IMC :: ‘PvP’ violence and counters

Brannan.JP: Defining Game Style in Amber
In some Amber games, characters are considered to do certain things, take certain precautions as part of normal behavior…

A question of GM vision as well as a concern for game flow and Player investment.


The question also opens other ‘style’ issues that often get muddled into ‘canon’ vs interpretation. And again, how do you get this info across to Players at startup? Not easy.
For instance, one answer to the issue of “will PC vs PC violence feature strongly” is in the GM fiat interpretation of PC goals and deadly force per Attributes and Powers.
Eric nearly kills Bleys.
Random nearly kills Eric.
Caine nearly kills Corwin.
This suggests to this GM that PC vs PC lethal violence has more chance of failing than succeeding.
Why?
Endurance and Competance assumed. If your Players are not talking about “precautions” that’s fine for the meta-game, but at the point of conflict, or as a general statement of intent at game start, there should be a quick conversation about defensive routines of PCs. And it would help if there were some signs and symbols of this routine in the roleplay.
For example, in “A Grand Affair” it was part of the character play that Caine and Benedict paused at a door before opening it. That small character bit was just a sign of their running watchfulness; a paranoid routine.
It is very unproductive to get into a Player conversation after the fact that a PC would never have let such-n-such happen because their Attribute presumes constant defensive readiness. So again I look to ‘story value’ ranks as a measure of how likely one Attribute ranking might surprise another, and how likely a single attack of any power or Attribute will put Amber Endurance out of a fight.
When I spoke of attacks failing above, it was lethal failure. In all three canon examples I used, the defender was seriously hurt, they just were not killed.
And knowing the slim chance of killing a cousin — maybe you don’t try, you find another way to solve the problem.

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3 comments

  1. Hmmmm. Your words “single attack” make me think. I wonder if style of violence is an issue. Caine *nearly* kills Corwin by (essentially) jumping out at him when he doesn’t expect it. Random *nearly* kills Eric by using the Pattern to teleport and attack him.
    Eric was killed on a battlefield as part of a substantial campaign.
    Perhaps it could be summed up as “in war, people die; at a family dinner they only get wounded.”
    As for other modes of assassination….poison, drugs, etc. I’ll need to do a bit more thinking.

  2. That’s an interesting summation with a core truth.
    While I don’t use “hit points” for amberites, I do have a scale of wounds to match against Endurance attributes. IMC, it is Very Unlikely that a blade or projectile wound would ever kill an amber royal with typical Endurance.
    Would two dozen such wounds do it? Much better chance.
    In my system, a fatal poison is the same as a fatal stab or well-aimed crossbow bolt. A bolt of lightning is much the same.
    Magic and tech get no bonus over sweat in Amber…. though hi-tech and hi-magic worlds should be avoided by the cautious royal.

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