Once again the wife and I travelled out to beautiful and scenic Livonia, Michigan, for the 23rd annual AmberCon. For those not familiar, this is a small four-day convention dedicated primarily to playing Amber Diceless and (mostly) similar games. No dealer room, no panels. Just four days of roleplaying in scheduled slots of games. It’s held at Embassy Suites Livonia. There have been other Ambercons spawned over the years, and I am most fond of AmberCon Northwest, but this is the convention originally started by Amber Diceless creator Erick Wujcik.
Here are revised versions of my game write-ups, with one more added in. I had a Betancourt game I was going to run, but bagged it last minute. I just couldn’t bring myself to run it.
I need to get game submissions for AmberCon US turned in pretty damn quick, so I figured I’d post them here for people to review and offer feedback.
Title: Rebma Confidential: Undercurrent
Description: It rose up from the oceanic trench, a dark holdover from primordial times: Long needle like teeth, large eyes the size of saucers, an appendage tipped with a bioluminescent nodule dangled in front of its face. Smaller fish trailed in its wake. It didn’t belong in water this shallow, but it also didn’t care.
“Steve,” it growled, its voice tinny underwater.
“F’Kilk,” I said, using only its name as a greeting. “Long time no see.”
“Not long enough. I got your message. I’m here. Start talking before I get hungry.”
“I heard you found one of Caine’s ships at the bottom of one of your trenches, from when Corwin attacked.”
“I might, I might not. What’s it to you?”
“My patron thinks Caine may have left something valuable behind, and is willing to pay handsomely for its retrieval.”
“Keep talking, monkey. You’ve got me curious.”
Setting: Rebma, between the Corwin and Merlin series.
Type: Traditional Amber
Character Instructions: Rebma is a hard realm where death comes easy, especially in the poor parts of town. All types can be found living in the rough parts of the city: criminals, Amber nobles looking for a piece of strange, political refugees, migrant demons from the Courts of Chaos and squamous entities from the pelagic depths. They live and die in perpetual water and darkness, struggling to find their way in a harsh land of predators and prey. This game is a gritty, street level game set in the poor parts of Rebma where the players will get caught up in intrigue, vice and murder. My hope is to have this be a character-driven mystery game. It will use a simple character creation system to build characters. Characters created before the Con will have more perks than those created at the Con. Because I build the game around the characters, your ability to enjoy this game will be severely impacted by not providing a character in advance. Players must have e-mail access.
Title: Land of Ten-Thousand Dragons
Description: For seven hundred years, the Scarlet Empress has ruled over the Blessed Isle. She has kept the forces of darkness at bay, and established over a dozen Great Houses populated by her descendants. But the Scarlet Empress has been missing five years, just as the evils of the past return to Creation. Will her scions keep Creation from descending into chaos and darkness.
Setting: The Blessed Isle of Creation, as described in the Exalted roleplaying game.
Character Instructions: Characters will be Dragon-Blooded members of the Scarlet Empire, representing the different factions. There will be a mystery that the characters will be drawn into that will need to be solved. Characters will be built on a diceless system based off of Amber Diceless but not using the same attributes and powers.
Title: Worlds’ End
Description: You were travelling. You remember that. A storm came up out of nowhere and you were soon lost. As the world fell apart around you, you saw a light ahead and found a rustic inn that provided shelter. But the denizens of the inn, who filled the inn to the rafters, were nothing you found in your own world. Fairies, spacemen, talking dogs, demons, centaurs, sentient colors. To pass the time, each takes turn telling a story.
Setting: The inn called “Worlds’ End” during the reality storm of Patternfall War.
Genre: Other; N/A
Type: Amber with a Twist
Character Instructions: Drawing heavy inspiration from the “Worlds’ End” story from Sandman, player characters will be stranded travelers staying at the Inn and waiting for the storm to stop. The game will use the indie game In a Wicked Age, with each story representing a story told by a player character. That player character will get to sway the structure of the story through his character’s point-of-view, and may also play his character in the story. All stories must be a story that involves some sort of interaction with Amber and/or Chaos. Add the end of the game, Oberon’s funeral procession will pass by and the storm will end.
Against my better judgment, I’ve joined an ongoing Amber campaign. I don’t have time for another game, and yet here I signed on for one. It’s been a while since I’d played Amber, and the player list was a who’s-who of “awesome local gamers I haven’t played with in a while.”
I’ve recycled an old character concept, though his stats are markedly different. I’m really not one of those people who feel that stats and character concept have to go so closely in hand. Other people disagree.
So far the game has been fine. The fascinating social commentary is seeing the sorts of characters some people choose. Even though they are trying new things, they still feel intrinsically the same as their usual characters.
In other gaming news, we haven’t played much D&D lately. Due to schedule conflicts and, most recently, the GM having the plague, we haven’t played in several weeks. I’d be very sad if the game ended, but the future still looks rocky.
As for the games I’m running, they’ve been chugging along.
Shadowrun has been good, though there have been some plot reveals earlier than anticipated. I kicked things off at a big level and it’s hard to steer it away from there. It’s a common problem for me.
In the Scion game everyone’s upgraded to Demigods, and I’m having trouble providing challenges now. Bizarrely, the rules are no help at all. Some of the players have shot straight to the highest Legend they can have as Demigods, and have powers and Epic Attributes to match. Since this is beer and pretzels, the sessions are pretty combat heavy. There seems to be nothing in the book that could kill them. There are some gods that would reach a stalemate, but nothing I’ve found can outright put them at risk for their lives.
This all assumes, of course, that I don’t drop the big guns of Avatar/Ultimate Attribute. The scope of what they can do is nebulously defined and would probably result in a TPK.
Last session I re-skinned Susano-o for another god, and discovered that the great warrior Susano-o had only a handful of dots in Epic Dexterity, so there was no chance in hell that he could hit any of the PCs. Not even the non-combat oriented ones. For those familiar with the system: The non-combatants have Dodge DVs of 30+. The combat monkeys have Dodge DVs of 50-60+.
The other challenge I find is that there can be vast disparities in power level between PCs in combat. If I make a threat that can get past the 60 dodge DV, that means that any weaker PC that gets in his way will have 30 net successes rain down on his head. Unless they have a monster soak to match that, that kills them right off the bat. Which is a similar problem that we faced in Exalted.
I have a huge post brewing about Exalted. I’ll have to come back to that when I’m not hip deep in NaNo.
I’ll give DemiGod a few more sessions before I throw up my hands in despair, running something else instead. But holy crap, this is discouraging. How can they not design a game with the anticipation of having someone focus on combat ability?
A few things I’ve had on my notes to write about, figured I’d jot down some thoughts.
A couple days ago I picked up Running Wild, the critter sourcebook for Shadowrun 4e. It’s a pretty cool looking book with some fun concepts. Overall, though, I’m left with the feeling that this would have been even cooler to have this book come out four or five years ago when the game was still relatively new and I was still playing it.
This is becoming a recurring pet peeve for me. I had a similar, and perhaps stronger, frustration when the Runners Companion and Unwired came out. They both represented core books that really would have been nice to have when they released all the other core books.
I wrapped up the Dragon Blooded game. I had very mixed feelings about it. This isn’t to say I was unhappy with it. It’s still one of my favorite games I’ve ever run. But it did highlight some stuff for me. Continue reading
This isn’t so much a game I want to run as an idea I’ve been mulling around. Not sure if I’d want to run a game in such a setting, but I like the potential it has. So think of this more as a creative exercise. If I have enough ideas, I may even start up a Wiki for it.
I really like “prequel” settings for popular game settings. I loved the Earthdawn setting. Hated the rules, but loved the setting. Loved the connections between Earthdawn and Shadowrun. I’ve similarly loved the connections between the Exalted and the old World of Darkness.
The general idea for what I’ve been noodling about is, “What if there was an Exalted-type setting connected to the new World of Darkness?”