The following game writeup was a one-shot scenario held at GenCon 1991 on Sunday evening after the usual GenCon Amber campaign game. This scenario combined some of the GenCon Amber players with other Amber players, including Mike and Linda Pondsmith (R. Talsorian Games).
Journal Entry: On the wrong side of a crazed trump.
Every time I encounter Mother, I know that something difficult is going to happen.
All I wanted to do is escape the life at Castle Amber for a few weeks among the relatively peaceful lands of the Shadow of my birth. Lo and behold, who do I find in residence there, but Fiona. From the hollows under her eyes and the weariness in her movements, it was obvious that she had been working long and hard on something she was taking great pains to keep a secret from me. No wonder, given the paranoia inbred in the children of Amber. Still, even though she had burned all of the notes and sketches she had been making before she had left, I did manage to discover the reference book she was using. Paging through it, a history of art from Shadow Earth that has fascinated Corwin so much, I discovered whatever must have caught her eye; a detail from an unknown piece of art that was obviously drawn by Brand.
Mother’s determined scribbling must have been an attempt to replicate or duplicate the art. Brand may have been disposed of permanently, but one of the reasons that we Amberites live long is that we don’t take unnecessary chances, and a Trump created by Brand is about as dangerous as the man himself. And wherever Brand is concerned, we leave nothing to chance. Well, I know little of such art, but I do know that large collections of such on Shadow Earth can be found in a city named Paris. I also have a cousin, Kelcy by name, residing in a close shadow. I know she doesn’t take Trump calls under normal circumstances, but I thought I’d give her a try, anyway.
As I found out later, this was not a normal circumstance. After a hurried conversation, she broke contact. Very soon afterwards Elanor, another of my cousins, contacted me via my Trump and insistently demanded to be pulled through at once. I pulled her through, and an unknown gentleman whom she then called Peter. Peter was obviously not a relative, which can have its advantages at times. Now I know that Kelcy has a boyfriend named Peter that she is very fond of and very protective of. She had also mentioned that Elanor was with her when I had talked to her. A number of thoughts passed through my mind, adding up to the (entirely-mistaken) belief that Elanor had just kidnapped Kelcy’s Peter! And since I certainly did not want to an angry Kelcy hunting ME as well as Elanor, I was not very happy. (I have been described by Bronwyn as not having any backbone, but I prefer to stay outside the inter-relative squabbles over power and prestige among Amberites. I will protect the Pattern and all it entails, but power games I don’t have any stomach for.)
Elanor did manage to calm me down (I wasn’t that hysterical) and pointed out that the only reason she brought Peter along is that something was trying to kill Kelcy and everyone else in her apartment, and I was the fastest way of escape. Unfortunately, that left the matter of Kelcy, who at last report had turned herself into an ice statue to try and quench a device that was blasting away at anyone who moved.
That, we found out afterwards. Kelcy’s brother, Kayen, was able to contact Kelcy and pull her through a Trump into the kitchen before the device she was confronting exploded. Another spherical object followed through the Trump contact. Marvelously persistent and stubborn things; they had the earmarks of something Brand would devise. Quite deadly, too; it immediately opened and began lancing out with a firey beam of light that destroyed anything it touched. Upon psychic examination I found the mechanism controlling these objects to be quite simple to control. Given the lack of time available, as it was apparently building up to a large explosion, I was forced to order it out of the castle (by one of the many holes it had blasted in the walls) and then to Trump itself away, anywhere. Pity there wasn’t enough time to give it accurate coordinates; I wonder where it wound up? Still, if I encounter another such, I think I know where to put it.
I hope that Castle Amber has managed to repair the kitchens. I know from past experience not to anger the cooks too much, but large holes and lines carved in the walls would upset almost anyone. Still, they should be used to strange occurrences and people coming in at all hours looking for meals.
This ended the problem with the Trump bombs, at least until someone next used a Trump, and let us (myself, Eleanor, Kelcy, and Kayen, plus Kelcy’s Peter, who was taking this all the sort of forced calmness you’d expect from someone who’d been suddenly dragged unawares through a Trump and now finds himself in an entirely strange place) introduce ourselves to the unfortunate cousin who was accompanying Kayen, who was uncontrollably shapeshifting into various relatives, including Brand, while drunk. Fortunately Kelcy was restrained upon seeing him before she could seriously harm him. (Brand is a sore spot among our generation, too.) Kayen sobered him up, which was apparently the cause of his unfortunate reaction. That accomplished, we decided to call in the older generation.
Unfortunately, our first choice, Random, was not available. The next choice, Fiona, turned out to be a surprise as she greeted me very warmly at the door to her suite. Mother has never greeted me with any more warmth than a mere acknowledgement of my existence, barely grudging the fact that she had had something to do with my birth. Upon psychic examination I found this image of Fiona quite shallow; in fact, an automaton, and a Trump-created one at that. This was getting serious. And when things start getting serious, the one thing that everyone looks towards is the Pattern.
I think we set a record for the fastest passage (by foot) to the Pattern room, to find its light fading. That meant BIG trouble, for us and for Amber.
Well, since this was a matter involving the Pattern, I thought I’d turn to my cousin Bronwyn. I know she has much more experience with matters concerning the Pattern than I, so I contacted her by Trump. I was much surprised by the change in Bronwyn, physical and psychic: the recent conclusion to an affair that I had an early part in left her with enhanced physcal and psychic abilities, especially involving the powers of the Abyss. Bronwyn easily tracked down the Trump that was causing the problem with the Pattern: I followed along in her wake as the rest of the cousins congregated there, along with various members of the older generation, once they had been released from the Trump prisons in which they had been imprisoned. Bronwyn was able to effect the return of the Pattern to Amber, and Dworkin was able to shut down the Trump machine that was causing the problem in the first place. With the Trump no longer a threat to Amber and the trapped family members rescued, I left as soon as I could; there was still the matter of a few weeks rest that I had promised to myself and that I was going to deliver. Preferably as far away from troubles of Amber as possible. Isn’t that where I started this whole affair, anyways?
The whole story of the game is a lot longer, with at least four other plot lines merging and intertwining into a final resolution. There were a dozen of us playing that night, with Erick bouncing back and forth between groups of people that would grow or merge or divide as someone would contact another and pull people through Trumps or someone else would go off in search of something else.
One plot line had Lisa Pondsmith searching for the artist responsible for creating a number of Trump-like paintings in the Shadow she was wandering in at the time. Another was Kelcy and Elanor finding a painting of Brand’s in an auction in Paris that was actually a Trump artifact. (When they touched it to discover if it was a Trump, as Trumps have a characteristic psychic coldness readily apparent to any Amberite, they were told “It’s cold.” Dismayed, the two players looked at each other and repeated mournfully “It’s cold.”) Another group had met in a series of bars (one of them were shifting Shadows unconsciously while drunk.) Finally, Cousin Bronwyn was exploring a major shift in her abilities, the result of an encounter from a game earlier that afternoon.
The whole thing behind the scene was a massive Trump designed by Brand and his student, the artist Lisa was searching for, which was an entire city. The city had two functions; to capture Amberites and replace them with simulations (but only the ones he knew of at that time, which meant the players, who had started lives in Amber after he had been killed, were unaffected) and to sever the Pattern from Amber and its Shadows. The painting found by Kelcy and Elanor was the key to starting the Trump operating. Dworkin deactivated it at the end of the game. The Trump-bombs were, I think, part of the larger Trump, but that wasn’t known for certain. (At least by me.)