Causa Belli They read good

Causa Belli
They read good books, and quote, but never learn
a language other than the scream of rocket-burn.
Our straighter talk is drowned but ironclad:
elections, money, empire, oil and Dad.
Andrew Motion, Britain’s Poet Laureate

Game Wish 29: Campaign Styles

Game Wish 29: Campaign Styles

Ginger’s WISH this week is another goody:

Do you prefer campaigns to be limited-plot, with a definite ending, or open-ended, so that they can continue indefinitely? What about things like �convention campaigns� where people meet irregularly to pick up old characters and game together? What are the pros and cons of each sort of game? Which is more common in your gaming experience?

I vastly prefer open-ended campaigns, both to play in, and to GM. Arref hits it right on the head, I am not an adrenalin junkie. I like to explore plots, themes, ideas, character relationships, and such, and I often feel the best way to do that is in a large open-ended format.
Strange Bedfellows has been running for 6 and a half years now. Sure, there’s a metaplot. Sure, I’ve had an idea of where things might go or I think they should go. But in the meantime my players through their characters, character contributions, conversations with me, and such have developed an ornate and STILL evolving world. Do I think the game will last forever? No, that’s silly. And I don’t hope that it “runs out of steam”–I would like it to end, if it must end, by deliberate act rather than fading to nothingness.
Campaigns with a defined ending? (eg. Paradox). Well, I’ve only really been in one that came to a conclusion and that was the Empire of the Gleaming Banner ACUS series by Arref. I really do think it was more of a campaign than a serial game even if it was episodic in nature. In between the games, some of us players had busy characters. And when EGB came to a conclusion, I was crestfallen. I like Archard, and have gotten to know him quite well.
All of the other games I have ever been in have just died for one reason or another. Karen decided to end TKC, and so Laertes went on the shelf–although I understand she does it FTF with a new generation of PCs now. Two of Rob’s games, Shadow War and Doom of Trumps slowed to a crawl and died. My own Oaths of the Unicorn with Felicia…well, it imploded, as did When it Rains it Pours…the latter mainly due to time constraints. Storm Chasers hasn’t gone anywhere thanks to time constraints and life getting in the way of Nicole. And there are many more games I was in that simply went poof.
The all time worst, though, was Jennifer Jerlstrom’s ending of her game, the one with Hadrian. It was implied that some characters were going to survive and play on in a different format and Hadrian simply didn’t make the cut. I was so outraged at the cavalier way he had been treated that I imported Hadrian, Dora, and the lands of DuMarque and Crie and put them into the Strange Bedfellows universe. It worked out stunningly well.
As far as convention campaigns, aside from EGB as noted above, I’ve only in the last year joined one–Deb Allen’s Rites of Passage. And she does stuff outside the con slot, too…so its not quite only “4 hours of Cadmus a year”. That, I am not sure I’d want to do, to play a character for such a limited time. The sequel to AAPA doesn’t quite qualify as making that universe a campaign–but Liz and I had a discussion in email about it. From her technical standpoint, it is, although I think its more of a serial game. Perhaps I am modeling AAPA on my pleasant experiences with EGB.
In any event, I hope that the one non-con continuing campaign I am in, Bridgette’s Age of Retribution, is around for a long long time. Marcus was unfairly cut short in Shadow War, and he is having lots of fun in Bridgette’s game–and hasn’t even lost an arm or met long ago lovers in jewels of judgement yet. If I had time, and I really don’t, I’d like to have another PC running around, in someone’s game….and explore and help grow another universe.

The third game Well, I

The third game

Well, I decided that I am going to revisit and re-do my first solo con game, The Wizard in the Attic. I am actually, though, in negotiations with a friend to possibly co-GM a fourth slot, but for now I am going to be Gming the following games.
Slot 2: Ad Amber Per Astra II. A sequel to the first. It’s not really a continuing campaign, but more like a serial game. I’ll assume new PCs were simply not part of the events of the first (which pretty much took place in one trap shadow). This new game will be more wide open in scope and thus open to new players.
Slot 5: Ghosts of the Past. You’ve read the prologue. My latest and greatest idea, inspired by a few things, primarily a “phat fantasy” novel I read a few months ago. Which one? To quote the Prisoner “that would be telling”.
Slot 6: Wizard in the Attic. My first ever solo con game, revisited. Its 50 years after Patternfall…an Alternate Patternfall where the evil Fiona died, dragging her poor brother Bleys with her into the Abyss. Thus Deirdre survives, and the supreme magician in Amber is the slightly kooky eponymous title character…Brand. The game in which the first time I ran it, I burst out laughing at the actions of Arref and his wife playing Rebman fraternal twins.

Never let it be said,

Never let it be said, or more likely, never let me say again myself that I am useless and can’t help anyone…because I did manage to help Liz fix her ACUS slot table. Thanks for the shout-out, Liz…but, really, the email thank-you would have been just fine. I did correct an injustice and put you in the link column, seeing as how you are running ACUS and all. :Grin:
The game numbers though, I can’t fix alone, although pursuant to the comments on my previous entry, I think I am going to go for the third slot at the con.
I have to make a decision quickly to make cut off on the game book. My choices are, as far as I see it:
1. Run a second copy of Ghosts of the Past in a slot different than slot 5.
PRO: It gives people more of a chance to play in that game.
CON: It might be a little confusing to seperate out the two slots as far as preparation; I’ve never done anything like this before
2. Re-run a game from a previous Con–Wizard in the Attic or Dreams Made Flesh or even a new original AAPA
PRO: It gives people who missed those games a chance to play in them
CON: I am not sure those games were “good enough” that people would jump at such a chance.
3.Run a third, new game
PRO: Its the most ‘creative option’ and gives a greater opportunity for my friends to be in my games
CON: I really don’t have anything well developed for such a venture. I always have ideas, but nothing solidly done.

To Third Game or Not

To Third Game or Not Third Game

I’ve been reading Liz’s pleas over on her site, and channeled through Arref. She’s REALLY short on games. Much more than we first realized.
Slot 1 is spoken for–That’s Bridgette and Deb’s game. Slot 2 I am running AAPA II. Slot 3 is Rites of Passage (Deb’s campaign and my only current continuing game I am in). Slot 5 is going to be my Ghosts of the Past.
There are plenty of things I could do. The question is, does ACUS want a third game from me? Would it help?
Decisions, decisions.
UPDATE: Clarified that Rites is a game I am in, not running. So there is one campaign slot, one slot I want to play in for certain, and two slots I will definitely run a game.

“A river now runs through

“A river now runs through it”

A prologue for Ghosts of the Past, an ACUS 2003 Scenario by Paul “Jvstin” Weimer

“Its lovely here, isn’t it?”
The blond-haired son of Flora regarded the dark sable haired Chaosian Ambassador from across the blanket. It had taken time and patience on several ends for him to have this picnic today with Krystiana Aricline. Working his charm on her, of course was the most obvious part of the plan, but, too, convincing Uncle Random that he would assure her good conduct was also necessary. The Chaosians tended to remain in their compound, the King, the Royal family discouraged them roaming through the city, and there were restrictions on things like their shape shifting.
It was Scipio’s firm opinion that Krystiana could not shift to a lovelier form than the one she was wearing now, with vivid blue eyes that he wondered if she had changed to match his own.
“Yes it is. There are forests back home, but they tend to be darker and less pleasant, although some of the Ways in Aricline have standing groves of trees.” she replied, taking a sip of the wine. Bayle’s Best, of course. Nothing but the highest quality would do. The cooked chicken sandwiches on sourdough bread spread with Dijon mustard were some of the tastiest products of Michael’s kitchen.
Scipio was pleased.
“That is Arden yonder, the home and, you might say in the Chaosian way, the fiefdom of my Uncle Julian. We’re still on the lower flanks of Kolvir here, way up that way, in the mountain range is Jones falls.” He pointed backward toward the mountains. “Not quite my cup of tea, but its the site of a famous battle here in Amber. There’s even a monument.”
“I’m sure that you will have to show me the falls sometime.” Krystiana said, trying some of the food. It was rather ordinary by Chaosian standards, the presentation, that is, the quality was high. The Royal family of Amber rightly ate well.
“So, my dear Prince Scipio.” she asked after a moment, putting down the glass. “Why did you invite me here, all alone and away from the rest of the Embassy “Surely not for something as dry as better ambassadorial relations.” Scipio’s reputation had, apparently, even penetrated into the Chaosian Embassy.
Scipio shook his head and smiled, leaning in even as she licked her lips. Their lips moved closer and closer to touching, his hand reached to grasp her shoulder and draw him to her fully. He just about had Krystiana in his arms and his mouth pressed to hers when the ground began to rumble. Their embrace broke in the sudden sound and sensation.
“An earthquake?!” Scipio said incredulously. He had spent significant time in places like Tokyo, San Francisco and analogues. But an earthquake here, in Amber? Inconceivable!
“Come on!” he said, pulling her to her feet. Instinct told him that the threat from the earthquake was before them, they backed up the slope of the hill a good thirty feet. Nothing was around to fall on them, unless the shaking ground opened wide, they would be safe.
Krystiana was quite confused, she had been given to understand that Amber was extraordinarily stable, and here it seemed as tumultuous as a Black Zone shadow. Neither of them, however, could say anything as the earthquake finished, and before them, where they had picnicked, was a river.
And what a river was before them. Flowing fast, running down the slope of the mountain, this river seemed born sui generis, stretching up toward the mountain range to the right, and to the left, it flowed down into Arden. It literally seemed to have come out of nowhere. As Scipio and Krystiana looked in wonder, a man walked toward the far bank, one of the inhabitants of the villages to be found in Arden.
“A fine day to fish the river, my lord.” he said as he produced a fishing pole and proceeded to throw a line in the water.
“I never knew Amber could be as malleable as Chaosian Ways.” Krystiana said, still looking at the beautiful river. Scipio shook its head. “It’s not, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen.” He thought about what had happened to Garnath during the War…but even so, a brand new River. “This River just doesn’t belong here. I think we better get back to the Castle and you to your Embassy.”
As they headed off back toward the Castle, the fisherman looked at them with curiosity. They had to be strangers here in Amber, he thought. The River Wyrr had always been here…

Why is Vialle ‘still’ blind?

Why is Vialle ‘still’ blind?

TGFKAB actually got me to thinking about this.
With all of the sorcery and technology available to Amberites, why hasn’t someone simply brought Vialle to a high-tech shadow and had new eyes grown for her, or taken her to a high-magic shadow to have them magically fixed?
I thought about this and an obvious answer to me came up–it wouldn’t last.
Consider: Corwin’s eyes were burnt out of his head, and they grew back in five years. Benedict has hopes of his arm growing back. Servants, non-royals, seem to age slower and have greater lifespans. Taking a page and a somewhat allied view to Arref’s, I think that since Vialle was born blind, her “natural state” is blindness.
In other words, if you were to give her new eyes that work, by any means, they would work–for a while…and then she would revert to her sightless state. It might even be considered cruel to give her sight only for a while, or make her dependent on “Refreshing” such a procedure. Thus, Vialle remains blind.
An alternative view, offered by Wujick in the game books (I am not sure which one, I don’t have my copies) is that Vialle is sightless on purpose. But if you don’t want to use that sort of duplicitious line in your game, I humbly offer my suggestion above. And I would love to hear your own ideas on the subject