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October 30, 2009 / jadettman


Like everyone else, I enjoy a bit of nostalgia from time to time. I re-read my favorite books, watch movies I’ve seen a hundred times, and fondly reminisce about the roleplaying campaigns of yesteryear. So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been feeling nostalgic for my old Amber campaigns after running a playtest scenario last weekend.

I don’t tend to think of it as all that impressive but some of my friends have pointed out the ridiculous amount of time that I’ve spent running/playing Amber. From the time the game was published, in 1992, until we left Ithaca, in 2006, I’ve been involved in an Amber rpg, in one way or another, nearly non-stop.

During that time, I played in three Amber campaigns, run by my friends Pete, Ahmad,  and J.P., and ran seven of my own. The three campaigns I ran in Iowa City I didn’t name. I hadn’t acquired that habit at the time.

My first game I ran in conjunction with my college roommate, Pete. It was an exuberant campaign, but definitely a learning game, and ultimately it ended rather abruptly.

My second game is a bit of a blur. I remember that I morphed out of an Earthdawn game that we’d been playing but other than that I don’t really remember many details. I know that by that time Britt had joined our roleplaying group, though we weren’t involved at the time. Yep, other than that I’m drawing a blank.

My third game I played in. It was run by my friend Ahmad and it ran for several years. I played Aram, an Israeli tank commander who was a son of Random. That game went to some might strange places and, I feel, had a large impact on the way that I ran games afterward.

My fourth and fifth games I ran for friends in Iowa City. At least, I think I’m getting the timeline right. There was a game I ran with Paula, Shawn, and Paul as the players. It had some cool elements in it, like the strange non-temporally-linear spider-creatures that Shawn allied with or the time Paul’s character rode the Unicorn beyond the edge of the universe. Wacky, wacky stuff.

When we moved to Ithaca, we found a new Amber group, in retrospect, amazingly quickly. The first game I ran there eventually came to be called They Might Be Redheads (that link will take you to Britt’s o-fficial campaign webpage). In the end, this was my longest running campaign, lasting approximately 3.5 years. This is the game that brought us Buddy, the giant talking bird, the unfortunate incident of Bleys having his legs machine-gunned off while fighting Eric and Dairmaid on the slopes of Kolvir, and the scene in which no one was quite sure who’s head Oberon was shaking.

My second Ithaca campaign was called Masks, Lies and Deceptions. That game didn’t last quite so long, clocking in at just under two years. It brought us Ruaidhrigh (the Amberite whose name merely looks unpronounceable), Tristan (the Amberite with four ‘fathers’), and the word ‘strategery,’ which, quite frankly, I find indispensable now that it’s been coined.

My third Ithaca campaign I named Hard Lessons. It was a bit of a departure from the more high-powered games that came before it. Personally, I think it was the best campaign I ever ran but then my players may disagree . . .  This game is the source for the super-creepy Courts of Chaos which featured seven-legged albino spiders, bleeding hands, and the unstoppable juggernaut of Chaos marching down on Amber. Happily, this was the game in which Dan finally figured out that he liked Amber. Also, he got Corwin killed which was hilarious.

After Hard Lessons, I took a bit of a break from running games and played in a brief campaign of JP’s in which I played Sebastian. Sebastian was a gentleman of leisure who spent most of his time gambling and being a layabout. I had a good time playing him.

I ran my fourth and final Ithaca game after JP’s. I didn’t end up naming it because it was an experiment and campaign names convey a certain amount of information that I didn’t want to betray, in this case. The setup in this game was that Amber had been destroyed, along with all of the Amberites, but the Pattern/Unicorn was attempting to reconstruct things by finding extraordinary people in Shadow and melding them with the stored personalities of the dead Amberites by allowing them to walk the Pattern. Ultimately, the game ended when we left town. It hadn’t worked out quite as I had expected because of some early mistakes on my part. I don’t consider it a failure but it could have worked out better in some cases.

Since moving to Wisconsin, I’ve briefly run one Amber game consisting of three sessions. It was amusing and I did it on a whim but it only had two players. To run a decent one, I think at least three players would be necessary. It did succeed in getting James interested in Amber, though.  🙂

So, there you have it. Thirteen-ish years playing Amber Diceless Roleplaying in a nutshell.



Leave a Comment
  1. Pete / Oct 30 2009 9:46 am

    Thx Jason, I now feel old.

  2. J.A. Dettman / Oct 30 2009 4:51 pm

    Hey, glad I could help, Pete. 🙂

  3. Britt / Oct 31 2009 3:53 pm

    Legendary Strategery.


    Let it be noted for the record that I want another Amber game. Now.

  4. J.A. Dettman / Nov 2 2009 8:16 am

    I will, once again, note that for the record. 🙂

  5. Britt / Nov 2 2009 10:38 am

    Note it HARD.

  6. The Fierce / Nov 2 2009 11:59 am

    Every time I get an itch to run Amber, I remember that that itch is because I was badly burned and still have the scars. [ahem] [grin]

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