Role-playing and how to get into it?

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Hello folks, today I thought I’d do an update on my favourite past time and hobby: namely Role-playing games. Not the naughty kind (though I do like those too!), but the kind you play with your friends during a Saturday night with pizza and soda on the side. It can be quite therapeutic and a great way to pass the time.

Now there’s been a lot of backlash on RPG’s mostly due to an overblown story about players being satanists in the 80s after some fundamentalist noticed that their sons gaming books had… TEH DEHVUL on its cover. It only went downhill from there with a few comics, but I won’t get into that today. Today my topic is on how to get started with the hobby.

Here are the things you need:

  • Friends.
  • Dice.
  • Pen and paper.
  • A rulebook.

A pretty short list, and everything can be gotten from your nearest gaming store. Friends too probably if you are a nice enough guy that showers daily and aren’t afraid to get into a conversation with strangers looking at the same bookshelf you are. A good thing to remember with gamers is the same rule that applies to animals: They are probably more afraid of you than you are of them! Hence as long as you’ve got the confidence to talk to them and make your case you should be okay. Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down a few times as gamers are also very pack oriented and unlikely to want new players into established groups or games. Eventually you will get lucky though.

From there the rest is all about learning your system of choice. Dungeons&Dragons is the number one favourite of all time for most, whilst others swear by World of Darkness or even some less known systems. Whatever system it is you choose, you’ve quite an adventure ahead of you.

Good luck!

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Our Last Best Hopes

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…For good television have died. A pretty blunt statement, eh? Just wait till I get to ranting about it.

Before I truly begin I should explain my tastes in television a bit. I’m an ardent scifi and fantasy fanboy and my tastes in television are such. Growing up I watched the “greats” running episode by episode and got caught up in two particular series: Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1. Despite my young age I already knew enough to abhor Star Trek. No offense to any trekkies reading this, but I simply couldn’t take the show seriously and the complete rip-off that was DS9 killed any interest I might’ve ever gathered in the franchise.

Now Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1 both had a good run. Babylon 5 was even picked up for an extra season, but I won’t get into the BETRAYAL that was season 5 in this post; and SG-1 ran for a full ten seasons with a splash of movies and no less than two spin-offs. Around the time that Babylon 5 finished and Stargate Atlantis began I got hooked on… well you know what. Only the greatest scifi series of all time… namely Firefly by Joss Wheadon.

Guess what happened to all the potential shows I could watch? Firefly, Babylon 5: The Crusade and BOTH of the Stargate spin-offs turned out either cancelled or pretty damned boring. Not only did this make me sad, but it left only one proper scifi show on tv… and that was Battlestar Galactica. A show I, and many others began to dislike immensely after approximately three seasons of the same special effects and insane developments. Still, I kept watching. What else could I do? It’s not like there was anything better on right?

I watched Battlestar Galactica all the way to its disappointing and highly confusing ending in 2009 and found myself wandering the dark and lonely paths of the interwebs. Most English language shows come into Finland with approximately a year or two delay if we’re lucky and the less is said about Finnish television the better.

I was ready to give up on TV all together, but then I discovered a series which I probably should’ve taken seriously years before. After a Legend of the Seeker binge I noticed an old Doctor Who rerun going on and decided to watch it. I needed only to watch a single episode to know what to do.

The next day I entered my local gaming/entertainment store and bought all five seasons of the New Doctor Who and consumed them in only a few weeks. After that I did my best to get my hands on the older Doctors, but had little luck… and then settled down to watch Matt Smith as the new Doctor. Again I was disappointed. I had gotten so attached to David Tennant as the Doctor that I had forgotten the old DW fan maxim: There are no “better” Doctors. They are all the same character. 

Try as I might though I couldn’t get a good first impression of the man. His face looked strange, his voice annoying and the fact that he liked to hang around little girls a tad… worrisome. However I was determined not to be left behind and watched the series until the season finale and was hooked once again.

Life has been good for the past few years, at least in the TV department. I’ve had Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Castle, Warehouse 13, Supernatural and Eureka to watch, and a few weeks ago the premiere of Almost Human got me hooked as well. Right now I do indeed have hopes for the future of good television fiction, but I have fears as well. I fear that many of these great shows will be cancelled and leave me and many others hanging once again.

So here in front of all you witnesses I fall on my knees in front of every producer ever. PLEASE DON’T TAKE OUR SHOWS AWAY FROM US!

This is Olli, about to eat dinner. Have a good evening everyone.

The Brief History of Finland

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For my first actual content post I figured I’d tell you a bit about my homeland of Finland. The country is not that well known outside of the Nordic area and outside of Europe it is practically unheard of. Do note the usage of the word “Nordic” rather than “Scandinavian”. This is due to the fact that whilst Finns have had a long and in-depth relationship with the politics of the Norse peoples, mainly due to having been a part of the Kingdom of Sweden for over 800 years, the Finns were never Scandinavian. Finns belong to their own linguistic and cultural group that are the Finno-Ugrics, consisting of the Finnic group (Finns, Estonians, Karelians, Livonians and a few others) and the Ugric group (mostly compromised of the Hungarians) forever separating them from their closest neighbors.

The name “Finland” originates from one of two sources… or possibly both. The earliest reference to a possible “Fenni” was by Tacitus’ Germania , but it is unlikely that these were the Finns of Finland proper. The far more solid reference can be found in two Runestones in Sweden. The one in Söderby mentions finlont whilst the one in Gotland mentions finlandi. Pretty close approximation to the south-western tribes name in Swedish. But what is this about tribes?

Prior to the Swedish conquest between 1150 and 1200, the area that we now know as Finland was ruled over by a number of tribes. We don’t know much about them due to the lack of any records from them, but we do know that there were three dominant tribes. The Suomalaiset (Finns) around modern day Turku and Finland-Proper, the Hämäläiset (Tavastians) whom controlled much of Central Finland and the Karjalaiset (Karelians) whom ruled over the eastern stretches all the way to the Ice Sea. However as the growing powers to the east and west (The Republic of Novgorod and the Kingdom of Sweden) consumed these lands these tribes became less and less similar, adopting customs and linguistic traits from their conquerors. For the sake of clarity I will focus on the western half, namely the former domain of Finns and Tavastians since that’s where I am from.

For the next 800 years, the area known as Österland (Eastern land) became a traditional area of Sweden, and became inseparable from the normal feudal lifestyle of Western Europe. Certainly, the Finnish peasant had more rights than the serfs in most parts of Europe, but it was no more or less than their Swedish counterparts. It is during this time that the foreign usage of the word “Finn” became less and less likely to be heard since Finns became Swedes by virtue of being subjects of the Crown. The next notable event in Finland proper would take centuries.

Indeed, four centuries. At that time King John III of Sweden desired to add more titles into his royal introduction, and created the position of Grand Duke of Finland (Storfurste av Finland). The title might’ve been Grand Prince, but the title didn’t become popular until the Russian rule three centuries later. For the next three centuries continued to fight alongside their Swedish counterparts during the period that is now known as the “Swedish Empire” which is a misnomer as at no point in their history was it referred to as such in Sweden. In Sweden it was known as the Stormaktstiden literately “Great Power Era”. Finnish cavalry became especially favoured by some of the Swedish monarchs (such as Gustavus Adolphus) mostly due to the fact that whilst Finnish horses were smaller than the destriers used by most other western nations, they were still far more capable than the small… practically pony like horses raised in Sweden proper.

The next change would happen in 1809 when the Kingdom of Sweden lost the Finnish War and Finland became an autonomous Grand Principality within the Russian Empire. The wording and actual interpretation of the papers written during the paper can be said to leave an impression that this was the beginning of an Independent Finland, only one under personal union under Russia, but that is more than likely just speculation and fantasy.

After the fall of the Russian Empire and rise of Soviet Russia, Finland declared independence on the 6th of December 1917. The form of government was parlayed for a while, with monarchist, communists and conservatives debating the merits and flaws on and off the battlefield (see the Civil War of 1917), but in the end Finland chose to embrace a democracy, setting it on the path it is today. The more recent events should be well known enough for me not have to mention them, but I will if people show interest in either earlier events (the possibility of a Kingdom of Finland in 1742 AND 1918) or the events after independence, such as the Winter and Continuation wars.

This is Olli, signing off.

A Dicey Proposition

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Hello I am Olli and this is my first ever post in a blog. Having followed some of the more intriguing ones for a while I decided that I too might make my own and ramble on things that are interesting to me. Seems rather therapeutic really. Maybe something will come out of this exercise in word play and imagination… maybe not. I guess we’ll see.

Some background on myself: I am a young man from Finland that has traveled the world in his youth, with a ravenous appetite for all things with a good story. It doesn’t matter what format: games, books, TV shows, movies… it’s all good to me as long as the story is good and can keep me entertained. In this blog I will attempt to explore my interests and unravel WHY I find those particular things interesting… and why you should too.

This blog hasn’t really been planned, but out of the top of my head I can already think of a few different types of posts: Posts where I ramble about my life and recent experiences, Posts where I show off something that I love and explain why (such as a TV show or a game) and Posts where I instruct/show a tabletop RPG and teach anyone interested its basics.

As stated prior: I really have no idea where this blog will take us, but I am hoping you will find it interesting and give me feedback; positive or negative or constructive. I am not easily burned off and like to think of myself as a strong enough character to take some critique without bursting into tears. I reserve tears only for Doctor Who’s epic moments and excellent cooking.

Cheerio everyone!