in the Shadow of Greatness


July 14, 2003

Authentic First Series Feeling

cleaning out my mailbox so I can free up space for PBeMs
Thoughts on the Amber DRPG

R.F. breathed calm and sane winds when he spoke: Instead, it might be more useful to the list generally if systemic complaints were accompanied by suggestions of what mechanical or stylistic changes you suggest and your experiences with their effects. Want that Authentic First Series FeelingTM? Well, so might other people: how have you tried to change the rules to get it? Artifact rules make no sense and result in massive abuse? How did your game disallowing them entirely go? How about various modifications?
Thu, 10 May 2001

One of the interesting aspects to GM'ing the Amber mythos is establishing the reaction of the shadow/real universe to the player character. RZ gives us evidence to suggest that everyone in the Royal Family (all the way back to Chaos) is a "right bastard" when things don't go their way. At the same time, admirable and sane folks like Bill Roth, Lord Rein, assorted jazz musicians, and every interior decorator in New York City, (Shadow Earth), find themselves in good company with those same perfect, arrogant, huge egos—and having a jolly time. I find the ADRPG doesn't address this issue as much as I would like.

I don't think the answer is a Charisma attribute or even explaining how regular folks can hang with Amberites. Or a power (like the characters in 'Lord of Light' summoning their Aspects in order to awe someone). Or any rule mechanic. I thought I'd just lay out thoughts...

There is something aesthetically pleasing about Patternwalkers or Real People. Good stuff or Bad, it isn't that these folks are charming or handsome, though they can be— it isn't that they are brilliant or amazingly creative, though they can be— it seems that Amberites (and perhaps Chaosians) inspire others (sometimes covetously). Inspiration. Motive, stimulus, influence, incentive, encouragement, or impulse. Real people make the universe go?


Now I've incorporated *the Muse* as a "Elder Power" in my campaign to join ranks with the Serpent and the Unicorn, but I'm setting that aside, because I'm not sure that is a great answer (certainly not the only answer). Might we see our Royal Tarot family as living inspirations? Or should we call them all genius of different order? (no pun intended there..) Earth evidence of Shadow genius seems to attract and repel in equal measure. Maybe that works as analogy.

I see lots of players make their PC's properly arrogant and bastard-like... but I've also seen those Players grope for a "true place" in a family of impressive people. Is this about 'respect'? What fun is there to being the second 'gerard' or the third 'benedict' clone in a family that 'kicks out' one amazingly gifted person after another? This "passive competition" with the Family paragons can kill a campaign. Especially since most of those 'paragons' are snooty bastards.

We've all balanced the role the Elders must play in running Amber— but even if this is done properly— I've seen PC's agonize over "being their own person". I think this is the real weakness of the Amber DRPG— such wide ranging flexibility and openess that players can get lost in ultimate boredom with their own immortal PC creation.

You have choices to make- gender, psyche, strength, endurance, warfare, and stuff. You have powers you might have— three or four good ones. And it seems that no matter what combination you pick, someone in the family has similar or better expertise. Some of the smallest "points spent" have the best positive impact on changing this. For instance, allies, friends, personal Shadows, items. All these things create a more unique character with a 'special' background.

I try to encourage this kind of stuff. But I don't want to interfere in the 'design' process either. I'd like to see the rules address this. How do you make your character more interesting with "less".

RZ started a second series, planned a third one. He solved making a 'newer interesting' character in a method that many many people find very unsatisfying; ie. Merlin. I agree that "upping" the power of the universe (fun toys) is not MY way to solve the "younger angst" problems.

Jasra is a more interesting younger. So is Coral. So is Rinaldo. So is Mandor (though honestly, he is obviously a Chaos Elder).

Character story over powers and attributes. That's my answer— and it really puts the burden on the player. A GM can do what to help the player along in making 'interesting' Amberites?

Filed under : Amber at 14.07.2003