It turned out that the
players were spread out from there to Chicago, and met on alternate
Saturdays in a community hall just across the border in Illinois. The
next Saturday, I and the Wisconsin players all piled into a van and
drove down. On the way, the GM introduced Brigid to Amber by having her
discover another member of Amber in her Shadow, who discovered that she
had Pattern potential and took her to Amber.
At the game that night,
Brigid was introduced to the rest of the characters. One, in
particular, was Ombra, Oberon's younger step-brother and Prince of the
Unseelie Faerie. She also had a blood scan performed, and was told that
she was Fae, which attracted Ombra's attention. It eventually came out
that Brigid was the lost Seelie Princess, Ombra's exact opposite in
most everything. And they got along fabulously.
This went on for several
years, even after the GM moved back to Milkwakee, which meant I drove
myself down to Illinois every other weekend just to play in an Amber
game. (It also shows how dull Appleton was.) Then, when I moved back
home to Fort Wayne, I tried to stay in touch as best as I could through
email. One message about a critical event in the campaign eventually
led to one of the most heartfelt moments in my roleplaying career.
Back in Milwaukee, the
other players had been talking about what their characters knew, and
suddenly realized that the BIG MENACE they had been warned about was
just about on their doorstep. They (and only they) were the ones fated
to prevent the universe as they knew it from being destroyed. They were
successful, but my question to the GM was, what was Brigid doing when
all this went down?
Since I wanted a little
more immediacy, I called the GM instead of using email. He explained
that Brigid was back in Faerie, mustering the troops for the defense of
the universe, which only she could do, as both Fae and Amber. (Ombra
was one of the fated ones, so he was unavailable.) Brigid had to become
the gateway to take all of Faerie to the battle site. After taking
almost all of Faerie into her heart, Brigid's father (whom she had met
only a few times in her current incarnation) turned to her and gave her
a cold iron blade, which, for a Fae, was a literal death sentence. At
that point I choked up (literally!) I could feel Brigid's pain at
having to kill her own father, even though she knew if she was
successful, everything would turn out all right. But it was still a
shock that required a few moments to recover from.
Once that was done,
Brigid went to the battle site, where it was still being fought. She
didn't have any pre-ordained role in the battle, so she made the same
sacrifice the rest of Faerie did, transforming herself into her avatar
form of the Phoenix and diving into the energy matrix that was all that
was left of reality that two other characters were maintaining, in the
hope that upon victory, it would be used recreate the universe. And
when that was done, Faerie became a part of reality instead of being
The campaign continued
on, and I would go back up to Milwaukee a few times. Finally, the GM
ran out of ideas and opponents to challenge us, and finished the
What are your favorite RPGs?
I like RPGS where the system is created to let the character shine.
That includes Amber Diceless RP, Hero/Champions, various forms of White
Wolf games, among others. Anything where the rules take a backseat to
the character generation and play.
I'm also a nut for games
set in detailed worlds, like Runequest and Empire of the Petal Throne,
because I'm a world-creator at heart, too, and I can appreciate the
work that has gone into these worlds to make them come alive in such
vibrant (metaphorical) colors.
What was your first RPG session
like? It was back in the summer of 1975, when a friend
of ours named Bill Gammel came over from Iowa to show us this strange
new game called Dungeons & Dragons. We
had met through the PLATO computer system, based out of the University
of Illinois, which included computer games like Empire (a Star Trek
strategic game), Airwar (air combat) and a number of fantasy RP games.
It was through one of the fantasy RP games that we were introduced to
Bill, who said that there were similar games we could play without
needing a computer.
So, one Saturday
afternoon, Bill arrived in the common area of Kettler Hall at
Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne to show this group of college students this
game called Dungeons & Dragons. I don't
remember much of the game itself, but it was enough to get another
player to get all of the books and our own play group (with me first as
GM) started soon after.
What was your WORST RPG session
like? I usually don't try to remember bad experiences,
but I do remember one because I wrote about it afterward. It was at GenCon, back
when it was still in Milwaukee. An event was listed as being a scenario
for White Wolf's Vampire: the Masquerade setting, with player-generated
The first problem was
that the GM let more players in than the event called for, and more
than he could possibly handle. Secondly, he let in a character from his
home campaign, who knew much more about the scenario than the rest of
us. Thirdly, that same character was a massive combat monster that
pushed all the rest of the characters to the sidelines. Finally, the GM
made several changes to the standard White Wolf campaign setting
without forewarning us.
The whole thing quickly
became a massive power-gaming trip, which was not what I was expecting
at all, nor do I like as a roleplaying event.
Who is your all-time favorite
person to game with? I would have to say the many people
I've gamed with at Ambercon, which attracts the finest pure roleplayers
I've ever met. That includes Erick, one of the most wicked gamemasters
I've ever played with, the people in the GenCon Amber campaign
mentioned in the Amber book (especially Felicia Baker, Carol Dodd,
Michele Spainhour , Chuck Knakal, John Speck and Eric Snider), and
others like Mike McKinnon, Simone Cooper, Scott "Stormy" Whitney, Chris
King, Ben Ekdahl, Carrie and Lucas Amadio, Joe Saul and John Schippers.
And I have to give a
shout to the players in Darrel Butler's Amber campaign in Milwaukee,
many of whom were also Ambercon attendees.