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Tabletop Game / Amber Diceless Roleplaying

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The Amber Diceless Roleplaying is a role-playing game set in the universe of The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. The game was created and written by Erick Wujcik in the 1980s, and the original game book was published by Phage Press in 1991. A companion volume, Shadow Knight, followed in 1993.

As the name indicates, this game focuses more on relationships and roleplaying than number-crunching. Most characters are members of the two ruling classes in the Amber multiverse, and due to their extraordinary abilities the only individials who are capable of opposing a character are often from his or her own family. The setting assumes the Game Masters will set their campaigns after the Patternfall war (that is to say, after the "Corwyn cycle" of novels) and that the player characters will be children of the ruling family of Amber or a resident of the Courts.

Rite Publishing funded a game called Lords Of Gossamer And Shadow through Kickstarter based on the system and set in a similar multiverse. Another RPG, Lords Of Olympus, based on a version of the same system, was released by Precis Intermedia.

In addition to tropes from The Chronicles of Amber, this game includes the following tropes:

  • A God Is You: Buying an entire universe of your own description, for example, costs a single point during character creation, and even spending that much is a luxury, since the characters can just make their own any time they like. The developers openly encourage players to act as epically as possible: at one point, the FAQ poses the question of what to do if the characters start using the Psychic Powers offered by a high Psyche stat to effortlessly brush off hundreds of Shadow Mooks without a fight. The answer is, essentially, "So what if they do?"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Because characters get described differently between Corwin's and Merlin's chronicle, the game goes whole hog on this concept, giving a number of possible interpretations and builds for each of the series characters.
  • Body Horror: Players are warned going in that the more extreme forms of Shape Shifting can lead to a "personal horror story". The rules go on to list several very useful applications of the power... and what happens when the user goes too far.
  • Changing of the Guard: The notion behind the RPG is that players take the roles of new, younger Amberites, leaving most of the characters in the books as older, more experienced NPCs (and some of the few beings that can present a serious challenge to the player characters.)
  • Epileptic Trees: Invoked in the roleplaying game, which encourages use of this trope to come up with alternative explanations for everything and everyone. The person running the game must design his or her own answers to all the mysteries which the books left open.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Appears in a mild form. Since they buy all their abilities from a point pool, characters tend to focus on combat, on advanced mastery of a single form of magic, or on developing as many different forms of magical ability as possible.
  • Gambit Pileup: Because there are so many manipulators in the Amber setting, the typical campaign will consist less of solving mysteries than of figuring out which bits of evidence the players have discovered belong to the mystery they are currently trying to solve. Oh, and trying to prevent any of the nastier NPCs from learning that they've gathered all that evidence.
  • The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: True to the trope itself, but subverting the trope name. The system relies entirely on the game master's judgement rather than that of a Random Number God. Play relies on the game master being a fair bastard who leaves the cheating to his or her NPCs.
  • Grappling with Grappling Rules: Thoroughly averted. Strength, in addition to Exactly What It Says on the Tin, includes a character's level of ability at unarmed combat of all kinds. If you grapple somebody with superior Strength, you lose. Better hope you weren't fighting To the Pain!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The game master is encouraged to employ this trope subtly: player characters who behave selfishly or foolishly should be made to rue their actions.
    • The power of the Amberites' blood curse is a more specific example: the subject cursed suffers potentially lethal levels of bad luck for a very long time. However, so does the character who placed the curse.
  • Magitek: Played with. Each universe has its own rules of physics and of metaphysics: some Shadows are both high-tech and high-magic. Unfortunately, the more elaborate a magical or technological object is, the more strongly it relies on the rules of the reality in which it was designed. Magitek objects, since they're reliant on both, tend to be devastating on their home turf, and useless anywhere else.
  • Monty Haul: Played with. Any character who opts to become the beloved billionaire warlord of an entire solar system can do so, but what is so easily gained can just as readily be lost to enemy action.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The major characters from the Chronicles are presented with three or four stat blocks. This effectively prevents even a player who's read the rulebooks from knowing that NPC's true abilities or motivations.
  • Never Split the Party: It is unlikely that any other game averts this trope more thoroughly. It's actually very uncommon for all the player characters to happen to be in the same reality, except perhaps at the beginning and end of a major adventure arc. Trumps of the other player characters, which allow them to communicate with and teleport to each other, reduce the usual negative consequences of splitting the party.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Because the characters are capable of so much, the manual offers several tips on how to deal with cases of this trope coming into play.
  • Point Build System: In an unusual twist on this, purchasing allies, artifacts, personal universes, and cosmic powers used a set scale, but purchasing attributes put the player in direct competition with the other players via auction.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Shadow Knight supplement
    • The standard form of the Envenom spell is a poisonous acid that prevents rapid healing and regeneration of wounds.
    • Demons can have a bite which injects a highly caustic poison. It has the same effect on healing/regeneration as the Envenom spell.
  • Properly Paranoid: Most of the game involves scheming against your fellow players to a degree second only to Paranoia itself. This quality also ensures that none of the PCs have a chance of defeating any of the characters from the source novels, as they've been at this game longer than the PCs.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Invoked by the rules, which state that in order to accurately portray NPCs with superhuman strategic abilities and thousands of years of experience, the game master will often have to resort to rewriting things that happened off-stage.
  • The Topic of Cancer: If characters with Shape Shifting push themselves beyond their limits while suffering from exhaustion or starvation, they can suffer from Primal Chaos Cancer. Some of their cells run wild, consuming normal cells and multiplying quickly. The rogue cells will eventually attack vital organs, appear on the skin and eat the character alive and turn him into an amorphous blob. This is not necessarily fatal.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Generally speaking, player characters must rely on the Indy Ploy while multiple NPCs employ Xanatos Speed Chess - but a player who tires of being an Unwitting Pawn may decide to take up chess too.