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Author Topic: Ambercon 2006  (Read 8695 times)
Nuadha
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« on: April 04, 2005, 05:17:17 PM »

Ambercon 2005, the convention for Amber and other Diceless RPGs, was this weekend.   I attended and had a blast as always.   However, every year the convention seems to have less and less attendees.   There has been many theories about the cause (the fact that there are now multiple local Ambercons like Ambercon Nothwest in Portland and The Black Road in Massachussets; the lack of any new Amber DRPG material in over 10 years) and I am sure that the real reason is a blend of all the reason.    

While discussing this with another attendee, we discussed how many other experimental types of RPG games were being run that were either diceless or used some other unusual form of conflict resolution.  This year, we saw a Dogs in the Vineyard game, an Everway game, Kill Puppies for Satan, and a game using the Tarot-based "Zero Movement."  In past years I have seen My Life With Master, Nobilis, Marvel Universe (Diceless), several homegrowns and The Pool.

I've been thinking that Ambercons may attract more players if it started advertising itself as a con for diceless and and alternative game designs rather than as "The original convention for Amber Diceless RPG."     I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would like to go to a con where games like Nobilis and The Pool are getting more play but would never think to look to Ambercon because they think it is only for Amber (and honestly, there have been fewer and fewer Amber games at Ambercons these days as a lot of newer systems are catching the attendees eyes).

So, do you think that if people started seeing Ambercon advertised as an "alternative gaming convention featuring Amber Diceless" they would be more likely to check it out than the way it is being advertised now (an Amber Diceless conbvention) or do you think people will still see it as a con for "just Amber."
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2005, 06:22:58 PM »

Well, is it a con for alternative game designs, of which Amber is one?  Is there a substantial group of people who come there with no intention of playing Amber?  Or, are there only people who come there to play Amber, but who are also interested (for a session, maybe two) in playing other games?
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Nuadha
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2005, 07:36:39 AM »

Currently, most of the people at the con are there for Amber but are always interested and willing to run and play these other systems.  There are a decent number of attendees, however, who do seem more interested in palying/trying other alternative game systems.....enough that there is usually at least one alternative system in each slot and several non-Amber scenarios that use variations of Amber Diceless or other systems for character generation with the Amber Diceless resolution.   (Higher number wins.)  Personally, I ran a system-less game, a LARP using a system of my own and a game that used a substantially altered version of Amber Diceless (that includes some random elements.....sacrilege, I know).

I think that there is enough interest there to support more experimental games at Ambercon.   I know that when I run games like The Pool at Ambercons, my agames tend to fill or at least get a solid group, but when I try running them at any other con, I'm lucky if I get two players.   I attempted to run my own game, Dreaming City (titled long before GoO's recent release was announced) at a local game con, U-Con twice and both times almost had to cancel due to lack of players.....

So, I guess the answer is yes and no.

No, there is not a substantial players who come with absolutely no intention of playing Amber but there are enough GMs who do not intend to run Amber games that a person attending who wants to try other games would find several choices.
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Ginger Stampley
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2005, 07:42:21 AM »

I think you could widen the base, both by getting Amber people to try new games and by getting indie people to show up. A lot of the cool people I know through Amber gaming (Doyce Testerman, Dave Hill, Michael Curry, and Jack Gulick to name a few) are heavily into indie gaming.

TBR in Massachusetts has a similar semi-track of indie/nonstandard gaming, but everything has to be Amber-themed or diceless. Mind you, as the person who ran the Amber-themed Kobolds Ate My Baby in which they encountered Jasra and ate Baby Rinaldo, I think the "Amber theme" can be pretty loose. I know there's been some talk of merging TBR with the proposed 20x20 con, because I discussed it with the TBR concom last week. I wouldn't count on that happening, but it might be worth it to discuss the idea of merging it with ACUS. (Bryant, if you're reading, this might be the time to pop up.)

I'm not an old-time Amberconner by any means, but my reaction to the idea of bringing in indie games is positive.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2005, 08:17:23 AM »

I guess... well, if I read the advertisement you outlined, then attended that convention, I would feel that you'd been borderline fraudulent.

I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words, so I'm going to fall back on analogy:  Say you put up fliers for a party.  They say "Come to a board-game party!  Monopoly, Chess, Risk, Diplomacy!  Board-games of every stripe!"  I think "Hey, that sounds cool, I'll go."

Then I get there and discover that it's a chess tournament, with table after table dedicated to chess.  People play other games between matches, but there is nobody there (other than me) who isn't there primarily to play Chess.

Let's envision, further, that (unlike real life) I don't actually like Chess.  And nine out of ten times I say "Hey, how about we get together a game of Diplomacy," people say "Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of chess?"


You see how I could feel that I'd been lied to by the advertisement?  I think that's essentially what you're at risk of doing here.  So, hey yeah, advertise an Indie Game track.  I'm all supportive of that.  But be honest about what place it will have in your con.
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beingfrank
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2005, 11:13:09 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
I guess... well, if I read the advertisement you outlined, then attended that convention, I would feel that you'd been borderline fraudulent.

I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words, so I'm going to fall back on analogy:  Say you put up fliers for a party.  They say "Come to a board-game party!  Monopoly, Chess, Risk, Diplomacy!  Board-games of every stripe!"  I think "Hey, that sounds cool, I'll go."

Then I get there and discover that it's a chess tournament, with table after table dedicated to chess.  People play other games between matches, but there is nobody there (other than me) who isn't there primarily to play Chess.

Let's envision, further, that (unlike real life) I don't actually like Chess.  And nine out of ten times I say "Hey, how about we get together a game of Diplomacy," people say "Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of chess?"


Except that's not how Amber cons seem to work in general.  One knows before one gets there what games one will be playing in.  If you signed up to chess games instead of the games you were interested in, and then bitched about having to play chess it would really be rather odd.

And I read Nuadha posts as suggestion a change in games as well as advertising.  So one wouldn't just change the way the con was advertised, but also actively look for a broader range of games to be run, thus ensuring it was as advertised.

Maybe I'm missing something?
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Nuadha
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2005, 10:31:05 AM »

That is exactly as I meant.    If the game  convention were advertised as such, we would get more GMs as well as more players interested in alternative systems (which we already have quite a few), so there should not be a problem having enough alternative games being run to Amber.   (Already, I could go to an Ambercon, game in every slot and not play Amber once.)    Bring more GMs that want to run other systems and you'll see even more variety.    Sure there still may be 50% Amber games as it would still be "Ambercon,"   but there would be plenty of other options as well.
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cdr
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2005, 04:53:52 AM »

Here's one data point: I've never before considered attending an Ambercon, because I'm not that interested in playing in Amber as a setting or Diceless RPGs, so why would I attend a con dedicated to those? But if Ambercon NW or TBR offered the chance to run or play Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch and other Indie RPGs, I would be very, very interested, IF there were enough of it that I could spend all my time playing (and  in the case of DitV, running) those.

I have no idea how many others might feel that way, though.

--Carl Rigney
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MichaelCurry
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2005, 06:39:37 PM »

Quote from: cdr
Here's one data point: I've never before considered attending an Ambercon, because I'm not that interested in playing in Amber as a setting or Diceless RPGs, so why would I attend a con dedicated to those? But if Ambercon NW or TBR offered the chance to run or play Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch and other Indie RPGs, I would be very, very interested, IF there were enough of it that I could spend all my time playing (and  in the case of DitV, running) those.


I think that's a good point.  Right now TBR really doesn't have enough of the indie games to quite provide a full track, in part because we're a smaller con than ACUS (and so have less GMs).  Jack "Ghoul" Gulick is running a game of John Wick's Cat this year, and I'm running The Mountain Witch and kpfs, and there's a Noblis game too, but there are 5 slots, and I don't expect more indie games to pop up (unless Bryant snaps and decides to run something).  Plus, as Immlass pointed out above, for ow we still officially have a policy where the games need to other be Amber-related (though we define that pretty loosely) or diceless.

Will this change in the future?  Possibly.  The con's current chair isn't at all adverse to the idea.
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Michael Curry

My gaming blog: Flaming Monkey
Tymen
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2005, 10:21:38 PM »

Quote from: Nuadha
Ambercon 2005, the convention for Amber and other Diceless RPGs, was this weekend.
   
While discussing this with another attendee, we discussed how many other experimental types of RPG games were being run that were either diceless or used some other unusual form of conflict resolution.  This year, we saw a Dogs in the Vineyard game, an Everway game, Kill Puppies for Satan, and a game using the Tarot-based "Zero Movement."  In past years I have seen My Life With Master, Nobilis, Marvel Universe (Diceless), several homegrowns and The Pool.


I ran Dust Devils on the Thursday night, everybody seemed to really enjoy it
I'll post a wite-up in the Actual Play area at some point in the near future.
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Bryant
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2005, 03:54:59 AM »

Quote from: immlass
TBR in Massachusetts has a similar semi-track of indie/nonstandard gaming, but everything has to be Amber-themed or diceless. Mind you, as the person who ran the Amber-themed Kobolds Ate My Baby in which they encountered Jasra and ate Baby Rinaldo, I think the "Amber theme" can be pretty loose. I know there's been some talk of merging TBR with the proposed 20x20 con, because I discussed it with the TBR concom last week. I wouldn't count on that happening, but it might be worth it to discuss the idea of merging it with ACUS. (Bryant, if you're reading, this might be the time to pop up.)


Hm. I'd definitely buy into that. I've totally flaked on the 20x20 con for work-related reasons; I've been thinking about the always optimistic "next year," but merging with TBR would make a lot of sense. Or, more accurately, using the 20x20 banner as a way of signifying TBR's desire to attract more indie gaming would make a lot of sense.
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Nuadha
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2005, 07:37:56 AM »

Well, I spoke with Kris and several of the other local Amber-people on Saturday regarding this and some people were receptive to the idea of encouraging more indie games at the con as long as we still made it clear that we are Ambercon by advertising that the con does have other games.

There was some talk about pushing the idea that we are a "diceless" con even though we know that there are many non-diceless, alternative, games being run at the con.

At least two believe believe that we advertise this as anything other than AMBERcon....if we advertise the idea of playing other games....that we will lose some of the hardcore.

Personally, I don't see that having the con advertised as having other games will reduce greatly the number of Amber games being run so there is no reason that the hard-core fans should leave....and if some do, I think the con could still be better off.    Right now, Ambercon US has been losing attendees each year anyway as more local Ambercons have popped up and it has been longer and longer since there has been anything new for the community or since the books have been readily available on game store shelves and attracting new audiences.
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Knave
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2005, 06:06:19 PM »

ACUS's conformity to ADRP and "diceless" was, years ago, one of the reasons I haven't made the con. While it was great for me, my wife, who gamed, but knew nothing of Amber, had no interest. I wasn't stupid enough to go conning without her. Her first con was a one day event that she liked, her first 3 day event boasted the widest array of game titles I've ever seen. I think she was spoiled from then on...

While this years plans to attend ACUS were short circuited again, it wasn't lack of Amber inspiration. We both play PBeM in a varient Everway system in a well crafted Amberverse.

I think opening up the con would be wonderful. I enjoy the alternate games at TBR, having played in the kpfs and KAMB games, and running an Amberway event myself.

I'm not sure if they'll see the light of day, but I'm working concepts for this year's TBR with "With Great Power" at the core and a more common Amber but diced with a variant who owes it's roots to "Otherkind". I'm not the Indie Guy, but I know a few and I'd love to play DITV. If ACUS offered more variety, I'd be in, and I might be offering to run a game or two.

Hmm... FVLMINATA Amber... Emperor Ober... nah... Benedict... [twitch]
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