The Road to Amber is based on Roger Zelazny's series of Amber novels, but you do not need to be familiar with the novels in order to play. A quick summary of what you need to know follows.
If You've Read the Books
The MUSH's starting point was the very end of The Guns of Avalon, which is the second book in the series; we only recognize the first two books as canon. This means that the bones of the setting should be very familiar to Amber players (and if they're not, the first two books are pretty short) but most assumptions and 'givens' of the setting may need to be discarded. Check out our story for more details.
We use Amber as the core of a more general fantasy setting that emphasizes the prominence of Amber's nobility and the Golden Circle shadows. While the royal family is important, non-royals have distinct and critical capabilities that make them very potent.
If You Haven't Read the Books
If you're not familiar with Amber as a setting, here's the core of what you need to know:
- This is a pulp fantasy adventure, swords-and-sorcery setting.
- If you can think of it, it exists in this setting (within the general thematic guideline of fantasy).
- Amber is the "one true world of which others are but shadows". It's the fantasy kingdom at the center of the universe. All other worlds (including our own Earth) are shadows, imperfect echoes. (When you hear "shadow", think "world".)
- The royal family of Amber is so long-lived as to be essentially immortal. Through initiation into a construct of power called the Pattern, they are able to travel between worlds through something called shadow-shifting.
- Others of Amber and its immediate vicinity of nearby shadows (called the Golden Circle) are similarly long-lived, and physically and magically potent.
- The royal family and those around them are engaged in constant complex intrigues and machinations for power, recently heightened by the disappearance of Amber's first and only king, Oberon.
- Amber, and perhaps the universe itself, is endangered by the invasion of a force known as the Black Road, representing a power seemingly opposed to the Pattern, called Chaos.
What Types of Characters Work Here
This MUSH follows a core philosophy: All characters are awesome.
In thinking about a character concept, you will generally want to balance two things — who your character is (and therefore the likely web of play relationships they will develop), and what your character can do (and therefore how he gets involved in what happens). In general, the game's intent is that you actually go out and do things and change the world. In particular, the setting is fluid; big changes can and do happen, and action is player-driven rather than staff-driven.
Character concepts in a nutshell follow. All of this information is given greater detail elsewhere on this wiki, or on player-run wikis. (See the top navigation bar for links to player wikis.)
Major Houses of Amber
There are four major noble Houses in Amber. Joining a major House provides you a quick hook and character concept, but you are part of the House power structure, and you are likely to be less distinctive as an individual in terms of what you can do and what influence you have IC.
The Houses can be summarized as follows:
- House Chantris - Scholars and magical librarians whose Duty is to keep the Words of Power that underly the universe; bards and musicians; ship-builders and sailors who are critical suppliers to Amber's Navy and merchant marine.
- House Feldane - Necromancers and mystical gardeners whose Duty is to hold power over Death and ensure that those things which should die, die and stay dead; bankers and money-lenders and holders of significant real estate.
- House Karm - Alchemists, engineers, and magical binders whose Duty is to lock things away that should not be free. Karm hunts down things that trouble Amber, whether monsters, artifacts, or people, and kills them or seals them away.
- House Mandrake - Physicians and soldiers, whose Duty is to hold power over Life and ensure that those things which should live, live; ranchers who breed the finest horses in Amber; producers of military arms.
See the wiki entry on noble families for more.
Minor Houses of Amber
There are many minor noble Houses in Amber. You can join one, or you can create your own. This provides your character a strong hook and something independent that you are distinctively good at. This is a good way to immediately have power, influence, and a niche in the game.
In general, a minor House has a Duty, or something that their House is exceptionally good at. You can make up what this is, and RPG gifts will be created to match.
Examples of current minor Houses include:
- House Bayle, which makes extraordinary wines, including those with mystical properties.
- House Dare, which is exceptionally good at creating mechanical devices.
- House Gozar, mystical builders with potent capabilities to shape and animate stone.
- House Solaris, instrument-makers doomed by having stolen the Word of War.
See the wiki entry on noble families for more.
The closest places to Amber are known as the Golden Circle shadows. Each of these has a theme, and they are broad enough to fit most concepts that people have that are vaguely "looking for something from Earth mythology or history" in orientation. For instance, Alhambra has an Arabian Nights flavor, Jade has a pan-Asian flavor, Kitezh has a Norse flavor, Lyonesse is Celtic and a bit Camelot-flavored, and Minos has pirates and nautical adventure. See the Golden Circle wiki entry for specifics.
Amber also has an undersea reflection known as Rebma. The Rebmans are mystics, keepers of History, and masters of mirror-magics.
Many people use Golden Circle and Rebman characters as the foundation for action-oriented concepts. There are significant opportunities to play characters who are in leadership roles here, with greater political prominence as well, though. Characters of this sort are usually independent, rather than part of a broader organization. We can easily accomodate distinctive concepts, but you will probably share some capabilities with other characters who have the same origin.
While you can play characters from outside of the Golden Circle, we strongly encourage you to take a strong hook of some sort if you do so.
Due to certain recent events, shadows that were Amber's allies or enemies in the past, as well as shadows that might be allies or enemies in the future, have started to come to prominence.
We encourage playing representatives from these places. Your character might be the king of such a place, or more likely, some form of champion or ambassador, sent to Amber to do something significant. The shadow probably represents some sort of iconic concept. We will provide appropriate custom RPG gift support.
Amber Royal Family
You may discuss being a child or grandchild (or great-grandchild, etc.) of one of the royal family members with the appropriate person that you want descendance from. The royal family of Amber has scattered children across the shadows, so the backgrounds of such characters can be very varied.
If you take a role like this, we strongly encourage you to read the books, so you understand the dynamics of the family, and their abilities. Most such characters operate independently. Many of them also have ties to the Golden Circle.