amber.revised

Brothers, Sisters, may the Force be With Them…

On the death of Carrie Fisher, my thoughts whirl to Amber history of kick-ass fictional protagonists.

Observations on the family by Corwin (who is wrong a lot): number of Oberon’s offspring (pg numbers maybe Great Book of Amber, see this page):

Page 60, “There had been fifteen brothers and six were dead. There had been eight sisters, and two were dead, possibly four.”

Page 173, “Actually, I am surprised that the family is not much larger. The thirteen of us, plus two brothers and a sister I knew who were now dead, represent close to fifteen hundred years of parental production. There had been a few others also, of whom I had heard, long before us, who had not survived. Not a tremendous batting average for so lusty a liege, but then none of had proved excessively fertile either.”

So any thoughts readers?

IMC (in my campaign) it shakes down this way, bold are dead when Corwin comments, italic are my invention:

brothers!

Forgotten times (?), many

Ancient era (3), Benedict, Osric, Finndo

Historic era (8), Eric, Corwin, Bleys, Brand, Caine, Julian, Gerard, Random

Modern era (4), Delwin, Dastard, DeWinter, Dalt

“…and six were dead.” Which per Corwin works if he believes Dalt, Osric, Finndo, and three unknowns are gone (say all of Deela’s kids). It is canon that Benedict killed Dalt in battle (except he survives). Do you make something of these unknown brothers when you play the game? Serious threats to the throne?

Do you ever involve the Forgotten?

IMC (in my campaign) it shakes down this way, bold are dead when Corwin comments, italic are my invention:

sisters!

Forgotten times (?), many

Ancient era (2), Nanna, ShaRa

Historic era (4), Deidre, Fiona, Llewella, Florimel

Modern era (4), Mirelle, Sand, DoBlique, Coral

“…and two were dead, possibly four.” Which per Corwin works if he believes Nanna and ShaRa are certainly dead, while Mirelle and DoBlique are probably dead. We know that Someone has died walking the Pattern, because even though no one wants to talk about it, there is some Ancient era, or Forgotten era ‘well known’ case that everyone is aware of within the history.

IMC, that is Nanna, who dies mid-Pattern. In Roger’s other words elsewhere, it may be Mirelle, or not. My numbers don’t match Corwin’s eight sisters. Coral and DoBlique can be excused from Cowin knowing which end is up.

Notice how I arranged the unknowns to useful backstory purpose. ‘Modern names’ are not important enough in Corwin’s eyes. Ancient names are pretty much gone before Corwin is born but are lessons to be learned.

IMC, the lessons are: Osric and Finndo, betrayal of the Throne. Nanna, deadliness of the Pattern. ShaRa, the power of the Bloodcurse at death.

Again, do you ever involve the Forgotten?

Ambercon 2016 report: Pendrad! elegant Fae masters of mayhem

LoGaSSo yes, my experiment with the diceless RPG Lords of Gossamer and Shadows, continued at the latest Ambercon 2016 (#acus2016).

Pendrad! had another turn this year.  And the third time is the charm. I felt all the elements of the new system performed well, and the PCs were driving well inside the Infinite Stair.

In sketchy form, the game began with reminders for the PCs of the team of Fae involved, and news that a member of the team from previous adventures had been killed. Death among the Fae being very tragic business.

Game Start: Intel that the Countess has been killed near Chaos. Intel that Chaos intends to destroy ‘LALA’ and her world. Khans assign the PCs to find ‘LALA’, her world, and to divert Chaos. Team enters the Pendrad.

The Fae are pretty terrific at staying out of sight and you don’t know what they’ve seen, where they’ve been, (and the part the Khans like best) what they are up to. For your normal Amber Players, this is a 180 degree turn around.

However, events conspired to have the Fae Facilitators find out the Agora was being taken over by Bastiano troops and the Chaosians were already aware of where ‘LALA’ was located. About halfway into the game, the Fae were tracking down a huge incursion of Chaosi troops into the Grand Stair itself.

Everything that the Khans had been concerned about is coming to pass. Chaos will own the Stair or break the Lords within it until they do own it.

And the eventual story was confrontation. The team decided their mission instruction gave them lease to take the Chaos faction out before they could report back to Thelbane on their information.  And then they confronted 2 Logrus Masters, 5 sorcerers, 3 enslaved sorcerers, 5 knights of the black zone, and 20,000 armed slave heavy infantry.

This was not exactly an ideal way to test the LoGaS combat rules in my Fae/Amber/Grand Stair mashup.

However, it went very well. The Khans had appointed a leader, the PCs had adjusted to the dynamic, and the Leader managed to sift and sketch a battle plan that each of the various Fae saw used their strengths and wile to best effect. The battle was a thing of terrible beauty (which is mostly how this GM sees the Fae in my expansion of Amber mythology.)

The 2 Logrus Masters were the High Priority Targets, of course. Neither of them managed to complete the Summons of the Logrus. So basically in game speak, they were crippled before two rounds of combat passed. Even their shapeshifting heals did not prevent the coup de grace moves from taking them out immediately after they went down.

I think Corwin would have applauded. I was pleased and relieved I did not need to restart the game.

Perhaps the most significant strategy was the Fae never had to chat about any actions from plan to action, once things started, the Fae did not stop until the Stair was a flood of bodies and blood. They wiped them out and then left quietly.

Lady Vala and Shatterlight will not have a battle with Chaos forces, and no one is the wiser.

 

Broken Logrus is…. what?

You could take the hints of Logrus failures, imperfect Logrus, and various strangenesses of the Abyss and mash them together.LoGaS
Add tobasco sauce…  sorry, copying from Dworkin’s notes here.
We already know there is a pile of skulls outside the entry to the Logrus (I blame Zelazny) and so we can imagine that most forms of imperfect Logrus are even more lethal than Logrus itself. (Red wire? NO BLUE!) After all, even successful Logrus initiates deal with insanity for a long time afterwards.
So cross the streams a bit, look at Umbra from the Lords of Gossamer and Shadows… a power that is guaranteed to make you insane, reveal the flaws in everthing, rewrite you if you receive a near fatal injury, and lose control of your shapeshifting.  That sounds like screwed up Logrus to me.
And also, it is so weak that while it looks powerful to all those shadowfolks, it can be dismissed by Logrus or Pattern.
And it cannot even bring you a pizza.
Of course, if you can find a pizza shop, Broken Logrus Masters never have to PAY for pizza.

Ambercon US 2015 after action report

Ambercon US 2015
after action notes

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1 : Thursday, April 10, 2014 – 7pm to midnight

Agents of the Argent Rose: City of Hope

A wide ranging exercise in hurry up and talk to each other. Attacks from last year’s game had only seemed over, but a bigger threat rolled out of the night. The family is big enough and events were busy enough that not everyone was in one place until the end.

Corwin’s secrets are almost all put on the table. Almost.
The Muse Queen appears in Paris to remind Corwin of his obligations.

Next year could be very interesting.
Simone has a birthday. Parties will be everywhere.

GMs
R.F. McCaughey

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2 : Friday, April 11, 2014 – 9am to 1pm

Infinite Amber: Strange Roads

First time ever game. New faces and old and reworked a PC of mine to work in the wide universe of JP’s Infinite Ambers. Lots of complexity here. Lots of possible enemies and counter forces.

This will be hard to track as a serial game unless I manage to join it consistently. Liked the way it played very much.

GMs
J.P. Brannan

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3 : Friday, April 11, 2014 – 2pm to 6pm

An Unkindness of Ravens

Low power game where a bit of daring kicks a lot of ass.

This year the team seemed to gel very fast and we just tore into our tasks. Doormen not around, and so we just moved from point to point, ratcheting up the mission points.

Well, we did set ourselves up for some future crunch time with a momma Dragon. Nothing’s perfect.

GMs
Erik Florentz
Kit Kindred
David A McCreless
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4 : Friday, April 11, 2014 – 8pm to midnight

House of Justice and Doom

Benedict is dead. But the only people who believe it in their hearts are Ben’s kids, who felt him die.

This was very intense roleplay and the scions of Ben challenged the Big Bad straight off head to head. They did not prevail, but they brought a bunch of good intel back to Amber with them.

Then they promptly dared the king’s displeasure, the silver city in the sky, and also the idea that they might be too valuable to be used in pressing Amber’s response on the Big Bad.

Lots of face time, discussing the weaknesses of Amber’s order, lots of context between the kids. Very nice game. While these games are always one shots, this game had serious legs and could be an excellent warfare campaign. I really loved where the Players went with their characters.

GMs
R.F. McCaughey

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5 : Saturday, April 12, 2014 – 10am to 5pm

The Pendrad: Shining Liquid Universe, Discovery!

Good team. Lots of exploration. Lots of magic and discovery of the possible weaknesses of the Lords of the Gossamer worlds.

And some tricky Fae politics also.

This year the players really did up the arcane weirdness of the Fae really well.

I hope to bring this back again next year.

GMs
R.F. McCaughey

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6 : Saturday, April 12, 2014 – 7pm to midnight

Lost in Amber

Experiment in time, place, and memory. Players at an Ambercon get walked into the Chronicles of Amber just at the narrative point where Corwin is confronted by Eric in the library.

Hijinks ensue as Players interfere.

Selfies with the Pattern Room are just some of the highlights we got to.
Corwin is very manly, 24/7.
Lots of fun.

You’d be surprised how many important items your memory of the books plays false when you have to figure out ‘what comes next?’

GMs
Anne Delekta

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7 : Sunday, April 13, 2014 – 11am to 4pm

The Company: Youth Eternal

LOGAS game with the Josiah Company, searching for a lost exploratory team that vanished 2 centuries ago on the Grand Stair.

I made a new PC and was very pleased with the way it worked. The Prof isn’t someone who says a lot or makes a lot of splash, but I felt he was right on target for the scenario.

What helped with that was a really good cast and double GM strength to match the six Players. We had a very sweet team on the stair experience.
This game is a keeper.

GMs

Tara Kunkel
Kris Kunkel

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8 : Sunday, April 12, 2014 – 7pm to midnight

The Soft Cimmerian: DeathGlass

Anyone who has been following this Rebma game since 2008 knows this is a very eccentric bit of RP. The Amber/Rebma characters are not center stage, but the Knights of the Afanc Glass are.

We started early, opening the game at 6PM. We ran a whole bunch of Gallant family RPing until about 1220AM until we struck the plot square on. In that six hours, we covered kids, politics, inheritance, ancient history, marriage, love, and we invented a new “most important attribute” for the character sheets. Much of the theme danced with Rebma’s true relationship with Amber instead of the one that gets glossed over in the novels.

We also demonstrated that Llewella and Moire do things very differently and advice from one does not work with plans of the other.

At the point where some serious treason talk was being thrown around, the Gallants sat down with the Queen and talked her through a new approach to diplomacy with Amber. And it worked very well. It also kept Bleys out of the story, which saved the GM about 2 hours of hijinks.

And then Random wants to know what Queen Moire is doing attacking Chaos with a ‘DeathGlass’ when there is a peace treaty. Oops!

Fantastic group of Players. I must consider closing this game to new faces, as this year was the first time I bent reality (the original premise) to allow an extra spouse in the poly-marriage. No end game in sight here. I’ll run this as long as the original players want to see it.

GMs

R.F. McCaughey

The Pendrad: Shining Liquid Universe!

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!

Sat 10am-5pm

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 Information

Genre:  Adventure/Heroic
Type:  Non-Amber
Format:  Tabletop/Traditional
Teen Friendly:  Yes
Setting:

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

(page now dead, please see the WaybackMachine)

Structure

Event:  Role Playing Game
Structure:  Series (New)
Players:  3-7 Any (Returning Players not given preference)

Character Information

Character 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:  No
Players 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.