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Author Topic: Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?  (Read 1752 times)

ArrozConLeche

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I have the original Amber print somewhere in a box, so I can't remember all the details. Is there enough of an underlying system to make it worth abstracting into a generic one?

jibbajibba

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 11:27:29 AM »
Quote from: ArrozConLeche;818124
I have the original Amber print somewhere in a box, so I can't remember all the details. Is there enough of an underlying system to make it worth abstracting into a generic one?


I have used the basic diceless engine to play games from Star Wars to Fables and just about everything in between.

the engine is very simple.

Pool of points used to pay for
Set of core stats - usually from 4 to 6 . Paid for in an auction
Set of core powers relevant to the genre but In Star Wars I used Robotics, Pilot, Force but in a Musketeer game it might be Politics, Seduction, Spycraft.
I add a skill set but up to you.
Items, Allies, and Stuff.

So its definitely portable.
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Doughdee222

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 11:34:52 AM »
I presume by "generic" you mean "regular adventuring characters in any genre: space, fantasy, crime fighters, World War II, etc." My first thought is "Yes, you can." But then... why would you want to? You would immediately run into problems that other systems already solve.

For example, the issue of skills. In virtually all systems skills are an important part of characters and how they are played. What skills a guy has, at what level of proficiency, etc. In Amber skills are mostly hand-waved, which seems fitting for characters who can be hundreds or even thousands of years old. You want 5 Doctorates and 10 Masters degrees? Fine, you got them. You want a guy who has been a General for 100 years and a leader of an empire for 200? Fine you got it. See what I mean? If you wanted to play with more normal characters though you would have to put in more definition, more limits.

Then you have to change the combat system. When dealing with powerful and well-aged characters the Amber system of Warfare and Strength and Endurance is fine. But with closer-to-normal people I don't think it would be satisfactory. Random elements and "accidents" can have a bigger effect. In Amber a 40 Warfare guy will, in theory, always win over a 20 Warfare guy. With more regular characters... no. A minimally trained guy won't win a contest against an expert but he can get lucky and defeat the expert randomly. Children shoot and kill adults, a street thug can plug a cop, an idiot-terrorist can spray bullets and kill a couple professional soldiers, etc.

jibbajibba

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 11:41:26 AM »
Quote from: Doughdee222;818145
I presume by "generic" you mean "regular adventuring characters in any genre: space, fantasy, crime fighters, World War II, etc." My first thought is "Yes, you can." But then... why would you want to? You would immediately run into problems that other systems already solve.

For example, the issue of skills. In virtually all systems skills are an important part of characters and how they are played. What skills a guy has, at what level of proficiency, etc. In Amber skills are mostly hand-waved, which seems fitting for characters who can be hundreds or even thousands of years old. You want 5 Doctorates and 10 Masters degrees? Fine, you got them. You want a guy who has been a General for 100 years and a leader of an empire for 200? Fine you got it. See what I mean? If you wanted to play with more normal characters though you would have to put in more definition, more limits.

Then you have to change the combat system. When dealing with powerful and well-aged characters the Amber system of Warfare and Strength and Endurance is fine. But with closer-to-normal people I don't think it would be satisfactory. Random elements and "accidents" can have a bigger effect. In Amber a 40 Warfare guy will, in theory, always win over a 20 Warfare guy. With more regular characters... no. A minimally trained guy won't win a contest against an expert but he can get lucky and defeat the expert randomly. Children shoot and kill adults, a street thug can plug a cop, an idiot-terrorist can spray bullets and kill a couple professional soldiers, etc.


but non of those points aren't true of amber either. From the books any one could have shot Benedict and killed him. you woudl need to get lucky and you couldn't beat him in a straight fight but one of the reasons Amberites shy away from modern weapons is to limit randomness.
Amber is no different to John Carter of Mars, The Grey Mouser, or Conan in as much as the heroes are as imortal and as powerful as Corwin in the context of their setting.

And the Engine works really well for a large number of genres
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Panjumanju

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 12:07:49 PM »
There certainly is an engine underneath it all that can support many different genres - but, you have to be mindful. If you tried to do a fantasy dungeon crawl, for instance, using Amber as a base system I think would be a terrible idea.

I've used the Amber engine for a space opera game and a long-running "Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light" campaign, and they worked very well because they were games that played to the strength of the system:

* The biggest threat to you as PCs is usually each other.
* What you don't know is what can hurt you.
* Secrets, likes, and misinformation aplenty.
* There is more going on than one character could possibly realise.

If these tenants do not fit the type of game you're trying to play, then this system would not be the best choice.

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finarvyn

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 02:05:49 PM »
I agree that there is an underlying "system" in the rules, and that other settings could be run smoothly using the ADRP rules. I also agree that not all settings work well for this, and some I've tried have been less than successful.

I find that the "best" settings for an ADRP-style game are those which are most cinematic in nature -- Star Wars, superhero, Barsoom -- settings where characters are "supposed" to succeed a lot.

The settings where I have struggled have mostly been the realistic and gritty types, where characters are "supposed" to fail a lot. I tried a pulp detective game and a Traveler-style scifi game and wasn't very happy with the way things turned out. I tried a D&D-style dungeon crawl and it just didn't feel right. When characters don't succeed in those settings I've found more players who are angry that the GM is out to get them.

So, I think it all comes down to the style of the setting. Lords of Olympus uses a pantheon of gods, which isn't that different from the Amber family if you think about it.
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mAcular Chaotic

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2015, 03:03:50 PM »
Quote from: Panjumanju;818148
There certainly is an engine underneath it all that can support many different genres - but, you have to be mindful. If you tried to do a fantasy dungeon crawl, for instance, using Amber as a base system I think would be a terrible idea.


Why do you think it would be terrible?

As for the topic, I don't think the system would be hard to generalize at all. The problem you would run into is the same one Amber always has, which is how vague and freeform it leaves resolving conflicts to be.
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Panjumanju

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2015, 04:36:47 PM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;818193
Why do you think it would be terrible?


Rather than "terrible", perhaps: 'works against the strength of the system'. I just think it would be boring.

I play Dungeons & Dragons, also, and D&D does that well. Amber would not. But I also wouldn't want to use D&D to try and make an Amber game.

It's just the wrong tool, like using a monkey wrench to hammer studs....I guess it works...but it's certainly not working to its best.

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Artifacts of Amber

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2015, 05:16:41 PM »
I've used the system for other things. It holds up well I think but as Panjumanju said it isn't useful for everything. It does scratch and itch but so does D&D for me.

I played in a Musketeers game at amber con for a few years and it went fine using almost the Amber system whole except for powers.

But I agree the more cinematic the game the better Amber will handle it.

finarvyn

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 05:34:56 AM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;818193
Why do you think it would be terrible?
I have to agree with Panjumanju here, dungeon crawls using ADRP are terrible. The problem is totally that of style.

ADRP adventures tend to be set up such that every encounter has meaning, much like scenes in a novel. Dungeon crawls tend to be set up such that encounters drain resources, and often the encounter fills time rather than advancing the plot. DM trick #1 for D&D has to be "if you don't know what happens next in the story, throw a random encounter at the players." This fails in ADRP because it doesn't "buy time" for the DM -- ADRP encounters require too much work.

Just my two coppers on the matter.
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Artifacts of Amber

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2015, 11:23:36 AM »
The one thing to using the system for other genre's / settings is adjusting the scale of what the stats mean. That is the one thing Eric avoided was saying Amber strength means you can lift X pounds.

If you move the same rankings to a more human scale you can run more human things. The musketeers game was fun because we were running on that scale. we dealt with mooks and mobs cause we were ranked and they were not then the main villains were ranked. It was fun that way.

PS - always wanted to do Seventh sea as an Amber system. Never applied myself to working out the Swordsmen schools which I think are important to the games identity and how to turn those into stats or rankings or a skill system.

jibbajibba

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2015, 10:01:27 PM »
Quote from: Artifacts of Amber;818321
The one thing to using the system for other genre's / settings is adjusting the scale of what the stats mean. That is the one thing Eric avoided was saying Amber strength means you can lift X pounds.

If you move the same rankings to a more human scale you can run more human things. The musketeers game was fun because we were running on that scale. we dealt with mooks and mobs cause we were ranked and they were not then the main villains were ranked. It was fun that way.

PS - always wanted to do Seventh sea as an Amber system. Never applied myself to working out the Swordsmen schools which I think are important to the games identity and how to turn those into stats or rankings or a skill system.


Make the swordsmen schools Powers using partial points on a tree.

So say a base style has 3 initial elements Stance, Attack, Defence each style gives you a different set of flavours then you buy into each branch of the tree to get more advanced effects.
I don't know 7th sea at all, but I can imagine selecting Fencing getting a base attack and defence type and a set of stances then buying deeper into Attack to get more specialised moves that let you do tricky stuff.... just an idea :)
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Jibbajibba
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Artifacts of Amber

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2015, 07:51:27 PM »
Yeah Jibba that would be the way to do it. The sword schools have such tremendous flavor in their use and origin stories. I just haven't applied a ton of thought. The magic schools would greatly benefit from a more Amber system. Some are very mechanical while others are maybe too free form. Putting them on a more even playing field would be interesting.

ArrozConLeche

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2015, 10:47:14 AM »
Thanks for all the ideas. The Musketeers stuff sounds awesome and I'm not sure why I never thought of doing Star Wars with this...

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Is there a way to extract a generic system from Amber/Lords of Olympus/etc?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2015, 03:40:21 AM »
I certainly think you can use the Amber system with games that are less amber-esque than either LoGaS or Lords of Olympus.  However, the way the system is set up, I think it generally works better with high-power games than with trying to do something grim and gritty or the likes.
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