in the Shadow of Greatness


March 27, 2007

Ambercon US 2007 :: the games

slot one: The Summer Queen
Arnoldi / Zimmerman

Two GMs take on the notion that the complete health of a supernatural couple is also tangled in the meaning of seasons, bounty of the fae realms and well being in the mortal lands.

The Summer Queen, Titania, is ailing. Can you make a difference?

The best part here for me was the mix of a mortal to play off the fairies. Unexpectedly, my PC, Powll, was assigned to bring the mortal to court. (Last minute, I also learned there was another Phouka in the cast.) So I "tamped down" the wildness associated with Phouka's and acted responsibly (for Fae) as court messenger.

So Lord Powll got the girl, led the princess to court and started to earn her trust.

It became a verbal challenge for me to keep Princess Tribute (not her real name, you have to be careful with names) informed about events beyond her understanding. So my PC kept a light banter with the mortal through many scenes, acting as mentor.

Tribute (Jill) turned this into huge fun by blinking, pausing and asking for more explanations. Which this humble player then turned all twisty by revealing more ludicrous complexity.

The cast was terrific, with plenty of sexy interactions with plot. Cool start to the con. I'd love to see more mature games where personal interactions and imperfect solutions are involved like this game.

I realized once at the game that my first slot has been with Mr. Arnoldi through several years. He does a good setup and blurb. I was jokingly labeled 'a stalker.'

slot two: Agents of the Argent Rose

This game has never appeared at Ambercon US, but the possible cast was about and I never mind letting new folks try this background. This was my first stab at 'serial con game' (Ambercon North '99) and it works quite well.

It helps that the Players are generous and whole-hearted in support of the concept. This is Paris, 1923, where Corwin has shaped his Pattern to support a world of beauty and modern global adventure.

The GM's pacing got thrown off by travel complications subtracting one player. So I threw away a subplot and began. The players did a great job of letting me chop up the beginning into flashbacks and montages of getting the crew together.

Because another cousin created an international incident, official representation at the double wedding of the century was thrust upon the cast while the President of France stayed in Germany to handle the political crisis.

Everyone was soon in the groove. A good time, a good game which shall run again.

Apologies were handed out by the GM to our missing Player who showed up halfway through the adventure. The GM never quite got her up to speed. That was my shortfall.

slot three: Nine Rednecks in Amber

Such a fun concept: backwoods redneck power structure vacuum when ol' ornery Dad kicks off unexpected like. This will run again, so I won't talk about the game interior except to say Blaze (Bleys) has a tough role caught between improbable goals.

Good time was had by all cast. Lee (Julian) and Blaze bonded getting drunk while Corey took over.

slot four: The Black Watch Must Die!

Trust me to set an unlikely and difficult con game up in a four hour slot. Note to self: talk faster or make less plot.

Game premise: Swayville is going to go to war with Amber before the treaty can be ratified by Thelbane.

First explain Chaos culture, then make the PCs outcasts functioning within that same culture. Then start intrigue that will upset everything you've just done for two hours.

Argggggh! I need to simplify my games.

I wonder what the Players thought about the fact that every knowledgeable NPC in the game kept telling them what they were about to try was 'impossible'.

The game theme was about how 'traditional Chaosi leadership solutions' have so many limits.

Well, once again, I was lucky to have such excellent players pick this game. Three fellas signed up for this and we did get it done though I ran an hour late. The king was stopped from plunging the Courts back into war with Amber before the treaty could be finalized. One PC died despite a brilliant solo attack on the king.

slot five: Clandestine Chronicles of the Cobalt Charter

premise: being mortal rocks too! Who dares act under the gaze of Amber and Chaos? The Clandestine Cobalt Charter.

This game was made a serial event based on last year's great fun.

Inspired in part by Indie Games out there, this game requires the PCs to bring plot with them for the charter to debate and perhaps solve.

Returning players and new ones found danger and adventure getting caught between two armies: one underprepared and one deceived as to the danger present. This year, the GM also introduced more of the personal factors behind the mask that Julia Barnes Sawall wears in order to survive in the Courts of Chaos.

The game was pretty cool and I really got a lot of energy playing this long slot. Great group of very inspired players. Thanks to the new folks who pushed energy into the background work. Thanks to those who also did 'sticky email' before the con to get some dynamic into the PC character portraits.

This game owes much inspiration to Sol Foster who has created many convention games where Players informally bring the plot hooks with them. A double pleasure to have Sol playing in the game both years.

slot six: StairWay Perilous!

premise: canon history and a younger set of Elders, pre-Patternfall crisis

Kudos to Jvstin for I.R.E. and Sol for suggesting it would make a good con game. It turns out if was a great con game.

Here I wanted to run a classic Elders game—as I had never tried this before and it is a style fast disappearing from the convention scene. I reset the era into the past, where all scions except Osric and Finndo were still viable PC choices. Sand and Delwin have not left Amber yet (but this historical event will showcase why they do!)

Added to this, I really wanted to test my ideas about making over the ADRPG to a system that could provide more PC niches but stay 'system light'. So I provided pregens of the Elders based on canon per my 17 Attribute system. More about this in another post.

The result: a pleasure for me. The PCs did a canon Amber for an exciting six hours against a 10-hour-disaster backdrop. Even with the clock ticking, one PC did a Patternwalk knowing they would be vulnerable the remaining game and never recover their reserves in time. One PC got into a physical fight with Oberon.

Here's the note I sent Players after the game:

Thanks all for making my first 'Elders Game' so fun.

Extra special kudos to Bleys the exhausted whirlwind of action.
To Random, cheers for showing up Caine and Mirelle, drinking/laughing with Oberon, and sneaking off with Morganthe.
To Mirelle, for telling off Lora, busting into the lab, and shocking Dworkin into giving up clues.
To Gerard, for actually making Rebma feel Amber cared and they had a chance.
To Julian, for coming up with a better plan than Oberon (and saving Arden) and for saving the Lady of the Lake.
To Caine, for backing up Mirelle, spotting secret stuff, moving refugees, and not letting Bleys drown.
To Deirdre, for actually doing diplomacy with Moire, starting a fight between Lora and Oberon, and teaming with Fiona to stop the attack on the bridge after Bleys found the clue.

If anyone has observations or comments about my system we used for 'Stairway', I'd appreciate you sharing through email. Thanks again.

slot seven: Five Sides to Every Story

premise: Secret game, confusing clues, dark mystery with lots of danger!

Never the same, always a twisty mystery. This year, yet another solution to the puzzle.

I thought this might be the last time for this game, since I've run enough of them that finding new players is a stretch. But at least two people asked that it come back next year. We shall see.

slot eight: To Live and Die in Texorami

premise: Random spent years hanging out in this shadow, now find out just how fascinating those derned shadow folk are

Hailed by the GM as the 'final year' and what a finish! For anyone who loves westerns, this game was a beautiful thing and consistently reminded of the fun involved in Zelazny's imagination.

I look forward to the publication of the 'souvenir book' for the game's run.

"Red Hot [Ryerson] always had his ten o'clock brandy breakfast— bein' an early riser like that."
—Lucky Jack Diamond (J.P. Brannan)

J.P. (whom elsewhere I give credit for inspiring me to explore game support for 'sticky' PCs) played in every game of Texorami. He extended the family sense of the game very well. As much as the amazing Mr. Kindred, he loved Texorami and it proved out gold.

Finding the supposedly year-dead Lucky Jack at Daniel's Saloon: "Jack, you constantly disappoint me."
—'Red Hot' Ryerson (Arref)
The game developed amazing meta rules that Everyone respected:
  1. We don't talk about that here...
  2. No one lies to Mongo
  3. Anyone without a character background is a relative of Jack's
  4. Any year Arref doesn't make it to the game, the ghost of Red Hot must appear
  5. Never disagree with Mean Mitch Magee
'Red Hot' Ryerson: "Old man, do you perform marryin'?"
Grandpa (who turned out to be Dworkin): "Oh? Well! Yes, I suppose I have done that."
'Red Hot' Ryerson: ~Nods~ "Yep. I figgered an old geezer religious type like you would be one of those fellas that officiates weddings. It's the End of the World and if we aren't gonna play poker I'm fixin' to marry a gal."
The final cards dealt by Destiny called on all the PCs to reach into their hearts and determine why Texorami deserved to survive the End of the World. They did it. Then all the black wickedness in the universe attacked the saloon where the PCs were barricaded in. The PCs not playing poker or singin' or writin' their secrets in blood did the gunnin' down of the Dark to then be relieved for reloads and liquid courage.
'Red Hot' Ryerson: "If you help us, I'll name my first child after you, Grandpa."
Jamie Blue Diamond: "You will not!"
Grandpa (who turned out to be Dworkin): "That would be very awkward if she was a girl."
'Red Hot' Ryerson: "I'm a man of my word."
Grandpa: "Still, none of my line had my name. I always thought Dworkin was a very fine name."
'Red Hot' Ryerson: ~thinks on that~ "I like Grandpa better."
Jamie Blue Diamond: "We'll use her middle name."

Ryerson's blood scratched truth on the green felt poker table for Texorami:

"People worth bleedin' for."

I agree with Red.

Filed under : 17 canon attrib, Amber, Events, Game Sparks at 27.03.2007
Paul says...

Sounds like a good round up.

Posted March 27, 2007 8:40 PM