Monday, April 29, 2013

Rob Donoghue says some nice things about Lords of Gossamer and shaodw.

This is copied from Rob Donoghue's post you can find the original HERE

So, the very first use of the Evil Hat brand was for running Amber.  Fred & Lydia had the chance to play in some amazing games up at Ambercon Northwest, and we decided to join forces and run some games.  "Evil Hat" was the umbrella that we ran these games under (and they were awesome).

Notably, the guy who ran the games that Fred & Lydia were most excited about was a gentleman named Jason Durall. They came back with props from these games, and excited stories, and largely created in me a profound envy.

I mention this because this Jason Durall guy is the lead writer on Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, an RPG currently being kickstarted.

Now, Amber is a weird (and awesome) community, so there are plenty of folks who already know who Jason is, and why an Amber-ish book by him is a big deal, but I want to take a moment to speak to you folks who don't already know why this is great.

So, the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game was kind of a big deal.  It was never a huge game, but it was broadly influential and it inspired a very enthusiastic community. It was not the only diceless RPG, but it was fairly unique in what dicelessnes meant.  Previously, dicelessness largely meant some sort of non-random dice replacement (like spending tokens), but Amber went whole hog.  It's a game of GM fiat paired with very powerful characters that produces a strange and wonderful alchemy.  Perhaps most importantly, it put a huge emphasis on GM (and player)  *technique*, and that puts it in direct contrast with more system-centric designs.

I don't mention this in an attempt to assert superiority - that's nonsense.  Rather, I mention it as a valuable, potent alternative perspective, and one which I personally put a lot of stock in (even when I disagreed with specific implementation bits).

The kicker is, the IP end of the Amber DRPG has become something of a morass.  No need to delve into the details, but the bottom line is that it pretty much vanished from the world for a long time (though the PDFs are, I believe  now available on drivethru). The prospect of reviving the license was spoken of in hushed whispers.

Skip forward a bit, and you come to the Rite Publishing guys.  They had a fairly clever idea - pull out the mechanical elements of the ADRPG and serve them up separate from the Amber IP so that there was a framework for player contributions (a huge part of Amber culture).  The initial goal was modest - little more than a booklet - but it's grown.

Now, I have no insight into the why of it, but I can make a guess. One reason the ADRPG worked so well was that the mechanics were profoundly tied to the fiction of the books. Peeling out the rules from the IP is more than just an exercise of filing off serial numbers.

The solution was to build a new framework of fiction, one which captured thespirit of the original material (as well as its playability) without simply renaming known elements.  

Now, I'll totally cop to worrying about this.  Amber has a LOT of love, and any project that runs for a long time gathers a bit of a doom cloud (couhg FRPGcough), but that's only part of it.  See, Amber is almost defined by the multiple ways it might be interpreted, and some of those interpretations will not be to your taste.  Would LoGaS be so much someone's individual vision of what Amber "should be" as to make it useless to me?

And this is why we come back around to Jason Durrall being awesome.

I'll be writing some expansion material for one of the (already hit) stretch goals for the game, and that's meant I've had a sneak peak at the manuscript.

He nailed it.

It feels right.  It's full of grand sweeps and petty violence, but more, it feelsobvious to me that i can seize upon these pieces and make it my own game.  

It's not Amber, but that's a good thing, because It's Amber Plus all the things that have been built upon that foundation. It's a Well Favored Man. It's Merchant Princes. It's all the best parts of the Amber Legacy, and all the right bad parts too.

If you dig Amber, it'll be a good investment, and that's good.  But if you don'tknow Amber, and this whole dicelessness thing sounds interesting to you, then it's definitely a good investment.

Just my opinion, of course, but I'm all ready to start playing.

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