The last few years I’ve attended Ambercon North with my best friend Jennifer, and it’s ended up being more of a vacation on Toronto with some gaming at the end than an all-out con. We go up early (and skip slots) so that we have plenty of time for things like shopping for used books and CDs, and for checking out the great restaurants in the area.

Come the weekend though, it’s time for games, and these were mine.

Slot 2: Casting Call
GMed by Mike Manolakes

HOLLYWOOD (UPI) — Dreamworks SKG announced Thursday that Steven Spielberg will direct “Nine Princes in Amber”, the first in a series of big-budget films based on the fantasy series by award-winning author Roger Zelazny. Spielberg promised an all-star cast to play the leads in this epic fantasy…

We’ve argued it for years. Now it’s time to roleplay it. Who would you cast in the film version of the Amber Chronicles? Each player in “Casting Call” will roleplay their choice of actor (playing their choice of Amber character), filming the Hollywood version of the Amber books.

I played Bruce Campbell in the part of Corwin in this game, and got to spend my time with such actors as Val Kilmer (Brand), Pierce Brosnan (Julian), Viggo Mortensen (Caine) and Miranda Richardson (Fiona). A bunch of big-headed movie stars, every last one of them. Or at least that was how Bruce felt about it. Things got weird, of course, and the role became a little too real, but fortunately Bruce handled being Corwin pretty well….meaning as well as Corwin usually does.

Slot 3: Amber: The West Wing… 20 Hours in Chaos
GMed by J.P. Brannan

Players will adopt the roles of the senior staff who take up the important business of running Amber while that fickle lot of princes are off mounting their own petty intrigues.

This was the fourth episode of this game that I had played in, and Jenn and I took our usual characters, CJ and Josh. This time out we were the only two players in the game, which is kind of a shame, but we had a good time anyway. The particular episode was based loosely on the “20 Hours in America” episode from season 4 of The West Wing, and involved CJ and Josh getting stranded down in Chaos for a while. J.P. uses the same world for this as he does for his On Her Majesty’s Secret Service series of games, and the amount of work he’s done on this version of the Amber universe really helps this game come together.

Slot 4: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 5: You Only Llive Twice
GMed by J.P. Brannan

Once again Queen Moire has called upon her Secret Service to sort things out. But will even the elite agents of Gemini Section, licensed to kill or be killed in the line of duty, be able to stop a scheme this far-reaching? Players should create 65-point characters who are agents of the Rebman Secret Service (RI6), without Pattern Imprint or Logrus Mastery. Some knowledge of the post-Patternfall Amber game setting will be helpful, but a working knowledge of James Bond will be more helpful.

This time it was up to the agents of RI6 to save Llewella….but things got a lot more complicated as more and more of the plot was revealed. The agents even finally caught a glimpse of Corwin! My agent, Devlin, learned an important lesson about eye patches, and the GM learned not to listen too closely to the players.

Slot 6: Nine Princes EnNobled
GMed by Matt Andrews

Ever wondered how Oberon pulled those neat tricks? Ever wanted to play the Dragon Arden? Or, for that matter, the Pattern itself? Step behind the curtain and see how the gods play.

Amber, done with simplified Nobilis rules. The Unicorn, Imperator of Locus Amber, and the Serpent, Imperator of Chaos continue their ancient battle on thier private playground.

The PCs are the enNobled; mortals granted an infusion of Spiritus Dei by the Unicorn to protect Her interests.

Matt has a detailed website that explains more about this Amber twist on Nobilis, but the basic concept is Amber Elders played as enNobled beings. There were a couple of concepts that didn’t fit that mold though, as Jenn played the libraries of Amber and Sean played disembodied Psyche. I was Oberon, True King of Amber, controlling King Random as an Anchor. The scenario itself wasn’t overly complex, but since many of the players (including me) were novices in the Nobilis system, that was probably just as well. My thanks to Matt (and others) who helped explain things. Nobilis has been a system I’ve been interested in for some time, and I think having had the chance to play with aspects of it will make it easier for me to comprehend the whole thing when I finally pick up my own copy of the rules.

Slot 7: Blaze of Glory: Fire and Ice
GMed by Sol Foster

Shipping in the northern waters has been badly disrupted of late. A small squad of Bleys’s guard was sent to deal with the presumed pirates. One man made it back, badly burned, repeating the same word over and over again: “Dragon”. Suddenly it became the Elite Guard’s problem.

If you’re not already familiar with the game, learn more about Blaze of Glory at the new website.

This was my first time as a member of the Elite Guard, and I played Amir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Nasir bin Safwan Al-Majiid, better known as Amir or, by the end of the adventure, The Mad Arab. As the rookie, Amir managed to make himself stand out with his sailing skills, his lack of knowledge of what icebergs were, and his insanity (the last being quite a feat in this group). What else would you call launching yourself from a small catapult to land on an airborne dragon, and then holding on using a pair of daggers? I had a grand time in this game, and I look forward to adventuring with the Elite Guard again someday.

After this last game of the con, there was a large group dinner over at nearby Garlic Pepper, and then several of us made it out to Dora Keogh to see Sol play the whistle in the Sunday session there. I’d been meaning to make it out to see him play for a couple of years now, and, having now done it once, I’m definitely planning on going back next year.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable con (and a very fun trip), and it was great to see some of the fine people that I only see at Ambercons. Hopefully next year more people will make the trip to Toronto for ACN 2004.