Playing Amber Diceless… with dice.

We started our new Amber campaign a few weeks ago. The first couple of sessions went well, as expected – to me, as GM, they also felt… a bit boring. Instantly, I felt teleported back to a time more than two decades ago, when we played our last Amber game. Some sessions were outstanding, while others felt pretty average, nothing to write home about.

While 28 years ago, playing Amber Diceless with dice was preposterous (and author Erick Wujick told everyone just how stupid the mere idea was), some things have changed over the years. I have come to like, even love, the randomness of dice in roleplaying games. I welcome their unpredictable results with open arms. There’s nothing more boring, more stale, than NOT rolling dice in rpgs. The OSR has done this to me, and I’ll be eternally grateful for this.

There are a few things in Amber Diceless I just can’t stand any more:

  • Being ranked first in an attribute guarantees you’ll always be the best in this stat. Fucking boring.
  • Walking The Pattern was described as enormously dangerous and potentially fatal in the novels. This inherent threat was completely neutralized in Amber Diceless. All you need is Endurance of at least Amber rank, and you’re safe. At least, no diceless GM worth their salt would even think about killing your princeling for walking The Pattern. Fucking Boring.
  • As someone who has been practicing and teaching reality-based self-protection and military combatives for more than 30 years, I know that randomness is a factor in combat. In a diceless (and even more, randomless) game like Amber, this is simply swept under the rug. Fucking boring.
  • Intrigues and cabals and conspiracies in the novels were on medium pulp level at best. The meat of the stories lies in the adventures and heroic deeds of Corwin and Merlin, the protagonists. Amber Diceless glorified the intrigue part, while every single Amber player I know liked the adventure part at least a bit more than the backstabbing. Adventure rpgs without random generators are Fucking Boring.  
So, I’ll play Amber With Dice. This is the rough version of the rules I’ll be using:
  1. Create characters as usual.
  2. Convert the Amber stats to Olde House Rules’ brilliant Blood of Pangea format. In a nutshell, the most important rule is this:
  3. Warfare/Psyche:
    In combat, roll 2d6 (as per the Blood of Pangea rules) and add a combat bonus:
    Human: +0
    Chaos: +1
    Amber: +2
    10: +2, one free reroll
    20 +3
    30: +3, one free reroll
    40: +3, two free rerolls
    50: +3, three free rerolls
    60: +3, four free rerolls
    70: +3, five free rerolls
    80: +3, six free rerolls
    90: +3, seven free rerolls
    100+ 3, eight free rerolls
  4. Strength:
    Human: Might 1-2
    Chaos: Might 3-4
    Amber: Might 8
    ranked: Might = 8+(STR/4)
  5. Damage
  6. Better Damage
    2-6: 0
    7-9: 1
    10: 2 (maximum damage possible for non-fighters)
    11: 3
    12: 4

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