in the Shadow of Greatness


March 31, 2003

IMC :: Longevity and Amber

Shadows of Amber :: The Center of All Things :: Longevity and Residents of Amber :: nice thread content

In my Eternal City campaign, life expectancy in Amber is about 300 years. There are isolated cases of much longer lives (as much as a thousand).
• Inheritance Laws and Practices
Laws and Practices are peculiar to individual wills. There is no presumed "estate pro forma" without a will and the default is that property reverts to the crown. Of course, wills of important people become more important. This is because not only is an heir's maturity expected to take a while (meaning that if you want to pick worthy heirs, it may take a while to find out who they are), but because personalities and people can change over time. This can be a contentious point in families and is typical of Oberon's legal system.

• Fertility/growth rates
Fertility of Amber women is perfect and there is no monthly cycle. However, pregnancy is dependant on a metaphysical compatibility between the woman and her lover. This can mean large families for some people, and no or small ones for others. If a woman does not find a mate that satisfies her, she does not have children. Even so, the population grows and forces "export of Amber citizens" to find their fortunes. Many stratified institutions exist within Amber, such as the guild system and it is difficult to move up in status in these.

• Rate of social change
Social change is nearly static, except for imported ideas from other lands. Trade brings with it many notions that do influence thinking, even if only as a fad.

• Legal Punishments for offenses
Legal punishments tend to affect an entire family, or involve fines, or civic service, or all of these. As such crime is quite low and punishments can be severe. Prison is usually a "last resort".

• Marriage and Property Transfer
Dowries are normal for noble families, less so for commoners. First sons and/or daughters usually do not have them, especially if they are already named heirs (as above, there are no "assumed heirs" only named ones). Owning land is a luxury that is rare or a guarded privilege. The real estate market is not static, but moves extremely slowly and involves huge sums of coin. Families hold onto land more so than any other goods.

• Nobility and the frequency of ennoblement
Oberon was stingy with titles of inheritance, more generous with knighthoods which do not inherit. He also never established a ranking peerage. In my campaign, nobles are either noble or they aren't. There are no barons, earls, etc. The lords of Amber instead have elaborate histories and services to the crown that distinguish them into a pecking order.

• Marriage Customs
Marriage is often determined by family, sometimes solely by head of house. Elopements are not rare. Any justice may marry those couples of legal age, though often a number of questions must be answered if the parents are not present.

• Legal Maturity
Age of maturity has changed several times over the course of Amber's history. Oberon thought the age would remain thirty, currently it is fifteen. It isn't unusual for young people to be allowed to make a lot of decisions in order to shake out the mistakes they are going to make as soon as possible. (As a contrast, in the Courts of Chaos, the legal age is thirty, and people there often do not consider someone mature until they are sixty. The result? A self fulfilling prophecy, many of the young in Chaos are immature and under-achievement is a problem there.)

• Concentration of Political Interests

Lively. Royals and nobles are the movers of political interest. Guilds and other moneyed organizations can influence things. Not surprisingly, the elder members of these organizations have the most influence. But those young hotheads are heard.

• Interest on Loans

Low. There are sometimes a few "battles" for best rates, but often business partners are by long association with a family, not the "current best rate".

• Property Ownership
Real estate property is hideously expensive in Amber. Mortgages are often for 500 or a thousand years. There are no taxes on property, though the crown charges maintenance of public services which is similar. There is a "fault tax" that comes into effect if "public maintenance" charges are not paid in timely fashion. Titles to abandoned property can be difficult to clear.

• Education and Innovation
Sadly, education in Amber is largely personal tutors. Universities on the Golden Circle are common. Most feel this is due to Oberon's insistence that young people need to "go elsewhere" to get a real education. There are no plans to establish a university in Amber and there is no educators guild. Innovation has several "hurdles" to overcome, mainly the guild system and skeptical elders.

• Immigration/Emigration patterns and attitudes
There are many young 'go-getters' of Amber who leave to learn about other lands (or just to ease their restlessness). Amber turns a "blind eye" to un-official immigration and many folks (largely sailors) take advantage of this. There is also an official immigration option if an Amber guild sponsors your application. Citizenship is rarely granted to immigrants. Knighthood, or ennobling automatically confers citizenship (and that citizenship applies to offspring).

• Economic/Investment strategies
Complicated. Usually only guilds or nobles have enough liquidity to worry about investment.

• Relative severity of various crimes
Much like you might expect. Trespass against a royal is treason. Murder is considered a high crime. Rape is considered violence against an entire family's honor. For these sort of crimes (multiple victims or noble impact) execution is normal. Other crimes involve fines, or civic service. Rarely is confinement used, but it often is in cases of nobility or foreigners, where it is assumed that legal conditions might change in time.

• Popular religious sentiment
Popular sentiment holds that Amber is "better off" than any three countries you could name. Many folks tend to assign the cause of this prosperity first to the royal family, second the nobles, and third the "blessings of the unicorn." The last is a general feeling shared as "common sense" (similar to some who think that democracy is obviously superior to all forms of government.) As such, the Church of the Unicorn is largely a charitable organization that cares for those unfortunate few who have fallen out of prosperity. This simple religious practice can be traced directly back to Oberon making the Unicorn the icon of Amber some nine centuries ago after a battle. It was said that Oberon barely won the battle and was also badly wounded. He saw the unicorn at the grove near the edges of Arden and was inspired. He never lost another battle.

Other religions are tolerated by Amber. Temples and churches to other deities have not been built in Amber because to own such ground would involve swearing fealty to the crown. Since few religions will put crown before faith, this hasn't been an issue.

But there are priests of various distant lands in Amber. Some conduct 'casual worship' from a public place or tavern.

Filed under : Amber, IMC at 31.03.2003