Foreword and Introduction
"Does the soldier know the battle plan of the general? Does the rook know the stratagem of the chess player? Light and water for the tree; this is given, and no more. Answers must be found on one's own."
-- Chloe, in 'Forth the Nine Riders'
"Look, can you just please tell us plainly what the hell we're supposed to do, you stupid primal powers?"
-- Juri, in 'A Fistful of Finndos'
Amber has always been one of my favorite RPGs. It is fairly unique in the industry, and even now, when Diceless systems have become somewhat more common, few can match Amber for sheer brilliance.
Despite this, even the most ardent Amber enthusiasts will admit the game has problems. The amazing vagueness of much of the rules is one. Differing opinions on how to interpret a rule, combined with the fact that the manual appears to contradict itself at points, has caused arguments similar to a group of Cardinals engaged in heated debate over how to interpret the Bible. And yet another avenue of contention opens up in the places where the game quite clearly veers from the books.
Another problem is the difficulty of advancement, given the block nature of the powers in Wujcik's game. Who can get Pattern post-game when you'll need to save up 50 whole points?
The scale of the standard 100 point game is another problem, as it made playing Lords of Chaos near impossible, and the fact that one lost 50 points taking Pattern make people, not surprisingly, less than willing to take Pattern.
This manual is intended as a complete replacement for Wujcik's system. Complete? Well, in the sense that you do not need the book to play, just this page. The core of the system here is the Wujcik system.
(Note: I have made this page for myself and my players. This is a private page, not intended for public distribution. You do not have permission to link to, distribute, copy, or publicize any page of this manual unless you get express verbal permission from me. Which I won't give, unless you're one of my players. Support Phage Press and buy their game.)
I cannot claim credit for all of the innovations, material, and prose on this page. Much of it was written by John Biles for his various games, and even more has evolved as the result of discussions with various groups of players and the experiences of numerous games.
For the morbidly interested, the campaigns this system has evolved over are, in roughly chronological order:
This is, needless to say, a lot of Amber gaming. You may consider the majority of this system fairly well battle-tested.
Players familar with the Wujcik system should take note of the following pitfalls in particular:
This is not an exhaustive list. Do not assume that because Wujcik does it one way, I do it that way too. I cannot stress this enough. If you come to me in mid game saying, "But the book says trumps are indestructable!" or something similar, I will smile benignly and point out that, no, that's not what the manual says. As far as I'm concerned for the purposes of playing the game, Wujcik's rules do not exist. In fact, the Chronicles of Amber don't exist. The rules and universe begin and end at this manual, period.
Finally, I'd like to thank the following people for their suggestions, criticism, playtesting, writing, loan of material, and willingness to walk the Pattern and head out into Shadow with me.
- Mike Loader
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Last Update May 20, 2003