Events

#acus2018, the games played

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)

Scouts/Navigators
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

Sages/Shamans
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

Bards/Brawlers
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:

KINZ 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.

gender identity

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

!physical!

four legs are the major dexterity mode for the Kinz (if your attributes are above Paragon, it won’t matter much to normal actions, if you sell down, there will be limits)
opposable finger pads (four thumbs)— meaning they have no problem using tools, or picking things up, they also wield retractable claws
!do not make overpowered!

average Kinz is small and no more than 20 pounds
they are nimble and quite athletic but prefer to sleep in short bursts that allow them to monitor the Alternity
they are quite self-sufficient and generally, do not carry tools or other burdens


!multiple lives!

Kinz have nine lives, when fatally injured, they surge with Alternity energy and regenerate into a new body
the new body can be different in size, gender, markings, etc, but will retain your Attributes et al

they will regenerate in the vicinity of their death but rarely into a deadly environ

!avoid monoculture

Players are encouraged to devise their own tribe/gossamer world if they want to take on that task for PC design

Scouts/Navigators, world Riverhunt

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

Sages/Shamans, world Monastery

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

Bards/Brawlers, world Shenanigans

so feisty, such many scars, they originally lived in relic cities but have spread all over the Stair because they always need to test themselves

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.

Yay!

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no drama, just make it stop

Linked article that is important for gamers to understand and think about. Trigger warnings for Harassment.

So here’s the thing, I’m not the most observant guy, and I don’t game much outside of a select group of very nice people, but to my great sadness this is real and happens every day. While I feel there’s little I can do about such shallow juvenile Terrorism, if you ever have questions, or need help, whether you are in one of my games or not, I will listen and take action. This kind of Social Terror should be talked about and I’m glad that gaming events I go to have harassment policies that they talk about.

Article: Gaming has a Terrorism Problem.

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.

 

Star Wars: the Force Awakens review

SWTFA_reyYeah.

So, not that I’m qualified to mind meld with Abrams, or Lucas, let alone the Imagineers of Disney, but here goes, my own take of the world class phenom that is this film.

First: really enjoyed it. Looked great. Felt great. Man, I love the new characters.

Second: read 75 thoughts, because this is neatly much of my experience in watching the movie. SPOILERS, seriously.

Third: While this is a good film, with class actors, and a great future for the franchise… I hope some of the things I expected from Star Wars find their way into the next two films (let alone the next 12 years or so of the franchise.) With a running time of over two hours, there were plenty of important things left out. More on that later.

In context, you may have already read folks slotting this film into the appreciation of  SW films that have come before, (y’know, better than 1, 2, and 3, not as good as 4, 5, or 6. That kind of thing,) but I’m going to make the case that we’ve seen an adroit storyteller’s illusion in 7, setting us up for the whole future of the franchise, not really a film that was intended to give us a great stand alone story.

Movies and stories have changed a lot since the 70’s in no small part because of Star Wars.

Just think about the Lord of the Rings movies. No one much even thinks of them separately, as they know the story being told is too big for one movie. That’s what we just saw with this film. SW:TFA is not a story we can evaluate yet, as it just put the pieces on the board and a passel of questions to be answered. The next two films are intrinsic in really evaluating this film.

So if you accept that unusual premise, the rest hopefully follows. OK?

So my review in short is: good film, clunky plot. Great performances. I found Rey to be a riveting character, and the actress (Daisy Ridley) totally hooked me in every scene I can think of.

All that said, there are enough weaknesses in the film that jumped out at me in the showing that I don’t even want to entertain how long it will be picked apart before SW8 comes around. So I won’t really. I’ll just point out that the transitions between plot points were more awkward than they had to be and the film’s end doesn’t even qualify as an end. (As I pointed out above, it is a cliffhanger pointing to the next film.)

So why did we get a cliffhanger? And is it the right move?

Well, yes, I think it is. Not so much because the films up to now are structured that way but because audiences can handle cliffhangers like this due to other media exposures and more importantly, Disney decided to make the franchise films on a schedule that everyone thought was amazingly fast.

Point of fact, Abrams has now admitted that several plot outlines for this movie were discarded leading up to ‘go time’ and that the script they were going to film was discarded because the author did not have time to finish it. Last minute, literally, Abrams started from ‘scratch’ with Kasdan to script the film we saw.

So, polished story? Not so much. Which leads again to the idea of telling a bigger story across three films. This is something that Lucas could never have pulled off before SW came out.

What about turning the ‘no time’ problem into an opportunity?

My working premise right now is that they sat down at one point (Disney may have insisted on a Opportunity Assessment Session) and looked at all the places that George got himself into trouble with the Star Wars fans/franchise. Then they looked at the aggressive time schedule of shooting the films. And then they said, “Where the prequels introduced more details that contradicted the first three movies, we should be introducing more mystery so that we have time to really figure out how the next trilogy ends.”

If you look at SW:TFA as a movie that almost did not have a story ready, it is clear to me that they needed to give themselves ‘story slack’, and mysteries to solve in the next two unwritten scripts, and that they knew they would be smarter to give themselves holes to work with. I think they have ideas, but actually bet they chopped things out of this movie, to make things more ambiguous. Some of that could be cutting room floor and pacing, but I think much of it (omg, LUKE does not even have a line of dialog), is giving themselves another year to get a smarter sharper story line.

Not only that, but think about how many mysteries are in SW4. Even with exposition, there is a tremendous amount of story detail breezed past to spend time with characters. We don’t know about the Clone Wars, we don’t understand the Jedi, we don’t get a feeling for the Dark Side, we don’t know that Ben is only present to make sure Luke isn’t killed off, and etc.

This is the thing SW:TFA gets right for me: they spend time letting you love and discover these new characters. They don’t explain what the holes are there for.

They don’t know exactly what the holes mean yet. But unlike Lucas in the 70s, this is the opportunity to reveal a better story, a bigger story, that can take the franchise to a new level of cool.

Here’s some food for thought, because I’m a big fan of Ahsoka Tano. Wouldn’t you like to see the earliest parts of the timeline show up in the next future bits of story? Would it not be very cool if Qui-Gon Jinn was right? That Anakin was going to be essential in balancing the Force? Perhaps because his apprentice was going to be essential?

Would you not pay good money to see the Jedi get their shit together in the next two franchise movies? The Jedi Council failures of the past are obvious at this point. And SW: Return of the Jedi does not address those failures.

What if Luke’s journey off to find a better Jedi path crossed with Ahsoka’s own journey to find a better path? She teaches Luke some things and the next movies reveal a new path for the Jedi.

Hey, you read it here first.

 

all of your ‘game sparks’ belong to us

So for my own brainstorm, I’m collecting all unrealized Game Sparks from the 15 years of this blog to see if I’m going to run a new game in slots at Ambercon US. For many of these ideas, they became ACUS games, so they will not appear on this list.

Please consult your Doctor before using Game Sparks.

 

Asskickers of the Fantastic

Once you were a mortal. Not anymore. Not since you died. The world however is becoming overrun with Fantastic Abberations like the one that killed you. Isis doesn’t like the direction things are taking. She’s pulled strings. Now you’re back in the land of the living, your one geas: kick ass! Your only comrades: Asskickers of the Fantastic!

 

the League of Extraordinary GentleMonsters

The darkness in the world was almost gone.

A few noble souls around the globe toiled for decades and succeeded in cutting low the masterminds of evil. Now a new generation inherits a better world…. until an improbable series of events starts a war that engulfs all of civilization. France and Germany are the center of the battlefield. Most of the world is taking sides. Weapons of this new war are taking lives at unimagined levels—What single event triggered it? Brought the darkness roaring up out of the trenches of the Bloody World War? Now France is a wasteland with a few scattered souls hiding from the dark. Germany is largely uninhabited except by the undead. Holmes is an old man now, but he knows many things. From his wheelchair, he telegrams to distant corners of the globe for those few Gentle Monsters that were never trusted enough to join the side of Good.

He has sent for you.

 

The Dire Tower

Up they go. It is a climb after a night’s search, but they are close to goal and quick up the height of the tower. Above now, they see beyond the railings not just the castle laid out below, but an overlay of colored mist that soon shows them a figure in battle. The mist rolls rapidly and the scene moves in slippery jumps until the figure dies, bravely tossing off a curse to his enemies.

This mist changes into a different figure, another man. In a narrow lane of a dark city, he fights like a dervish and dies speaking a vigorous curse upon his foes.

Again, the mist becomes a woman on an orange horse surrounded by a hundred foes. She cuts into them like wheat, but is dragged down in slippery moments, her mouth silently screaming their doom.

Again.
Again.
Again.

As our cousins realize they are seeing the complete roster of the Blood of Oberon gone down into death. Men and women not even remembered now.

Time to leave, perhaps.

 

Pawn to Queen’s One

What do you get the fellow who has everything? Who takes the throne of Chaos by surviving assassinations? Who wears a spikard and keeps another one nearby in a vault?

The Chaos Elders get King Merlin a bride.

Merlin makes it through his ‘gauntlet’ fifty-years as Heir and becomes King of Chaos. Now he has to guide some poor gal through the same process. He needs a queen.

The PCs are the best candidates from every House of Chaos. The assassins are primed. The fifty-year period of courting has begun.

Ready.
Set.
Go.

 

The Lessima Protocols

Forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by House leaders are called House Protocols. This also means the code of correct conduct—including the secret methods by which Chaosi Houses handle their internal justice, resources, and ecology.

There is nothing more sacred than the House Protocol. It is the accumulated secrets of success for a House. It is worth your life and/or career to leak protocol secrets to another House. An anonymous offer has reached a few Chaosi Houses of a complete set of House Protocols that are available for barter.

Unthinkable.

And the exchange desired is even more unthinkable. The Protocols are for the vanished House Lessima. And the asking barter is one of the two known spikards held by the Houses of Chaos.

PCs are Chaosi who are asked to find and recover the Lessima Protocols before someone takes the awful step of trying to steal a spikard from Thelbane. If any of your team are caught or killed, your House will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

May the Serpent watch over your soul.

 

Ambassador ExtraOrdinary

The other PCs notice the Ambassador-Extraordinary to the Fae Court is much distracted of late. Sometimes the A-E seems to be in a fog, or tired, or generally not themselves. Food is being ignored—always a bad sign with amberite appetites.

Perhaps the A-E is looking a bit pale.

The Khan of the Zhan Zi is known as Shi-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. Shi has taken a shine to the A-E and there are long ‘diplomatic’ sessions in the Black Palace of the Zhan Zi through the prolonged nights there.

Direct questions to the A-E often only garner an enigmatic smile. A very good friend of the PC may find in confidence that there is an affair in progress between Shi and the PC.

Any actions here need to move carefully. The Fae are very different than Amber and have strange magics. One certainly cannot forget that some of the Fae are worshipped by the warrior culture of Ghenesh. The King would not be pleased to be confronted with diplomatic fury as a result from actions of the PCs.

Is some sort of tax being charged of your Cousin? Does the A-E know about it or is she/he fogged by glamour?

 

A Farewell to Spikards

And how do you verify that weapons put down are really gone? When does a forbidden tactic become viable again? Who watches the watchmen? When the consequences are so far in the past that the present needs to re-learn the lesson, those weapons come back.

IMC, the spikards are forgotten and forbidden. There are very good reasons for not opening the vault and bringing them back into use.

But they are used. In canon.

Would Chaos continue to restrain itself if Corwin and Merlin and Rinaldo use spikards routinely? Would Darrheabarr? Would Glantri?

Is there no way to put the terror of spikard misuse to bed once and for all?

The Lords of the Living Void invite the PCs to go on a surreal journey to un-make the spikards and remove this threat against the future of civilization once and for all.

Volunteers take one step forward.

 

Chaosi Pilgrimage

Six Chaosi arrive in Amber. They are secret cabalists who (despite Swayville’s outlawing the cult celebration of amberites centuries ago) have made their way, at great cost, to Amber. Now they have a chance to see the Worthies and perhaps take home some exalted experiences.

 

the Demmed Few!
Restrictions: PC’s must be from Chaos built for 70 pts. Characters submitted to GM prior to convention can be built for 100 pts. No Logrus, no Pattern. Note special costs for powers at web site.

Before your eyes your Chaos Elders incandesced in Logrus-spun fires as the Wavefront passed. Now younger cousins gather your remaining troops and beasts. The Black Road remains yet, but sorcery fails and your flyers have fallen sickened from the horrid blue skies above. Trump does not work. All your Chaser and Guardian demons are black bones but a few Chine survive. Scouting suggests you outnumber the remaining enemy eleven to one. Your allied House commanders confirm none of their Logrus wielders survived the Wavefront. What foul weapons have the Amber madmen loosed? Can you rally before they strike so again?

It falls to you! For your fallen blood! For your House! For Fidelis!

Gerard and his skirmish forces are all that remain between the ragged strength of Chaos and the castle on Kolvir. Your honor demands the enemy shall surrender or perish. What are your orders? Will inexperienced allied officers support you? Can you convince Amber to surrender? The Black Road War shall be won or lost by the Demmed Few.

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