in the Shadow of Greatness


November 18, 2002

Reputation of the Amber DRPG

This on the reputation of the Amber DRPG from the Amber Mailing List:
> From: Rain Donaldson
> I personally tend to prefer more cooperative games. Am I
> in the minority in the Amber community on this issue?

Register another vote for cooperative game environ and GMs who make this clear. This doesn't mean I'm in favor of re-writing Zelazny's canon to reflect "happy-vanilla" amberites. Each and every amberite regardless of age is a scary character on occasion. It means that I'm concerned with the tone of the rules, with the general stereotype of Amber gamers being fans of a backstabbing, treacherous genre. Reading the rules adds to the impression (where even the GM is winking and lying during the auction). True, the last bit may be meant humorously, or not, but it adds to the widely held impression of this game. Reading the Corwin/Merlin books first, diffuses the idea. (Depending, as others have pointed out, on how you read into the violence the family does to itself.) Reading the rules first, then the Corwin books, tends to reinforce the idea. A thing I'd quibble about in the rules, but that isn't my province here.

I agree with Astrid, the GM can set a tone in their invitation to game that goes a long way towards getting the right players to show up. Those con blurbs are more meaningful to me than the GMs' names attached to them. Likewise, if I was invited to an online game or a FTF campaign, I'd like to know plenty about the "Vision" of the Amber I'm about to invest in. There are folks who really do not prefer "group centered" gaming. I think that Amber plays out well with solo adventures and mini-stories. But solo adventures do not automatically require treachery between Player Characters. Even gaming Amber with "threaded" plots weaving between Player Characters satisfies the non-group motif. It does not assume backstabbing. I say this as someone who has played more than one "plot against the others" Character. There seems to be a "rush" for some in playing Amber as a "I win, you all lose" game where first-place-at-any-cost is the goal. There are a lot of players who do this at cons. That's fine, as others have illuminated, the long-term consequences can't catch up to you in a con slot. Throne wars need clear labels that they are those kind of games.

GMs are the senior ambassadors of Amber DRPG, and the people who provide for the many ways the material can be done. Humor, suspense, horror, parody, violence, tenderness, love, and epic drama games are all workable under the Amber game.

Filed under : Amber at 18.11.2002