New Rule! New Rule!

New Rule (“Communist Trump”) in effect for my games.

I like to call this the “Communist Trump Rule,” although it is one of many Amber Prisoners’ Dilemmas.

If no one of the players buys a Trump Deck, everyone has a Standard Deck. Standard Trump Deck includes all traditional Elders, and, if applicable, a Place Trump of Amber.

If one or more players buy Trump Decks, they have a Full Trump Deck, and an extra card of themselves. Full Trump Deck includes all the cards of the Standard Deck, as well as one each of the PCs as applicable. (Certain circumstances may apply. YMMV.) Other players may pick up a deck (if available; quantities are limited!) in game. Bad Stuff directly relates to number of cards from Standard Deck that are missing. Good Stuff may directly relate to deck opportunities. (“Extra place Trumps,” and the like.)

Slow Children At Play

In notes from IMC :: Fast-time shadows, how they work In My Campaign.

I dislike Shadow Time Tricks.

It might be my general dislike for Time Travel stories, but the whole slow-time/fast-time Shadow stuff gets under my skin because I so rarely see it being used as anything but a player-initiated manipulation of the GM’s good sense. You know, “game-breaking” stuff.

Now, it doesn’t bother me that some Shadows may be slower or faster than Amber. It’s the flitting about and pitting them against each other that disturbs me. It’s like saying, “Hi, I’ll put this plot point in storage, and take this one and get rid of it by accelerating it, and…” which is not necessarily anything bad, but it’s a slippery slope. You expect me as GM to provide you with the challenges you enjoy…I expect you to twist the universe into knots. I think it’s only fair that you offer me something a little less drastic than a Gordian solution.

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Four Faces of Pattern

The Pattern is a refinement of the Logrus.

I was thinking of some of the different ways I’ve seen the Pattern, and that each of them should have different twists on the powers gained from it. Under each of these “faces” is a quick sketch of thoughts around them. I may end up adding to these in time.

“The Pattern is a refinement of the Logrus.”

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Four Faces of Pattern: Face Three

The Pattern is a rune of protection.

“The Pattern is a rune of protection. The symbol itself has strength against the creatures of the netherdark. We wear it on medallions, and we weave it to catch the nightmares above our beds. We tattoo it on our hands and faces for luck. You can tell those of the True Realm for their charms are the most powerful.”

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Four Faces of Pattern: Face 4

The Pattern is a thing of blood magic.

“The Pattern is a thing of blood magic, an act of sacrifice that set Dworkin’s Will over the universe, bound to him as it is bound by him. The pain in the letting of the blood by the Unicorn’s Horn opened the reserves of power within Dworkin, freeing what he had gained by his observations into the Abyss. It is his blood which turned the Serpent’s Eye to ruby.”

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Bring In The New

Bringing in new blood is all well and good, but if you lose that quality of it, the base is going to go with it. (We’ve been doing fine on our own for quite a while now, afterall… and THAT, of course, is the real problem. Yes, a part of me is excited to hear it’s likely being picked up by somebody who wants to start doing stuff with it again, but MOSTLY I’m thinking, “Yeah, but we’ve BEEN doing stuff with it.”)

Regarding a new edition of Amber…

First, as far as where I’m coming from…I’m inclined towards the position that a new “core rulebook” needs to be directed mostly towards bringing in new players. As an old player, frankly, I’m not convinced a new rulebook is necessary – Amber doesn’t have that many rules, and if they’re going to change THAT…well, actually, I MIGHT be interested, but I doubt most of Amber’s following would be.

Anyway, the upshot is, apart from generally supporting the idea of it, it’d be hard to come up with a new edition that would be WORTH all the old players buying again… and has been noted here and there in other forums, Amber could use new blood anyway.

MaBarry Adds: I know a new rulebook is necessary because I still see copies of the ADRPG sold as “out of print,” and the only way to get new people involved will be to republish it as something to get that “new” and “improved” attention. On the other hand, I feel quite adamant about any new additions/editions maintaining the “feel” of the original (as indicated by Sol’s Collected Amber Words of Wisdom.)

With that in mind, I don’t honestly know what I’d suggest PUTTING in one. I like the idea of identifying canon versus game-convenience (or book-canon versus RPG-canon, to look at it a little differently.) Assuming the main book is going to keep the rules essentially as they are (the Attribute Auction, powers, item points, etc.), I might suggest a bit at the end of each section talking a little about some of ramifications to each of them… possibly some suggestions on how a new Amber GM can be prepared for some of their inherent problems.

I’m not suggesting the rules fixes like partial power systems etc…unless we want one OED-sized book, those should definitely wait for supplements. I just mean things like, “Shapeshifting is amazingly easy to abuse, so think ahead of time about what kinds of limits you want to set… will there be mass limits? Does the player have to list the forms they know ahead of time?”

(MaBarry says: I disagree on this point as I absolutely think a partial power system should be implemented, although I know there are different ones out on the web. I would, however, recommend some more FAQ-ish details, like “If you sleep, do you revert back to your true form,” and other notes. Maybe “canon” sidebars or something.)

Thinking about it, for the Throne War concept that the ADRPG rules are really set up for, a lot of these issues aren’t so important…it’s only when you want to make a real game out of it that it starts to matter. Mind you, I definitely wouldn’t take Throne Wars out – they’re actually one of my favorite kinds of game – but it might be nice to slant the rules away from them a little, and just offer it as a fun way to pass an afternoon.

There are a couple of minor specifics I’d suggest, because I’d like to see them and there’s no way to build a supplement out of them. One, along with the Attribute Auction, a bit about the possibility of using different Attributes. ESPECIALLY for a campaign, there are often descriptors that would be more useful than the PWSE standard. Secondly, maybe a couple of pages worth of character quiz questions…you know, to spark ideas.

(MaBarry says: No, really, worthwhile character quiz questions. Like, “What colour crayon would you eat?”… erm. I know they have a list…I’d also like the contribution system to relate to today’s technology, too.)

Something that occurred to me in regards to Guardians of Order picking it up in particular was the possibility that they might try to fix or expand the item rules. Me, I have mixed feelings about it…they could use it, but with the power lists from Tristat as a basis, it’d be easy to go too far.

Looking more towards supplements…I don’t know. Amber has been, well, neglected, for so long, that almost everything anyone might want is already up on the web. It’s all even been neatly organized, in a couple of places now. Powers fixes, setting expansions, alternate ideas for the rules…it’s already been written, and by and large, it’s already public domain… so I’m having a hard time seeing much that I’d want to buy. Honestly, the only way I can really see TO do it is to have different authors present multiple ways of handling things… essentially, use the main rulebook to bring things back to a baseline canon, and then start offering alternatives. This actually applies even more to settings than to the powers… powers COULD be distilled back to a canon ruling, if you wanted to, even after expanding them considerably. The settings…there’s just not enough to go on, and offering any kind of hard, “This is what Arden is like,” is only going to fly with a couple of people. Doing the settings kind of like they did with the Elder-writeups, on the other hand, both gives a good range to work in and a good basis for making completely new ideas from. {Eg. instead of just doing “Arden”, break it into “Dark Arden”, “Julian’s Playground”, “The Infinite Forest”.. well, whatever.} Look at the Rebma book, for example…though I’ll admit here that I haven’t, actually, so this is all based on what I’ve picked up from people who have – a great concept for Rebma, well written, but too `set’. Only helpful if you want to run Rebma that way… and very few Amber GMs want to run ANYTHING quite the way somebody else has written it.

(MaBarry says: …and if anyone wants some examples of quality alternatives, I might still have an archive or two.)

Bringing in new blood is all well and good, but if you lose that quality of it, the base is going to go with it. (We’ve been doing fine on our own for quite a while now, afterall… and THAT, of course, is the real problem. Yes, a part of me is excited to hear it’s likely being picked up by somebody who wants to start doing stuff with it again, but MOSTLY I’m thinking, “Yeah, but we’ve BEEN doing stuff with it.”)

Anyway. Perhaps not entirely coherent, but that’s pretty much my input, I think.

The Fine Art of Playing to the Crowd

Resolutions need to be consistent to the needs of the game. Not to “the plot,” not to “the system,” but to the game itself as an entity that is fueled by the combined imagination of the players and the GM.

In a private on-line discussion I mentioned that I felt GMing Amber was less a matter of GM fiat, and more a matter of “popular opinion.” I felt the comment warranted some further discussion and explanation.

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Innocent…Vote Now!

The LintKing and I are at some odds as to one item of the previous scenario, and I wanted the input of those who are reading.

The LintKing and I are at some odds as to one item of the previous scenario, and I wanted the input of those who are reading.

He thinks that Fiona should be played as a PC.

I think Fiona should be an NPC.

His thoughts include (but are not limited to) the ideas that players don’t care so much about what happens to NPCs, as well as the potential plot drama (allowing magical meihem in the courtroom, for example.)

Mine are based on making sure Fiona supports the metaplots. I know just what I want her to say, and I don’t know that she should be as involved as a PC.

Should Fiona be a PC?

Comments in the usual place.

UPDATE! (July-2-03)

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