light camp armor, or as a base layer beneath heavier armor pieces. There was no good translation for it, but I could have insisted it was just another variation of the soft leather coat. Yet I didn’t and now whenever I look at the gear list, the word gambeson jumps at me like a poisonous toad.
To hell with you, gambeson! And may those who asked for your inclusion have their tongues tied into a knot!
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Culture. My day job is done almost entirely in English. Despite, or perhaps because of this, I don’t do English in a Finnish roleplaying game, whether I’m writing or running it. When gamemastering, I try to stick to “book Finnish”, the most complex and articulated form of Finnish language, now often considered old-fashioned. And if Praedor was turned into a TV-series, I really wouldn’t want to hear any English in that either. Not my call, I know, but still. It wouldn’t all be Book Finnish, though. Cultural and societal differences are reflected in speech in Jaconia, just as they are in our world.
Bunch of people would argue against it, saying that Finnish in a fantasy context sounds goofy or “uncool” compared to English. Why would it be any goofier? Jaconians speak Jaconian and we have no real idea what it sounds like! Another argument is that subtitling would reduce series’ international appeal. Perhaps, but Apocalypto did it anyway and I enjoy hearing town NPCs in Assassin’s Creed Origin chatter away in Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Latin. Since subtitles focus attention on what the writer really wants to convey as opposed to background chatter, there are even narrative tricks you can play with those. Of course, being Finnish, I am already accustomed to seeing subtitles is everything.
This is all daydreaming and speculation, of course. Praedor TV series is unlikely to ever happen. Yet having some other Praedor media presented in a foreign language is a possibility. For example, if the videogame project had happened, it would have been in English and I have sympathy for game development start-ups. Subtitled game in a language alien to most of the Indo-European world would be a bold statement, but no publisher or investor would touch it with a ten-foot pole!
There are more high-profile fantasy series on TV than ever before. And let’s not kid ourselves – we all watch them, are influenced by them and even draw inspiration from them. Afterwards we go to social media and tear them a new one for whatever reason. The four series that I consider as ”current” are Rings of Power (Amazon’s unorthodox LOTR spin-off), Dance of Dragons (HBO’s GoT spin-off, so far I’ve only watched the first episode but I saw it in a movie theater), The Witcher (Netflix adaptation of Sapkowsky’s Witcher book series) and Wheel of Time (Amazon’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s massive series of fantasy novels).
To get it over with, here are my opinions of the four: Rings of Power is watchable but goofy, Dance of Dragons seems quite impressive, I really liked The Witcher 2nd season but the Internet seems to disagree with me, and I am a reluctant fan of Amazon’s Wheel of Time, since I hate the books with a passion. Seriously, that last one baffles me. Premise is awful and they had all the makings of an absolute disaster on their hands. Yet I found myself riveted to the screen all the way up the final episode of the first season, which was as bad as I had expected the whole thing to be.
So, what about The Praedor television series? I don’t know if the world is ready and Praedor has a poor track record in audiovisual media. Both attempts at Praedor short films failed and I genuinely lament the demise of the Praedor: Broken videogame project by Rat Crew Studios, even if it was heavily inspired by Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Working with video games, I have naturally thought about a Praedor CRPG many times. But let’s look at a hypothetical Praedor TV series instead.
At first, I was surprised by the creative liberties the above-mentioned series were taking with their source material. Then it was pointed out to me that what all of these media companies actually want is to create their own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To that end, the source narrative, existing hardcore fans and recognizable characters almost become a hindrance. Obviously, if Burger Games (or more likely something set up by Petri since he is the movie guy) would start working on a Praedor TV-series, the end goal would be the same: Praedor Cinematic Universe, giving both brand recognition and near-absolute freedom to do all sorts of things.
For this end, Praedor is in a better place than most. There is no single, over-arching storyline. Franchise as a whole is a collection of short stories in one format or another and already coming from multiple writers. While there are recurring characters, Käärmetanssija-Verivartio Arc is only real “epic” (although one could make a case for Kuninkaan lapset – Kuolleen jumalan palvelija graphic novels as well). And even so, I am not the IP owner. My works are spin-offs, just like the works of Erkka, Jaakko or Sakari. TV series would be one more spin-off and we would all treat each other with courtesy from a respectable distance.
TV writers would thus be free to create their own characters, stories and circumstances for as long as the IP cornerstones set by Petri are obeyed. Sure, named characters could make appearances in these stories but there is no pre-set plot to follow (or depart from, to the anguish of fans). This situation is actually similar to what the Witcher novels were before the whole Ciri arc – they were was a compilation of short stories about Geralt of Rivia and there was no continuity between the tales.
This is how I would do the Praedor TV series as well. Jaconia, Borvaria, praedors and monsters are all there (I really like how Witcher S2 is handling monsters) but the series would have its own characters and at least the first season would be a bunch of short stories, 1-3 episodes each. Actually, my Arkesjoki scenarios would make a decent TV script. There is a loose, location-based continuity and some recurring characters (such as Master Sergeant Erwin, the long-suffering supply master of Carduca), but all the adventures are different and independent. And there would be fantasy horror, violence, treasure and the obligatory skinshots from the village tavern/brothel when adventurers spend their last night before the departure doing… well, sword & sorcery adventurer things.
It seems that there is a border to Praedor Finland. It runs a little north of Jyväskylä, cutting off the northernmost two-thirds of the country (Finland is long and narrow). Beyond this border, hobby game stores do not have Praedor RPG on the shelf and at nights you can hear lonely would-be Praedor gamemasters howling at the moon. Gritty Finnish sword & sorcery is a creature of the cities and towns of the south. Northern wilds belong to boardgames and the occasional D&D missionary risking cannibalism and swamp sacrifice to educate the natives. I am no hero to any cause, but last weekend I took a deep breath and boarded the train north, way past the border. I just knew there had to be sword & sorcery fans out there, even if they didn’t yet know it. Perhaps a secret, as-of-yet uncontacted tribe?
And thus I arrived at Kummacon in Oulu, a northern seaport famous for its Asian food (mind boggles but that Thai place was bloody excellent).
One of the issues with Praedor Public Sessions has been that while it is meant to introduce new players to Praedor RPG, I keep drawing crowds of Praedor veterans for some reason. They are not doing anything wrong, and I am flattered by their interested. But it really isn’t what I originally had in mind when I began doing this. Thus, in Kummacon, I was delighted when my players (excluding my wife) were all new to Praedor and some of them were new even to TRPGs in general. Now, if only they had all showed up when the session started. Half of them came late and thus got the cliff notes version of the usual intro. Also, it made the first half of the session, where characters prepare and interact with human NPCs, feel fragmented and more than a little incoherent.
Rest of the session went well enough. All players claimed to have enjoyed it but they always say that, don’t they? Afterwards, they all ran off, so I got little or no feedback. From what I can tell on my own, I did manage to patch up the broken start and traversing the ruins using Adventure Cards went well. Still, the ending scene for the scenario needs work – stronger definitions of what visual clues there are and what the characters can or cannot do. This was the very first time I ran the Arkes River IV: Restless Peace -scenario, so I always expected there to be some kinks. If it is just the ending, I got off lightly. One thing that went really well was pacing. It was a near-perfect fit for the four-hour slot I maintain for my game sessions. I did exceed that time limit in Kuopio but hey, where the hell else was I going to go?
I know we all kept playing through the night when we were teenagers. But I am not a teenager anymore and boy did I feel like it in Kummacon! My back was broken and most of the convention-goers around me were young enough to be my children. Or grandchildren, if people still had kids at the age where it is biologically sensible. While I have no kids, I hope I can keep my four-hour session length to the end, though. Come on, what else am I going to do in the retirement home? Play boardgames?
But I digress. Later, I managed to corner one of my new players in the convention café and press him for feedback. That is when I learned that while he had “heard” of Dungeons & Dragons, he hadn’t known that other roleplaying games even existed. He also wanted to know more about Praedor RPG and especially how it contrasts against D&D. Well, that’s exactly what I was there for! I opened the rulebooks and we went over different game features, discussing how D&D did them one way and Praedor RPG did them in another way. It was a brilliant discussion, as both games have perfectly valid reasons for their design choices, due to their different aims. I hope it was as informative to him as it was enjoyable (and perhaps somewhat eye-opening) for me. It is rare to get to talk shop these days, particularly with someone who has completely fresh eyes.
In short, all this is what I went to Oulu for and Oulu did not disappoint me. I don’t know if I managed to push the borders of Praedor Finland outwards but at least I gave it a good go. Will go again, if invited. Note that I had not actually been invited to Kummacon by the event organizers. Instead, I had met people from the local roleplaying and boardgaming club/cult (a fez? seriously?) CRYO back in Ropecon. They suggested that I attend Kummacon and I agreed. The event itself was a small but competently balanced mixture of an anime fandom and a spe-fi event. Definitely more balanced than some other events I know (hinthint, nudgenudge).
Now it is November. We are firmly in the season I call ”The Black Box”. Seriously, spend a whole year in South Finland and you’ll see what I mean. With only three Public Sessions to go, my Finnish Tour of Praedor is finally nearing its end. It has been fun and it is very flattering to be this popular but still… I feel thin, sort of stretched, like a blob of butter scraped over too much bread. I think I have gamemastered roughly 40 Public Sessions this year. Unfortunately, I only started keeping track of them in June but there was plenty of action in the Spring as well. And there will be some action next year but nowhere near this much. I am sorry, but if you ever want to see another Praedor RPG supplement, you have to give me time to write the bloody thing!
“Hey Burgeri! Three hours waiting for players in Helsinki Book Fair! THREE HOURS! How come you are still smiling? How do you cope with something like that?”
Me: “Manage your expectations and you will never be disappointed.”
Me: “No, just me. Puolenkuun pelit was very kind to invite me to gamemaster a Public Session of Praedor but this whole thing went down pretty much as I expected.”
Yes, I did sit behind a desk for three hours waiting for players that never come. And yes, it was boring at times. But no, I don’t consider it a waste. Helsinki Book Fair is not an event where people linger. They rush, circle the book fair, circle the food & wine side and get out. Also, Thursday was always going to be slow day. So I set out my goods facing the passing crowd and sat behind the table, eager to engage with anyone promising stopping by the table. You can see the table in the pic. Samu The Frog is not for sale.
During those three hours, I had something 12-15 meaningful engagements. Once I got to explain the concept of roleplaying to a very excited high-school girl and pray to the gods of Ludology that I did a good job. Most of the time people either had some experience about roleplaying games in general, or were familiar with Praedor via other media. Which is not surprising, as comics and novels abound. Couple of them recognized me, one of them having read my early factbooks on game development (Pelintekijän käsikirja) and school experiences (Häirikkötehdas).
And that’s how it usually goes.
I sat behind a desk at Ropecon once, in that very same building in 1995 and swore never to do it again. Well, never to do it again on my dime. Since Puolenkuun pelit invited me to the Book Fair and was kind enough to send me a free ticket, I was tried to give them the best possible show. I don’t know if any of the conversations I had translated into sales then or later, but I hope I could at least plant a seed of interest in some minds, so they would seek out anything Praedor-related that strikes their fancy. This was a Book Fair, after all. And anthologies, novels and comics were all available there.
Rules for presenting a game and running a game are very different. Most of the people passing by speed up, knowing that you are there to talk to them. We are in Finland and they really don’t want to be talked to. Mediterranean-style ushering does not work here. Sometimes they genuinely don’t acknowledge you, being preoccupied with their phones, lunch or friends. Again, do not disturb. Then there are those whose pace slows down a little and they do look at the table. I am not a mind reader but if they snarl like looking at a roadkill, I am not going to engage with them either. Some people flat out hate RPGs or games in general and I am not here to convince them otherwise.
Casual curiosity is great. I open by asking if the concept of roleplaying games is familiar to them and continue from there. Explaining Praedor RPG as an extension of the comic albums by the famous artist Petri Hiltunen is a great segway. I never got there with the excited high-schooler though. She was so captivated by the idea of roleplaying games (having previously seen it only on Stranger Things) that I dropped the Praedor spiel and went all in on roleplaying games in general, especially in the basic process (empathizing with a story protagonist, deciding their actions and experiencing the adventure with friends). Please, oh please, oh Lords Of The Dice, let me have done a good job!
With someone already familiar with RPGs or works of Hiltunen it is easier. Praedor RPG is based on setting of Praedor stories and in genre is an adult sword & sorcery fantasy game (as opposed to the more folklore-oriented high fantasy of D&D and its many derivatives). It is important not to present any genre superior to any other but as a preference, as in “why would I choose this book over that” when selecting things to read. It is a great fit to this kind of event and something everyone coming to a book fair can relate to. All in all, my 10-15 engagements were interesting, rewarding and useful. I just wish there hadn’t been some much idle time between them but that’s how the dice roll.
My next public event is a Public Session as part of Kummacon in Oulu next Sunday. If I don’t get any players I will be both surprised and disappointed but that’s all part of the job. Every time you put yourself out there you run the risk of zero interest, no-shows, weirdoes and hostility. I’ve been lucky so far with the players that did show up, but some of the stories I’ve heard are pretty terrible.
This does not mean my players are always easy. Special needs players are surprisingly common at events and if you don’t try your best to give them a great experience, you are an asshole who has no business running a public game. Sometimes (okay, I think it has happened exactly five times in my entire career) I am pre-warned by organizers that a player has major psychological and social problems. Sometimes I can tell and sometimes I cannot, but I have always managed by rationing my attention between players and using humor to convey both rejections and boundaries.
Maybe they noticed and maybe they didn’t. But judging by the smiles, it worked.