I moved to Helsinki a month and a half back for a bit of a writing hermitage. This obviously has some impact on gaming; I haven't lived in Helsinki for a substantial amount of time for 8 years in a row, so there's no guarantee of my social networks being in any shape. Fortunately Helsinki's a solid gaming town, so I've been spending May playing twice a week: one session of various playtests of proge designs, and one session of old school D&D with my old friends from the early 00's. I'll tell you a bit about our recent OSR D&D exploits now, as I think that it's been pretty interesting - not the least because I've been a player instead of GM here, which is basically a first for me (in OSR D&D, I mean).
The D&D group I've been gaming with now is a pretty old one: we started it in 2002 or so with the long Bextropolis campaign (drastically house-ruled 3rd ed.), when I was studying in Helsinki and 3rd edition D&D was in full swing; the team slowly solidified into a circle (6-10 people) of students of roughly equal age, the way these things tend to go. When I moved out of town a few years later, the guys continued playing D&D with others taking to the GM chair in turn. They've been playing 3rd edition and 4th edition like crazy critters ever since, with occasional flings with other adventure games. My brother Markku has been a regular, and I've been following the proceedings virtually. A most rewarding friendship built on mutual creative interests, all told.
When I started my own old school D&D explorations a couple years back, a sort of contagion happened between Upper Savo and Helsinki: we played a bit together, I taught what I'd learned, and Heikki, one of the old-timers in the Helsinki crew, decided to start his own campaign on the same model. The Helsinki campaign began with a close emulation of my house rules system and campaign structuring philosophy, meaning that it was a sandbox with player-negotiated pacing and direction. Later the group decided to swap to the Lamentations of the Flame Princess
rules, mostly because it's simpler and not as obviously leaning towards a single GM's creative preferences (like my house rules are for me, obviously). They've retained the pure sandbox orthodoxy, though, so what do I care of rules - great gaming all around, very likely the best OSR D&D campaign on-going in Finland this spring (with the possible exception of the Oulu activities, on which I'm not quite current).
Anyway, I moved to Helsinki and started visiting Heikki's game. The circle has other D&D opportunities every week as well, but I regrettably have to write sometime, too, so I've had to take a pass on Tuomas's Planescape Pathfinder and Jim Raggi's Sunday game so far. The Wednesday game with Heikki's been great fun, though, from the player seat. I'm as boisterous as ever despite being a player instead of GM, but as I haven't been thrown out yet, I assume it's not a problem.
Now's a good time to write a bit about the events, as I took a couple of weeks of a break to go back to Upper Savo for some summer stuff, and my character is therefore out of the game for a bit. I'll focus on strategic elements of the game for the most part here, because I think that this layer of D&D tends to get less attention in discussion than the nitty-gritty of dungeon-crawling. The following all happened over a seven-week period from mid-April to late May. I'll be succinct about the detail to emphasize the high-level strategic concerns.
(This might be considered a sort of companion thread to the one I wrote last spring about our then-active Upper Savo campaign
. You can see the similarities in how D&D shapes in the sandbox context as what I call "mid-length" strategic arcs.)