Another Easter as come and gone, and with it another iteration of Norwescon. Norwescon is the largest convention of its type in the Pacific Northwest.
Once again, we ventured south for four days of spa, drinking and roleplaying games. For those unfamiliar with the convention, it is one of a few conventions that had started out dedicated to playing Amber Diceless roleplaying. That’s still the core of it, though there have been more indy games making their way into the weekend.
There’s no dealer room, usually no panels. Just gaming from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon with breaks for sleep. It’s less of a convention and more a sprawling family of people that have been gaming together for years. This year was a peak year of over 130 people. We almost entirely overran the McMenamin’s Edgefield, which has been the home of the convention for all of its 15 years.
There are seven slots of games, here’s how mine went.
Over Easter weekend the SeaTac Doubletree enjoyed the presence of the 35th annual Norwescon, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the area. Due to a number of factors, I was only able to attend one day. Due to continued recovery from my ACUS con crud, I almost didn’t brave the drive down south and the need to be social for several hours. But I made the trek anyway and was glad that I had. I got to see some friends I don’t often see, plus sit in on some excellent panels. So here are some highlights.
This weekend represented the first convention I attended in which I got to appear as a panelist. RustyCon is one of the smaller conventions in the Seattle area that caters to the general fan community. The impression I got is that they consider themselves a bit more of a family friendly convention compared to Norwescon. According to their site they have membership of about 500-600. It didn’t seem that crowded to me, but then there were parts of the convention we just never went to.
For those of you who I’ve only recently met, let me first explain a little about AmberCon Northwest. ACNW is a yearly game convention based mostly around Erick Wujcik’s Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. Which in turn is based on Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series. Over the years, the strict adherence to only playing Amber Diceless has slackened. There continue to be Amber games, but there are also lots of other off beat games that now get run there. There are several of these cons each year. I’ve only been to two of them, and this is my favorite of them.
The convention is run at the McMenamin’s Edgefield, a beautiful resort just east of Portland, OR. Not only does the Edgefield have an on-site brewery, distillery and winery, but it also has a spa and salt-water soaking pool. The convention has no dealer room and almost never has panels. Instead from Thursday through Sunday the weekend is all about gaming.
The community of 120 some odd people is very open and welcoming. New people often speak of how friendly and helpful people are, and many of the people I’ve gotten to know over the last twelve years feel like family.
I’ve really loved running the Shadowrun campaign I’ve been doing. I’ve had a stellar group of roleplayers who have really made the game come alive. I’ve also learned a whole lot.
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.
This last weekend I attended the fourth annual “Go Play Northwest.” Despite regular reminders, this still managed to be off my radar. I think I just had so much else going on that this was shoved to the back of my mind for “later.” As such, I didn’t get involved in any of the pre-convention organizing or even get ready to run a game. I’d had some ideas for games to run, but didn’t get my act together to actually prepare for it. The best I managed was a half-assed attempt to re-read Polaris in hopes of finally getting to play it. (I barely got through the setting info, so it didn’t happen.)
But, I did attend and play. Overall had fun. Here are my general comments about the convention and the games I played.