Okay, I feel somewhat better

Okay, I feel somewhat better now. Mostly, I am just smarting over the entire affair. I have better and more friends, though, than I realize sometimes, and am much more than just a bleating sheep of pain. Although I don’t think that he was talking to me personally, Arref goes from that point, to talking about Amber, and the attitude of the Elders.
He makes a good comparison between immortal children…and Faerie (as in the real, 200-proof ones, not Tolkienized Elves). Children who lived forever, and had power to match, would be very much like them indeed. To go all scientific and biological, you might even say that Faerie are akin to empowered humans who show neotony not in physical appearance, but in their stage of social development.
Why are the Elders of Amber often depicted this way? Especially the first series…where stranding half brothers on islands, putting sharp objects in footwear, and shooting truck drivers are all considered appropriate behavior? Kids in a sandbox, to use Arref’s turn of phrase.
The answer is deceptively simple. Amberites are Faerie.
I can hear the groans now from some readers (although I bet Meera and Arref just think I am stating the obvious). Jvstin, this buisness with the copyright violation has addled your brain. Corwin, Brand, and all the rest are Faerie?
They sure are. The thing is, since we mostly seem them from the inside, we don’t really think of them as Faerie. Another good example is the novels of Steven Brust. Vlad is also in a Faerie realm, although in that case, things like the sky, and the implied border with a realm where things are different (Fenario) make it a little more clear. But Amber could be considered a Faerieland, and its inhabitants are Faerie.
You just have to get a little parallax from it. The head of the family is…Oberon. Sure, there is no Titania, but disregard that. High Magic, strange powers, time flows different than, say, Earth…an iconic realm…are these not all attributes of a Faerieland and its inhabitants? Add their child-like personalities, long life spans and cavalier attitudes toward shadows (mortals) and you are all set. Oberon’s continual search for new wives is nothing new–the stories of mortals being lured as lovers “Under the Hill” are too numerous to count.
You can push the analogy too far…Chaos as the Unseelie Court, perhaps, is a stretch. And as Arref points out in his missive linked above, the Amberites do something that true Faerie are rarely seen to do–grow and change, and mature.
In fact, now that the thought strikes me, perhaps THAT is one of the reasons why the Merlin series is not as well liked…an underreported reason, anyway. Not that Merlin’s story lacks a lot of the charge of Corwin’s, or some of the ideas are not well thought out (sentient Pattern and Logrus).
It’s that, with the Amberites far less the scheming and treacherous Faerie of the first series, some people who like their Amber to be filled with that sort of thing find it lacking in that area. The machinations in Chaos don’t hold a candle, in that sense, to the cabals, intrigues and side-switching of the First Series. Jim Groves once coined the phrase “Vanilla Amber” to describe Amber royal families where everyone gets along, and there is no conflict whatsoever. Aside from the matter of Luke and Dalt,both outsiders, internal family conflict in the Second Series is lacking, and that turns off a lot of people who adore the first series. Just combine it with the decidedly different taste of Merlin as protagonist, and its easy to see why there is a dichotomy.
Hmm…now there would be an interesting point to correlate and if I had Moveable type here, I’d do it. Do Amber players who really like Throne Wars correlate to those who prefer First Series?

Keyword of the day is

Keyword of the day is Stupidity.
The bit that I found, I decided to post on the Amber Mailing List. I was roundly and decisively criticized far faster than the nazi-conspiracist ever was for his babble. Deservedly so.
I managed to get everyone to agree on the AML…and that’s an accomplishment. Unfortunately, the agreement is that I am an ass.
I have a paranoid, pessimistic but undeniable sense of worry about the Con now, all of a sudden. I hope that this whole flap dies in a month…or that it doesn’t cause the Con committee to revoke my membership.

Found an interesting bit on

Found an interesting bit on alt.books.zelazny the other day. Not sure if I should post it here because it is of dubious legality, although I did send it to a mailing list–it is an introduction to a “choose your own adventure book’ set in Amber called Black Road War. In the intro, Zelazny clears up some of the inconsistency of the family tree that cropped up in the novels.
I won’t change the SB family tree, though. After all, I have a couple of elders in there Zelazny never heard of.
Oh, and by the way, just to make it clear from a couple of days ago. My reference to Jack Gulick was referring to his excellent Nine Princes in Hong Kong scenario…which recasts Hong Kong as the Eternal City. You can see that good stuff right here.

Game Idea (with apologies and

Game Idea (with apologies and nod to Jack Gulick for the style)
Nine Princes in Memphis.
It is Amber, but it is not the Amber you know. It is Amber as it might have been if Roger Zelazny had infused his ideas with the Middle East, and the romance of Ancient Egypt.
Here, now, the Eternal City sits on the River Nile, the center of all life in the Eternal Kingdom. It is the one city, the true city all others are just shadows of. And it is here that those of the royal family, and perhaps others with the strength of will, master the power of the Pattern, and play their deadly serious game of power and control over the most powerful Kingdom in all shadow.
The Eternal Kingdom stretches from Alexandria and the Mouth of the Nile, down along its length, to the second cataract. To the East and West are deserts, beyond which, those who can walk in shadow can find lands beyond…Carthage, Babylon, and Arabia. Across the Mediterranean, into the seas of shadows, lie still more worlds, to those who know how to navigate to them. Crete, Greece, Sicily, and beyond.
And to the South…along the eternal river that snakes into Shadow itself, lie wonders and worlds unexplored and unimaginable.
I came up with this idea, thinking a while ago about Rivers and the lack of a “mythic one” in Amber. This Amber would definitely place great importance on the Nile, the Eternal River…and it would snake through shadows like Tethys does in the Hyperion/Endymion novels by Dan Simmons.

Arref continues to work on

Arref continues to work on creatures of power, and this time describes, a bit, on the Unbrood.
Let me tell you. No description in print does it justice. In the EGB/Amber the Eternal City setting, my character Archard actually tangled with the Unbrood. Arref described it so well, made the evil and danger of the creature so palpable, so real, that it actually gave me a waking nightmare, weeks after the game. I had a very visceral sense that the Unbrood was in my room, hanging on the posts of my half-bunk bed, and that it was going to overwhelm me. Upon turning on the light in a panic, I saw that it was just an extra blanket draped over the frame.
Arref does GM light and sweet, and also white knuckle bone terror equally well. I’m not sure I’d WANT to play in a Call of Chulthu game run by him…but it would be a rush all the same. Although a De Profundis game with him in it would be something.

Sometimes, one line in a

Sometimes, one line in a PBEM or such can reveal the vast gulf between the mindset and lifestyle of the Courts of Chaos, and Amber.
As a Chaosian NPC in SB said:
“I’ve had an assassination attempt on me this year, which is always a good sign.”

Time to return to Amber,

Time to return to Amber, as Arref said.
And speaking of my good friend, he begins a dialogue on Dragons and other Primal Creatures of Power. And asks what else there might be out there in Amber games?
Well, I do have Dragons. It features promimently in the backstory of one PC, another PC has a formal relationship with another. There are shadow dragons, which are the garden variety ones, and then there are the True Dragons…the ones which can shift shadow, the ones which are extremely powerful. They have limits, even Gazalarnith, the dread Dragon Lord, but messing with them is definitely not to be recommended.
I think that setting a points value on a relationship with an entity like this would be much more than a 1 point ally. I would hazard and rule it might be as much as a Chaos Devotee.
But anyway, what else is out there?
Well, excluding beings on the order of the Unicorn, the Serpent, and the young Phoenix in SB, there are plenty, although underutilized thus far in my game. But let me whip up an example of my own, my favorite just behind the dragon.
Griffins
Body of a lion, head of an eagle, Griffins take a second place to Dragons in my fondness for creatures of this type. In SB, I posited that the creation myth for a shadow for an NPC, Hadrian, involves an association between the Unicorn and DuMarque’s Griffin.
Griffins are often portrayed as violent and avaricious as Dragons. Everway’s Spherewalker Handbook (out of print, but if you see it, grab it!) has a more nuanced view–that Griffins are also an embodiment of Courage. And I do like this concept. They might not have the Primal Power of a Dragon, but they have their own little piece of mythological real estate. In fact, Spherewalker suggests that in rare, extreme situations, when Courage is displayed, they may appear, to intervene on the side of righteousness. Not just courage in valor, but any sort of courage against the most dire of odds. In other words, Griffins can come, in effect, as patrons of lost causes. And their position as masters of the air and ground make them fearsome opponents in such situations. They are not as blindingly intelligent as Dragons, and the lesser griffins (like the lesser dragons) are of less than human intelligence…but the True Griffins can fly the winds of Shadow, and are quite intelligent, indeed.

Blogging at 4 am before

Blogging at 4 am before my all-too early work on Sunday morning.
I came across this courtesy of Djinn and Ginger.




Dr Pepper Skips ‘Under God’ On Patriotic Cans
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
February 08, 2002
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) – The Dr Pepper/Seven Up soft-drink company (DPSU) is under fire for skipping the phrase “under God” in a partial quotation of the Pledge of Allegiance on its “patriot can.”
The graphic design of the can, created “to show the world that we are a united nation of people who place a high value upon freedom” according to the company, includes an artist’s rendering of the Statue of Liberty and the phrase “One Nation … Indivisible.”
The American Family Association learned of the omission of the phrase “under God” when a 12-year-old girl wrote the group to complain.
“I am very concerned with Dr Pepper’s new design on their cans,” wrote Alyssa Haynie of Colt, Ark., whose letter is posted on the AFA website. “I noticed they have ‘one nation…indivisible’ on their cans and left out ‘under God.'”
Haynie had emailed the company, and was told there was not room on the can to include the complete phrase.
But Randy Sharp, director of special projects for AFA, doubts that reasoning.
“Because they’re trying to be politically correct they’re being patriotically incorrect,” Sharp told CNSNews.com. “By doing so, they’re becoming divisive themselves, because they’re alienating a major portion of the nation.”
Dr Pepper (the period was dropped from the name in the 1950s) has been hearing from its customers, as well, based on the home page of the soft drink’s corporate website.
“Dr Pepper responds to consumers regarding its patriot can,” is the headline stretching across two-thirds of the page.
“The special packaging was designed to reflect our pride in this country’s determination to stand together as one. The Statue of Liberty and Pledge of Allegiance were chosen as two of the greatest symbols of American freedom,” the site explains. “Due to space limitations on the can, only a few of the 31 words from the Pledge of Allegiance could be used.”
The explanation continues describing the “verbiage limitations” imposed by the size of the graphics on the can, echoing the reason Haynie was given. It also notes that 90 percent of the Pledge’s content was omitted.
Sharp still doubts that space restrictions caused the edit to be made.
“I think anyone who looks at the can could see that there is plenty of space to include ‘under God’ very easily,” he said. “They could drop their nutrition label a little bit and ‘boom’ they’d have plenty of room.”
Haynie made that exact point in a second email to DPSU, but says she received no response.
Despite the controversy, the soft-drink maker believes it accomplished its goal with the special edition container.
“We at Dr Pepper/Seven Up strongly believe that the message on these cans is a resoundingly patriotic, bipartisan message that we are a united nation,” the letter to consumers concludes.
Sharp says DPSU might be surprised to learn that he has received complaints from a number of people identifying themselves as “non-Christian” or “not religious” who are also offended by the slight.
“They may not be religious but they do recognize and respect religion and God as major factors in our culture and in our society,” he said. “It’s clear this is a company that has decided not only to leave God out of its corporate philosophy, but also has decided to offend a great number of the citizens of this country.”
DPSU says the claims made against the can’s design are “incomplete or inaccurate.” AFA is asking anyone offended by the omission to contact the company.
Forty-one million of the cans were distributed in a dozen states. The regular Dr Pepper can design will return later in February.



Maybe its too early in the morning–but is it just me, or is the American Family Association being a complete and utter ass?
I’ve seen the design, and on the top of the cans in large print are the words “One nation…indivisible.” A three word quote from the Pledge of Allegiance. And they are upset because they left out under God from between nation and indivisible? I don’t see veterans groups being upset because they left out the word flag, or United States of America or any of the other words in the pledge. Besides, the three words they choose pithily encapsulate (okay too much caffeine!) what the pledge of allegiance, and America are all about. One nation, indivisible.
The sad thing is, in this day and age, even if Dr. Pepper had decided to put “One Nation, under God, indivisible.”, then the American Atheist society would have complained about that. But still, I think there are far better things for the AFA to do with their time than this.
We truly are back to where we were before Sept. 11, when a patriotic gesture like this is derided as an attack against God. Or did I slip into an alternate universe, and we have a theocracy of our own here in America?