East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Worlds of the staircase

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You are a gamer – and sometimes a game designer – and your friends know what to do as Christmas approaches: they hit you with games. This is what happens to me every year, and 2017 is no exception. Yesterday a new game arrived, and I can already see I’ll have lots of fun with this baby.


9781494977528-usLords of Gossamer and Shadow was developed a few years back, in 2013 in fact, and financed with a Kickstarter. The game is  the ideal heir of the old, legendary Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game – a game based on Roger Zelazny’s Amber novels.
Now I know and I have held in my hands a copy of Amber Diceless, but I have never played it, and this is absolutely shameful for a Zelazny fan.

But now I have the opportunity to make up for lost time, and it will be great to finally try that system with this new game.

The basic idea behind the setting is simple – a multiverse of alternate worlds, connected via endless staircases, and a war between the Gossamer Lords, that have mastered the communication between worlds, and the Dwimmerlaik, mysterious servants of entropy that want to bring chaos to the worlds.


And yes, the image above is a swordsman-spellcaster facing undead Greek warriors on a wrecked ship in a raging sea. Can you see why I am so hyped about Lords of Gossamer and Shadow?

22441752I have barely skimmed the rulebook – elegant and thin at 168 pages – but there is a lot of Zelazny in this setting, and also a sprinkling of Wolfe, and what else could I ask for?
This is the sort of fantasy I feel like playing right now, as far from Tolkienesque influences or the insufferable sociopathy and high-school-cynicism of grimdark.
Fantasy filled with fun, imagination, adventure and sense of wonder, and free of those elements that have become stale through over-use. This is what I hope to find. And really my major problem right now is: shall I go back to the Amber novels, or plunge once again in Wolfe’s Wizard/Knight?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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