Now that I’m done ranting about Diceless stuff, I’ll say this: Mike’s rules for New Mutiny are smart, elegant, clean, and probably the best SFSP Amber rules I’ve ever seen.
If I ever run an Amber game again, it’ll be with those rules or some version thereof. (Hell, it’s almost enough to make me want to run again, which is a hell of a feat, let me tell you.)


  1. Were I (or anyone) to run a game and use Mike’s rules in a more ‘traditional’ Amber setting (one that used Magic and allowed shapeshifting), these rules would adapt with only a few additions to the “miscellaneous” section.
    Pattern Defense: This is an unnecessary ability unless Sorcery is allowed in the campaign. If needed, the ability first becomes possible (though not terribly useful) with a rank of 2 in Pattern. It can become a tertiary specialty of that Secondary Attribute.
    Shapeshifting: Rarely seen and barely understood, Shapeshifting can be purchased if the GM allows and the player is interested. To purchase, buy Shapeshifting as a secondary attribute of BOTH Physique and Psyche* (yes, paying the costs twice). Both scores must be equal and stay equal (raises to this attribute must be made simultaneously for each ‘half’). Tertiary specialties (only have to be paid for once) are possible.
    * – In the Courts of Chaos, Shapeshifting is a merely a secondary ability of Psyche (mind over matter), replacing Pattern, and does not cost double. Logrus (if allowed) is a optional secondary attribute of Psyche.
    Sorcery: Also rarely seen in the first series, Sorcery can be purchased if the GM allows and the player is interested. To purchase, buy Sorcery as a secondary attribute of BOTH Warfare and Psyche (yes, paying the costs twice). Both scores must be equal and stay equal (raises to this attribute must be made simultaneously for each ‘half’). In a contest between Sorcerers or between Sorcery and Pattern Defense, resolution of success is identical to the contests of Warfare or Strength shown above. (I.E.: Two ranks is a clear advantage, etc.) Tertiary specialties (which only have?to be paid for once) are possible.

  2. Alternately, a simpler design: Sorcery is simply be an optional fourth attribute, defaulting to 0, raised normally, otherwise identical to the guidelines above.
    Or you just stay with the wisdom inherent in the design and don’t allow Sorcery. Yeah.

  3. Wow! Thanks for the praise, Doyce.
    Just to pontificate a little: I don’t usually object to a certain amount of subjectivity in a game, but I knew that New Mutiny was going to involve a lot of player vs. player conflict, and that’s the one time when I really want to have objective rules to fall back on. So I wrote the system with an eye towards tightening up the Amber default system, so that I could judge player vs. player conflicts without feeling like it was my bias that was determining whose character died and whose lived.
    There’s actually a lot to the system which isn’t on the rules page. I think that I could, at this point, come up with a few paragraphs about the concept of an “Advantage” as an atomic unit of environmental favour, and write a couple of charts, and have a resolution system which was nearly as cold and hard as D&D’s. It also would not be impossible to add a (relatively small) amount of randomization to it.
    If I were to kick it into a more canonical setting, I’d probably take a slightly different approach from yours.
    The thing about the game, which took me a while after I wrote it to realize, is that it’s a six-attribute system. The “secondary” attributes are, in fact, what we deal with in play. In fact, for my big spreadsheet of all the characters in the game, I don’t ever have “Warfare,” “Physique,” or “Psyche” written anywhere on it.
    What the “primary” attributes actually are, are point breaks for genre purposes. That is, Zelazny wrote a world in which the best swordfighters were also the best generals. So, if you’ve got a high Combat already, you get a (mild) point break on your Strategy attribute. Similarly, everyone who’s good at some of the mystic stuff (Fiona, Brand) is also good at the rest of the mystic stuff.
    Strength and Endurance are not very tightly tied in the canon, but for game balance, they needed to be tight in the game.
    So. What I think I’d do would be to make Chaosite “Psyche” be Logrus and Shapeshifting, keeping the Amberite “Psyche” Pattern and Trump. Then, if an Amberite wanted to learn Shapeshifting, or a Chaosite Trump, they could buy it as an “open secondary,” which wouldn’t have a Primary. Thus, an Amberite who buys Shapeshifting doesn’t get a point break on anything else — even if he also gets Logrus for some strange reason.
    Sorcery could globally be a free-floating secondary (difficult for everyone to learn), which would be a small balance point for it.

  4. I think I agree with everything you’d said on this. The stuff I’d tossed out in the comments was literally the first couple thoughts I had after seeing the rules for the first time, and I think I’d come to similar conclusions in my head but hadn’t bothered typing them out.
    It’s a good system. I like it. I’d certainly like to see the other stuff you’ve got on it (somewhat curious about what you did with items, for one), but I’ve never totally associated adding a random element as necessary for an objective system… it usually it, but not actually.
    I guess what I want is a system that helps (and encourages) to be objective while running his subjective game. This is the best I’ve seen for that.

  5. One funny thing, the ‘naked’ sorcery stat in second tier — the cost is just about the same as connecting it to two stats (for the point break) and making them pay twice. Interesting.
    I was discussing with Randy simply doing Broken pattern as Pattern with a point-cap: I have Pattern at 4, technically, but I haven’t walked the pattern, so my effective Pattern score is 2 (limping around shadow, etc). I suppose a similar thing would work for Chaosites and Logrus scores. Pretty cool.
    Any ‘character sheet’ that lets you specialize that much and still fits on the back of a business card is damn slick, IMO.

  6. Okay, lesse, Items:
    (Okay, okay, there are items. They’re all handled as Quirks (1, 2, or 4 points). They’re minor in effect, and that’s intentional, because I don’t think that major item effects are appropriate either for First Series Amber or for Mike’s Fucked Up A Song Of Ice And Fire/Amber Mix).
    I’ll try to get a Resolution Table available some time in the future, after I move (so, not this weekend). Here’s the short-short version:
    An “Advantage” is the minimum amount of situational advantage necessary to unambiguously affect a given situation. Many situations will confer multiple Advantages. To take some examples which have come up in play, if you’re unarmed and your opponent is armed, it’s two Advantages for him. If your army is 130% the size of his army, it’s about five Advantages for you. If you’re fighting with a shield and he’s not, it’s 1 Advantage for you. If you’re fighting in Julian’s white scale armor, it’s 2 Advantages for you (or maybe 4, if you take a more extreme view of that armor than I do).
    Secondary attributes are worked into the situation as Advantages, too. If we’re duelling with swords, then we use Combat (or appropriate tertiaries) for comparison, but Strength and Endurance also come into play. Basically, my rule is that the person with any Strength edge gets 1 Advantage, or 2 Advantages if his Strength is 3 points higher than yours, or 3 Advantages if his Strength is 5+ points higher than yours.
    Advantages cancel each other out: So, when Tsark and Jonas were fighting, Tsark got an Advantage for Strength, and an Advantage for Armor, and an Advantage for Tsark’s “acrobatic” quirk, and a couple of situational Advantages for his supporting troops and the way that the combat came into play. Jonas got two Advantages because he was using a sword and Tsark was unarmed. So, since Tsark had the majority of the Advantages, his total was decrimented by two, and we continued.
    Basically, then, after you’ve figured out the net Advantage situation, you compare it to a table based on your stats. If there’s no Stat difference, then obviously the person with the most Advantages wins. With one net Advantage, it’s a really narrow, awful, painful “win.” If you’ve got about four or five net Advantages, then it’s going to be pretty quick and bloodless.
    If you’re one Stat level down on the person in question, then you’ve got to have two Advantages to get even a narrow win. If you’re two Stat levels down on the person, you need four Advantages to pull together a win. If you’re three Stat levels down, you need 8 Advantages to win. (It’s an exponential scale. If you’re four down, you need 16 Advantages to win, which is why I suggest it’s basically impossible to beat someone in a swordfight if your Combat is four lower than theirs. But it’s relevent to have that scale, because for things like armies, you can rack up a LOT of advantages, potentially (you could have three times as many people as your opponent, frex)).
    For the big, important conflicts that I see coming in the game, like the War, or Jonas and Tsark’s fight, I actually do prep work in the form of formalizing all of the Advantages that each side is likely to get, so that I can ponder the exact levels of “win” that are likely to arise. For most stuff, I just wing it, or, if it’s really important, figure out the Advantages in-game.
    If you wanted to add a random factor, have each combatant roll a d4 or a d6, and add that number of Advantages to his total. That creates a bell-curve, and it’s pretty easy. You can vary the die size to get the amount of randomness that you desire.

  7. The problem with ADRPG is that it can’t decide whether to be objective or subjective.
    It’s subjective because the GM (under advisement of the players) decides what happens, every time.
    It’s objective because, in theory, there are these absolute exponential numbers that should actually decide everything that the players want to do. (Leaving out some of the attempts to make the mechanics more complex, like Sorcery, which are both jarringly out of place and clumsily constructed.)
    Frankly, what’s made ADRPG a success is the setting, the expansion upon Zelazny’s work and providing folks a framework in which to play soap operas in endless universes. Unfortunately, that’s been its downfall as well, as ultimately any setting begins to pall, which means folks go further afield, which makes it *less* like the setting that made it a success, and which highlights the flaws in the rules systems more.
    I frankly would be willing to run in an Amber campaign again. Changing the rules from the original would not be a detriment.

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