Oct 31

A GM Reads: Chaos and Amber


My revised reading challenge for 2017 is to focus on what a GM can take from the books I read. I lift out characters, events, creatures, plots or themes from each book. As a GM, you still need to read the book to gain the most benefit, but each review brings a few ideas for the GM.



My backlog of titles has grown again, so I need to push forward with the book reviews. The latest book under the spotlight is Chaos and Amber, by John Gregory Betancourt. The Good Reads site describes the book like this:

In the nationally bestselling Roger Zelazny’s The Dawn of Amber, John Gregory Betancourt began the epic exploration into how the world of Amber and all of its shadow worlds came into existence. The young warrior named Oberon, who is destined to found a dynasty and rule over Amber, was rescued from attacking hell creatures by his father, Dworkin, and introduced to his brothers and sisters–and his heritage as a Prince of the Courts of Chaos.

But the shadow world called Juniper, the home of Dworkin and his kin, came under deadly attack by unknown and overwhelming forces. After sending the rest of the family to distant shadow worlds for their own safety, Dworkin and Oberon, and Oberon’s half-brother Aber, travelled to the centre of the known universe and the lair of their enemies, the Courts of Chaos, to put an end to the undeclared blood feud.


Read more about Chaos and Amber at Good Reads.


This book is volume two in the Dawn of Amber Trilogy and a sequel to Dawn of Amber. Freed from the need to set up the plot, Chaos and Amber moves along at a much faster pace. I enjoy the character of Oberon, so it was a pleasure to read more about him. The story has now reached the Courts of Chaos, an incredible backdrop. The focus is far more on the politics of Amber and court intrigue, with a strong dash of weird sorcery.



For the GM

At the core of Chaos of Amber are competing schools of sorcery. The description of how Oberon’s magic works presents great tools for any game using strange sorcery. So often in RPGs, the magic “just works”. Chaos and Amber delves deeper into the origins of magic which may appeal to a GM running a high-magic game.


Also, the Courts of Chaos are a fascinating representation of planar Chaos. This would be very helpful to anyone running a Planescape campaign or with a Cosmos featuring a Plane of Chaos. Much of the book is set in a bizarre fortress within the Courts of Chaos. This provides a vivid description of a useful location for a base of operations on an unpredictable plane where the usual laws of physics do not apply.



Happy Reading


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