Here are a couple of fairly recent items that may be of interest to Amber players/GMs (though the topics apply to other games too), in case you missed them.
Rob Donoghue talks about applying tags to Sorcery (and maybe other things too):
But suppose when the character picked up sorcery (or some other power – sorcery’s just an example) they chose a keyword like fire, shadow, travel, tarot, art, thunder, elemental, alchemy, atlantean, infernal or anything else. Maybe that keyword is picked from a (hopefully long) existing list, maybe it’s totally freeform, maybe it’s a player-built list, maybe there’s a whole set of sub-rules for keywords, like elemental dominance. Doesn’t really matter, though it definitely helps if the list of keywords is accessible.
So now they have a sorcerous style. They’re a fire mage, or an alchemist, or a demonologist or whatever. That’s color, and color is cool, and if we just left it at that it would be a nice reminder to players to choose a style. The real value comes, however, when we start introducing plots. Take something as mundane as a locked door. If it’s magically locked, it’s bypassed pretty quickly as we look up sorcerer’s in the yellow pages. If, however, we say that it’s trapped with Fire magic or bound with atlantean runes, then the number of people who can help is reduced. On some intuitive level that may seem like a dangerous thing, but practically it is far more motivating and it gives the guy whose keyword came up a much more clear-cut opportunity to be cool.
Tony Lower-Basch starts a Story Games thread about Amber and the tyranny of the blank page:
Then I took a break from it, and coming back I notice things. The very first thing I notice is that the game system says “You have the freedom to create any character, from anywhere, ever! Make the world from which he comes, and all of his supporting NPCs. The power is finally in your hands.”
God, I find that unhelpful. And, from the evidence of people I’ve played with, they find it unhelpful too. They immediately latch on to the few things that are rigidly defined in the setting, and build from there. Who is your character’s parent? Which of the elder Amberites do they know, and what are their relationships with them? Where do they stand relative to Amber, the Pattern, the Courts of Chaos, and so on?
Now … potentially … the freedom to create anything includes the freedom to create rigid anchor points that the other players can latch on to, as starting points for their own characters. But in practice, I find that people look to the GM to do that, no matter how much the GM asks them to do it themselves.
Both are worth a look.