So when we first met Celina of the Seaward Kingdoms…she was a young girl in a prestigious court in Rebma. The historical documents record something like this:
Loreena has saddled me with this long trip to Paris. Is she playing me? Did she want to go?
Thank the currents for Bill Roth. I think I would have fainted or choked on breathing air.
Paris seems haunted. But it is the most vibrant haunting I’ve ever felt. I’ve wanted to taste buildings since I got here.
King Corwin is quite striking, in person.
He makes a nice trophy.
Corwin is my father?
Moire is my lying witch of a mother?
I hate my life. I’m so stupid. Someone put me out of my misery.
That was so long ago.
Not quite as long as the on-screen time in House of Cards, the pbem where I play Celina in Rebma.
But lots of time has passed. This week, an event which has been coming at us for a long time—not quite as long as we’ve played, but nearly so. Celina is about to have either a Patternwalk, which can always kill you, or a messy breakup with her lover, the Queen of Rebma, or even both things blended.
[Khela] settles to the ground. “Now, I am told the last task I have in this room is one I must perform alone.”
“Unaided perhaps but with your permission Majesty, I will stand vigil here for you.” Conner offers. With reluctance, Conner releases his grip on Halosydne and takes out a cloth to bandage the cut on his hand. “I suspect this will already be known to you, but I would not be a Redhead if I did not offer advice.” Conner grins at Khela. “Once you start, you cannot stop. Beware the Veils. Moving through them will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, each time, but move through them you must. There will either be three or four of them and do be sure to tell me afterwards because I have a bet with Bleys. When you come to the center, the Pattern will send you where you wish to go. The best place would be somewhere safe for a nap but no one ever chooses that. Good fortune, Majesty.”
Celina smiles at Conner.
Brennan shifts a glance over to Conner as he mentions the number of veils, but doesn’t comment at this moment.
Celina says nothing but changes position. She strolls to the entrance of the Grand Design. She removes her footgear and tosses the sandals aside some distance.
To Khela, [Brennan] adds, “The advice is part of ancient tradition. As Conner says, do not stop moving. Beyond the physical sensations–resistance, electricity or something like it– there will be mental effects. It can be,” he hesitates slightly, looking for the right word, “an anguish. So at the bottom of all else, know who you are. That will ground you.”
Brennan does not add that the advice often comes from a parent or a parent figure.
Celina beckons to Khela. “Come. This will be the most demanding dance ever unless we do it again, which I do not recommend.” She now blocks the entry path, her foot a mere palm distance from touching the emerald fire. “In Rebma, you shall never have to do anything fully alone, my dear. That is the old way.”
Perspective. House of Cards is now ten years old. Yes, internet years folks. Multiply by ten.
For those of you at home that have never done a pbem or followed particularly the canon of Roger Zelazny on the Pattern of Rebma, the Pattern is a path of electric fire that only demands everything you have in yourself when you walk it beginning to end. Once you stand at the center of the labyrinth path, you may go anywhere in the many memories of the universe. But the price of failure is death; immediate and messy death.
Amber family tend not to walk the Pattern at all if they can do anything to avoid it.
But Celina cannot avoid this. She’s made a promise in her younger moments to protect Khela from death in any form it might seek her out. So she will walk ahead of Khela, even though it might not change Khela’s chances at all. The walk itself is still deadly and there is no operation manual that says, “unless someone plows the resistance in front of you to lessen the trial”.
House of Cards employs an arduous test for walking the Pattern to game-simulate the deadly nature. And PCs can die on the Pattern from this test. The GMs will draw a card from the Fortune Deck. Bad draw means death. Good draw means life.
Given that the walker is Family of the Pattern, that is. Luckily, Celina has already proved she is Family. However, Khela has not proved it and she needs to in order to have the destiny she has chosen.
So there we are. Khela must try it. Celina must do something to guard her from death if she can.
This time next month, House of Cards might be over for Celina of the Seaward.
“to die, would be an awfully big adventure!”
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)
It has been an awfully big adventure so far on many levels. On the points of adventure, intrigue, danger and mystery, House of Cards has held a high standard.
On the basis of storytelling about orphans, lies, love, parents and a large universe, House of Cards has been above and beyond a high standard in games of this type.
Also to spread out the glory beyond the GMs who created the game, the Players sharing the stage are terrific, raising the bar for effort at almost every turn.
That is all. Even if Celina does not continue in House of Cards, I’ll be reading it on the lurker list.
“goodbye and hello, as always.”
— Roger Zelazny (Corwin of Amber)