Petri Wessman's weblog

Still alive...

Long silence here, but the blog’s not dead yet; it’s just been an… eventful time and I haven’t had time or energy to tackle my review backlog yet. As you’ve seen, that’s mostly what’s here nowadays: reviews. The everyday stuff and notes I used to put here now tend to go to Google+ (or Facebook), but I still prefer a standalone platform like this for articles (like reviews).

Anyway, taking care of Saiga (now over 4 months old!) has been a bit taxing at times, even though she’s a sweet and easy kid – whatever the case, it’s still a bit of work and a serious loss of available free time.

Then there was a stupid thing, a serious accident. We were working clearing some lakeside shrubs at our country place, and we got the bright idea of using gasoline to light the bonfire. Well, one thing led to another, the gasoline had time to vaporize into the surrounding air, and I went to light the thing carelessly… boom, one huge fireball which enveloped me. T-shirt protected my body, but my face and arms got scorched badly (2nd degree burns all over). Now, three weeks later, I’m starting to be ok, but it was a painful affair. Could have been a lot worse of course (I managed to close my eyes and didn’t breathe in the flames), so there’s that.

Then we had Ropecon, and the big VTES tournament there. At 90 players it was both a huge success and also one of the biggest ones we’ve had. Everything went really well, and the win went to Otso Saariluoma. I’ll post a tournament report to vekn.net (and maybe link it here) once I get it written, but that will have to wait till next weekend, since…

… we’re now leaving for a week-long sailing trip in the Turku archipelago. First time at sea with Saiga, will be interesting to see how it goes.

So that’s that. Between childcare, a gasoline fireball, and a huge tournament to organize (plus tons of other stuff), my review queue had stood still for a while now. It’ll get moving again, a bit later.

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Survived vacation

Well, I’m back at work, after a (short) 2-week vacation. It’s nice and peaceful here, as opposed to the hectic (but very fun) vacation schedule. And the office has air conditioning, which is a win these days.

We spent the first weekend in Joensuu, at Isosaarirock. Very nice rock festival, and nice trip overall. The hotel was an “eco-hotel”, which proved to be bad on Friday when we arrived: “eco” meant no air conditioning and poor ventilation, resulting in a room temperature easily in the 30s (C). We finally managed to sleep without dying of overheating by (also) leaving the room door open to the corridor. The temps dropped a bit the next days so it wasn’t so bad, but… that place really wasn’t built to handle heat waves. Nice enough otherwise.

The festival itself was good. Nice selection of bands and a wide cross-section of genres. We listened to everything from big band jazz to heavy metal and (Finnish!) rap. I primarily went there to see Imogen Heap (she was good), but many other gigs were also very much worth seeing and listening to. My feet were killing me near the end; 12 hours or so of standing / bounding about in soleless shoes (Feelmax) starts to get to you. We got a bit of a sunburn, but nothing too bad… and the beach there was awesome. You could wade in the water or go for a swim, while seeing and hearing the band on stage at the same time.

Imogen Heap seemed happy about the very positive reception she got (she hasn’t been here before), so I’m hoping she’ll do a “proper” tour with a Finnish concert at some point. It would be great to see her in a more focused environment.

The following week our house started filling up with guests. A lot of EVE players were coming to Finland for Ropecon, and we housed some at our place. Actually, we still do, I think the last of them leaves tomorrow. We also got well-known VTES “celebrity” player over (I’ve met him before at ECs), who got crash space on the floor on a mattress since our guest bedroom and sofa were already occupied my others. Fun guys all, and it’s fun to have the house full of people. Well, now and then it is, anyway ;)

Last weekend was Ropecon, of course. I ran the big VTES tournament on Friday, and it went very well. Excellent turnout with 93 players, and we also had a record number of foreign players attending. The win went to Otso Saariluoma, with the final round ending around 3am. It was a good final round too, with lots of stuff happening all the time. I’ll write up a full tournament report during the next week or so, with details on all that.

On Saturday I played in the VTES draft (fun, but only got 1 VP total), then caught some random program events and finally stumbled home to sleep for an all-too-short while. Sunday back to the con area to listen to Guy Windsor’s traditional “Realities of Steel” thing, and then an 8-hour info desk shift. So the con went well, though this year most of it went towards VTES for me.

…and now it’s (slowly) back to normal routine. That’s not a bad thing, as such. The kittehs will miss having a million people around the house, though, they’ve grown used to always having a human around who has time to pet them.

Leaving normal, once again

Now I’m leaving normal and I’m heading for who knows where

–Cowboy Junkies, “Leaving Normal”

More or less dropping off the grid now. Flight leaves in… all too few hours, I should already be trying to grab a few hours of sleep. Maybe I will.

Tomorrow Iceland, then in a few weeks Black Rock City. I can already smell the playa dust.

P.S. The Ropecon VTES tournament report is now up. Enjoy.

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No sleep 'til Monday

Well, another Ropecon is now over (except for the after-party). While once again it was an exercise in seeing how far you can push yourself in the sleep deprivation department, it also went very well and was a lot of fun.

I had already done some “con stuff” on Wednesday and Thursday, with some pub time with LSJ (Guest of Honor), Juki, Janne and the others, but things really started off for me on Friday with the big VTES tournament. I was at work until 4pm or so, and after that drove over to Dipoli and set up the registration desk. Things proceeded smoothly even though there were a lot of players (we got a grand total of 85 this year), and I managed to get the tournament running by 18:15 – not bad. LSJ was also playing in this one, something he doesn’t get to do all that much. He did threaten to ask nasty rules questions from the judge (which would be me), but in reality he behaved. Perhaps it was the threats of violence…

Anyway, the tournament was a success. Nobody skipped out suddenly and everyone who signed up was actually there more or less on time – the few latecomers kept me well informed via the phone. There were some rules questions as always, but only one which I wasn’t 100% sure about right off… and this time, I could actually go find LSJ and ask him for confirmation. Awesome. Even though the playing space was cramped for this number of players and the lack of fresh air and ridiculous air humidity became real factors, everyone dealt with it and seemed to have a good time. So a huge thanks to the players for this one: once again, you made this possible and a fun thing to run.

The preliminary rounds finished a bit before 1am, after which I dealt out the EC qualifier t-shirts to the 21 players who got a qualification. After that, the finalists took a short break and then gathered up to play the final round (which got going around 1:25am). The final round had 2 Swedish players and 3 Finns. Pauli (one of the Finns) was ousted quite soon by Michael (a Swede), which left four Dominate-heavy decks on the table. After a long tense stretch of a game, the win finally went to Adam Esbjörnsson (from Sweden) with about 5 minutes left on the game clock. Congrats! Adam was playing a very nasty-looking deck based around Gabrielle di Righetti, the new Tremere Justicar. I’ll write up a full tournament report over the next couple of weeks, hopefully with full finalist deck lists and some pictures.

So, at around 3.20am, things were wrapped up, and I could… go downstairs to do an Info desk shift until 7am! Whee! To be fair, I had requested night shifts, so I can only blame myself. The night shift went fine, though it was a bit boring. Come on Troubleshooters, your job is to keep Info (and yourselves) awake, keeping peace and order is secondary to that! There was cakes and whipped cream, though, so can’t complain too much.

When 7am rolled around I hopped in the car and drove home. In own bed and asleep before 8am… so got to sleep curled up next to wife for a hour or so until she had to get up and do her own Info desk shift. The cats were quite confused about human timetables at this point. I slept until noon(ish), then headed back to the con. Hung around, saw some lectures, did the normal con routine until something like 9pm, when Janka & I decided to do the smart thing and go home and sleep for at least some hours before the next night shift (which we both shared). Unfortunately she had gotten a slight case of food poisoning (probably from a packet of bacon she had as breakfast), and we actually only got a few hours of real sleep, if that. At 2:30am or so, we headed back to the con after a quick wake-you-up shower. Janka wasn’t feeling too good, but decided to see how it would go.

Once we got there, night shift was fun and not at all boring, since we decided to do something about it: Janka hooked up one of the laptops to the projector (usually used for projecting con schedules) and some kind person lent us their portable speaker set – we forgot ours at home. After this, it was Info Deck Night Radio&Video, courtesy of YouTube. We played everything we could think off, as long as it was reasonably short, funny, and if possible slightly insane. Janka wrote about the playlist in her blog.

… so, we managed to keep ourselves (and any victims nearby) awake and semi-coherent. Morning rolled in, and we didn’t have much else to do yet so we stayed for a few more hours at the Info desk to help out. After that I headed off to make sure that the “VTES Brunch” with LSJ and some of the tournament finalists and high scorers was ok (it was, Katri & others had organized an awesome breakfast buffet at a roof-terrace sauna). Grabbed some breakfast there while talking VTES with the guys, then headed off to organize a few small things and find Janka.

The rest of the con for us consisted of sitting in Keltsu (the pub) and talking with Guy, Kristel and others, winding down. At around 3pm, instead of doing what our bodies were claiming to be the sane thing (go home asap and fall into a coma), we headed off to Korso for Ankkarock, to see Eppu Normaali, PMMP, Volbeat and The National. Sanity is overrated, anyway.

More about the rock festival visit in another post (it merits one).

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DNS blackout

Seems my registrar’s DNS servers (nameresolve.com, via Dotster) were on the blink yesterday – they had to do an IP switch, and due to DNS cache propagation orava.org was unresolvable for a while. It seems to be working again now for me, but of course that depends on where you are and what nameserver you’re using.

Bit of bad timing there, the huge Ropecon VTES tournament is on Friday and I have a lot of prep (pre-registrations etc) to take care of. Here’s hoping things will be stable now.

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Summer scheduling

Looks like I need to start scheduling my summer right about now, a lot of things need decisions round this time. For example, I just heard that The National are coming to Ankkarock… and of course Ropecon is on the same weekend. Gah. I really want to see The National, they were one of the best “new finds” of last year for me. Good news is that they are performing on Sunday. I’ll probably be able to combo the con Sunday with a rock festival. Somehow. It might involve beer.

In addition, a friend’s paintball weekend thingy lands on top of Provinssirock. Probably choosing the paintball there… sure, it would be nice to see Placebo (again) and Nick Cave, but now that (another) friend no longer lives nearby that would be a pretty expensive trip – I think I’ll opt for the cheaper “run in the woods and get shot” option. Oh, and of course there’s a KMFDM club gig on that same weekend. Already have tickets for that, but not yet sure how I’ll combo everything.

Oh, and we’re planning of maybe visiting Iceland in August, and continuing from there to Burning Man (once again!). Still in the planning stages, but that one will eat up both our vacation time and a chunk of cash. Why Iceland? Because we can. And because it should be less horribly expensive now, due to their financial crash. Sucks for them, good for us.

Having fun takes work, I tell you.

Minireview: A Dirty World

Ok, so on to A Dirty World, which is Greg Stolze’s new “film noir” standalone roleplaying game. As I mentioned eariler, I was lucky enough to play in a demo run by Greg at Ropecon and I had a blast. The game really seemed to promote the “feel” of film noir, though of course part of that credit goes to the very nice demo scenario we were playing, and to Greg’s quite excellent GM skills.

It’s a small, compact game engine, based on the ORE engine (as seen in Nemesis, Wild Talents, Reign, etc) – though this incarnation has been tweaked heavily in the “Forge” direction. In a good way, I think. The stat/ability design is quite clever, and the game has your stats changing every scene – the player characters get challenged and change all the time. A “femme fatale” character might begin her slow climb from corruption to purity – or become even more corrupt with every scene. It’s up to the player, and dependant on how the character acts in the scene. As befits the genre, going towards the “bad” direction is much easier than “good”, generally. This mechanism rocks, since “noir” tends to feature people confronted with difficult choices and being forced to compromise, and then to live with the results of those choices. The ruleset is extremely abstract and combat is handled in the same way as any other test in the game. For some games this might be a problem but here it seems to work wonders, since in the noir genre social skills (and attacks & backstabs) are at least as common and deadly as are flying bullets.

The book includes a “random noir plot generator”, in the style of the random one-roll generators found in Reign. It’s very cool, and gives you a basic story framework to build on. Greg also includes a couple of nice examples of how to build a story with it.

All in all, this is an excellent, modern “indie” roleplaying game that is tightly focused on one genre and one type of story theme. It also shows how versatile the core ORE framework is. Recommended.

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Flee to France!

A quick “what’s up” note, this. Ropecon 2008 came and went, I had a lot of fun despite getting very little sleep. The traditional big VTES tournament was a success once again, I now have a tournament report available for that. The other highlight of the con, for me, was managing to attend Greg Stolze’s demo of his new game, A Dirty World. It was actually the first convention rpg game that I have ever attended, and boy was it worth it. Besides being a kick-ass game designer, Greg proved to be a very cool guy and extremely competent GM. I had a ton of fun playing a heroin-addicted femme fatale…

The rest of the week has been spent in recovery, of sorts. Janka and I are both on vacation now, so we’ve just taken it easy for a while. That said, it feels like it’s been an extremely busy week, I’ve continually been doing something and feel that I managed to only do a small portion of the stuff I had intended. So it goes.

We decided that we needed a short break from all this, so we booked a flight to Paris – leaves tomorrow morning, back on Saturday. It’s been… what, 30 years since I was last there, so I don’t remember much anything, and Janka’s never been there at all. So we’ll spend three days doing the tourist things (Louvre, Notre Dame, the Catacombs, etc) while trying to get by on our extremely limited French vocabulary. Should be fun. I’m trying (in vain) to remember the basic rudiments of French verbs…. and since I know that’s doomed to failure, I’m taking along a phrase book and trying to resist the urge to go for a Monty Python French accent.

Back by the weekend.

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Ropecon VTES tournament

Ok, the tournament report for Ropecon is now finally available. Sorry it took so long, but better late than never.

It’s still missing deck lists from Juha Nyholm and Tommi Hakumaa, I’ll add them if I get them.

Let me know if you spot any errors there.

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