Through a Mirror Darkly

Character Creation Example Page

This page provides a step by step example of creating an Amber character with 100 points.  In fact, it provides two examples.  A good one (Steven's character Laurence) and a bad one (Minako's character Helen).

Step 1.  Basic Concept

Before you create a character, you need to come up with some sort of basic concept for your character.  While a good character can't be fully summed up in one word, working from some sort of archetypical idea can help you focus your original choices--In Amber you have billions of character creation options, and if you're not careful, you'll end up with a character who does everything....really, really badly.  Remember, you only have 100 points to work from (more if you do Contributions).

Also, it's good to try to decide at this point who you think might make a logical Elder parent for your character, and whether your character is a good stuff (basically heroic), bad stuff (basically not heroic, if not necessarily villanous) or zero stuff (makes his own luck, could go either way) sort of person, as it will guide your point choices.  You may want to be Princess Fluffy, beloved by everyone, but if you end up with 15 bad stuff, every NPC will hate you.

Good Example:  Steven

Steven decides that he wants to play a roguish trickster who defeats his enemies through cunning and wits instead of strength or swordsmanship.  He will have shapeshifting, which will help him in that task.  He is not villanous, but he can be rather self-centered and vain, so he decides Laurence will have just a little bad stuff to reflect that.  He decides that would fit with being Touga's son.

Bad Example:  Minako

Having played a Chaosian in her last game and died when she tried to use the Logrus while walking the Pattern, Minako isn't sure what to do.  She likes playing crazy Chaos people, but the GM seems to be frowning on that this time.  Minako decides she'll try a Broken Pattern User, so she can be crazy, but not a Chaosian.  And she decides she wants a ton of good stuff so she can have good luck to survive being crazy.  She decides Nanami should be her mother, since she thinks Nanami's a basket case.

Step 2:  The Auction

Many of the details of your character cannot be hammered out until the auction.  This is because auctions sometimes go whacky and change your plans.  Try to have a clear idea of what ranks you feel you need and which ones you can simply tolerate.  Poor bidding can sink all your plans down the toilet.

Good Example:  Steven

Steven knows that if he takes Pattern and Shapeshifting, he'll only have 15 points left for the auction.  But that's fine, as he plans to finesse his way through situations, not batter them down with attributes.

He bids conservatively, and ends up with Chaos Ranked Warfare, Amber Ranked Endurance, fourth ranked Psyche (10 points), and fourth ranked Strength (5 points).  He still had ten points left to spend, more if he takes bad stuff like he plans to.

Bad Example:  Minako

Minako tends to bid impulsively, and this time is no different.  Minako scores second in Warfare (40 points), first in Endurance (25 points), second in Strength (18 points), and third ranked Psyche (12 points).  She's spent 95 of her 100 points, which means she's likely in trouble...she can't even buy Broken Pattern without going into bad stuff!

Step 3:   Spend Remaining Points

The third step is to take stock of what you've spent and what you can afford to spend, and adjust your plans accordingly.  Wise bidding usually requires little adjustment, although you can never plan ahead for things like people bidding 146 points in Psyche.  Sometimes you may have to adjust your concept to match what you can afford.  There are a wide variety of goodies available--Powers, Items, Shadows, Allies, etc. at this stage.  This is also the point at which you'll likely want to discuss Contributions with your GM.

Good Example:  Steven

Steven ended up only bidding 5 points on attributes (His Chaos Warfare gave him back ten points, as Chaos = -10 in that attribute).  However, he plans to buy Pattern (50) and Shapeshifting (35), which leaves him with ten points.  He talks to the GM and arranges to log the sessions (+10 points), and contribute a Trump weekly (+10 points).  He decides that his character would likely make a few Enemies over the years, and takes a Court Enemy (+3 points), some pompous official he's irritated one too many times.  After consultation with the GM, he decides on High Priest Geo, who is pompous and needs deflating.  He now has 33 points to play with.  Given that state of affairs, he raises his Warfare up to Amber, eliminating that weakness, then takes the remaining twenty three and buys Sorcery (15 points), leaving him with eight.  He still hasn't actually taken any bad stuff yet.  He decides to take three points of bad stuff, giving him eleven points.  He then spends the points on some magical Boots of Speed (Convey Engine Speed: 9 points) and a suit of enchanted clothing which resists weapons (Resistant to Firearms: 2).  Having spent his points, Steven looks like this:

Laurence  (100 point character, plus 20 points of contributions, 3 points Bad Stuff, and 3 points of Enemies for a total of 126 points)

Warfare:  Amber Rank (0)
Psyche:  10 (Ranked Fourth among his cousins)
Strength:  5 (Ranked Fourth among his cousins)
Endurance:  Amber Rank (0)
Attribute total: 15

Powers:  100 points

Items: 11 points
Boots of Speed (Convey Engine Speed: 9 points) and a suit of enchanted clothing which resists weapons (Resistant to Firearms: 2)

3 points of Bad Stuff, 3 point Enemy (High Priest Geo)

Bad Example:  Minako

Minako finds herself in a corner.  She's very highly ranked in attributes, but she only has five points left for EVERYTHING else.  She can't afford a single power without bad stuff, which she extremely doesn't want.  She decides to go hog wild on Contributions and Enemies to get the points she craves.  She tries to convince the GM that kissing him each week should count, but he says no, since he doesn't want to die at the hands of her boyfriend.  So she settles for doing a weekly character diary (+10), and doing a weekly Trump (+10).  She decides to take two houses of Chaos as Enemies, so she can get the full +10 points for enemies with minimal number fiddling.  This means one of every six Chaosians wants her head on a plate.

But it also means she now has 35 points with which to dig herself out of her hole.  She spends 10 on Broken Pattern, and another 6 on Blood of Amber, in order to be able to walk the Pattern later.  This leaves her with nineteen points.  She puts five points into Good Stuff so she can have good luck.  Now she has fourteen, and has to make some choices.

Her original character concept was basically a happy-go-lucky flake who would bumble across shadow, surviving by luck alone.  But then she went crazy in the auctions and ended up with a deadly, relentless warrior, who is nearly the best at almost everything.  She briefly contemplates going the 'Natural Born Killer' route, but the GM threatens to take away her Twinkies if she does another homocidal maniac character.  Finally, she bows to destiny and turns Helen into a sort of wandering heroic swordswoman, very little like her original concept.  She spends the remaining 14 points buying Helen a 4 point weapon, 4 point armor and a 6 point horse.

Helen  (100 point character, plus 20 points of contributions, and 10 points of Enemies for a total of 130 points)

Warfare:  40 (2nd)
Psyche:  12 (3rd)
Strength:  18 (2nd)
Endurance:  25 (1st)
Attribute total: 95

Powers:  10 points

Items: 14 points Blood of Amber: 6 points

5 points of Good Stuff, 2 [5 point Houses of Chaos] as enemies

Step 4:  Expand your Concept:

An Amberite worth the playing is always more than the sum of his stats.  Every person has a story, and the stories behind Amberites tend to be dramatic ones.  How did you get to where you are today?  Some questions to ask yourself:

There are tons of details which are important to fill out during play, but these hit on some of the major themes--what are your character's motivations and what is he willing to do to achive them?  What does he love and hate?

It's very important in Amber to set goals for yourself, because an immortal with no long-term goals is likely to be a very, very bored immortal.

Good Example:  Steven

Steven decides Laurence was born to one of Touga's lovers shortly before Touga's exile into shadow.  Raised at the court of Amber, he learned to make people laugh so they would accept him despite being the bastard of an exiled Prince.  His mother, Mara,  was a shifter from shadow who was also a sorceress, and she taught her arts to him, trying to instil him with a hatred of his father for leaving them behind when he went into exile.  However, she wasn't entirely successful.  He resents his father, but he also needs his approval, creating an unresolved conflict.  He feels a sense of inferiority because of his bastardy, and in part his pranks are intended to 'drag people down to his own level', more or less, by making fools of them.

He obtained his magic items during his first trip into Shadow, they were the fruit of his first effort to seek items in shadow, and he has treasured them ever since.  They've gotten him out of many jams.  After years in Shadow, Laurence has recently returned to Amber after a failed search for his father, who he is starting to think may be dead.

Laurence is not very ruthless, although he does sometimes press pranks too far, and his experience of inferiority at home makes him angry when Shadow dwellers (like his mother) get treated like toy soldiers or headless Barbies by his cousins and elders.

His experiences in Shadow have taught him the arts of the con and of thievery, disguise, running away, breaking into places, climbing, forgery, and other skills useful to roguish types, as well as knowing where to party and when to run.

Bad Example:  Minako

Minako stumbled into her character due to going auction crazy, so she isn't sure how to expand on her concept or how to explain why the child of an Elder Amberite has Broken Pattern, but not Pattern.  She decides to model her character on She-Ra.  The GM cries and tells her to try again.  She tries arguing she went to walk the Pattern one day, but someone had moved it and put a broken one in its place to trick her.  The GM says no.  She argues she wants to be Fuyutsuki's daughter, but he tells her she's nothing like him.  She offers a strip-tease for more points, but he says no and runs away from her just to be sure.

She finally decides that Nanami is her mother.  One day, she annoyed Nanami too much, so Nanami took her to the Broken Pattern and told her to walk it.  She did, then got lost in Shadow for decades, constantly fighting for her life, gaining her items and horse.  She then returned during the Succession Crisis and killed important members of two Chaos houses who were involved.  They swore eternal vengeance on her.  She has yet to walk the Pattern because she doesn't realize there's a difference between it and the one she walked.

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Last Update January 14, 2000