Campfire stories

The more 
– I’m tinkering with OSR systems 
– I’m adapting different systems to Arnesonian gaming 
– I’m thinking about what module or sandbox to run next,

… the more I’m picking up and reading (or re-reading, or re-re-reading even) storygames. pbta. Over the Edge 3rd edition. Itras By. Everway.


I know it’s *entirely* possible to run, say, Warhammer or Shadowrun or D&D with them. Because I ran a five-year Shadowrun 1e campaign diceless (meaning randomless) or using the Everway fortune cards.

And then.

And then I’m asking myself, ‘why do you bother with hit points, modifiers, all that mechanical sh…tuff? Why don’ tcha go full frontal freeform again?’

You know, it’s my 36th year of refereeing rpgs. And the majority of those years, we played freeform, diceless, or later, with Everway cards. And now, with ample time on my hands, I’m starting to wonder what happened. What happened?

Time to return to where I came from. It’s time.

Amber Diceless: our new campaign – played with Everway rules

We’re starting our new “Amber Diceless” campaign on Monday. After a 20-year hiatus, we’re finally playing Amber again. But not with the Amber Diceless rules. This time around, I’ll be using the Everway rpg rules.

Everway has been a reliable source of fun for us for a very long time. Ever since the game was published (1995), we’ve been using it (on and off) for a lot of different genres: Hong Kong action, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, heroic fantasy, horror.

“Patterntech” is the name of the campaign, and it starts the player characters on Shadow Earth, set a hundred thousand years from now. Cross-shadow movement exists, but to the characters, it’s hyperspace travel. Magic has made a frightening comeback, and there are old gods that have awakened from their dreams.

The player characters all start in one of the many Houses of Nobility. They have no clue what Amber is, what the Courts of Chaos are, what Pattern is, what the Logrus means, and so on. These are secrets that will be discovered in due time. For now, all they know is, they’re living in Terra City, on planet Earth, with a dozen different routes into hyperspace (=adjacent Shadows).

We’re using the Everway rules, with a few tweaks. The biggest and most important rule change is the Attribute Auction, or better: Element Auction. 100 points, just like in the Amber Diceless rules. When the bidding war is over, I divide the scores by 5 to get down to Everway level. With the rest of their points (20-sum), they’re going to by their Powers, artifacts and creatures.

Everway, and Amber as well (when played like Erick advised) is essentially a freeform game. And that’s right up our alley. I’m stoked!

Here’s the audio teaser I made for the game. It’s in German, but I think it sounds pretty cool.

****** EDIT

Well well well… change is the only constant, they say, and they’re right (whoever they may be). Something about the rules did not feel right, so I tweaked and tweaked… and, finally, dropped them altogether.

What I’m using now is Arref Mak’s super-tight 17 Canon Attribute system, an elegant and genius twist of regular Amber Diceless. It rolls attributes, powers, artifacts, sorcery and all the other subsystems of ADRPG into 17 attributes. You can model the books really well with it, way better than the original four attributes plus powers. I had Aref’s system sitting on my harddrive for, what, 12 years. And today, I finally remembered them. Perfect, and they go well with the Everway Fortune deck.