as created by Chris Lightfoot
It has been one hundred years since the Black Road was beaten back to the Edge of the Abyss. To the very Gates of Chaos itself. One hundred years since the Storm swept through all of Shadow. One hundred years since the Blessed Unicorn rose from the Darkness to render unto Random the Jewel of Judgment and thereby the Throne of Amber.
Since Brand the Traitor and Deirdre the Fair were lost to their Kin forever. Since Mighty Oberon made his last Long Procession beyond the ken of both men and immortals, guided by that mad Dworkin. Since Prince Corwin relayed his strange tale to his son and siblings there on the Edge of the Worlds.
Yep. Those were scary times. Grand times, but scary.
Things have settled down a bit since then.
The Family, at least on the surface, seems to be content with NOT killing each other for the last century. Benedict's taken up his old loner ways again. Corwin's off doing whatever Corwin does. Caine's Navy has never looked finer. Fiona keeps her hobbies to herself. And Bleys has decided that maybe after a nice looooong vacation in Shadow, that little 'invading the homeland' thing will
Llewella's back in Rebma. And Princess Florimel is just overjoyed to be back in the bustle of Court and Circle. Gerard remains the eternal Gerard. And Julian remains the eternal Julian. And Random? Well, he's made some mistakes, but none too bad or too permanent.
Martin reappeared for the Coronation, got drunk, threw up and left. Merlin...Neither Merlin nor his father seemed to have made it back from the Battle of the Abyss. Oh, everyone *knows* they're fine. Just haven't seen or heard from them lately. Dara made good on her pronouncement of repugnance for all things Amber and hasn't shown her face since Chaos' grand loss. What a shame.
In the meantime, another generation of plotters and plodders has sprung up. And what *have* they sprung up to?
Blood from a Stone is a Chronicles of Corwin cannon game. Meaning that anything that happened in the Chronicles of Corwin -- the first five books of the Amber series -- really did happen. Names named, places mentioned, plots laid bare -- those things are real. Things that Corwin conjectured on, guessed at or had opinions about... well, those things are a little more up in the air.
Since neither Corwin or Merlin returned from the Battle of the Abyss, anything that Corwin shared with *just* his son is unknown. The Elders know that 1) Dworkin was their grandfather, 2) the Primal Pattern exists and should *never* be bled on, 3) Chaos is... well, chaotic. And other things. But whether the characters know it depends on how communicative the Elders are feeling.
Events, names, places and relationships that are *only* mentioned in the Courts of Chaos Saga -- the last five books of Amber -- are apocryphal. There *may* be some slight cross-overs to Blood from a Stone. But in general, Chaos is *extremely* different. Players are warned that assuming ANYTHING from the Merlin Saga will endanger their characters and generally tee off the GM.
Ghostwheel.... pfuagh! Broken Pattern... ptui! Pattern ghosts? Out! Out! Get out! :)
Some minor adjustments have also been made to the Amber Diceless Role-Playing Rules. Following is a summary of the Rules as they are being used in Blood from a Stone:
The Rules in a Nutshell
This game will start with all players having 150 points each to spend on their characters. Things that cost points are Attributes, Powers, Abilities, Artifacts, Allies, Shadows and Good Stuff / Bad Stuff. Things that are free are Skills, Shadow Friends / Allies, Physical Appearance, Age and Equipment.
Attributes – There are four Attributes: Psyche, Strength, Endurance and Warfare. Psyche governs one’s mental strength and ‘magical’ ability. Strength measures raw physical strength, hand-to-hand martial ability and a moderate amount of damage resistance. Endurance denotes one’s ability to repeatedly use other Attributes and one's ability to heal or regenerate. Warfare indicates one’s speed / quickness, one’s strategic / tactical ability and how well one uses weapons – any weapons, from bo staffs to forward phaser banks.
Attributes will be bid on, player versus player. Costs are one point per one point. The character who wins the Attribute auction for each Attribute will become the absolute no-holds-barred BEST of their generation for that Attribute – for the length of the entire game. No matter how else points are spent afterward.
Bidding levels will determine the ‘Attribute Ladder’. Characters can only advance Attributes to the rungs on the Ladder – spending the points necessary to reach the rungs evenly. No partial steps may be taken. Thus, if after the bidding, the Ladder for Strength is determined to be:
25 (1st Rank)
13 (2nd Rank)
5 (3rd Rank)
0 (4th Rank)
A character would have to spend 8 points to advance from third to second rank. They cannot spend 5 points to reach a ‘10’. Because there is no ‘10’, only a 5 and a 13.
One further note – there are no ‘ties’. If two characters (or more) have both spent the requisite 13 points in the above example to reach 2nd rank. The character who reached it first – whether due to the Attribute Auction or later buy-ups – will be the true 2nd rank. The character who reached it afterward would be considered a 2.5 rank. Good enough to whip 3rd rank soundly, but still
not ‘close’ to 2nd rank.
The GM will announce who holds First Rank in each of the Attributes, but after that a Character's Ranking is their own secret.
Powers -- There are four Powers. Powers are Real and work just about anywhere. Only Real People (and the things they create -- more later) can have Powers. Each Power has a Basic and an Advanced Form. Roughly put, Basic Powers give a rudimentary understanding and the ability to use the Power. Advanced Powers grant the ability to create and experiment with the Power. The Powers are: Pattern, Logrus, Trump and Shapeshift.
Basic Pattern is gained when an heir of Oberon (supposedly) walks the Pattern of Amber. It allows one to Shadow-walk to the person, place or thing of one's desire. Basic Pattern costs 50 points.
Advanced Pattern is gained when someone with Basic Pattern spends a great deal of time studying the nature of the Pattern. It allows one to control probability in Shadow, create Shadow pockets, and other truly deep icky things concerning the very nature of Reality. Advanced Pattern costs 75 points (50 for Basic Pattern plus an addt'l 25.)
Logrus -- (Note: I'm changing the rules for Logrus slightly. Logrus will not require the pre-requisite of Shapeshift, but it will make you mad. Use a little Logrus, be a little mad. Use a lot of Logrus… your relatives break out the rubber room. Though you do get better if you lay off the black tendrils for a while.
In addition, Logrus is not -- repeat not -- automatically vulnerable to Pattern and never vulnerable to Trump. Which Power is stronger will depend entirely on the arena in which the battle is fought, ie -- Deep in the heart of Amber, yeah, Pattern's going to kick Logrus butt. Buuuutttt, if one wants to try that on the edge of the Abyss -- the Pattern wielder's going to be yiping.)
Basic Logrus is gained when one is sublimated into -- and escapes out of -- the Logrus of the Courts of Chaos. Logrus gives one the power to control black tentacle-like things that reach through Shadow and either reel one's desire to oneself. Or reels oneself to one's desire. Logrus costs 50 points.
Advanced Logrus is gained when a survivor of Basic Logrus spends a lot of time studying the Logrus. It allows one to create entire Shadows, and the Ways between them. It will allow a Logrus Master to create actual servants born out of the Logrus and other very deep stuff that probably isn't very good for Reality. Advanced Logrus costs 75 points (50 for Basic Logrus plus an addt'l 25.)
Basic Trump is learned over the course of several years from an already established Trump Master. Trump allows an artist to imbue his creations with the psychic impression of their model, enabling fast (but not secure <grin>) cross-shadow communication and travel. Basic Trump costs 40 points.
Advanced Trump allows an artist to extend their creativity to different media and different communication / transportation… and other?… methods, and secure those loose lines of transmission. Advanced Trump costs 60 points (40 Points for Basic Trump plus an addt'l 20.)
Basic Shapeshifting allows one to change the shape of one's body as long as mass is conserved. A Basic Shapeshifter has three forms (Standard, Combat and Avatar) that they can move between easily and quickly. Changing to other forms takes concentration and time. Warning: Remaining in a shape other than the three mentioned above for long periods of time will cause personality degradation and loss. The more removed the shape is from any of the basic three, the faster the degradation.) Basic Shapeshifting costs 35 points.
Advanced Shapeshifting… hmmmm, how does one become a swarm of gnats? Or gain Powers (that's right -- Powers) that one doesn't have? And how does one completely lose their personality behind the psychic impression of the person they are imitating? Advanced Shapeshifting costs 65 points (35 for Basic Shapeshift plus an addt'l 30.)
And then there are the Abilities -- Abilities are influenced by the vagaries of Shadow. They will work well in some places and not so well in others. There are three Abilities: Power Words, Sorcery and Conjuration.
Power Words are five -- that's all, no more, no less -- words, sounds or gestures that the character could have learned pretty much anywhere. These five words are draining and FAST spells of limited effect. Usually only useful to give a quick edge in a close contest. Power Words cost 10 points.
Sorcery is the ability to bend the magic of a Shadow to your whim. It takes a lot of study and time, but can be Very effective in the right Shadow. And you get to make up your own spells… Really! Sorcery costs 15 points.
Conjuration allows one to create Artifacts and People that are Real and independent of Shadow. It's time consuming but… hey, Grayswandir. Conjuration costs 20 points.
And speaking of Grayswandir… Artifacts are Real creations, whether things or people, that are part of the character. As such, they cannot be permanently destroyed. Though they can be restrained or damaged in the same way that a limb or a sense can be restrained or damaged. Artifacts vary widely in cost. Simple artifacts like a really sharp sword can be 2 or 4 points. Grayswandir is 16 points. Morgenstern is 21 points.
(Note: The difference between an Artifact actually paid for with character points and an Artifact just made with Conjuration but not bought -- is that the conjured Artifact would not be a permanent part of the character until it was paid for. And thus, completely subject to the whims of the credit agency… uh, GM. )
The cost of Allies varies as well -- depending on how powerful they are, how interested in you they are, and how much they care about you. Costs vary between 1 and 6 points per Ally.
Buying your own personal Shadow means you always have a place to hang your hat… or raise your army. Or whatever floats your boat. Costs of personal shadows vary depending on how 'solid' the shadow is, where it's located and how much control over it you have. Each different bell and whistle typically costs 1 to four points.
(Note: Just like with Artifacts, the difference between a Shadow bought with character points and one created with Advanced Logrus but not bought -- the bought Shadow is considered part of the character, the unbought Shadow can be repossessed. )
Good Stuff / Bad Stuff is what remains after the flurry of point spending. Points left over to the positive are considered 'Good Stuff' or good luck or good karma. Points spent into the negative are 'Bad Stuff' or bad luck or bad karma. I would not recommend having more than 5 points of Bad Stuff -- for any reason. There's nothing that's worth it. Really!
But -- you say -- But, I can't afford it all. Ahhhhh (the GM wisely strokes her chin). Now let us talk Player Contributions. These are ways for the players to eke out just a few more points, above and beyond the aforementioned 150. However, you do have to pay for them. Player contributions are something that the player does to make the game better for everyone. This is in addition to the expected 'show up and bring snacks' standards. Examples of Player Contributions are:
Keeping a log of the campaign -- 10 points
Painting gifs (I mean, Trumps) of the characters and NPCs -- 10 points
Writing short stories about various characters and NPCs -- 10 points
Keeping a diary from your character's viewpoint -- 10 points
Maintaining a Game website -- 10 points
I'm also open to other suggestions. Now the above points are a one time bonus, though the contribution is expected to occur every game for the length of the campaign. If contributions start being missed, those 10 points will start gradually coming of the character's Good Stuff (if they have any) and start building up into Bad Stuff.
(Fair Warning: I looooovvvve character contributions -- but I hate broken promises. If you don't think that you can actually do one gif every two weeks, then for goodness sake -- tighten up your character creation as opposed to promising Trumps you can't do. Cause I'll get ugly. Sorry, but I will.)
Experience points are few and far between in this game. So don't count on an immediate large buy-up. Of anything.
And now, onto the free stuff --
Skills -- The characters can have any skill you want. Mean it. Starship piloting, cyber-programming, divine geometry, order magic, fencing, stealth… whatever. The way a player explains it, though, is in years. Skills are learned, either in Shadow or in one of the Real Realms, but they are learned. And while Real People learn a little more quickly than their Shadow counterparts -- no one becomes a Neurosurgeon in a year.
For highly technical, academic or creative skills -- Neurosurgeon, Starsinger, Order Master, Ambassador -- the characters have probably spent 10 to 15 years learning and mastering that art. Architect, Programmer, Chirurgeon, Ship's Captain -- maybe 5 to 10 years. Swordsman, Musician, Helm Officer, Madame -- maybe 3 to 5 years. 2 years is the minimum for any technical or mechanical specialty.
Age -- The character can be as old or as young as you like. Characters under sixty-five generally have smaller skill sets, tend to be more brash, and have a lot less enemies gunning for them. Middle aged characters in their first century or so, tend to be a bit more cautious, have a lot of the first-aid and emergency skills down, and know people, and people know them. Older characters, looking at their first millennia, have lots of skills, are really good at some things, and have lots of enemies.
Physical Description -- Entirely up to the player. But choose carefully. The character isn't going to change much. For millennia.
Equipment -- Welcome to Shadow. The character wants it, it's theirs. But it might not work in all places and all times. In fact, the more complex an object is, the less places it will function -- or at least not explode -- in.
One last note -- Everything -- and I do mean everything -- above is negotiable. If a player has a great idea, that won't unbalance the game or crush the other characters into insignificance, but doesn't quite fit the rules above -- I am totally willing to listen. Not promising to let you build Ghostwheel (pfaugh, pfaugh, ptui!) but at least I'll listen.
And so, without further ado, onto the really interesting bits.
The Campaign Logs