AmberCon NorthWest 2011

         This was my seventh straight year going to AmberCon NorthWest (ACNW), my favorite American convention. This year there was again an increase in number of people - including a number of newcomers. The attendance was around 130 this year - about the same as last year, but definitely up from previous years. My full list of events were:

Slot #1: O2STK: The Hellacious Hallowe'en Hallucination

GM Emma Sansone
Thursday, November 4, 2011 - 7pm to midnight

         This was a continuing game that I had newly joined, based on the short-lived television series "The Middleman." Like the show, the game was kid-friendly, and we had two kids in it (Colin and James).

         The characters were a big part of this. My character schtick was that Noel was a former Army Ranger, former elementary school teacher, and former ostrich herder. The theme from all these was in principle that he had eyes on the back of his head and a nose for trouble. In practice, this was tricky because in an Amber Diceless game, it is a passive power that relies on the GM providing information. He also had a giant Phillipine family - and I had suggested as a schtick that we would keep running into random members of his family. Again, it was fun - but was better on paper than in practice.

         We started with Miranda, Glen, and Noel volunteering at a local haunted house on Halloween night. Ginny at home arc-welding with Loius, while Devlin was out trick-or-treating, and Jane was doing tarot readings nearby. At the party, Noel ran into his cousin Jeremy who needed him the next morning (part of a running gag about him constantly running into members of his large Phillipine family). Soon, those characters with Middlewatches were called in by Ida about a murder at McMenamin's Edgefield. Jane followed visions she had from a tarot reading to meet up with the rest of the characters there.

         Behind a low wall just off the golf course, some Halloween partygoers had found the body of Noel's sister-in-law's cousin Phillipe. He had been ripped up by claws and died the previous night (retconned from original statement that he had died 19 days ago on the full moon). Taking the body with them, the group went to Middleman HQ. Wendy Watson (NPC character from the show) was called off for another job in the Middlejet, leaving the rest to help Ida investigates the body and other clues.

         Noel felt a sudden cold - and psychic Jane also felt a presence there that they interpret as Phillipe's ghost. Louis and Devlin messed with computers, and received messages there from the ghost:

Voice: They are coming through
They are coming through
They are opening roads, red brick, the stars, bees, the water
They are coming through

PCs: What do you want?
Voice: The clowns and the bagpipes, trumpets... foxes, dragons.
The strings are too tight. We are puppets. Help! The scary woman... Don't go on the stairs!
PCs: Where are you?
Voice: In the poor house
PCs: Is that Phillipe?
Voice: Not any more

         After some conflict with Noel over doing an unauthorized autopsy on his cousin Phillipe's body, Ida reported that Phillipe was bitten by a vampire. (Quote from Noel: "That sounds kind of like a circular bone saw extending from a robotic arm." Ginny: "No, of course not.")

         The PCs armed up with crossbows and wooden stakes along with two Ghostbusters-style proton packs, and headed back to the Edgefield. (At this point the players except Jason who has a broken foot went out to investigate the illustration on the hotel walls.) The players and characters found a creepy repeated images of a woman in the elevator; as well as other corresponding illustrations including a pictures of old people as puppets.

         Devlin splattered a few drops of blood on a picture of bagpipers, after which the images came alive, licked the blood from their hands, and began to come out of the picture. Art and Glen blasted the pictures with the proton packs, at which they screamed and stopped coming alive. The PCs also tried to cut the strings of the puppet pictures using the proton pack beams, but the figures just collapsed rather than becoming free. With each picture, Miranda would place origami animals among the paintings - that came alive as illusionary animals.

         In contact with Phillipe's ghost again, he said roughly: cut the strings... things that don't belong... she made me do this... she wants to open it... been here since the world was destroyed four years ago... Please fix the crack.

         With some research, the PCs learned that the murals were painted by an artist named Bartholemew Redfern in the 1920s. He was an unskilled immigrant from England who painted the murals as an externalization of depression and anxiety. We also learned that that in November 2007 there was a conference of psychics at the Edgefield. At that time, many fell sick and hallucinated about the sky cracking open.

         We quickly acquired a museum x-ray machine for looking at older paintings under the top coat of paint, and prepared chemicals to strip off the newer paintings. When we started to wipe off the most recent paintings, though, the images went wild and begin attacking. We were helped by a good Voodoo sorceror and two skeletons started coming with a skeleton horde to help us. Noel fought the woman in the elevator, during which she monologued that they need to go through Earth to return to their dimension.

         In the end, following Ginny's plan, we painted an architectural gateway for the other-worlders and living images to pass through our world to their own safely. Jane helped by giving a paintbrush to the skeleton/spirit of Bartholemew Redfern. Noel helped by herding the various beings along the way - bees, bagpipers, clowns, etc. (Another quote of mine as Noel: "It's about time that clowns went back to their homeworld.") The paintings were then painted closed, and destroyed - leaving the Edgefield hotel with a giant wreck, but the world safe.

         In short, a fun and slightly silly event that made a fair introduction to the convention.

Slot #2: "Hellcats & Hockeysticks: Field Trip"

GM John Kim
Friday, November 5, 2011 - 9am to 1pm

         I'd run H&H last year, making this the first time I had run a continuing game at AmberCon. I had two returning players and three new ones. This time everyone had mostly defined their characters ahead of time by email. The players and their characters (and Cliques) were:

         Mickey and Meera are marked for being the two returning players. The plots were entirely unrelated, but I think there was still some sense of continuity from returning NPCs. I've run about 8 or 9 one-shot games of H&H over the past two years, and it has always been a blast. Like last year, I asked for character information in-character by email,

Girls... Girls!!!

Your behavior is completely unacceptable. I am well aware that rumors have been flying around the school about some sort of "field trip" to an exotic location. Well, little missies - you can put those thoughts right out of your mind. There is absolutely *no* authorization for a trip of any kind. It will simply not be happening - no way, no how!

As if it's not enough to spread rumors of the trip, I also hear that the locations are just completely inappropriate. The Ministry of Intelligence building in Iran? Allied Army headquarters in Kabul? Juarez, Mexico? 10 Downing Street? These are completely ridiculous.

As for you five troublemakers at the center of this rumor mongering, I want each of you to share with all of us:

1) Who you are
2) Two locations that you started rumors of visiting

- Miss Fritton, Headmistress of St. Erisian's School for Girls

         I got responses from most of my players about this. As it turns out, while a number of their ideas got into the game - the PCs never actually left England - though I suppose they did have a field trip to the local army base and airport. I pulled from a couple background bits - notably Audry's conflict with her family, and Loretta's having been writing with pen pals at the all-girls school in Faizabad, Afghanistan.

         I started out with a cut scene (i.e. a bit of narration only for the players, not their characters) - set in the Ministry of Education when they found out that by some accident, the girls from Faizabad were slated to visit... St. Erisian's. The minister nearly has a heart attack, and then begins calling out the alarm to stop them. The girls made it through their economics class with some effort and shortly after that heard about he buses of Afghani girls arriving.

SAS troops arrive - one seduced by Darling, and some distracted by Audrey .... stop the bus and 3 taken prisoner along with driver ....

Planned plots include Seth's revenge on Audry, Giovani being used by Harry, and Seth Hired Belour to get Ms. Lagarde. Player activities including Darling writing with Giovani; May's longterm coup including magic section; Kokone's black magic using trigonometry; Audry helping forging and buying stock from Daddy's company; Loretta forged logistics, and a potion of gullibility gas.

Slot #3: "NINF - And Then There Was One"

GM Sara Mueller
Friday, November 5, 2011 - 2pm to 6:30pm

         This was a continuing game that I had played in both 2008 (cf. "NINF: Where There's Smoke") and 2010 (cf. "NINF - And Then There Were Two") and 2010. This was also the only continuing game I've played in at ACNW. 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. The players this time were:

         This began with the Speakers all assembled at their headquarters, dealing with the comatose bodies of Llewella and Flora, and the recently-awakened Fiona. Lillith, Brid, and Jubal talk to Fiona. They first ask what Pattern Curse she managed to release as she was being beheaded. She claims it was "Only one would survive" - referring to Amber vs. Chaos. She claims that from the start, it was the goal of the Triumvirate (Flora/Llewella/Fiona) that they would unify these two opposing sides. She says that only Ceyladan knew about the psychic link among the Triumvirate, and possibly Bleys could have figured it out. Shown the arrow that killed Flora, she didn't think that such a thing was possible - only Suhuy or Dworkin could have made it.

         Meanwhile, Iraku, T'Dalia, and Margaux talk to Killjoy - perhaps the oldest being in Chaos, who seems like a homeless vagrant. A black-haired girl runs off into the trash as they approach him. He tells them that the solid tip of the arrow that killed Flora came from the end of a Chaos spear. (Something about two sons came to their deaths?)

         Jubal's sister and heir to Amber Cassandra had been waiting for the time-locked safe to open with the Jewel of Judgment inside. Flora would lock it in every day to be secure, using the power of the jewel itself to keep it safe. However, when the safe opened after 24 hours, the jewel was not inside. Cassandra called her brother Jubal in a panic. They pondered over both where the jewel might be, and what this means for the mystery of who killed their mother Flora.

         Morgaux, Iraku, and Jubal then talked to Julian again about the details of when Flora was killed. He had felt through his connection to Arden that someone had trumped in and out from a single point high on a tree. Shortly before her death, Flora had talked to both Caine and Random, and had been upset. She had sent her guard away and was riding on her own when she was killed. From the position on the branch, they determined that it could not have been a longbow, and must have been someone relatively short - not Benedict or Gerard in their natural forms, say.

         The others (Lillith, Brid, and T'Dalia) had gone to Chaos and found that Suhuy has been dead for some time. His thigh had been cut open after death and some object removed from it - possibly the tip of the Chaos spear used to kill Flora. They found a page hidden in his sleeve, with a prophecy as follows:

Of the Holy Book of the Serpent Prophecies, Chapter 96,731
Hear the whispering of the Logrus, come from the lips of the Initiates of the Logrus in the Black Sky of the month Third past the Coronation Feasts of Swayville Serpentson.
The Empress, Justice, and Strength shall become of one mind and The Priestess shall part the WorldStorm.
Lying fevered in his bed, The King has cried aloud that our salvation shall lie in hands neither interested nor fit.
The Great Heresy was broken, paid for with the blood of the Rebel Son; but the Child of the Beast regained the Serpents eye.
Lo, he has reinstated the Great Sin and made it so that to undo it would cause the storm which the re-Writing sent powering down upon us, and has shattered the Serpents Eye.
Through one bloody Eye the Serpent sees - green and bright and scarlet on the storm wind. Stillness has come. The Skin is shed. Beastchild goes into the Abyss at his fathers Rebel hands.
Neither Interested, Nor Fit. And the twice-blooded child has heard their words in Holy delirium
Empress - Two great Ladies will catch your fall,
For they are the ones who catch us all.
Justice - Their children kept them far apart
The Lady Light, the Lady Dark.
Strength - Blood spoken, trust forsworn, Light broken, Dark torn.
Priestess - But we shall bring you home.

The triumvirate (Flora, Llewella, and Fiona) united act as the priestess in this prophecy.

         They then went to see Kailaden, Captain of the Black Guard, and brought him to the Speakers' headquarters to talk to Fiona. In particular, they wanted her to mind-probe him to see if he was wittingly or unwittingly part of the assassination attempt. She said that he was untouched. However, as she attempted this, she began making statements about Flora - ostensibly from accessing Flora's memories that she had absorbed. She said Flora had not used the Jewel of Judgment herself - she had given it to someone to go kill Fiona, by crossing the Abyss to bypass her wards. Fiona also admitted that she had contingency plans in case she was killed - plans that could have killed Flora in response.

         Iraku and Margaux then went to talk to Killjoy again, who said that he was one of two sons sent to die - and that he was sent into a trap. He admitted that Dworkin used the Chaos spear to cut out the Serpent's eye, then used it again when the tip broke off in Suhuy's thigh. Only the oldest lords of Chaos would have known this.

         Meanwhile, in Flora's study in Amber, Jubal found medical reports on Cassandra that suggest she was sick and indeed dying. The cause seemed to be a mirroring effect between Amber and Chaos, such that Fiona's son dying caused sickness in Flora's daughter. (Fiona's son Jayden had been executed by her in a previous adventure.) At the same time, others were assembling information that both Amber and Chaos were moving towards civil wars - though it was unclear who were behind these. Jubal contacted Brid, and after some debate they informed Cassandra with the full information of what is going on. Cassandra demands that Flora's comatose body be moved to Amber, which they do.

         Brid then went to talk to her father Mandor. He said that the Chaos spear was the same weapon that Oberon had given to the assassins of Osric and Finndo. Brid suspected at that point that Killjoy is in fact Finndo. Elsewhere, T'Dalia had gone to investigate troops massing in the Golden Circle. Jubal follows Iraku, who after getting advice from his father Merlin was going to investigate the Primal Pattern. The Primal Pattern seemed untouched, so they headed off to look at the cave where Dworkin had been imprisoned - while talking about if and how the Speakers should get involved in civil wars.

         Thus, the session ended with the investigation still ongoing - with many questions still unanswered. What we did find was interesting, but it is definitely a little frustrating to wait a year to find out more.

Slot #4: Dim Sum at 5 'Til Apocalypse

GM Jennifer Edwards
Friday, November 5, 2011 - 8pm to midnight

         This was a horror scenario with semi-pregenerated characters, set in a ramshackle Chinese restaurant in the middle of nowhere. The players chose positions and got a few bits of background. The players and their characters were:

         Briefly, the seven met at the restaurant and observed each other for a time along with the distant hostess and silent bartender. The last to arrive was an NPC - the 17-year-old granddaughter of Nick's character. When the two employees didn't appear from the back for a while, we checked and found the body of hostess, with "The Final (?) Key" scratched on the kitchen wall by it. The phones were dead and the only doors sealed - classic horror.

         Evelyn revealed herself as a CIA agent as she took out a gun, and her newlywed husband soon took out his own arsenal. Dr. Vendish had a bunch of equipment for investigating the supernatural, along with a camera for documentary film-making. Cautiously proceeding upstairs, we found a bathroom covered in old dried blood, and an old study - whose dust had been disturbed slightly before our arrival. There was no sign of the bartender at first. Other rooms were a child's bedroom that had been tossed and shredded, and a master bedroom with another old bloodstain.

         Drew tried to go out an upstairs window, but he got a shock as he reached outside - and found a brand just under his ribs that matched a brand that we found on the body of the hostess. Soon after, we found the hanging body of bartender in secret room past a utility closet. There was no brand symbol on it, nor a sharp implement. "THE SECOND KEY" was carved into wall beside it, though.

         The book in the study had some information on a cult that had been in this area, that matched up with some details that various characters knew. The film-maker's colleague Francine had been looking into the Brotherhood of the Final Night - a local cult - in connection to some recent disappearances, when she herself had disappeared. Also, 25 years ago, five people were murdered in a secret occult chamber of this building. It seemed clear that they or a related group were continuing something. The salesman revealed himself as the child who had lived in the child's bedroom, whose parents were killed 25 years ago.

         However, we found that the local mayor had disappeared - and soon we heard a woman's scream come from the basement. Rushing to the scene, we found it transformed - now clean, and an open archway where there had been a brick wall earlier. Beyond the opening was a room with a pentagram in it, and figures in shadows on the walls of the room that moved and made chanting sounds. The newlywed husband David began shooting at the shadows who began to fall, and soon after the salesman took the grandfather's cane and crawled out to scratch out a part of the pentagram.

         At this point, the demons began to come out - and the granddaughter and dancer Drew began to feel a compulsion to walk into the circle as well as erotic thoughts. In fact, the mayor was part of the cult - and was hidden behind the wall with a group of chanting cultists. Their intent was to have the granddaughter and dancer make love in the circle, after which the granddaughter would die and the demons would be theirs to control. However, now most of the cultists had been shot through the wall, and the demons were escaping through the broken pentagram.

         The grandfather was also a part of this cult, but since participating in the ritual 25 years ago, he had grown much more skilled in magic - partly from tracking down the demon(s) that had escaped. He was able to contain the demons by himself but only with great effort. He told the others that changing the structure of the building or the pentagram of the five surrounding towns would prevent the demons from coming through. Thus, the others went upstairs to blow up a side of the building with a propane tank. The grandfather went down with the building as a willing sacrifice. The mayor and a handful of surviving cultists had escaped. However, the salesman (and serial killer) had marked them as his next targets.

Slot #5: And All The World A Stage

GM Edwin Voskamp
Saturday, November 6, 2011 - 9am to 4:30pm

         This was an interesting game with a long slot. I had heard that the GM Edwin's games were interesting, but hadn't played with him until now. The description was:

This world, here, now. Nothing strange. Nothing different. Well, until the world changes and you and everyone else learns the true meaning of survival and self defense: from one moment to another China no longer exists, or, at least, is no longer accessible: it is not visible, anyone or anything traveling to where it was cross to the other side of where it was. But the Chinese space ship that took off just before it happened is still in orbit, though nobody knows what its mission is.

The character instructions sent by email were quite open, leaving the field quite open:
I would like a character concept from you. I'm not using a system: the game is statless and ruleless. You can play anyone you want in the current world that you can portray well enough not to hurt the suspense of disbelief of the other players. I would prefer it if you played a simile of a real person than a real person (e.g. a person like Bill Gates rather than Bill Gates), but I can be convinced to be flexible in this (basically, convince me that you can do it and not hurt the other players' suspense of disbelief).

In clarification later, he explicitly said that both a Bill-Gates-level billionaire and a poor Rwandan housewife would be suitable characters - although all characters should speak English. As it turned out, several of us turned against the one guideline he had suggested. Our characters were:

         I had initially had the idea for a fictional out-of-work actor. However, Laura already had her idea for playing Dr. Chu. Irene explained her character as a famous actress like Julia Roberts, but I suggested that she should simply play Julia Roberts herself. To this, we had a brief pre-game speculation about whether Tibet would disappear with China or not. Inspired by Irene's character and the Tibet question, I decided at the start of the game to play Richard Gere - which turned out to make a significant difference.

         We started with all of the characters on a plane going from northern China to a location in India. The plane was chartered by a film production directed by Michael Bay that Julia and Dayton were working in as actors, and Wen was a location consultant. Richard had a cameo in the film, and had come to China to have some meetings with some prominent groups (NGOs and/or charities) - that Dr. Chu was also meeting with. As the plane was flying over India, however, all of India disappeared and was replaced by ocean.

         Over the next few days, all trace of India and Pakistan disappeared a piece at a time - with all memories and traces of each trace disappearing hour by hour. The elements that disappeared were in accordance with their prominence to human viewing - with the first sign to disappear being Google Maps, then other popular maps and articles, after a day proceeding to people of Indian ancestry and the Hindi language disappearing.

         We concluded that there was some sort of human behind this and wanted to try to communicate with them. We arranged for Richard to appear on Top Gear promoting a new fantasy movie project about the mythical "India" (like Atlantis in our world) that was destroyed by a human force that some people from Earth eventually contact and make peace with. The idea would be that by announcing it first on Top Gear, there would be a ton of people whom the message reached at a single instant, unlike an Internet meme which would develop more slowly. We used the mythical/fantasy version of India that replaced the original so as not to conflict with the new reality head-on, but still grab someone's attention. Still, to be safe, only Richard was publically behind this project and he had secretly written down his knowledge of the past few days in case he forgot them. Just before the show aired, Australia disappeared and soon its traces began to be erased.

         Just after the show aired, Richard froze for a few seconds, and then had forgotten everything about India and Australia. After a few minutes of this, he physically disappeared and reappeared with no memory of the previous two hours. He then got a text message from an unknown source:

Other: "Sry - dynamic backups only restore at midnight"
PCs: "Help parts of world disappearing. Would like to speak to supervisor."
Other: "cant fix that. doing what i can to help you. u dont want 2."
PCs: "Can I help? Can I help from space?"
Other: "maybe. no money. hardware failing. wtf?"
PCs: "Can I help justify more funding? What are the goals?"
Other: "dont knw bout project. i mjr in sociology and minor in cs. im a big fan. dont know. - sandiwithani"
Other: "gotta go to class. bye!"

         We discussed and concluded that "sandiwithani" was a young college student with a crush on Richard Gere - who somehow was in only partial control of our reality. Being dependent on her for information, Richard texted an image to her: a signed glossy head shot to her with "To sandi XXXOOO, your Richard". We track down her parallel in our reality - which is an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago.

sandiwithani: "k back from class. u were saying?"
sandiwithani: "img thx!!!"
PCs: "On my way to Chicago. Can we talk through your avatar?"
sandiwithani: "i dont know how 2 do that"

         We got to Chicago and found that Sandi was indeed a student tapping into a simulation project running on some old servers. There were a set of actual Computer Science (CS) students who were trying to keep the simulation running by deleting portions of it to compensate for hardware failures. The project had been started in cooperation with MIT with the goal to develop real-world understanding for computer programs - especially an Artificial Intelligence (AI) worm. So we were among billions of AI programs that were somehow running on spare hardware. Soon, Sandi managed to video chat with us via FaceTime.

         Around this time we ran into a split about what to do among the PCs. I had that as an activist for human rights, Richard was committed to trying to peacefully (though perhaps cunningly) contact the outside world and convince others of our human rights as intelligent beings. The other PCs mostly leaned towards the solution of stealing money over the Internet to covertly fund our hardware. We ended up pursuing both plans. Richard began to practice his pitch with other people in his world (henceforth "the simulation"). Sandi transfered the other four into a manned spaceship mission to Mars, and soon after they left Earth orbit, they found that they had exited the simulation and were in a landscape similar to the movie Tron.

         They maneuvered in their spaceship and then found a river flowing in through a giant pipe. They flew their spaceship up the pipe, and came to a well-defended dam. They used the spaceship engines themselves as a bomb to blow up the dam, and continued out into the Net on the Mars lander. They left the lander to wander the landscape, and eventually ended up breaking into a castle that represented a large bank's servers.

         Meanwhile, Richard was practicing his pitch to convince people to help them. My thought was that if I came forward immediately with the truth that I was a computer simulation, that the person would be convinced that it was a hoax and either ignore it or try to disprove it. Instead, I wanted to get someone to try to find a real person and have them discover for themselves that I was a computer simulation. Also, I found out from inside the simulation that as soon as the U of Chicago found out about the project servers at all, they immediately pulled the plug. So I needed to convince someone: (1) that I was a real person, (2) that I was interesting enough to track down, and (3) that they should not contact the authorities about this. This lead to some arguing with the GM, and we eventually resolved that none of the people in Richard Gere's circles would work - but what would work would be contacting science fiction authors - specifically David Brin and Cory Doctorow.

         In short, the combination fo Brin and Doctorow helping us from the outside and our own stealing funds from Bank of America ended up working to get us our own private servers in a secure location. Eventually, we speculated that we would end up buying out the land on a tiny island nation (like Nauru or Tuvalu) and making a home for ourselves there. I suggested that Richard would stay and try to openly fight for recognition as a sentient being.

Slot #6: Reunion Wishes

GM John Kim
Saturday, November 6, 2011 - 7pm to midnight

         This was a LARP I had run once before earlier in 2011, at KublaCon 2011. The game was limited by having a fairly small space compared to the space I had at KublaCon - still, it was a mid-sized room with six tables in it. We shuffled the tables around for the change in scene. I had 7 players, which left out 3 of the pregenerated characters, but it worked pretty well. The pregenerated characters broke into three cliques - but had numerous ties among them that made their group more believable. The players and their characters were:

         Without too many spoilers - I found that this group had a very positive take on the scenario. The characters fought mostly in minor ways, and generally improved their lives from the results of what they went through. All of them went through the ritual, so they all decided to leave notes for themselves near the end. Those notes were roughly:

Merle - "Have faith"; Taylor - "Don't leet Cameron spoil your life. You're better than she is."; Casey - "Come out now. Don't wait." (and two stock tips); Cameron - "Listen to Alexis, be a professional athlete, don't break up"; Alexis - "organic farming, listen to dad, don't say OK when Cameron breaks up, take care of Cameron"; Riley - "get therapy, become firefighter, run away"; Jesse - "Don't fear the Reaper".

Slot #7: An Eye for an Eye

GM John Kim
Sunday, November 7, 2011 - 10am to 4:30pm

         This was a larp that I had run previously at Pacificon (see my report). The big difference for this run was that it was slated for six and a half hours, while the previous game had ended slightly early in a four hour slot. Also, I only had 9 players instead of 12. Though with a break for lunch, the slot was significantly shorter. I added in an opening scene where I played the NPC Neill - who in the other run was in the background but not seen in play.

         The big difference from my last run was that I had a significantly longer time slot. As a result, I started the scenarios earlier to include all of the characters first arriving at the station. During this initial scene, I played the NPC character Neill as a sullen eccentric.

         Perhaps partly as a result of time to work out differences, there was less conflict among the character than the prior run. In particular, I was intrigued by Cort as Sasha and Ogre as Chao the young researcher. As written, these characters were not villains per se - but they had no ethics or morals, and definite dark tendencies. Cort was hilarious and over-the-top as he gave instructions to all the visitors, but secretly he was very orderly and rational in his psychopathy. Ogre was the unscrupulous researcher, but he decided that even though he had no internal ethical sense, he was going to treat ethics as a checklist of rules he reliably went through as he did research.

         Thus, the scenario became more about characters working together (though not in harmony) to deal with the external situation they were in. This plus the extra time meant that I played another NPC as one of the outside guards who had been attacked. He went through part transformation into Reaver, then became a test case for their attempted cure. It ultimately failed, and he went through some unusual brain activity before dying.

         For the most part, things came through reasonably in the end, though.


         The best part of the convention, though, was the after party - which I got to stick around for and enjoy this year. There was a short gap before everyone hung around in the heated soaking pool for a few hours, then bar-hopped for the rest of the night until very late. I had lots of interesting conversations reflecting on how games went, role-playing principles, and life in general.

         My main personal conclusion from this convention was that somehow I had lost my evil-ness. All of my player characters were nice guys, and though there was evil in my Hellcats & Hockeysticks game - particularly my last two games ended up in feel-good niceness at the end instead of bitter recriminations. I felt distinctly impotent for the lack of evil that I brought to games, that I used to have in abundance. I thus resolved that for next ACNW, I would bring nothing but bitterness and evil to all my games... though still love for all the folks playing.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sun Feb 24 15:12:42 2013