in the Shadow of Greatness


May 9, 2002

Trump Cards

The Amber DRPG says that Trump Cards are special. They are difficult to destroy. I see several flaws in this notion of Trump Integrity. I shall expand into other points.

1. Zelazny didn't write it that way (I had to list this one).
2. Neither 50 points of Pattern, nor 35 points of Shapeshifting buy you automatic integrity of possessions, why would Trump (weak point, I know, since few of the other powers require a focus in hand to use them)?
3. When the universe is your playground, it is the little inconvenient things that finesse story, plot, and build character. Complete darkness thwarts Shadow shifting (wow, turn out the lights and my 50 point power is useless?) Most shadow cultures consider shifters to be monsters (wait, I can't use my shaping where anyone can see me?)
4. Action and consequence are not to be lightly dismissed. Certain tweaks of the Amber DRPG model move rapidly in this direction, leading to character play that often makes the system itself appear 'broken'.

This is rather important to the 'immortal character noire' that is the canon. The rough and tumble worlds of shadow must challenge our characters. Trump decks get lost, stolen, and wet. It does take time to get a new deck. It takes time to paint a new card. It takes an hour to walk the Pattern, and it might just kill you. Shaping is an exhausting power. Logrus scares the crap out of people, and it's visible if you intend to physically touch things. Sorcery requires complex lynchpins. Conjuration takes too much time and planning. Power words are clean and neat, but if you overuse them, your opponents build up immunity. I submit these are the things that are essential flavor to the grit of the game. Remove them, and Amber immortals have less and less in common with the Players who play them. Remove the small stylings, and the cliche "Destroy the Universe" plotline shows up far too often because the Characters are too protected, too disconnected from normal strife. And of course, this is not to advocate gaming the paper cuts that you can get opening a box of cereal. My ideal amberite thinks big, goes all out, and bears the slings and arrows in the process.

Filed under : Amber at 09.05.2002