in the Shadow of Greatness


October 21, 2003

Or NOT To Be...

A Grand Affair. An Amber game where most of my time is not playing an Amberite at all. So now I can confirm how much fun it is—it's worth comparing to other such games and more.

What does playing non-royal mean for Amber games?
How much fun is it to be 'background' instead of Pattern blood?

Grand Affair isn't the first Amber game where I'm not a royal. I think Blaze of Glory was the first. Then there was the very surprising Thy Kingdom Come, where most PCs were related to the family except me. That was a lot of fun, if a bit hard at first because of being the fey outsider.

Well, in one sense, you start a new Amber game trying to work the legend of your character into the context. Everyone is coming to it fresh—everyone needs to identify their character as capable of standing with other Amberites.

When you play off the royal family (not in it) —you don't have that immense legend to live up to. You can do many other things. It has a freedom that you get in other RPGs, but you still have the super-cool Amber backstory. This can amount to playing the underdog, or a figure that much more heroic because they don't have all those nifty advantages.

Probably those folks in Ill Met in Amber can vouch for this as a powerful story technique.

There is something tragic about much of the royal history. Not playing an amberite doesn't dodge the 'noir', but it might give you a more entertaining response to it.

From a 'sticky' viewpoint, touching and caring about other PCs is much easier in a non-royal game. 'Royal Legends' are independant and arrogant and usually have the reason to lead whether they wish to or not. There is also the parental history: Oberon's methods become the yardstick to personal relationships, barring some sort of revolution in personal interactions.

Non-royals have smaller victories and usually a shoulder to cry on. They have spouses or cooks or groomsmen or tons of sisters or a bunch of connections that royals don't always get. They have mothers, grandfathers, and uncles who aren't plotting against the universe.

I seem to enjoy the Amber genre whether I'm royal or not.

Filed under : Amber, Muse at 21.10.2003