in the Shadow of Greatness

:: Zelazny :: [polish] :: sparks that fly from the ironsmith's hammer ::

::. Saturday, May 3 .::

Hard Lessons: An Amber RPG Campaign
being built from scratch :: behind the scenes info
:: update ::
warning :: adult issues

:: Arref Mak 3.5.03 :: link ::
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::. Friday, May 2 .::

BTW, starting today, I can neither see, nor respond to comments while browsing from work on the YACCS system. Just to let you know. No worries.

:: Arref Mak 2.5.03 :: link ::
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Perverse Access Memory:
WISH 45: Accolades and Warm Fuzzies
Who are some gamers you admire and appreciate? Name three (or as many as you like) gamers you admire and/or appreciate right now, and explain why.
Actually, I have to admire asking a question like this -- and the people who would take time from their week to give a thoughtful answer. The world needs more "warm fuzzies."

Since any particular order to these would be impossible and since I have no intention of leaving it at three, we will list thusly with no explanation:

WER is the first GM I admired. His command of improvisation and range of expression was completely thrilling. His NPCs were vivid and could easily have dominated a story of their own, but never did to the detriment of our Characters. I never would have become addicted to this hobby without his mentoring and influence. Thanks, Bill.

EAS is the gamer I've admired for intuition and turning the tables on 'bad guys.' EAS played with me in my main D&D campaign for close to a decade and never lost his ability to think on his feet. The day he stopped gaming to raise a family the hobby lost a great guy.

This week is the twenty-first anniversary of my long partnering with my "Reason For Living." She is my confidant in all things, though she often grumbles that you folks get "more of me" than she does. This isn't true, but then there are supposed to be important things that are not true at all times. I admire her deep commitment to her characters, and her ability to believe that I am channeling 'real people' and not amusing impersonations. My RFL has played through the brunt of some of my toughest gaming moments and forgives me every time I make her cry (in-character) and celebrates every time I make her laugh.

Jvstin is an even-handed and modest fellow. He is also a GM who has held a PBEM campaign together for over seven years in a medium where some most games don't last seven weeks. Topping that endurance record, Jvstin has a mind that is fresh, always questioning static things and wondering what new wonders might be around the corner. He is open-minded and loves his players. He is dedicated and loyal and more demanding of himself than any GM I know. He also reads more and faster than I do -- deeper content as well.

Those direct influences and lines of appreciation lead to more indirect influences.

MaBarry has delighted me from the day we never met. Her nearly tireless list of projects is longer than Oberon's list of ex-lovers. If she was only the keeper of the best page of links for Amber, she'd be famous, but as it is, she constantly invents some new way to add content for fans of gaming and Amber genre. She creates nifty game ideas as if she can harvest them from ubiquitous shadow. Rumors that MaBarry is a pen name for a commune of twenty people could be true -- but not even twenty wits could concoct the 'Lint King' and his whimsical contributions. MaBarry is immune to fatigue, pain, and changing ISPs.

LizT has charmed me from the day I met her. A bundle of energy with a warm welcome to complete strangers -- just holding a door open or toting a box for LizT gets you a beaming smile and a conversation with a friend you didn't know you had. Later, when I began to see how hard it was to create a convention for gamers, my admiration for her became amazement as she took on that job. Later still, I learned she was actually also a first-class roleplayer who commits to each character she creates with more electricity than the national power grid.

Sol Foster added to my understanding of how to "not lose your mind" at a convention game. I learned that not everything about a con game relied on my ability to "do the right thing." Sol empowers players and delivers a story no matter what and he does it by drawing the story from his Players. He may also be the nicest guy I've ever met. His "Blaze of Glory" games are fantastic fun.

Chris Kindred is the Noble of Enthusiasm. He commands an amazing amount of devotion to gaming, and loves genre tropes that mirror my own. But where I dream, Chris acts and gives folks wonderful games. For every game world I've created, Chris has done five with energy and absolute dedication.

Epoch of the amazing insight and well-known "tips for playing Amber." Epoch's comments always make me think hard. His explanations often have the clarity of wizardry: able to show you something that has eluded you or reveal the other side of something you've been looking at for a long time. He rocks.

KFG is a GM with an extraordinary mastery of small rping moments and interpersonal scenes. I'd say her secret weapon is eye contact and a voice that makes you "lean into" the session, but then I suspect that this is merely hand-waving on my part. There is nothing simple about her ability -- it is to be enjoyed as a polished and delicate thing of beauty.

Ginger and Michael. Michael and Ginger. I'm not sure when I first became aware of this duo. Certainly I first saw these names on the Amber Mailing List when an interesting point about Amber was being tickled about. The sort of comments that might not show up much, but always added a gem when they did. Over time, I learned to appreciate the depth of those comments and the ideas that would be sparked by reading them. When they crossed over from participating in interesting game runs (like AmberWay) to running an extremely well put together game (House of Cards), I realized that they were setting a new standard for GMing online. When MaBarry and Ginger started blogging game material, they inspired me to get off my duff and contribute. The Game WISH archives should be another fantastic resource for gamers of all kinds.

Now I'm realizing that there are still another handful of names I'd like to mention.

Erick Wujcik
Simone Cooper
Robert Fannion
Jack F. Gulick
Cort Odekirk
Jim Henley
Doyce Testerman
Randy Trimmer
Rikibeth Stein
Sea Wasp
Emmet K. Harris
Claire Bickell

And here memory fails me… I salute you all.

:: Arref Mak 2.5.03 :: link ::
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Blog, Jvstin Style: Endurance as Drama Points
Outlines an example and working system for terrif value to Dramatic Endurance.

:: Arref Mak 2.5.03 :: link ::
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::. Thursday, May 1 .::

What if your Endurance rank determined how many extra Drama points you had for those "put everything into it" moments? Simple and dramatic. You can spend Endurance to improve Warfare, Psyche, or Strength.

:: Arref Mak 1.5.03 :: link ::
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Random Encounters -- Save vs. Boxed Text.
Sustaining Damage aside, Both Amber and Everway hit the (DnD-like) problem of everybody expecting their PCs to put forth the maximum conceivable effort for every single action, because there are no PC resources to spend or withhold (and yeah, I'm guilty of this as a player):
I'm thinking about this. Everything that I've been writing about Endurance doesn't really address this item.

So now it will.

Use of Endurance causes temporary restrictions to apply to the Player Character. For GM sanity, there are three levels of Endurance spending. Heavy, Normal, and Light.

Light spends are walking, talking, dancing, and generally having a good life. Light spends never really tap your Endurance reserves.
Normal spends are stress and exertion related -- such as doing anything that is a "Light spend" while pain and danger are involved. So if someone was requiring a dance where the first fumble meant a physical punishment -- that becomes a Normal spend of Endurance. Normal spends tap your reserves at the rate of one rank per hour. So for example, an Amber Zero rank would be reduced to Chaos rank after an hour of Normal spends. (Or Chaos Notable on my own stepped ranks chart.)
Heavy spends are survival related -- such as walking the Pattern, absorbing a backlash of magic, resisting a deadly poison, or other ill-fortune. If a Character is doing any "Normal spend" under double-threat of death, such as swordplay in a burning room -- that becomes a Heavy spend of Endurance. Heavy spends tap your reserves at the rate of three ranks per hour. So for example, an Amber Zero rank would be reduced to below Mortal rank after an hour of Heavy spends.

Walking the Pattern is a "Heavy spend". It takes about an hour to walk -- reducing an Amber Zero rank to below Mortal rank. You would be dead if you walked the Pattern twice within a couple hours. (Or Mortal Notable on my own stepped ranks chart.)

This is the sort of system I like. You can keep it in your head and/or share it with the Players who care about such things.

Recovery is "story value" on my rank chart or "comparison to mortal" on your own system. So if in your game, Chaosian Endurance is twice as good as mortal, such a Character recovers 2 ranks per hour of rest or 1 rank per hour of Light spends or .5 rank per hour of Normal spends or no recovery with Heavy spends.
No recovery for Normal or Heavy spends.
go here for a cleaner system

:: Arref Mak 1.5.03 :: link ::
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::. Wednesday, April 30 .::

Ah, waittaminnit? Moi??
via Djinn
The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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"Models? I don't need no steenking models!"
Fantasy Sex Roleplaying Game Releases October 2003 (worksafe link)
All the images in the book use live models digitally enhanced from photographs. This process allows for realistic images of elves, fairies, nymphs and other standard fantasy characters. Readers will be captivated by this provocative look at the erotic side of medieval fantasy.

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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Amber Diceless Role Playing Game's Journal
Live Journal does a number of nice things to prompt community: like this common page for those interested in Amber DRPG. Blogger could learn a few things from this.

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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Since anon users can't (fixed) post comments to LJ
adrpg: Ill Met in Amber: A Taste of Blood
Nicely rendered. Tensely sparse. Deadly.
As Willow might say:
I have to think that someone magicky woke up cranky today.

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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Expanding Nobilis encounters at:
Random Encounters -- It's all about... missing your save?

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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Amber Diceless Role Playing Game's Journal
there is a post regarding Ill Met in Amber, a Chris Kindred game.

:: Arref Mak 30.4.03 :: link ::
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::. Tuesday, April 29 .::

Doyce has taken on a "Nobilis test-game". This should be good.
Random Encounters :: April 2003 Archive

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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Great Expectations of Amber

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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Show's creator takes a stab at 10 favorite episodes
Oh, very yummy link to Whedon looking back :: from
9. Conversations With Dead People (Nov. 12, 2002)
Buffy, Willow and Dawn chat with the dead: Buffy with a vampire, Dawn with her mother, and Willow with Tara. But Willow isn't actually talking to a dead person at all; she's talking to The First, the season's "Big Bad." Written by Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard; directed by Nick Marck.
Why? "I'm very fond of 'Conversations With Dead People.' I just thought structurally and tonally it was very interesting and had a lot to say. And I got to write another song."
This descript is somewhat flat and misleading... there isn't any surety that all the dead conversations aren't parts of the First's plot.

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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"...the last, best hope for mankind. The Courts of Chaos."
:: pull back to longshot :: against the blackshot riot of a multi-color space, we see small lights gleaming out of windows on the vast dark walls of a menacing series of fortresses ::

I draw my inspiration from the idea that the Courts of Chaos is the first successful defender of human civilization. All others have perished over time. The Abyss has killed them all, one after the other, by leagues, by finger-widths, it has dragged those shadows into the Abyss and done away with them.
Again and again.
But the Courts learned to survive and hold its own against the Abyss.

Now pass a hundred millenium, and you have the Courts as Zelazny describes them. Ossified in their own success. Ritualized in their fortress of learning. Not too strangely, I've seen variant Amber games set up this way. The power and success of Amber played out a thousand years in the future. What do these games often look like?

Quite often--- a lot like the weird haughty Courts.

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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Restrictions and Drama
Perverse Access Memory: Restrictions Revisited

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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tweaks made to the legendary cast of my Amber campaign
Amber: the Eternal City Cast - hosted by Arref Mak

:: Arref Mak 29.4.03 :: link ::
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::. Monday, April 28 .::

The strangest figure in all the story of Amber?

:: Arref Mak 28.4.03 :: link ::
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Claire shared this International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO:
Long Version

:: Arref Mak 28.4.03 :: link ::
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The beautiful university district and the Cathedral Cam

:: Arref Mak 28.4.03 :: link ::
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