The Amber Mailing List FAQ, February 4, 1998 This is the unofficial FAQ (frequently asked questions) list for the Amber Mailing List. This FAQ is derived from Brian Moore's (email@example.com) original unofficial Amber FAQ. It was further adapted by Lisa Leutheuser (firstname.lastname@example.org). The current FAQ maintainer is Bernard Hsiung (email@example.com). Other contributors include Steven Kaye (firstname.lastname@example.org), Peter Miller (email@example.com) and Sarah Wishnevsky (MATOCIQUALA@delphi.com). This FAQ will be posted occasionally, and is also available via FTP at the Amber FTP site: ftp.visi.com, in the directory /users/kbremer/amber. Or, if you're using the WWW, http://www.visi.com/~kbremer/amber The FAQ is on the WWW at http://www.spectra.net/~ian/amberfaq.html and http://people.delphi.com/matociquala/amberfaq.html Mail suggestions/corrections/additions to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Changes in future releases will be marked with change bars | on the left. WARNING: this FAQ is chock full of spoilers for the Amber series. Proceed with caution. Better yet, read the books first. The general section of the FAQ is relatively safe except for question G12. =================================================================== Table of Contents: GENERAL G1) What is this list about? G2) What sort of etiquette should I use here? G3) What is Amber? (with a list of Amber books) G4) What is the Amber Diceless Role-Playing Game (DRPG)? G5) What other Phage Press stuff is there? G6) What non-Phage Press stuff is there? G7) Is there an anonymous FTP site for this list? G8) How about a mail server for those without internet access? G9) How do I subscribe/unsubscribe to this list? G10) What are all those funny acronyms? G11) What is this "second series canon" stuff? G12) Are there any conflicting statements in the books? G13) What/Where is AmberMUSH? G14) Should this list be a newsgroup instead? G15) What's important to know about copyright for the list? NEW POWERS N1) What are all these new powers? PATTERN P1) How many Patterns are there? P2) What is the Broken Pattern? P3) Is the Pattern or Logrus stronger? P4) How many generations removed from Dworkin can you be, and still be able to walk the Pattern? What does it take to have one's blood be capable of erasing the Pattern? LOGRUS L1) What is the plural of Logrus? Answer: Logri. :) L2) How many Logri are there? L3) What is the Fixed Logrus? L4) Are there "Logrus weapons" that make Amberites burn up? L5) What is the origin of the Logrus? TRUMP T1) Is there a Power (Pattern or Logrus) behind Trump? T2) What form can Trump take? ITEMS I1) Are items really as powerful as they seem? I2) What about that "Tireless, Supernatural Stamina"? I3) What about "Invulnerable to all Conventional Weapons"? I4) What about "Psychic barrier"? I5) What about conferred regeneration? PEOPLE A1) Can I kill Benedict with warfare? A2) How many children does Oberon have? A3) How many other Amberites are there? A4) Is anything stronger than Gerard? A5) Is it spelled Dierdre or Deirdre? A6) Does Coral become pregnant in the second series? A7) What's the deal with Caine's parentage anyway? A8) What color is Florimel's hair? A9) How can Dara be born in a week after Lintra died? How can she be ancient and powerful in the Merlin series? A10) What makes some Amberites older than others? Are they immortal? A11) What was Julian's favorite game? PLACES B1) What's the time differential between Amber and Chaos? RULES R1) How do people handle Good Stuff and advancement? R2) Can the first-ranked in a stat be surpassed through advancement? R3) Does Stuff equal "Alignment"? OTHER QUESTIONS O1) I want to run a game, what should I do? O2) What has been discussed on the list? O3) Who's that "Carmen" that Corwin mentions at the end of _CoC_? O4) How do the Elder Amberites match up with the Tarot deck? O5) What is good music for Amber gaming/inspiration? / What is the Amber Theme Song? / What music might Corwin have composed while he was trapped on Shadow Earth? O6) What is the effect on an unborn baby if the mother walks the Pattern or Logrus while pregnant? O7) Since Shadows can have different timerates, how do you explain the fact that Trump has no time lapse in the books? =================================================================== GENERAL G1) What is this list about? This list is for discussing the Amber novels and role-playing game. As long as a topic relates to the game or novels in any way, it is fine. G2) What sort of etiquette should I use here? Try to follow Usenet etiquette. Ignore spelling errors. Keep flames to a minimum. Include smileys :) when you are joking. (It is sometimes difficult to tell, no matter how clear you think you are being.) Only quote relevant portions of a message you reply to; especially avoid repeating a long message only to add a short comment. Always include AMBER in the subject of your messages: this allows people with mail filters to separate out these postings. Don't ask for people to send you electronic copies of Zelazny's works; such distribution of copyrighted material is illegal. Messages which are not related to Amber don't belong on the list. We understand that warnings are sent out with the best intentions, but if everyone sent out the latest virus, scam, or bad policy warnings, we'd be swamped with more non-Amber mail than Amber mail. G3) What is Amber? (list of Amber books) The Amber universe was created by Roger Zelazny in his very popular fantasy/sci-fi series: _Nine Princes in Amber_, _The Guns of Avalon_, _Sign of the Unicorn_, _The Hand of Oberon_, _The Courts of Chaos_, _Trumps of Doom_, _Blood of Amber_, _Sign of Chaos_, _Knight of Shadows_, and _Prince of Chaos_. The first five books deal with Corwin; the second five with Merlin, Corwin's son. The little-known "Prologue" to his novel _Trumps of Doom_, which briefly describes Merlin's traversal of the Logrus, was republished in Amberzine #4. (Aug '93) Roger Zelazny also wrote five Amber short stories: "A Salesman's Tale", published in Amberzine #6. (Feb '94) (see G4 for more about Amberzine). Rinaldo's POV. "The Shrouding and the Guisel", published in the premiere issue of "Realms of Fantasy" magazine (Oct '94), as well as Amberzine #8. Merlin's POV. "Coming to a Cord", published in Pirate Writings (Summer '95). Frakir(!)'s POV. "Blue Horse, Dancing Mountains", in the anthology "Wheel of Fortune", edited by Roger Zelazny, ISBN 0-380-77423-2. (Dec '96)> Corwin's POV. "Hall of Mirrors", in the anthology "Castle Fantastic", edited by John DeChancie and Martin H. Greenburg, ISBN 0-88677-686-4. (Mar '96) Corwin's POV. Although I haven't tried this myself, I have heard it said that one can get Roger Zelazny's books on-line. e.g.: http://www.amazon.com G4) What is the Amber Diceless Role-Playing Game (DRPG)? It is a game designed by Erick Wujcik and published by Phage Press in Nov '91. It contains a set of rules and background for running a role- playing game in the Amber universe. It heavily emphasizes role-playing, and uses NO dice at all. For anything. Ever. It costs $22.95 US, and you can order it directly from Phage Press, PO Box 519, Detroit, MI USA, 48231-0519. It costs $25.00 US with shipping and handling. The supplement _Shadow Knight_ came out Dec 1993, after being delayed for a few years. It mostly covers the Merlin series (which was not in the core rules) and sells for $23.95 US.Return to the Amber List page.
The other promised supplements have been not yet materialized, but the Rebman source book should be published "soon." (as of Apr '96) G5) What other Phage Press stuff is there? Phage Press also publishes the fanzine "Amberzine," which has a limited print run of 1000 copies per issue. It largely carries gaming fiction (i.e., other people's campaign logs, with all that implies) and a small sprinkling of essays and miscellaneous things. There are 9 issues now out. Issues or back issues cost $10 US apiece. A subscription to Amberzine is $40 US for 5 issues; release dates are erratic. As far as I know, all issues are still available from Phage Press; write them to order back issues or request a subscription. G6) What non-Phage Press stuff is there? There used to be several non-Phage press Amber fanzines which were dedicated to the Amber DRPG. Among these were _Hellrider_, from the UK, and _Trump Call_, edited by Cort Odekirk. Unfortunately, they have all since died out to the best of my knowledge. There is, however, a WWW fanzine, "A Pattern in the WEB", at http://www.mcs.net/~grizzly/pw.html Other potential sources include _Roger Zelazny's Visual Guide to Castle Amber_, co-authored by Neil Randall, who is also the author of two choose-your-own adventure style books called _Seven No Trump_ and _The Black Road War_ (ISBN 0-441-11537-3, published by Ace Books, 1988). The first casts you in the role of Random; the second places you in the shoes of Derek, son of Eric; they are both out of print. The _Visual Guide_ is somewhat reviled on the list, as it not only contains art which charitably may be said to be not particularly inspiring, but it also suggests the Amberites were extremely influenced by Earth, of all places. _The Complete Amber Sourcebook_, by Theodore Krulik, ISBN 0-380-75409-6 (Jan '96). This has some uses as a book where one can find various parts of the series summarized, but the author's extensions of Zelanzy's universe (e.g., his treatment of the Moonriders) read like something out of someone's personal campaign, and an uninteresting campaign at that. In 1985, a graphical computer adventure game called, unsurprisingly, "Nine Princes in Amber" was published in 1985 by Telarium Software. It was based on the first two books; you took the part of Corwin. It was available on the Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari ST (possibly the Amiga), and IBM, but is presently out of print. There was supposed to be an Amber boardgame which was worked on by some people at Eon Games. Unfortunately, it was never released. DC Comics has an adaptation of NPiA in three parts; the first part was out in late May '96. It has also published a complete adaptation of GoA illustrated by Christopher Schenck, also in three parts; the first part shipped in late August '96. email@example.com is in touch with the GoA artist and has volunteered to field questions regarding it. G7) Is there an anonymous FTP site for this list? The Amber list FTP site is run on a volunteer basis by Kevin Bremer. It is at ftp.visi.com, and the directory is /users/kbremer/amber. If you're using the WWW, http://www.visi.com/~kbremer/amber Older archives of the list starting from 92-06 and recent archives are preserved there; there is a gap from 95-03 to 95-12 for which no archives exist. G8) How about a mail server for those without internet access? There are some alternatives. The best way is to try the ftpmail server run by DEC. Just send a message containing "help" in the body to firstname.lastname@example.org. You should get back a message telling you how to use it. G9) How to I subscribe/unsubscribe to this list? The list is administered by Lisa Leutheuser. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send e-mail to email@example.com with: [subscribe/unsubscribe] amber [your e-mail address here] in the *body* of the e-mail message. You can also go to the URL http://www.us.itd.umich.edu/users/eal/amber/email-list.html. If you have questions about or problems with the the functioning of the list itself, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (not to Lisa). G10) What are all those funny acronyms or words? Book abbreviations: NPiA - _Nine Princes in Amber_ ToD - _Trumps of Doom_ GoA - _Guns of Avalon_ BoA - _Blood of Amber_ HoO - _Hand of Oberon_ SoC - _Sign of Chaos_ SotU - _Sign of the Unicorn_ KoS - _Knight of Shadows_ CoC - _The Courts of Chaos_ PoC - _Prince of Chaos_ Others: :-) or :) - a sideways smiley face, meant to indicate a joke AFAIK - As Far As I Know BTW - By The Way FAQ - Frequently Asked Question flame - verb. To violently vocally disagree. FTF - Face-to-Face (as opposed to PBEM) IIRC - If I Recall Correctly IMC - In My Campaign IMHO - In My Humble Opinion (there are variants) IMOC - In My Other Campaign IOC - In Our Campaign LOL - Laughs Out Loud OTOH - On The Other Hand PBEM - Play by E-Mail ROFL - Rolling On the Floor Laughing YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary G11) What is this "second series canon" stuff? Quite a few people on this list disagree with things in the second series (_Trumps of Doom_ through _Prince of Chaos_). As such, they simply ignore it as not canonical, usually starting their games at the end of CoC. This is a stylistic preference. G12) Are there any conflicting statements in the books? Yes! There are comments about family relationships and other things which are contradicted in other books or in the visual guide. Zelazny claims some contradictions are due to Corwin's amnesia. Perhaps the rest are outright lies by the Amberites. If people want to tell me about them, I'll add them to the list. Here's a few: a.) Corwin states that Random is his full brother in NPiA, but this is contradicted everywhere else (including by Corwin). This is probably the result of wishful thinking by Corwin or his subconscious. b.) When Corwin and Benedict are fighting, Ganelon is casually brushed aside. Yet Ganelon managed to take Gerard down in a fist fight when even Corwin couldn't. c.) Corwin mentions wildly different numbers when counting relatives in NPiA and GoA. d.) Caine's parentage is controversial. (See A7 for full details.) G13) What/Where is AmberMUSH? AmberMUSH is a MUSH (multi-user quasi-realtime virtual reality) based on Amber. You play by telnetting into muds.okstate.edu, port 5150. You need to send mail to email@example.com in order to request a character. You can find the new player guide through the WWW at http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~lwl/guide/guide.html (preferred), or via FTP from ftp.cis.upenn.edu in /pub/lwl/amber/amberguide. It also has a homepage: http://www.math.okstate.edu/~hfreder/ambermush.html Then you wander around talking with other people and generally having fun. For more information on Mushes, Muds, and the like, see the rec.games.mud newsgroups. G14) Should this list be a newsgroup instead? The activity level of the list varies from several dozen messages daily to less than one a week. This question generally arises when the list is in one of its busier phases. There are several reasons why the list has not become a newsgroup: 1) a newsgroup would produce a lower 'signal to noise' ratio due to things like spamming and an increase in the number of 'dice vs diceless' and 'is Zelazny a good writer'-type conversations (which while sometimes interesting aren't really on topic and are the sort of thing some people can get very fanatical about) and 2) any newsgroup would have to be an alt.* group which a good proportion of the list does not have access to. In my opinion, if someone would like to start a newsgroup on this topic, fine. I'd probably read it. I'd also continue to subscribe to this list, though, because I feel that it offers a much higher ratio of "interesting stuff" to "things I'm tired of seeing" than any newsgroup ever will. G15) What's important to know about copyright for the list? Adapted from a message from the list admin: - Don't ask for electronic copies of RZ's or any copyrighted material on the list. It's bad. It's wrong. It causes people to detonate. - Don't propagate electronic copies of RZ's stories or any copyrighted material (including other people's unpublished Amber stories and diaries) without permission. If you do have such permission, attribute the author. - Formal copyright notice (i.e., Copyright Name Year) has not been necessary in the US since 1989, but it can help in court cases. - If you're not from the US, this doesn't mean you can copy at will. It's likely your country honors US copyrights, and the US honors yours. =================================================================== NEW POWERS N1) What are all these new powers? Many people have posted unofficial new powers to this mailing list. All of these and more are available at the FTP site. For example: Frank T Sronce, Advanced & Exalted Sorcery & Conjuration, new Power Words, and Novice Pattern Imprint: much as they sound. Dave Martin, Broken Pattern: This is a game description of the Broken Pattern powers described in the second series. Normal humans can walk the broken Pattern. It is cheaper, less powerful, and more dangerous than regular Pattern Imprint. The break in the Pattern manifests in almost every use of this power. This predates the version of the power described in _Shadow Knight_. Allan Lawrence Shampine, Fixed Logrus: This is equivalent to the Broken Pattern, similar in cost, danger, and power to the Broken Pattern. It is based on a comment by Merlin, specifically that some Trump artists near the Courts have walked imperfect reflections of the Logrus, and that their Trump are somewhat dangerous to use. Kenn Crook: New Powers, Partial Point System Peter Miller and Marc Reynolds: New Powers; a ranked point system where characters have a variable number of points in powers which roughly mirror the standard set, and are allowed to specialise some of these points in specific areas of a power. There are also different stats, no bidding rules, a treatment of Warfare as a "Power" and no items or stuff rules. (available at http://www.soton.ac.uk/~games/diceless/amber/partial2.html) =================================================================== PATTERN P1) How many Patterns are there? According to the books, there are at least 15. There is the Primal Pattern, created by Dworkin. There are 3 perfect reflections, one in the dungeon of Castle Amber, one in Rebma, and one in Tir-na Nog'th. In the second series, Jasra mentions that there are many more which are broken reflections of the above 3. However, they are more flawed and dangerous the further one goes from Amber, so that only the first 9 are somewhat safe to use. Note that one broken Pattern was absorbed in the Primal Pattern after Merlin walked it to rescue Coral, and this may have been one of the safe 9. Add in Corwin's Primal Pattern, and possibly the first reflection. P2) What is the Broken Pattern? The broken Patterns are imperfect reflections of the known perfect Patterns. Anyone can walk these by following the gaps between the broken sections to get to the middle, thus gaining limited power over shadow. Jasra in the second series is a broken Pattern initiate. It is included in _Shadow Knight_. Dave Martin also posted a game description of the Broken Pattern power a while ago. P3) Is the Pattern or Logrus stronger? The answer varies, depending on whether or not you believe the second series. According to the second series, the Pattern was weakened by the blood stain, allowing the Logrus to gain the upper hand. Corwin's Pattern is an outside force, with varying effect on the battle between Dworkin's Pattern and the Logrus. Dworkin's Pattern grew in power when it absorbed the Broken Pattern it had Merlin fix. As usual, the final answer is up to the GM. P4) How many generations removed from Dworkin can you be, and still be able to walk the Pattern? What does it take to have one's blood be capable of erasing the Pattern? Dworkin at one point suggests that the blood of his descendants unto the third generation is capable of destroying the Pattern; Martin's fate is evidence that this is so. On the other hand, Dara also succeeds in walking the Pattern, which raises several questions about the validity of Dworkin's assertion. There are many plausible explanations; here are some starters for who can walk the Pattern (note that some or even all of these could be true simultaneously!): a.) Dara is lying, and she is actually Benedict's daughter. (What, Dara lie, like an Amberite? You must be joking. :) b.) Dara is descended from another Amberite as well. (Brand spent some time in the Courts, after all.) c.) Dworkin is wrong, lying, or not telling the whole story. i) Anyone who can trace their ancestry back to Dworkin, no matter how remotely, can walk his Pattern. ii) Anyone Dworkin wants can walk his Pattern. iii) Anyone Dworkin's Pattern wants can walk it. (Possibly, although not necessarily, equivalent to option ii.) iv) Anyone of sufficiently strong will can essay the Pattern. v) Anyone with blood "sufficiently close" to Dworkin's can essay the Pattern. (Here's where those vampires recently gorged on Amberite blood and advanced shapeshifters might fit in. Or not.) d.) Dara is pregnant with Corwin's son when she walks the Pattern, and this gives her the extra support she needs to survive it. (See O6.) e.) Anyone who is within three generations of a Pattern initiate can walk it (Dara is three generations from Benedict). f.) Anyone who is within three generations of someone who is attuned to the Jewel of Judgment can walk it. (This has two interesting implications: one, that Benedict was attuned to the Jewel, which seems unlikely, or Brand wouldn't have so easily blindsided him with it, and two, that there is no suggestion in the books that one must be of the blood of Amber to attune the Jewel, as one can be attuned by someone else who is attuned, and Dworkin must have attuned it before he created the Pattern. This could give you an entire cast of non-Amberite Pattern initiates...) Here are some ideas for how blood can damage the Pattern: a.) Only the blood of someone who could walk the Pattern can be used to efface it. b.) Only the blood of anyone who has actually walked the Pattern can be used to damage it. There is vague evidence for this: Brand selected Martin, who had already walked the Pattern, over an Amberite (or a specially raised sacrificial child) who had not. c.) Only the blood of those descended of Dworkin (perhaps to the third generation from him, or to the third generation from a Pattern initiate, or to the third generation from a Jewel initiate, etc.) can damage the Pattern. a) or b) are possibilities along with this. d.) Perhaps only the Primal Pattern is vulnerable to Amberite blood. Given all the opportunities for spilled blood in a Pattern Chamber before Patternfall and the fact that the damage to the Primal Pattern was apparently not reflected in any of the other Patterns directly, this is a possibility. On the other hand, it is suggested that the images of the Broken Patterns were the reflections in Shadow of the damage to the Primal Pattern: it could be that bleeding on a reflection of the Pattern would transform that reflection into a broken image. =================================================================== LOGRUS L1) What is the plural of Logrus? Answer: Logri. :) This isn't definitive, of course, since in the series only one Logrus is ever mentioned. L2) How many Logri are there? The books only mention one Logrus. However, Merlin does make a passing reference that some Trump artists use bastardized versions of Pattern or Logrus, and that such Trump are dangerous to use. L3) What is the Fixed Logrus? The fixed Logrus is a hypothetical analogue of the broken Pattern. Just as the Pattern has 3 perfect reflections and 9 safe broken ones, there may be reflections of the Logrus which are broken. A broken Logrus could have a flawed fixed section which does not change. Allan Lawrence Shampine posted his version of the Fixed Logrus power to the list a long time ago. If you want a copy, check the FTP site. L4) Are there "Logrus weapons" that make Amberites burn up? Merlin acquires a "Chaos dagger" at one point in his journeys, but he doesn't use it on any Amberites, so nobody knows. Some people have suggested that Chaos daggers might come in all sizes; others think that a whip or flail would be more in keeping with the Logrus. Maybe they make Amberites freeze solid. Maybe they infect Amberites with Primal Chaos or Chaos Cancer. Maybe Chaos has nothing of the sort. They lost the Patternfall War, after all, and they didn't kill a single Amberite of Royal blood directly. L5) What is the origin of the Logrus? Nobody knows. (i.e., your GM gets to make it up) The Logrus could be: a.) created by the Serpent or a consequence or side-effect of the Serpent's existence. b.) created by one or more persons under the influence or direction of the Serpent (or someone or something else). c.) a natural phenomenon (or maybe the Serpent is a force of nature). d.) an anti-Pattern. e.) a prototype Pattern. f.) torn from the Unicorn's mane. =================================================================== TRUMP T1) Is there a Power (Pattern or Logrus) behind Trump? Fiona suggests in one of the books that you can see part of the Pattern in Dworkin's Trumps. People from the Courts of Chaos can draw Trump. Trump may just be an extension of the main two Powers, or it may be a Power unto itself. The rulebook suggests many different possibilities in the game master section on Trump Artistry. However, the rulebook doesn't list any required powers for Trump Artistry. T2) What form can Trump take? Depends on the GM. Larger paintings are reasonable. Most people think any fixed media representing the subject will do, including sculptures, carvings, even voodoo dolls. Performance art Trump (drama, music, poetry) are less common, although some GMs allow them. Abstract art may work, depending on the GM and level of skill of the Trump artist. Some GMs may even allow computer images. =================================================================== ITEMS I1) Are items really as powerful as they seem? Yes and no. Almost anyone can find or create any item they want. Such items can easily be lost, stolen, destroyed, or subverted. Paid for items are more permanent, but there are no guarantees. Also, you may be better off buying better stats rather than, say, a magic weapon or armor. I2) What about that "Tireless, Supernatural Stamina"? Some people have discussed it on this list, and some recommend following the Aggression or Vitality patterns. Specifically, an item with 4 points of Stamina would have Amber level endurance. For 8 points, you could get low ranked endurance, 16 for high or elder level. Alternatively, 4 points may give you an item that requires refueling or recharging in some manner after a day or so. I3) What about "Invulnerable to all Conventional Weapons"? This hasn't been discussed (that I know of), but some GMs tone this down also. For example, your 4 point armor may not protect you from a nuke, or the #1 in warfare, but normal humans might beat on you all day and you probably wouldn't have to worry. I4) What about "Psychic barrier"? Also discussed here, some suggest that Fiona, Brand, or a group of people should be able to break down a Psychic Barrier. After all, a group of the elders do it in the first series when they try to rescue Brand. Maybe this should follow the same progression as the other stat oriented qualities. I5) What about conferred regeneration? Based on the rules, almost anyone can find or create an item that confers fast regeneration (regrowing limbs in less than an hour). Does this unbalance the game if allowed? Depends on the GM. Could Benedict have regrown his lost arm this way? Maybe, but he didn't. He was glad that Corwin regenerated his eyes, as it gave him hope for his arm. One way to limit conferred regeneration would be to specify that the fast regeneration would only regrow portions of a body as "shadow"; thus, any portion of the body replaced in this way would be less flexible and less durable than normal regrowth. =================================================================== PEOPLE A1) Can I kill Benedict with warfare? This is up to the GM. According to the rules, Benedict has the highest Warfare there is. He is The Best, so good the other elder Amberites won't even try to beat him in warfare. Can he shadow shift away from weapons of mass destruction (nukes, bobbles, and the like) fast enough to survive? Will he always spot snipers? Can he dodge bullets? Lasers? Does he always avoid such circumstances by using his spies and patrols or shadowshifting so well? After all, he doesn't need to dodge bullets if no one can ever get close enough to fire one at him or they never work near him. On the other hand, no one has a heart attack when Corwin beats Benedict by the side of the Black Road, lucky fluke or not. IMHO, the most reliable way to kill Benedict is through treachery. Just make sure you don't miss, because he won't when he gets his turn. A2) How many children does Oberon have? In the second series, a Pattern ghost of Oberon mentions that he had 47 children. If this is correct (who knows), then there are a number unaccounted for. There are the ones seen in the first series: Benedict, Eric, Corwin, Deirdre, Fiona, Bleys, Brand, Caine, Julian, Gerard, Llewella, Random, and Flora. There are some extras in the second series: Dalt and Coral. Corwin mentions Osric and Finndo, dead brothers of Benedict. Merlin mentions Delwin and Sand. Mirelle is listed as Random's sister in the _Visual Guide_, and is supposedly a character in one of the choose-your-own-adventures. That totals 20. Corwin mentions different numbers in NPiA and GoA. A3) How many other Amberites are there? In the first series, we see Dara (descended from Benedict), Martin (Random's son), and Merlin (Corwin and Dara's son). According to Dara, she is a few generations removed from Benedict, so there may be other unnamed descendants of Benedict in the Courts. The second series introduces Rinaldo (Brand and Jasra's son), and two half- brothers of Merlin, Despil and Jurt, who at least are likely to have Amberite blood from being Dara's children. A4) Is anything stronger than Gerard? That depends on the GM, just like everything else. Maybe all of shadow is just a pale reflection of Amber, so no human can be stronger. Maybe someone in the Courts can beat Gerard, as the Courts aren't a reflection of Amber. Maybe it is possible to find the Marvel Universe, where the Hulk is stronger than Gerard. But perhaps the Hulk would lose his strength if he left, while Gerard would retain his strength everywhere. Maybe Gerard would grow in strength to equal the Hulk in the same Shadow. In any case, no one seemed shocked when Ganelon beat Gerard in a fight, so perhaps he doesn't have the same reputation as Benedict. _Shadow Knight_ mentions it is possible to find a bull stronger than Gerard. A5) Is it spelled Dierdre or Deirdre? Roger Zelazny spells it Deirdre, but Wujcik misspells it Dierdre in the Amber DRPG book. A6) Does Coral become pregnant in the second series? Possibly. Several quotes in _Shadow Knight_ supposedly taken from _Prince of Chaos_ indicate that she is pregnant. However the quotes in _Prince of Chaos_ don't match. Apparently the _Shadow Knight_ quotes were taken from an original draft of _Prince of Chaos_. Zelazny removed the quotes stating that Coral was pregnant from the final (published) copy. A7) What's the deal with Caine's parentage anyway? According to Corwin, Caine is just after him in the succession, yet Merlin says Caine, Julian, and Gerard are full brothers. That should put Bleys and Brand ahead of Caine, unless Caine is illegitimate, but Corwin never mentions that. An evaluation of the situation: a.) Both Corwin and Merlin are correct. i) Caine may be the illegitimate son of Rilga. This may be the most popular explanation. It's certainly the simplest. ii) Caine may be legitimate, and Oberon was involved in (yet another) bigamous marriage, knowingly or not, and/or some (more) strange timeflow problems. iii) Julian and Gerard should have been directly after Caine in the succession but have been delayed for unspecified reasons. (One might imagine Gerard accepting this without a fuss, but Julian would seem a different matter...) b.) Corwin is wrong but Merlin is correct. It seems unlikely for Corwin to miss a small detail like who is right behind him in the succession (then again, at an earlier point, he thinks of himself and Random as full brothers). This would imply Caine is somewhere else in the succession, perhaps immediately before Julian. c.) Merlin is wrong but Corwin is correct. In this case, Caine is the son of an unnamed woman, whether legitimate or not, born sometime between Corwin and Fiona. (The _Complete Amber Sourcebook_ takes the view that Caine is Corwin's full brother, born after him and before Deirdre, but hardly anyone else does.) d.) Both Corwin and Merlin are wrong. Anything goes. Make up your own thing. A8) What color is Florimel's hair? NPiA, Chapter 2: "The woman behind the desk wore a wide-collared, V-necked dress of blue-green, had long-haired low bangs, all of a cross between sunset clouds and the outer edge of a candle flame in an otherwise dark room, and natural I somehow knew, and her eyes behind glasses I didn't think she needed were as blue as lake Erie at three o'clock on a cloudless summer afternoon; and the color of her compressed smile matched her hair." SotU, Chapter 4: "Pale gold, her hair. She had cut it, but retained the bangs. I could not decide whether I liked it that way or not. She had very lovely hair." Sunset clouds are seldom yellow, and it's doubtful that Florimel wears blonde lipstick (though one never knows). While the second quote is unambiguous, from the first quote, it appears as if Florimel is a natural redhead. Even if Corwin's memory was failing him when he said he knew it was natural, you'd think he might have said something if Flora's Trump representation had blonde hair. So what's going on? Some possibilities: a.) Zelazny made a mistake and gave Florimel different hair colors. It's possible, although not terribly likely. He mentions a change in her bangs; it seems odd that he would say something like that and then get her hair color wrong. On the other hand, Delwin's Trump has reddish hair but when Merlin sees him in the hall of mirrors, he has blondish hair. b.) Florimel's hair actually changes color between NPiA and SotU. Corwin's "I could not decide whether I liked it that way or not" easily could be referring to the change in hair color as well as styling. Perhaps Florimel (gasp) dyes her hair from time to time, or her hair color fluctuates naturally. Maybe she's a shapeshifter. :) c.) Chris Doherty (firstname.lastname@example.org) has spent some time staring at sunset clouds (pale orange, he claims) and a candle's flame in a dark room (which he says is bright yellow). Seizing on the word "cross", he believes the first passage is an artistic attempt to describe gold-colored hair. He also says pale orange or peach lipstick was not uncommon in the early 70's when NPiA was set so the compressed smile works out alright. A9) How can Dara be born in a week after Lintra died? How can she be ancient and powerful in the Merlin series? Corwin's impression of Dara on first meeting her and Merlin's impression of his mother are at odds. Corwin sees Dara as young and naive; Merlin sees her as someone who negotiates with the Logrus on an equal basis and who is powerful enough to scheme for control of the Courts. Furthermore, the obvious way for Dara to be Lintra's great-granddaughter (through Benedict's liaison with Lintra in Avalon) would require very rapid timeflow for her to be ancient and powerful by the time she raised Merlin. Very clearly, Dara lies to Corwin about some things, since she claims knowledge of Benedict when he insists he knows nothing of her. It's not inconceivable that she in fact deceives Corwin about many things, which could easily include the specifics of her heritage and her age. Some possible explanations: Dara and Merlin spent a good deal of time in extremely fast time Shadows; Dara lied about her heritage and is not descended from Benedict or Lintra (yes, Corwin saw confirmation of Dara's heritage in Tir -- but doesn't Tir show you things you think are true?); Dara was descended of a liaison of Benedict and Lintra that happened before their encounter in Avalon (perhaps even before Amber was founded). A10) What makes some Amberites older than others? Are they immortal? Corwin says he appears to be in his mid-thirties, and then says that the Shadows will lie for him. The appearance of all the family on the Trumps seems to be young mature adulthood, with the possible exception of Benedict and the definite exception of Oberon. There are several frequently advanced theories. One is that an Amberite is literally only as old as he or she feels. In the course of the first series, Random advances from "asthmatic teenaged hood" and "homicidal little fink" to being described as having a regal cast to his features. This could be merely an effect of Corwin's changing perceptions, or it could be an actual change brought on by maturity and Random's new self-image as husband, father, and king. Another theory is that the Pattern freezes you at the age you are when you walk it. Or perhaps the exercise of Real power ages Amberites. As for Amberite immortality: some suggest is that it's the effect of the Pattern. Others point out that Swayvill, Moire, Roger-the-guard and others appear to have extremely elongated life spans. Corwin himself spent some number of centuries on Shadow Earth, and did not age excessively in that time. Corwin also tells Ganelon that Benedict has enjoyed a lifetime measured in terms of millenia. On the other hand, in the second series, Swayvill of Chaos ostensibly dies of old age. So a GM has the option of giving the average Amberite either a very long lifespan with the possibility of death from old age in some distant future -- or functional immortality. Some have found that the elongated lifespan helps to curb the PC tendency to spend a thousand years in a fast time shadow learning macrame. A11) What was Julian's favorite game? There's no answer for this in the books. However, Judd M. Goswick (email@example.com) regaled the list with the following tale, which speaks for itself: Julian's self-control slipped only once, when Corwin kissed his cheek. In that single moment, Julian's hand strayed and "BZZZT!" the nose of the Oberon Trump shone red and Julian looked down to see that in attempting to remove the Jewel of Judgment from the card, he had hit the edge of the card with the Tweezers. Corwin then drew the "Crown" card, took the tweezers and fetched it with no problem, as Julian was still shocked. He then laid claim to the throne until Oberon sent him to his room. Just before he was taken away, Julian threw his tumbler of "Juicy-rific Kool-Aid" at Corwin's face. "I'll have your eyes for this, Corwin!" He had spoken too soon and the disappointment on Overon's face was apparent. He had lost his self-control twice in one sitting. All Dworkin could do was look up from his paper and ask Julian, "How do you know about the eye thing?" =================================================================== PLACES B1) What's the time differential between Amber and Chaos? Apparently immensely variable. In fact, it may vary from one part of Chaos to another, especially if you treat Merlin's explanations from the second series as canon and consider Chaos a series of loosely woven Shadows, the "veils" between having become frayed and torn. The fact that years can pass in Amber while hours pass in Chaos, and yet on other occasions the effect can be reversed, gives a GM immense latitude in making decisions about relative time. Chaos is like Faerie in that respect: a night spent there can be moments or lifetimes in the outside world. Other GMs chose to ignore this as too messy to keep track of, and just run Chaos time as roughly parallel to that in Amber. =================================================================== RULES (the answer is *always* "it depends on your GM" :) R1) How do people handle Good Stuff and advancement? Many people on the list recommend altering the standard good stuff and advancement rules. Specifically, according to the rules, someone saving up for Pattern may go from 49 points of good stuff, to 0 good stuff and Pattern Initiation. There is rarely a good reason in the game for such an enormous change in luck/outlook/ whatever. Some recommend using partial powers, and charging only 10 points or so for walking the Pattern, with other Pattern abilities are developed and purchased over time, with appropriate roleplaying. Other people recommend keeping 'stuff' points and advancement points separate. Some people don't charge for powers gained "in game". R2) Can the first-ranked in a stat be surpassed through advancement? Some people find it fits their campaign to not allow the first-ranked stat to be surpassed: no one can buy up until the first-ranked character does (or dies, perhaps of a surfeit of ambitious, impatient second-rankers). Others create NPC ranks or allow a lesser ranked character to buy past a first-ranked character who has not continued to invest in their stat. R3) Does Stuff equal "Alignment"? In other words, can an evil person have Good Stuff? (And vice versa.) Many game masters see Stuff in a very karmic fashion: it reflects the way the universe treats you, and the way you treat the universe. If you are basically good, then you will be protected by the goodness of your own actions. If you are evil, evil will find you. "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword," "You will reap what you sow," and "Whatsoever thou doest, returns unto thee threefold" and all that. Others see "stuff" simply as a combination of luck and charisma, and explain that there are many evil, lucky, charming people in the world. =================================================================== OTHER QUESTIONS O1) I want to run a game, what should I do? Read both series by Zelazny, you really need the background. Note that you don't have to follow everything in them. Buy the rules, read the rules, throw the rules away (it even says to do that on p. 234 :). Decide what to do with the elders. Are Caine, Oberon, Brand, and Deirdre really gone? Are you going to use one of the suggested versions in the book, or will you design your own? Decide what to do with the Powers. Will you allow Broken Pattern or Fixed Logrus? Can starting characters buy advanced powers? Do you have any new powers you want to introduce? O2) What has been discussed on the list? Tons of stuff. Some archives are available at the FTP site, and there is an outdated timeline with some of the major topics. Example topics (these are also the recurrent topics on the list): vampires in Amber, the supremacy of Amberites (can anyone kill Benedict with warfare? Is Gerard stronger than the Hulk? Can Fiona toast Mark Remillard?), the Amber theme song, the Amber movie (no, there isn't one), matching Tarot major arcana with the Amberites, walking the Pattern/Logrus while pregnant, etc., etc. O3) Who's that "Carmen" that Corwin mentions at the end of _CoC_? "Voulez-vous venir avec moi, Carmen?" = "Would you like to come with me, Carmen?" This an allusion to Bizet's _Carmen_, an opera about a strong-willed, flirtatious woman who makes a choice between two men who desire her. In the context given, it is clearly a reference to Dara. Vladimir Nabakov also uses this phrase in his book _Lolita_, about a middle-aged man who is obsessed with a teenaged girl. O4) How do the Elder Amberites match up with the Tarot deck? There are many interpretations of this, stemming from the difficulty that what Zelazny means by "Greater Trumps" is never made exactly clear. Many people try to match the elders up with the Major Arcana: Jennifer Jerlstrom's well-argued treatment of this is available at the FTP site. One problem here is in numbering -- while the people Corwin names (Oberon, Benedict, Osric, Finndo, Eric, Corwin, Deirdre, Caine, Fiona, Bleys, Llewella, Brand, Florimel, Julian, Gerard, and Random) number 16 in all, well within the range of the standard 21 numbered and one numberless major arcana, Corwin at one point states there were fifteen brothers and eight sisters, which leaves one too many children of Oberon to fit into the deck. And no cards for Oberon, or Dworkin. On the other hand, using just the elders Corwin names, including Oberon but not including Dworkin (whom Corwin never claims to have seen a card for), gives a convenient count of sixteen, which fits neatly into the number of the court cards: The Kings, Queens, Knights (Princes), and Pages (Princesses). In fact, this is also tidy in that Corwin names just enough sisters to fill out the Queens. The problem here is in trying to assign suits. Some of the Elders are obvious: Benedict, with a staff, must be a Wand. Llewella is a pretty blatant choice as the Queen of Cups. Corwin and Eric are undoubtedly Swords. The problem comes in what to do with, say, Bleys, who carries a sword and a cup, and wears several rings (diamonds/pentacles?). As usual, the solution is for the game master to do as he or she pleases, up to and including ruling that there is no correlation at all. (And, of course, our Tarot is surely but a Shadow of the Amber Tarot.) O5) What is good music for Amber gaming/inspiration? / What is the Amber Theme Song? / What music might Corwin have composed while he was trapped on Shadow Earth? "Princes of the Universe" is the frequently heard cry. Several rather exhaustive discussions have been carried out on the topic. The answer seems to derive strongly from the musical taste of the person doing the arguing. Everything from Vivaldi to Simon & Garfunkle to Nine Inch Nails to Frank Sinatra has been suggested, and argued to death. Like many things, it is a matter of personal taste, and the theme and nature of the campaign in question. The only real information we have on the topic of Corwin's music is Corwin's own admission that he composed the words and music to many popular songs, whistled the tune to "Aupres de ma Blonde" while marching under Napoleon, and the comments (of others) indicating that "Ballad of the Water Crossers" is a terribly catchy tune. This would seem to indicate that Corwin's strength as a songwriter is in ditties -- pretty, unforgettable tunes. Given his love for France, "Je ne Regrette Rien," and "La Vie en Rose" could be pretty likely choices. On the other hand, given his basically dark and brooding nature, he might be writing baroque chamber music, goth rock and Joni Mitchell. O6) What is the effect on an unborn baby if the mother walks the Pattern or Logrus while pregnant? The answer, as always, depends on the universe in which the game is set, and the way the GM has decided to handle the powers. Pick any, all, or none of the following, or make up your own answer: a.) Nothing untoward: the child is born and grows up normally. This argument is supported by the possibility that Dara may have been pregnant with Merlin when she walked the Pattern. b.) Brain damage or other injury to the child: the child is retarded, physically deformed, unable to control spontaneous shapeshifting (Logrus) or unable to ever change/grow (Pattern). (Some might claim that this is also supported by Dara's possible pregnancy while walking the Pattern, and the way Merlin later turned out... :) c.) Pregnancy mishap: abortion, miscarriage, spontaneous reabsorption, or the mother (in the case of the Pattern) gets stuck like that. d.) Abomination. The child is born with adult powers/abilities/mentation, like Alia in _Dune_. This can lead to babies shadowcrawling, or the dreams of the unborn manifesting as reality around the mother. Other possibilities include: gifts of prophecy, insight, weird psyche or power effects, and anything else you can imagine. It can also lead to *very interesting* problems for player characters. Also, the children being somehow linked to/puppets of the powers involved is a possibility... Another interesting variant is the idea of a mother of shadow blood being able to walk the Pattern while pregnant with a child of Amber. (Who says that Dara was really Benedict's great-granddaughter?) O7) Since Shadows can have different timerates, how do you explain the fact that Trump has no time lapse in the books? Handwaving. A great deal of it. Various theories have been postulated that Trump contact tends to equalize time rates between Shadows, that Trumps do a lot of fancy footwork to make time differences unnoticable, that Trump contact is primarily mental contact and the actual muttering into cards is a peculiar side-effect, that Trump has power over time, or that time is an illusion. It's safest to say that it's up to the GM. ===================================================================
Lisa A. Leutheuser, eal @ umich.edu