Let’s try it again, perhaps

Let’s try it again, perhaps a little less rambling.
I like to customize my scenarios to the players. I do not feel that a con game is ready for prime-time until I have the characters in hand, so that I can meld them into the universe. While this does not mean that I can’t run a con game again (I am doing it with Wizard in the Attic after all), it means that each experience is going to be unique.
Last year, in AAPA, I couldn’t wait to get a hold of the characters (and even penalized same-day characters) because I wanted to seamlessly put them into the context of the game, and I like to have time to do that. Oh sure, you can do it on the run, and I have (in FTF one shots) but I like to have it somewhat smoother. In AAPA, having the characters in advance allowed me to create their “dopplegangers” in the space-opera shadow much easier, and allowed me to get the characters more organically tied to the game at large.
When I ran Wizard in the Attic for the first time, I did the same thing. Oh, Anne’s Rebman works in the forges of Amber, eh? We can use that. Another character has a clockwork chess set? There’s an idea. A character who is Brand’s daughter (as it so happens, TGFKAB). Oh, that is too perfect for my plans.
It will be the same this year, no doubt. I am eager to see what players I will have and what characters they are bringing to the table, so plotlines can be formed around them seamlessly. For characters who I know are going to be in the games already, I’ve begun this process already.
What this means of course is that while this weekend I did some talking plot points for AAPA and GHOP, I really need the players to make them complete. Similarly, I have WITA’s stuff already–but it needs the players to make it come to life.
I’m not a perfect GM. I’ve made mistakes and miscalculations. For instance, I had far too much plot for too little time last year with AAPA and it was rushed, badly. It really needed a 6 hour slot and I tried to do it in four hours. Hopefully this year I will do better and learn from those mistakes–and that all of my players, both old friends, new friends who have not gamed with me before (yes, you, Jenn)_and strangers will have a fun time.
One can hope, anyway

Other games to run, someday

Other games to run, someday

I want to run a FTF game. Or another game, although SB does fill the online niche more than adequately.
It’s not a need to run a game, per se, the large and diverse canvas of my magnum opus is almost more than I can handle, sometimes, and its when I get depressed that the game suffers badly.
But I have lots of ideas, though, to run, or at least play in, other games. I’d love a copy of Nobilis because I’d want to try that system, player and GM, for instance. But its not the only thing I could do. Ideas are like seeds, and in the Amber system alone I have a bunch that wait the right climate to germinate. They are larger than single con-slot games, which is why I am reluctant to bring them into a forum like ACUS unless I was explicitly trying for a campaign…AAPA I sort of stumbled into doing a sequel more than anything else. There are so many campaign slots (too many I think) in ACUS that it certainly doesn’t need more from me. So these ideas are not likely to wind up at your local Con, I prefer ideas with tighter focus and smaller scope than these.
Borders of Eternity
Inspired at first by Arref’s successful creation of the Empire of the Gleaming Banner, the opening image is what drew me to this and its stayed with me since. One of the player characters, on a private secluded beach in shadow, a shadow no one else in their family knows about, finds a set of footprints where none should be. Not Amberian, not Chaosian…someone else.
In its most epic and ambitious form, this would be a three sided game with characters from the three poles of the universe…Amber, Chaos and the third pole, hitherto unknown, in a direction perpendicular to Amber and Chaos both. My mental modeling of this third world is a quartet of shadows influenced heavily by Elizabeth Willey’s books. They have a quartet of elemental powers, scions of them able to travel shadow, and an even match for Pattern and Logrus masters and mistresses. They are just as real.
What happens in the contacts between these worlds? Intrigue, adventure, conflict, and exploring new worlds and lands. Expanding one’s vision of just how large the universe is. Finding the borders of Eternity.
Status Quo Ante Bellum
I’m a little less inclined to do this game at a con, considering the success and the prevalence of Rebma-based games lately,but it could work in a long term campaign format.
It’s an alternate Amber, where the War turned out somewhat differently. During the attack on Chaos, when Amber’s forces were at the Courts, a expeditionary force from one of the aquaphilic Chaosian Houses made a bold strike on Amber…specifically on Rebma. Moire was killed, LLewella has fled, and these Chaosians now rule Rebma.
The War has ended, and Amber has demanded, as part of the peace treaty, a status quo ante bellum…a return to the way things were, before the War. However, the Chaosians in Rebma refuse to leave. What’s more, not everyone in Rebma is unhappy at the change in administration either, especially the males, since the new Chaosian overlords do not like the matriarchial system of Rebma and have begun making moves toward more egalitarianism. Plus, Rebma was very much the dependency of Amber before the War, and the new rulers want Rebma to be a free and independent power of its own.
So…Amber is unhappy at this state of affairs, LLewella herself hosting a “Rebman government in exile”, Chaos is unhappy at these renegades, and Rebma itself is fractured between those who like the new Rebma and its promises of becoming an independent state, and those who want things to return to the way they were. A game heavy on intrigue, spying, and diplomacy, the player characters could be from one of any number of factions, or pretending to be with their own hidden agendas.

Wish #35: Music Ginger’s latest

Wish #35: Music

Ginger’s latest WISH is from Meera:
How does music influence your campaigns? As a GM, do you feel there are �soundtracks� for scenes, and as a player, do you perhaps have �songs� for characters? Name three songs that relate to favourite characters or situations.
I’m not that musically inclined, despite the occasional posting of lyrics here.
I don’t for instance, have theme songs for characters. I’ve never quite had that capacity, nor do I really have theme songs for campaigns. That piece of music you hear on the SB main page is from Microsoft Music Producer, which basically lets you tinker with some pre-set sounds to create compositions. And I do like fractal music composers.
But I’ve never been able to say. “Oh yes, Marcus’ theme song is “xxx” or Ad Amber per Astra has a theme of “zzz”.
On the other hand, though, I do think of situational music on occasion, and that bleeds over into PBEM turns. As a very recent example, Deb’s character in SB, Leigh, recently learned of a mess that was occurring in her ways, or otherwise. So, I titled her turn “Welcome to River City”…I’m sure if you’ve seen The Music Man, you know what song i am talking about.
But other than those situations, music rarely enters into my games at all. I’m not just inclined competently, that way. It’s not that I don’t like music (although that is a story in itself), I’m not good at integrating it into the mise-en-scene of my games.

A movie idea. I’m not

A movie idea.
I’m not sure where this came from, it erupted in my head as I was watching Ebert and Roeper’s review show this weekend. It’s not a happy movie, but I would watch this movie. Maybe you would, too.
The key event of the movie starts with a couple, unmarried. We see them in their apartment discussing going to some event or place. They flip a coin to decide who drives. We see it come down heads, and a cheer from the guy, and then we see it come down tails, and a smile from the girl.
It’s then a bit of alternating scenes. We see the guy get in the driver’s seat, we then see the woman do the same. This continues for a short while, until the tragedy strikes. The volkswagen beetle that the two are in is blindsided by a speeding SUV. And there the split becomes bigger. We see the car crash twice, with the two drivers and occupants.
In both cases the driver is killed, the non-driver survives. And the movie shows bifurcating scenes since then, showing the reactions to the death, the meaning of why the other feels they were spared, how the people react to the death of one or the other in the horrible crash. So, the movie would explore the nature of what happens when tragedy strikes a relationship and the people around it, and taking the “Sliding Doors” approach to see it from both sides.
Then again, since its not “It’s exactly like fill in name of movie xxx”, It wouldn’t get greenlighted in a thousand years.

Roll Call 7: Mix n’

Roll Call 7: Mix n’ Match
I know I skipped number six (the Sex one) but I wasn’t in a “place” to do that one when it came out and I’ve decided just to let it lie. This newest one, however is much easier for me to answer:
Do you enjoy genre-mixing in your games, and if not, why not?
Genre-mixing makes for a nice change of pace from the standard change of pace, and allows explorations of genres without necessarily having to switch systems. Not everyone likes to genre-mix, and so I have always thought it should be done judiciously. Its simply not fair for players to be baited and switched into a genre mix. Not everyone likes all genres.
There is an old AD&D module, S4 I think, the one with the crashed spaceship in the mountains, the robots and everything else. This is exactly the kind of module which can cause trouble, if the players are not in the mood to deal with a technological environment. Its a jarring experience for the players to be upset because the GM is mixing genres without any fore-warning that a fantasy game is going to have a science fiction element this time around, or vice versa. Horror is so often subsumed, I think, under dark fantasy that Horror can be considered a branch of fantasy in this regard. Robots and Rakashas do not always mix.
On the other hand, genre mixing can be a lot of fun and I do like to do it.
My best example is the original Ad Amber Per Astra. I made it very clear in the ACUS gamebook last year that the player characters were going to wind up in a technological, space-opera shadow. There were spacecraft, space stations, and other staples of the science fiction genre. For the most part, I think the players had fun.
I’ve done the reverse, too. In a game of Traveller I Gmed a long, long time ago, I used a motif of an abandoned, haunted space station on a moon of a gas giant. The base was actually infested with an alien intelligence which could place “shards” of itself to animate corpses.
Having the players sweat as the Zombies slowly cut them off, and their terroras they fought to get out of the trap, and escape back to their shuttlecraft, was great gaming. And they didn’t mind at all the “genre-swap” since I told them there was going to be Horror this time around.
So, genre-mixing can definitely work for me, and I enjoy it as a player as well as doing it as a GM.

A little while ago, Arref

A little while ago, Arref talks about the D&D Product: Book of Vile Darkness
Today, I happened to be at the Block, which is the outdoor mall up here in Northern Orange County.
I was looking through the 25% off table, since if I didn’t mention it before, the Wizard of the Coast stores are paring back, severely, their RPG sections,
paring them back to only their own products.
Anyway, I went from there to the actual rack they have now for their core books…and there was no sign of the Book of Vile Darkness…I had wanted to flip through the book myself, as Arref had.
I asked the clerk…and he said that this WOTC branch “didn’t carry it”
Given the conservative nature of Orange County, I should not have been surprised. I’ll have to visit the independent local gaming store and see if they have a copy.