Thus Amber was born of chaos, transformed in shadow, and kissed to wakefulness by the typewriter’s keys after all the work was done.

-Roger Zelazny, “The Road to Amber” (The Collected Works of Roger Zelazny, Volume 6)

So I picked up The Collected Works of Roger Zelazny as the books came out – all 6 volumes.  There’s some interesting bits in the back of Volume 6 that one of the gentlemen on the amber_diceless_rpg Yahoo!Group drew my attention to…

“The Great Amber Questionnaire”, originally published in fan magazine Hellride, issue 3 – shortly after The Courts of Chaos was completed.

There’s some good and some bad and some meh in here.  It’s answers to some things, but at the same time… some of those answers are so far off what everyone tends to use that they might make a good AU game, but not so much a canon game.

The things that appeal to me/aren’t uncommon in fandom:

  • Secondary characters like Lord Rein can use the Trumps.
  • There were at least 2 brothers and sisters before Osric and Finndo – but Zelazny left it open for more than that.
  • The redheads as natural magicians the way some people have perfect pitch.
  • The idea that Fiona and Brand were equal in ability until Brand dealt with Chaos – but Bleys was lazy and didn’t apply himself the way the other two did.
  • Shadow Ambers with Shadow Patterns, and Shadow Amberites – all imperfect and limited to only a few adjacent Shadows.
  • Bringing in tech – a car can come within a few km of Kolvir, but its performance is badly affected.  Nuclear submarines, not so much – the electrics would fail.  The distance one comes into Amber’s world from Amber herself is a factor as well; Zelazny mentions that Flora’s car would have failed much sooner if they’d come in sooner.  And he notes that things carry their own physical laws from their home Shadow into Amber… briefly.  And of course, no shifting directly into Amber.
  • The Blood of Amber does not affect secondary Patterns – just the Primal.
  • Corwin’s second primal Pattern split off “a new order of existence”, as 2 primal Patterns cannot exist in the same universe.
  • Small probabilities can be manipulated in Shadow, but it’s much more tiring than just moving through it.  And key, there’s this: “If two persons were trying it for conflicting ends, it would be ore of a conflict of ingenuity than one of will, and more direct means would generally be employed.”
  • Amberites generally select Shadows where they know at least one language, or a variation of it.  It’s not clear that it’s conscious from the comments, though.
  • Oberon intentionally dampened magic on Kolvir (heh.  “to close that avenue for assassination attempts.”), but it’s not 100% effective, and small effects can be produced.  Magic works very well within the world of Amber, though, and its adjacent Shadows.
  • The body in the glass serpent is “some unfortunate person who got too close.”
  • Corwin’s original Avalon was destroyed, and only its imperfect image can be found.
  • Sending things through Shadow and summoning them – and Corwin’s blood bird – are all similar feats that pull their own rules with them as they pass through Shadow.
  • The corpses rising into the sky was a property of the shadow of Brand’s tower.
  • Natives of the Courts burn to heal lesser wounds quickly.
  • The creatures that followed Random had a limited ability to move through Shadow.
  • Brand’s tower was selected because the Shadow blocked most of his magic – and by the way, he was bespelled before being transported there, and his food an water were drugged… in addition to the chains.
  • Dworkin was partly mad due to the Pattern damage.
  • Defending one’s Shadow is based on “a circle on a polar graph about the point to be defended.”  Trumping through is possible, if someone within cooperates, but otherwise it has to be assaulted the old-fashioned magical or physical way.
  • The number of people that can be passed through a Trump call is limited only by the mental fatigue of the folks holding the call open.
  • The Jewel is not reflected in Rebma.  I put it here for lack of interest in adding a fourth category – I could happily use it either way, as ‘Rebman Jewel and thus theoretically Tir Jewel’ or as ‘just Ambe’s Jewel.’

Things that don’t appeal so much for a canon game:

  • Julian’s colors as white and red, Fiona’s as green and brown.  Brown and Fiona?  Hmm.  And Knights Templar colors for Julian?  Ehhh… er…
  • Tech level includes steam-powered devices, and electricity “just as we use it” is not possible, but electricity itself may be possible.
  • The people of Rebma belong to a sea race that settled the (architecturally) mirrored city.
  • Llewella’s mother is Moire’s younger sister Fraye.  (Which seems odd – “your sister’s sister”, Random says to Deirdre…)
  • Julian could switch out for a Shadow of himself during the pursuit of Corwin.  I… kind of got the impression that it took more effort than this.
  • Random doesn’t know whether or not he was responsible for the pulling the rock that killed the glass snake in from a neighboring Shadow or whether he moved himself and the snake to a place where it was likely to happen.  I don’t know; I think Random is cleverer than this…

Things that stood unanswered or unclear:

  • Are the minor lords represented in the Minor Arcana?
  • He says “The Jewel is the matrix”, without really explaining what he means.  The question asks about the 3D aspects of the Jewel’s Pattern vs. the 2D Patterns, and he does say that each 2D version is slightly different “though effective.”  I’m just not sure what he means by saying it’s the matrix…
  • The swords and Julian’s armor – “I will have to reserve the answers to all these questions concerning the magical weapons, against the possibility of another book in which they might figure.”
  • Moire and Llewella are green, but Martin and Vialle are not – question asked, and answered by referring back to the Rebmans being a separate sea race.  Curious.
  • What kinds of ships make up the merchant and military fleets of Amber, and what is the nature of their armaments – skipped for the same reason as the weapons and armor.