AmberCon NorthWest 2010

         This was my sixth straight year going to AmberCon NorthWest (ACNW), my favorite convention. This year there was again an increase in number of people - including a number of newcomers. I went for the full time, but had to leave on Sunday because I had to teach Monday morning. I noticed many new faces this year, which bodes well for the future of this excellent convention. My full list of events were:

Slot #1: "The Last of Corwin"

GM Amy Edwards
Thursday, November 4, 2010 - 7pm to midnight

         This was a larp game based on the excellent 1973 murder mystery, "The Last of Sheila." It was set prior to the first Amber series, a year after Corwin's disappearance. Deirdre invites a set of her siblings over to her estate for a party - including the promise of diverting games. However, there turns out to be more behind the diversions than it seems.

         The players were Guy, Don, Jen, Anne, Tyler, and myself. It played out as several scavenger hunts where the players spread out over the McMenamins hotel, in between which we gathered and discussed back at our room. I had a lot of fun playing the over-the-top young Brand - inspired mostly by Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory TV series. He had very limited social skills and would openly talk about how he was so much smarter than everyone else, along with occasional quips about how he would fix the universe.

Slot #2: "And Then..."

GM Jennifer Decker
Friday, November 5, 2010 - 9am to 1pm

         This was a short game of straight Amber Diceless in an unusual setting. The four players were Colin, Roberta, Andi, and myself. We all were non-canonical Amberites who had awoken in Castle Amber unable to clearly remember the night before.

         We were pretty low-powered (50 points), and I created my character on the fly as (Psy 16/Str 14/End 4/War 6, Power Words). The game had a good set-up and an intriguing explanation for what happened, but even at 3 hours the plot was a little short - since there wasn't much for us to do after we figured out what was going on.

Slot #3: "NINF - And Then There Were Two"

GM Sara Mueller
Friday, November 5, 2010 - 2pm to 6:30pm

         A number of ACNW games are continuing series, but I mostly haven't taken part in them in favor of more variety of games. This is the pleasant exception. I had created my character Jubal for the event two years ago, "NINF: Where There's Smoke". NINF stands for "Neither interested nor fit" - from a quote from Zelazny's Sign of the Unicorn, where the protagonist Corwin answered the question "So you are not counting the ladies in the succession?" with "No. They are neither interested nor fit. If I were, though, Fiona would precede Bleys and Llewella would follow him." The setting is in a future of Amber where Flora, Fiona, and Llewella are the leaders of Amber, Chaos, and all of Shadow.

         This gamed started with everyone getting trump calls from Llewella's secretary Clytemnestra, who had gone into a strange emergency mode in Llewella's office. Llewella was unconscious on the floor of her office after having been going through a bunch of the Speakers' trumps. Shortly thereafter, Jubal got a call from Julian that his mother and queen Florimel has been killed, and he pulled in Angelina to help.


         In summary, the plot this time was a big deal as someone made assassination attempts on both Fiona and Flora. Llewella collapsed - as it turned out because Fiona and Flora had jumped into her mind from a psychic link, and were in her head struggling for power. When it ended, we had no firm conclusion - though I was suspicious that Fiona had been responsible for her own assassination, to get out of her sickening condition from Logrus taint and take over Llewella's body.

Slot #4: "10pm on a Wednesday"

GM Ogre Whiteside
Friday, November 5, 2010 - 8pm to midnight

         This was a Dresden Files game that was unfortunately cancelled due to lack of players - I was the only one, although Julian got there about two hours late due to delays.

Slot #5: "Hellcats & Hockeysticks"

GM John Kim
Saturday, November 6, 2010 - 9am to 4:30pm

         This was a fun run of the Hellcats & Hockeysticks system. My players were:

         Randal was the token guy among the mostly female players - including the first time I'd had a teenage girl in the group, which may have improved the "authenticity" of the experience. In retrospect, this run was a bit less over-the-top than other runs I've done with it. That is, there was less raising of the dead, and more of flirting with policemen. Key quote:
GM: A bunch of police cars are pulling up, and officers getting out.
Player: Are any of them cute?!?

         It seemed to me that the players had terrible luck on their die rolls, with a lot less 6s, 7s, and 8s than other runs. This naturally added to the mayhem, but this gang were more often on the run.

Slot #6: "Remember Tomorrow"

Organizer Michael Hewner
Saturday, November 6, 2010 - 7pm to midnight

         This was a straight run of the GMless cyberpunk game, Remember Tomorrow, by Gregor Hutton. We had some character creation by email in advance, but Ian's character was made up on the spot, and we had some tweaking.

         In retrospect, I think the run was fine. The game system didn't do a lot for me, but was interesting. I think the run could have been helped by coordinating the design of the characters more to fit together well.

Slot #7: "A Hero's Welcome"

GM John Kim
Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 10am to 4:30pm

         This was a larp that I had run previously at Pacificon (see my report). This run was even more energetic and fun. All the players were adults, and got along well enough the action rather ran itself for long periods. One player (Jules) did not get along well, and dropped out around halfway through.

         Like others of this over-the-top games that I've run, there was a lot of wacky fun. When I say the game ran itself, I literally left for over a half hour to pick up our dinner orders, and the players continued in my absence. Although it was partly a player issue, I am trying to think of ways to make the Doc Payton character more fun.


         AmberCon NorthWest continues to go strong, and remains my favorite of the West Coast conventions I attend.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Thu Nov 10 21:21:23 2011