#61: Finland! 🇫🇮

I. Dear Reader,

I did something different this week. Petri Leinonen, a game designer from Finland, was sharing some really cool games on his twitter account. And these were all games I’d never heard of! So I reached out to Petri to do a guest feature on the newsletter talking about some of these fascinating games. And he very kindly said yes so here you go:

Five Finnish TTRPGs You Might Not Have Heard Of by Petri Leinonen

Finland, the land of a thousand lakes and many more tabletop RPG fans. The RPG scene here is thriving. We host one of the largest annual non-profit role-playing conventions (Ropecon). Several games are published each year by publishers both in Finnish and in English, and even more come out of the local indie scene thanks to modern platforms such as itch.io. 

But the Finnish TTRPG developer scene has one big issue going against it, and that is our modesty and the deep-rooted need to “have the work speak for itself” instead of promoting what we do loud and proud. Instead of letting everyone know of our victories, we just meekly look west and wonder how there are so many cool things coming out of Sweden and go “well, maybe one day they’ll find out about us”.

Well. No more silence! Here’s 5 big, interesting Finnish TTRPG titles that you most likely had no idea existed:

  • Grim Noir — An occult film noir game based on the acclaimed GUMSHOE system, Grim Noir is the most recent publication of the Northern Realms, a collaborative community of RPG creators helping each other publish games. In the game, you play as one of the Reapers, who work to solve crimes that have a supernatural twist that the regular police just can’t handle. It began as a completely different game of sending souls to heaven or hell in the modern day, but Julius Kuutti found the version of it in the bygone film noir era of whisky and trilbies perfect for updating the old concept, and something magical was born. It’s a must have for any who love the genre. 

  • AstraterraAstraterra is the brainchild of Miska Fredman, probably the most noteworthy RPG author from Finland, mapmaker extraordinare and the owner of Ironspine Press. In the extremely colorful and vibrant game you play as explorers in a steam fantasy setting, going through portals to floating islands to find adventures and treasures. The first edition was more of a childrens’ game, but as Miska’s kids have grown, so has the game, and the current edition is very much a for-all-ages adventure with extremely deep and wide worldbuilding. And as excellent news for the English-speakers, Astraterra explorer’s (player’s) guide in English will come out on Wednesday 13th of October! 

  • The Quick — The Finnish scene has been the playground of lone auteurs for a long time, but The Quick is one of the first bigger collaborative efforts. Published by Myrrysmiehet and created by Ville Takanen, Teemu Rantanen and Petri Leinonen, The Quick is a game of Nordic Noir Ghost Stories, where the player characters take on the role of the titular Quick, trying to solve terrible crimes before the ghosts left behind them start causing further harm to people and reality itself. The system shares some DNA with PbtA games, but is more geared towards building a GM-built (murder) mystery in vein of classic Nordic Noir stories. 

  • Blightburg — A PbtA game of renaissance intrigue. A very player-driven game that takes the framework and allows the players to really explore and drive deep into the web of intrigue of the city. Independent publisher Mikko Karttunen’s focus on the characters’ beliefs and things like the Devil’s Seat mechanic make it a game very much about finding out about the drives and limits of the characters.  

  • Bad Sex — creation of Juhana Pettersson, a Finnish RPG and larp designer best known for his work on Vampire 5th Edition, Bad Sex is exactly what it says on the tin. The game, published by Pohjoismaisen roolipelaamisen seura, is an experience heavy on cringe as you collaboratively explore the bad, consentual sex the characters of the story are having, or at least are trying to have. The embarrassment and the empathy you feel make it a very intimate game, and that, along with the clearly mature themes, makes this something that’s not for everyone.

(You should also check out Petri’s other games at itch.io as well, especially cyberpunk is dead, a tongue-in-cheek FitD game where you play the faceless hit squad that are usually dispatch effortless by the good guys.)

II. Listen of the Week

On the Party of One podcast, Jeff Stormer plays Logan: An Autobiographical Tabletop Game in the company of Logan Timmins, the designer. It’s a solo game based on the designer’s life and it’s clearly a really vulnerable act by the designer and a totally unique experience for the player.

III. Links of the Week

  • For Dicebreaker, Linda H Codega writes about RPGs and folklore and how they work their magic on each other

  • There’s an RPG bundle on itch that is raising funds to support people in danger in Afghanistan

  • On the Against the Wicked City blog, a really nice set of campaign or quest ideas for games where the PCs have to travel from religious site to religious site. In a world where the gods are real, every ruler should be approaching the problem scientifically after all.

  • A review of End of the Line, a black comedy game for telling stories where Death is chasing you a la Final Destination.

IV. Small Ads

All links in the newsletter are completely based on my own interest. But to help support my work, this section contains sponsored links and advertisements. If you’d like your products to appear here, read the submission form.

  • Clever Girl is a 1 or 2 player journaling game about surviving in a failed dinosaur theme park. Play human, raptor, or both! Now funding on Kickstarter.

  • Venture down a strange world of whimsy and dreams in Crescent Moon ☾! A feelings-delving role-playing game of brave children, bold adventures, and friendships forged under the stars.

  • Do not click this link! Mimics, An Unnecessary Work, is coming to Kickstarter. You have been warned. Skip this systemless fantasy RPG support that is for _that_ fantasy RPG.

  • Secrets of the Vibrant Isle, a solo RPG about exploring a fantastical island and making friends is on Kickstarter now. It's fully funded. Check it out!

This newsletter is currently sponsored by the all-new, fan-supported Fate-SRD.com. Built to be fast, attractive, and accessible, check out the site for rules, downloads, actual plays, and community.

Hello, dear readers. This newsletter is written by me, Thomas Manuel. I’m half-man, half-beast, half-journalist, half-game designer.

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