The most unique RPG on my shelf is the Amber Diceless Role-Playing Game. Released by the now-defunct Phage Press, the innovative RPG eschewed dice in favor of a mechanic that relied on a rock/paper/scissors contest of abilities augmented by situational modifiers.
Based on Roger Zelazny’s Amber fantasy novels, allows players to take on the roles of sons and daughters of Amber, the one true city at the center of the multiverse. These children inherit their parents’ ability to manipulate and move through “Shadows”, alternative universes that radiate out from Amber’s one true reality.
Character creation featured a bid structure in which players competed against each other to buy up the attributes they wanted for this character. This injected the concept of familial strife into character creation, while simultaneously giving each player an innate understanding of each character’s strengths and weaknesses. While Amber is not an inherently player-vs-player game, schemes within schemes are certainly a major aspects of the books on which the game is based.
The game had its hay day in the late 1990s and early Aughts with numerous games offered at regional and national conventions, as well as a vibrant online community.
Sadly, I never played Amber DRPG. I foolishly thought that – given its popularity — there’d always be a chance to play it, but those chances faded into shadow as the 2000s turned into the 2010s.
Still, never say never. A spiritual successor to the game, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, adapts the Amber DRPG to a generic setting featuring many of the same tropes of its predecessor.
- This post is part of RPG a Day 2019, an online celebration of all things role-playing games.
- Wikipedia: Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
- Rulebook Heavily: Amber Diceless Roleplaying
- The Alexandrian: Amber Diceless RPG
- Merric’s Musings: Things I learnt from Amber Diceless Roleplaying
- Cardboard Republic: You Should Be Playing Amber DRPG
- Shadows of Amber (forum)
- The Annotated Amber
Featured Image Meta
Cover art from the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. Credit: Phage Press.