For people who know jack about the setting, mechanics, or anything else other than the name.
- Player Creation and Basic Game Mechanics -
*Hey, quick question.
*This game is supposed to get kinda cutthroat at times. I only know as much about this game as I read on your introductory page. How am I supposed to compete with people who've played this game for years, or even ones who read the books?
Well, there's a two-part answer to that. You will be at a disadvantage at first in visualizing how the powers can be used and the more fancy tricks that can be done with them. This hopefully won't last long. You will be at an advantage in that you have no preconcieved notions to unlearn. I do not use the canonical Royal Family, my take on several of the powers is radically different, and I do not use the same rules as Wujcik's version. You will thus not foolishly assume that 'Oh, X won't work here' or 'Spikards can be turned off by doing Y' because that's how it worked in the books or the Wujcik game. Not having these assumptions can be the difference between life and death sometimes, as nothing sucks like discovering the seatbelt DOESN'T autobuckle as you fly towards the windshield.
*So being a newbie doesn't hurt?
Not in this situation, no. The most important things to have in this game, as in most, are the ability to think quickly, play in character, and come up with a good plan. It doesn't hurt to be able to cooperate with other players, either.
*Okay. So how does character creation work?
Very simply, in most of my games you are given 200 points. You must spend at least 20 of these points on Pattern. The rest can be spent however you like. This is just a generic budget; the number of points I actually give for character creation and the restrictions for spending them will vary somewhat from campaign to campaign, so check the current campaign's page for the exact details.
*What's there to spend them on?
Four things, basically. Powers, attributes, items, and Stuff.
*Okay, you listed the powers on the last page. What about attributes?
Every Amber character has eight stats: Psychic Power, Psychic Finesse, Physical Strength, Martial Arts, Physical Endurance, Mental Endurance, Weapons Skill, and Tactics. You can read about them on the Stat Page.
ACHTUNG! If this is your first read of this page, pause now and quickly skim the Stat Page. This will give you some idea of what the various stats do, which will make the rest of this document far less cryptic.
*How do I spend points on them?
You spend points on them in the Happy Fun Attribute Auction, where you vie with your fellow players to see who gets to be best in what. Basically, what you do is get into a bidding war. For every one point you bid, you get two points in that stat. All bids are final. Once you bid the points, they are _gone_. You no see them no more. Finito, buddy. This is because they don't just go towards winning the auction, but towards establishing your place in the rankings.
*What happens if I don't spend any points on a stat at all?
Then you stay at Zero in that stat, also known as Amber. (It's called this because this is the average that a citizen of the city of Amber will have in the stat.) If you really want, you can sell the stat down to Chaos (average citizen of Chaos) to get an extra 10 points, or sell it down to Human (average person on Earth, like you or me) for an extra 25 points.
*25 points is a lot! If I sell down 4 stats to Human, that'll give me 100 extra to spend on everything else!
That's correct. And you'll probably die very quickly. Having Human in ANYTHING is a massive weakness that is usually fatal. Having Chaos in anything is a serious weakness your foes will exploit. Having just Amber in anything can be done, but is still a weakness.
*I thought you just said it was average? And that that was why it's called Amber?
Average for the guy on the street. You aren't the guy on the street. You're a Prince of Amber. Maybe Joe the Baker can get away with having Zero Points in a stat, but he isn't attacked by Chaosians and rogue family members and weird beasts from out of Shadow on a regular basis.
*Can you give me an example of an auction?
Sure. Let's say that Mike, Devon, Robin, and Anthony are in the Psychic Power auction. They each secretly enter an initial bid, which are revealed all at the same time...
Because Robin didn't bid in the opening round, he's out of the Psychic Power bidding, period.
The GM asks if anyone wishes to challenge that 18?
Devon would. He bids 19.
Mike replies with a 20.
Anthony fehs, and aggressively raises to 30.
Devon goes to 32.
Mike thinks about it, and decides that third in Psychic Power won't be so bad.
Anthony goes to 35.
Devon responds with 36.
Anthony says 37.
Devon rolls his eyes and bids 40.
Anthony grins and bids 50.
Devon, glumly looking at his character budget, declines to bid further.
Going once, twice, gone.
So rankings and point expenditure for Psychic Power look like this:
*Okay. What does this mean?
It means that Mike can beat the snot out of Robin in a mental battle, trump push, etc. Amber psyche basically means that Mike would have to make sustained, prolonged contact to melt Robin's mind - but he could do it, given the time.
It means that Devon could beat Mike, and probably would - but not as easily as the Mike/Robin contest. Ranked vs Ranked is a closer match than Ranked vs unranked, _especially_ when the ranks (if not the points) are so close together.
It means that Anthony has about as hard a time beating Devon as Devon has beating Mike, despite the fact that the point discrepancy is almost double. First Place isn't just another rank; it means You The Man. You are so superior it's clear, and a part of your very being.
It means that about all Anthony has to do to blow Robin's mind out like a candle is to make eye contact with him for a few seconds. Or make skin to skin contact. Or trump him.
It means that while Mike won't be inadvertantly dominated by Anthony quite that easily, he'll still be crushed like a bug if a psychic battle does occur between the two.
It means that Anthony had better watch his spending in the next seven auctions, or he's gonna need a ride to get from shadow to shadow. And that Psychic Power of 100 won't help him a whit if Robin goes after him with a sword.
*So is the auction the only way to put points in a stat?
No. After the auction is over, you can 'buy up' to what another person bid. However, you still will be a rank behind them, even after spending the same number of points. Let's look at our example above, where Mike, Anthony, Devon, and Robin were bidding on Psyche. Let's say that after the Auction, Robin wishes to buy up his Unranked 4th place. He can spend 20 points, to equal Mike, and will keep his rank of 4th. He can spend 40 points, to equal Devon, and will share the rank of 3rd with Mike. Or he can spend 50 points, to equal Anthony, and share the rank of 2nd with Devon. He can't spend 45 or 60 points - he can only buy up to a bid made by another player, and gets less value of it than they do. The lesson to learn here, obviously, is that the auction is the more cost-effective way to do things.
*How do the stats affect the game?
The stats are, quite simply, a handy index for me, the GM, to compare how good you are in an area vs the rest of the cast. Theoretically, all contests are decided on the basis of who has the better stats. The person who has the best relevant stats in a contest win will unless someone 'cheats'.
Okay, here's a very, very simple one. Ishmael (PS: 10, PE: 10, WS: 50) is fighting Kanna (PS: 50, PE: 15, WS: 40) on a open field. Who wins?
If they're fighting with swords, Kanna is probably going to prevail. She's almost as good as Ishmael with a blade, and so strong that her strikes do a lot more damage, not to mention make it harder for Ish to parry.
If they're fighting with guns, Ishmael is going to win - he has superior weaponskills, and strength has almost nothing to do with shooting a gun as long as you're strong enough to ignore the recoil, which both of them are.
If they're having a pillow fight with harmless weapons, Kanna will win, as with more PE she will still be standing when Ishmael drops from exhaustion three days later.
Now, those are simple ones, only involving three stats. But what happens if Ishmael has a gun and Kanna has a sword? Or if instead of an open field, it's a maze filled with mirrors and wall-mounted lasers? Or if they're in a room filling with poison gas? Combat in Amber is a lot like a chess match. The idea is to get your opponent into a position where his strengths and powers won't help him, and where YOUR strengths and powers can be brought fully to bear.
*So I have to be sneaky?
It often helps. Of course, you can always design a character with straightforward stats and powers who is designed to charge in like a bull in a china shop and smash things up. In Amber, the bigger hammer will always win unless someone stops it from being swung.
*You said earlier that higher stats always win unless someone cheats. Cheats how?
Let's say Ishmael (WS: 40) schedules a duel with Venir (WS: 60) on that open field from our last example. Based on WS, Venir's gonna kick Ish's ass.
Except when Venir shows up, he finds that while he brought a dueling sword, Ish is 80 yards away on the other side of the field with two gatling plasma ejectors. And as Venir charges, he finds Ishmael has mined the field. And then the rolling artillery barrage Ish ordered starts landing. Venir isn't going to win this one. Even if your stats are inferior to your opponent, you can still win the fight by stacking the deck in your favor. Of course, this will only go so far. If Angus (WS: 140) had showed up instead of Venir, he would have darted through the minefield, somehow dodged the artillery barrage and Ishmael's shots, and would have proceeded to beat the crap out of Ish.
*Okay... got any specific advice on the auction?
Here are the views of several veteran Amber players under this system on the auction:
DAN ROOT: Build a plan, stick to it and don't open too low. If someone is psycho and really wants a first, they can open at some amount that would prevent you from reasonably bidding up at all, like 80. So figure out what the absolute minimum you'd be willing to accept for an attribute and don't open lower than that by operating on the assumption you'll be able to bid up. If you want a first and think you can get away with it, open with a scary bid; it's daunting to have to bid up 40 or 80 points from your first bid. So your best bet is to figure out what you want, approximately, and bid it straight off, bidding up only if you get a really good opportunity. Don't ignore Strength, and *especially* don't ignore Endurance. Those are the stats that let you slip by a mistake or three in Psyche or Warfare. Don't be afraid to spend a lot, especially if you're getting Pattern for free. You're better off to have the stats to survive a mistake and pick up the powers later to use them than to overload on powers and die before you can bring them to bear.
ALAN HARNUM: Don't bother. Design your character beforehand down to the last number, have a very solid concept, and stick to your plans like glue when the auction happens. Unless you consider it vital to the concept that you be the best of the PCs in something, there is very little to be gained from the conventional stat auction under the rules Mike's told me he's using. Above all do not get caught up in the auction atmosphere and bid "just a couple of extra points" than you intended on some stats--this is what I did in my first auction, and I paid the price for it for the whole campaign.
TRAVIS BUTLER: I think the most important advice I could give to a beginning Amber player in his first auction is, *don't overbid*. There are an awful lot of things to spend your points on to good advantage, and if you let yourself get caught in a bidding war, you might end up in a situation where you have the 1st rank in Warfare but not enough points to buy a good weapon, or 1st rank in Psyche but no points to spend on powers. Decide what kind of character you want, figure out what else you might want to buy for them, and set the rough stat levels you'll want accordingly -- then stick fairly close to them when bidding. It's OK to go a few points over what you'd planned to get a level up in ranking, but go too high and you won't be able to buy that extra thing that might be the difference between life and death. One final bit of advice -- don't overbid and expect to make it up by doing something like selling down a stat, taking bad stuff, or taking enemies. These are things that experienced players can sometimes get away with, but usually it's a road to suicide of one kind or another.
'MERC': My first piece of advice for the first-time bidder is this; if your personal morals and ethics allow for it, all players should meet independently of the GM prior to the auction and fix prices amongst yourselves. This is not a Throne War; it is in your best interests to hang together before the NPC enemies (who, knowing Mike, will be hideous and cunning) hang you all seperatly.
Should you all be unwilling to do this, perhaps because you feel it runs contradictory to the spirit of the game or you have reasons for keeping even the general thrust of your stats secret until the auction itself (Corallary: Don't be stupid. Don't stab your fellow PC's in the back en-route to ultimate power. Mike's villains will fuck you good if you don't fuck them first, and speaking from personal experience, the NPC's will take immediate and terminal advantage of any internal squabbling) my second piece of advice is: don't bid up.
The rankings mean NOTHING under the house rules being applied here. Do not break your character by going nuts in an auction in pursuit of a higher ranking. Design your guy (girl/demon/whatever) in advance; lay out your powers, stats, items, and stuff according to how you feel it is best disposed. Decide what you're going to sell down (Corallary #2: Don't sell down. If you do, nothing but Strength.) Then go into the auction and place exactly one bid in each stat. Do not let the auctioneer harangue you into breaking your character with a higher bid. Be smart. Be safe.
If you're playing with people you suspect will disregard the 'don't stab your fellow players in the back' advice, the auction becomes somewhat more important. Being low on the totem pole in more than two stats can be painful; having allies and friends and secret shadows tucked away where you can hide can help greatly here.
MIKE LOADER: Go nuts, within reason. Decide on what you have to have and take it. If you see someone about to get away with a cheap First, and you have point leeway, snatch it away from them. While being just average in everything can work, it is always good to be First in at least one stat. Keep an eye on how much you're spending. NEVER go into Bad Stuff or sell down a stat; if you absolutely have to make up a point deficit, take enemies or do contributions instead.
*Okay... and after the auction, what happens?
After the auction, you see how many points you have left over, and spend them on items, powers, Shadows, allies, and Good Stuff. All this can get expensive, so remember - establish a budget prior to the auction, decide how much you're willing to blow on stats and how much absolutely needs to be saved for buying powers.
*Good Stuff? What's that?
Okay. All RPGs depend on luck to an extent. Amber is no different. Only thing is, in most games, luck is random and depends on the dice. In Amber, you can DECIDE what your luck will be like. That's what Good Stuff is. The more points you put into this, for a maximum of 20, the more the universe likes you. In game terms, this means the GM will cheat in your favor when matters of chance are involved. If you slip on the edge of a cliff and start to fall, there will be a outcropping for you to grab for. If a bomb explodes, sending deadly shrapnel blasting through the room, it'll miraculously miss you, or only nick you. NPCs will tend to react more favorably to you.
*So it makes me unkillable, in sufficient amount?
No. It makes you immune from getting killed by bad luck, in sufficient quanity. But it won't help you one bit from getting killed by deliberate planning and action. If someone goes after you with a sword, Good Stuff won't help much in fighting him. The best it'll do is ensure that the means are there for you to escape... unless your attacker deliberately set the ambush somewhere where escape would be difficult. Basically, if a detail is vague or uncertain, or if something is realistically possible, Good Stuff means it will be filled in to benefit you. But it won't do the impossible, or change things that have already been established to be the case.
*Is there anything similar to it?
Yes. If you wish, you can take Bad Stuff - instead of paying points for it, you actually get points for it. Like Good Stuff, this has a cap of 20. It has the exact opposite effect. Taking lots of Bad Stuff is a great way to die. Taking only a few points will make your life interesting, but is survivable. Usually. Some players swear by it, saying that they enjoy the extra power it lends and are good enough to handle the added misfortune. Others, including this GM, would rather stuff a rabid weasel down their pants than take Bad Stuff. That said, I have played a Bad Stuff character in the past, and he both survived and prospered.
*Okay... how do I buy powers?
Very easy. Go to the powers page, and find the page for the power you wish to buy. Find the Partial Powers Tree. You will immediately notice that A) they're different colors, and B) some of them are branched further back on the tree. Let's look at part of the tree for Pattern:
You must buy at least one item on the 'branch' before moving on to the next item. So to get Shadows of Desire, one must first buy Imprint, Shadow Walk, and Hellride. You don't need to buy Manipulate Minor Probabilities; it's not on the same 'branch' as Shadows of Desire. However, to buy Manipulate Minor Probabilities, you must first get what is before it on the branch - in this case, Imprint. You don't need to buy Shadow Walk to get Manipulate Minor Probabilities, and you don't need to buy Teleport to get Forge Shadow Highway - they are beside each other on the tree, not before each other. To buy powers of a particular color, you must already have sufficient points in the power as well as fufill the branch requirements. Point requirements for each color are listed at the start of the tree for each power.
*Which powers should I buy?
Whichever ones fit your idea of the character best. However... try to take powers you think you'll be able to understand and use, or at least quickly learn to use. Otherwise you're just wasting points.
*All right. How about items?
Items are put together using the point quality list on the items page. The basic form of each item is free - a belt knife costs just the same as a massive two-handed sword, or a five-mile-long Star Destroyer for that matter. What costs points is the various qualities you give it. You can add as many different qualities to an item as you like, although there is generally a cap on the SIZE of each individual quality. So, for example, most games will let you add as many 4 point qualities to an item as you like, but almost no games will let you add one 16-point quality.
On the same page as items. You can buy yourself an entire universe, outfitted however you like, of any size, for only one measly point. For a few more, you can add it things that give you control over the timeflow, access barriers to keep out the riffraff, and other nifty things. Having your own fortress to hole up in when things get bad can be handy.
*All right. How about allies and enemies?
By spending a few points, you can buy the favor of important retainers of Amber, NPC family members, or even Lords of Chaos. This basically makes them well-disposed towards you and willing to lend their aid or do you favors. It does not make them your unquestioning servants or flunkies. All the same, it can be very useful in Amber to have someone who you know for sure is on your side. Enemies is the reverse. You get points in return for having several people who will actively try to do you ill. There is a cap of 20 points worth of enemies, and if you take that many you'd better be real good.
*Hey... all the ways available to get extra points are really bad for my character!
Oh, you noticed?
*Isn't there any way to get a few extra points that won't screw my character over?
Yes, there is. You can do contributions for the GM. This can take the form of all sorts of things, from keeping a character diary, to writing fiction or poetry, to drawing or computer-producing 'trumps' of the characters, to keeping a campaign log, to outright bribery. There's a cap of 20 points for this. I am very flexible in what a person can do, and willing to work with people on this. And also willing to give bad stuff equal to your debt if you don't follow through.
*Do I get any more points over the course of the game?
Yes. Advancement Points are awarded every so often, in five-point blocks. I also give out bonus points for good roleplaying, helping to advance the plot, being successful and/or clever, or for anything else I feel deserves it.
*How do I spend Advancement Points?
Just like you spent points in character creation, only without the restrictions on 'buying up' stats, and without obviously the restriction on powers that can't be taken before the game starts (master-level Pattern, etc).
*What happens to points that are unspent?
They sit there in point limbo until you do spend them. They are NOT Good Stuff. Good Stuff is not a bank for unspent points.
*Okay... is there anything else I can buy?
Nope, that's everything. There remain just three things left for you to do: choose your Signature, Notable Skills, and Shining.
*What's my Signature?
This is a skill or trait which you're known for; something you do exceptionally well or are remarkable for. In game terms, you get a large bonus when doing something that involves your Signature. The more focused the Signature, the more of a boost. For example, you might pick 'Master Hacker,' and get a large bonus whenever you tried to break into computer systems, or 'Grand Admiral,' giving you a bonus whenever naval combat is involved, or even something as silly as 'Always Fashionable,' ensuring that no matter what the situation, people are favorably impressed by your clothing, manners, and appearance. Your Signature can be anything you like, but keep in mind that things like 'Crusher of All Who Oppose Me' are too broad to be of much use, and 'Psychic Powerhouse' won't help you much if your Psychic Power stat has only 3 points in it.
*And Notable Skills?
They work exactly like your Signature, except that A) you get ten of them, B) they're a lot weaker in effect, and C) They're more something you know a lot about than something you're famous for. Notable Skills can be used to give you a boost to do something ('Take A Punch', 'Two-Sword Fighting Style', 'Dancing', 'Brain Surgery', etc) or to give you lore or knowledge of something ('Chaosian Politics', 'Heraldry', 'Unusual Shadows,' 'Rare Stamps,' 'Floorplan of Castle Amber', etc). If you wish, you can buy 3 extra Notable Skills for 2 points.
*Right, and the Shining? Does it give me a craving for Redrum?
No. Your Shining is something special about your character, something unique to them - your ace in the hole. In game terms, this lets you break the character creation rules once, or get something that can't be reduced easily to points on a sheet. For example, you could choose to ignore the 'must start with Pattern' rule. Or the 'No taking Master-level Pattern during character creation' rule. Or the cap on item qualities. Or you could come up with something strange, like being the lost heir to the throne of Chaos, or getting to ask the GM three questions about the plot that he has to answer truthfully. You can also take a 'Get Out Of Hell Free Card,' which you can burn in order to have the GM save you from certain death. Whatever you pick, it must be cleared by the GM, who will shoot down anything that seems too powerful or that doesn't fit the game.
*Is that it, then?
That's all on the mechanics end of things. The GM will collaborate with you to produce your exact place in the family, history, etc.
*What are some principles of good design?
Opinions on this vary. Different people can pull off different things, and have different preferences. But here's some advice based on what I've found:
Guidelines from past players include:
DAN ROOT: Generalists never lose, but they also never win. And make sure to have enough Endurance to survive your mistakes.
MERC: Maintain a constant dialogue with the GM. He is there to help.
JOHN BILES: Ask the DM if your character will fit the campaign. If it won't, work with him to make it fit or scrap it if it won't work. If you insist on a character who won't fit in, your life will be hell, no matter how much you love the character concept. Pick one or two things and be good at those, don't try to do everything.
CHRIS BREMER: Don't go for shiny or cool. Go for efficient.
ALAN HARNUM: Avoid micromanagement. If you sketch a character in broad strokes with lots of empty spaces, the GM has better ability to fit you into things, whereas if you insist on constructing the character's background and personality and relationships down to the last detail, you will often be jammed in rather than fitted in.
MIKE LOADER: I like to go by what I call my "Two Point Trick, One Non-Point Trick" system. This basically means that the character has two areas they are very good in that cost points - like being an expert Trump Artist and very, very strong, or having phenominal Physical Endurance and Advanced Shapeshifting. Then use your Notable Skills and your Signature, and maybe your Shining, to create a non-point specialty that you character is an utter master in - like being the best musician in Reality, or the best blacksmith, or the foremost scholar into what came before the Pattern. Following this strategy will give you three separate things your character excels at, and odds are he'll be able to use at least one of them no matter what situation he finds himself in.
*Can you give me some sample characters?
Sure thing! Let's look at some characters from a Sunday night Exalted game and see how they might look as Princes of Amber.
200-point Blacksmith of Amber
Regular Pattern Imprint: 50
Regular Craefting: 20
Good Stuff: 12
Player Contributions: +10
Signature: Forge Anything
Notable Skills: Religion, Smash Things, Weaponsmithing, Armorsmithing, Righteous Wrath, Forging Magics, Hammer Combat, Unicorn Lore, Cooking, Act Stubborn.
Shining: Devan is the Chosen of the Unicorn, having actually met it and dedicated himself to its service.
Devan is a solid character with no weak points. While his Psyche stats aren't great, they're high enough to get by, especially with his Pattern Defence. While not the best warrior, his scary amounts of strength more than make up for this - his foes will feel every strike he lands. In addition to respectable Pattern skills, his Craefting abilities and smithcraft allow him to produce arms, armor, and equipment for himself and any allies he might have.
200-point Nimble Warrior-Mage
Regular Pattern Imprint: 50
Magic: (20 total)
Adderglee's Goremaul: (4 total)
Adderglee's Robes: (4 total)
Good Stuff: 7
Player Contribution: +20
Signature: Dodge-Master Supreme
Notable Skills: Throw Knives, Strangling, Herb Lore, Magical Lore, Remain Calm, Evade Attacks, Running, Fast Reaction Time, Countermagic, Diplomacy
Shining: Get Out Of Hell Free Card.
Adderglee could be deadly if used right; above-average Psyche, Weapons Skills, and Tactics being a deadly combination, especially with Sorcery and point item weapons and armor. He can rain down potent death spells, using his high tactics to stay out of reach and hit weak spots, or close with the enemy and use his fighting skills and power words. His drawback is a serious one, though: poor Physical Endurance and poor Physical Strength. He had best hope that his Signature keeps him from ever being hit or grabbed...
200-point Wise Old Powermonger
Pattern: (64 total)
Trump: (50 total)
Player Contributions: +10
Chaos House Enemy: +4
Bad Stuff: +5
Signature: Be Enigmatic
Notable Skills: Trump Lore, Pattern Lore, Amber History, Chaos History, Subterfuge, Diplomacy, Items of Power, Avoiding Combat, Divination, Stealth.
Shining: Iago possesses a book called the Sidar Codex, which contains several of the secrets of Amber and prophecy on what is to come.
Iago is a very powerful character, but one who needs to stick close to someone like Devan or Adderglee. His huge Psyche stats give him a potent mental punch, and his advanced Pattern and Trump abilities give him a lot of ways to use said punch. He's well set up to spy on his enemies, lure them into deathtraps, beat down opposing powers, warp Shadow to his will, and move around Shadow quickly, including fast escapes. However he has little ability for direct, in your face combat, and his puny Physical Endurance makes him risk being made into hamburger if the enemy gets too close. And the Bad Stuff further cuts the room for error. Still, a potent design... if you team with a Warfare or Strength person.
200-point Over-Munchkined Chainsaw
Basic Pattern Imprint: 20
Five Power Words: 10
Twinkstone: (44 total)
Bianca's Sword: (6 total)
Good Stuff: 5
Player Contributions: +10
Sibling Enemy: +4
Sibling Vendetta: +6
Signature Trait: Natural Leader
Notable Skills: Lead Armies, Lead Nations, Swordfighting, Shield Use, Dodge Attacks, Withstand Wounds, Feint, Parry, Items of Power, Empire Building.
Shining: Take a 16-point item quality.
Here is a man so clever he shot his own ass off. Certainly Bianca is an unstoppable chainsaw from a combat perspective, with hideous Physical Strength and Weaponskills, impressive tactics, and an object that shields her mind, allows her to rapidly heal any wounds, and makes her skin immune to most weapons. However, all of this is achieved at the cost of becoming utterly reliant on one item and having no powers worth speaking of. Bianca can do nothing except chop people up, and if anyone ever turns off/steals her item or starts turning the Shadow she's in against her from a distance, she's doomed. Add into this two people who want her dead, one of whom is obsessed, and the fact that even Iago can outfight her unarmed, and this is a character who is likely to die and die horribly. Do not think twinkery can replace solid design; it can't.
200-point Courtesan of Chaos
Pattern: (25 total)
Regular Shapeshifting: 35
Logrus: (50 total)
Bad Stuff: +3
Player Contributions: +10
Signature Trait: Healer
Notable Skills: Houses of Chaos, Lords of Chaos, Chaosian Politics, Chaosian Courtesan Skills, Chaosian Unarmed Combat, Medicine, Herb Lore, Chaosian Poisons, Etiquette, Emergency Surgery
Shining: Ella has the ability to heal people by laying on hands and using her Psychic Power and Finesse. This is very draining, but powerful.
Ella is another example of a 'powers character,' this one based around Logrus. The player decided they wanted to play a Princess of Amber who, for whatever reason, had spent a long time in Chaos. While versatile, possessing a power few Amberites wield, and a great support character, Ella might not be a great choice for a beginner. The huge array of powers might overwhelm the newbie, and the middling amount of stats makes Ella less forgiving of mistakes made in play.
200-point Explorer of Shadow
Regular Pattern Imprint: 50
Shapeshifting: (40 total)
Ribbon of Night: (6 points total)
Good Stuff: 4
Signature: Curious Before All Else
Notable Skills: Archery, Shoot and Run, Trick Shots, Wilderness Lore, Tracking, Survive Hostile Climates, Animal Handling, Stealth, Wilderness Stealth, Detect Traps
Shining: Jessa Sense Tingling... Jessa has an abnormal sensitivity to approaching danger, even more of one than her Tactics would suggest.
Jessa is a somewhat conservative, generalist design. She has no weakness in any area. She also has no strengths in any area, despite a respectable set of Warfare stats. The player concieved of her as a wilderness scout, exploring hostile parts of Shadow, and the Notable Skills, Powers, and Stats all revolve around supporting this. In her Element, Jessa is potent, and has no weak spot. Like Devan, she's also fairly simple in construction and would be easy for a newbie to play. Unlike Devan, her lack of a strong point is a big problem, although one that can be fixed by judicious application of advancement points.
Of the designs above, Devan, Adderglee, and Jessa would make ideal starting characters. They are fairly well-balanced, each have two powers, have fairly simple powers that can be quickly understood and used, and have Good Stuff to help their odds of survival.
Ella and Iago make better designs for a more advanced player, or for a newbie who has carefully read the manual and put some thought into what the powers do. They have a broad suite of abilities, touching on the advanced powers. Used cleverly, they can be some of the more potent characters in the game. However, they must be played carefully... their Bad Stuff lessens the room for error, and their relatively crappy stats hinder them. They also do not function as well solo as the first three.
Bianca is an example of a design not to be implemented ever, except possibly for a Throne War. It is simply not possible to twink in Amber. Well, it is, but it tends to result in death, because sooner or later the huge holes you have in the character will get exploited, and you'll die.
*Okay... what next?
That's it! Congratulations; you now know how to play the game and make a character. Any more detailed information on the setting and NPCs will be found on the specific campaign page. If you want to browse through the powers to better decide what's right for you, or just to have a heads-up on how they work, return to the Main Index.