Dags för Expert Partisan

»Om Sverige blir angripet av ett annat land kommer vi aldrig att ge upp. Alla uppgifter om att motståndet ska upphöra är falska.«
— Sveriges linje alltsedan Kalla krigets start 1946

Summary in English: I outline Eloso’s plans for the Swedish RPG Expert Partisan.

Efter 35 år i limbo ska det sägenomspunna rollspelet Partisan bli verklighet inom Elosos produktlinje Eloso by Blixt.

I påskas genomfördes det virtuella spelkonventet Gothcon XLIV där Eloso-gänget fixade flera evenemang kring våra spel. På skärtorsdagen körde vi ett öppet kvällshäng där vi redogjorde för Elosos pågående och kommande projekt. Där berättade jag att Fria Ligan, som äger varumärket Partisan, och Eloso har kommit överens om att jag ska utveckla rollspelet Expert Partisan för Elosos produktlinje Eloso by Blixt.

Min kalender är fullbokad hela 2021 med Chock-settingen Basker Blå och Elosos version av Runequest. Så arbetet med skriva Expert Partisan börjar först 2022 med publicering planerad till 2023. Det gäller att ha framförhållning.

Expert Partisan ska få indie-look med svartvita illustrationer och sparsmakad design. Sidformat G5 (dvs som Hjältarnas tid), ca 200 sidor tjock. Min främste medkreatör är Johan Okker, rutinerad gamer och kunnig om Kalla krigets verklighet. Stämningen blir »bister TV-serie«: hunger, stridsångest, svåra beslut. Expert Partisan är inte en heroisk Hollywood-film, utan här kan vem som helst kan dö.

A. Setting: STORMAKT RÖD* 1982

File:Soldat m59 Revinge 2015.jpg
Tidstypisk svensk soldat i fältuniform m/59. Källa: Wikipedia

Warszawapakten invaderade Sverige i november 1981 som en följd av turbulensen kring U-137:s grundstötning utanför Karlskrona. Man slog till hårt och vann inledningsvis stora segrar på marken i Sydsverige. Men svenska krigsmakten är seg och tränad för fria kriget, dvs gerillakrig med uniformerad personal under korrekt militär ledning.

Nu har det gått sex månader: grundkampanjen inleds i maj 1982. Warszawapakten ockuperar Götaland och Mälardalen. På ytan är dessa områden »pacificerade«. Kreml har installerat en quislingregering i Stockholm. Men striderna rasar vidare i Norrlands barrskogar. Ledarna i Kreml trodde inledningsvis att svenskarna skulle ge upp så snart pansarbrigaderna i Skåne slagits ut, men de börjar inse att så inte är fallet.

USA och Storbritannien spelar under täcket med den svenska exilregeringen i London genom att smuggla vapen, förnödenheter och agenter över den svårövervakade norsk-svenska gränsen; där går Warszawapakten varsamt fram eftersom Kreml inte vill provocera fram ett krig med Nato.

Det här är ett upplägg svenska gamers känner till, eftersom den porträtterats i många böcker, till exempel trilogin om Operation Garbo från 1980-talet.

B. System: EXPERT NOVA
Eloso by Blixt är Elosos produktlinje med spel som jag konstruerar. Samtliga använder specialanpassade varianter av mitt regelverk Expert Nova (länk >>>), vilket är en finslipad variant av BRP 1T20: du spelar med grundegenskaper och färdigheter, och ska slå lågt med en tjugosidig tärning att lyckas. Expert Partisan kommer att innehålla kompletta spelregler.

C. Scenarion: »All business is local«
Jag gillar att gå in på en region i detalj plus några äventyr för att ge spelledaren en startklar kampanjplats. Därför fokuserar Expert Partisan inledningsvis på fria kriget och motståndsrörelsen i Småland**. DDR:s armé ockuperar den landsändan och därför sköts förtrycket av Stasi, en organisation med goda kunskaper om svensk mentalitet. Östtyskarna är dock noga med att visa att de inte är som Tredje Riket, utan att de följer Genève-konventionen och krigets lagar.

Skjutandet av befäl - Luckan -Allmänt militärt forum ...
»Skjut chefen först!« Välbekant maxim för alla svenskar som
gjorde värnplikt under Kalla kriget. Källa: Soldat i fält, 1972

D. ÄVENTYRARNA: dU OCH JAG MITT I ELÄNDET
Äventyrarna kan till exempel vara:
soldater, dvs plutoner improviserade ur spillrorna av brigaderna IB 11 (Växjö), IB 12 (Eksjö), IB 41 (Växjö) och IB 42 (Eksjö), av regementet Ing 2 (Eksjö) och av hemvärnet. De svenska soldaterna bedriver fria kriget i de småländska skogarna med attacker mot östtyska mål eller svenska quislingar.
spioner, huvudsakligen baserade i Växjö eller Kalmar, inom Stay Behind (länk >>>), en väl förberedd svensk organisation som bedriver motstånds- och underrättelseverksamhet på ockuperad mark. (Spelets version av organisationen blir helt fiktiv.)
civilister, dvs »vanligt folk« som strävar att klara vardagens vedermödor och ducka undan Stasis iskalla blick (jämför med den tyska teveserien Weissensee länk >>>).


*Jag valde bort Stormakt Brun, eftersom jag vet så mycket om Tredje Riket att det skulle ta emot att skriva om en fiktiv ockupation av Sverige 1941-45. Det var en måttlöst vidrig tid. Om du läsa om ett sådant scenario, rekommenderar jag Hans Alfredsons roman Attentatet i Pålsjö skog.
** Min fars släkt härstammar från trakten av Eksjö, min mors från trakten av Oskarshamn. Som barn vistades jag några sommarlov »på landet« hos släktingar nära Tingsryd. Därtill har jag under de senaste tjugo åren tillbringat många semestrar i närheten av Nybro. Småland är sålunda ett landskap nära mitt hjärta.

January 2021 Update

  • Mio, min Mio: In late spring, Eloso will launch a cooperative family boardgame based on Astrid Lindgren’s classic fantasy tale Mio, min Mio (Mio, my Mio). I fell in love with that book when I was seven or eight. The game is produced in four Scandinavian languages. However, I am involved merely as an occasional play-tester; my Eloso efforts are dedicated to our role-playing games. 
  • Swedish Call of Cthulhu (SCoC): I have completed Vårvindar friska (Cool Springs Winds), the third episode of my trio of mini-adventures (pamflettäventyr) dedicated to the seasons. They take place in the Gothenburg region in 1926-27 and relate to Hultsby village where I grew up in the 1960s. 
  • Basker Blå: An African campaign setting for the Swedish horror RPG Chock: Åter från graven. In January, I was busy making background research and setting “the stage”, that is, jotting down notes on what I am going to write about and why. I use a mix of tropes from American horror movies and weird/semi-horror Swedish television series. The player adventurers are supposed to be UN peacekeepers, journalists, relief workers, or scholars that work in the fictitious African country Atlântida in the aftermath of civil strife and economic collapse. My intention is to finish writing this setting during Q1.
  • Swedish Runequest (SRQ): Jeff at Chaosium and I have agreed that SRQ will be a different product from the English-language game. The region of Talastar is assigned to us and we will create a setting that resonates with Nordic gamers: deep forests with ruins and dangers, chaos monsters from Dorastor, tricky relations between the barbarian Orlanthi and the overbearing Lunar Empire (inspired by the interaction between the Germanic tribes and the Roman empire in the I-III centuries AD). SRQ is a uniquely Swedish adaptation of the game, that is, I will rewrite its rules according to Swedish traditions and compile Talastar-specific material from many sourcebooks while adding new stuff. The setting’s focal point is the town of Oxhuve (Oxhead). My intention is to write SRQ during 2021 and Eloso will do an SRQ Kickstarter in the autumn.   
  • Outreach: On hold because of my many other commitments.
  • The Expert Series – a teaser: Yes, I am doing some preparatory work for another game in my Expert series. I will publish pertinent details later in 2021. Stay tuned.

RIP Olle Sahlin, 1956-2021

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Picture: Nils Gulliksson

Olle Sahlin, grand old man of Sweden’s gaming, SCA, and Tolkien communities, quietly passed away in his sleep on January 9. He battled serious illness for many years, and yet he kept on going to hobby events in his wheelchair.

Olle’s many friends are running a GoFundMe fundraising for the benefit of his widow Karolina and for making a digital archive of his huge photo collection that covers forty years of our hobbies. It’s a good cause. Link >>> 

Looking forward to 2021

In early January, we in the Eloso team coordinated with Chaosium and set our 2021 production schedule. I have two major tasks on my hand:

  • In January and February, I’ll write the Basker Blå (Blue Beret) campaign module for our Swedish horror RPG Chock. It’s late 1980s. Swedish and Finnish UN peacekeepers are stationed in the fictitious West African country Atlantida, monitoring the truce between the parties of a recent civil war. In the shadows, cruel creatures are feeding on the misery caused by the fighting. 
  • I’ll spend the rest of 2021 developing Swedish Runequest. We’ll make a unique version, putting our piece of the action in a Gloranthan region eminently suited for Swedish RPG traditions at some distance from Dragon Pass and Prax. Therefore, I’ll select, translate, revise and create backstory, cults, cultures, and new character backgrounds to fit our needs. I’d guess that Swedish RQ will comprise two books, 250-300 pages together, that is, sleeker than the Chaosium edition.
  • Eloso’s revised priorities made me put Outreach in the backburner for Q1 and Q2. But rest assured: we have brainstormed how we will develop that game. 
  • Also, I’m busy preparing a new Swedish title in my Expert RPG series for production in 2022.  

October — Yet Another Busy Month

  • Expert Outreach: I have designed a quartet of xenos (alien species) that the adventurers are likely to encounter on faraway worlds. Lennart Larsson is my indispensable sounding board; a straight-forward and sharp-eyed veteran gamer that spots clichés and weaknesses in my texts.
  • SCoC: I am working on a trio of interconnected short adventures (pamflettäventyr), tentatively called Tre årstider (Three Seasons), that take place in Gothenburg and the rural district south of the city.
    1. In September, I completed the autumn episode Charons lur (Charon’s Bugle) that takes place in October 1926.
    2. In October, I started developing the winter episode En vanartig gosse (A Disobedient Lad).  It’s December 1926 and the police investigators return to an old crime scene to check strange goings-on that might be connected to the events of episode 1.
    3. There will also be a spring episode, tentatively named Vårvindar friska (Chilly Spring Breezes). The story-line skips to March 1927, when the ice breaks along the coastline south of Gothenburg. 
  • Chock: I have outlined Basker Blå (The Blue Beret)*, a setting located in Atlantida, a fictitious West African country, during the second half of the 1980s. The United Nations has dispatched a multinational peace-keeping force, including a Swedish-Finnish infantry battalion, to monitor a shaky armistice in a civil war. The adventurers can be blue berets, journalists or relief workers; regard of which, they will soon get entangled in the malevolent schemes of foul beings from the Beyond.

September Was a Busy Month

From a creative-writing perspective, the month of September can be summarized as Swedish Call of Cthulhu. I edited several adventures, translated as well as new ones, putting my long experience as a technical writer to work by: 

  • replacing anglicisms with proper Swedish words
  • turning clumsy sentences into polished Swedish
  • “translating” handouts written in contemporary Swedish into the stilted language and  archaic grammar used by officials in 1920s.
  • chasing typos and missing words  

I also wrote a small CoC adventure (pamflettäventyret Charons lur / Charon’s [Musical] Horn) located to Hultsby, a tiny village south of Gothenburg where I grew up in the 1960s.  Hundred years ago, this was farmlands connected to Gothenburg by a steam train. Nowadays, place is a densely populated part of the Gothenburg metropolitan area.

I also made some progress on my SF novella Dusk and Dawn by developing its  approaching finale and finding a reasonable way. Two chapters remaining.

Kicking off for the Autumn

My career as an RPG writer has taken a wonderful turn. In August, Eloso’s owners held a kick-off weekend during which we made plans for the near future (that is, for 2020/21). We also agreed on how we are to pursue our many projects. 

In short: 

We have currently three major RPG lines to which we all contribute: Chock: Åter från graven; Swedish Call of Cthulhu; and Swedish Runequest. As you can see, Eloso is the Swedish partner of the legendary American RPG company Chaosium. I will be the spider at the center of the  Runequest web — l’araignée universelle — when we re-start translating it in 2021; we had to put the project in the backburner six months ago when covid-19 started wrecking our plans for 2020. 

In addition, I will produce indie-style games under the Eloso by Blixt moniker, some in Swedish, some in English, some in both. I handle most of their production by myself, while Eloso takes care of printing and distribution. The Expert series, powered by the Expert Nova rules, belong here. Currently, I am writing Expert Outreach, a post-apocalyptic space opera game (in English only) and I strive for a 2021 release, though reliable forecasts are currently impossible. There are more titles in the pipeline, but it’s too early to divulge any details about them.

Writing Progress during Summer

My assignment at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency ended in late July; the Swedish corona infection rate has decreased steadily since May and the agency therefore wished to down-size its pandemic emergency organization. I was a civilian reserve officer, not an employee, so I was demobilized with one week’s notice.

As a sunny summer is upon us and schools are closed, I took two daughters on a road & ferry trip to the beautiful island of Gotland and to the port city of Gothenburg. A sorely needed time to wind down after five stressful months in the service of our country. Plenty of long walks in the company of close friends plus a few games of Terraforming Mars.

I also used my time to manage my ongoing projects, two games for Eloso and one short novel:

Expert Outreach: I have written plenty of text for this English post-apocalyptic RPG, describing the broken cosmos into which the intrepid adventurers venture. Mankind’s survival on a war-ravaged Earth is at stake and the remedies are to be found “out there”. But many competing sapient species dislike or hate us, so it’s a tough struggle. During June and July, I have had a few fruitful design discussions by email and F2F with the “usual suspects” Lennart Larsson, Jon Ljunggren, and Clarence Redd. Their critical input is essential to my designs. In earlier creativity updates, I have mentioned that I’m working on rules for exonics (paranormal powers); they are now a part of the Outreach rules. Also, Elin Blixt and I have had several sessions discussing what various xenos (i.e. alien species) should look like.

Swedish Call of Cthulhu: I am busy writing a short adventure taking place in the outskirts of Gothenburg in the 1920s (to be published as a PDF) and an article for the Fenix game magazine on a alternate Swedish setting.

Dusk and Dawn: I have been writing this English science fiction novel for some years. In-story, the protagonists have been struggling to accomplish a major undertaking. At the keyboard, I have struggled with how set up the final showdown. In July, I arrived at a plot finale that makes sense and also matches several fore-shadowing clues that I inserted in the story on day one. At last! Jubilation! However, four chapters remain to to be written — don’t hold your breath.

Expert Outreach: My Next Game

During the spring, I pondered a lot on what would become the next installment in my Expert series of games, nowadays produced by Swedish game publisher Eloso where I recently became a minority partner. After a while, I made up my mind: Expert Outreach, post-apocalyptic space opera in which mankind has to survive in a dark cosmos. It is an extensive development of grim visions for the future that I previously have written about in Swedish (link >>>). Expert Outreach will only be published in English.

I have always had a fondness for science fiction RPGs, ever since I entered the universes of Traveller in 1978 (English link >>>); that game turned me into a professional game designer seven years later. I have experimented with plenty of futuristic settings over the years and acquired a taste for gritty ones, that is, The Expanse rather than Star Trek; Rogue One rather than The Phantom Menace. I give Expert Outreach the label “post-apocalyptic space opera”; its theme is “mankind facing a dangerous future” in which our survival as a species is at stake.

Despite my temporary assignment (ends August 31) as an information analyst at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, June has been a surprisingly productive month. So far I have outlined two-thirds of Expert Outreach and written perhaps one-third of the background. I see no significant obstacles when it comes to content, because I know what the game needs and how to make it work.

Expert Outreach uses an adapted version of the Expert Nova rules (that is, my variant of Basic Role-playing 1D20). Elin Blixt does the interior artwork, whereas Clarence Redd and Andreas Sölvebring contribute text. Hopefully some other Swedish game writers will join my creative team.