in the Shadow of Greatness

:: Zelazny :: [polish] :: sparks that fly from the ironsmith's hammer ::

:: Thursday, April 17 ::

Ambercon 2014: aftermath... wow, fun convention

So I had so much fun it cannot be put into words. And I'm suffering from convention head cold. It was worth it anyhow.

Ambercon needs more games (or players to become GMs as well). Write me here if you have an interest and I can put you in touch with convention organizers.

Ambercon ACUS takes place once a year in the Detroit, Michigan area. You are welcome to attend or ask me questions about the Con. The Con welcomes Indie games mostly diceless.

The Amber convention includes all kinds of diceless games, and covers a wide range of genres besides Amber (as told by Roger Zelazny in 15 different stories about the "Nine Prince in Amber".)

This year I'm including the time slot structure, so new readers can get a feel for how a convention runs beginning to end.

:: there's more »»
:: Filed under : Amber :: 17.04.2014 :: comments (0)

:: Tuesday, January 7 ::

Ambercon 2014: GM narrative about how games play

from some email last year... too valuable not to freshen and use

This info will apply to 'House of Intrigue and Foxes'

Whether you care to cooperate with each other--in character--is up to you. However, respect between Players will be enforced by me.

At the risk of doing info-dump of which all others are shadows.... I have some references you all can look at regards how I usually run the game. Understand you can browse the old blog for all my thoughts on running games but there are hundreds of comments.

I do understand that the above link may not answer every question, so having shared it, I'll also add here 'flavor bits' and things you all seem to want more info about. One thing I feel strongly about is the Speed of Attributes and Opportunity during CONFLICT.

OK, so elders, yes they will be around. Assume the cast is from the end of the ten book series. Caine is Dead. Merlin is somewhere in Chaos. Etc. Random has been on the throne for nearly 100 years. There may be some kids from the other elders.

For PCs, your background should not put you at odds with each other.... as you did not necessarily grow up together. Explain and/or work with another player if you actually did grow up together. What's more, you may have different cultural assumptions about King Random, and Amber. Someone from a Victorian shadow is going to have a very different thought about Amber than someone who grew up in Amber.

Keep in mind there is something to shadow folk that is not 'smoke and mirrors'. You cannot snap your fingers and change them to your liking. You can assault them physically and mentally. You are not mortal, likely not mortal even if you elect to 'sell down' attributes.

Please note with powers, you shall want to suggest in your PC background WHO taught you a power, or where you got it. Or how you talked that person into delivering such POWER into your hands.

Pattern is not Required for your PC, however, no scion who cannot prove they can weather Pattern will be considered to sit the throne. Pattern's use in Amber is debatable. Pattern's use in your own Shadow would have been very handy for many things. A list too long to go into here, but Probability is always important in Shadow.

Magic is very hard to do in Amber. Think twice as hard, or half as effective as what you might have learned in Shadow.

Power Words are SFX that should have something to do with your PCs backstory. In Amber, they work a moment and are gone. They rarely change the outcome of a fight, but might change the outcome of a loss.

Conjuration is slower than Magic but no harder to do in Amber than Magic is. Conjuration pulls Substance together very slowly. The more Spectacular or Orderly the Substance, the slower the result. You want a cigarette to pull from behind your ear? Fine, you plan it, you engage your skill, you deftly pluck a cigarette of mundane quality
from nowhere. Maybe that all took a minute?

Attributes: I'm going to preface this with another link:

After you read that you may have more questions. But again, flavor bits:

Warfare is often considered the most prestigious skill in Amber because it just works well. Notice that no one thinks that King Random is tops in Warfare, maybe not even near the top. Benedict is still the master.

Psyche is often considered a bit mysterious or chancy in Amber because of interrupts and paranoia. Can you trust the powerful minds of the Family? You'll find however that intuition and analysis of the universe are considered pretty important. Fiona is considered tops in Psyche of those living.

Strength is something everyone wants to have in Amber because it is rather dashing and cool and so dependable. People naturally are drawn to folks with Strength. Gerard is considered stronger than anyone living and staying on his good side is wise.

Endurance is impressive when the chips are down and often ignored otherwise. However, when things go wrong, Endurance will give you a second (or a third?) chance to get the hell out of the problem. Corwin is considered the warhorse of Endurance, but he's never around. So the reigning Endurance master is commonly considered the outcast Dalt, who survived being gutted by Benedict.

Enough for now!

:: Filed under : Amber :: 07.01.2014 :: comments (0)

:: Wednesday, October 23 ::

Your grandma is not a horse...


that is all.

:: Filed under : :: 23.10.2013 :: comments (0)

:: Friday, October 11 ::

Lords of Gossamer and Shadows - 100 Landings on the Grand Stair

100 Landings - Places of Interest on the Grand Stair #3

"...this battle, while losing us the Valuable Compass forever, revealed a curious passage on the stair that I must note in detail.

In finally striking down our enemy, Friend Siv noted that during grapple, she had twisted about thrice counter-clockwise on the steps between the Black Parliament and... revealed a completely unknown passage, which I have Called the Broken Way because of the lack of walls and the dangerous cross-currents of the Void. These currents are Ethereal, drawing upon energy, though not dousing magics of the Third Order. So we explored there for a while with our own weir lamps failing us not a bit. These Doors were very old, showing not the excellent workmanship of Everything else I have noted about the Grand Stair. The metal frames were eroded, the material of the Doors was stone, or something much like it. The hardware was a simple puzzle handle that required three gripping hands, exactly like the Province doors I noted earlier in this volume. However, it was clear that the Province craftsman had nothing to do with these Doors. The passage is cold, but not a cold defeated by furs or fire. Here some aspect of the Void is loose in the Stair construction.

I did not like it.

Walk here with your arms ready. Later, we understood the erosion was...."

-- Uwe's Gazetteer of the Grand Stair, Reconstructed from a partially destroyed volume, no cover.

link to Rite Publishing Forum

:: Filed under : LoGaS :: 11.10.2013 :: comments (0)

:: Thursday, September 19 ::

'Emergence'... exactly how do you walk out of the shadows?

From the Wujcik Forum at

Originally Posted by Doughdee222
Here's a subject I haven't seen covered before but I've been wondering how a seasoned Amber GM handles it. For lack of a better term lets call it "emergence."

Let's say my character is in Amber and needs to ride to shadow Earth, specifically New York City. When he arrives at Earth do I just say he emerges in NYC, say Central Park?
How about a month later my guy is back in Amber and again needs to go to Earth to interrogate someone in Chicago. He takes the same route to Earth but then... what? I just say I emerge in Chicago at the foot of the Sears Tower?

What if after a quick search I learn the guy I'm looking for took a plane to Paris, France. Which would be faster: get a passport and ticket and fly to Paris or leave the shadow, wander around for an hour and return emerging in Paris? Going from Chicago to Paris in an hour (on horseback!) via other shadows just seems wrong and odd to me. What if the guy is still on the airplane, or even a yacht, on his way to France. It seems really odd to emerge on Earth on the plane or boat (particularly if I'm on a horse.)

If it was a direct Teleport spell or Advanced Pattern travel I wouldn't have a problem with emergence. But shadow walking seems different to me.

What if the NPC I'm looking for is hiding in a castle surrounded by guards. The GM intends for me, or the group, to assault or sneak into the castle to get the guy. But one player gets the idea to go to a nearby shadow where the castle is abandoned, casually walk into the Grand Dining Hall, then shift/emerge into the target shadow's castle's dining hall. This sounds like cheating, somehow, to me. But theoretically it could work.

Have any of you GMs encountered these sorts of dilemmas?

(Then this gets into the whole question of what a shadow represents. It's a whole planet really. Even after emerging on the desired shadow how does one know where to begin to search for the wanted person or item or place? I'm guessing a whole lotta fudging goes on. Else you're going to get: "Yay, I'm on Earth, in New York City! Count Orlok is buried in a pyramid, now I just gotta find one. You, sir! Where's the nearest pyramid?")

Great question!

The books give some very good "flavor bits" for doing these sort of arrivals or 'emergence' moments.

Zelazny shows Random using an airplane flight to try and lose trackers on his way to Corwin. Obviously then you can move in and out of a shadow in making a long speedy trip to visit a friend, especially if you know the destination well.

Also Zelazny comments about 'sparkle' and 'ghost riders' for some faster sequences of moving in and out of shadow.

Random also uses nearby shadows to get around 'obstacles' that he thinks Eric has put in his path to Amber. Sometimes this fails, because Random believes that Eric has managed the obstacle right into a "choke point" where it is easier to go through it than around it.

Your own flavor of shadow topography will become part of your own GM-ing chores.

If the PC has never been to shadow Earth NYC, then odds of finding it on the first go are slim. Possibly even difficult depending on if what you seek is Important or if the action is Opposed. You could search a thousand New Yorks before you found the defining element that needs you to be in NYC. Or, Family could already be near to there and you are drawn off course into a meeting with that Family member.

General rule of thumb: 'emergence' is safe and natural.

Reason?: because skill with Pattern keeps the Amber PC safe unless they are actively doing something risky or desperate.

So you do not arrive in a flash of light in NYC while cops are searching the block for criminals. Instead, you arrive in a suit, carry a briefcase, with nothing to call attention to your arrival because that alley you walked out of was shadowed by buildings and a large dumpster.

In fact, you have a wallet in your jacket with plenty of papers that make your presence very very normal. ?Never been to NYC before? Well, that doesn't matter. It is probable that you will not draw attention if you have some basic experience with Pattern.

What if you find the guy you're looking for used to be in NYC, but went to Paris a couple years ago? Your information seems to be out of date. But wait.... you are doing well because you seem to have the right shadow!

Now it is up to the PC. Do they chance losing this guy again by walking back into shadow? Do they go with the sure thing and buy the plane trip to Paris? What if there are only steamships to Paris? Players might balk if the GM tells them it is a month to Paris.

But the month trip may not mean anything compared to losing the stalk by not being able to find the 'right Paris' if you move back into shadow.

Experienced PC's can indeed use the 'empty castle in the next shadow' gambit in my games. However, they have to be canny about it.

As your question shows, 'emergence' can help you....or it can trip you up so you do not find what you want. Let the PCs define what degree of safety and what degree of overt pursuit they want as flavor. That gives you (the GM) a handle on the risk to express in results.

:: Filed under : :: 19.09.2013 :: comments (0)

:: Tuesday, March 26 ::

Ambercon (ACUS) 2013, Livonia, Detroit

Ambercon (ACUS) 2013

Wonderful con with a decent amount of social time with friends I see once a year (when I'm going there!)
Some very good character play and lots of action. Some time as a player with GMs handling genres that I love.

I'm going to do my usual summaries of games below, even though I've not said much about Amber gaming in these pages of late. So this year I'm hoping to do more, stretching format a little to talk about how I design games and how they turn out. No game survives contact with the players. On the other hand, would you really want it to? I don't think so.

:: there's more »»
:: Filed under : Amber :: 26.03.2013 :: comments (0)

:: Friday, August 3 ::

the long and winding current, queen, year one

One year ago, Celina failed to save her love from Death on the Pattern of Rebma. Now she is Queen of Rebma. The City pledges to her will.

She swears to defend it with her life.

Celina has gathered good fortune, many of the other Kings (all the other Patterns are led by Kings) have pledged to assist her, especially as it does not harm their own realms. She also has specifically gotten great assist from cousins, most older and wiser than she.

And yet, her tasks to understand Order and defend the Rebma Pattern can be only mastered alone. (In game, time moves slowly... it has been perhaps a month since Khela died on the Pattern.)

Alone, she looks to discover the heritage of Moins and revive the City for a new era. So what was Moins like? What did Moins want for Rebma? What prompted Moins to dare a Pattern of her own when she was young?

What made Moire dare to take on Moins Pattern with no Pattern, no mystic will, no message, no heritage, no crown?

On other fronts, Celina has good help. Politics. Magic. Strategy. Justice. Volunteers are being very kind. Life goes better.

Year One. Celina grabs in the dark for a message that is cold still quiet several centuries. This is a long journey of small steps.

:: Filed under : Amber :: 03.08.2012 :: comments (0)
Nine Scions in Amber

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