The so-called "Power Craze"
was, in many ways, a central element of the Relative Difficulties campaign. It
was the main source of contention between the two player-GMs, had it's origins in the
first Amber sessions and was responsible for an ever-increasing spiral of power amongst
the younger generation of Amberites.
In the original sessions there were two advanced
shapeshifters, Adam and Syrex. While Adam was always too tired, or not strong enough, or
just not capable of pulling off some form or other, Syrex could pull off the same tricks
(usually more difficult versions) ludicrously easily. He could become elder Amberites and
keep control; he could survive lethal wounds just by shrugging them off; and once he even
turned into a full-sized replica of the Courts of Chaos, good enough to fool the inhabitants.
The problem was that John Hunt (the GM) and Glen Elliot (the
player of Syrex) worked as a team, even when John was running the game. So Glen could get
away with things others could not, and when Glen designed the occasional plot for John to
run he even got extra points for solving it!
The explanation for Syrex's uncommon abilities was that he had
Exalted Shapeshifting, an ephemeral level above Advanced demonstrated in other powers by
several elder Amberites. While some of his "experience points" went into beefing
up his shapeshifting power, most of the points that went into it were given 'free of
charge' by John, as a kind of explanation in retrospect. This easily made him the most
powerful character of the group, especially when everyone else started with new characters
in the new campaign.
This set the stage for the Power Craze. However, the Power Craze
truly began in Relative Difficulties.
The game was run by two player-GMs who alternated between playing
their character and running the game with their character as an NPC. The two individuals
in question were David Cooke (Andreas) and Robin Richards (Rylan). It is the opinion of
Mr. Cooke and the other players that it was Mr. Richards who can be held responsible for
the establishment of the Power Craze as part of the campaign.
During one period in which Mr. Richards was the GM, he appears to
have decided that either in the interest of the plot or just for the sake of improving his
character, Rylan should receive extra power in Pattern. No one is entirely sure where or
how he got the knowledge, but before long he had attained at least a partially Exalted
level of Pattern. This happened on a number of occasions; Rylan seemed to spend all his
time as an NPC gaining powers he would never have gained as a PC.
As the game progressed, it soon became clear that do discover any
clues in his plots a character had to possess some form of power lens, such as those
available to one with either basic Logrus or advanced Pattern. A Broken Pattern Adept
could use his "damaged" lens to get something, but anyone without any of these
abilities was completely incapable of investigating "power signature"-based plot
This meant that to be able to solve any of the plot players had to
spend their precious advancement points on the new powers or advanced abilities that would
enable them to do so, or be left effectively blind and helpless. In many cases this
requirement went against the character concept; to learn the advanced abilities
(theoretically) required the sort study they would never do. This led to a number of
complaints from several players.
On top of this, certain powers and Pattern in particular were
apparently only of limited use, in direct contrast to the novels and ADRPG book. Even more
complaints were forthcoming.
Another aspect of the Power Craze, directly related to the
required attainment of certain powers, was the ease with which the advanced powers were
acquired. In the case of Pattern one had to study with Dworkin; in the game this appeared
to amount to no more than reading a chapter or two of the Big Bumper Book Of Power every
day over breakfast or lunch followed by a simple exam paper at the weekend, usually
Or that is how it seemed, at least. Such study certainly never
interfered with attempting to solve plot.
Advanced power was far too easy to get. Everyone had an Exalted
power by the end of the campaign; Exalted Trump, Shapeshifting, Pattern, Logrus and even
an Exalted Broken Pattern put in an appearance. It would appear that NPCs also had their
share of power; but theirs always appeared to be of a different order to everyone else's,
though, leading to yet more complaints.
Yet another aspect of the Power Craze was the apparent requirement
that everyone have Sorcery, which was completely against the character of the first set of
books to begin with, let alone Amberites having it at all. It became THE secondary power
to have if you wanted to get anything done. Trumps? No, teleport with Sorcery! Swords?
Crossbows? No, blast them with Sorcery! Walk across the room? No, teleport to the door
with Sorcery! Open the door using your hand? No, use Sorcery!
OK, it never got quite that bad.
It was needed just for defence against all the Sorcerers, never
mind going as far as to actually attack them as well. On top of that while it was known
that racked spells needed to be reset regularly it always happened "off camera",
as it were, never interfering with any other activities. While that might not be a real
problem on most occasions, the danger of being caught off-guard with unready spells never
came about, so the need to spend any time resetting spells became all but defunct.
A prime example of that was the Conjuration spell known as
Nightguard, used by (naturally) Rylan. This was a spell that summoned a dozen (Named and
Numbered) extremely tough and strong warriors to fight for the caster. It took an immense twenty
four hours to cast the spell and rack it, which meant that something like three to
six hours had to be set aside every day or so to reset the spell. But such worries never
materialised for anyone.
Combining all this with the fact that most people enhanced their
Sorcery with the Exalted power of their choosing, typically reducing reset times or even
removing the need to do it at all, changed Sorcery from a relatively powerful minor power
up to the incredible Überpower it became.
The final part of the Power Craze is known as the Searchlight Of
Power effect. Simply put this involves beating an opponent by dint of having a more
powerful Power Searchlight than your enemy. One merely needs to beam one's Almighty Power
at the enemy until they wither away and are defeated. Subtle players had a few
complaints with regard to this.
In retrospect none of it should never have been allowed to happen,
but that's eagle-eye hindsight for you.