in the Shadow of Greatness


April 6, 2007

Amber Diceless: niche protection

Amber Diceless as designed provides four parallel lines for attribute conflicts. As we've discussed here a few times, in actual play it seems that this usually comes out as one attribute (Warfare) for conflict and two for 'also rans' and Endurance being a sometimes tie-breaker (but mostly not in actual play.)

...anecdotes being the usual analysis.

Another way of stating the above is to say that literature and films show us plenty about Warfare conflicts and very little about Psyche, Strength and Endurance conflicts and so folks who play don't have the 'background map' to exploit the other three attributes. This is a cultural handicap we all share.

In a group of three players, I think what this means is simpler: have a group discussion about the drama each Player would like and orient the attribute conflicts according to that.

I've done specializations combined with regular Amber Diceless play. It has had some success. I think Mike Sullivan's done the most with specializations in his recent Amber systems.

Randy mentioned:
> for protected niches in a decent-sized group you probably need
> to do something like Arref's 17 Stat system or its equivalent.

My playtest/exploration of the "17 canon attributes" has more to do with playing the entire Zelazny canon than in specifically protecting PC niches. (But there is that feature, too.)

Amber Diceless as designed plays out the first two books of princely struggles. The game does 'throne wars' well. It does 'rat bastard' campaigns pretty well. It nicely forces the issues of 'one royal to rule them all'.

It falls short of modeling the entire reign of Oberon, or the peacetime era of Random, or the pre-Patternfall sibling jockeying of the royals. The system is not particularly good at explaining Merlin or Florimel or Deirdre at all.

Since I've had some very fun games delving into shadow empires or Corwin's Pattern or pre-history when Oberon is not yet King, I've dealt with the places the basic Amber system falls short for dramatic conflict.

-more thoughts in a bit-

Filed under : 17 canon attrib, amber.revised at 06.04.2007