Report on "Princesses in Rebma" at ACNW2005

         This was a game which I set up as an experiment where I was going to stick fairly closely to the Amber Diceless system -- following a Forge tendency to try to play games by the book. I had originally named it as a feminine counterpart to Zelazny's "Nine Princes in Amber" -- maneuvering within the magical underwater city of Rebma which was ruled by a matriarchy. I had all the players contact me by email before the game and make their characters by the original point system, but I didn't conduct an attribute auction.

         The game was set many years prior to the first Amber books by Zelazny, centered around an incident which would become somewhat important for events in the first novel. The characters I had were:

         The only one which I initially had a few misgivings about was Vialle, particularly over her blindness but also her lack of connections and her established personality in the Amber books as relatively passive. Lorna and Random would insert themselves fine, I thought. I started off the plot to strongly drawn in Alleya. My early thoughts were somewhat changed when I realized that her player Katie was a teenager, but that really just reinforced that I wanted to draw her into the game and make her character central to the plot rather than having her sit out. In retrospect I should have done similarly to draw in Vialle more as well.

         A brief summary of the plot: I started strongly by having a series of people (Princess Morganth and an ambassador) ask Alleya pointedly about her rock collection. Katie had put in a rock collection in Alleya's background, and jumping off from this I made the MacGuffin for my plot a Primal Stone -- which had been part of the accident which blinded Vialle and gave her secret Trump ability. This immediately set the tone for paranoid questioning and intrigue. Soon Lorna and the Queen would defend Alleya from competing forces which wanted the stone, Vialle keeping track of all this but not acting. Eventually it resolved that two Amberite princes, Bleys and Brand, wanted the stone -- who faced with the Queen moved to negotiating and making Alleya offers for the Stone. Random had involved himself in this for a while, but in the end backed out and eloped with Morganthe. Alleya didn't want to embroil her kingdom Rebma with the princes' enmity, but didn't want to give the stone away -- so she ran off into Shadow with it on her own and we left it there.

         The action was further tinged by foreknowledge. Brand and Bleys were the competing brothers who wanted the stone, and it became clear to the players (though not the characters) the stone would be a piece of how Brand eventually makes himself a living trump and nearly destroys the universe.

         For all this, I had the MacGuffin and the characters prepared -- but little plan for how it would proceed. I had a page listing out the characters, and in my notebook jotted down Amber stats for the major ones. The diagram I had was:

The sections marked "Kashfa" and "Begma" were competing delegations, of whom the Kashfan side was secretly in league with Brand. Lak and Marha were minor characters in the palace who never came into the action.

         Overall, I think this went very well. Play went smoothly, everyone was interested and drawn in by the involving plot, and they all had a good time. Once or twice, I may have been a bit pushy toward Lee, encouraging Random to be more of a jerk. And Vialle was not as involved as I would have liked, but Karen said at the beginning that she had to leave early which may have influenced me. Despite misgivings at some previous games, I convinced myself that under the right conditions, Amber Diceless works fine as a system.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Mon Sep 25 16:58:23 2006