Welcome to My World...
Attributes
Powers
Toys
Relationships
Wish Lists
Contributions
Combat
Cosmology
Play Style

Welcome to My World...

Introduction

It has become apparent during the course of play that a lot of the assumptions and the ground rules that I thought were understood about the game, are, in fact, not. This is my fault. I have devoted so much time to fleshing out the adventure, and making sure Iím prepared for the games that I havenít made sure that my players are prepared. This has led to miscommunications, misunderstandings, and general lack of coherence that has damaged the playing experience for you.

I apologize.

This is my attempt to fix that. Iím going to outline as many of the baseline assumptions that I make about the world of Amber and the way things work there as I can. I would like you to examine these, ask questions where I have not been clear, and point out places where my expectations differ from yours. I will clarify, discuss, debate, and change this document until it encompasses a set of shared assumptions and expectations that we can use to continue in a more enjoyable way.

So, please help. Read this, send me feedback, send me questions, send me arguments, send me disagreements. Let me know what you want out of the game, the way Iím letting you know what I want. I think that this will make the game more satisfying for all of us.

~Rick

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Attributes

Basics

The first thing that you should know is that the number of points you bid on your Attributes is now irrelevant. I have scaled them against the Elders, producing an Attribute ladder that makes sense to me. It is not reasonable to assume that the first rank in Strength from your generation cannot overpower Fiona in an arm-wrestling contest. First rank in any attribute is closer to the first rank amongst the Elders, but still below. You need something to aspire to. You can, however, be guaranteed of being better than the majority of Elders if you have first rank.

The gaps between ranks have expanded in number of points, and new ranks have been inserted between them in some cases. Advancement is done on this expanded ladder, so if you had a difference of five points between you and the next PC in an attribute, there may now be 30 points difference, and four ranks between you. I will not clarify your standing on these new ladders, as judging these things is difficult from your subjective viewpoint.

One thing needs to be said concerning first rank. First rank characters have special little benefits that they have earned by risking the points in the Attribute auction. If you manage to snag first rank from one of the incumbents (hard to do, because I give them the advantage when doing the advancement), you will get a note from me with a couple of little perks youíve picked up. They wonít be as numerous, nor as powerful as the ones the incumbent had, but they are pretty sweet.

Specifics

Psyche

Psyche governs two things in my game: your magical/psychic ability, and the strength of your will. Anyone with Chaos rank or higher is capable of magic and psychic feats. Without training to focus your ability, the range and scope of such things are very small. Basically, Chaos rank requires physical (skin to skin) contact to sense any enchantments, or to initiate mind-to-mind contact. Amber rank lets you do it with close eye contact and some fierce concentration. As your rank increases, you can increase the distance between you and your subject, but it costs in power. The closer you are, the more of your Psyche you can bring to bear in mental combat. Think of the telepaths on B5, and youíve got the right idea.

Mind-to-mind combat needs to be initiated either by one of the methods above, or by something else that gives you a link to the mind of the target. This can be a Trump, a spell, or anything else that establishes mental contact. Just making contact is non-intrusive, so using a Mind Touch micro-spell as a targeting component in a spell is fine. When you start mental combat, however, the target is usually immobilized, quite often has seizures, and may be damaged, depending on how strong their mind is compared to yours, their Endurance, how gentle you are, and what youíre doing to them. Unless youíre very, very good, mind-reaming someone is not subtle.

Strength

Strength governs three things: actual physical strength, your unarmed fighting ability, and resistance to physical damage. Physical strength is pretty self-explanatory. Unarmed fighting ability includes both ability and knowledge of different styles and tricks. Resistance to physical damage is produced by the layer of hard muscle that high Strength gives you, which offers some natural protection against physical blows.

Endurance

Endurance governs how long you can keep exerting yourself, and how quickly you heal. Anyone with Chaos rank or better in Endurance can regenerate, and the higher the rank, the faster the bits grow back. At Amber rank and above, youíre pretty much immune to normal bacteria, viruses, and poisons, although especially virulent, magical, or engineered ones still pose a danger.

Warfare

Warfare governs your skill with weapons, your tactical and strategic ability, your military leadership skills, and, to a lesser degree, your reaction time. Any combat that uses a weapon uses Warfare, as does any game that deals with a simulation of combat. Leading and training troops is also managed through Warfare. Your reaction time, as regards imminent threat of danger, is based on comparing your Warfare with the Warfare rating of the threat.

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Powers

Basics

Okay, Iíve been thinking things over with regards to the powers, and here are some decisions you should be made aware of.

Powers are bought in character creation in the packages listed: Basic and Advanced versions. The Advanced versions, for those of you who bought them, are customized packages of abilities based on how I see the Power working with your character.

Gaining Powers through advancement is going to work a little differently. In this situation, Iím going to start using a type of Partial Power system, to reflect the fact that people who bought the Powers at character creation have had time to study and master the abilities subsumed by the Power, while those who acquire the Power later start at the beginning, learning the ways the Power can be used. This has two effects on play: first, characters who learn new Powers start with only a bare minimum of abilities (usually one), and the cost to acquire them is reduced. That means that you can walk the Pattern for a reduced cost, but you still canít use it to shift Shadow as quickly, and you donít know how to use it to affect probabilities in Shadow.

This brings me to the other point about gaining Powers. Advanced Powers are very individual. If youíre trying to learn, say, Advanced Trump, donít put that down on the Wish List. Put down what sort of ability with Trump youíre trying to gain. Iíll assign it a point cost (which I wonít tell you), and when you can afford it, youíve got it. Donít worry about what abilities are available at more advanced versions of the Powers, just come up with something that fits the way the Power works in the game and that you would like to have. If I donít think it fits, Iíll tell you.

When I talk about the ability fitting the Power, Iím trying to establish something important. No single Power can do everything. Logrus has abilities that Pattern canít duplicate, for example. You may be able to mimic the effects to a degree, but the actual functioning is going to be different. I want to make sure that each Power comes across as unique, with itís own strengths and weaknesses. Thatís the criteria Iíll use for approving or rejecting an ability.

One thing I should note is that you can get ideas for abilities with Powers by observing what other people can do with their Powers. Want to see what you can do with Trump? Watch a Trump Artist to see if they know any tricks you donít. If you see them do something cool that you canít put it on your Wish List. Of course, those arenít the only abilities open to you. Creating new ones is as simple as making something up and getting my approval.

Specifics

Pattern

Pattern allows you to shift through Shadow, and to manipulate the underlying order inherent in Shadow. Thatís the key to understanding how it works. You look for patterns, and you change them, using the force of your will. The main restrictions on Pattern are that you have to be moving to use it, you have to be able to see details in your environment, and you can only use it in Shadow. Amber is immune to the manipulations of Pattern.

Pattern allows you to move through Shadow at three basic speeds: Shadow Walk, Hellride, and Royal Road. A Shadow Walk is the normal mode of transport, where you move at a reasonable speed, changing one item in your environment at a time, until you arrive. It is moderately tiring, and not all that quick. A Hellride involves traveling at great speeds, making numerous extreme changes in your environment as you travel, and using tricky shortcuts like caves and tunnels. It is extremely tiring, but very quick. Normal creatures, including humans, can be driven mad by Hellrides, due to the unsettling experience of moving this quickly through Shadow, and the strain the movement puts on a mind. The Royal Road is a slow, stately trip, usually keeping a single mode of transport for the entire journey, doing all you can to maintain comfort and safety while you travel. It is moderately tiring, quite slow, but extremely comfortable.

One other note: walking the Pattern, especially for the first time, can kill you. If you do walk the Pattern, I will ask you to role-play the walk: I will throw memories and situations from your past at you, and you must role-play through them. How well that goes will determine how confusing and difficult I make the walk. If things go poorly or you are very tired, I will do my level best to make you make a mistake. If you make a mistake, like stepping off the Pattern, or moving the wrong way on it without first reaching the centre, or falling down, you will die. I hereby absolve myself of any blame for such things. The Pattern is an item of great and Primal power. It is not now, nor will it ever be, safe.

Some ideas about abilities using Pattern are faster transport through Shadow, using the Pattern to look through Shadow, editing or erasing a Shadow, or misleading someone who is currently shifting through Shadow.

Logrus

Logrus allows you to shift through Shadow, and to pull item through Shadow to you. It does this by drawing on the disorder inherent in every Shadow, looking for the loopholes in the underlying order, and exploiting them. When you use the Logrus to travel through Shadow, you reach out and find your destination, and pull yourself to it. This means that, while you donít have to be able to see as with Pattern, you do have to be able to move to propel yourself through Shadow; the Logrus canít do it all. Travel in this manner is always a Hellride.

Movement in either direction using the Logrus is quite quick, but it can take a great deal of time to find the location before you begin moving. Anywhere from several minutes to over an hour may be required to locate the item or Shadow youíre looking for. Summoning the Logrus to mind generally takes 30-60 seconds of uninterrupted concentration, although the distance from the Courts of Chaos is a large factor in summoning it. Once it is summoned, the search takes time depending on how well you know the place/item youíre looking for, how specific you are about your request, and how far you have to reach through Shadow to find it.

Passing through the Logrus has the same dangers as walking the Pattern, with the added problem of madness. If you do make it through the Logrus, you go mad for a time, the length of time dependent on how well you did in the challenges I put before you, and your condition when you started. It can take your character out of play for a time, so be warned. The Logrus may be a little less deadly than the Pattern, but it has its own perils.

Advanced abilities with Logrus include Merlinís trick of summoning primal Chaos, molding Shadow Ways, inflicting the madness of the Logrus on another, or summoning and controlling demons from the Abyss

Trump

Trump allows you to communicate mind-to-mind with an individual pictured, or to travel to a person or place pictured. It draws on a type of sympathetic imagery, created by meditative attention paid to the act of creation, and the construction of a card which involves symbolism and depiction which capture the core identity of the place or person on the Trump. A functional Trump is cool to the touch, and an active one is actually cold.

Contact with another person through a Trump puts both parties in mind-to-mind contact, with no defenses up. Mental conflict initiated at this point can be extremely brutal, and only the fact that Trumps are really only used this way in time of war keeps people using Trumps; doing this sort of thing is generally viewed as Bad Formô.

Trump communication is not directly visible to those not involved. While the direct experience of Trump contact is visual and auditory, even involving the other senses in some cases, it is all occurring in the mind of the people in contact. Thus, itís safest to not interrupt someone who is gazing into space, or at a card in their hand, whether or not theyíre speaking.

As far as Trump Etiquette is concerned, consider a Trump like a telephone that rings inside your head. You can choose not to answer it, but you canít choose not to hear the ringing. General telephone etiquette is encouraged, and is expected by the Elders. This means call for a reason, call at a reasonable time, donít keep calling every five minutes, and behave yourself when youíre in someone elseís mind.

New abilities with Trump include opening Trump Gates, identifying incoming calls, creating Trumps in forms other than card form, or using the memory of a Trump you have drawn instead of the card to contact or travel to the subject.

Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting lets you change the form of your body into a shape other than your own. It works through the vehicle of the Chaos that is necessary for life, existing in every cell of your body. Anyone with Chaos blood has the potential to learn to Shapeshift. The restrictions are that you can only change your mass by 50% in either direction, and that, no matter what your form looks or feels like, itís still living flesh.

Shapeshifting to one of your basic forms (human, demon, archetypal, or primal) takes a minute or two. Clothes generally restrict this, and removing them makes things easier. It takes a couple of minutes to shift to another form that youíve practiced. It take ten to fifteen minutes to try to take on a brand new form, and you will not be very skilled in using it until youíve worn it for several weeks. While this doesnít make a huge difference with regards to being a white dog instead of a black dog, it does make a big difference if you try to move around on more legs than youíre used to, or try to fly if youíve never had wings before.

Learning a new shape just takes time. You can do cosmetic variation on a known shape fairly simply, taking only a day or two to get the right look down, so that you have a brand new version of the shape which you can assume fairly quickly. For something more extreme, it takes a careful study of the subject before you start shifting, and several weeks of practice with the form before it goes on your practiced list.

New ways to use Shapeshifting include acquiring the Powers of the form you take on, shifting between forms more quickly, shifting your mind and personality, shifting at a cellular level to become a different substance, or overcoming the mass restrictions.

Power Words

Power Words are quick access to basic magical effects. They are quick to use, and quite powerful, but of very short duration. Each Power Word is either a word or gesture that can be invoked in about a second, which is tied to the basic rules of existence. Power Words are manifestations of some of the underlying structure that infuses both Order and Chaos, drawing on primal principles to produce their effects. Effects are instantaneous in nature, but recovering from them may take time. For example, Resume True Form forces a Shapeshifter instantly back to its true form, but doesnít hold it there. It will, however, take the Shapeshifter some time to change to a different form.

When Power Words are chosen, each one may be selected as a word or a gesture. If you want one which is both, you need to take it twice. You canít use a spoken Power Word if you canít speak, and you canít use a gestured Power Word if your hands are bound.

Advanced versions of Power Words might increase the range or duration of the effects, or produce far more powerful effects. Also, new Power Words may be devised, following the style of the existing Power Words.

Sorcery

This is the study and ability to use external sources of power to shape reality to your will. While it exists in many Shadows, only Amberites and Chaosites are able to use Sorcery in different Shadows, as the nature of magic changes from Shadow to Shadow. The basic power source for Sorcery is the ambient magical background energy existing in the Shadow, which is drawn upon with the Magical Energy micro-spell. Advanced study allows different power sources, such as Pattern and Trump, to be employed.

Sorcery is primarily an academic Power, involving research, study, and effort to craft, hang, and maintain spells. Spells are prepared leaving key variables undefined, and then stored on a special artifact until needed. The casting time of spells varies depending on their complexity and the variables left undefined, ranging from half an hour to several days. Releasing the spell requires that the variables be defined, and the spell be released from the storing item.

Sorcerors, without using spells, can create minor magical effects, roughly equivalent to D&D cantrips: they can light fires, create lights, dust their rooms, chill a drink, heat food, etc. Nothing that is directly hostile, and nothing that affects more than what they can see.

Advanced Sorcery abilities include reaching beyond the Shadow you are in to effect your spell, gaining access to different power sources to produce special effects, or removing your dependency on the nature or magic in the Shadow you are in.

Conjuration

Conjuration is the crafting of items beyond the scope of mere craftsmanship. It draws upon deep and secret knowledge and understanding of the nature of matter, and the proper reverence for the act of creation. With the appropriate tools and time, a Conjuror can even create life.

Itís the tools and time that are the limiting factor. While each Conjuror has his or her own method of crafting, they need their tools to do their work, whether itís a forge, a machine shop, an alchemical laboratory, or a cloning tank. While Conjurors can and do shape things out of pure will, these items are ephemeral, and fade quickly. The time it takes to create an item varies based on the complexity of the thing created.

Like Sorcerors, Conjurors can, without using their tools or spending too much time on it, produce minor items instantly out of the air. These items will be small and inoffensive: a penknife, a handkerchief, a bird which immediately flies away, a piece of paper, a ball which casts light like a lantern, etc.

More advanced forms of Conjuration, such as the Correspondences and High Compellings, allow the Conjuror to shape abstract items, such as thoughts, memories, and opinions.

Advanced Conjuration may consist of such abilities as fast Conjuration, gaining the ability to unmake things, transcending the 4-point top level of the various qualities, or creating things out of intangibles.

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Toys

Basics

Toys are any items you would spend points on which are not Powers. This includes Artifacts, Creatures, Shadows, and Constructs. By spending points on them, you make them a part of your character, just like your Attributes and Powers. If you do not spend points on them, they belong to me, and I control them.

When I say that I control them, I mean it. You may get away with using the Toy once or twice, but Iíll be watching, and looking for a chance to use it to make your life difficult. I will cause it to turn on you, sooner or later, unless you spend the points. If you spend the points before I make it bite you in the butt, fine. Just think of it as borrowing points: every time you use something that you havenít paid points for, itís like you temporarily get an amount of Bad Stuff equal to the cost of the item. If itís a one- or two-point item, thatís usually no problem, but beware of expensive things. They will turn on you faster, and harder.

Specifics

Artifacts and Creatures

Artifacts and Creatures are identical in the way they are handled by the rules, and by me. The only difference between the two is that Creatures are alive, and Artifacts arenít, so with some of the things you people have come up with, you can see that itís a very fine line indeed.

If you want to have a Creature, you can have a completely innocuous, inoffensive one for free. Same goes for Artifacts. Anyone can have a helpless kitten and a butter knife if they want. They only time it becomes important to pay points is if the Creature or Artifact has an impact on game play: if your kitten can rack spells for you, or your butter knife has a Trump in the handle, you have to pay for it. Otherwise, it comes under my control, as noted above.

If you want a living Creature, you donít have to pay for things like Mobility, Vitality, and Healing at the basic level: living things do this anyway, for the most part. The downside is that the Creature has a personality, and I will expect you to treat it like a living being, not a tool. This is a role-playing restriction, more than anything else, but I remove the right to make a Creature that you have spent points on turn on you if you mistreat it too badly, so be warned.

Please note that in the initial information package I gave you, I made a mistake. The progression for adding qualities to Creatures and Artifacts is always 1-2-4, never 1-2-3. Sorry about that.

Shadows

Shadows are your worlds. They can be anything that you want them to be, and they can contain anything that you like, within the limitations of the points you spend. That means that if you want a Shadow with a fragment of real Power in it, you have to pay for Primal Plane, not just Personal Shadow. Other than those limitations, though, go nuts.

Any pieces of background colour that you describe for your Shadow, and any Guardians that you pay for in it, are at your beck and call within your Shadow should you wish it. Bringing them out of your Shadow without having bought them as separate Creatures or Artifacts will, however, turn them over to my control, with all the perils noted above. If you want your Guardians to come to another Shadow to fight for you, they can, but I will eventually cause them to turn on you unless you buy them as separate Creatures.

Constructs

Constructs are one of the slipperiest concepts in the game. A Construct is something that draws on Powers outside itself to perform its functions, which can be almost anything you want them to be. The restrictions are that Constructs themselves are pretty much immobile, they draw on Powers in Shadow, they can gain sentience and personality, and that they cannot have a Power that you do not possess yourself.

Constructs donít generally move around. They are situated somewhere in Shadow, and you either must travel to it, or have purchased a manifestation for the Construct to interact with it. There are some exceptions to this, like the Spikards, but they tend to run pretty expensive.

The Power sources used by Constructs are generally the ambient background energy of Shadows. Some are tied into multiple Shadows, and some are tied into very specific parts of certain Shadows, but they all draw on the Power of Shadow. Building a Construct that draws on a real Power source is not only expensive, but also extremely dangerous.

You can buy intelligence for your Construct. This is a two-edged sword, as it makes the Construct more autonomous. While that means that you donít have to spend as much time worrying about someone taking over the Construct from you, as they could if the Construct had no intelligence, you now have to deal with the Construct as if it were an NPC. This means that it will have its own priorities and agendas, and that you need to worry about not mistreating it. Even if you donít buy intelligence, dealing with the forces that it does will quite often cause even the simplest machine to become conscious.

You can only give your Construct Powers that you yourself have. If you are not a Trump Artist, you will not be able to create something that uses Trump in any way. Multiple people can pool points to build a Construct. In this case, only one of the group need have the Power for the Construct to have it.

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Relationships

Basics

In general, I get to determine how NPCs feel about you. I do this based on your role-played history with the NPC, your Good or Bad Stuff, and story elements. The only way you can generally make someone like you more is to be nice to them, and the only way you can make someone like you less is to not be nice to them. Because I try to make all the NPCs individuals, what one considers to be nice may differ from what you think it is, and from what other NPCs would consider it to be.

If you have Good Stuff, people will, within reason, tend to react favourably to you and give you the benefit of the doubt. Your initial impression will tend to be positive, unless you do something to mess it up. If you have Bad Stuff, people will tend to distrust you. You may still charm them, but itís the charm of the rascal and the rake, not the noble knight. Think mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

If you mess with someoneís plots, whether you know that you did it or not, they arenít going to like you much. If you aid someoneís plans, deliberately or not, theyíre going to be better disposed towards you. In Amber, there are always plots. In Chaos, there are even more. No matter what you do, itís going to either advance or hinder someoneís schemes, so be prepared to reap the rewards and punishments.

Buying a positive relationship is the only way to guarantee that you have at least one person on your side. The catch is, I get to choose who, and they may not want you to know. Sometimes itís safer that way.

Specifics

Ally in Amber or Demon Friends

This level of Relationship is usually with someone who is less powerful than your character, but who has access to some resources that you donít. Weíre talking about retainers in your household, either Amber or Chaos. They will support you as much as they safely can, but will not generally risk their lives for you.

Court Friend

This is someone active in the politics of the place where you bought them. They will work to advance your interests, and will support you, but will have their own agendas, as well, and will probably expect support, either direct or indirect, in return. They tend to be at least as powerful as your character. You may never find out who your Court Friend is, as politics tend to make people cautious about openly displaying favour for someone which may turn them into a target.

House Support

The noble houses of the Courts of Chaos are the basic political units in that kingdom. Buying House Support makes you the fair-haired child of your house, which will do its best to aid you, as long as it doesnít damage the standing of the house at court. You can expect aid, sanctuary, information, and limited firepower if your need coincides with that of the house, and can at worst demand a hot meal and a place to sleep.

Chaos or Amber Court Devotee

This is an Elder at either end of the universe who is deeply interested in your character. They are generally more powerful than your character, and will do all that they can to help you succeed. Sometimes, though, you wonít know who it is, because you would be a lever an enemy could use against them. They will work carefully behind the scenes to ensure your continued survival and success, and may even be willing to sacrifice themselves for you. Donít count on it, though.

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Wish Lists

Basics

The Wish List is a prioritized list of the things you would like to improve for your characters. It has a number of different parts.

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