Splitting Heirs :: legends and reverse-logic

In order to postpone my inevitable post about not posting… (every summer needs one), I here present spoiler thoughts about Age of Retribution.

I’m not searching for it at the moment, but I’ve made the case before that part of the attractive cleverness of Zelazny’s fantasy genre theme in ‘Nine Princes in Amber’ is that all civilizations’ legends are reflected from the royals of Amber.
In that reflected sense, I often ‘reverse-engineer’ and then engineer legends for the PCs I’m trying to understand or create.

For example, in Strange Bedfellows, if you start with a label such as ‘the Witch of Endor’ and try to imagine who that person is, you might get further than if you start with game mechanics framing your imagination.
If you add to above a dark-skinned gypsy orphan in ragged clothes, which is a different legend entirely, you can examine the intersection of the two and still not fuss with mechanics yet.

See? This is what I think of as ‘reverse-engineering’ the character legend. The Amber PC is ‘taken’ into lots of cultures and reinterpreted in sometimes broken or wavery images further and further from Amber.
One of the other things about it is that you can surprise yourself later on.
In Age of Retribution, this method is a bit lean, since I’m playing there a PC who hasn’t quite got a legend yet. She’s not the fully formed source of legend she will be someday. She’s just past 20.
This is part of the ‘problem’ with playing Very Youngers in the Amber genre.
Still, the ‘reverse-legend method’ can help guide. I’ve leaned on it in AoR —and perhaps it is starting to bear some in-game fruit.



Agacerie is the odd fatherless daughter of Deirdre in AoR.
This is the take-off point for her legend: she has no father. No, she doesn’t spring fully-formed from Deirdre’s forehead a la Athena, Deirdre creates her with hard work and secrecy. Yes, in this legend, Deirdre is Pygmalion/Dr. Frankenstein and the twenty-something daughter fresh from the Black Road War is Galatea/the Monster.
It’s not hard to imagine Deirdre tapping seckrit wimmin powers off in some weird shadow in the dark months leading to PatternFall. So the next layer of legend is Deirdre trains young child from early age to take role of ‘monster buster’ because there are scary things happening outside Amber (right out of ‘Doc Savage’ origins.)
Who ya gonna call? Agacerie.
The girl is ignorant of exactly where she came from. Aren’t we all? We seem to remember early memories. Maybe we just remember stories about those early moments. We might see a photo or read a scrap of poetry and understand it means something. It happened. Details are fuzzy.
Agacerie has had a full life: training six days a week since she was a kid. Weapons. Grace. Dance. Deportment. Focus. Shadow tricks. Martial arts. If she doesn’t remember her third birthday, well, who is going to call that odd.
And there haven’t been many quiet moments since Eric took the throne of Amber. Now Eric is dead, the Chaosi are fallen back to the Courts, and the armies are come home to Amber. Random is King. Sacrifices have been made. Perhaps shortcuts taken for reason of survival. And some quiet moments have arrived. Sort of.
The veterans have come home to Amber. Another line of drama for Agacerie: she joined the Black Road war young and war is most of what she has ever known. It may be the reason she really exists.
What do you do with the Monster-Killer once the monsters have been defeated? Do you turn if off? Does some debt come due? Deirdre: what did you mix in the cauldron to get the Other Half of the Needful Myth? Do you tell Agacerie she’s not at all like the rest of the family? Maybe you tell her before she finds out on her own.
Or maybe she is; more like them than not.
See?
Fun, before you ever figure an attribute or draw a Trump.
Try reversing your own creation legend sometime.

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5 comments

  1. I’d gladly use that method of character creation, if someone would just give me a game that needs a character created. 🙂
    You cannot believe how this post of yours has set up the ache to have an Amber game to play in.
    Sigh. The last character I can remember creating was the (never properly named) foil for my old Samhaoir character. I designed her (and revamped Sam) to be an NPC in one of Kit’s games that never went anywhere. That was 14 months ago, now…

  2. Wow. Marcus never thought of Agacerie’s origins as more than the obvious. “Mom went off to have a daughter.”
    And he emphatically does NOT think of her as odd. It’s kind of odd for Marcus to be a role model for her, but that’s another thing entirely.

  3. But you can see that her older brother is most definitely rather important to her. Even she doesn’t think much about how she ‘imprints’ on people the Deirdre has told her are important.
    I’m not sure how the GM takes all this, but I can see the theme of AoR also twisting a bit with Deirdre: “you can’t escape your decisions.”
    Agacerie may be part of the retribution in that case.
    If Agacerie ever turned against her Creator, then Marcus might have to work as her only anchor to family.

  4. Hmm, thats not the most unfamiliar of positions for my characters. It reminds me a bit of Scipio, and how Bridgette’s Ravanalie (his sister) was one of the few ties she had to Amber after she turned into Raven.

  5. Hello…I was eating lunch and skimming blogs, and came across this AoR discussion. Of course, as a player, it caught my eye. After a brief internal argument regarding spoilers, I finally clicked to see more, expecting Arref’s ruminations about the campaign itself, and instead was treated to some insight on Agacerie…who, with Corbin, the GM and I had recently exchanged a slew of excellent posts with. And while I cannot honestly say I guessed right, I was pretty close…though the “seed” for the character is a very nice twist and a great idea.
    See, Corbin, fledgeling sorcerer, thought maybe Cerie had something “bound” within her, like a Demon or a powerful enchantment, to paint a broad stroke. Seems tho, he was half-right, except maybe its “Life” that’s bound into her with that symbol on her back. Also, being 18 and curious young man, Corbin was attracted to Agacerie…and she’s proven herself to be in his Family’s corner when she is needed, and that’s really what matters to him. If she told him now that she was a construct of sorts, I’m not sure he’d care.
    That said, while I agree with what Arref says about ‘reverse-legend method’; I tested the theory…I googled “Witch of Endor”, figuring I’d see the biblical root, and was pleased by all the tidbits I found, that easily become tantalizing hints. To be fair, I googled ‘Kato Samurai’, and also received a fair amount of hints that could be insights into Hideo’s character. Interesting, I thought, as I had begin with the kernal idea of a Japanese feudalist character…the name of Kato is significant in their history, so I used it, and bent it a bit…so essentially, Arref is dead on. Nifty, I thought.
    Then I tried to apply this to Corbin…who is, I think, the Youngest of the Youngers, or darn close, at about 18 years of age. I found that I could not…which actually, pleases me, as I see Corbin as a work in progress…
    But I am curious as to what players thoughts on Corbin might be, though I think Arref has the advantage at the moment, having seen something fairly pivotal happen to the young man…
    But I blather now…I’ll check back…

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