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Amber with "risk"

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My kids like Amber. I am reading it again and giving them little synopses. Sort of a tradition (teen age boys).

So I was pitching the idea of Amber Diceless. (!) The response... "no dice? Hmmmm?"

Anyway, it pushed me to search, so I uncovered FATE, GURPS, and many other diced versions out there from varied hackers. Then I happened upon the game Never Tell Me the Odds. It's a free (well, PWYW) book at DriveThru.

Quite interesting is the mechanic. You set up your characters such that six traits are arranged in slots, with two as High Values, two at Medium Values, and two at Low Values. This has the inklings of a ranking system, so it could be doable.

Next, should a character be trying a risk of some sort, the mechanic works like this: roll a die (well, any die works, just as long as you have an equal number of even and odd, so a d7 is out, I'm looking at you DCC).

Okay, here's where it is interesting. You look at the risk level and decide how to approach the situation. You might, perhaps, be facing a medium risk, so you could deploy (in a narratively appropriate way) a medium value, matching the risk. You might rely on a high value, and then you'd be "going over." Or, you could decide to deal with the situation with a low value, and this would be "going under."

The results pattern is attractive for what I'd like to do with Amber... I'd tweak it some, but it's like this:

Go Over: roll even = Succeed, roll odd = Succeed + Endanger

Match: roll even = Succeed, roll odd = Fail + Endanger

Go Under: roll even = Succeed + Endanger, roll odd = Fail + Lose

So, what is your result? It's scaled with the mixing:

Succeed: you overcome obstacle, etc.

Fail: you still face the obstacle, etc.

Endanger: you must lose "life or factor" (so, in this game each of your values has "2 hit points" basically, and you must check one of these when endangered; it's like losing a bunch of Endurance in AD, etc.)

Lose: death, removal from scene, destroyed, far out of reach etc.

I am thinking it could prove interesting, say, by using the six slots idea, maybe adding possessions and relationships to the STR, END, PSY, WAR traits, or something like it.

Then, perhaps thinking of risk levels as related to how far apart rankings are, so that someone who ranks like the "medium value" who is up against an obstacle/foe within some sort of range, well, that could be a way to decide when to roll like this games does it. (Though, really far apart in the schema, and, no roll, especially when it's obvious how to proceed).

I have to chew on it more. I like that it is "scaling" in a general way, so that it could avoid the hard-numbers in the FATE ladder (though there are fine tweaks for that, yes).

Any thoughts.

The counter argument for diceless might be...

There's randomization.  But instead of  throwing dice, you throw out words, ideas, and action.  You think outside the box and play against your opponents weaknesses.  You don't know their weaknesses, test their blade and will.  Seek advantages or fight dirty.  There's no way I can predict what you will do, I only know what will happen if you do nothing.

Or if you want to 'home brew' a system...

Let them roll dice, just don't tell them that is literally a storytelling tool.  Still do things the Amber way, but color it with the value of the dice.  If they're going to win anyway, on a high roll - let them describe how bad ass they are. While with a low roll, let them know how unlucky their opponent was.  You could also roll dice behind the screen so that they think that there is some fate there (or perhaps to color your own narrative.)  Give them bonuses on the roll for advantages and clever role play.  For disadvantages, add to your hidden dice.

[edit for typo]

Depending on how you feel about tarot cards, you could also hack Fours Houses in Amber to do something like that and keep it thematic and use it as a framework for setting up your game. 

Rank is only important in a throne war scenario.. for most games I run, especially when introducing new players to Amber (that's pretty much everyone these days), they're all Co-OP games so rank has less value, other than as a stat bonus.
I also use sub-attributes which makes life far more interesting.. just because you're ranked 1 in warfare doesn't mean you're god of strategy or just because you're really good with a sword doesn't mean you're any good without one.
What taking "dice" and hence "randomness" away does is is removes the "you fail because the dice say so" even when in reality you have no chance of doing so, and conversely you cannot succeed if in reality you simple can't .. don't have 20 years experience and training in diffusing bombs then you're not going to be able to diffuse a thermo nuclear device.. or anything that is booby trapped or has collapsing circuits etc.
You may find the rules I use, based on the "Netbook of Amber" useful, there are also guidelines for not using "rank" or using it without an "auction".

I like the dice-and-screen idea.

I’ll check the sources. Much appreciated!


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