Gerrit Dou: 'Scholar sharpening a quill pen'

About the author

I’m ELF Vesala (those are my nerdy initials), the author of this blog. I’m a Finn who started his roleplaying career in the early 1980’s. I had seen the kids playing D&D in E.T. and was vaguely familiar with the concept of roleplaying games. I re-read that scene from the novelization several times, but from those tidbits alone it was difficult to understand what the game was really about.

I became seriously interested when I saw Tom Hanks lose his sanity after some tabletop and live action RPG sessions in the 1982 tv movie Mazes and Monsters. That same evening I set down to design my first roleplaying game. That attempt resulted in something resembling a complex board game.

In those days, proper role-playing games were hard to come by in small-town Finland. Back then I was a Marvel zombie and in a Mile High Comics price list I saw a review of Avalon Hill‘s Powers & Perils, and was able to mail order that game from the comics distributor. The strategy game publisher’s first foray into RPG territory did not have the gentlest of learning curves…

Fortunately I was also able to grab a copy of the red box Dungeons & Dragons, and soon I became a regular customer of Lauri Tudeer who had started importing roleplaying games to Finland and would later set up the Fantasiapelit chain of stores that became a leading distributor for the Finnish geekdom.

I blame Tom Hanks also for my interest in live action role-playing – in the movie they had played in the underground steam tunnels, after all. I was spoiled by the possibilities of what developed into Nordic-style LARP where players interact directly with each other, without Game Master intervention. It took me about 25 years to find myself back at the gaming table, and I have been delighted by the advancements in the hobby in recent years.

Even during my LARP years I had retained my interest in pen and paper RPG mechanics and the creation of random generators. Now I hope to be able to give something back to a hobby that has given me so much.

(image: “Scholar sharpening a quill pen” by Gerrit Dou)