My players hadn't read a surprising number of these books. I couldn't resist.
Jelerak, Derkon, Semirama, the Tower of Ice, Riddle (Ridley), Tualua, Baran of the Extra Hand from DILVISH THE DAMNED* and THE CHANGING LAND*
The Brotherhood (or the beginning of it), Holrune, from MADWAND*
Azvan (Aahz), Tananda and Chomali (Chumley) from the MythAdventures comix
Antryg Windrose, Otaru from THE SILENT TOWER*, THE SILICON MAGE* and DOG-WIZARD*
Pontifex Augustus = Pope Alexander (Borgia)
Emperor Bono = Napoleon, of course
Eugen = Eugene of Savoy
The Cat, sort of
Charles de Lint
The Crow Girls from SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING*
Genevieve the vampire from ANNO DRACULA* and various other stories
Also half a dozen other, lesser vamps like Von Klatka
Kirsten the child vampire = Claudia from INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE as played by young Ms. Dunst.
Mr Nishka from FIREFLY
Turjan, Tsayn (T’Sain), Pandelume (sort of), some other mages from THE DYING EARTH* and RHIALTO THE MARVELLOUS*
J. Calvin Pierce
Rhastoferas from the AMBERMERE* books.
Sorac, her people and the Kraath (Thark) are obviously Barsoomians
Tom and Mary Bierbaum/Legion of Super Heroes
Vrykos the uber-vamp
Roy Thomas (I think)/ Dracula comix
Varnai = Varnae (whose name ~ Varney the Vampire)
There’s more than a little Sethra Lavode in Zhartra, and the Basilisks have a lot of Jhereg in them, and the Manticoras a lot of Dzur.
R’lyeh, Kyeigha, Zhothaqquah, Froggies (Deep Ones)
Oriana of the Glass Castle, Benedict had more than a little Gaston in him, from THE WELL FAVORED MAN*, A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN* and THE PRICE OF BLOOD AND HONOR*
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 189 PDS 8:00 PM:
It appears peace may soon be at hand. Our attack on the Gheneshian emperor went extremely well and I am happy to report we lost no family members. I am very happy with everyone’s contribution. Everyone took part and did their jobs flawlessly. The emperor was taken on and slain by several family members shortly after their entire power channeling system collapsed. I had trumped to the mirrorverse where I slew uncounted enemy trying to flee into shadow. It did get rather intense for a while and some number of Gheneshans did slip into shadow. Overall we will be mopping up for some weeks.
There appears to be no organized counterattack from shadow forthcoming. It appears that what Gheneshans have established themselves out in shadow have no interest in further conflict with Amber. They seem to be relishing their freedom too much to rock the boat any time soon. We may have future difficulty with individuals from time to time, but our days of dreading the Moonriders appear to be over for good.
Chaos is still in chaos and no matter who emerges from their civil war as the victor, they will be too weak to pose a direct threat to us for some centuries. We seem to be getting stronger. Most surprising, our friend with the duplication machine has succeeded in creating a new body for Benedict’s spirit. He is still learning his new body and is working out everyday to try and recover his prowess. Dara and I both took the opportunity to work out with him, smacking him around while we can. Unicorn knows he will soon be too fast to defeat again. Damn it is good to have him back, even if he does look slightly different now.
I sent a note off to chaos, thanking House Helgram for making the final defeat of our enemy possible. That ought to stick in their craw. Time now for another bottle of Benedict’s best vintage.
Day 200 PDS 9:00 PM:
Mop up is over. A victory celebration took place a couple of days ago in Amber. Everyone who is anybody was there, even Queen Moire. We still do not have a monarch and it appears Gerard will hold the regency for the time being. That works for me. Bleys is enjoying himself recounting his assault on the Ghenshian emperor. Osric and Finndo have been getting their kudos as well and I think they are adjusting well. Thirteen appears to have come to terms with his mother and Sabine. Dara is enjoying her limelight and Benedict’s gratitude. She and Tori seemed to be inordinately pleased about something. A little bird told me they finished off what was left of Diego who appeared to be beyond saving. Clark has taken up the family mantle and so far I have no complaints with him. Tori still kills Gheneshans when no one is looking…she was really pissed that they almost killed her mother (who is recovering nicely). Flora is still grieving for Chumley but she will be alright in time. Galena got smacked around a bit in the mirrorverse, but we got her out OK and she is much better now. She and I spend a lot of time playing music together when circumstances allow. Jacob dropped in long enough to sample the booze but is off again wandering shadow as he prefers to do. My brother is here for a while, but he too will be returning to his binder duties before long. I gave him directions and access to father’s shadow so that between us we can keep it safe for the family.
In all the revelry, I succumbed to the charms of a notable Rebman personage who shall remain nameless here. Our affair will remain extremely discreet but for me life is good right now. I have the respect of my family and the people of Amber, a number of important friends in shadow, Rebma and Tir, and most importantly I have helped to make the realm secure. I feel that I have expunged the stain of Father’s madness and for once I don’t cringe when I hear his name in public.
What lies in my future? There is much that still needs to be done. I have gathered most of Diego’s progeny under my protection. I have the Chanicutt children to raise. I have all of my retainers, employees and allies to nurture. At some point I will likely need to think about marriage and my own offspring, but I think I can hold that off for a few decades at least. In the meantime there is much exploring I want to do, many paths to travel. A little adventure without the fate of the realm riding on my shoulders sounds like just the thing. I wonder if I can catch up to Jacob? Calvin needs a good outing and Werewindle is restless again.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 185 PDS 5:00 PM:
The assault on the tower started well enough. It took a little ward manipulation from Rinaldo, but we got inside through the upper window and proceeded to work our way downwards through the interior of the tower. I was worried about wards inside the central elevator shaft and it turned out my fear was justified. We finally set off an alarm whilst cutting our way to a lower level. All hell broke loose with defensive elementals hitting us from the walls themselves until Rinaldo was able to tie them down. The rest of us killed most of what we encountered, taking only a few prisoners before we were done. Almost to the bottom, we felt a psychic disturbance that heralded the arrival of two unusual shapeshifters. They briefly questioned us about Pandalume and explained they were relations of his and were looking for him. I had thought him dead already or trapped with Tualua, but we soon found his murdered body at the bottom. The swine who had taken over the place had fled but took just enough time to cut Pandalume’s throat. The crow-sisters were extremely pissed and I had the feeling they were in Dworkin’s league. They left to chase the culprit while the rest of us cleaned up.
I kept my word to Lirazel and allowed her to attune to this power in payment of her services. Most of the tower had collapsed above us in all the excitement, but she began to reform things and establish control. We found a handful of other interesting people frozen in cells at the bottom. Mostly ex-masters of the tower. Some may prove useful in the future, but until we know more about them they are going to stay frozen.
Day 186 PDS 10:00 AM:
With my return to Amber, we had a family meeting to plan the attack on the Moonriders. It is a simple plan…blow the shit out of their power channeling monoliths, kill the emperor and then kill as many in the mirrorverse as we can lay our hands on.
I will be called upon to open a trump gate and allow a Moonrider monolith to be toppled into it. The goal is to set up a cascading failure with the tremendous power surge through a few channels at once. Two or three other monoliths will be dropped by others (Tori and Flora). Once that is done, the shadow will be flooded with ravening hordes we bring in from various shadows. I will then be trumping to the mirrorverse to help Martin and Galena seal it. It should work.
In the old, old days, there were the real Shroudlings in their little island in the Abyss which they held together with Binding power and magic. They were humanoid and limited shapeshifters: cats, birds, serpents. They also had access to the Dark Well power which did not drive them mad.
The Serpent showed up out of the Abyss and was allowed to stay. It was relatively small and weak at the time. It is unclear whether it was hiding the "Eye of the Serpent", an Abyssal entity in its own right, or acquired it later. In any case it did acquire it and used it to create the Logrus, which vastly expanded the stable island. The Shroudlings retreated. The Serpent began a long program of designing and producing spawn to serve it. The Shroudlingoid line was most successful.
Real Shroudlings, Binders every one, are extremely set in their ways. Very few have any interest in the outside worlds. Pan Luum/ Pandelume and the Crow Girls are/were exceptions. Pan Luum was the greatest master and innovator of magic, bar none. Had the campaign continued, the fact that Riddle had stolen much of Pan Luum's knowlege would have been important. The Crow Girls, Pan Luum's great aunts, were fascinated by common people, mostly those of underclasses, living among them and sharing their lives. That made them very nearly invisible to Amberites and Chaosites alike.
The players may eventually post diaries from the last two sessions. Pretty please?
13, Dara, Toriana and Daine sneak into Ghenesh and do thorough examinations of a few power pylons on a fairly isolated island. 13 and Tori Gestalt up to better probe the Stonehenge-sized megaliths while Dara and Daine do guard duty. After a full day of being hooked up (and the inevitable psychic leakage into each other) they have what they need: a good estimate of how many pylons have to go down at once in order to cause a cascade failure: 11. A two-Dreen patrol gets grabbed, mindraped and whacked in the process. They learn that most of the Gheneshan citadels are ¾ empty, with most of the folk out in Shadow.
The scouting team returns. After some debate, the irritatingly-united Family decides to recruit sufficient Trump Artists to open Trump Gates on 11 sites, then run domesticated triceratopsians through and knock the megaliths over with brute force. A number of low-value, expendible military forces, such as hijacked hordes of mounted barbarians and three divisions of the Imperial Nihonese Army from Vulnavia, will be sent in to the vicinity of the major Gheneshan citadels to liven things up. Ambush forces in the Mirrorverse will do what they can to keep the Gheneshans bottled up. Family-led forces will then move into the citadels to mop up.
Things go pretty much to plan. The collapse of the mana-gathering system frees numbers of mind-controlled monsters – dragons and such – which take out their frustrations on their erstwhile captors. Most Vazdru and Dreen see the writing on the wall and attempt to flee. Much killing in the Mirrorverse. Other Gheneshans scatter in various directions, the most successful ending up in rivers, deep lakes and the seas, where Amberite forces are hard pressed to pursue.
Dara and 13 find the Emperor Ajaran, who is much distracted by a second-by-second effort to keep a maelstrom of magical energy surrounding him from destroying him. The maelstrom also absorbs or deflects pretty much anything thrown at it, temporarily stymieing the pair’s attacks. Ajaran demonstrates the ability to direct part of the vortex outward, causing some injuries but further weakening the roof. Probability control weakens it further and several tons of falling stone break Ajaran’s concentration. Boom. More PC injuries, but all in a good cause.
Bleys orders Toriana away from the cleanup in Ghenesh as she refuses to take surrenders. Gerard backs Bleys up and she leaves in company with Dara. The Family gets a large number of Dreen and some Vazdru subordinates and starts working out what to do with them. Send them out to find and negotiate with/give ultimatums to the Ghenesh in Shadow, most likely.
13 and Toriana have weird dreams for days. 13 dreams pieces of Tori’s happy childhood and is shocked to experience what parental affection feels like. Much of his mother Mirelle’s strange behavior becomes explicable. At the same times, Toriana experiences some of the Hell that was 13’s life in the Village.
They also pick up quite a bit of other stuff, like what it feels like to be the other sex, bits of the others’ talents, emotional highlights – including Diego’s demise at Tori and Dara’s will.
Toriana and Dara return to Turjan’s mansion and the Benedict Re-Embodiment Project. Benedict’s spirit is already in the assembling mass. Hours pass. Locals – mages and minions -- gather to attack the mansion. Turjan has had no time to reinforce the scares Fineas and Toriana put in the locals earlier and the comings and goings of Chaos, Inc. via Trump have been totally invisible to them. Dara Trumps a platoon of Hellmaids in and Chaos, Inc. thoroughly terrorizes the attackers.
Benedict’s new body finishes assembling and he steps out of the vat. He looks as much like his old self as Osric and Finndo do. He does a few katas, smiling and then grinning, puts on a robe and hugs Dara and then Tori. Being stuck as a ghost, nearly getting caught up in the addictive cosmic show in the powershadow he was linked to and having time to contemplate missed opportunities to bond with his daughter have combined to make him a lot more demonstrative. He also takes Turjan and Tsayn into his personal service. They start packing up, much relieved. They’d been getting a These People Are Loose Ends vibe off of Dara.
Benedict, Dara and Tori go to Amber. More happy reunions. Speculations on how to make such a miracle possible for other people, just in case. (Tori’s pretty sure that Flora’s blood iron ring would do for storing her spirit, as is.) Word gets out and the Rebman contingent arrives. Moire was apparently much closer to Benedict than most people realized. Several Tir Tarngirans arrive as well, including Marcus and Rhandalissa (Emperor and Empress). 13 has a nice talk with Mirelle, opening up an emotional connection. He also visits Sabine and mends fences there.
13 investigates the site of Diego’s death and digs deeper. His greater Pattern probing abilities lead him to believe that Diego survived, leaving only a big blood beast behind to stop the guisel pack. He tells Tori and Dara, and the three of them spend a few days hunting their hated cousin down and finishing the job.
All and all, it’s the next best thing to a C.S. Lewis eucatastrophe, Amber style.
When the PCs took out the Gheneshans in one session it was clear that either it was time to end the campaign or to eliminate the Family juggernaut one way or another. At the same time the loose campaign themes of Becoming a Prince and Becoming a Family hit strong points of completion with Benedict’s re-embodiment and the purely serendipitous mind meld between 13 and Toriana. Moreover there were certain RL stresses with some players. And the idea of ending an Amber campaign in a storm of huggies -- the murder I hadn't planned on -- had a certain perverse appeal. So I didn’t wake up the Serpent, raze Rebma and kill half the elders.