Roland of Amber

Whee! I was always one t'be free
Ain't never had a keeper
Why don't people
Learn t'git along together stead o'
Meddlin' aroun' 'n fussin' with the fella nearest to 'em
Me, I'm the old-fashioned kind
I was never good at follow-the-leader
Real real real real real real real
That's me, as real as a Yankee can be
Jon Hendricks

Roland was my first Amber character, and has wandered around a good bit. He now is firmly rooted in Chris Dentel's Blood on the Throne play-by-mail campaign. The record of this game is being stored in Waiting on the Wall.

I would be remiss here if I didn't mention Ben Goodwin, whose PBEM game was the first home for the PC version of Roland. The information on this page was created specifically for that game, with his aid and advice.



Roland is large. About 6'1" tall, 230 pounds, he is built like a tank or a bear, depending on whom you speak to. His broad shoulders are not touched by his short red hair, and his pale skin is covered with freckles. He gets hot easily, and as a result tends to wear less clothing than those around him. On the other hand, he tends to always wear something, as even though sunburn heals quickly, it still hurts.

The trumps Roland has made of himself show him wearing blue jeans and a white football jersey (number 72), standing in front of a grand piano, with a view of a magnificent river visible in the large window behind. (This is in fact a painting of Roland's home on his personal shadow.)

Roland is a very easygoing Amberite. He is polite and easy to get along with, though while he is quick to make "buddies", he is slow to form real friendships. What makes Roland really different from most Amberites is his attitude towards shadow dwellers. Essentially, he believes in human rights, and considers shadow dwellers to be human. While the stereotypical Amberite has few emotional ties (primarily to Amber itself) and almost none to shadow dwellers, Roland cares little about Amber, and much about his parents and his select group of friends. All of this doesn't mean that he is unable to scheme so much as he is unwilling to scheme.

Further, he is very individualistic. He doesn't want lots of friends, he wants good friends. He would do almost anything necessary to help a good friend, and certainly would be quick to avenge them. Likewise, he doesn't want power over others. Why should he care? His word is all important; if he says he will do something, he will do everything he possibly can to do it. For now (and for the foreseeable future) he is content learning, and living as he is. After all, he can jam with some of the best musicians ever, fence with the best fencers, and in general, live and learn to the fullest.

Capsule History

When Roland was one year old, he was adopted by Chris and Marsha White, and raised as their only child. He went to an excellent small public school, where he excelled in his studies, football, wrestling, and track. Good as he was in these things, he was a far better musician, playing piano, clarinet, and saxophone as well as singing.

When he was 16 years old, a beautiful woman named Lori paid him a visit. She told Roland that his real father had sent her to give him his legacy. She then went on to explain Amber, its history, its current political situation (Eric had just been crowned) and told him that he was of the blood and could walk the pattern if he so desired.

After he stopped laughing and decided not to call the mental hospital Lori convinced him that she was telling the truth by trumping him to different lands. He spent a week with her learning about his relatives. It was like the perfect vacation, and resulted in a crush on her.

After seven days of incredible beauty and adventure in many lands she gave him two of the cards. The first was a card showing the steps of Tir-na'goth, the first three of stone and the rest glowing. The second was a trump of her. She brought him back home, and almost no time had passed; Roland was an hour late for dinner, and his parents wondered about his tan. Lori departed.

Two weeks later, Roland trumped to Tir-na'goth, and walked the pattern there. On the way, he had two visions: his adopted parents, destitute and heartbroken, crying because he had disappeared and never returned, and Lori lying dead, bloody and beaten. Trumping Lori revealed that she was fine, and so he used the pattern to send him home. Discovering his parents were also all right, he calmed down, and set out to learn his powers.

[Roland teaches himself pattern and trump over a period of about a year.]

Then came the word that Roland's mother had one month to live. The doctors were confident that a cure would be invented in the next ten years or so, but it would be too late to save her.

This would have been devastating to Roland only a few months before, but now he sure that he could handle the problem. He explained the basics of shadow to his parents, and that a slow time shadow was exactly what they needed in this circumstance. They were desperate enough to believe him, and once appropriate steps had been taken, they started hiking for a slow time shadow. Approximately one week later (their time) they trumped back, to discover twenty-some years had gone by on Shadow Earth. [Just long enough to make the time lines work out, getting around the considerable length of the Patternfall War, Shadow Earth time. Again, history revisions may be called for here.] Having left a significant amount of money in bank accounts (under various names and devices) they were able to re-establish themselves, and Roland's mother was promptly cured.

Now Roland was ready to start his real education. He set himself a grueling course of study in several fields, and tried to organize the "ideal" life for himself. The first thing he set out to do was learn carpentry and German. To this end he found himself a construction job, and studied German at night. At last he was truly working his way into his Amber-level abilities. In his spare time, he experimented with fine control of his shadow-walking capabilities, and drew Trumps of a number of interesting universes. In his spare time, he continued studying music, as he had since early childhood.

Eventually he felt he had learned enough of what he needed in those two disciplines, and he set out for a new home --- Vienna in 1807. Here, thanks to a decent command of German, he could take a different tack on the skills he had studied previously. Now his carpentry was more basic, dealing with more primitive skills. And, more importantly, he studied composition with old Ludwig Van. Throwing in fencing on the side was an added bonus. (At this point Roland had already scouted out and made a Trump of a fast-time shadow, and thus could take a break when the hectic schedule got to be too tough. And call home frequently via Trump.)

After six months there, Roland, while he had certainly not learned all there was to be learned, felt it was time to move on. (This is a bit simplistic --- even in periods when he doesn't live in 19th century Austria, he studies/meets with Ludwig Van at least once a month.) Now feeling that he was up to trying his own hand at construction, he first constructed a cabin in his fast-time shadow.

Roland's fascination with Disney animated movies led to his next project, tracking down alternate versions of these movies. After spending several months at that, Roland tried to speed the process by drawing a trump of a place he had never been to, and got himself into a bit of trouble. By the time it was over, he had met Lady, a talking black Lab, and Erin, a beautiful girl almost straight out of a Disney movie. He fell deeply in love with her, and spent the better part of a year on her shadow. In this time, Roland trained with skilled military men, played for hours on end with best musicians, learned to sail and build sailboats, and generally marveled at a magical world. When Erin was cruelly murdered, Roland exacted a horrible revenge upon the culprits, and would have caused his own death in the process had not Lady intervened.

Lady Macbeth in truck

With her mistress gone, Lady became Roland's companion, and Roland eventually pulled himself together. He finally decided to find his "personal" shadow, and make a real home. Finding what he considered the perfect spot, he built a magnificent house, and set out making contacts in that shadow. The most notable of these was Dave, whose interest in a broad range of fields makes him an ideal intellectual sidekick for Roland. Dave is the only person on Roland's personal shadow who knows he is an Amberite (while Corwin's Chronicles are well known there, they are thought to be fiction), and the two have formed a pseudo-jazz band, Total Chaos, which is becoming quite famous on Roland's shadow. With Roland's aid, Dave has explored a number of shadows, and is working on theories of how both shadow and history work.

In the three years since Roland settled down, his life has settled into a regular pattern. He alternates residence between his shadow, Shadow Earth, Beethoven's Germany, has recently added medieval British Isles, and plans to add historic Japan as well. He has studied many different styles of music (both performing and composing), several styles of fencing (and "warfare" in general), building, and languages, and is amassing quite a collection of Trumps. Further, he is not all work --- his collection of comics, books, music, and movies is probably unequalled anywhere, considering that it is built from multiple shadows, and he has spent many hours with Lady sailing or walking. So he lives, and learns, tries to produce quality entertainment, and basically has a wonderful time.

[Obviously, when the full version is done there will be lots of potential for plot hooks. There already are a couple. And once his starts working his way into the Amber political scene, it will be very interesting. As it stands, he has lots of Trumps, but many will be of very limited use in play, I would imagine. ("If we can just get to this comic book store, we can save the universe!" "What a coincidence! I just happen to have a Trump of that store. They have a great stock of back issues.") Likewise, Lady and the Trump deck aren't some awesome offensive weapons, they're mild defensive tools and companions.]

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