in the Shadow of Greatness


March 30, 2004

AmberCon US '04 :: recap

wonderful return to the convention after a two year absence

One thing I noticed is that I'm really liking smaller game groups where I can concentrate the experience on the Players. Which isn't to say I had even a single mediocre game.

Added details in red.

Slot 1: "Shattered Mirror" by James Arnoldi
Having played with this GM before, this was a great start to the Con. A return to Amber post-Patternfall where the tension of War and a new King is realized in the actions of the Players. Not a throne war but a good character study and much fun to play. Excellent choice for first slot—nice group of players.

I have to say that Vialle played a welcome and pivotal part in this game—-something I'm glad the GM exploited to the hilt.

Slot 2: When you have Illuminated the Impossible
GM with Anne, Paul, Amber, David
Friday morning start. A bit of experiment with introducing Con Players cold to my Chaos culture. This seemed to work—and the game rolled out well. The elements probably need a longer slot to really explore the possible outcomes.

Watch out for me when I decide to do a "flaky game." Many thanks to the players here for making this work well.

Slot 3: "The Black Watch" by Christopher Kindred
A Chaos game where the ancient warriors of Chaos work behind the scenes for Thelbane's agenda. This game really captured some essentials of Chaos culture as I see it in the first five books, including the fractious and eerie nature of the nobles there. Mission was sufficiently creepy and full of special effects. Cast did a fair job of representing the many Houses of Chaos. Too short a game, but fun all the way. One player turned out to have mis-heard the Watch's instructions from Thelbane—which produced a weird twist at the end but didn't upset the scenario.

I suspect that many will want to see this game run again. I'm not sure the GM plans a serial adventure here. I'll find out more.

Slot 4: The Dead Tell 'Know Tales'
GM with Anne, Rich, Ben, Ray, Mark
Friday evening closer. Ghosts of Castle Amber and character driven. Fun was had. These were not grim or hangdog ghosts. Everyone jumped in to select pre-gen'd ghosts and really play them as distinct and interesting. This game could repeat many times with new or repeat challenges since the pre-gen cast is large, but the game certainly benefited from a small and worthy cast of Players. I had a blast.

And how many times did ghosts end up jumping off the top of the castle? I lost track.

Slot 5: "Undertow" by Simone Cooper
Huge and energetic game. Too much here would be a spoiler, but this was the first time for me as an Assistant GM for a game I had no design input to. I learned a lot and plan to figure some of the lessons in future games.

What I saw was a really impressive series of small dramas played out in great detail and restraint. This could easily be an ongoing campaign.

Slot 6: "If You Can't Take the Heat" by Jennifer Jackson and Mike Curry
I played the "Galloping Gourmet", Graham Kerr in this wild romp contest of fantastic chefs competing to be the head cook of Amber Castle. We all hurt ourselves badly laughing at the game events. No spoilers.

But I will say this: I felt like I was actually WITH the great chefs—that's how well the GMs brought forth the characters of the Players and their choices. The GMs provided handouts of the chefs, and small images of each Player choice. And many folks got their first or second pick for a famous chef. From appearing blackboards, to liberal alcohol, to "streaky bacon" in every dish—the Players made every effort—yes, even "voice drama" was had.

Slot 7: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" by Jvstin
Another game that will be run elsewhere, so no spoilers here. Just to say that a small game, excellent cast interaction, and intriguing co-GM premise. This game might be a favorite in my long list of fun games this year.

Slot 8: To Live and Die in Texorami: "The Good, the Bad, and the Unicorn" by "Doc" Kindred
I love this game.

Out-of-Con Events conspired to make this a late start, and my Monday travel plans forced my retirement from the game at 1:30am—but I dig this game a lot. Very character driven, with an excellent take on the shadow events of the guys and gals of Texorami that Random used to hang with.

And many thoughtful character bits thrown my way by Kindred and JP Brannan. My PC concept got slathered with love and attention as my long-gone 'Red Hot' Ryerson came back to town on the Silverbore Express in from the Yellow River Territories. Since this PC had been seen previous to be giving ghostly warnings—I was fortunate to arrive in daylight and have a shadow firmly attached to the ground. The train station arrival was an incredible bit I will always remember.

And then there was the Night of the Black Sand Showdown, with Sherrif Hank and Luis Hannigan. Priceless. A tip of the stetson to Kindred.

Filed under : Events at 30.03.2004