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Author Topic: Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism  (Read 1725 times)

RPGPundit

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« on: December 08, 2006, 03:36:18 PM »
Sun Boy had commented on how Amber was awesome because there was no "IQ" stat, you had to use your own intelligence.  It goes further than that: there's also no social rules; no "diplomacy checks"; in Amber your own abilities as a player are what determines your social abilities.

Amber is what I've previously called an "asperger-proof game", as in, the autistic lawncrappers and social retards of the gaming world would find themselves utterly incapable of participating in Amber and not having their asses handed to them on a plate.  Most of the WW-style "image-over-substance" gamers would, as well; anyone for whom "machiavellian" means "I think up a general idea, spend forty-five minutes talking a lot and trying to strike poses, then roll my dice pool".  These people have no future in the harsh brutal world of Amber, where both at the in-character level and at the OOC level your ability to socially interact with the rest of the group, and especially the GM, is key to your character's success.

Its another reason why certain people hate Amber, and why many others absolutely love Amber; because Charisma is the most important attribute you can have to play it, and you don't get a number for that...

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finarvyn

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2006, 03:58:33 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Its another reason why certain people hate Amber, and why many others absolutely love Amber; because Charisma is the most important attribute you can have to play it, and you don't get a number for that...

This is an excellent point. Charisma is one of those stats that get ignored in most RPGs; indeed it is considered to be a "dump stat" in many campaigns because it is used so infrequently as to be valueless most of the time.

But in Amber, Charisma is one of the most significant parts of the game. If a person can bluff through a situation it's almost as good as actually having a good attribute. Convincing another player that you are a great swordsman may be better than being a great swordsman.

This is troubling to a large population of gamers who rely on charts and a lucky roll rather than actually playing out a situation.
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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2006, 04:22:30 PM »
I might suggest that rather than charisma we might talk about imagination.

Giving the NPCs and Family relationships a 'face' is "imagination as system" to me. Providing for shadow creation by Players. Providing for legends surrounding the items/artifacts/creatures that are attached to your PC is another imaginative system use.

A lot of this is seamless with the game system and *very* easy to explain to Players. It is also even easier for the GM to "cost out" elements that Players describe as part of their character. You can carry those rules in your head, just about.

Zelazny's mastery of the character sketch sets up the NPCs. Then Wujcik steps in and gives you three or so versions of those elder NPCs that could make sense to the setting. Again this sets an "imagination system choices" and reinforces the magic of the author's theme of mystery and "peeling an onion" to discover what the family is *really* like and what relationships are *really* important. Every campaign 'Benedict' is supposed to be owned by the PCs as distinct and unique to their relationships. Customization is king.

The GM notes talk about conflicts and significance a bit and how to massage results. Imagination overcomes obstacles. Imagination evens disadvantage in combat. Imagination finds new uses for Attribute skills. Imagination is the secret most important attribute.

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2006, 12:42:52 AM »
Quote from: finarvyn
This is an excellent point. Charisma is one of those stats that get ignored in most RPGs; indeed it is considered to be a "dump stat" in many campaigns because it is used so infrequently as to be valueless most of the time.


This is troubling to a large population of gamers who rely on charts and a lucky roll rather than actually playing out a situation.


Precisely, even if Charisma isn't seen as a dump stat, its seen as something you have a number for with your character, and you roll for; not as something you yourself must demonstrate.

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2006, 12:46:28 AM »
I agree that imagination is extremely important for Amber, and that Amber's customization is a HUGE key to its appeal as an RPG.

However, there are a lot of other games that depend on imagination, and almost all RPGs put the onus of imagination on the player himself; he can't just weasel out of it by "rolling" imagination the way he can roll intelligence or charisma.
In Amber, all three of those are dependant on the player's own skills.

As for customization, there's no argument with you there, but its one of the features that makes the game cool, not an "attribute" as such.  Its also more a GM-feature than a player-feature, and therefore beyond the scope of my original argument for this thread.

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JongWK

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2006, 09:34:57 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Precisely, even if Charisma isn't seen as a dump stat, its seen as something you have a number for with your character, and you roll for; not as something you yourself must demonstrate.


From time to time, I run an Iron Heroes campaign for some friends. One of them would be at an absolute loss in Amber. :D :rolleyes:
"I give the gift of endless imagination."
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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2006, 11:11:47 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Amber is what I've previously called an "asperger-proof game", as in, the autistic lawncrappers and social retards of the gaming world would find themselves utterly incapable of participating in Amber and not having their asses handed to them on a plate.  


How about the pseudo-intellectual poseurs and nose-in-the-air elitists?
 

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2006, 12:48:08 PM »
Quote from: Cupboard
How about the pseudo-intellectual poseurs and nose-in-the-air elitists?


Well yes, them too, to a lesser but also significant extent.  They're trained that "looking good at something" will make them be good at it, especially machiavellian scheming; when in fact that's just not how it works.

I swear, there's a whole generation of WW-bred gamers who have been totally fucked up into believing that they know how to be machiavellian, when really they know fuck all.

The proof was the time I actually played a Vampire LARP and wiped the floor with the competition when it came to scheming. It was an obvious case of the difference between how Amber really trains you to be a scheming shithead, while Vampire only trains you in how to act/look like one, without actually requiring you to do anything more than roll dice.

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The Yann Waters

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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2006, 02:59:34 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
I swear, there's a whole generation of WW-bred gamers who have been totally fucked up into believing that they know how to be machiavellian, when really they know fuck all.
Still, it should be feasible to play a character who is supremely skilled at Byzantine schemes without the player himself having to be every bit as smart and suave. "Pretending to be better than usual at something" applies to poseurs and roleplayers alike, regardless of whether that assumed superiority is mental or physical: if someone can play a mighty-thewed dragonslayer without proving his strength in real life, then why should a worldly scholar with knowledge and intellect far beyond that of the player be out of the question as a PC?
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Amber's Intellectual/Social Darwinism
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2006, 10:55:40 PM »
Quote from: GrimGent
Still, it should be feasible to play a character who is supremely skilled at Byzantine schemes without the player himself having to be every bit as smart and suave. "Pretending to be better than usual at something" applies to poseurs and roleplayers alike, regardless of whether that assumed superiority is mental or physical: if someone can play a mighty-thewed dragonslayer without proving his strength in real life, then why should a worldly scholar with knowledge and intellect far beyond that of the player be out of the question as a PC?


Because that's the nature of how the Amber game ends up playing.  Its a descriptive game; you can't just say "I use my strength to beat him". You have to explain how you do it.

Hey, if you're good at ACTING like you're brilliant or machiavellian (which many WW players are), you could even use that for a little bit, but when all of your ideas were shown to be tripe you'd be made mincemeat out of.

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