Hein (fub) wrote,

#RPGADAY, day 11

Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?

That is, without a doubt, the Amber Diceless RPG.

You see, back when it was released, in 1991, there were hardly any story-focused games. It’s the same year the D&D Rules Cyclopedia was released, and Vampire: The Masquerade. V:tM claimed to be all about telling stories, but the dice mechanics in there really rewarded tweaking your character’s stats.

Not so with Amber. In Amber, there are no dice. There isn’t even a character sheet! It was so completely unlike any other RPG — there were fierce debates whether it was an RPG at all, since there were no dice to roll!

It was the first game (that I was aware of) that just did away with action resolution mechanics. Higher score wins, period. This also means that you have to trust your GM, and that better narration gives better results. This attracted a very diverse set of players who were not that strongly into the ‘sweaty try-hard’ mode of gameplay that was prevalent at the time. And like always when diversity increases, the community becomes more vibrant too. So vibrant, in fact, that this single niche RPG supported multiple annual conventions across the world!

We attended some Ambercons too — they were always very good fun. Lots of people tinkering with the setting, thinking up interesting ‘lenses’ through which to explore the game. And the source material leaves lots of room for interpretation and extrapolation, creating a fertile ground for non-traditional thinkers who want to do something else than crawling through dungeons. I ran a series of scenarios where the players were Vikings, recruited by the Elders to fight against the Courts of Chaos. But I’ve also played in games inspired by Scottish history, by Wacky Races (really!) and pretty much everything in-between.

The game itself is now ‘dead’ — even though there are still Ambercons going on, it’s mostly the die-hards that attend and I don’t think there’s much new blood flowing in. After all, the only released expansion, Shadow Knight, dates from 1993. Sure, “Lords of Gossamer and Shadow” has taken up the diceless mantle (see my review here), but the publisher died last year. His widow has taken up the torch, but the publishing schedule will undoubtedly slip. And LoGaS, while sort-of compatible with Amber in rules and setting, just doesn’t seem to garner the same attention and excitement.

Tags: #rpgaday, meme, rpg

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