in the Shadow of Greatness


June 11, 2003

Campaign Continuity

Amber :: campaign continuity/expansion So here's a problem that most GMs don't have: if you are very successful, you have a running campaign of forty some game years and now someone wants to join. What's the diff? Well, there are several problems with extending a running Amber campaign.

One: in the rules, there is little provision for introducing new characters at lower age levels (to the extent that I discourage a wide range in PC ages.) I've solved this one by making my campaign mostly about learning how to apply your character's perspective to the universe. Royals make things happen, so your Character's viewpoint determines a lot about how your legend grows. In order to facilitate this, PCs are pretty much intro'd as young people —-not as folks already hundreds of years old.

Two: in the rules, there is minor provision for introducing new characters that will fit into the family 'mechanics' except by the cliche of "undiscovered relative" with penalties to buying ranks. There is zero provision for having children of PCs introduced at lower experience levels (see above.)

Three: inside the game, you have to create sophisticated plot logic around the introduction of a "clueless of immortal heritage" relative (and is that narrow role really fun play?) Where have they been? Why have they been hidden? What part of the universe gives them their cultural bias? etc, etc, etc. Or you can start a whole new game... which isn't what your long-time Players want to hear. So what's a GM to do?

  • expand the game laterally :: there is the discovery of a new section of the universe; or a new universe that opens to your own. Strange Bedfellows employs this device as just one of its story lines
  • introduce a scion of Amber thought dead :: a problem if you want to respect "problem one" above; though you could use the 'Buck Rogers' dodge for this and it might be quite interesting
  • introduce an unknown scion by the "Merlin method" where a royal prince doesn't know he's produced offspring :: works well enough, but tends to make the father look foolish; it's really been done —-a lot :: resist the temptation unless you've got a 'peach' of a story in mind
  • if you have a healthy cast of royal NPCs, you can introduce a scion of one of your youngest royals, such as Coral, or someone that everyone in the campaign thinks of as too young to have a kid, like Merlin :: this tends to generate a lot of story, doesn't restrict the idea to only fathers, and promises interesting cross generation alliances and mix-ups :: put a 'star' by this one
  • tap into those ancient Chaos blood lines :: you don't need to have a Pattern PC to make the game larger, Chaos is a great backstory :: this one's been done a lot, too
  • tap one of the wives that disappeared suddenly :: Harla, Lora, Titania, Bosnia (oops, sorry) :: Zelazny has a ghost of Oberon talking about forty-something kids; this takes us back to "problem one and two"
  • have an Elder get near-blasted, survive, and start healing their brain :: this allows them to be played as new PCs by someone joining the campaign :: wow, talk about story! quite a shock to your existing cast, but lots of potential

Filed under : Amber at 11.06.2003