It’s hard to run Amber. The rulebook gives suggestions as to how things work, but even those running games very close to the canonical view have to answer a lot of questions as to how things work in a new situation. The overall rule of Amber is, “You succeed unless something has an interest in stopping you.” You can pick any lock, speak any language, go where you wish, unless there’s an active force opposing. Cosmologies can be created simply on a new aspect of how the powers work (check out our power categories.)
On the other hand, there’s a certain feel to Amber. The lack of “wuss Amberites” rule. When I play Amber, I want there to be the big challenges, the personal triumphs, and the destructive possibilities. You should dance on the edge of, “Over the top,” simply because of being living legends.
So when we joined this Amber game, I was excited. I created a deeply flawed character, (Chantal) a thug with a penchant for, “cold currency and hot blood.” The first day was great, with mechanical creatures and magical items, and then… the game seemed to be someone’s old AD&D game ported to Amber.
That wasn’t the stinker, though.
The stinker was because the GM (and a couple of other players) were so determined to keep their secrets that we had nothing to do.
The puzzles were killing puzzles.
In a game where everyone should be larger than life, there should be a decided lack of down moments. Yes, there’s a definite timing for revealing secrets, but when you’re stalling the player chemistry because of it, you need to think of something else. Tell us the secrets, and the characters can still be in the dark.
…And while I appreciate a good puzzle, if the players keep banging at something and not getting anywhere, it’s time for a clue.
The game didn’t last very long for us, but it’s the first campaign I’ve ever joined where I was dreading going to it so much I actually found myself coming up with excuses to not game. I’m sure some of it was just that it was a bad game match, but it’s definitely going down in my mind as a Stinker.