Ideas for new games are coming early (6 months early) for the Ambercon US convention.
I hope that continues.
bringing back, Agents of the Argent Rose
From the kickstarter page for Lords of Gossamer and Shadow
Jason Durall pointed out.
Bridging Doors. While Wardens are limited to Doors that lead to-and-from the Grand Stair, Masters know how to connect two doors in a single Gossamer world together so that they are directly linked, opening from one to another. To do this, the Master must be physically present at one of the doors to be linked (which must be closed) and concentrates on the other door to be linked. This can take a few minutes, less so with a strong mental impression of the other door, and even less with a direct psychic or magic link to the other place. These doors only open from one door within a Gossamer world to another place on the same Gossamer world. They can never bridge worlds.
Bridged doors lack the invulnerability of Doors on the Grand Stair, and they can be accessed and affected by any Warden or Master. These bridged doors are rarely permanent, and the duration will last only so long as the Master desires, usually a matter of days. Making a permanent bridge between two mundane doors takes considerably longer, a process measured in days rather than minutes.
This ability needs some thought, it can be powerful enough to break a lot of scenarios a GM might normally organize.
One of the very first questions you get from GMs and Players when presented with a diceless game that uses an infinite universe as a background is, “what the hell do the Player Characters do with all this?”
You can go anywhere. You can be a legend among mortal adventurers.
What are the threats to the status quo? What do the PCs care about and why do they work together? Why would they oppose each other or another universe faction?
Masters of the Grand Stair are not harmonious…and yet they gather if the Stair is under threat. And a thousand years ago, they were united to fight off the conquering ambitions of the Dwimmerlaik.
The Lords of Gossamer and Shadow have several canon threats already revealed in products for the line. Typhonians. Dwimmerlaik.
(like Amber Diceless, the implication is that getting such powerful characters to work together requires that there is a universe scaled threat that may destroy the ‘universe as we like it’.)
Having done a first read of the two threat assessment books, Typhonians and Dwimmerlaik, I judge these are not ‘starter elements’. They are interesting and they are scalable threats, but I don’t think I’d introduce them early to a campaign. I’d pick something a bit closer to home and hold the Big Bads for later.
So what’s a good Villainous Opposition for LoGaS game start?
Again, the above list because: change is never pretty. Your PCs have power. What will such changes bring?
At Ambercon 2014, I introduced several familiar names as possible villains to the above (not recommending you do this at home):
And you can get lots more cosmic with threats than those revealed so far above. Like in the famous Strange Bedfellows Amber Campaign, you could invade the universe from another universe entirely.
Villains generate story conflict that does not have to come from your PCs.
Upon the Dripping Landings you will experience cold airs and condensation falling throughout the corridors and region.
The Doors here are surly and become time locked if a clumsy attempt to open them is made. If the novice fails to remember the latch sequence, then only a Warden may attempt the Door again in a day cycle. If the Warden should fail to open the Door with grace, only a Master may coerce the mechanism at that point.
The embedded grain of the metal doors here resemble the Rhen markings in other regions of the Grand Stair. Is there some older pattern that the Rhen copied and used? Or is this just the manufacture of these Doors?
There are no lights in the Dripping Landings. Neither do torches do well due to the cold winds and water falling. Recommend solar gems or shrouded magical lights be carried. However, if you are in the region for days, you may find the constant tones of water dripping on the stone veneers is musical.
— Black Raven rutter of the Grand Stair, early version, handwritten, metal cover.
Rite Publishing is producing background material for LoGaS that includes stories, NPC descriptions and possible stats, history, tricks, tips, and etc.
This is excellent and very needed when you don’t have award winning literature to base the tone and texture of your game upon (as in Nine Princes in Amber.) Even with the Amber material available, gaming with various GMs will get you many interpretations of the canon material. A shift of emphasis here; a tweak of cosmology hinted over there; some organizations that seem significant in one campaign that never appear in another.
This all falls into what I’ve called ‘zero dice—infinite worlds’ and is a feature, not a bug.
In Amber play, the philosophical weird of being able to find a brother, or a cousin, and yet not be entirely sure that you are talking to the Real Person is a feature of the canon. It may or may not apply to LoGaS play for NPCs, etc., but I’ve decided that the confusion it adds is not nearly as important as the stunning immersive quality it gives the Players for the infinite worlds aspect.
Things and people on the Grand Stair are more likely real if they do and act on the things you expect of VIP NPCs. On various shadow worlds? Maybe not so much. Shadow produces doppelgangers of famous folks. This is a subjective element for a GM to interpret.
Likewise, the actual elements of the Grand Stair are going to get descriptions from various GMs. And this aspect, well, maybe it should not be so flexible in concept. Logistically and in presentation, it would be nice if most descriptions of the Grand Stair were similar. However, I’m not sure — short of a small video — or sketchbook — or terrific professional prose, that we are going have such visuals to hang things upon.
So once again, Rite Publishing is providing some of this for us. Go read the reviews. The things I’ve seen are good. Even if we had more graphical stuffs, you’d get the ‘Visual Guide to Castle Amber’ syndrome, where 75% of the audience doesn’t like the reference.
So here are things I used when playing the LoGaS game at Ambercon 2014:
I think the project on the Rite Publishing forum where 100 Landings of the Grand Stair is listed could be a sweet resource for the community.
Here is the full blurb and instructions from Ambercon 2014 for the LoGaS game I created and played. ‘The Pendrad’ is the Fae name for the Grand Stair of LoGaS fame.
The Pendrad: Shining Liquid Universe!
In Pretty Amber, there sits a King of All Order.
In Dark Chaos, there hovers a Queen on the Edge of the Tree of Matter.
Amber and Chaos have vexed us since before the Nameless spit out the Logrus. Terrible immortals, they parcel the universe and squabble over mysteries.
Pendrad is found. Lords of Shadow and Gossamer have uncovered that which was so Long Lost we nearly forgot it ourselves.
Once the Glorious Pendrad was the weapon the UnderGods feared. Too long the universe has forgotten who built the Pendrad. We call you of all Bloods, for a Memory has returned. We call you to Dance.
Young Immortals are pretty, but not the prettiest or most wicked. For they are not Fae. Come dance the Escalara….
…and perhaps we shall have Children to join us!
Play the Immortals who existed before the Universe had Shadows. Play the Fae. They are incredibly ancient. They have mad skillz. They breathe Magic. They are nearly extinct… but maybe that can change!
Game InformationGenre: Adventure/HeroicType: Non-AmberFormat: Tabletop/TraditionalTeen Friendly: YesSetting:
please read ‘Lords of Gossamer and Shadow’ by Jason Durall.
your PCs will be tasked by the Great Khans of the Fae… you may pick your own Khan, based on character design OR contact with the GM by email.
the web page to get flavor background of the Pendrad series is found: http://home.comcast.net/~arrefmak/theeternalcity/before.html
StructureEvent: Role Playing GameStructure: Series (New)Players: 3-7 Any (Returning Players not given preference)
Character InformationCharacter Instructions: PCs must be Fae built for 80 pts. Characters submitted to GM prior to convention can be built for 100 pts. Note special task of ENDURANCE is all of your magic, as PCs are literally held together by magic. Players encouraged to make early contact with GM.
All players get Mastery of the Grand Stair at no cost, please ask questions.Pre-generated Characters Will Be Provided: NoPlayers to contact GM(s) before the con?: Yes
I only gave the Players the ‘source page’ describing the Khans of Fae in very brief terms. I also gave them by email a ‘first come, first served’ choice of which Khan to serve.
design vs actual play: I received great PC designs from the new rule set. There was a nice diversity of creative response within the template of the Khans and the ruleset of the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow. A mostly cooperative set of characters, with some political investigation to be done. The Fae are withering, dying under the tyranny of the modern universe and its Order. But perhaps the discovery of the Grand Stair offers some hope for a future.
Per design, I found the premise interesting enough that I was very casual with some rule overlap between Amber Diceless and LoGaS. Also per the premise, I gave away the Very Important powerset of Master of the Grand Stair. In play, the Characters came to realize that their Mastery was broken with the Stair. Pendrad, the Grand Stair that they knew, was strangely different in ways they did not understand. At least not yet.
In the game design sense, they had a powerful affinity with the Stair, but not understanding of how to fully use it per rules. The players/characters seemed to find this an interesting challenge, as intended.
In actual play, the Characters saw that the Khans were unified in their concern to quickly assert some dominion over the Pendrad, but to NOT tip off Amber or Chaos that the Fae were all that interested in the Grand Stair. Once the Characters learned that there were more secrets, and more changes to the Grand Stair than they understood, I think they also saw that the Lords of the Stair were also competitors, or adversaries, for this important information.
This leaves the Fae race in a very weak position, which frankly they are used to. Lords and Masters of the Stair have real connection with it. Amber and Chaos might seek to destroy the Stair outright, as it permits shadowfolk access and powers that run parallel to stuff that only a very few people have been doing for centuries.
I also shared with the Players that Pattern and Logrus had the ability to quickly unmake any Fae in combat.
In effect, if Amber and Chaos look into the future, they may become concerned that the Universe is moving on and the next extinct race will be them. The Fae can appreciate the irony of this. The Fae love irony, especially at Others’ expense.
Another small design change I made, was to promote Endurance as all the magic the Fae can command. This did two things for me that did not really become obvious in play, but I hope will stand in good stead as the game goes forward. Instead of the rather clunky sorcery and power rules of Amber Diceless/LoGaS, the idea that your character channels magic inherent to your structure was a strong theme. A Fae can create effects of magic thru improvisation, or through some practiced routines/shapes that speak of their personality, etc.
Likewise, per the rules, power spent on things does subtract from power available for other aspects/attributes. This is implicit in the ruleset, but even more so for the Fae. In game injuries lessen your magic. Artifacts attached to your legend divide your magic.
Spellwork only takes hold of opponents based on a Psyche check as per rules, however, being able to do many things at once, or in a manner stronger than a sorcerer, is part of your Endurance rank. In this respect, the GM would eye the things possible with sorcery and use that yardstick for Fae Endurance that falls in the same point range. Most of the Players chose high Endurance.
In play, I was happy with how this seemed to work, but we did not have the kind of intense combat scenes that would test the actual play.
The result in summary was a game of travel, spying, politics, and general shadow sneaking about, contrasting how Fae move through the universe with the in-game discovery of the Grand Stair and how much more easily the Stair provides access to the same Universe.
I look forward to chasing these aspects in future rounds of the convention.
For those out there with more interest in the new diceless rules set following on the traditions of Amber Diceless, there is this active forum.
I have also created the LoGaS category for all my own comments and gaming notes.
So far, my convention game, “The Pendrad: Liquid Shining Universe”, is my opening mashup of Amber Diceless and LoGaS.
More on that later.