Category Archives: Fastaval

Designing an OSR Heartbreaker – Prologue

There has been some silence around the blog, since I posted most of my DragonLance as a/is a science fiction-posts, but since lately I have been caught up on a lot of work with creating a D&D retro-clone trying to all that I thought was wrong with D&D 3,5, D&D 4th and Pathfinder, and recently it has been playtested successfully at two minor conventions and privately and I have now people expanding the rules and adding more modules to the collection, as the grand playtest at Denmarks second largest roleplaying festival, Fastaval, is about to take place. But it is not just a fantasy heartbreaker designed in accordance to (as much as anything can be in accordance with the Old School Renaissance), it as at the same time a living campaign, where the players are exploring a huge sandbox area littered with dungeons (there will be somewhere between 13 and 17 dungeons presently), and when not exploring dungeons (that is sitting at a table playing the D&D retro-clone), you can roleplay yourself as a member of Fastaval Roleplaying Guild collecting rare roleplaying supplements (that is there will be rare rule supplements you can collect, that adds additional options, you can use when playing at the table). As a living campaign my project began back in January with the first convention introducing Hinterlandet, as my project is known as, and it has been running as a living campaign since.

At Fastaval this year Vincent Baker and Lizzie Stark will be attending (Lizzie also guested us last year), and so I will be presenting Old School roleplaying at a convention that usually features a whole slew of Nordic Roleplaying, which is quite artsy and edgy – and which are the RPG’s that I normally produce myself, so I am looking forward to this so rather different year.

I hope to share a lot of my thoughts on creating a OSR fantasy heartbreaker in the next few months and exploring the simulationism-side of roleplaying as I explore the development of the system.

Call for Board Games

The Danish Roleplaying Festival Fastaval, which each year presents some 20-30 cutting-edge roleplaying scenarios in the Scandinavian style of pen & paper and Parlor LARPS has expanded into board gaming as well. This year awards were also given to the best Board Game Design, and this tradition continues.

Fastaval Board Game Competition 2013

The rules are simple. You must present a workable, playable board game at Fastaval. It must be a ‘new’ game (so not a project, you be hiding in your drawer for the last five years), and it must be playable even if you are not present at the table.

The Challenge

These two points are optional:

  • Writing rules. The participating games in 2012 were in general on a very high level, but the rules were not always of the same standard. Game-rules should be helpful to the players, not an obstacle. They must be made and layouted so they easily starts the players off and makes any complicated aspects of the game clear and understandable.
  • “Borders / breaking down borders”. You are by no means required to follow this “theme”. It’s more like a suggestion from us to you, to challenge the mechanics and settings for what is considered “normal elements” in a boardgame or, on a meta level, think of a game that breaks down borders “between players” . Which borders and between what, we will leave to you to figure out.

To participate you must send your Board Game Synopsis within the deadline of October 1. 2012 to

If you’re board gamer or board game designer, then send your synopsis to Fastaval and participate in the contest about the Prestigious Otto Award. Read the full text on the competition here: Fastaval Board Games.

Call for scenarioes – send your summary

We bring an announcement. The roleplaying Festival, Fastaval, is now open for summaries for anyone, who wants to present a roleplaying-scenario at the convention. Fastaval is a Danish roleplaying festival taking place during the Easter. The convention caters to all sorts of roleplaying games, though traditionally the emphasis is on various kinds of tabletop roleplaying – systemless, freeform, parlor larp, indie, story game, traditional etc. – and now is the chance to apply to present a game at Fastaval, the leading Danish roleplaying convention. 

And now the formal announcement:

Summaries for Fastaval

Once again, it is time to think about roleplaying scenarios for Fastaval. The last couple of years we’ve received a large number of summaries, and we sincerely hope the trend will continue, so we’ll be able to offer a great and varied selection of RPGs in 2012. Send us your idea as a summary, so you may contribute to the big con in 2012.


The summaries must be sent to the two scenario coordinators, Kristoffer Rudkjær and Klaus Meier Olsen at: no later than Thursday, September 15, at 23:59 (GMT+1).

The finished scenarios must be sent to Kristoffer and Klaus no later than February 15, 2012.

Please note: Over the last many years, there’s been a very loose deadline discipline. For FV2012 we will enforce a tight deadline for scenarios. Therefore, we are willing to cancel scenarios, if we haven’t received them on February 15.

Summaries and the writers behind them

Primarily, we look at the presentation of your idea. A summary is a short piece of text that describes what sets your scenario apart from others, what makes it awesome, and what the players will experience by playing it. You can read more about the form in Mikkel Bækgaard’s fine description from 2005 here (only in Danish): Den gode synops

In addition, we need the following information:

  • Type (scenario, novella or grind night – see below)
  • Number of players
  • Number of Gamemasters
  • Expected playing time
  • Name, e-mail and phone for alle participating scenario-authors *

What’s new this year?

During the last couple of years, we’ve tried some new things regarding scenarios for Fastaval. This year, there’s not much new under the sun, except for a tuning of last year’s initiatives. Therefore, in relation to the creative processes, we will once again focus on workshops, sparring partners, as well as host a weekend for the writers. We will focus specifically on better and ongoing communication between writers and the people in charge, as well as maintaining a very hard deadline. For our program, we will continue last year’s division between standard scenarios, novellas and the very successful Grind Night concept – with minor adjustments of the latter.


The average length of scenarios is currently 3-5 hours. This creates a challenge in regards to our “block” system on the full days, as there isn’t enough time for three blocks, but two blocks would leave too much “gameless” time. To solve this problem, Fastaval introduced a novella block last year, which we will use in FV2012 as well.

So, again this year, we are looking for summaries for novella scenarios. A novella scenario is typically meant for four players or five players without a gamemaster, but we will not make any requirements in this regard. We will, however, require, that the scenario can be played in max two hours, including introduction and wrap-up. Novellas are, in other words, a somewhat limited scenario idea, perhaps with an oblique approach or point of view, that works fantastic for 1½ hours, but not for 5. In addition, it is a slightly more approachable project for e.g. debutants or scenario writers with kids or exams. We are looking forward to see what exciting ideas this format will produce!

Novellas participate in the Otto Awards on equal terms with all other scenarios.

Grind night

Last year, we offered a particular night block for games with horror, fright and grind. It was so successful, we’ll be bringing it back for Fastaval 2012. We will, however, make two minor adjustments. Firstly, the block will start earlier (but don’t worry, it will still be late night gaming), and secondly, we will only accept grind night novellas. That way, it will be possible for players to participate in more than one game (and the writers will have more player groups). Practically speaking, the players will still sign up for the block and be allocated to games in the “Midnight Lounge”.

We are looking for novella scenarios inspired by gore films and late night B TV shows with monsters, murderers and darkness, etc. It can be horror, it can be comical or very grim. The most important thing is, it focuses on the terrifying.

Grind night novellas participate in the Otto Awards on equal terms with all other scenarios.


Lastly, we would like to briefly mention live scenarios. Live is more than welcome on Fastaval, both in standard blocks and as novellas or as part of the Grind Night. So, send us your summary, and we will look it over. Please note, that Fastaval has a live coordinator, who will help with the practicalities of live scenarios.

Live scenarios participate in the Otto Awards on equal terms with all other scenarios.


So, this year we ask for three types of summaries: the “classical” scenario – which is longer than a novella and can be played in a normal 6 hour block, novellas for our 2 hour blocks, and finally grind night novellas for the grind night block Friday night. Some ideas may break these broad guidelines, in which case we will look at it.

Just as last year, we will try to find a reasonable correlation between number of scenarios and gaming blocks. Because of this, we will be forced to choose between the submissions based on the following three parameters:


We want a broad selection of scenarios in terms of genre, system and player accessibility. We also want a broad selection of writers, so we have both newcomers, intermediates and old veterans in this year’s program.

This year, there might be cases of having a good idea for a normal scenario, that can’t be accepted for space reasons, but which we think would fit nicely as a novella or on Grind Night, or vice versa. In these cases, we will contact the writer and ask if he/she will participate under these slightly changed circumstances.

Finally, the past two years we have had cases of writers submitting more than one summary. This presents us with a dilemma: the more scenarios from one writer at Fastaval, the less scenarios from different writers. This will be taken into account when we make our selection, which means you must have some really good ideas to get more than one scenario included in the program.

Maturity of the Idea

The more developed the idea, the more likely it will be accepted. A fully developed idea increases the chance of having a ready scenario in February.


We want the best scenarios possible, to give the con-goers at Fastaval the best playing experiences.

Response and Presentation of the Program

We receive the summaries on September 15 and respond no later than October 1. Shortly hereafter we will publish the program on


Best regards,

Klaus & Kristoffer

* It is possible to write under a pseudonym, but the scenario coordinators need all the requested information.

So, are you tempted? I am. I plan to participate with a summary on my alternate history love story about a young theologian investigating strange rumors of witchcraft in the town of Køge in the year 1810.

Fat Loot from Fastaval

This years Fastaval was awesome. The weather was great, and a lot of time was spend outdoors in the sun. There was great gaming – I ran Leaves of Fate, Scrapbook, Ikea and A Heart of Metal, besides It’s Complicated, and I played 15 Men. I won the Jury’s Special Award for The Children of Playing Field 7, got nominated for The Honorary Otto for my work for the Danish roleplaying culture, and got a second place at the beer brewing contest (only two points behind the winner, not bad). Also got famous for being a character in the scenario Brabrand – five of us from planB appears in the scenario as the PC’s.

We got to give away the newly published Scenariebogen/The Scenario Book (400+ pages, 2½ kilo – the black one in the pics) to a lot of eager roleplayes for free, and the Anniversary Magazine for Fastaval is awesome. For the photo-shoot contest we gave away a copy of Nordic Larp. I came home with a lot of goodies and weird stuff (including an Ikea-doll (or a spider-shaped glove) as a gift for game mastering Ikea).

Awesome Guests

A bunch of people from Norway, Sweden and Finland dropped by, I played with Nathan Hook from England and Marlene from France, and I got to meet Luke Crane and Jared Sørensen, who brought along copies of FreeMarket. Not only did I get a copy for myself, but also a copy for Viking-Con’s remake-competition, where that copy will be a part of prize for winning: Who ever makes the best remake of Sort/Hvid (Black/White) wins. I also picked up a copy of InSpectres, and a lot of Fastaval Merchandise.

Also I finally saw what Jared’s Parsley game was all about, and I saw Mind Control is Game Design, though there was not really anything new.

A Bit More on the Games

A Heart of Metal – a metal-interpretation of the opera Tannhäuser about a young artist struggling with his art and his need to reach his audience. He is caught between his love and his muse, and his rival. These four roles rotate between the players, and the scenes are played as structured freeform. As a part of the game, the scenes are played multiple times from different angles. Quite fun. Unfortunately we had to play in a rather small room, so we could not use the floor for a few crucial scenes, which lessened the impact.

Scrapbook – a story of a woman breaking down as she struggles to fit her role as mother. She ends up with kidnapping an infant, but before that we chart her break down by playing the scenes shifting between Grey Reality and Rosy Romance. The scenario is played as structured freeform and the story shifts between grey reality and rosy delusions. It became a quite strong experience to play. Also you play it with an actual scrapbook, when you play, and scenes are set by opening the book on a page.

Leaves of Fate – a omnious story of four rather unpleasant persons, who are given a chance to change their ways from beyond the grave. By using a ouija-board the players pretends that the spirit of a woman brings answers to the characters, giving them space to reveal their characters’ nefarious secrets. Also played as structured freeform.

Ikea – a short comedy scenario of about 1½ hour about couples shopping in Ikea. The players choose between 11 different pairs of characters. Once a player has chosen a pair, he chooses a fellow player to play the other half, and thus you have four pairs of people shopping in Ikea, and the players takes turns playing the couples and playing observers trying to guess the true errands of the couples by reading the subtext. As the others it is played as structured freeform.

The Children of Playing Field 7 – a story of four children growing up in societies plagued by warfare. We see the consequences of the war, as the individual stories are played (with the other players having roles of NPCs). Another structured freeform story.

15 Men – a pirate-story about 15 men trying to bring back a treasure. There are 15 characters, and when one is killed, you pick the next one and keep playing, until a single pirate is left standing. It is sort of like a story game, but with the GM handling the general flow.

What are the Roles of the Master?

A short while ago Larp Musing linked to Mailed Fist’s post on ‘What is Roleplaying?‘, and is there something, that many a roleplayer has a strong opinion of or can debate endlessly about, then it is the question “what is roleplaying?”. Usually I prefer the simple explanation, that roleplaying is a medium akin to theater, literature, movies etc., and that we can tell stories with it, and that roleplaying can be art, just as books, movies, and comics can be art.

Now Donjon Master at Mailed Fist wants to give a description of what roleplaying at the table is, and he focuses on the process of the interaction between GM and player, a perspective which is addressed by Larp Musing, as the many of the assignments handled by the GM at the table are absent in larps – at least in the particular role described by Donjon Master at Mailed Fist.

Right now I am prepping the games I will be playing at upcoming roleplaying convention, Fastaval, during Easter, and the different scenarios requires different approaches to how I will be game mastering. Each scenario assigns specific jobs for the GM, ans these do not quite match those Donjon Master describes. Before dealing with the roles of the GM in the four scenarios, I will briefly present the scenarios.

The Four Things I Will Be Game Mastering This Easter


A low key comedy about everyday life, where we follow four pairs of people (chosen from some 11 different pairs) shopping in Ikea. Ikea in this sense acts as a frame for each pair’s problems. Each pair consist of one A-role and one B-role, and each player will be playing an A-role in one pair and a B-role in one another pair, and the action shifts between the four pairs, and during the intermezzos the players through their characters acts as extras commenting of the story of the other players. As a part of the scene-setting the players use an actual Ikea-catalogue.

Leaves of Fate

This story takes place in 1901 just after the death of a noble woman, and we follow her four heirs – the husband, the lover, the son and the sister – and they are a unpleasent bunch, but from beyond her grave she gives them a chance to redeem themselves, thus winning the inheritance, but this require them to admit their crime against her and to strive to better themselves. The communication is handled through an actual ouija-board used as a mechanic in the game, and the players through their characters ask questions and constructs answers to shape the story.

A Heart of Metal

A metal-version of the opera Tannhäuser, where we follow the metal-pot Granhøj, his muse, his girlfriend and his rival. He is struggling to succeed as an artist. The curious thing in this one is,t hat the roles rotate among the players at the command of the GM, and that the scenes can be done over again and again from different perspectives.

The scenario is accompanied by a metal soundtrack.


A woman is lost in her fantasy of the ideal life. The story begins and ends with her kidnapping of a small child and her hiding at a motel. In between the events that drove her to insanity are played out with the players using a scrapbook. Scenes switch between rosy red and dull grey, as they are either her dream life, where things are good, or her real life, where things are not as good. The game moves in a non-linear fashion through the events switching between her fantasy-version, that can constantly be retold, as it is only something she imagines, and reality, that can only be played once, since harsh reality is not malleable.

Game Mastering

Common for all four scenarios, that I will be running:

  • Begin with instructing the players as to how the game is played
  • Demonstrate the rules
  • Establish the genre.


  • Pacing and cutting the scenes between the four pairs
  • Leave the scene-setting to the players
  • if a scene is loosing momentum, then introduce the other players playing minor characters

Leaves of Fate

  • Have the players describe location and mood. Do this by asking leading questions to the players during the scenes
  • Set the scenes, once the players have briefly established the situation
  • Play the extras (the priest, the lawyer, the staff) – they are only present briefly at the start
  • Explain the players the general events in each act and scene
  • Assist at the Ouija-board, especially if the players are out of ideas


  • Frame the Monologue
  • Set the first scene
  • Have the players set the next scenes
  • Frame the Epilogue
  • Play extras if needed

A Heart of Metal

  • Set the scenes, describe the setting
  • Reframe and re-set the scenes
  • Rotate the characters between the players
  • Change the music from scene to scene

Now comparing this to Donjon Masters presentation of the game master’s functions, there are some interesting differences. Only in A Heart of Metal will I be describing the characters’ perception of the situation. Mostly the players will not be describing to me as the GM, what they are doing. Instead they will act out or describe to each other, what their characters are doing, and finally I will in general just nod and say yes to the players’ choices. The scenarios are all structured freeform, and thus there will be no mechanic to determine the outcome, and at most I will be final arbitrator, if there is any doubt as to what is going to happen.

Gaming Convention Survival Guide – The Fastaval Edition

I noticed the other day that Mike Shea at Sly Flourish published a survival guide for conventions. It was with some curiosity I read it, as I am eagerly looking forward to spring’s greatest convention, Fastaval, but the advice Mike presented were generally for an entirely different kind of gaming convention, so here is my alternate guide for the Danish roleplaying convention.

Get Water and Drink It

Since you will probably end up spending some time in the bar and/or the cafe, you’ll be drinking quite a bit. Drinking water helps lessen the worst hangovers, and you need to be in shape for more gaming the next day.

So remember to drop by the kiosk and pick up a water bottle once in a while (coffee and tea is free), or find a tap and get refills from there.

Get Food

Don’t sleep late or you’ll miss the breakfast. The kiosk sells some great sandwiches and the cafe has snacks, so if you’re lazy, you can easily find lunch to a fair price. Unless you game drags out, you can easily make it to dinner.

There are bakeries and fastfoodjoints and restaurants in the area, so it is easy to find food, should you not be satisfied with the convention’s services. Just remember to eat.

Pack like a backpacker

If you’re a player, it is a good idea to bring pens and a notebook. That is about it. If you have found one of the few scenarios, that uses dice you should bring some (I don’t think there are any this year).

If you’re a game master, you need to carry the scenario, notebook, pens and of course any particular elements for the specific scenario (i.e. CD or MP3-player for A Heart of Metal, DVD-player or laptop for The Children of Soccerfield 7, Ikea-catalogue for Ikea etc.). Some GM’s bring extra elements to enhance the mood like music players. Do that, if it is your style.

A good backpack or some such is practical, but not strictly necessary.

Stay Healthy

Get sleep. It is easy to forget.

Eat proper. There will be drinking, do not forget to eat.

Bathe. Since the showers are usually in constant use during the mornings, some choose to wait till noon before they bathe. There will be no saunas, unfortunately.

Set Goals, not a Schedule

Read the programme carefully. There will at most nine time slots to play in. Do not pick them all, when you fill out your registry. You will be exhausted – and if you discover you have the energy for an extra game, there is always the Extras Line, where you stand in line for a more or less random game. Also if you are unable to participate in a scenario, remember to sign off, so the organizers can find a replacement.

Don’t forget the workshops, and there are always pick-up board games, and sometimes some of the indie-players organize a spontaneous game, but it is not common. Spare time can also be spent in the cafe or in the youth lounge, if you are a teen.

Remember to arrive in good time for your next scenario, preferably 10 minutes before.

Avoid the Herd

Some scenarios are popular, especially when it is one those written by famous authors, or if the potential of the game sounds awesome (like 15 Men on a Dead Man’s Chest). Expect a lot of players to pick the scenario in their registration. Well the trick is to sign up as a GM, as this will give you a GM-priority, so you are guaranteed to play your favorite. Secondly you might even choose to GM your favorite scenario.

And again remember that you can also stand in the Extras Line for a more or less random scenario.

Run a Game Instead of Playing One

If you like GM’ing, do not forget to pick a game or two to GM. I often contact the authors and ask for advance copies before I sign up, so I know if a scenario is my type game or not.

Since running a scenario proper requires some prepping, so expect to spend some time reading (most scenarios are between 20-50 pages, a few a very brief, perhaps 4-5 pages, and a few are 100+). It is always a good idea to a test run at home with your friends, and if you contact the author early in the process, you may even be invited to play test with the authors – which is no bad deal.

Swim with a Buddy

Go with a few friends. It is always nice to have a familiar face to hangout with.

Things to remember

  • Earplugs – some people snore, some other people can’t ignore it.
  • Quality sleeping gear – we are going to spend a few days at Fastaval, so if you do not arrange for external sleeping quarters, you better bring a good sleeping back, pillows and some sort of Madras (and do remember an electrical pump if you opt for an inflatable madras).
  • A proper suit or dress for the party – I’ll bring my tailor-made three-piece suit, but that is a matter of taste, but do be aware, that people dress up for the final party, and it is not a cosplay.
  • Naturally always remember the basics for bathing etc. like towels, soap etc.
  • Cell Phone and Recharger

Jared and Luke goes to Denmark

In a month the major Danish roleplaying convention, Fastaval, takes place.

I am really looking forward to the Fastaval this easter. Not only is the programme filled with exciting scenarios, but also a lot interesting events for instance the Roleplayer Brew Off, where roleplayers compete in beer brewing.

Now we have the pleasure of being visited by Luke Crane of Mouse Guard fame and Jared Sorensen of Lacuna fame (at least the game of his, that I am familiar with), and both are behind the FreeMarket game – and actually I hope, that they might bring a few copies along.

Anyway I am excited to see, what they will present for us at Fastaval, and registration for Fastaval runs to 1st of April, so you can still make it, if Scandinavian Freeform, parlor larps and indie-style games appeal to you.



What I will be Playing at The Next Con

The next convention I will be attending is Fastaval in Easter. The convention has its 25th anniversary, and I am pretty excited, as there will be a lot things to watch out for, not just roleplaying, but also all the secondary events such the Roleplaying Home Brewers Contest (that is roleplayers that also brew their own beers), and the anniversary publication covering this years articles on how to play – articles targeting both players and GMs – and also covering the last 25 years of the convention’s history.

Right now I am working on the last details on my own contribution to the programme, a scenario about children and war, and I am looking for game masters for the scenario. I am also trying to figure out, which of the scenarios, that I will run, and so far I have narrowed it down to the following games:

  • A Heart of Metal. A metal-opera roleplay based on Tannhäuser including a playlist of various metal hits.
  • Ikea. A love story using an Ikea-catalogue to set the scenes.
  • Leaves of Destiny. A drama using a ouija-board to simulate the events of the game
  • 15 Men. A pirate story about 15 pirates trying to get the treasure with one pirate dying in each scene. Once a player’s pirate character is dead, he picks the next to play.
  • Memoirs of a Hitman. A story about a nameless hitman finding solace on Iceland.
  • Scrapbook. A sad tale about a woman lost in her fantasy world, where the players construct scenes by using her scrapbook. The color of the pages reveal, whether the events take place or in her dream world.

That is just a small part of the programme.

Since there is a rumor that Jared Sorensen and Luke Crane  of FreeMarket fame might visit, I will also be signing up for the indie-games.

Fastaval – The Roleplaying Festival

We are gearing up for Fastaval, the grand roleplaying convention in Denmark. This time it is in April, Easter to be exact, and soon the registration opens (21st of February), and if you are quick, you will get a discount, which is more or less free participation.

So come to Denmark, try our games, and have fun. We have a lot of unusual stuff, that you don’t get to play elsewhere.

The Fastaval FAQ for the curious.

25 years of Fastaval

It is the 25th anniversary, and I am really looking forward to this convention. This year will be doing a lot of extra things such as a beer brewing-competition among roleplayers, and an anniversary book celebrating Fastaval telling its history and it will be combined with the yearly Fastaval-compendium, which compiles GM and player techniques. There are some 20-30 new scenarios (each scenario is run several times with different GMs), a pile of board games and a great bar.

What I Am Doing

As the coordinator of the brewing contest and editor of the compendium I am quite busy right now – and also with writing my scenario for this years Fastaval, and mentoring one of the other scenario-authors. The competition is quite heavy this year with 20-30 scenarios premiering. I had the opportunity to play test one of them at Con2: A Heart of Metal, a metal opera-roleplaying based on Tännhauser and with great love for the metal genre. It is quite fun with its quite unusual structure, where the characters rotate among the players and the same scene is played several times from different angles. We had a lot of fun playing it.

At Con2 I also had the opportunity to play Periid: The TekGards, an unusual game about friendship and art collection among a futuristic unit of supersoldiers in heavy mechanized armor. A central part of the mechanic in the combat scenes is the players hugging, kissing and high fiving each other playing out the close friendship among the troopers, and at the same time improving their combat results. Quite weird, and it will be relaunched at Viking-Con in October.

Next up is Knudepunkt (17th – 20th Feb), the Scandinavian conference on roleplaying and Larp, where I’ll be participating with a talk about the scenario-writing of Fastaval through the last 25 years. Plenty of stuff to keep me busy.