An extraordinary Ambercon where all games were above average (and this is a crowd of great roleplayers) and the fun was wall to wall. I ran 4 games and played 4 games. I even got almost enough sleep!
Slot 1. Agents of the Argent Rose: City of Oaths (GM me)
A really fast-paced chapter in ongoing adventures, all inside the Palace this year.
The Team working on peeling back the secrets of the world Grandpa Corwin has created. Somehow he’s forgotten important things about its creation and he’s so cagey, has he really forgotten, or is there something there he doesn’t want to talk about?
The Team dug deeper and deeper. Everyone seems pretty sure that Grayswandir has something to do with the entire mess. But the Goddess Kali hints that the wedding of Lorelei and Corwin itself may be part of the origins of the troubles.
Vivian and Venkatta vacuum up all military intel of the Stigma history across the globe.
America seems to be coming apart under influence of Stigma. Kali is offered an escape from Corwin’s confinement of all to the Palace, and immediately takes it.
The Team takes a lead from Simone and goes to find the Trump cards locked in Corwin’s study. Three locked draws exist there. The first yields Trumps, 4 with white unicorn backs and one with red serpent back. Simone recognizes the unhandsome man who spoke to Corwin briefly in years past.
Locked drawer two yields a silver serpent in mobius loop. Not familiar at all.
Locked drawer three yields a silver feather that smells of ozone.
Spells are released as each drawer is broken into. Each spell seems different from the others, surely as if placed by different people.
Corwin arrives, more questions are had, but when Corwin doesn’t recall the Trumps or any of the items, everyone recognizes the worst case: something powerful is messing with the Realm.
Explosions and violence follow, two of the items try to escape, the feather is briefly used to quiet the serpent.
Team members and grandpa are seriously injured and Lucien saves the day, sorta.
Slot 2. Agents Extraordinary: 1968
Fun for any addict of 60s spy themes.
John Drake has gone rogue, killing agents, and vanishing in Europe. Modesty Blaise follows clues from New York to Vienna. Modesty also sends Illya Kuryakin clues. Drake tries to meetup, but since Modesty doesn’t want to join the agents in peril list, she sends an actress/messenger who arranges a quieter meeting with Drake for the next morning.
Before any of that can happen, most of the Agents Extraordinary also arrive in Vienna. Will they arrest Drake? Will Drake kill Modesty? Will we ever not be paranoid? Will Felix Leiter get to enjoy his vacation? NO!
Everyone is captured and sent to the Village! Stay tuned for next year!
Slot 3. The Kraken Retrieval Squad
Themed off Rebma and very loosely based on the A-team adventures, this was a pretty good romp. Got to meet some new players to me, which is always part of my aim in taking on GMs and games new to me.
My character was seriously a trouble magnet the whole time. I think the team was half hoping I’d get thrown in a dungeon.
Overall a very interesting mix, which fulfilled the A-team style, I thought.
Barca, master of disguise, Garner, master scrounger, Howling Mad Kodrum, trump specialist, Ms Grazie, master of height and muscle, Joss Sloan, charming rogue with cunning plans, and S’Mestra, trouble magnet.
We had a grand military parade of Rebma’s might. The Kraken broke free and our not-charming Rebman handler, Tiberius, screamed at us like it was our fault.
Ya, we fixed it all up. Of course.
Slot 4. LoGaS: Gossamer Alternity! (GM me)
I took a stab at putting a new alien race (Kinz) in the Grand Stair to see if such adventures would play out well.
I got a bigger response than expected (meaning the game actually ran) and the players did well by the concept.
A twisty variant of LoGaS. Prepare a 50 pt character with the LoGaS (Lords of Gossamer and Shadow) rules. Note that Kinz are able to understand any intelligent beings, even humans. Speaking to other intelligent beings requires Exegesis. Make a point on your PC submittal if you do NOT have Exegesis. Characters submitted 3 weeks before the con get to use 70 pts.Note! Kinz characters must have less than nine lives remaining, but your stats are based on your original life and points above. Players decide how many lives remain. Your previous deaths will bonus your stats, so please include descriptions of your previous deaths so the GM can calculate your fame and game stats. GM will not ask for your Kinz‘ Secret Name, however, if you share your Personal Name with other members of the mission, you will have Icon contact possible during the mission and beyond.No readings of T. S. Eliot’s book ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ are required to enjoy this game.
And then shared some additional items with Players in an email before the con to buff up creating the PCs.
there are three broad backgrounds/clans of Kinz you can associate your PC with (or provide your own small tribe background)
so curious, such explorers, they originally came from parched dusty climes but have spread all over the Stair because they always seek what is over the next Door threshold
so mad, such minds, they originally lived in mountain forests but have spread all over the Stair because they always need to hear new stories
so feisty, such many scars, they originally lived in cities but have spread all over the Stair because they always need to test themselves
After a few questions, and based on some chat in the LoGaS Facebook group, I added a cultural background, etc.
Since the Kinz are smaller and crafty, they rely often on being mistaken for cats and left alone to gather information or wander around listening. Even if you had the same stats as an amberite or a gossamer lord, you have a hard time fighting them on equal footing. You weigh 20 pounds top range, and those pesky two legs are usually 6 to 12 times bigger. That mass makes a difference to your Strength and Warfare. However, you can confer abilities (or Artifacts) on your Kinz that will translate also upon death, as that becomes part of your legend.
The Alternity is a mind state inside of the Stair and Gossamer worlds. Humanoids generally dream there but don’t recall anything about it. Exceptional people can travel in the Alternity, or adventure there, where dangerous ideas are found. One such dangerous idea is killing the Grand Stair. Kinz can with effort drag humanoids etc. into the Alternity, but then they may remember the journey, so it is not done often. Children are easier to work with than adults.
That’s pretty much the mission. Find out who/what/how someone is planning to kill the Stair.
and finally just before the con, a big summary:
culture with internal conflicts
the Kinz respect the Grand Stair by tradition. They originate from at least three gossamer worlds within the Stair network. Studies are inconclusive as to which world might be the ultimate origin of Kinz. Loosely speaking, the Shamans, Bards, and Scouts correspond to the mini-cultures of those three worlds, but there are also at least five other worlds not as old that have their own tribes. So far there has never been a civil war, and the (Kinz) Council has three Speaker seats for every gossamer world of the Kinz. Day to Day, the Kinz are much about their own agendas and passions. This also means they are polite but not overly ‘team players’ until a crisis presents itself. The Family is more important than Politics. Religion is a loose idea that only has a loose following, mostly centered on the Venerables and Bastet.
a non-human perspective that has its own logic
the Kinz seem to have always recognized the Alternity. Within the Alternity, they realized that other sentient species had a part in a Grand Design. However, it has been disappointing to discover that most other sentient species do not process the Alternity or work against the horde of Bad Ideas that thrive there. In fact, many of the Bad Ideas have been proven to come from other sentients. This leads the Kinz to treat with most TwoLegs as if they are ….immature species. There is Chowder (read Council) debate regards finding partners in the Grand Stair who can help to manage the Bad Ideas.
hierarchy with unusual authority/positions
Kinz generally defer to their own kind who have died more times. Which is to say, they are polite and listen to opinions. Only those Kinz who have died 8 times are considered Venerables. Dying more than 5 times confers Elder to your honorifics (as you are headed into your few remaining lives.) No Kinz has ever lived more than 9 lives. However, it is said that some rare cases, the Kinz who have best lived their 9 lives may exist in the Alternity after their final death.
child raising and reproductive culture
Due to death, gender change, or demands of the Alternity, and with an Understanding that young children are perceptive of the Alternity, raising children is a task given to the older experienced parent once the children are weaned. It is very common for the First Adventure to be led by the Guardian Parent. Assistance from the Blood Parent is not expected nor demanded, but Adoptive Parents or Grandparents will often participate.
Kinz recognize five genders, two of which (female & mischief) can bear young:
Female / shows all the physical sides of warm-blooded child carry and reproduction
Male / shows all the physical sides of planting seed for children
Mischief / shows both physical sides of child reproduction but cannot impregnate self (intersexual)
Topsy / shows no physical gender traits at all, with no sex interests, but may find a partner that inspires a gender transformation to another gender state
Yowl / may show physical gender traits but has no interest or ability to reproduce unless Circumstantial
history and place on the stair
the Infinite Stair was first mind-mapped by Bastet, who later became a Goddess of the Alternity, or just a really powerful dead female (PC choice)
Bastet was part of the early culture meld of the three worlds of Kinz
Bastet believes that the Grand Stair favors Kinz and needs their assistance, and she also says she can talk to it, go figure!
Kinz respect a symbiotic relationship with the Stair
Since the Kinz are smaller and crafty, they rely often on being mistaken for cats and left alone to gather information or wander around listening.
Even if you had the same stats as an Amberite or a gossamer lord, you have a hard time fighting them on equal footing.
You weigh 20 pounds tops, two legs are usually 6 to 12 times bigger. That mass makes a difference.
However, you can confer abilities (or Artifacts) on your Kinz that will translate also upon death, as that becomes part of your legend
The Alternity is a mind state inside of the Stair and Gossamer worlds. Humanoids generally dream there but don’t recall anything about it. Exceptional people can travel in the Alternity, or adventure there, where dangerous ideas are found. Kinz can with effort drag humanoids etc into the Alternity, but then they may remember the journey, so it is not done often. Children are easier to work with than adults.
crafts/arts/music that is not human
Kinz love to tell stories and sing
Kinz have opposable thumb pads (4) and dew claw
they will make complex musical instruments to enhance their stories (they rarely carry around their prized instruments)
the culture is not tool-based, but Kinz love to create things and are good at whittling and/or sculpture
Slot 5. Pendrad: Labyrinth! (GM me)
A serial game running about 4 times now. This year, a rescue mission to find or bury missing agents of the Fae Khans.
Again, this is the GM adding complexities of Amber and Chaos to the Grand Stair rule set. Not something you are likely to see in other games. The Fae are quite flexible and powerful compared to your average Stair dweller or PC.
Everyone did a smash up job.
Slot 6. They Fight Crime! (Space Opera Edition)
the GM created an alternate version of Firefly for the PCs to adventure in using James Arnoldi’s Key RPG system. The game system worked very well.
With a random selection of pregen characters, we all started right away with immersing into our roles. The twist was we each got a secret Motivation from the Player on our right to incorporate into the play. It seemed to work well for everyone.
Robin Grant, Captain of the space freighter Odyssey
Vincent ‘Ernie’ Grant, Hot Gunman for Hire
Vivian Hill, crusty engineer
Meer’Ton, alien hot-shot pilot
Prince Rutann of Zircon, tourist charming rogue
Dr Peter Tanner, medic and guy protecting his sister
Miserly Tanner, psychic waif of illegal Federation experiments
It’s been a long time since I’ve played in James’ Key system, and this seemed a smoother ride than I expected. There are Flaws to disadvantage you, and Keys to advantage your Expertise in six Attributes. A pretty slick package that works fast.
The parts were juicy ones, and everyone seemed to have a very good time. Viv was heroic, the Captain was steely and uber-competent, Ernie was loud and full of action/ideas/menace, while Meer’Ton, the Prince, and Dr. Peter were all played by the GM as some folks got pulled from the game by Real Life conflicts.
By chance, I got the random draw I would have picked anyhow, Miserly was the wild card in the crew, her actions always being a bit unproductive and distracting.
Our choices started out bad and got worse as we went along, one step ahead of disaster or being broke and stuck in on a station/world. We crashed in and out of several worlds, and situations, one step ahead of the law in some cases. In the end, we lost the Prince and pilot to the story line (they left for greener pastures) but the Feds never caught us.
A clever bunch of roleplaying kept us ahead of complete calamity. A good crew.
Special note here, the GM was feeling poorly and might have canceled the game, but he found a special reserve of awesome and we all had a great time.
Slot 7. Dark Water: The Company 2018
Serial consequences on the Grand Stair. A new team, more players than ever before, and this game came out very well.
The Company is a team of low-level mercenaries who are tracking fallout from an original adventure on the found Fountain of Youth. The water there turned out to be anything but friendly. Several adventures now have circled around how getting rid of the original problem has spread issues to other Doors.
This year it was gossamer Phoenix’s turn to be checked and cleared.
The good news, Prof Nine-thousand Entry 3 (9KE3) finished grading all the semester papers during the adventure, AND helped solve a knotty logistical problem in Phoenix. YaY us! The princess was saved. The world was rebalanced. We had a party!
Slot 8. Soft Cimmerian: No Mirror Has Two Sides (GM me)
Well… this was the ninth? outing of the Soft Cimmerian game, now a closed-game not open to new players. #softcimmerian #acus2018
the plot was a bit of social ninja work by one PC who can mask his presence from those of lesser Psyche, so he shared out a tale of anxiety and mystery: the crown princess seemed to have an aura that paled and wavered on social occasions. Eventual reveal: the 8-year-old was dying of a rare Chaosi war-poison. She’d been harmed right under the noses of all her significant security layers.
Lots and lots of interesting reveals to Rebma history, the burden of thrones, and how complex Rebma politics can be as a comparison to what is known about Amber politics (reflection of, where the King is always right.) Moire is not always right.
A scary plot that could have broken important NPCs or seen some dead— if the Gallants of the Glass did not do some very heroic measures. So they did commit fully and wove a great story through the minefield of plot tragedy.