When I read that the creators of artpunk game Mörk Borg would have a release party in Stockholm, I decided that I would join. It’s one of my favorite games recently released, certainly one the most gorgeous ones, and its production values are through the roof (glow-in-the-dark spine, silver foil inside, different kinds of paper, …). Plus, I wanted to meet the people behind the book. What I hadn’t foreseen was the sheer number of awesome, friendly, and diverse people I would get to know.
When I mentioned on the Mörk Borg Discord server that I would come over for the party from Berlin, I was immediately met with enthusiasm, and later at the venue, I was introduced as the “guest of honor”, which was very silly but at the same time quite flattering.
Before I could worry about finding my way around and fitting in, Dan Algstrand from Stockholm Kartell, himself a prolific graphic designer and layout artist (cf. Kult - Divinity Lost), offered to meet me at a pub for a drink beforehand. When I thanked him for that in person, he simply said “It’s what I would wish to happen to me if I were in your position.” Well, indeed.
On my way to said pub, I quite randomly passed the Free League office. Bumping into an actual office or shop for an RPG company, by accident, is quite an achievement statistically, but in Stockholm it’s apparently the done thing.
We chatted for a while before heading over to the venue that had been booked for the party, complete with a stage decorated with sculptures from a group of artists called To Decay, and the Mörk Borg logo blazing in the background. Immediately he introduced me to Pelle Nilsson, the author, several other Stockholm Kartell members, and shortly after, Johan Nohr, the graphic artist.
Before I knew it I was speaking with a dozen other people, was handed a Night Yeast sticker by the legendary Karl Stjernberg (a.k.a. Skullfungus), an awesome zine named Profane Oath packed with illustrations, by Ambika (a.k.a. Sendrinon), and an exclusive Mörk Borg pamphlet adventure. Wow.
At one point at the bar, a chap pointed at the Hypertellurians patch on my bag and let me know I had good taste. He audibly gasped when I told him I was its creator—now this I had not anticipated in Stockholm! It’s lovely to see my little game gain some traction over there too.
In fact, several people knew me as a author and publisher, yet many more didn’t, but seemed very enthusiastic when I showed them some of the books I’d brought along, and invariably praised the look of Hypertellurians. I had been more than a little nervous about that, with graphic design giants like Johan and Dan around.
Free League’s Martin came over to say hello, as he recognized me from the Mud & Blood Discord, where I also hang.
After a couple of beers, we were treated to an interview with Johan and Pelle onstage, who managed to captivate the audience with their entertaining tales of the origin and process of creating Mörk Borg.
In the midst of the party, between chatting and drinking, a group of people even managed to cram in an actual game of Mörk Borg. Johan told me that his ambition with the book was that at least one group played, and even here they did. “Yeah. We made it! That’s all I need,” he said.
Pelle joked: “The only thing—we don’t have enough haters. It’s a rules light, very easy game to play, but for lots of people it’s also complicated because of our artistic approach, and because we don’t explain everything in detail. We don’t explain what an RPG is.” This reminded me of that part in the 1994 game Human Occupied Landfill (HöL), which stops itself mid-sentence and just concedes that you already know. “We’ve been compared a lot to that!” interjects Johan, whereas Pelle confessed: “I’ve been skipping the What is an RPG part in books for 25 years.”
No release party is complete without an official offering to the powers of fire. (Apparently? Maybe?) And so it was that before we left the original venue for additional pastures, a copy of the book was put to the torch among sparklers, and a ritualistic reading of the Prophecy of Verhu in Swedish.
Eventually I had to call it a night, a little sad and very tired, but also very glad that I got to meet and hang with so many awesome people. If I didn’t mention everyone in here by name it’s definitely not because of the beer and fuzziness. (It probably is.)
I returned from the release party with the exclusive adventure pamphlet, a sticker, a zine, an elusive special edition of Mörk Borg, and the genuine impression that the Swedish RPG scene is honest, welcoming, and brilliant. And I managed to cram in a little bit of sightseeing the next day too.
I took additional pictures, including more touristy ones, all of which can be seen on my Facebook page for those so inclined.
But perhaps more excitingly, I also had the chance to interview both Dan Algstrand, and Pelle Nilsson and Johan Nohr. I will post the full interviews soon.
There are also official event photos.