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Creating a Character

Index | Above Us The Waves? | Creating a Character

Characters are created on 80 pts, with all stats starting at Amber. (You are all portraying individuals who are young, untried, inexperienced, or some combination of all three. Additionally, the partial powers system allows characters with greater flexibility for a given quantity of points.) For more details on contributions, see Player Contributions

You can download a copy of the Character creation instructions in Word format from here.
You can download a Character Sheet to complete here.

Stats Available

Psyche, Strength, Endurance & Warfare are as usual. With the usual start at 0 = Amber, sell down to Chaos for -10 or sell down to Human for -25. (Intermediate values are possible, such as a Strength of -2.)

Everyone gets Good/Bad Stuff at 0. You can buy down to -5 (which will give you 5 points of Bad Stuff), or up to +5 of Good Stuff. You already know how this works - how the Universe perceives you.

Powers Available

The Powers system is based on material developed by Peter Marshall (see Credits).

There are five types each in the range 1 to 10 points. They are Pattern, Trump, Chaos, Shapeshifting and Sorcery.

Everyone starts Trump at 0 (which gives the ability to make and receive trump calls - badly).

People with Amber bloodline have Pattern at 0 - which consists of Pattern Defence (both against either Physical or Mystical, just not at the same time), and the ability to utter Death-curses

People with Chaosian bloodline have Shapeshiting at 0 - which is Inherent Crisis Management, the most basic level, which means that the user has no control over their ability whatsoever. However, it will ensure survival of injuries and hostile environments, with the proviso that it takes about 1 minute for this to kick in and work. So you need to avoid situations which will get you dead faster than that, or you will still die.

People with joint bloodlines get to chose which one they have (you could, actually, have Pattern at zero and then buy Chaos-side powers if you want).

You are then allowed to take two Powers, maximum.

Note, first of all:
You need to spend only 5 points to take the Pattern or the Logrus.

That's right - you don't have to pay 50 points to take the Pattern, or 45 points to take the Logrus. You do have to have 5 points or better in Pattern Power though if you want to walk it at some point. That doesn't mean you have to have any Pattern powers - you might choose to accumulate those later.

So where's the catch? It's this - buying a Power is cheap. But once you have that Power, you need to buy the individual skills your level of Power confers on you separately. And some skills will have pre-requisites (for example, you can't just have the ability to Destroy Shadows with your Pattern, unless you have built up a lot of other Pattern skills first). As you don't get a PhD unless you've gone through school, undergrad and Masters.

The reason for this system is that it allows people to tailor their power to their own requirements. It makes for more interesting and varied uses of power, and it also means you don't have to make a massive investment in a Power up front.

See below for more details.

Power Words

As per the rulebook


Doesn't exist. What you are trying to make depends on your other powers.

For example: Deadly damage sword (Sorcery + a mundane skill in making swords)

Seek in shadow deadly damage tap-dancing lemmings (er ... depending on how you want the deadly damage probably Sorcery or Shape-shift, for the seek in shadow, you'll need sorcery or some other move through shadow power. As to the tap-dancing, you'll need skills in choreography, teaching and talking to lemmings (at least).

Mundane Skills

A PC can buy one or more skill for 1pt per skill. The benefit this gives is that they will be exceptionally good at a particular skill or in a particular field. Had they been trained in Shadow, they would probably be considered the best on the Shadow at what they do. Within Amber, taking a skill means that you have studied that skill to the highest level available, and that you are considered enough of an expert that if people find out about your ability, they may wish for your advice and assistance in that field.

Suggestions for skills include: medicine, investigation, tracking, weapons-smithing, acting, administration, gambling, business knowledge, diplomat, xenobiology, etc.

Powers-related skills such as magic or a specific Pattern ability cannot be bought as skills in this way.


Don't go too overboard. Most minor items I'll probably let you have for free anyhow & the price of other things will probably get lopped anyhow depending on how appropriate I think they are for that character. Expect a price surcharge for munchkinny items.

Larger items - such as dragons - will come with their own inherent problems.

PS a five card (genuine Dworkin surplus) Trump deck is free - as long as you explain how and why you come to have these trumps. You can buy extra Trumps at 1pt per trump - as long as you have a good explanation as to why you have that trump.

Allies are as in the book - check here for details.

How the Pattern perceives you or how you link to the Pattern. Maybe that 'or' should be an 'and'. Maybe it should be both, simultaneously or neither, whatever. Lots of bad Pattern Power may not be that bad and vice versa. Time to stop wittering.

At 1 point. In Pattern Power, the only Pattern ability is Novice. You have almost no ability to let the Pattern power your Pattern Abilities. Any use of Pattern is extremely tiring because it's coming out of your Endurance at a higher than normal rate. Your answer to "Walk the Pattern or Die" is "who's organising the wake?" It's not all bad though because you've spent all your life working with almost nothing so if you end up in a Pattern barred shadow, you can still Pattern walk out, if there isn't a good reason why you can't. Apart from that there seems to be something about Death-curses, but you don't need to know that

At 5 points, Basic Pattern is available. Everything is like the rules.

At 10 points full Advanced & more is available. You walk the Pattern like, well the average Amber PC really. It's not particularity difficult, tiring or painful. (Unlike the kicking you get from the bad Pattern Power Chars when you boast of it) It's not all fun or games. Having your link to the Pattern broken is like simultaneously having your senses disappear while someone uses a cattle prod on you. Any Amberites attached to the Amber Pattern were seriously weakened when Chaos captured Amber - and they're only starting to recover. I anticipate that some of the higher level skills will be out of most people's range at the start of the game, unless they have a link to one of the other Patterns.

Oh yes and a lot of Pattern Power means that Pattern energy is always whirling around inside you, one result is that Logrus users really don't like you. They can be blasted unconscious just by shaking hands with you, even when you really don't mean to do it. (Note that lots of Pattern Power & Logrus are a bad combination, you can blast yourself across a room by just absent-mindedly scratching your head, brushing your hair or scratching.

Most of the characters from the books where in the range 3 to 7. Maybe Dworkin, Brand or Fiona were higher, but maybe they're just a lot older?

Read more about Pattern Power

How the energy of Trumps link to you. That's it. Trump isn't a skill, it's a power, and Trumps are items designed to be a conduit for that power, whatever it is.

At 0 points the only Trump ability is to make (& receive) Trump calls, badly. You have to concentrate on the card for minutes to the exclusion of almost everything else. Your calls are full of static and people really don't want to go to you (for reasons of simplicity it's the character who 'pulls through' that is considered to be supporting the link, not who made the call.

At 5 points, Basic Trump is available.

Everything is like the rules. Making a trump call takes about 30 secs and anything you can do with a divided attention is ok. Rise up to 6 and the time drops to 15 seconds.

At 10 points you've gone past Advanced & more is available. You could use any media as trumps, it's just the cards are small, handy and discrete. You could have a set of life-size Henry Moore style trump statues but just try and justify carrying your 'deck' around with you.

So what's the downside? Is there one? Yes, you just haven't encountered it.

Read more about Trump Power

Chaos powers come in three forms:

  • Logrus
  • Tail of the Serpent
  • Black Pathways

You can mix and match them, but generally they build as three separate pathways. It might be a good idea to decide which way you want to go.

It is strenuously NOT recommended that anyone takes Pattern and Logrus together. To some extent Tail of the Serpent and Black Pathways may duplicate Pattern elements, so you will need to plan them carefully.

On the other hand, it is possible to take the Logrus without shapeshifting - but it's really not recommended. That's why there are ways of acquiring Chaosian powers without assaying the Logrus.

Pattern versus Logrus
You might think that the Pattern, being the superior power, should always win here.

A Logrus user with Amber blood who walks a Pattern would lose their Logrus imprint and gain a Pattern imprint instead. Although use of the Logrus created a highly unpleasant psychic 'stench' to Pattern users in the vicinity, it did them no harm. Use of the Pattern around a Logrus user, on the other hand, caused them at the very least a powerful headache, at worst (for example, standing right next to the Pattern, or with a Logrus user of vastly inferior Psyche) convulsions and unconsciousness. A Logrus tendril contacting the Pattern, or someone using Pattern Defence, would cause at least blinding pain to the Logrus user unless they had a stupendously high Psyche, and regardless would force them to drop the Logrus. Also, Logrus users were as vulnerable as any shadowite to the effects of a Pattern user's probability manipulation.

Logrus and Shapeshifting
It is possible to take the Logrus with only the basic level of Shapeshifting that any Chaosian has. It is not advised though. It would almost certainly lead to unpredictable madness in various forms overtaking your character at the most inconvenient times - or whenever the GM feels inclined (these two points are likely to co-incide).

There are two ways round this. Firstly, with Black Road and Tail of the Serpent powers available, a Chaosian could theoretically rise to a high level of power without needing to take the Logrus. Secondly, I will be tolerant of people who want to take the Logrus taking a level of Shapeshifting as a third power.

Read more about Chaos Powers

3 points level: pretty much as in the Rulebook. Doesn't really work in Amber, dead easy in the courts, any power level in-between in between the two places

5 points level: as 15 plus racking is mental so no need for that, Spells take about 10 mins rather than 15 from scratch and this level will allow the caster to travel in Shadow (albeit very slooowly) Also will power a sorcerous cross shadow trump 1 or 2 shadows away from the target image.

7 points level: as 20 with Spells taking about 5 mins from scratch with a rack of about 20 spells. Spells can have limits & conditions applied to them, like target recognition for Fireballs or an autopilot on a fly spell

9 points: Pattern or Logrus Sorcery. The spells are powered by pattern or logrus energy, which mean they will punch through most defences, and considering the amount of power to draw on can do fairly serious things The character is the conduit for this so it could be a little like powering a bulb by putting it in your mouth and grabbing hold of a live electricity cable. If you don't have a fairly high level of Logrus or Pattern Power to back this up, it could prove nasty.

Oh and it doesn't really work in Amber.

Read more about Sorcery Power

This is the power to manipulate the tissue of your own body. There are certain inherent limitations upon this. For example, you may not add to or subtract from the total mass of your body using shape-shift (unless you have extraordinary powers).

Shape Shifting comes with built-in dangers. While the wielders of Pattern or Logrus run the risk of destroying the universe, Shape Shifters face the day-today challenge of being able to destroy themselves. For example, since the power involves self-change, there's always the danger of changing to a state where a character can't change back.

Fair warning. There are a lot of nasty things that can happen to player characters with Shape Shifting. Most Shape Shifting is done at a character's leisure, carefully and without difficulty. However, under time pressure, or when the character has been over-doing it, things can get more difficult.

Time Needed for shape shifting
Changing a single feature, like toughening a character's skin into armor, or changing fingernails into claws, is very quick, taking only ten or fifteen seconds. The complete transition to a familiar form, one that the character knows well and uses regularly, can be attained in just a couple of minutes. The fastest complete change is when a character goes "home," back to one of their natural forms, and fastest of all if the character returns to Human form.

All of which assumes a character being in good shape, rested, well-fed, and uninjured. Lacking any one of these conditions, the character can take twice as long to perform a change. If in bad condition, starved, or exhausted, then Shape Shifting becomes arduous and time consuming and may become impossible altogether.

Learning New Forms
Shape Shifters can learn just about any new forms, given enough time and practice. For example, the first time a character attempts to imitate someone else, they'll need some kind of reference to the features they want to imitate, and a mirror to check the results. However, given a few days of dedicated practice, a Shape Shifter will have learned the form and will be able to take it on again with only a short investment in time. The change to one of these practiced forms isn't as quick as a change to a natural form, but most Shape Shifters can change to a well-known form in just a few minutes.

Attribute Tips for Chaos Shape Shifting
Psyche is important for maintaining your original personality in Shape Shifting. However, even more important is Endurance. Anything less than Amber Endurance will drastically limit the number of Shape Shifts you can perform before becoming exhausted.

Read more about Shapeshifting Power
You can download a copy of the Character creation instructions in Word format from here.
You can download a Character Sheet to complete here.

Page last modified on April 20, 2007, at 08:49 PM