My Own Personal 13th Warrior and the Most Expensive Protocol Session Ever


I’m sitting in Tampere, Finland, some two hours north of Helsinki at the largest geek convention in all of the Nordic countries, at the largest venue in the Nordic countries, in the the first Nordic city to get electricity (in 1800 and something). I’m this year’s roleplaying game guest of honor. A first for me. A strange situation for me as well. I just gave a 45-minute lecture of game design and the importance of understanding if you’re making a game about ‘successes’ versus a game about ‘events.’ I used a number of FFG games as examples of stories in which you are a passenger, versus stories where you get to drive.

I’m playing Five Broken Swords — a favorite Protocol among the intelligentsia — with four other gentlemen who are all new to this ‘story roleplaying’ thing. But they seem smart and eager. Each of these players has a deep understanding of history. More so than we do here in the states. And that makes this particular session pretty awesome.

Tuomas, Marko, Sipi, and another gentleman with a name I cannot pronounce are playing a witch, a fighter, a fatherly priest, and a barbarian respectively. I’m an alchemist, but trying not to get in the way as I want them to explore the game. I’m also trying to keep interrogations simple, because they can sometimes overwhelm players. But, they really seem to like them. The game is set in 13th century Eastern Europe, in a vague location. There are no dwarves or elves, but we’ve heard rumors of vampires and werewolves. The real ones. Not the sparkly kind. Sipi is playing a real Catholic priest, but doesn’t know his daughter (played by Tuomas) is a witch.

The Finns have a wide range of accents when speaking English here. Two of the players speak precise English, with British accents, while the other two have what is called ‘Rally English,’ which is a really thick Slavic/Finnish accent. The accents make the game interesting. Sipi is easily the best player here and his thick accent makes the character so real, it’s a little scary.

Let me take a moment to just say how awesome these guys are at just dropping history into the game. They just made the location of one of the scenes a battlefield where Phillip of Macedonia once fought against Thrace. Who does that? And Now we’ve just encountered the birthplace of a Saint. Holy crap. This is a good game.

In the end, we finished the quest, only to give the artifact to one of the characters who in turn became a tyrant. Sigh. Power corrupts and all that.

The rest of the con has been easy. I can’t believe how well everyone is treated me. Anytime I want food or drinks or whatever, I just snap my fingers and there it is. It’s insane.

I don’t actually snap my fingers.

Finland is gorgeous. It’s similar to Seattle, only clean. And the people are nice. And also I want to be here.

So. It’s nothing like Seattle.


Anyway. I’ve been having an amazing time and I really do need to thank everyone at Tracon X for their hospitality. Seriously. Never have I been treated nicer. So. To Tiina and everyone else here, thank you.

Game on.