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Mechanics

Page history last edited by Bolthy 12 years, 9 months ago

Overview

All players will start out with 100 points to build characters. These are distributed between the four Attributes, assorted Powers and whatever items or critters you buy. You will additionally get 10 “Aspects” to choose. You are not obliged to spend all of your points or choose all your Aspects during character creation in case you want to bank things for later. But, barring exceptional circumstances, you can’t spend these points or choose these Aspects during the session.

 

Merit Points

I bring this up before the rest of the stuff because it touches on some of the other mechanics. The concept is not new. Many games have a Hero Point/Drama Point system of some sort. I call them Merit Points because they are intended to reward people for contributing to the game. These will replace the Good Stuff/Bad Stuff mechanic.

 

You get the one of two ways: Either when you suffer in some fashion because of one of your Aspects (see below) or someone wants to commend you on something you’ve done in the game. In the center of the room will be a bowl of tokens that represent Merit Points. If someone roleplays a scene well, says something exceptionally witty, brought some good food, etc, you can thank them for that effort by reaching into the bowl and giving them a Merit Point.

You can spend them to do the following:

-         Create a slight coincidence. (I’m not a smoker, but I happen to have a lighter on me!)

-         Gain a +5 or +10 improvement to an attribute in a conflict.

-         Invoke a relevant Aspect to gain a +10 to +20 improvement to an attribute in a conflict.

-         Invoke a relevant Aspect to gain a non-mechanical benefit.

-         Tag someone else’s Aspect to gain a +10 or +20 improvement to an attribute in a conflict.

-         Compel someone else to act within their Aspect.

-         Walk the Pattern or Logrus safely. (I roll a die otherwise.)

-         If you are of the Blood of Amber, you may activate your Death Curse with a Merit Point. If you don’t actually die, then life can become very difficult for you.

The exact effects of these may change over the course of the game as we see how well this all works.

Merit Points will feed into your myth. Any place where a lot of your Merit Points are spent will take on a larger role over the course of the game. Unspent Merit Points at the end of the session become Experience Points. (I’m willing to consider the possibility of letting you start the session with a number of Merit Points equal to your unspent XP.)

Aspects

This is gratuitously stolen from FATE (and Spirit of the Century). An Aspect is simply a phrase or a person or a prop that can either help or hinder your character. You will start out with ten of them. You are not obliged to assign all ten before the game starts, in case you want to choose later. An Aspect can be positive or negative (or both). When an Aspect benefits you it costs you Merit. When an Aspect hinders you will earn Merit. These are intended to replace a lot of normal rules involving allies, enemies, personal Shadows, etc.

 

 

Some Aspects could include:

-         Blind

-         Trump to a fast-time Shadow

-         Personal Troops

-         Player in Merlin’s monthly D&D game

-         Hot-headed

-         A gun that works in Amber!

-         Sword contains a portion of the Pattern.

 

Attributes

There are four attributes that define your abilities in broad brush strokes. They are:

Psyche: This attribute covers metaphysical strength, empathy, social grace, sneakiness and noticing said sneakiness.

Strength: Close combat and physical prowess.

Endurance: Stamina, fortitude and healing.

Warfare: Logic, tactics, strategy., ranged attacks You can use this for some close combat situations, with the notion of holding someone off with a weapon and wearing them down, but it’s not the best of solutions.

 

 

For zero points in an attribute, you are considered the top end of human ability. You can gain points by “selling down” to one of two tiers. The first is -10, which represents “trained human.” You aren’t spectacular about it but you’re not a moron. The second is at -25, which represents “average human.” By average human I mean me.

 

 

Otherwise, you can distribute your points between these four attributes. For the most part it is mainly a matter of relative competence. A person with 50 Strength will be better in a fight than someone with 25.

 

 

I should note that the scions of Chaos and Amber are not the only ones who can get above 0. They are generally stronger and more resilient, but that doesn’t mean that they can casually mop up on “mere mortals.”

Skills

There is no hard-wired skill system. Most characters are assumed to be long lived and able to travel to places where time runs at a faster rate, so they could have learned a wide range of skills in their life. Notable talent (or lack of talent) with a particular skill could be represented by Attributes, Aspects or both.

 

 

In general I ask that you try to be reasonable and fit your character’s skills with his or her background. None of this, “I’m a thousand years old and have learned every relevant skill known to man.” If you can try to be reasonable about this, I will try not to punish your character for not possessing a particular skill. (“Low-tech characters are put into modern New York to search for a powerful artifact that will likely be in a pawn shop in the bad part of town. Hijinks ensue. Added bonus: At least one character will end up hospitalized!”)

Powers

The costs for powers follow this layout.

[Cost] Name of first step in power

            [Cost] Name of second step in power

[Cost] Name of third step in power

 

 

Any time a step in a power is indented, that means you need to know the power above it to gain it. So in the legend above, the second step in the power requires the first, but you can gain the third step without learning the first.

 

 

For those familiar with the original rules, I haven’t really worked up any Advanced Powers as yet. I’d prefer not to start with them and have them instead develop through play. Also, I’ve done some changes to try and cleave a little more closely to the books. (On the other hand, I did include a lot of stuff from the Rebma Sourcebook, because I’m a geek.)

 

Heritage

The default assumption is that you are a scion of either Amber or Chaos (or possibly both). Amber or Chaos lineage is free. What you get with them is listed below. Costs are listed in the event that you want to go without such a lineage or possibly verge off into something else or poach something from the other side of the fence. So if you want to be of both Amber and Chaos heritage, you’d just buy the 10 points worth of stuff that doesn’t overlap. If you want to be able to Shapeshift but don’t want to be from Chaos, then you can just spend 5 points. If you want to be just a normal guy from New Jersey, you get 25 points back.

 

 

Blood of Amber [Free]

[5] Superhuman Strength

[5] Superhuman Stamina

[5] Blood Curse

[5] Ability to walk the Pattern in Amber

[5] Innate Shadow Shifting

 

 

Blood of Chaos [Free]

[5] Superhuman Strength

[5] Superhuman Stamina

[5] Shapeshifting Potential

[5] Ability to walk the Logrus

[5] Innate Shadow Shifting

 

 

Shadow Travel

Both the scions of Amber and Chaos have an inherent ability to travel. It’s slow and miserable and exhausting, but it can be done. Most of the Amber royal family learned the basics as children, before walking the Pattern. Initiating into the Logrus or Pattern exponentially increases your ability to work with the stuff of Shadow.

Near Amber and the Courts of Chaos, there are flawed reflections of both the Pattern and Logrus which even mortals can initiate into. They cost much less, but come with much more risk. Which is to say I get to compel them as Aspects when you are Shadow traveling. How the flaw manifests can vary, so there can be stylistic changes within each of them.

 

 

The first stage in any of these powers is an Imprint, which comes with “Shadow Walking” at no extra cost. If you’ve gained one imprint, you can gain other imprints at a reduced cost, as noted.

 

 

One other perk of Shadow traveling powers? Unless you’re hellriding, drawing upon the Pattern or Logrus, especially while walking through Shadow, will also adapt your clothes and money to local standards. It functions differently between Pattern and Logrus, but can be handy.

 

 

Finally, some of the Old Houses of Chaos approach Logrus a little differently. For example, for House Triton the Logrus is more like a tentacled monster.

 

 

Amber Pattern or Argent Pattern

[15] Imprint (5 if you possess an imprint from the other Pattern or the Logrus)

            [1] Imprints for each additional reflection walked.

            [5] Hellride

            [5] Pattern Defense

                        [5] Pattern Sight

            [5] Manipulate Probability

                        [5] Mold Local Shadow

            [5] Creatures of Desire

 

 

Logrus

[15] Imprint (5 if you possess an imprint from a Pattern)

            [5] Logrus Sight

                        [5] Logrus Defense

                        [5] Logrus Summoning

                                    [5] Create a Black Road

                                    [5] Summon Primal Chaos

                        [5] Logrus Combat

 

Flawed Pattern

 [5] Imprint (1 if you possess an imprint from a Pattern or the Logrus.)

            [1] Heckride

            [1] Flawed Pattern Defense

                        [1] Flawed Pattern Sight

                                    [1] Flawed Pattern Tendrils

 

 

Flawed Logrus

[5] Imprint (1 if you possess an imprint from a Pattern or the Logrus.)

            [1] Flawed Logrus Sight

                        [1] Flawed Logrus Defense

                        [1] Flawed Logrus Summoning

                                    [1] Create a Grey Road

                        [1] Flawed Logrus Tendrils

 

 

Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting is broken down into two broad categories: Archetypal forms and physical sculpting. Archetypal forms are not as constrained by physical mass, which allows you to have strange things like bodies made of living flame or whatever.

Archetypal Forms

[10+] Alternate Form

Costs 10 points per 3 points of item qualities involved. May be purchased more than once. Only costs 5 if there are no special features. Requires Shapeshifting Potential. Alternately, you could buy this to describe innate racial features without the Shapeshifting Potential. For example, a common Rebman ability is called “Adaptation” which allows them to breath underwater and survive extreme cold and water pressure.

 

 

Physical Scultping

[5] Close Wounds

            [5] Change Minor Features

                        [5] Change Major Features

                                    [5] Animal Forms

                                                [5] Animal Features

 

 

Arcana

Sorcery

“Magical school” simply defines the style of magic you practice. It adds color and could also be the basis for an Aspect. In general it allows you to analyze magical effects. Cantrips are very minor magical effects, such as making small flames or the like. Truly spectacular effects (such as teleportation or summoning a barrel full of angry chimpanzees) require the addition of outside powers. Also, magical healing with this is not much better than modern medical care.

In general, the faster a spell is cast, the more draining it is. Casting a spell can take anywhere from minutes to several hours. Most sorcerers will prepare spells in advance (racking them on an artifact or via some arcane attunement). This means they cast most of the spell and leave some key parts out. You can technically blast away with raw energy, but it’s very exhausting.

[15] Magical School

            [5] Additional School

            [5] Cantrips

                        [5] Spellcasting

                                    [5] Rack Spells

                        [5] Enchantment

 

 

Empathy

This is one approach of many to assorted psychic abilities. This is a power commonly seen in Rebma or House Triton of Chaos.

[5] Sense Psyche

            [5] Empathic Link

                        [5] Sense Surface Thoughts

                                    [5]Emotional Manipulation

                                    [5] Empathic Probing

                        [5] Psychic Communication

            [5] Recognize Aura

                        [5] Sense Psychic Qualities

            [5] Psychic Neutral

 

Trump

You can technically create Trumps without a major power source, but they have limited range and are very unreliable. Otherwise you really should have a major power to fuel them. Also, one can develop a number of tricks surrounding the use of the cards without being able to make them. Most of those tricks require the use of a Trump deck and shuffling through it in the process.

[5] Sense Trump

[10] Create Minor Trumps

                        [5] Create Major Trumps

                                    [5] Trump Sketch

            [5] Trump Caller ID

                        [5] Trump Spy

                                    [5] Trump Security

            [5] Trump Blackout

            [5] Trump Gate

 

 

Mirrorwrighting

This can be thought of as the Rebman equivalent of Trump, though it may be better to think of them as a mirror-based cell phone network. It is also a power used by House Triton of Chaos. Properly enchanted mirrors can contact similarly enchanted mirrors. Having this power function between Shadows usually requires a power source such as Pattern or Logrus.

[5] Sense Enchanted Mirror

            [10] Create Mirror

                        [5] Temporarily Enchant Normal Mirrors

            [5] Block Mirror

            [5] Mirror Divination

            [5] Mirror Spying

Items & Critters

I’ll pretty much be using the creature and artifact rules from the main book, but I have one main proviso:

Any item you pay points for is considered part of your character’s myth. As such it’s never just a magic sword. It’s Grayswandir, forged on the steps of to Tir-na N’ogth, bearing a portion of the Pattern within it. It gives off a feeling of brooding tragedy when held. It’s never just a big horse. It’s Morgenstern, created by Julian out of Shadows, fusing into it the strength and speed of a hurricane and a pile driver, six hands higher than any normal horse with eyes the dead color of a Weimaraner dog's, a light gray coat and hooves that look like polished steel

 

 

Every item or creature you spend points on should have a story, a legend, something that is iconic for your character, an extension of his or her personality. It should be distinct and special. If it’s something disposable and easily replaced (an army off in Shadow, a gun you bought at a pawn shop, whatever), then don’t spend points on it. Mundane equipment is free. You can have a sword, a horse and even a private island off the coast of Florida and a pet walrus if you want. If it’s a particularly potent, give it an Aspect.

The main benefit of spending points on an item is this: If you lose it, it will come back to you when you are traveling through Shadow. If it’s genuinely destroyed or killed, you could get your points back. But if you just accidentally drop it off a cliff it will make its way back to you in Shadow.

 

 

There are two things from the item/critter creation rules I’ll be limiting. The first is the whole “Trump” line of things. (Contains a Trump/Personal Trump Deck/Powered by Trump.) Those don’t exist as point-buyable features. “Powered by Trump” might make a good Aspect tied to an item, but you can’t buy it as a point thing. The second is quantity multipliers. Because there is meant to be uniqueness to your items, you would need a very good reason for taking anything beyond “Named and Numbered” quantity.

Uncharted Territory

There’s a lot this assembly of rules can’t cover or define. Players invariably think of things that they want to do that go off whatever crudely drawn map you’re using. Additionally, I’m kludging together a few systems that perhaps should never have met. I don’t know how this is going to fly. I’ve got vague parameters sketched in my head regarding what would best fall under a skill or a power or an Aspect. It’s a pretty nebulous vision, though, and subject to adaptation as we go along. I’m willing to be open to off the wall ideas if you’re willing to put up with me implementing them poorly in the game and then trying to fix it. =)

 

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