“Thriller” Published at DriveThruRPG

The facsimile edition of my old-school Swedish espionage/gumshoe/parallel worlds RPG Thriller is now also available as a PDF download at DriveThruRPG.

The download costs 80 SEK, that is, about €8. It consists of reproductions of the original typewritten 62 pages from 1983-84, without illustrations or graphic design, plus an explanatory foreword. A more old-school product that that is hardly possible.

Go to Thriller’s DriveThruRPG page by clicking on the picture or on this link >>>

If you want the printed version of Thriller, it is sold at Amazon — link >>>

 
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“Thriller”: Jag publicerar mitt första rollspel

Summary in English: An facsimile edition of my first Swedish RPG, called Thriller, is now available at Amazon.

Jag har publicerat, Thriller, mitt första rollspel på Amazon: köp spelet här — länk >>>

Thriller är ett actioninriktat agent/deckar/äventyrar-rollspel och det första spel som jag konstruerade själv. Under sommarlovet 1983 arbetade jag som ensam nattvakt på en fabrik i min hemstad Göteborg. Nätterna var sega och trista, så jag tog med min skrivmaskin till vaktkuren och skrev Thriller under händelselösa timmar mellan patrullrundorna. Chefen godtog detta, eftersom skrivandet höll mig vaken.

Thrillers setting bygger på agentseriernas värld med hjältar som åker till exotiska platser för att rädda världen från exempelvis maktgalna diktatorer eller internationella brottslingar. Inspirationen kom från dåtida teveserier och serietidningar.

Under 1984 mekade jag vidare med Thriller samtidigt som jag slutförde mina universitetsstudier och skrev Traveller-artiklar åt Journal of Travellers’ Aid Society. Under det året expanderade jag Thriller med Äventyrens värld, en science-fiction-setting där äventyrarna utforskar Jordens parallella tidslinjer; alternativa världshistorier har ju alltid roat mig. Settingen beskrivs på bokens elva avslutande sidor.

Thriller är självklart oldschool – spelet skrevs ju under den epoken – med en BRP-regelmotor baserad på 1T20. Den här boken är en faksimilutgåva av originalmanuset som skrevs på en mekanisk skrivmaskin; sidorna innehåller därför bara skrivmaskinstext utan typografiska krusiduller eller illustrationer.

Looking back, looking ahead

Traditionally, late December is a time for summarizing the past year and taking a look at what the next year might entail. Here in my blog I focus on my writing endeavors — what’s been accomplished in 2018 and what I hope work with in 2019.

2018: My Accomplishments

  1. Partisan, the Great Surprise: In March, somebody found the sole remaining printout of the legendary and never-published Swedish RPG Partisan and gave it to me. It deals with foreign occupation of our country, presented in the four settings Brown (Nazi Germany), Red (Cold War Soviet), Blue (Cold War with an authoritarian United States), and Ultraviolet (nefarious aliens from space). Serendipity: everybody had thought that the game was lost forever, but here is my incomplete manuscript from when the game was shelved thirty years ago. The printout nowadays rests securely in a safe. Link (Swedish) >>>
  2. During the autumn, I launched my Patreon page, where you can sponsor my writing role-playing games (RPGs) and get various goodies, such as the extant three Partisan settings Red, Blue, and Ultraviolet; and Thriller, my unpublished RPG manuscript from 1983 (espionage and sleuthing in the vein of the original Mission Impossible TV series). Link (English) >>>
  3. In October, Helmgast published Sorgeveden, my campaign setting for Krister Sundelin’s fantasy RPG Hjältarnas Tid. The book depicts an immense forest, stretching from spruces and birches in the subarctic north to jungles in the tropics. Link (Swedish) >>>
  4. In November, I delivered Märk hur vår skugga, an introductory adventure to the new edition of Chock, a Swedish horror RPG that will be published by Eloso in 2019. Link (Swedish) >>>
  5. In December, I launched my product page on DriveThruRPG. So far, it is a trial version, but I intend to use it to sell English PDFs of Traveller settings and other “stuff”. Link (English) >>>
  6. In December, my adult daughter Elin, aka the Tiger, joined forces with me as Team Fox. She is currently a student at an art & design school and she will illustrate some products that will get published at DriveThruRPG. Link (English) >>>
  7. In December, I published Dust & The Road, a paperback with two dieselpunk shortstories that are partially based on my experiences of serving in Afghanistan ten years ago. The stories introduce my setting Patchwork World, a fragmented steampunk & dieselpunk world. Link (English) >>>

Q4 2018 was obviously a hectic time. When I look at the list above, I feel contented with what I achieved.

2019: My intentions

  1. Since 2014, I have planned to make a revised version of the vintage Swedish postapocalyptic RPG Wastelands, but I quickly encountered various snags and obstacles. When Tove & Anders Gillbring a few years later decided to produce Freeway Warrior as an RPG, we agreed that I would turn Wastelands into a Swedish setting for the game. My vision is best summarized as “Lars Molin meets Mad Max”. Tove’s cancer has repeatedly delayed the project, but I hope we can get it moving during 2019.
  2. The hush-hush job: I have made a deal with an publisher about a major RPG project. A non-disclosure agreement prevents me from mentioning details until the publisher has announced the venture. But I am already working on it, and the production team has had fruitful brainstorming sessions on Skype. My deadline is late 2019. Yeah, I feel good about this project.
  3. Dusk and Dawn is a standalone steampunk novella taking place in Patchwork World, though far from the locations of “Dusk” and “The Road”. I have written the first half of the story and and I hope to complete it in 2019. Link (English) >>>
  4. I have outlined a Traveller universe with distinctive qualities, grimmer than the one Marc Miller developed. It’s there to be written when I get time for it. It will sooner or later get published via DriveThruRPG. What rules? Well, probably one set of Cepheus Light and one set of BRP.
  5. I have outlined a dieselpunk RPG, working name Iron Empires, that takes places in an alternate timeline. The game will get at least two Terrestrial and one Martian setting. It is too early to go into details, but you’ll get updates in my blog when I have something substantial to tell. My plan is to publish Iron Empires via DriveThroughRPG, using a variant of the Cepheus Engine rules.

I don’t expect to complete all these projects during 2019, but if I get sunny weather with the wind in my back, and there is plenty of coffee in my thermos flask of holding, I might walk a part of my road. However, an ancient word of wisdom cautions us: Man supposes, God disposes.

Partisan: tre planerade settings

Summary in English: My reflections on the alt-history occupations of the legendary and unpublished Swedish RPG Partisan.

I våras fick jag den enda kända utskriften av rollspelet Partisan i mina händer. Spelet var tänkt att få flera settings. Nu har jag skrivit några öppna poster på min Patreon-sida, där jag funderar över egenheterna hos tre settingar och deras potential för spännande motståndskampanjer i ett ockuperat Sverige, dels ur ett dåtida perspektiv och dels ur dagens.

Det är bara att klicka på länkarna nedan.

Länk till Stormakt Brun, Tredje Riket >>>

Länk till Stormakt Röd, Sovjetunionen 1980-tal >>>

Länk till Stormakt Blå, ett skurkaktigt USA 1980-tal >>>

US Army, Tyskland 1982

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“The Ice War”: An Alban juggernaut at work

Polar scene by Rob Watkins (click on picture for lager version)

When I wrote my dieselpunk spy adventure The Ice War (link >>> ) some years ago, I let the story have three protagonists: two people — spy Johnny Bornewald and mechanic Linda Connor — and one continent — Alba, an alternate-history substitute for Antarctica. Transportation across Alba’s icy wastes is mainly by juggernauts, huge diesel-electric vehicles that take people and supplies from one frozen location to another. This illustration by Rob Watkins captures quite well what a freight juggernaut of the Russian army looks like.

Patreon Progress (2): “Thriller”

I am currently busy fixing a lot of things at home and that is a recipe for serendipitous discoveries: in this case, I unearthed the typewritten manuscript for Thriller, my first complete role-playing game design.

In the summer of 1983 I worked night shifts as a solitary security guard at a factory in my hometown Gothenburg. The nights were long and dull, so I took a small typewriter to work  and wrote Thriller during the slack hours between my patrol rounds. (My boss didn’t object, because my hobby kept me awake.) The game was based on tropes from the spy comics (e.g. Secret Agent X-9) and action-hero television series (e.g. The Professionals) that were available in Sweden in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Thriller was an adequate game in those days, though it is outdated nowadays. I submitted its manuscript to Titan Games, the Swedish company that a few years later published Swedish Dungeons & Dragons, but they were not interested. I kept on working on the project for some time: my manuscript contains an addendum from 1984 that outlines a parallel-worlds setting, comparable to Steve Jackson’s much later GURPS Alternate Earths. I remember play-testing a Thriller adventure in late 1984 with Ylva, Christer, and Per, three university friends in Lund. The set-up was a cross-over with Call of Cthulhu, even though the players never realized it. Hence Thriller was flexible enough to handle any kind of contemporary action-oriented campaign.

However, when I joined Target Games in April 1985, I got busy with that company’s games so Thriller ended up in my collection of unrealized game projects.

A scanned PDF in Swedish of Thriller will become available for my supporters  when my Patreon page is up and running.

Thoughts in a Time of Drought

“History knows no happy endings, just crises that come and go.”

This summer has been extremely hot and dry here in Sweden. The unusual weather started in May and still continues two months later. Sweden’s meteorological records go back 270 years and nothing like this summer has ever been registered. The scientific underpinning of anthropogenic climate change is strong so I am convinced that mankind is heading into an era of turbulent weather.

(However, if you, dear reader, happen to be a climate-change denier, this blog post is NOT an invitation to enter your objections in the comment field. The post’s purpose will become clear below, and TL;DR is not an acceptable excuse.)

Mythic and Real Climate Horrors
Norse mythology speaks of the Fimbulvinter, a winter that lasts for three years and heralds Ragnarök when the world will perish in storm and fire. Archaeologists speculate that this mythic winter may been a reflection of an extreme cold-weather event around AD 540, caused by volcanic eruptions. I have lived through many harsh winters so I understand my distant ancestors’ fear of that season.

But these days, a Fimbulsommar appears to be a more realistic threat to my country. Warm summers are generally considered to a blessing among us Swedes, but I have endured hot Augusts in the eastern Mediterranean, in Florida and in Afghanistan, so I have come to understand how long periods of drought and heat can be regarded with as much fear as overlong winters. The Sun is not a merciful celestial entity, something that is obvious in descriptions of Apollon, a Greek Sun god who also is the lord of plague, and in the legend of Phaëthon, a demigod whose failed attempt to steer the Sun chariot across the sky almost causes the end of the world by taking the Sun too close to Earth’s surface.

The warming of Terra will probably disrupt the extant political order severely as people and agriculture will have to move away from the expanding tropics. At the same time, the rising oceans will inundate major urban areas like Dhaka, London, New York and Mumbai.

Melting polar caps will reshape our world

American Revolution vs European Evolution
When I was young, science fiction stories often spoke of a future unified Earth, usually considered to be a “good thing” with humanity coming together in a union of regional “states”. Often such a unification was justified by appeals to reason, e.g., as a way ensuring peace and social stability. But the warming of Terra might instead justify a “unification by necessity” scenario: the challenges to human civilization become so huge that long-term transnational efforts are required to ensure its survival.

The European Union can be seen as a case of transnational cooperation originally instigated by the necessity of avoiding yet another devastating European war. Unlike the United States, which was created by a revolutionary declaration in 1776 and by the promulgation of a constitution in 1787, the fusion of Europe’s nations (starting in 1952 with the CECA Treaty) has incrementally expanded in extent and scope, treaty by treaty. This evolution will probably never end and so I dare not guess what a united Europe will look like by the time my children, all born around the millennium, get grandchildren.

Since three decades, the European Union has had to find new ways of dealing with some serious and unexpected challenges, for example:
— the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, and the resulting political complications, some of which remain unresolved 20 years later.
— nation-building in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001/02. I went to Kabul ten years ago as a member of EUPOL Afghanistan, a civilian EU police support mission.
— widespread piracy around the Horn of Africa after the internal collapse of the Republic of Somalia in the 1990s. EU has organized the long-term counter-piracy missions Atalanta and Nestor.
— the huge refugee influx caused by the drawn-out Syrian civil war in the 2010s
— the spectre of resurgent European authoritarianism, also in the 2010s.

The EU administration in Brussels has therefore been forced to develop central political and administrative mechanisms for crisis management. Whether those efforts have been productive is another issue, but we can at least commend the EU for trying.

A Green Cyberpunk Setting?
Going from reality to the realm of science fiction, I now envision an EU-inspired setting for an RPG setting, perhaps in 2118. Heroism in small steps might be an apt campaign theme, i.e., determined characters strive to handle minor crises that never stop coming.

The loose Terran Federation (TF) is Earth’s dominating political entity. It grows slowly as sovereign nations accede to it one by one to get the full benefits of TF’s civilization-saving ventures.

The TF’s tasks at hand are immense because agriculture must be reorganized at the continental level and new cities built at Earth’s new coastlines. Its Crisis Investigation Center (CIC) dispatches intrepid operators to trouble-spots around the world. Their job is to check what is really going on and figure out what to do about it, their conclusions sometimes leading to the establishment of specialized operations for handling specific problems.

But serving as an field operative of a cumbersome organization is never a smooth ride; in this particular context, CIC agents often need to come up with creative solutions that accomplish what’s needed, while keeping the home office in a state of semi-ignorant complacency. When hotshot freewheelers, for example the militant activists of the Emerald Serenity movement, jump into the fray, the situation of the ground gets even more messy.

Voilà, I have moved from my reflections on this extreme Swedish summer to outlining a setting for a semi-near-future science fiction campaign based on a very troubled Earth, executed as “green cyberpunk”. And that’s the core of this post: a piece of political science fiction inspired by the current grim climate changes.