Unique and beautiful amberite

30 June, 2011 at 10:05 pm (actual play, Amber)

A brief description of character generation in Amber diceless and some commentary on how it went. See the previous blog post for an introduction.

Characters start with 100 points. These are used to buy the following: Attributes, powers and items. The balance remains as good or bad stuff, essentially karma. Powers are expensive: Pattern, the fundamental and very useful power, is described as a bargain for 50 points. Attributes have the following scale: Attribute may be human level (which gives 25 points and is very much discouraged), chaos rank (gives 10 points) which stands for peak human ability, amber level (0 points, default) which is a major improvement over chaos rank. Further, each attribute is auctioned and bids buy ranks. Whoever has the first rank is significantly and permanently better than the other player characters. Only the ranks matter, points spent do not. In theory. In practice, NPCs (of which there are several in default cases) have point values, so ranking player characters with them goes by points. After auction, players can buy up the attributes of their characters so as to provide hidden information and uncertainty.

There is also player contributions: Diary, game reports and drawing trump (tarot) cards of the player characters and other major characters all give 10 character points per commitment. I add: Bringing munchies gives 5.

There are four attributes – Strength, warfare, psyche and endurance. The first three are used directly in conflicts, while endurance breaks ties and works as a sort of battery for powers. Of the attributes strength and sometimes endurance are judged weak, while psyche and warfare are strong. This is not a problem, since the auction nicely balances this. We had the first rank in psyche with 30 points, while first rank in strength was mere 11 points, so it was quite a bargain in comparison.

I set one limit: Everyone is to have at least amber rank endurance. That way they can regrow lost body parts and recover from other injuries in reasonable time and can acquire the pattern power. I did not force them to take pattern to start with and only one character has it (as public knowledge). I did emphasise that it is a good power and highly recommended. I suppose the other powers looked more interesting. Pattern allows one to shift from shadow (reality) to another, to manipulate probabilities, and gives certain other benefits.

Right now one of the characters has frequently used pattern to move from a reality to another, one draws trump cards, which are sort of cell phone-teleporters with extra risk of mental assault when used and allow travel to known locations and to familiar people, though they are slow to use. One has a pollaxe that allow to seek objects in shadow, but which is limited when compared to pattern. One has not demonstrated any significant ability shift through shadows. The trumps have been rarely useful (though there is a reason for this that is not related to their usefulness), pollaxe sometimes and pattern frequently.

So, of four characters, one is shadow-crippled and two have problems. One is as capable as one would assume an amberite to be. Give the players enough rope to hang themselves…

As it happens, the character without ability to travel shadow is separated from the others, in an unknown reality, and with no good means of escaping. There is one risky way, though, and more might be found – but they’ll have a price.

5 Comments

  1. oberonthefool said,

    Huh. I wouldn’t have thought it were possible for someone who hadn’t walked the Pattern to be a force to reckon with in an Amber game. Shadowwalking and Trumps seem like they should come standard.

    I’m curious how much of the game is “new”, IE completely unsupported by the novels.

    • Tommi Brander said,

      They can all use trumps, but only one has artistry. They have not contacted any elder amberites thus far – maybe better for them, that way, maybe not.

      Thus far, the characters have been mostly adventuring in shadows, especially the one where they started imprisoned (more on which later, I hope) and shadows close to it. There superhuman attributes give quite an edge even without shadow shifting.

      As far as canon goes: I read the chronicles more than five years ago. I’ve now read the Wikipedia summaries, but my recollection is quite certain to be hazy. I take what I remember of the Corwin books as canon, and what I remember of the Merlin books as mostly ignored suggestions.

  2. oberonthefool said,

    Right, of course, Trump use and Trump creation are definitely separate. I thought you meant only some of them could use them at all.

    Hm, I guess theoretically you could play an entire game with Amberites who never leave the shadow they start in, and never know what they are beyond superhuman.

    I may be among the minority who liked the Merlin books. Of course it does pander to the munchkins who are going to automatically want both Pattern and Logrus powers, when it’s pretty clear that the list of characters who had both was damn short- just Merlin and Dara, IIRC.

    • Tommi Brander said,

      I don’t have anything against the Merlin books, but I do not remember them quite as well as the Corwin books. Further, the setting is simpler and more open when only the Corwin books are considered. This I consider a bonus. There is also the points that I would rather have players play those characters who use or discover strange powers or strange ways of using existing powers. If some player starts building a Ghostwheel equivalent, then I’m happy. Having the canonical Ghostwheel around is much less interesting.

      Pattern, Logrus and Shapeshifting total 130 points. That is quite prohibitive, so I have no problem with a theoretical player going for all of those.

      • oberonthefool said,

        Fair enough!

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