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Ambercon 2008 in Review - Nuadha Prime
March 17th, 2008
11:30 pm

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Ambercon 2008 in Review
I had another great year at the con. I played in three great games and ran two great games and two OK games. Best of all, I got to see lots of fantastic people I only get to see a few times a year. Details on the games below the cut.


Before I start the description of the games, a quick definition of Sparklypoo as cochese and I use it in terms of gaming. Sparklypoo is gamemastering and playing in a way that gives a player a chance to play the character they really want to play and getting the scenes that make it more of what the player wants. In the "Sparklypoo theory" all player characters are really just a hint of the type of game the player wants and a Sparklypoo GM works to give the game the player wants instead of trying to make the submitted characters fit in the game that they designed. I am told that I am a very Sparklypoo GM and the even that brought on that observation originally was when the the game where the player was playing Bruce Campbell's Ash character (from Evil Dead) and after all sorts of Evil Dead-like craziness was able to solve the plot by getting the main villainous to fight another girl over him.

Slot One: The Tomorrow League by cochese- I played The Shadow in this League of Extraordinary Gentleman inspired World War II game. Along with several other heroes, including Logan (aka Wolverine), a returned-from-the-grave Harry Houdini, and the guy who was an inspiration for James Bond, The Shadow was called to the office of Doc Savage. The Man of Bronze was assembling a team of heroes to stop a Nazi plot that included Captain Nazi, Baroness Von Gunther, and John Carter of Mars.

I've said it before and told him this weekend that Cochese does some of the best NPC voices of all the GMs I have played with. He gives them such fun and memorable personalities. This time was no exception, particularly with his version of Captain Nazi. He crafted a good tale with plenty of pulpy-action, including an exploding escape rocket at the end. (One of my favorite moments in the game: Logan jumping on the escape rocket and using his cigar to ignite the fuel tank.)

I had a ton of fun hamming it up as the Shadow, laughing menacingly whenever I left a room and generally just being a creepy but effective crime-fighter.

Best Sparklypoo moment: Hypnotizing Captain Nazi in to believing that two of the other PCs were his commanding officers.

Special Kudos: To Jen Z. for playing a cameo by Margot Lane....making the game even more Sparklypoo for me.

Slot Two: Rise of the Third Rose: A Tale of Three Kingdoms - Final Heresy by David V.- This game was set in a world of Vampires and Shapeshifters that the GM had based loosely on Underworld and the World of Darkness. I am a big fan of modern fantasy settings, but neither Underworld or World of Darkness was quite what I wanted in a modern fantasy setting. So, I was a little nervous that I could end up really hating the game. The game actually turned in to a fun little romp. I played Don Alejandro Arroyo Ramirez, an centuries old vampire who used to be quite the scrapper but had settled in to being a vampire of leisure, who spent his nice "romancing" his potential victims. I ended up enjoying myself quite a bit. The GM plans this as a series and I would consider playing again.


Special Kudos: To Simone for playing a character so innocent that Alejandro felt dirty trying to seduce her.


Slot Three: Brave New Gotham by me- When I ran this at Ambercon Northwest the game ran amazingly well. Not so much this time. I partially blame myself for not coming up with a faster way to get the characters together and the plot moving since I had two less hours to run the game in this time. I also felt the players weren't as involved this time with many players half awake through much of the game. Still, it ran OK and still had some really fun moments.

Special Kudos: To John S. for playing Dr. Sivana with as much zeal and gusto as he plays Dr. Doom.

Slot Four: Murder and Mystery in the Dreaming City by me- I will probably write up a more detailed summary of the two DC games later and post them on the Dreaming City LJ group I started a while back and then have had sit abandoned. The game was a blast. The players were all fantastic. (The Dreaming City games are always blessed with great players.) Two new players added some fun twists to the game world with a mystical taxi and holistic detecting.

Special Kudos: To Jeremy for bringing a whole new level of bizarre to Murias.

Slot Five: Mercy and Forgiveness by Michael K. - This is the only campaign at Ambercon I have ever joined and I decided to return this year after several years away because he told me he was ending the campaign. I was disappointed to see that he was only setting it up for the next chapter of the campaign, but still was glad to get a chance to play Anoki.

Special Kudos: To the triplets for a pretty original character idea.

Slot Six: Brave New Oa by me - Wow, did this game get de-railed. When one of the characters hitched a ride with Animal Man to the world of the creators and managed to snatch the GM. With the NPC Gamemaster James in the comic book world, the nature of the game changed a bit. I didn't realize how much it could when I allowed him to do it, but it also managed to make some of the more entertaining parts of the game. The game may not have went smoothly but at least it had entertaining moments. I had meant it to be an almost-parody of the big Crisis crossovers DC has been doing for years (Zero Hour, Inifnite Crisis, etc.) and sort of succeeded but it did make the game extremely convuluted....just like the comics.

Special Kudos: to Matthew, for not running screaming when it the game started looking more like "Climax on Infinite Earths."

Slot Seven: Mazes and Monsters in the Dreaming City by me- This turned out to be my favorite slot of the con. With Three and a half players, I had a lot more time to let the game explore more personal stories for the players. (The half player was actually in the game next door but stopped in for a scene to play his character.) We still managed to touch a bit on the original plot of the game, but mostly I just went with the players direction which led to all sorts of teen romance angst.

Special Kudos: to Patrick F. for playing so well the clueless teenage guy who gets all the signals wrong. The interactions between his character and Kat's on their non-date were the most entertaining thing I saw all weekend.

Slot Eight: Off- I sadly had to take this slot off because I had to work that night.

Special Kudos: to me for being responsible and not calling in sick so I could play in a game instead.

General Thoughts: I run games better for groups of 4-6 players. At eight I tend to struggle.

I think I need a break from the Brave New Games. Next year, I think I will run two Dreaming City games and then some other game concepts that have been sitting in the back corners of my mind.

I want to run a local Dreaming City one-shot in the next month or two. "Graduation Day in the Dreaming City." I set up in the game over the weekend that Tristan and his classmates (Buck, Chase, Scribble and Terra) are ending their senior year soon. I think that is the perfect set-up for a game scenario. I can't imagine their graduation day going smoother than Buffy's.

After running an Amber campaign locally for a while, I am more inclined to run Amber games at the con again. I am finding I am starting to find my own style of Amber. Of course, I have so many good non-Amber game ideas that this still may not happen.

My simple D&D-like system that I came up for to use in the "game-whithin-a-game" in Dreaming City may actually work as a full-blown game. I may want to explore the idea of fleshing it out.

After a great weekend, I am even more sad that I will not be able to attend Ambercon NW this year. Despite a great time at this con, I have an even greater time at Northwest when I attend.

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From:aular
Date:March 18th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
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:) M&M was my favorite game, too. And thanks -- I thought it was fun to mis-read Gwen's questions and whatnot.

I'd be willing to help on the Dreaming City game angle. Website, graphics, character sheets -- just holler. I really enjoy the system and the world.

One thing I think the Finesse stat needs is NPC schmoozing. I know clever roleplay is better, but at some points when it's an NPC, having a single stat that sort of says "Yea, the character acts very suave and the NPC falls for it..." makes sense to me. That and Finesse seems a bit under used. :)

Just let me know!
From:tlatoani
Date:March 18th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I wish you guys could find another term for that concept. I like the concept, but that word just sets my teeth on edge.
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From:cochese
Date:March 19th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
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I'd give you crap, but I have a similar reaction to terms like "actor stance," so I have no place to judge.

RF and Sol came up with a few alternative terms, but I can't remember what they were.
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From:egwenna
Date:March 18th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
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T'was very nice to meet Anoki! The triplets were somewhat subdued this year, but he made for good balance and I love the concept and his loyalty to his people.
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From:cochese
Date:March 19th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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5-6 is a pretty reasonable limit. I went up to 8 for Dark and Golden Ages because it seemed like a good symbolic number for the cosmology I envisioned, but ultimately regretted it.

There are few GMs that can really handle 8, though there are plenty who think they can and actually can't.
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From:cochese
Date:March 20th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
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I should also add that I'm always amused when people praise my NPCs. I think I do an AWFUL job with NPCs and even when they are portrayed well, the PCs usually hate them. I've gotten better, but I've never considered it my strong suit. So I can never quite get my brain around people loving my NPCs.
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