There are already several ACUS 2004 writeups out there, but here’s my slightly belated take on things. I had a great time at the con, both during and between the games, and it was nice to get to spend time with old friends (and newer ones too).

Slot 2: Volunteer

This game involved sitting at a table in the HQ and….well, volunteering. I think I did this out of some sense of con organizer solidarity, but I’d urge even those of you who aren’t already on one of the other Ambercon committees to take the time to help out at ACUS.

Slot 3: “Tall Tales of Pattern and Shadow”
GMed by Jack Gulick

It was Bleys that started it, although later Corwin and Eric argued for credit themselves. A stormy night in Castle Amber, Oberon in a dark mood and his children under orders to await his pleasure, stuck in dull eventlessness.

What better, now, to do than to trade lies?

A “Baron Munchausen”-inspired game of Elder Braggadocio in a pre-Patternfall era.

As you might have guessed, this is basically a game of telling stories….grand, over-the-top, and often ridiculous stories. I played Caine, though by the end I wasn’t quite sure if I was the real Caine, after I’d managed to thoroughly confuse myself. It was a really fun time, and I’d highly recommend it to those who are going to TBR (where Jack plans to run it again).

Slot 4: “Ill Met in Amber”
GMed by Christopher Kindred

This is the city. Amber. A hotbed of intrigue, magic, swashbuckling adventure, and intrigue. It’s a good place to live. And an easy place to die.

A game of swashbuckling noir.

Characters are inhabitants of Amber City and are not members of the Royal Family.

There was a bit of investigation and a lot of getting all of the PCs on the same page after the various email threads that had gone on since the last ACUS. The scotches served were Lagavulin, Talisker, and Glen Garioch. Mmmmm….scotch.

Slot 5: “Love Like a Burning City”
GMed by Sarah Bear

I only in such utter, ancient way
Do suffer love; in me alone survive
The unregenerate passions of a day
When treacherous queens, with death upon the tread,
Heedless and willful, took their knights to bed.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay

Explore an alternate history for Amber, as the sons and daughters of her ancient Queen.

All PCs must be Amberites, children or grandchildren of the Queen or her two sisters, Pattern required. Please contact GM for details. This game is “not exactly a sequel” to Ambercon 2002′s “Love Like A Burning City”

Though there were a few returning PCs from the 2002 version of this game, it was (as the GM intended) not a sequel. I returned with Nicodemus, head of the Amber Intelligence Services, and once again the only PC with such mundane things as a wife and children. The game itself was set in a rich and complex version of the Amber universe, and the scenario involved a murder made more complex by the intricate family ties of Agate (aka The Courts). There were, in my opinion, a few too many people in this game, and, as I wasn’t feeling particularly awake or useful, I wasn’t as involved as I should have been (despite Jenn/Mallory’s many attempts). This might be the start of a campaign though, which I may well play in if the slots work out.

Slot 6: “If You Can’t Stand the Heat”
GMed by Jennifer Jackson and Michael Curry

Famous chefs and food personalities have been collected from Shadow Earth and brought to Amber by Florimel. They’re here to participate in a cooking competition that will decide who will take the head position in the kitchens of Amber. Of course, they’re used to the intense rivalry of the culinary world, but, given the often devious nature of those who call Amber Castle home, they may be forced to rely on more than just their gastronomic skills to succeed.

Players will choose from among well-known cooking celebrities such as Julia Child, Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), Alton Brown, or one of the Iron Chefs, and the GMs are open to suggestions. Characters will be operated on a minimum of mechanics. No actual cooking skills required.

This ended up going very well indeed, and the players seemed to all have a great time (which is pretty much the whole point). I always worry that I won’t be “on” when I GM, but for this game I was apparently very on indeed, to the point where I ended up a bit hoarse from too much talking (and laughing). Thanks to all of the players for their fine contributions, and to my excellent co-GM too! If this game goes even half as well when Jenn and I run it at TBR, I’ll be quite happy with it.

Slot 7: “Blaze of Glory: Laws of God and Man”
GMed by Sol Foster

It began routinely enough, when a small island in the west was overrun with pirates. But the circle of their influence quickly spread. In a matter of weeks they shut down most of the shipping in the North Atlantic, with ruthless raids and wanton atrocities.

But most troublesome — the seas they sailed were strangely becalmed for all vessels but theirs.

The Mad Arab manages to nearly sink a lifeboat, and then later crashes a ship full of zombies into the Elite Guard’s trireme. Plus, he nearly drowned two or three times. I think Amir’s about ready for a land-based adventure. There was also much swashbuckling swordplay, a healthy dose of very mad science, and more than one confrontation with Sharks long dead. In the end, it was another grand session of Blaze, and Sol did his usual great job of GMing.

So, that was my Ambercon experience for this year, and, since I mentioned it earlier, here are few more ACUS writeups (as cribbed from Kris Fazzari’s own ACUS report):

James Arnoldi
Jack Gulick
R.F. McCaughey
Ian Ng
Chris Kindred
Amber DiTullio

I’m very much looking forward to next year’s ACUS, and to both TBR and ACN later this year.