Problems in
"Relative Difficulties"


A number of problems manifested themselves over the course of the campaign and in retrospect, from many of the players. As a result, this section is dedicated to all those involved in those many hours of complaining we enjoy so much. You know who you are.


  1. The Power Craze : An ever-escalating spiral of power for both PCs and NPCs alike produced a heap of power on both sides (namely "them" and "us"). Foes had to be more and more powerful to challenge us. A good example is Finndo's children: raised in the world of his Dark Pattern, trained to be incredibly powerful in their chosen field; most of them were adequately tough (fighters with Strength and Warfare both at 100 points or more) while others were just improbably powerful. One daughter called Hel had a Psyche of at least 300 points, while the son known only as Thrud had enough Strength and Warfare to hold off both Bleys and Corwin by himself unarmed while they had swords.

  2. Unknown Forces : In an annoying number of cases, major plots run by Mr. Richards seemed to have a tendency to revolve around unknown individuals wielding unknown powers against people for unknown reasons. This happened far too often for some, especially those whose characters whose powers did not include a "lens" allowing them to learn anything about the individuals or powers in question. Such players found themselves shunted into the sidelines, always calling on others to help them investigate even the most minor clue. Much frustration ensued.

  3. "NPC" Intervention : In several cases characters would reach a certain point in a plot, just outside the "evil wizard's castle" or whatever, and find that it would take some time with their abilities to gain entry past the Shadow barriers/magic wards. Then, quick as a flash, an NPC would arrive in time to open the way for them in ten seconds flat and then leave them to do the fighting by themselves. While this might have been vaguely acceptable if an elder Amberite had come when asked and helped, the fact that it was always Rylan (who had previously not been seen) who appeared in time to casually solve other people's plots proved to be quite annoying at times.

  4. The "Courts of Chaos Ring" : A relic of the first sessions, one was required to wear a ring conferring the four point shapeshifting power when in Chaos. This was apparently because the inhabitants used their shapeshifting almost constantly to counteract the changeable nature of the Courts. Never mind that in the books the Amberites and Julia Barnes, a mere human, walk around quite freely without needing one. On top of that, this requirement was never truly exploited; no ring was ever stolen, sabotaged, destroyed or covered in compellings, not until the final sessions when an NPC, Morgan, was taken to Chaos for help and did not have hers on. She died, the lack of this vital item the main result. The rest of the time they were completely redundant items, as everybody had a dozen or so without paying points for them.

  5. Warfare vs. Psyche Imbalance : If an opponent with a slight advantage in Warfare loosed a magic bolt at you, you could dodge it a little, avoiding some of the damage at least. However, if they used a Psyche-based spell and had a slight advantage in Psyche, your mind was like putty to them irrespective of the size of the advantage.

  6. Pattern Is Only For Going Places : Despite all the evidence in the books, the only thing basic Pattern was good for was moving around in Shadow. No one manipulated probability, no one made small changes to things (like Random altering Corwin's clothing in Nine Princes in Amber). And Advanced Pattern only gave you three things: a lens (so you could investigate things), Pattern Teleport (only took a few minutes to envision the Pattern and no effort to teleport; better than Trump!) and the ability to destroy any Shadow you did not like the look of (a good way of destroying enemies or their headquarters without a real fight). This strangely both limited and unrestricted vision of Pattern, in direct opposition to the abilities shown in the novels and the ADRPG book, is clearly barmy.

  7. Need More Power! : Higher powers were acquired far too easily and far too quickly. No real effort was required and some powers were pushed into a secondary slot by the lack of a lens. Even characters who were not classified as studiers were required to "work" to get a power lens or be left blind and deaf in a seeing and hearing world of clue investigators.

  8. The Searchlight Of Power : The way to defeat an enemy was to concentrate a vast beam of power on him until he melts. This left no room for subtlety and the clever use of tactics and spells; Spikard battles, in particular, were merely a constant conjuring of shields and bolts. If a bolt destroyed your shield you made another; if your bolt was wasted destroying your opponent's shield you threw another one at him. As a result both combatants would stand in place behind a never-ending cascade of shields while throwing a never-ending volley of bolts at each other until someone else tipped the balance. Very dull.

  9. "How Does He Get Away With It?" : On at least two occasions a certain Rylan (again) somehow became a pawn of dark powers, most particularly during the Dark Unicorn Incident. And yet, unlike the vindictive elder Amberites we all know and fear, no one of the elder generation took it upon themselves to eliminate someone who was so apparently easy to gain control of, despite his remarkable amount of ability with Pattern.