I’m conflicted. As most everyone who knows me would tell you, I love Amber. I love the story, the setting, the characters, and most of all (of course) I love the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. And so, in the last couple of weeks my friends have been popping up and directing me to the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow Kickstarter. I’m always grateful that I have good friends who know what I love and think of me when they see it. But I’m conflicted.
Why would I support this Kickstarter? (Besides the fact that they are completely supported – well – about 16 times over.) I don’t say that to be a jerk… I’m super happy that someone wants to keep the Amber system alive and that there are people out there other than me who enjoy diceless play. That’s awesome. And maybe it’s worth supporting the Kickstarter just for that… but here’s the thing – what I’m buying is a setting. From reading through the preview it seems fairly clear that the creators of this game – at least one of whom was actively and deeply involved in the old Amber system – have taken the Amber system, filed off a few of the serial numbers, and otherwise kept it wholesale. Which means that what I’m buying is a setting.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought games for just the setting before. Everytime I buy a John Wick game I’m buying it to read the setting bits not the rules. But when it comes to Amber/this particular Diceless RPG, I’m not sure why I’d want to buy a new setting… and I know I’m harping on that a bit but here’s the thing, I can go to RPGNow and buy the Amber RPG for $12. It costs me $15 to get a PDF of LoG&S which I won’t get until at least September. If the Amber book wasn’t available in PDF, I probably would have been climbing over myself to get this – but – Amber is readily available.
And that’s the other part. As much as I love the Amber setting – and as much as I don’t ever want to say anything negative about the designers of LoG&S because I don’t know them from Adam – there’s one other thing… When it comes to the rest of the Amber RPG… it is the single most influential gaming book I’ve ever read. It has the best player advice and the best GM advice I’ve ever read. It’s magical.
I’m very happy for the guys running that Kickstarter that they were funded and that they will get the fantastic art they want (the art does look really spiffy). I think it’s really a question of what will make me want to fund a Kickstarter… not a question of any “badness” by the guys doing LoG&S.
So let’s flip the scenario for a minute… Let’s talk about Arcanum. You know Arcanum, the other game I talk about too much. Bard Games, 1985 for the Second Edition. I just ordered another copy from Amazon marketplace and I’m hoping it gets here soon… my copy is, ragged might be a good word. Yes, let’s go with ragged. Anyway… so I started doing some research and it turns out that another company has produced a new Atlantis: the Second Age RPG! Needless to say, I was excited. This was great news, I could finally get a PDF of what might be the second most exciting RPG book I’ve ever owned. But alas, it was not to be. When I purchased it, the setting was the same, but the game system appears to be more closely related to Talislanta than the original Arcanum system. As cool as Talislanta was/is, that was not what I was going in for.
So, two old games, two new games. One that is too much like the original when the original is still available, one that is nothing like the original and the original is gone for good. Maybe I’m just hard to please (probably true) and despite all my complaining, still let me say that my complaints are purely my own – kudos to the people who are making these games and keeping them alive in whatever way they are… I just want a PDF of Arcanum.