Chris> Chris chuckles. "Possibly. Who knows ... I have a lot of time over christmas, as I work only two days between the 24th and the 4th of January. Might sit down and work out the basics ... the Amber to be used, NPCs, chargen ... likely using John's split-stat/notable skill/partial powers system.

Chris> Likely taking the Corwin books as canon, more or less, and drop the Merlin stuff, as that contains a lot of things I really dislike.

Chris> Besides, I want a living Caine. He's one of my favorite characters. :P

DaR> Hrm. Might even be worth it to try a more alternate system, maybe one of the ones that demphasizes stats, so there isn't the temptation to 'fall back on superior firepower'. Use the system from New Mutiny, for example.

Chris> I've looked at it ... don't like it that much.

DaR> Or the Amber version of FUDGE.

Chris> There's an Amber version of Fudge? o.O

DaR> Yeah. Lemme see if I can find it. I liked the New Mutiny thing better, but then I liked the New Mutiny system much more than even the Wujcik system.

Chris> Hm. Just to make sure ... the New Mutiny system is the one where Pattern, Trump and such are merely specializations of an attribute?

DaR> Actually, does do a google search for "FUDGE Amber". There's apparently several versions done by various people.

DaR> Yeah. 3 Attributes, Psyche, Physique, and Warfare, and you can sub-specialize attributes if you like.

Chris> Might look at it again ...

Chris> That would have the advantage that it is fairly loose, which has its advantages, as you can say that something is possible even though it doesn't really fit one of the listed powers.

DaR> Yup. There's enough leverage that you could get really specific and have lots and lots of sub-attributes and sub-sub attributes, but at the same time, you're really looking at 3 stats rated from 1 to 10.

Chris> As you know it better ... is it so that theoretically you could use all powers at a certain level, or do you have to buy the actual sub-attribute to use it?

Chris> Say, you don't have PSyche/Trump?. Do you still have some knowledge at your psyche level?

DaR> Hold on, lemme pull up the page. I don't recall that exact aspect.


DaR> The way I read it, yeah, you'd get basic level of it. So most people would tend to buy Psyche fairly low, then buy up if they wanted nifty tricks in Pattern, Trump, or both, since that'd be cheaper overall.

DaR> I suspect most people would probably buy Psyche at around 3 or 4, unless they were power-heavy, then buy up a point or two in Pattern or Trump, depending on their preferences.

Chris> Chris nods. Reading page now.

Chris> Hm. Looks like any other aspects of Pattern besides shadowwalking are GM decision.

Chris> Not that I mind that ... :)

DaR> I'd probably modify the rules for that slightly. My current philosophy is leaning towards the idea that you pay points for things on the order of equivilence to imprint. In John's game, you'd pay the 15 points for a Pattern Imprint, 10 points for Logrus Imprint, 5 points for Magical initiation, maybe 5 or 10 for the basic secret of making Trump. Everything else is just the equivilent of more Notable Skills for using your basic imprint.

Chris> The new mutiny system is interesting, but I don't like the Pattern/Trump? depending on Psyche thing.

DaR> So for a system using the New Mutiny rules, I'd probably require a 5 or so point 'imprint' for any particular power, and then you can use it at your Psyche level, or buy up the skill aspect of it.

Chris> Plus, the system doesn't make allowances for things like shapeshifting or sorcery.

DaR> I'd do the same thing for those. Some fairly low base cost to 'activate' it, or buy the appropriate heritage, then make things skills on top of it. I'd probably put Sorcery under Psyche and SS under Physique.

Chris> I'm not too comfortable with the system ... I'd likely use the existing split-stat system instead. Might modify the powers though so that you only pay points for the absolute core abilities, if they are sufficiently different, and handle the rest with notable skills. You get a certain amount of those for free, more cost points.

DaR> Sounds pretty reasonable. The one problem I see with split stats is that it does sort of encourage D&D thinking about things. Now you have 8 choices to try and clobber your opponent with, instead of 4! :) Might be interesting to really change up and try some completely different attributes. Honor. Social. Influence.

Chris> I'd just roll those three up into one. Reputation.

DaR> Could work. Mind, Body, and Reputation.

Chris> Hm. Weapon skill, strength, martial arts and physical endurance would be body ... the two psyche aspects, mental endurance and tactics ... Reputation would be social, influence, honor ... can you come up with a fourth 'sub-stat' for that to balance the thing? :)

Chris> Problem there is that Mind and Body are too broad a category ... you'd have to split it up again. So, while you had only three main stats, you'd have even more sub-stats than the current system.

DaR> Why? No real need to. Since the majority of your conflict is going to be on a direct level, you can pretty much leave 'em broad and undefined. Or use the trick some games do of giving 'descriptors' to each. Like Corwin might be 'Body 6 (Tough as Hell)' and Bleys might be 'Body 6 (Smooth as Silk)' and Gerard might be 'Body 6 (Stronger than you)'. Same general attribute score, but if it comes to strength, Gerard's descriptor gives him the advantage, while Corwin gets it for endurance feats, and Bleys has the finesse and acrobatics thing going on.

DaR> Err, isn't going to be on a direct level.

Chris> True ... that could work. Or give people one specialty for every two points in the stat.

DaR> That could work.

DaR> Or allow them to buy extra descriptors somehow.

Chris> Say, you've got Corwin's Body 6. His specialties are (Tough as Hell, Heals Everything, Damn Good With a Sword). He can take more damage than someone else with body 6, heal it faster, and is really good with a sword. But Gerard could still break him, as Gerard's Body 6 give him (Stronger Than You, Wrestles Bulls before Breakfast, and Tougher Than Mt. Kolvir).

DaR> Looks good to me.

Chris> ... this is scary. We're halfway to a workable system here.

DaR> Hrm. How about you get one descriptor by default, but you can buy more, sort of like a simplified version of the New Mutiny system.

Chris> That'd work too ... one by default, additional ones for a certain number of points.

Chris> Say, 5 points each.

DaR> The number of points would probably have to depend on how much it cost to buy up a full level of attribute.

DaR> As you'd want it to be attractive to have one or two, but not to be a suitable replacement to just keep adding in more descriptors instead of eventually buying up.

Chris> Hm. Progressive cost. First additional costs 5. Second 10. And so on.

DaR> Or 1, 2, 4, 8, 16...

DaR> Again, should probably depend on how much the attributes cost.

Chris> Depends on how much you charge for the attributes, really.

DaR> I generally tend to like the arithmetic progression that things like Shadowrun use. 2 points to go from 1 to 2, 3 more to go from 2 to 3, etc.

Chris> Me too. 's what I was considering for the attributes.

DaR> That makes a 5 cost 15 points, while a 10 costs 55. That also means the doubling scale for descriptors is probably pretty good.

Chris> Chris nods. Powers ... will likely be split up into core abilities, and the rest as skills. Pattern, fer ex, will have Initiation (10) giving you quasi-immortality and activating Blood of Amber. Then three base powers ... Movement, Manipulation, Sense.

DaR> Sounds about right. 10 points for a major Power initiation (Pattern, Logrus), 5 points for a minor power (Magic, Shapeshift, Trump).

Chris> Basic movement gives you shadowwalking. Basic manipulation gives you minor shadow/probability manipulation. Like changing coins to match the local currency. Sense gives you a crude shadow/pattern sense. Anything beyond that is skill territory. Hellride, Major Shadowshaping, Patterns lens ...

Chris> Chris nods. "Pretty much, yah.

Chris> Chris grins. Reminds me kinda of the D20 Star Wars Force system. Feats for the basic abilities, the rest as skills.

DaR> In fact, you might even leave it that simple in any rules. "Initiation into a Major Power costs 10 points. Minor Powers cost 5." Then you and the GM can work out what sort of powers you can have. Cause frankly, Zelazny is all about cool powers, and trying to straight jacket everything into Pattern/Logrus?/Trump?/Magic?/Shifting? as the only possibilities is just sorta lame.

Chris> True. What if you want to be a Phoenix Adept? What can you do?

Chris> Does the GM think it's a minor power or a major one?

Chris> And the intitation/broad category/skill system is a fairly open one.

DaR> Yup. And as you go through and want more abilities, come up with a new skill and clear it with the GM.

DaR> 'So you wanna be able to walk through mirrors? No problem. Elemental powers... sure.'

DaR> Closed scale at 10 or 20, or an open scale?

Chris has connected.

Chris has disconnected.

Chris has disconnected.

Chris> ARGH.

DaR> Didn't miss anything. Question: closed or open scale for attributes?

Chris> Hm. Open scale, but with small steps due to increasing cost. :)

Chris> With progressive cost, higher levels become the domain of the dedicated.

Chris> If you really want to be a warfare god to the exclusion of everything else, go ahead.

DaR> Okay, agree. By the time you hit 20, you're looking at 205 points. :)

Chris> And that's just in one attribute. You'd have zero powers or skills, be a mental donut, and have the social standing and influence of your average beggar.

DaR> Yup.

DaR> Based on my fairly extensive SR and Ars Magica experience with this sort of scale, the optimums are usually 4, 7, 10, and 14. :0

Chris> Chris grins.

DaR> Not quite sure why it works out best that way, but it just seems to.

Chris> So we have a stat system now ... Body, Mind, and Reputation. Each comes with one free descriptor, each starts at 0 and costs next level in points to raise by one. More descriptors cost 1 for the first, and cost doubles for each additional descriptor.

DaR> Hrm. Let's change the name of Reputation to Influence.

Chris> Hm ... Works.

Chris> Body, Mind, Influence.

Chris> Influence being your social skills, among other things. Tobias from TEB would be an example for a low score in this, judging from his performance at the brothel. (See quote page).

Chris> Hm. Actually, Social would be a better name than Influence ...

DaR> Yup. Social skills, reputation you can trade on, favors owed, bits of juicy info for blackmail.

Chris> That kinda thing, yah.

DaR> Yeah. Fits the scheme better. Okay, Social it is.

Chris> Skills ... how much to charge per skill?

Chris> And do we do straight notable skill, or do skills with levels?

DaR> Definitely not with levels.

Chris> Okay, that increases base cost.

DaR> I'm leaning towards around 2-ish?

Chris> I'm considering the 1,2,4 quirks scale that New Mutiny uses.

DaR> Oooh, that's not a bad idea.

DaR> So 'knack, minor skill, major skill'?

Chris> Yup.

Chris> with powers generally falling under major skill.

DaR> Some of all, I think. You 'basic' categories for powers would be Major Skills. (move, sense, mold). Then you could add in Minor Skills and Knacks on top of that (hellride, etc)

Chris> Hm ... that would work.

DaR> Then your average power write up would consiste of describing if it's Major or Minor, how you get it, the basic principles and giving a list of example skills and knacks you can use it for.

Chris> Yup.

Chris> Hm ... though how do you stop someone from loading up on the skill equivalents of the advanced or exalted powers?

Chris> What should stop someone from directly getting PAttern Teleport, for example?

DaR> Let GMs deal with that in game. If GM's don't want players having it, then the knowledge of how to do that needs to be learned from someone they know, or they need to spend lots of IC time doing research and experimentation.

Chris> Something the players might not like ... but then, Amber requires a certain faith that the GM will be fair and impartial, which a good GM should be anyway.

DaR> The whole point here is we don't need a lot of rules to keep people from doing the wrong things. We're trusting that the players and the GMs will do the reasonable thing. And if in their game, that means you go down to the library and check out 'Advanced Pattern Tricks in 21 days', so be it. If in another, you have to prove yourself to Dworkin or Fiona and beg for training, that's their choice.

Chris> Yup.

Chris> Advantage of the second method is that the Elders actually have something of value to you, so you have some motivation to help Fiona with this little problem of hers beyond the fact that she's your aunt and could eat your mind for a snack if she chose so.

DaR> Yup.

Chris> As helping her might just be the thing you need to convince her to share the secret of Pattern Farscry with you.

DaR> And if you go off and spend 6 years developing the secrets of High-speed Shadow Highway construction, then now you have a tool that no one else does, and that you can have Fiona come to *you* for training in.

Chris> Yup.

Chris> Last item on the rough system list ... items.


Chris> I'd prefer them to be fairly low-powered for their cost, to avoid toyfiend syndrome.

Chris> Because, really, you don't see too many people in the books running around with swords that can cut a tank into little steel ribbons without dulling the edge.

DaR> Hrm. Treat them just like Talents? 1,2,4 points total. And anything close to the order of a Patternblade or Spikard or JoJ? is just strictly and completely the province of the GM.

Chris> Hm. Major item ability 4 points, minor 2 points, minimal 1 point?

Chris> Sword that just stays sharp and doesn't rust, 1 pt. Sword that does the above and is as sharp as the best blade ever forged, 2 pts. Something that can actually cut through normal armor, with some effort, 4 pts?

DaR> I'd say 1,2,4 overall. And treat it like a skill you can give to someone else. In fact, might make sense to generalize Skills, Items, and such to a general 'Gifts and Talents' mechanic.

Chris> Hm. Might just do the thing that John did with some items. You have the base for skills and abilities, at costs of 1,2,4. Add 2 if it's an item, or something like that.

Chris> ... nah.

DaR> A little on the complicated side, yeah.

Chris> I dislike the idea of skills and items in the same chapter, so to speak. While the mechanics are similar, the effects are different.

Chris> Still, the item chapter is fairly simple. Items can cost 1,2 or 4 points, depending on their power. Write up what you want, keep in mind that in this game there are no extremely powerful items, and give it to the GM. He'll tell you if it's 1, 2, 4 or too many points.

DaR> Sounds fine to me.

Chris> Can you do me a favor and cut/paste the whole discussion, and mail it to me so I can write it up? Or if you're willing to do so, feel free to do it on the wicki. ;)