Perverse Access Memory:
WISH 51: New Genres What are three genres that you’ve had limited exposure to as a gamer that you’d like to try or play more of?
Aah, well let's see if I can find three.
I got a great taste for the Western card-sharking game from Kindred's To Live and Die in Texorami. I'd like to go there again, and circumstances have prevented this pleasure. There is something about mischief-making in the Old West analog that touches the kid in me. I suppose I don't mind if it is a bit Pulpy too, a few bits from the Wild Wild West. Not sure if this would include the Weird West that seems to be part of Deadlands and Werewolf, though I could see a cross between X-files and westerns. I don't think I want a steady diet of horror in my genre (not even in horror genre.)
I'm tempted by the genre of Victorian Adventure as exemplified by the comic mag the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I suspect that I'm better off skipping that genre's severe restrictions on women and going straight to the Roaring Twenties Pulp adventures of the Agents of the Argent Rose. Oh, wait. That's my game. Well, I only get to play it once a year at ACN, and I would like to play it more often. It has fast cars, quick-witted heroes, evening clothes, and champagne. You can get a kiss from Clara Bow, or fall into a romance with Johnny Weismueller. You can also sleep until noon if you like. Aah, Paris!
In fact, I'd love to do a campaign of it. Not enough time in a four hour game to enjoy the development of the background.
There is another campaign genre I'd love to be a part of, this one is harder to describe. It exists only in my head, though it keeps showing up as little ideas and projects that I don't have time to fiddle with. It begins with Leonardo da Vinci and an awesome discovery. It arrives in today's current events with a world that is conflicted nearly beyond tolerance. It involves Watchers, Weir, Chosen, Clockworks, Mutants, Mummies, Slayers, Saviours, Glamoured, Guardians, and saving the world from its own building misery. As a system, it might be Nobilis, or it might be something else entirely. I actually like Jack Gulick's Narrative System, but I've also had success playtesting Twilighters to make it work. What is this genre? Pastiche? Goulash? I don't know. It doesn't sound subtle, but I'd like it to have a real-world flavor, with a slightly mad alternate secret history of the world thing.
Unified Deconstructed Pulp.
update :: have some thoughts about UDP system using G/T (Gulick/Thelwell) Narrative system that I'll share with Jack
Amber :: campaign continuity/expansion :: Two Here are elements I've used to expand the cast, not all of these became PCs
A son of vanished Osric :: King of his own shadow, and politically aligned with outsider views of Amber
A daughter of the conspiracy to replace Deirdre during the Patternfall War; the Chaosian spy nearly became Deirdre for a time (dangerous to shape as an empowered being), and became pregnant while in Amber (and delivered a daughter who favored Deirdre as well.)
A family line descendant from Oberon before he left the Courts in exile
A daughter of Oberon's who died on the Pattern before Rilga was queen
A daughter of Oberon's who died in battle before Llewella was born
Three children of Corwin's from his explorations of the Argent Pattern
A family line descendant from Lora, Sandmorel, and Delwin
A long-vanished fraternal twin of Llewella, to save Moins and Llewella from arcane complications, the stronger fetus was placed into stasis by Rebman magic prior to delivery (Llewella: so sad, so lost, so lonely)
A family line descendant from an assassinated son of assassinated Caine
Several and sundry sons/daughters of unexpected bouts of fertility :: a la the Merlin method
A son of a Princess determined to have a child without anyone else's help
A daughter !inspired! by a suggestion from the Unicorn
An unknown orphaned son of Martin's from a mother who committed suicide
Four children of Oberon by Deela :: the femme fatale of which all others are but shadows
A daughter of a young Amberite manipulated into the boudoir by an enemy of Amber; then raised ignorant of her Amber heritage
Most of these generated a lot of personal stories for the campaign. One can note a theme of my campaign, that there are destinies that twine about the legends of each Elder and recurr. Paulette's line is entwined with suicides (Zelazny hinted Paulette died thusly, so did Morganthe.) Oberon's daughters seem to stay away from marriage. Caine kills a close shadow of himself, and history finds death dogging his line afterward. Corwin wins a kingdom in a fey land, as he did Avalon, then Amber. Overall, these things have worked very well for the health of the campaign.
Amber :: campaign continuity/expansion So here's a problem that most GMs don't have: if you are very successful, you have a running campaign of forty some game years and now someone wants to join.
What's the diff? Well, there are several problems with extending a running Amber campaign.
One: in the rules, there is little provision for introducing new characters at lower age levels (to the extent that I discourage a wide range in PC ages.) I've solved this one by making my campaign mostly about learning how to apply your character's perspective to the universe. Royals make things happen, so your Character's viewpoint determines a lot about how your legend grows. In order to facilitate this, PCs are pretty much intro'd as young people ---not as folks already hundreds of years old.
Two: in the rules, there is minor provision for introducing new characters that will fit into the family 'mechanics' except by the cliche of "undiscovered relative" with penalties to buying ranks. There is zero provision for having children of PCs introduced at lower experience levels (see above.)
Three: inside the game, you have to create sophisticated plot logic around the introduction of a "clueless of immortal heritage" relative (and is that narrow role really fun play?) Where have they been? Why have they been hidden? What part of the universe gives them their cultural bias? etc, etc, etc.
Or you can start a whole new game... which isn't what your long-time Players want to hear. So what's a GM to do?
expand the game laterally :: there is the discovery of a new section of the universe; or a new universe that opens to your own. Strange Bedfellows employs this device as just one of its story lines
introduce a scion of Amber thought dead :: a problem if you want to respect "problem one" above; though you could use the 'Buck Rogers' dodge for this and it might be quite interesting
introduce an unknown scion by the "Merlin method" where a royal prince doesn't know he's produced offspring :: works well enough, but tends to make the father look foolish; it's really been done ---a lot :: resist the temptation unless you've got a 'peach' of a story in mind
if you have a healthy cast of royal NPCs, you can introduce a scion of one of your youngest royals, such as Coral, or someone that everyone in the campaign thinks of as too young to have a kid, like Merlin :: this tends to generate a lot of story, doesn't restrict the idea to only fathers, and promises interesting cross generation alliances and mix-ups :: put a 'star' by this one
tap into those ancient Chaos blood lines :: you don't need to have a Pattern PC to make the game larger, Chaos is a great backstory :: this one's been done a lot, too
tap one of the wives that disappeared suddenly :: Harla, Lora, Titania, Bosnia (oops, sorry) :: Zelazny has a ghost of Oberon talking about forty-something kids; this takes us back to "problem one and two"
have an Elder get near-blasted, survive, and start healing their brain :: this allows them to be played as new PCs by someone joining the campaign :: wow, talk about story! quite a shock to your existing cast, but lots of potential
Wapsi Square - Friday, May 30, 2003 I imagine this scenario as young (amber) gal on a date.
What's a working perspective for ladies growing up and trying to find a man that measures up? I have two female amberites IMC, both weighing these issues in different ways: usually as a threshold to be overcome.
So where it started was college. A dim and dusty corner in the back of the store. There she was, dressed in tan faux-leather, and looking quite innocent. D&D. The cliche goes that your first love catches you up and never lets you forget. I still feel that way about my first RPing experience. D&D became a comfort, a new experience, and a relationship that began (unknowing) to pull me out of an introverted lifestyle. I think I owe most of my social skills to this first romance.
And because of that, I managed to flirt with Chainmail. Nothing serious could ever happen. We had a few social meetings. Instinctively I knew that D&D was the real thing ---and no matter how much was "owed" to Chainmail, it would never be as magical as D&D. Chainmail also hung around with some others, and so I met Metamorphosis Alpha and Boot Hill ---but we never really spent much time together. They were fun, but my heart was taken.
And then after college, a tour of Europe for several years, where a friend returned from a trip to the States with AD&D. Instant fascination. Many of the things I had spent nights laboring over with D&D became practical and exciting for the first time. I hadn't known how much I was carrying the relationship with D&D. The new gal in town was colorful, deep, and full of advice about how to get more out of my time. AD&D became my steady.
Once back in America, things were really happening on the RPG front. For several years, I saw many games in the local hangout, and even brought some home to check out my library. There were parties, get-togethers, but I never really strayed far from AD&D, even though Champions and GURPS made a big push to get my attention.
Ravenloft was the first thing to come along and make me stare. Yep, but the problem with Ravenloft was ---it was smaller than the campaign I had already created from scratch. It couldn't compete with the total excitement of my AD&D game. It became the weird younger sister that sometimes wanted to come along for the ride. Shortly after, Al-Qadim, an even younger sister made a strong play for my attention. It beat Ravenloft hands down. She had exotic eyes, and amazing social intricacies. She was extremely mature for her age.
But ultimately, AD&D was still a bigger universe, and even though I liked Al-Qadim a lot, it was one world, not an entire universe.
Then I met a gal that opened multiple universes. Rifts. She was brassy and a bit over-the-top. She was a juxtaposition of weird tastes. Sometimes gross, always in your face exciting, and occasionally just nutty. I spent a few months trying to figure out if she was really as cool as she seemed to be. The answer was no, she was just wild and young and showing off. She didn't have the depth I was used to. Soon I was back to AD&D, homegrown, tweaked and very intense.
Maybe, no--- probably, I was bringing all kinds of things back to my AD&D experience. Certainly, she was polished and knowing about a variety of subjects. She encompassed everything I had seen or read. We just clicked on so many aspects. She grew as I grew.
Vampire became all the rage (no pun intended.) I read her cover to cover and knew that while the nuts and bolts were friendly and well rendered, the theme was just too limiting for telling stories. Way too narrow. No trade. No way. The vampires that AD&D had already introduced me to were way more interesting.
Mage tried to change that, and opened up the Storyteller universe in a big way that smacked of things I'd explored with my long-time steady. So I gave Mage a look, because the system and effort was pretty sophisticated. But in the back of my mind, I pretty much knew the answer already: AD&D was something that had worked its way into everything I was looking for and doing. We had the same friends, we knew the same jokes. We were happy. We were set.
And then something very odd happened. I started to see advertisements for a lady named Amber. Many months later, in a store looking for trinkets to bring back to my steady flame, I saw Amber lounging in the store. I chatted her up, talked about this whole "diceless thing" and found her mature, very intriguing, and easy to talk to. She even said she understood about my "commitment". We went home together with the understanding that she might show my friend AD&D some things.
And it might have just been that way, but a few months later, AD&D left me for a career change. Bang. Cold Turkey. Of course I was shaken. I stopped gaming. I didn't think I could do anything new, as I'd just be comparing everything to the best and longest relationship I'd ever wanted.
I started meeting other gals, just to be social. Plenty of interesting ones, gals that might show me something so different that I couldn't compare them to what I'd lost. Over the Edge. Changeling. It just didn't seem to spark. So I tried to build my own girl. Yeah, sorta desperate, I know. I began doing research. Something modern would be nice. Something urban, or a bit odd. I found Earth & Sky. I checked out Big Eyes, Small Mouth. What were other folks doing to make a new statement about RPing?
And then I got online. That exposure introduced me to many more gamers than I had been seeing. And I found others talking about Amber. Now Amber made a real statement. No dice. No forced teaming. No limited skill sets. No arbitrary restrictions. I realized that if I was going to break the mold of my past RPing --- I could do it with this innovative lady. So I took her out.
And I've never regretted it.
Intense gaming breeds burnout, just as always reading the same sort of genres, or seeing the same sort of movies does. Getting the game system out of the way helps keep the RP events lively and in focus. Amber does this nearly seamlessly. I still miss AD&D some days, as we had a wonderful life together. But lately, I've realized that while AD&D was a great universe, it wasn't the Real universe. It had artificial props and things you had to ignore; the way you sometimes just ignore bad CGI in movies.
Amber is bigger and canny and vivid. She knows that while imperfect, people are the most interesting thing to tell stories about. I hope she stays around for a long time.