R. Edwards on Amber

I really like games that do the following. I found this bit particularly illuminating.

The Forge :: View topic – Pitching rules for narrativism
Interpret the Shadow rules in terms of impact on Story Now, rather than in terms of simulating some sort of metaphysics. Instead of being a Zelazny fanboy who wants to know “what if Shadow did this,” be a Zelazny-esque author and recognize how he used Shadow-based explanations to set up conflicts and constraints. That “constraint” is especially important; throughout the stories, Shadow’s malleability was far outweighed by the limitations it laid on Corwin rather than on his opportunities. Think of how difficult it was to get the Amber-ready gunpowder, how easy it was for the True Amber to stay hidden, how much fuckin’ running around he had to do after the jewel based on time-flow differences, and how Brand stayed one step ahead of so many other characters for so long.
Some Amber players like to announce stuff like, “I shift to a cyberpunk world where they already worship me, and shift back with a trained black ops team, who overwhelm [the player-characters], and we brainwash them to serve me.” Uh-huh. Maybe in fanboy-land. That’s one way to play, certainly, but I suggest focusing on Shadow as a set of layered barriers full of unsuspected dangers rather than a smorgasbord of Powerz.


  1. Exactly how I treat Shadow is that they’re going to be significant, not necessarily infinite. If you’re looking in Shadow for something, it’s a Quest, not a shopping trip.

  2. Whoever said it wasn’t possible to rape the rules in Amber was dead wrong.
    In House of Cards, someone was lost in Shadow for the better part of 1500 years, and *couldn’t get back*. In game, people have been lost and *couldn’t get back*. Sometimes it can be a shopping trip, but fundamentally, like Meera, I hew to the quest model.

  3. Shadows should be dangerous as well useful. They are kind of two sides of the same coin. With no danger, shadow becomes cardboard and pretty much meaningless. Without opportunity/usefulness, there would be no real reason to go into shadow. A good game incorporates both facets of shadow into it’s storyline.

  4. Indeed so.
    I have no problem with the Ginger model of someone being lost in shadow.
    Shadow is big, really really big. And the Quest model works much better than the laundry list. In a short con game, I might be willing to make things a little more syncopated but in a campaign? Never.

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