If you're not familiar with Zelazny he was a literary genius who led the "new wave" of science fiction in the '60s and '70s. This game system is unique in a number of different ways. Firstly, and most bizarrely, it is a "diceless" system, so leave them at home. They won't help. The diceless aspect works, largely because of the genre involved.
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There is one true city on one true world, and it is called Amber. Founded by Oberon and ruled by his family, Amber stands where the slope of Mount Kolvir sweeps to the sea, on the edge of the Forest of Arden.
It has stood since time immemorial, and it will remain eternal. Reflected from Amber is infinite Shadow, where all possible worlds can be found and created. All it takes is sufficient power and will to walk among Shadow, and among it find whatever it is that your heart desires. As far as any may wander, however, they cannot escape the pull of destiny and the machinations of their family….
Zelazny went on to write ten novels and several short stories set in the vast multiverse of Shadow and Amber, filling the world with a cast of compelling characters. It has since passed into and out of publication several times, and in recent years it has been a difficult game to find in hard copy. Luckily, it can reliably be found available for download in PDF format from several retailers.
Amber DRPG offers the limitless multiverse of Amber to players both new and familiar with the setting. While often billed as a game for more advanced players, it is highly intuitive and very easy to learn. The mastery curve can be rather steep, however, and more experienced players in an Amber DRPG game have a distinct advantage. The player characters of Amber DRPG are typically the grandchildren of Oberon, with the characters of the novels serving as their parents.
The novels themselves are more or less treated as canon, but the narrators of the stories are highly unreliable. Game Masters are encouraged to expand upon the novel, and create their own version of events. Many Amber games even dispense with the canon Amberites entirely, creating their own children of Oberon instead. Conflict with other characters is usually determined by Attributes, with the character of the higher Attribute typically winning. Players are given a pool of points to build their characters, spending them on said Attributes, Powers, and Items.
Finally, characters possess Items that can take the form of anything from weapons to companions to entire realities that are part of their destiny. These Items become inherent to their character, and they serve as a signature to their character, such as Excalibur to the legend of Arthur, or the country of Latveria to the character of Dr. Doom from Marvel Comics. The greatest success of Amber DRPG is how it captures the driving interpersonal conflicts of the novels.
From the very start, players are encouraged to compete with each other as much as with the environment. Unlike most tabletop character generation, character creation in the game is done collectively with the Attribute Auction. Characters all start at roughly the power of a demigod, being stronger, faster, and more skilled than any human in history. As such, their chief competition is each other, and it is through the Attribute Auction that players decide which character is dominant in which Attribute.
Players go back and forth, publicly spending points until there is an unchallenged top bid. The character with the top bid is virtually unbeatable in that Attribute. This starts the atmosphere of competition among the players, and is one of the main draws to the game.
Shadow Knight supplement: even harder to find in print than the actual book. Players are encouraged through the Attribute Auction to create initial rivalries and alliances.
Bargaining becomes a factor between players, as a rival can be turned to an ally with an early offer of support in another auction, or previously silent player can cause a sudden upset by taking first with an unreasonably high bid after several characters have already invested into an Attribute.
All characters start with the same pool of points, after all, and spending in the Auction limits the points left to spend on Powers and Items. The GM serves as the ultimate arbiter of the auction, with their word serving as the final note. Once the auction is closed for an Attribute, all bids are final.
After the Auction, players individually meet with the GM to construct their character with their remaining points. Powers and Items are purchased, and the finer details of the characters are decided. With the entirety of infinite Shadow at their disposal, new players are encouraged to create the character they have always wanted to play in other games but could not. Amber is big enough to hold them. Experienced players find themselves drawn towards certain archetypes in the narrative, but challenges can be found in nearly any sort of build.
The available Powers are each radically different and cost intensive to the point of being nearly exclusive. Items offer a great deal of customization, perfect for adding the final touches on a character. The key aspect to the private character building, however, is the element of mystery that it introduces to the game.
There is a level of uncertainty to what other characters are fully capable of. While all bids in the Auction are public and known, there is nothing forcing a character to bid in the Auction, and in some games, Attributes can be further increased during the private building session.
Just as the Auction fosters a sense of competition between the players, the private character building fosters the uncertainty of motives and capacities of those players.
Whenever a character attempts an action, their player must describe their intended action to the GM. The more creative and imaginative the description, the better it is often received. Amber is a fantasy game first and foremost, and it deals with powerful characters across a palette of infinite possibilities. Once a player has grown comfortable with the act of describing their actions, their character often develops their own voice and style.
Quick thinking too is as essential to playing Amber DRPG as creative planning, and it is often through these tense moments that characters achieve victory when the odds are stacked against them. When dealing with a superior opponent in an Attribute, players are challenged to find a way to turn the conflict into one of an Attribute where their character has the advantage. Barring that, they may need to find a way out of the fight alive.
If one cannot win in a sword fight, turn it into a gun fight. If that does not work, try knocking over a bookcase on them and running away. Because of this Game Mastering in Amber requires one to always think on their feet, and knowing when and how to reward a player for a truly innovative moment.
The fostering of inter-character conflict can lead to bruised feelings between players, and a good GM for this game needs to know when to step in and keep everyone cool.
Slightly less dire, but certainly no less important, is that Amber DRPG has also been out or regular print since So, it can be very difficult to get a copy of outside of a digital format.
These flaws, however, are easily overcome with a forgiving GM, a mature group of players, and access to an online retailer. In that, it succeeds in creating one of the most satisfying and immersive tabletop role-playing games released in the last 20 years. Everything and anything is literally possible in Shadow, but there is only one true city in one true world.
David Gordon is a regular contributor to the site. A storyteller by trade and avowed tabletop veteran, he is always on the lookout for creative tabletop games. He can be reached at dave cardboardrepublic. You can discuss this article and more on our forums! This is the short link.
What is Amber Roleplaying?
Pkmoutl Registered User regular. September edited November in Critical Failures. So How many of us here have Pattern Imprint? How many of us know the joy and pain of Logrus Mastery? Have you ever referred to calling a friend on your cell phone as "Trumping" them? How many of you have no idea what I'm talking about? The saga consists of ten books, five chronicling what is known as "Corwin's Saga" and five chronicling what is known as "Merlin's Saga.
Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
Psyche is used for feats of willpower or magic. Strength is used for feats of strength or unarmed combat. Endurance is used for feats of endurance. Warfare is used for armed combat, from duelling to commanding armies. The attributes run from normal human level , through normal level for a denizen of the Courts of Chaos and 0 normal level for an inhabitant of Amber , upwards without limit. Scores above 0 are "ranked", with the highest score being ranked 1st, the next-highest 2nd, and so on. The character with 1st rank in each attribute is considered "superior" in that attribute, being considered to be substantially better than the character with 2nd rank even if the difference in scores is small.