A Game Per Year: Kärpänen (2011)

I started to feel that I didn’t know roleplaying games well enough so I came up with the plan to read a roleplaying game corebook for every year they have been published. Selection criteria is whatever I find interesting.

The cover of Kärpänen

Kärpänen (Eng. Fly) is a Finnish comedy roleplaying game where you play flies of different types attempting to navigate a suburban family home on their way to the fabled land of the compost. It’s published pseudonymously by Ironswine Games, a satirical imprint of Ironspine.

Each fly has two stats, Shit and Fly. Shit is used to pull off all kinds of shitty activities while Fly covers everything related to the physical body of the fly. In one of my favorite details, if you die, you get another character who just randomly shows up. The way flies always seem to do.

You can play different types of flies, such as the common housefly or the fruitfly. You’re motivated by the desire to get to all the good stuff, such as sugar or feces. There’s also an incentive to be annoying to humans and bigger animals. An example activity that will earn your fly kudos is shitting on a donut.

The game has largely been written in colloquial Finnish, with the occasional foray into the Tampere dialect.

Half of the book is dedicated to an adventure outlining the challenges the flies face as their navigate from the attic to the world outside. There are descriptions of different rooms and the challenges therein, as well as threats such as the human family members and their cat. There are supporting characters, other types of bugs that live in the house.

Kärpänen is cheerfully juvenile in its dedication to gross-out humor. That’s its charm.

I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that Kärpänen pokes fun at specific Finnish roleplaying games, one of which is my penguin-themed Valley of Eternity.

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