AmberCon NorthWest 2018

         This was my thirteenth AmberCon NorthWest (ACNW), coming back after a year's absence, and I was glad to be back. This was my first year coming with my son Milo as an adult (18). My full list of games were:

Slot #1: The Jade Throne Returns

GM John Kim
Thursday - 7pm to midnight

This was the fifth year of this game - my only continuing campaign game thus far. It is a re-imagining of Zelazny's Amber around a Chinese theme, where all civilizations and universes are merely reflections of the great Jade Empire, and the Pattern is housed deep in the Forbidden City within the capital. There are many relatives since the first emperor long ago, and those in whom the imperial blood runs true are superhuman - able not only to walk the Pattern, but to leap to the tops of buildings and engage in fantastical swordplay. It merges Amber with the Chinese wuxia genre. My players and their characters were:

Important NPCs included:

Rough notes on the events follow:

* Mimi enters capital, discussion
* Guanyu and Sister Fong enter capital, discussion
* Visit to Tianmen Mountain, fight with Foo Dogs.
* Sanniang walks Pattern in clouds and goes to Throne room, starts on path to Empress
* Hin-hung defeats Chaosites at base, captures leader.
* Yao finds out about invading army, which later disappears.

* All head down to get pearl. Talks to dragon to get Guanyou past it, then Wang takes the pearl.
* Return to palace, prepare for coronation and invasion.

* Junbao, Liu, Mimi, and Sister Fong go to investigate army. They split up and attack each other. 

* Mimi walks Pattern and goes to pearl - finds Wang editing the pattern with it. He talks her out of killing him.

* Sanniang discovers how army is invading - shapeshifters reforming people pushed through the cracks.

* Use the coronation as a distraction that will burst through reality. Sanniang is crowned,
  then trumps in to help the fight against the shapeshifters. 

* Go with Hin-hung to kill the shapeshifters and stop the invasion. 
** Lightning Beast - fought by Junbao, gravely wounded and escaped
** Black and gooey - dead, killed by Fong and Yao
** Flame thing - dead, killed by Sanniang and Hin-hung
** Human - captured, brought to a standstill by Guanyu

I ended afterwards with the preview that the next game would be titled, "The Thrones of Jade and Starlight".

Slot #2: What about Us

GM Mary Argent
Friday - 9am to 1pm

This was a fun cross-over of Disney princesses with Amber. As might be expected, it got wacky at times, and the characters were created mostly in isolation such that they weren't closely tied. Still, it was good fun.

Events: Snow gathered us for a mission to retrieve a supposed important "chicken" from a castle deep in Shadow. However, the mission prep was interrupted by Organization HQ being assaulted by a group of army rangers. These were Julian's people, and he was on his way to take down the Organization and say hello to his wife.

I didn't keep good notes on the plot, but there was plenty of dimension-hopping action. The story was a little disjointed, but still a lot of fun. Our backgrounds were each interesting, but they didn't directly connect.

Slot #3: Time Warp (LARP)

GM Amanda Lore Carpenter, John Hostetter
Friday - 2pm to 6:30pm

This was a run of a long-standing larp of shifting realities, adapted to AmberCon by the addition of one extra reality (Amber, naturally).

It started with us all playing the crew of a stereotypical starship. I played the manly captain, leading us in investigating a subspace anomaly. Once we got there and found a prop box, along with a number of colored styrofoam balls scattered around the room. The trick was that whenever we put a different ball into the box, we would switch to that reality - including having new characters and new background.

Slot #4: 1001 Amberian Nights

GM John Kim
Friday - 8pm to midnight

This was a run of Meguey Baker's game A Thousand and One Nights, with the setting of Castle Amber during Oberon's reign, with the princes and princesses as children. Unfortunately, I didn't take detailed notes on our run, but I think it went well. My players were Adam and Carla, plus Jenn and my son Milo.

Slot #5: Mission: Casablanca

GM John Kim
Saturday - 9am to 4:30pm

This was a diceless game set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe during WWII. We had prepared characters ahead of time by email. The players and their characters were:

The Broker meets with Russian Piotr in Cafe Espana, watched by the Agent and the Merc. The Merc spots a drone over the meeting. They make arrangements and leave. The Russian blows up, then the Agent and Merc grab the Broker and head for safety. The Merc shoots down the drone and collects it. They bring in the Specialist to understand the drone. He finds that his connectivity is down and works with them. They break down the drone, and have a plan to triangulate the signal of the 3 other drones in the city.

The Specialist goes home, then goes to Cafe Americain. He chats with the pianist for a time, then meets with his State Department contact. They contact the American agent to talk to him, and they go to meet in Cafe Americain. Rick welcomes the Agent. On the way to the meeting room, though, the Broker spots a woman she knew in Cairo. They abort the meeting and go out the back. They then shake tails, hide, and wait for the American to catch up with them.

The American fails to show up. The Merc goes to look for him, and finds a woman from the club fussing over his body. When he brushes her off, she pins him against the wall and tells him that she needs the agent. He stomps at her foot and twists away, breaking his finger. He makes a lot of noise while holding her off - then people come out and he is in trouble and people are protective of her. They hear the sound of an energy weapon. Going back into the club, the Merc checks out the roof while the Broker and the Agent check out the club. The Agent attempts to kidnap the older woman at gunpoint - but he break plan and mysterious leaves the area in a cab with the woman. Based on this, the Broker flees.

Meanwhile, the Merc spots the signs of someone shooting down another drone. He bursts into the dressing room and spots Sam the War Dog and the Specialist with the drone. He gives signal triangulation info and they go to rescue the Agent.

The Broker was going away in a cab when the Russian (Anichka) gets into the cab with her, and takes her to a Russian safehouse. They arrange for a deal there, but the Russians messed with the Broker's equipment and it becomes trackable for a time.

The Merc and Specialist pick up the Agent confused outside the lodge building, and they try to reconstruct what happened. The Specialist is able to give directions (via Sam) to the Russian safehouse. The Agent identifies what it is, and they approach and negotiate with agent Oleg. He agrees to a joint operation against the lodge, and promises a powerful weapon that they have. He introduces the "weapon" - which turns out to be the woman Anichka.

They and Anichka then plan an assault on the lodge building, and the Broker agrees to help because it will get Hydra off her back. The Russians provide a diversion out front, (poorly) disguised as criminals trying to rob the place. The others break in the back, lead by the Broker in her exoskeleton suit (with 1 hour charge). They slip in the back, booby-trap the doors and get to the top floor. There they rush the radio room and the Specialist downloads info and disables while the Broker keeps watch. The Agent wires the place to blow, but they exchange a lot of fire with genuine Hydra agents. As they are exiting out the window, two agents in exoskeletons come online. The Broker holds them off whle the others run. As she catches up in a street chase, the Specialist calls in a drone strike and destroys them.

Anichka split with them and went into the basement to get what stuff she could. They arrange to meet up later in a seedy part of town. She says she has something for the Specialist. They meet at a hash bar. She will exchange a confused Wakandan agent. The others agree to the meet, but suddenly realize that all of the people in the bar and the street outside are temporarily under her control. They fight off the horde and escape with the Wakandan agent, but the mind-controlling woman escapes.

Wrapping up, the Wakandans are happy to have plugged the leak of their technical information, and have a new enemy to watch out for. The Broker Massika makes a deal with the Russians, mostly based on her crush on their beautiful super-agent Anichka. The Agent Omar and his friend Jugurtha have successfully defended the interests of Morocco, and kept their kingdom at peace.

Slot #6: Armageddon

GM Clint Whiteside
Saturday - 7pm to midnight

This was the start of a new continuing series with the same set of players who had played in the Sons of Ambarchy series. It was set during a religious apocalypse of some sort in the Middle East.


Slot #7: Eberron: The Edge of Hope

GM Keith Baker
Sunday - 10am to 4:30pm

This was a diceless game set in the D&D setting of Eberron, created by the GM Keith.

This was a Western-themed game set in Eberron. I played a total bastard - a Cyran officer who disappeared for a time after the devastating Last War, and showed up with unexplained new skill in wand-slinging and enough money to buy his own saloon. His was a sketchy slum of a joint called The Leering Goblin - mocking the goblin owner Grin of the respectable establishment in town. He was racist against goblins, while involved in all sorts of criminal enterprises himself - prostitution, dreamlily, and gambling. As old friends with the Sheriff, he had convinced him that people really wanted these outlets.

Over the course of the game, we investigated ancient ruins outside of town, and found an ancient evil that had been locked away in a crypt, then unknowingly released by prospectors from town. We eventually re-sealed the crypt, but that night, an ancient lizardman spirit came upon the town - stopping time at midnight for everyone but us. The others tried to deal with it, while I used the time stop to go through town pickpocketing everyone - especially patrons at the rival establishment to me. After the individual tests the others went through, though, the spirit demanded tribute.

At this point, I brashly walked up to the spirit and presented my bona fides. I had already sold my soul to a dark spirit in the devastation of Cyre, and had been providing it with collected souls killed once per week on schedule. I had given the spirit an entertaining and true story, and had proven my worth as a tribute collector. The spirit agreed, then reached into my body and pulled out a shadowy form - after which I no longer cast a shadow. Thus, now I have two loan sharks that I owe, which makes them rivals to each other and their collection more difficult. Further, I have now saved the town and might be responsible for its continued existence. Thus in the next game, I expect to be even more insufferable.


         ACNW remains my favorite role-playing convention. The community is a big part of that, which is helped by the shared culture - and also by pre-convention organizing.