April 25, 2004


(Everyone should be of the blood of Amber… but if you have a great idea for
something else, talk to me.)


Psyche: willpower for psychic battles or power use; NOT = intelligence
Strength: muscle power, impact resistance, unarmed combat skill
Endurance: stamina and healing
Warfare: use of weapons, armies, strategy, and military judgment

You aren’t actually expert at everything your Attributes may technically
cover. If you have no naval military experience, you aren’t a good captain or
admiral. If you haven’t led troops much, you aren’t that good at it. You can
train up awfully fast though.

Some conflicts use mixed Attributes:
Psychic combat = Psy + .5War
Power vs. Power is usually Power + Psy + .5War
Unarmed is Str + .5War
Melee is War + .5Str
Ranged is straight Warfare
Strategy is Warfare + .5Psy
Combat with knives or other short, handheld weapons can be considered either
Melee or Unarmed; the weapons are too short to keep punching and kicking out of
the equation.

Scaling of Attributes:
Warfare, Psyche & the skill part of Strength:
Human = untrained
Chaos = well-trained, veteran, an experienced sergeant
Amber = expert, a good US Army Major
10 = world class, a good US Army General, Jackie Chan (for real)
20 = action movie hero, George S. Patton
40 = virtuoso, Sun Tzu, Jackie Chan (in the movies)
80 = clearly superhuman
160 = superior superhuman
Lifting capacity for Strength is linear. One may casually lift 200 lbs at Chaos
Str, 300 at Amber, + 10 lbs per point above Amber.

Some things aren’t covered by Attributes or Powers. These are 1, 2 or 4-point
Quirks, depending on how useful they are. Flora has Beauty (2) and Style (1).
Caine has Panache (1). Corwin is a Balladeer (1). Random is a Musician (1). All
the elders have considerable medical experience, but a great doctor would have
it as a Quirk. An experienced pickpocket or stage magician might have Sleight of Hand (2-4).

There is no Control, there are no Barriers. 1 point defines it and special
qualities may make it worth a point or two more.

1-pointers: Allies in Amber or Rebma, notables in Shadow (wizards, heroes,
kings), monsters.
2 points: Court Ally in Amber or Rebma. Who is it?
3 points: Known Ally in Amber or Rebma.
Devotees? You don’t need no stinking Devotees.

Limited to no more than 5 points, positive or negative.

“I’ve been studying Trump…”

Minimum Max starting Power max possible
25 55 Pattern 100; more if you’re Dworkin
20 45 Trump Artistry 80
20 45 Shapeshifting 80
5 15 Sorcery 15
10 20 Conjuration 20
10 15 Power Words ?
After the minimum buy-in powers are bought up in 5-point increments.

Broken Patterns don’t exist. Logrus may exist but in a modified form.
Haven’t decided. There are a number of Shadow Power Sources in the 10 to 20
point range, and various kinds of limited shapeshifters: lycanthropes,
doppelgangers and the like.

Major Powers work nearly everywhere. Magic is less reliable.

Items and Creatures should fit the genre. Note that you can’t necessarily
recover a damaged or destroyed item easily. Replacements for non-unique items are usually possible, from easy (buying a Spell Rack item in Rebma) to time consuming (dealing with the master smiths of Dvergheim to make you a new set of plate armor).

Each 25-point grouping of Pattern breaks down into Shadowshifting (10) and
Probability, P. Defense and P. Senses at 5 points each.

25 points:
Simple shadowshifting. No hellriding, no walking to intangibles like time flow
or a hot music scene.

Simple Probability manipulation, nothing too unlikely. You can alter the weather
this way, slowly.

Pattern Defense, a sort of energy sink that grounds out hostile magical or other
Power attacks, it possible but takes your full concentration. Your combat
abilities drop to Chaos, or Human if you start from Chaos level.

Pattern Senses: passively sense strong Pattern use in the area; with
concentration, widen the area a lot or sense subtler uses.

50 points:
Corwin-level shadowshifting. Hellride, shadows of desire, faster or slower
shadows (not too fast or slow, a 5:1 difference is damned rare on the Amber side of the cosmos); send people or things through Shadow along known routes. You can create or destroy simple Shadow Paths (for transshadow commerce, etc.) with great effort.

More complicated Probability control.

Pattern Defense drops your combat abilities to Amber, or Chaos if you start at

Pattern Senses extend to use of other powers, range and or sensitivity increase.

Sectional costs (Sensing, Probability, etc.) double.
Scary Fiona tricks. Individual tricks cost 5 points each. Gerard and Julian have definitely bought up expertise in making Shadow Paths, for instance.

Note that Trump Artists are artists. Un-artistic types cannot learn it. This
doesn’t limit your outlook otherwise. Many Samurai appreciated beauty.
Renaissance princes often painted and sculpted as well as making war and

Sense active Trumps in your immediate area, or identify Trumps by touch.
Trump Defense: much like Pattern Defense (drops your combat abilities to Chaos or Human) but you need a Trump in your hand to do it.
Identify people trying to contact you by Trump by touching a Trump of them. No
Trump, no ID. Make Trumps on site in about 2 days of continuous work.

Sense active Trumps over a considerable area.
Trump Defense still requires a card, drops combat abilities to Amber or Chaos.
Identify callers by memory. Make Trumps in about 6 hours from memory.

Trump Gates, faster Trump making, spying…

Shapeshifting is more of a mix’n’match power. Shapeshifting is organic. You
can’t become steel, or a gas, or flame. Not without dying, anyway. Once
you’ve assumed a form you tend to stay that way, with certain exceptions.

Pick 4 of:
-SS Wounds – allows you to seal wounds fast (like good first aid) and let’s
you add your points in Shapeshifting to your Endurance for the purpose of
-SS Parts
-Automatic SS – fast adaptation to environmental extremes
-SS to Animal Forms
-Combat Form (demonform) – fangs, claws, armor
-SS Surface Features – takes constant effort
But Primal Form is free. You lose control of your character and may not get him
back for months, if at all, but it’s free.

After you master all these 6 abilities (30 points worth) you can move on. Pick
-SS Aura
-SS Disguise – no ongoing effort required
-SS Animal Abilities – the instincts that go with animal parts
-SS Internal Structures – includes the ability to trance out and regenerate
fast; also the prereq for:
-SS Creatures of Blood – little spies, brain worms, assassin bugs; the prereq
-SS Others – shove a Blood Creature into them and change or heal them

And when you have all of those (60 points), there are the 10-pointers:
-SS to Creatures of Power
-Permanent Empowerment – turn people into lesser shapeshifters, like

Doesn’t travel across Shadow very well. Spells and bindings come undone
without constant, tricky attention. Unless you’ve spent points on them or
stored your spells in a bought rack, that sort of thing.

Note that for really powerful magic, like for really powerful tech, you need the
right tools in the right shadow. Thermonuclear bombs or Fimbulwinter spells,
they don’t work two shadows away.

You can do spells, work magic with forces.

You can hang spells in an item for quick use later.

You can quickly adapt to changed magical conditions in different shadows.

For this game, Conjuration is summoning and binding spirits, not making things
out of air or 'shadow-stuff'. Most empowered items have spirits – elementals,
daemons, ghosts – bound in them. Super-tough armor would have an earth
elemental. A flaming sword would have a fire elemental. Elementals are spirits
wearing bodies made of their element.

You can summon and bind spirits to make items or empower creatures with 1-point effects.

2-point effects.

Add 4-point effects within a theme: fire, air, darkness, ghosts, etc.

4-point effects.

Most of the ones in the ADRPG are OK. Some, like Resume True Form, aren’t. (An equivalent one that would work would be Change Shape, causing an uncontrolled ripple of shapeshifting in the target.) Benedict likes Power Words and taught a standard 5 to all his students – all the elders and Martin: Negate Magic, Trump Disrupt, Process Snuff, Psyche Defense and Defensive Luck.

10 Buys you 5. +1 each for more.

As a rule, things like Double Vitality are relative to the base creature or
item. A Double Vitality mouse is buff, for a mouse. A Double Vitality elephant
is a nightmare. It would be much easier to find an elemental to bind to a mouse
and double its strength than one capable of buffing up an elephant.

Double and Deadly Damage weapons are weapons with some sort of extra effect: flame, acid, cold etc. Ongoing energetic effects are draining on the bound
elementals; you might want to give them some extra Stamina.

Mass doesn’t change.

Shape changing items and creatures change slower than Shapeshifters.

Armor protects because it is hard. An Invulnerable silk shirt is several times
as hard to damage as the base silk shirt, but gives almost no protection to the
wearer. An Invulnerable (translate: 4x hardness) steel breastplate is kick-ass.

For working out something like a griffin or a dragon, take a base creature, say
a tiger, and add wings (Double Speed or better), armor, breath attack (Deadly
Damage), etc. And then think about how often Random will let you bring that
thing indoors, and how badly Julian wants to turn it into a trophy, and how much
you could improve your Psyche or Warfare or Powers instead.

The family provides superior weapons and armor, the equivalent of Extra Hard or other one-point effects. Superior horses, too: Psychic Resistant, Double
Stamina, one point Combat.

Electronics and annoying magical devices don’t work in Amber; no matter how
many points you spend on them. The jeweler’s rouge gunpowder doesn’t work
there any more either.

Posted by randy at April 25, 2004 05:41 PM | TrackBack