I was suprised by how cheap the Positions went for. Most of the feature auctions went for about what I imagined, as did the Professions, but the Positions were designed to be a good bargain at 10, and many ended up going for 5 or 6.
I suspect I could have balanced the auctions a little better. If I'd had more time, just giving some more details might have helped boost some of the ones that went too cheap. I also would have spent more time making all the ground rules clear. Several people missed one or more (usually different) aspects that would have changed how they bid. For example, Rod thought that by bidding more for Gerard's Sparring Partner, the benefits would be worth more.
In watching people tally things up, I might have made some of the benefits too complicated, especially with the presence of sub-stats. It also looks like I should have added more places to give points for Pattern, or at least decided that everyone could start with an Imprint for free, since this left some people with Advanced Powers they couldn't actually buy, because they didn't have the necessary prerequisites.
Of the five players, two kind of walked backwards into getting a decent selection of stuff (one without a plan, one with a plan that ended up being somewhat different from what he got), two got almost exactly what they were aiming for (from what I can see), and the last managed to recover a decent design from a fairly large early mistake.
If I were to run this again, I'd clean up a lot of the extra complexity first. Then, I'd spend some time talking to everyone, trying to get a feel for what sort of characters they were looking to build, both in terms of stat balance and balance between stats and powers, as well as what sort of general background they were looking for. That would let me tailor the descriptions and details of the auctions to be more appealing in general, and more directed such that the players who wanted those stats/powers/skills were the ones most likely to end up looking that auction. One possibility would be some sort of cap, to prevent a single runaway auction from ruining an entire design. More auctions with multiple units might be another way to handle that, as Droo and Rod would have ceased bidding each other up around 20, most likely.
Lee turned out extremely strong for my chosen auction expenditures. He's a 190 point character (or 182, either Dan or I miscalculated somewhere) for 120 points to start with. He ended being a little more Warfare heavy than I intended, but I was able to shuffle some of it back into Strength, which was more my plan. And he has a lot of physical endurance. His other stats are very decent indeed; even Psyche, his low point, is almost 20.
However, in the end, when I consider everything--the system is far too chancy and random. I cannot count on getting 70 bonus points in my character. I could have been the one squandering a huge chunk of my points on being Gerard's Sparring Partner, rather than Rod, who I duked it out with. If not for the point shift, I'd have a mad Warfare/Endurance character rather than the Strength/Endurance I had planned on.
While I enjoy some special auctions and package deals for character creation, I don't think I'd go for all-auction character building like this. Too much risk in winding up with something completely different from what you'd intended, or blowing points on an auction that turns out to be rather less than you'd liked. And while Lee turned out great, others in the auction were rather less satisfied with their results.
The Basara I got in the auction was in some ways superior, in some ways inferior, and in a great many ways, nothing at all like the Basara I envisioned. He ended up with far more warfare than I'd ever have bothered with, and a lot less strength. Also, instead of being the wandering bard of love and peace, he served with the army, navy, the police, he's in good with Gerard, Benedict, Flora, etc. This clashes heavily with my original character concept. It's bothersome in another way, but I'll get to that later. To sum, the Basara I got was like a 2nd cousin of the original concept - the absolute and core basics of Basara were there - a high powered guitar, strength, endurance - but in quantities that were mediocre, and in addition to that, he has far more friends and a more crowded history than I wanted for him.
This is only my second auction, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'm definitely an Amber newbie, and am still not even sure how to tally my points properly. On the other hand, I think that fact helped me enjoy this auction more than some of the others.
My thoughts upon seeing the packages being offered, and seeing how Dan was going to be offering them (everyone starts with nothing), were essentially that I shouldn't create a very strong character concept at all, because it would only annoy me if the bidding didn't go my way. I also was experimenting with something that I wouldn't do in an actual Amber campaign: creating a 'sad-sack' character, the sort upon whom life has trampled again and again. I came up with Count Jim Moriarty, based freely off of the character of the same name from the BBC's 'Goon Show'. A man who has considerable skills, and was once quite powerful, but through a series of bad quests, investigations, and treachery has become bald, daft, deaf, and worthless.
So, with this vague idea, I looked at the auction lots and ticked off ones I thought might get me what I wanted. Armed with only this, I entered the auction proper.
I soon discovered something that filled me with terror - Mike and I were bidding on the same things. Mike is the l33t Amber master, and I was a small white puppy. I paged him vaguely regarding this, and, as this was only a practice auction and not an actual one (or else Mike would have cheerfully hung me out to dry), we made a deal, where I would let him have the ones he wanted, and he'd let me have a couple of the quest/trip ones I needed. This worked out great.
At the end of the Feature Auctions, I had used about 2/3 of my points, and pretty much had what I wanted. For Positions and Professions, I had an odd intuition that I'd end up getting outbid by Merc (one which turned out to be correct), so didn't really expect much. I was pleased to get the GC Ambassador, which fit the 'going around and getting whammed' character. Likewise, Lawyer and Mystic both seemed to appeal to my sense of character, so I was happy to get those too.
Things I liked about the auction: thinking on the fly. This was not something for people who like to be prepared. I was constantly rethinking things, dropping a copy of heavy psyche auctions (at least I thought they were) in favor of trips and quests. I also liked the organic nature of the auction, and the excitement it added by not knowing if you'd helped yourself of screwed yourself.
Less wild about the different auction types. It was interesting doing the different bids, but it seemed to me to be more of a case of 'let's experiment' than any heavy GM strategy. And I do agree that to people coming in with an idea of what they want their character to be and what stats they want him to have, this is not especially the auction for them.
Still, I had a lot of fun, and would likely do this again if Dan ran a campaign.
In many ways this went better than I expected, although it still needs a lot of work.
My chief complaints going into the auction were that A) it would be very difficult to build the character you wanted, and B) The resulting characters would be of wildly varying power levels, as some got good deals and some got hosed. In fact, due to the nature of things, people who were most determined to build a specific character were most likely to get screwed, while those who drifted in with no concept and simply went for what they could get cheaply were most likely to come out ahead.
I set myself a fairly complex character to test this. Fritz would be the psyche-monster love child of Dworkin and Fiona. I identified four main auction goals, all of which I felt would be high-bid ones. (Both Fionas and both Dworkins).
Things didn't go as planned. I snagged Bleys' Quest, feeling it was IC (Fritz is a born lackey) and would add to psyche while bolstering Warfare. Julian's Training Dummy just seemed obvious... after all, Julian must be amazingly pissed that he was beaten in the pursuit of Fi by a crazed old dwarf.
Most of the positions I was after fell into line. I let Sean have the one I least wanted to avoid a price war, and so that I would still have the points for both Dworkins.
Amusingly enough, I got the spikard more or less on a whim. I decided that I would push Merc up to my safety net (33), and either I would walk away with it or he would pay a suitably high price for it. As it turned out, I got it on discount due to my impulse buy, and got nine free points of psyche with it. So the spikard itself cost me 20 points - a fair deal, I think.
The resulting character was pretty much exactly what I hoped for - able to crush in the psyche arena. There were several issues with powers won that didn't make much sense, like free advanced pattern stuff for a character barely able to afford a 15-point basic imprint, but that fit Fritz too.
All in all, it made for an interesting auction, but needs large changes to make for an actual game. Better definition of what things do would help, as would making it more clear how many points a package contains.