Thursday, February 28, 2008

Amber (Myth)

This was part of the binder full of hand-outs given to the players in my old Everway campaign. A few nods to Amberway can be noted in the text below.

Amber (Myth)
“In olden days, on the distant shores of Amber...”
Is there anyone in all the spheres who doesn’t know that phrase? It seems at least half of all fairy-tales start that way. Most are about a young lad who should have known better, or a beautiful princess in great peril. Sometimes it’s about both, and they meet, are crowned King & Queen, fall tragically in love, are tricked into the woods by their evil stepmother, battle against horrible inhuman tyrants, and/or learn they were twins separated at birth, though not necessarily in that order. One thing you can be sure of is that every tale that starts this way is sure to have a self-righteous moral. Indeed, most tales of Amber are gushy, sappy melodramas, with villains unbelievable and heroines too true. But if you are in need of a familiar, comfortable way to get a story started, you could do a lot worse than “In olden days, on the distant shores of Amber...”

Though the Realm of Amber is most assuredly merely a fairytale, bards, poets and dramatists alike all agree upon the Usurper Force. It’s a stylistic convention that is only very rarely deviated from, and it adds greatly to the verisimilitude of this entirely ubiquitous fairy-tale city.
Usurper Force: The Royal Family
Normal: Unbreakable Solidarity
Inverted: Over-Protective Elitism

Tales you’ve no doubt heard about Amber, and particularly the way it was in Olden Days include...
  1. Amber was the first city ever. In these tales typically some silly significance is granted to the city: Perhaps it was founded by the Gods or the first Spherewalker, maybe it’s where Coyote revealed to man the art of sorcery and was chained to a rock as punishment, sometimes all the buildings are made of gingerbread or gold, and in a few tales all the citizenry are Spherewalkers or incredibly strong.

  2. The king of Amber is often named Walker First-Born. Sometimes a tale will revolve around a young man discovering that he was merely adopted by the old couple or pack of wolves that raised him, then he’ll learn his true name, defeat a preposterous villain, and raise to the title of King of Amber. Sometimes, First Born is indeed the first person ever born, or the first to receive the God’s gift of speech or the Fortune Deck. Other times he’s just called Walker, and it is said he built all the Gates between worlds. In some tales he marries the first woman ever born, and sometimes he lives a vow of chastity and servitude protecting a marvelous unicorn.

  3. Horrible monsters and mustached villains love to besiege Amber. They always fail, though. Every Amber story has a happy ending, usually involving a wedding, a naming, a great battle, or the finding of the true heir. Again, sometimes the bards overdo it and try to work in all 4 to final chapter of a single tale.

  4. Near to Amber is a city that is almost exactly like it except magical in some way elemental. You’ve heard tales of Underwater Amber, Volcanic Amber, Forested Amber, Amber-On-The-Moon, Ghost Amber, etc. Often it’s like a mirror or reflection - everything being backwards from the way it is in Amber. In all these stories, the Reflected Amber is in some fundamental way inferior to Amber, but still holds a secret that Walker First-Born or one of his younger siblings has to go investigate.

  5. The Royal Family of Amber is huge. Their family tree is convoluted, and includes numerous political marriages, which our hero & heroine often escape from via some clever trick or demonstration of awe-invoking purity. All the Royals are powerful, many to a degree that is unbelievable. They might run around a Sphere in a day, or save a sinking ship by drinking the ocean, outrageous claims like that are to be expected.

  6. No one you have ever known has ever been to Amber. Maybe someone they used to know was there once, but it was so beautiful they decided to relocate for good. Only a fool would ever leave Amber on purpose. Why else do you think all those Ogres and wicked stepmothers try to conquer it? It’s the best city you’ve ever imagined.

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