Convention Reports
A Visit to Ambercon 7

Ambercon 7 (March 28-31, 1996), as always, was held near Detroit. This time it was at the Embassy Suites in Livonia, to the west of Detroit. This was my second one. I attended #5 two years ago, when it was near the airport. I liked this hotel better, partly because of the open atrium with waterfalls, etc. Pretty cool.

During the con, I met only a few people that I knew from before: Wayne Goodwine, who organized the costume ball; Terry O'Brien and Jennifer Jerlstrom from my inherited online Amber game, "Cat & Mouse", and Linda Cottrel. The first and last I went to college with. This is of course not mentioning people like Erick Wujcik or Carol Dodd, whom I know =of=, but haven't really spoken to.

I guess that I won't get as much into the scenarios as I want to. I want to talk a bit about them because they were really good, but I know that several of the designers want to run them again.

I rushed there Friday about 5:45, expecting the next game to start at 6:00. Well, the slot was late. It started around 7:00 or so. This gave me a chance to eat some supper (most of the meals were provided; it was pasta this time) and rummage through the library. This was a good idea in which people could type up their player diaries for other people to read. (A note: if you were there and read Princess Mirandel's story, that's mine. Comments welcome!) The first thing that I read was ramblings of one Prince Stefan, mentioning other characters like Mythew and Ivar the Timewalker. Interestingly enough, I got to play with people from this group a couple times. Fun people. Another tidbit from the library was some photocopies of a couple issues of the "Guns of Avalon" comic adaptation. DC is starting publication of the 4-issue "Nine Princes in Amber" series in May, and the artist was trying to drum up support for scheduling the next series, as it's all done but not committed to publication.

Friday night's game was "The Kashfa Incident," run by Andy Ransom of Britain. I played my original "Cat & Mouse" character, Mirandel. Despite being a redhead, she exhibits little magical skill, and is more of a sailor at heart. This was an investigation of a disappearance in Kashfa just before the 10-year anniversary of Random's reign.. (Kashfa and Begma were at each others' throats, so Random sent in his top negotiator, William Bale... who disappears.) We were sent in with Caine to find out what happened. Unfortunately, Mirandel is not that much of an investigator, so this was not the best event I've played. Probably the high point for her was searching a Begman warship, but that didn't help to solve the mystery much. :)

The next morning, I volunteered to help out at the art show. Nothing much to say, except that most of the pieces were really quite good. While sitting there, I was watching the game in the room, called "Everything Else is Negotiable." Basically, the players were at the kiddie table of an official function with Martin and Merlin. Over the next few hours, they planned out and executed a drinking contest with a lot of rather interesting wagers and drinks. (I think that one of the wagers involved having to sleep with Merlin.) It lasted over a dozen rounds, and I think that Martin just barely won. But I didn't quite catch what wagers had to be paid off. A very fun game to watch.

Next was the banquet. I was at a table farthest from the buffet table, with a few people that I got to play with later. We got to eat almost last. :( Hearing Erick speak is always a delight, though he stuck this time to mainly awards and administration details. He started out by talking about Roger Zelazny, however. Issue 10 of Amberzine (a tribute to him) should be rather interesting. Also, these little brass business card holders with the usual unicorn symbol were handed out. This was relevant because of the business cards (for our characters) that everyone got with their registration fee. In all the games I played, we exchanged whole bunches of cards. It's a very good idea, actually. The only thing is, I still have a whole stack of mine. It looked like everyone got a couple hundred cards. Oh well, I can drop them in business card giveaway things.

Next was "The Children's Hour II: Mob the Mega-Mall" with Jennifer Jerlstrom. Terry also was in this event. Basically, we all had kid characters, and Flora took us to the Mall of America in Minnesota. Rather an interesting event, but my character was unsuited for it. (Oh well, Toby was created for this, so I guess it's my own fault, like my mistaken belief I couldn't have any primal powers. I later realized just how much Trump artistry would have been...) Toby was pretty good, mainly sticking to buying more stuffed animals (some, he didn't get a chance to buy at all, due to an interruption), a wagon to carry stuff in (abandoned) and a bunch of comics. Other players included Terry's Rowan, the daughter of his Brigid character (didn't really get into trouble either), Jacob with shapeshifting, a couple named Josh and Joshua (serendipity got them the same name), and Jason Fox and Marcus (from the Fox Trot comic strip). Flora turned most of us loose with wads of cash, but kept her grandson Jacob close to buy some nice clothes for. He started the festivities by ditching her after accidentally spraying some cheapo perfume on her. He was on the run most of the event, finally being caught by the mall cops, and dumped in Flora's Earth mansion. Actually, by that time it was the police. You see, Jason and Marcus were being Jason and Marcus and were sowing mayhem with suction cup guns, walkie-talkies, and the like. Marcus managed to get the police called by shooting a mall cop in the eye with his gun. He never did get caught, due to his obscene Warfare. Jason never really had a chance to do anything to get chased, as Jacob and Marcus were doing it all for him. Marcus ended up the day with a viewing of "Rumble in the Bronx." Rowan and Josh sedately shopped most of the time, but started off by consuming $60 worth of Cinnabons and milk. Joshua began by buying a box of Legos from the Lego center as large as he was, and then built some Lego grenades that didn't get actually used. There was something better, though, at the end.

Toby's sole special item was a bunch of animate stuffed animals, which was a big mistake as Flora didn't let him take them. (They were Teddy the bear, Stripe the tiger, Brittany the cheetah, Asrial the skunk, Genma the panda, and Ryouga/P-Chan the pig, if you recognize the references; for a hint, the first is just generic, and the others are from comics) So his first stop was at a make-to-order teddy bear factory, to see if he could at least have one animate animal. No dice. He was later accosted by Jacob up on the third floor, and used as diversion to escape from the mall cops. He was getting too much attention from one of the cops, and he had to use his obscene Psyche to convince him that one of the large stuffed bears in the store was Toby's parent. This cop was later thought to be using drugs. :) Toby slipped out, but he had to leave the wagon there. He hid out at the comic store, L.L. Bean for a backpack, and a jewelry store for something nice for Flora the rest of the day.

Other highlights were Joshua's release of wind-up pigs all over the mall, Jacob's calling Flora "Graaannd-mmmaaaa!" a couple times, and finally, the crowning achievement: cutting the cables holding up the Lego space shuttle. Shuttle go boom. :) Unfortunately, Toby wasn't anywhere near it to watch.

Next up was "Much Ado About Nothing." This was put on by Jennifer Rayser and Matthew Sharpe, "Rayser-Sharpe Productions." (groan) This was one of the two best events (along with "My Favorite Things," on Sunday), because my character was actually partly suited for it! This was also an investigation, but this was 300-point Mirandel, with some other tricks up her sleeve, and the mayhem was hitting a little closer to home than "Oh, no, some negotiator is missing." Mirandel had a pretty interesting in-character thing to do most of the time. The backdrop was the Royal Kashfan Acting Troupe's opening night in the new Amber theater. Let's just say that Mirandel was... sorting her Trump deck a bit.

Part of the entertainment was playing with Prince Wakko (as in Warner), who had many good lines that night. Ivar the Timewalker was there, and at one point was going into a long monologue about what responsibility he has not to let things get out and change the future. He's (well, the player's female) really getting into it, when Wakko tremulously asks, "Do I get a pony for Christmas?" Despite the frame of mind I was in [Mirandel getting all worked up from events :), as were the others], that just brought us all down laughing. There was at least one other time that this happened, but darned if I can remember the line. There were a few other interesting characters roaming around, apparently from the Port Huron area group that Rayser and Sharpe (and Jo Ann Clute, Ivar's player, and others) are part of. There was Dave Spivey, who seemed to be based on The Mask, and then there was the Mystic Chihuahua.

That game lasted until 2 AM, but I didn't mind because it was so good, and I didn't need to get up early for the next day's events, which for some reason started at 2 PM. This one was Jo Ann "Ivar" Clute's "My Favorite Things." This was a blast, because it was so strange. We played the intelligent artifacts of Amberites. You see, they all disappeared, and we needed to find out what happened. I was playing Morthantomilistimus (Morthant), the very small dragon companion of Mirandel. (I have a stuffed version of him that I picked up at GenCon a couple years ago, that I used throughout the convention.) Other characters included a set of four ferrets, the One Ring, another ring of power, a shapeshifting crystal ball, Fiona's walking crucible, and Castle Amber itself. There were a bunch of other artifacts from the Port Huron group, including the animated luggage, the obnoxious intelligent rapier Perry, lots of Pernese Fire Lizards, Tik Tok from "Return to Oz" and the Happy Fun Balls. (Do not taunt the Happy Fun Balls!) Oh, and Greyswandir, Frakir, Werewindle and Morganstern put in appearances.

Through much of the game, the One Ring was thwarted in its attempts to corrupt anyone by being trapped inside the crucible. There was also sort of an ongoing feud between the crucible and myself, which was sort of precipitated by myself stringing up Fiona's bloomers and dress on the flagpole. :) (Fiona and Mirandel/Morthant don't get along, and this was too good of a chance to pass up.) I ended up trapped in Fiona's laboratory by the crucible, while I was distracted in catching Fiona's two loose lab mice, Pinky and the Brain. I set them up to work at finding a way out in return for not eating them, but I got out through other means. All in all, a lot of fun, especially with the ferrets dragging one of Flora's hand grenades around. :)

All in all, it was probably worth the (substantial, partly because food was included) money, even though I could only attend about half of it. I can't wait until next year.