by Steve Peterson
Characters for this campaign will be built on 100 points plus up to 40 points in disadvantages and 5 points in quirks. All characters get the Amber racial package for free.
Amber Racial Package
+5 Strength (60 points)
+1 Dexterity (10 points)
+1 Intelligence (10 points)
+2 Health (20 points)
Ability to Walk the Pattern (144)
Blood Curse (25)
Ability to use Trumps (75)
Access to Hero Points (100)
Unaging (15 points)
Hard to Kill, 2 levels (10 points)
Slow Regeneration (10 points); treat this as doubling healing rates using normal healing rules
Regrowth (40 points)
High Status, level 2 (10 points)
Patrons, 8 points worth (8 points); this represents your parent normally; if not used then you can get these points back as a disadvantage (and it counts against the total points in disadvantages you're allowed).
Immunity to the Delirium (25 points); just in case you run into a werewolf.
Special Lifting Bonus (5 points)
An Amberite is not only stronger than most humans, but also has an entire skeletal and muscle structure that is better designed. This allows the Amberite to lift more than an ordinary person of his strength could lift. Amberites can lift up to 40x their strength at extra heavy encumbrance and 60x strength for short times.
Look in the following books for the advantages, disadvantages, powers and skills available to your character.
Basic Rules (and revised supplement in green folder)
Mage, the Ascension:
A number of skills and advantages in this book are interesting. The magic system can be used as an alternative to the standard magic system. Mage magick could be considered a form of true magick. The scope of all its powers would be limited to working within a particular shadow (that is, you could teleport within a shadow using Correspondence, but not between shadows).
Since the character can be bought piecemeal in Mage, one could work up from this system. Apply one half the psionic level penalty of a shadow (rounding up) to the Mage's Arete and sphere scores. If a score is reduced to zero or lower then he cannot use that kind of magick. The character can purchase Pattern based Magick as if he were purchasing Pattern based Psionics with the one difference being that this ability at level 2 does not neutralize the penalty for using the Correspondence and Time spheres in Amber.
A rules note: when creating damaging effects the character must call the damage level he is attempting. If he fails the roll the spell fails and if he succeeds particularly well he gains no damage above what he called for.
These characters work fairly well in an Amber campaign. They have great potential but cost an enormous number of points to build up to it. The Patterns and various other locations of power could be considered nodes for the purpose of regaining quintessence. Otherwise the characters work exactly as described in the book. This means they risk the added problem of Paradox (which can be seen as a manifestation of the Pattern attempting to keep things structured).
Werewolf, the Apocalypse:
Some of the advantages and skills are interesting and can be purchased. You could theoretically play a garou but the package cost is 286 points for Metis and 288 points for Homid or Lupine. The increased cost over the book is based on the assumption that the Wyrm is less active in Amber. That it is active at all assumes that the Wyrm is a manifestation of Chaos.
It might be logical to assume that the Pattern would cleanse an Amberite of being a werewolf. This should generally be the case. However, the garou might also be a creation of the Pattern, a bulwark against Chaos. If that is so then the Pattern might allow an infected character to retain garou powers if the character was appropriate (i.e. the player said so). This does not mean that someone infected during the game gets a couple hundred free points. He should either save those points or spend all his future experience to get used to his form. While paying off the 'debt' he should have limited access to garou powers and penalties when using those abilities he does have access to.
Vampire, the Masquerade:
Vampires and Pattern infused blood don't really match. The Pattern would tend to eliminate the vampiric infection or an Amberite Vampire who walked the Pattern might simply go up in smoke (after all the Pattern is like a sun).
On the other hand, perhaps the Pattern would protect the character from some of the Vampiric disadvantages, allowing him to go out during the day for instance (thus eliminating the Sundeath disadvantage).
At any rate, Amberite blood is particularly potent, and somewhat dangerous. The vampire gains 2 blood points for every point of health drained. The vampire must also make a health roll at -1 for every point of health drained from an Amberite past the first (Fortitude does not help here). If this roll is failed the blood ignites in his body and destroys him.
All the other sourcebooks can be looked at. Many of them have a handful of interesting advantages or skills. Generally the advantages need to be approved (many of them will). The skills will almost always be okay.
This does not apply to Pattern or Trump skills.
These npcs are not Amberites, and thus do not get the Amberite Racial package (unless they can somehow afford it). However, they can be unusual races from shadow. You should avoid assigning them stuff which is too obscure since it might only work in their home shadow. By sticking with the Basic book, the Magic and Fantasy Folk book, and the stuff on psionics you can feel safe that they'll do okay in most shadows.
Note: Your ally does not need to pay points for you (sort of like trickle-down character construction).
The following is a list of the various elders (and some others) and the base cost to purchase them as patrons. Use the frequency multipliers found in the basic book. Characters should also choose a parent. Parents normally count as at least a 6- frequency patron if alive. There are exceptions of course. Oberon was a very distant parent and probably wouldn't count as a patron to any of his children (with the exception of Corwin). If you're not on good terms with your Amber parent then you might not get any help from them. And, finally, Brand counts as a 5 point Social Stigma disadvantage.
Note that the point levels for patrons in the book is not exactly appropriate for this campaign. You can assume that most of the elders are built on at least 200 points. The cost for the various patrons is influenced by degree of help they can offer (personally and via influence) as well as other subtle factors. For instance, Corwin is certainly tougher than most 10 point patrons but bad shit tends to follow him around.
10 pts Flora, Deirdre (if alive), Corwin, Prince Eric, Prince Random, Queen Vialle, Moire
15 pts Llewella, Bleys, Caine, Gerard, Julian
20 pts Fiona, Benedict, Brand (if alive and prior to Patternfall), King Eric, King Random
25 pts Oberon, Dworkin (he should actually be worth more but tends to be unstable)
We will not use the full Chambara martial arts rules in this game. However, at skill level 15 with martial arts characters can get an extra attack or parry (not both). This extra action must manifest as part of a combination maneuver. At level 20 yet another additional action is allowed. This allows the character to take a three part combination maneuver or pair of two part combination maneuvers where one of them starts with an attack and the other with a defense.
Fencing and Katana skills count as martial art forms (see the various styles).
Cinematic skills do not normally work in Amber, though there are several shadows where their cinematic maneuvers operate.
Blood Curse 25 points
This ability allows the character to throw a blood curse. The effects of a blood curse tend to be variable but always bad. The character essentially trades off Fortune (see the Fortune advantage) in order to give the target some sort of disadvantage. One method of treating this is to figure out how many points the Fortune trade is worth and then apply half that many points as disadvantages for the victim. The GM could also treat the curse more abstractly, aligning its effects with the points the user gave up in Fortune.
The user of the blood curse essentially just loses points and the victim of the blood curse essentially just picks up disadvantages. It's a lose-lose situation.
Extra Hero Points 15 per point
This advantage allows one to increase the total number of hero points he can have at any time. A character has a base maximum of 6 hero points. Each level of this increases that by one. This does not improve the recovery rate of hero points.
Fortune rolls may be occasionally necessary or useful. The GM can use these to figure out which way the odds break in an unexpected situation and the players can call on fortune to save their necks when the chips are down. Fortune is given as 2 numbers in an x/y form. The GM then rolls 3d6. If the roll is less than or equal to the x value then good fortune results. If the roll is greater than or equal to the y value then bad fortune results. The degree of good or bad fortune can be determined by the amount the roll was made by.
Characters can buy up their good fortune, get points back for bad fortune, or do both. It costs points to get good fortune and bad fortune is a disadvantage. If you take both then apply the difference in cost.
Good Bad Value 3 18 -5 4 17 0 5 16 5 6 15 10 7 14 20 8 13 35 9 12 50 10 11 75
Players can call for a fortune roll. If the roll is successful then apply the results and temporarily lower the character's good fortune by one. This will be recovered at the rate of one point per day (Amber time). A good result will shield the player from part of a harmful effect or indicate a generally useful outcome. A fortune roll can also be used in place of a skill roll. This can be useful when making a roll for a skill you don't possess or one with a lot of penalties assessed to it.
Fortune works in Amber.
Pattern Based Sorcery 15/45
This strengthens ones sorcery abilities, making them work better in restrictive conditions. With the first level of this ability the character casts spells as if minimally in a low mana zone even if the current shadow is a no mana zone. This empowering is based on the Pattern, so there may be some locations where this won't work (i.e. places where Pattern doesn't work). At the second level of ability the character treats all areas as minimally being normal mana zones (including Amber itself). The character must possess Primal Pattern skill in order to get the second level of ability.
Possession of either of these abilities allows the character to purchase special Fatigue points at a cost of 2 points per Fatigue point. These points can only be used for casting spells. The Pattern inherent in the character is actually fueling the spells by providing extra energy.
There may be special spells or powers that use and require this advantage. Their effects tend to be more potent and able to bypass the vagaries of shadow.
Pattern Powered Psionics: 15/45
This is just like the sorcery advantage except that it works for psionic powers. At level one it makes areas count as minimally a -5 psionic power level and at the second level it makes them count as minimally +0 psionic level.
For the new skills see the sections on Pattern and Trump.
Advantages and disadvantages which have to do with wealth are not appropriate.
GURPS Amber, Rules Modifications
Leading the Target:
When attacking someone you can declare that you are leading the target. This allows you to apply a -1 penalty to his Dodge roll for every -2 you take on your attack roll. This is typically meant for use with ranged attacks. When in melee one will get more by using a feint action.
When attacking a target with a power that requires a resistance roll you can apply a -1 to that roll for every -2 you take to your roll to use the power.
This rule replaces the quick-contest rules for resistance rolls.
A modified version of this rule can also be applied to invocations of damaging effects. For each -5 you take when invoking you can cause an additional die of damage.
All penalties to effective skill for using these applications reduces one's effective skill for purposes of casting time, casting rituals, and fatigue cost.
When entering close combat the victim can choose to use a parry action as an attack. Essentially the defender parries the attacker's body. If the defender chooses to do this and the attacker survives the parry then the defender does not get a defense roll of any kind.
The attacker can defend normally against the 'parry' but takes a -2 on the defense roll. If the attacker has hero points and spends even one to buy down damage that results from this parry then the attempt to grapple automatically fails.
The defender can choose to dodge instead of parry, in which case use the normal rules for entering close combat.
A lot of the characters in the novels wander around lightly armored. According to the GURPS rules this is fairly stupid. In order to account for this lack of self- preservation we will be using some special rules regarding Passive Defense.
Any character wearing no armor (just clothing which does not grant DR) gets a natural Passive Defense of 4. Each point of DR that clothing or armor has lowers this number by 1. The character can choose to use either this natural PD or the PD of whatever armor or clothing he is wearing. Natural Passive Defense of this sort is not neutralized by high damage dice.
One can imagine this Passive Defense as resulting from the Amberite's inherent suspiciousness. Amberites are so paranoid that they are constantly on their guard and excellent at moving evasively (this helps justify why an Amberite has these defenses even when unconscious). Wearing armor makes the Amberite overconfident and recklessly lackadaisical about his security in addition to slowing him down a bit.
This rule will also be applied to many NPCs out of shadow or Chaos. However, no one else in the universe shares an Amberite's keen sense of paranoia and thus should have a base natural PD of 3.
Hero points are only available to those with Pattern (thus, even Chaosites lack these). Hero points represent unconscious control over the environment. They are a manifestation of the survival instinct in the character.
Using Hero Points
Hero points are primarily used to reduce the harmful effects of attacks. 1 hero point will halve the damage caused by an attack that penetrates defenses (rounding down).
A hero point can also be used to stave off the effects of a resistance roll attack. Spending a hero point for this causes the character to lose his next action. The resistance roll does not count as either a failure or success, but the attacker must make another attack roll and the victim another defense roll on the next round. This essentially gives the victim a second chance to resist the attack but costs a hero point and an action.
Hero points might also be able to be used in certain other situations, for instance to cut the character a lucky break. They will not increase the character's abilities (Pattern cannot reshape someone of the blood) but can serve to lower the difficulty of an action. Generally a save your butt from certain death use of hero points will cost about 5 points.
Hero points can be used to help others. However, the person being helped cannot have Pattern. This is because people with Pattern instinctually control their environment (what directly affects them) preventing interference from outside forces.
Hero points cannot be used in Amber. Hero points are a manifestation of control over shadow and since Amber is so rigid in structure hero points are useless there. Likewise, Forest Arden is restrictive of hero point use. Hero point costs in Arden are doubled.
There may be other locations which modify the use of hero points as well.
All Amberites have 6 hero points. More can be purchased as an advantage.
Hero point recover at the rate of one per day, Amber time. Amber serves as the internal clock for the universe, and sends out subtle pulses of power to keep it going. One recovers hero points from these pulses and thus, being in a fast time shadow will make it seem as if you recover hero points more slowly (and vice versa for a slow time shadow
Basic movement through shadow consists in making slight alterations to the features of the area through which one is traveling. This is accomplished through exercising ones will, focused through the Pattern inherent in an Amberite. Because shadows are somewhat plastic (that is, they can be altered or deformed without losing their identity) the character can make alterations to a shadow or the events within that shadow without accidentally moving into an adjacent shadow. Of course, too drastic an alteration could possibly split a shadow, or hurl a character into a nearby shadow.
Skill with each form of Pattern must be purchased separately. This skill is used when utilizing the various Pattern abilities and also when walking the appropriate Pattern. Characters who have not walked any of the Patterns can still purchase up to 2 points worth of Pattern skill in any of the 3 basic Patterns (Amber, Rebma, and Tir-Na Nog'th). This represents inherent ability, training and preparation. Once a character has walked one of the Patterns he can purchase up to 4 points of skill with any of the basic Patterns. Naturally, if a character has walked a particular Pattern then he can spend as much as he likes on that Pattern skill.
All Pattern skills have the prerequisite of Blood of Amber. In order to achieve the higher skill levels the character must also have actually walked the appropriate Pattern. A character cannot purchase any skill with Primal Pattern or the Jewel of Judgment until he has navigated those Patterns.
The various Pattern skills are given different names based on their Pattern and what they do. These names should be considered interchangeable. Thus the Amber Pattern skill is also called Pattern Movement.
Amber Pattern, Movement (Mental, Hard) No Default
This is the skill of using Pattern to move through shadow. The Pattern under castle Amber is what gives one this ability. This skill is used to move from one shadow to another, walk the Pattern in Amber, and Hellride.
Rebma Pattern, Manipulation (Mental, Hard) No Default
This is the skill of using Pattern to control the features of shadow. Where movement allows you to step into a shadow with the features you desire this allows you to alter the shadow you are in so that it matches your desire. This skill is used to affect the nature of a shadow without leaving it, enter blocked shadows, and adapt oneself to unusual shadows.
Tir-Na Nog'th Pattern, Perception (Mental, Hard)
This is the skill to perceive and intuit information about shadow and Pattern. This skill is used to Seek specific goals in shadow, perceive the presence of power within a shadow or object, hunt targets down in shadow, and move stealthily through shadow.
Primal Pattern, Advanced (Mental, Very Hard) No Default
Prerequisites: Amber, Rebma, and Tir-Na Nog'th all at 15 or higher
Understanding the workings of the Primal Pattern is difficult but broadens ones abilities. This skill does not work by itself; it requires other Pattern skills.
Jewel of Judgment (Mental, Very Hard)
This is the skill of using the Jewel of Judgment, which acts as something of a portable Pattern but has extra abilities. Attuning oneself to the Jewel of Judgment requires that one first walk one of the Patterns while bearing the Jewel of Judgment and then transport himself into the Jewel of Judgment where he navigates the Pattern there. Navigating this Pattern is based on IQ not Health. The character can also attune to the Jewel of Judgment by 'piggy-backing' along with someone who is already attuned. This requires that the lead person make an additional Jewel of Judgment skill roll to bring someone along. Each character then navigates the interior of the Jewel normally.
Using the Power
What follows is a list of some of the more common uses of the Pattern skill. If a use is followed by one of the Pattern skills in brackets that indicates which Pattern skill must be used when making rolls to achieve those effects.
Walking the Pattern in Amber:
In the books no one ever simply "walked" the Pattern. It was always a dramatic point in a story. Likewise when a character decides to walk the Pattern in this game it will be a task. Unlike most of the other Pattern abilities this one is based primarily on Health not Intelligence. When you need to make a roll to walk the Pattern you use your Health in place of your Intelligence for determining your total skill. (A simple way of doing this is to take the difference between your Intelligence and Health and add it to your skill, subtracting if your Intelligence is actually lower than your Health.) Someone with the Strong Will advantage can also add its level to their rolls when walking the Pattern. If the character does not have a Pattern skill (or has it at a low level) then he can simply use Health plus Strong Will to make his Pattern walking rolls.
If you're poor at Pattern a more skilled Amberite can aid you by giving you advice. A successful skill roll grants a +1 to your roll. Each 3 full points by which the roll is made adds another +1 to your roll. This bonus cannot raise the character's skill above the helper's. A critical failure on this roll gives a penalty of -2 to the target's roll since he is being fed bad information. The target can make an Intelligence roll to avoid this penalty. A helper can intentionally mislead someone. This has the same effect as a critical failure and can be avoided in the same way. Lastly, the teaching skill serves as a complement to this sort of instruction. Subtract 1/5 the helper's teaching skill from his roll.
One can also have Fatigue points fed to him through a mental link at a 2 for 1 ratio. Doing this requires a Pattern skill roll by the helper with a penalty equal to the number of points being received. A failure on this roll means that the points are simply lost. A critical failure causes the target to lose 1d6 Fatigue points. The person walking the Pattern cannot play any role in maintaining the mental link since his concentration is completely focused on walking the Pattern.
Regardless, low skill and/or low Health characters may need to spend several Fatigue points to successfully negotiate the Pattern. Even Corwin faces the danger of bad dice rolls when walking the Pattern and tries to be fully rested when he does so.
The process of walking the Pattern is handled by making a few rolls against one's Pattern skill as modified in accordance with certain important areas of the Pattern. One can anticipate the more difficult areas and use Fatigue points to augment the roll. The walker gets a +1 to his roll for each Fatigue point spent in this way. This option is also available when trying to restart, but not when making a roll to avoid slowing down.
Failing a roll doesn't mean instant death, instead it indicates that the character has slowed down (or is off- track, or stumbled, and so on). When a character slows down he must spend a Fatigue point and make another roll against the same difficulty in order to avoid completely stopping. If the second roll is failed the character comes to a halt. If the second roll is critically failed then the character slips or makes some other egregious error. Critically failing a normal roll has no effects other than those of a normal failure. Critically failing on the second roll causes the character to take 2d6 of damage as his body is slowly engulfed in flames. Armor and toughness do not protect against this damage. He gets one more chance, this time at -1 per 2 points of damage taken (or fraction thereof). If he fails this roll the Pattern consumes him in blue flames.
Unfortunately, once you stop on the Pattern it is particularly difficult to start up again. It costs two Fatigue points just to get a roll to restart and you take an additional minus 2 on your skill. Once you do start up again you still need to roll against the difficulty of the region since you have not yet completed it. If you are reduced to 3 or less Fatigue points while navigating the Pattern you suffer the standard penalty of half movement rate. A side effect of this is that you now need to make two rolls each time a roll is required.
If you are reduced to 1 Fatigue point while stopped you cannot start again unless you can find someone to funnel Fatigue points to you. If you are reduced to 0 or less Fatigue points you must also make a Health roll in order to remain conscious plus an additional Health roll at -1 (cumulative) for every 30 minutes. If you fall unconscious while on the Pattern you are torn to primordial shreds. Create a new character.
Pulling someone off the Pattern is a dangerous prospect, but it may be the character's only chance. Physically pulling someone off the Pattern automatically causes 2d6 damage (which bypass defenses) to both the walker and the helper. In addition, both characters must make a Pattern skill roll based on Health (with Strong Will bonuses) with a -3 penalty. If either character fails this roll he is consumed by the Pattern. If the helper is consumed then the walker must make a Dexterity roll or also be destroyed. Regardless, the walker is left in place if his helper does not survive the rescue attempt. These rules assume that the helper can fly or use some sort of ranged power. They also apply if the helper walks the Pattern then physically carries the original walker off the Pattern (by getting to the center). The original walker does not count as having walked the Pattern in this case.
One can also pull someone off the Pattern by using Trumps. This is done by having the helper roll against his Pattern skill. If this roll is successful then the walker has been pulled free. Both individuals take 2d6 damage (as above) and, moreover, the Trump is destroyed. The walker must also make a Pattern roll based on Health in order to survive this rescue attempt. There are no additional penalties on this roll and the helper does not run the risk of obliteration. If the helper's Pattern skill roll fails then they both take 1d6 damage and the Trump is destroyed but there are no further side effects.
Finally, one can Trump off the Pattern. The walker pulls out a Trump and makes a Pure Health roll modified by Strong Will at -2. If this roll fails he is destroyed. If this roll succeeds then he takes 2d6 damage (and loses 2 points of Fatigue) and his Trump is destroyed. Skilled users of Trump can reduce some of these harmful effects.
The First Steps: Bonus +2
Taking the first step on the Pattern is a frightening process. It is also difficult to just get started. As one begins blue sparks begin to leap up around him. These get more intense in the more difficult areas.
The First Veil: Normal
This is just the warm up part of the Pattern. It gets worse.
The Second Veil: Penalty -3
This is the most difficult region of the Pattern. If you make it past this reasonably intact you should be able to survive the rest of the procedure.
The Grand Arch: Penalty -1
The Grand Arch isn't the most difficult part of the Pattern, but it is long and strenuous. The character must succeed three times at this roll in order to pass.
The Final Veil: Normal
This is the last roll you need to make. Consider it a cooling down exercise. Once you succeed at this roll you lose 2 points of fatigue and finish the Pattern walk (this might cause one to lose consciousness).
Benefits of Walking the Pattern
After all that work you better get something for this. In walking the Pattern you are essentially reconstructed. This process cleanses the character of lesser magical effects, diseases, and poisons. It can also cure some mental defects such as amnesia and many kinds of insanity. The Pattern is intelligent (like a sophisticated computer). This means that the Pattern is capable of distinguishing between a beneficial effect and a harmful one. It will generally not remove a beneficial effect.
This cleansing does not apply to injuries themselves. In fact it aggravates them. Take 1 point of damage for every 3 points of damage (or fraction thereof) you have on you when you walk the Pattern.
The second major benefit of walking the Pattern is that it allows the user to transport himself to virtually any location he chooses. This transport power even works in Amber and can also be used to transport oneself to one of the other Patterns such as the one in Tir-na Nog'th or Rebma. However, there may still be locations that require a power roll to get into. These rolls should typically be done at a +2 due to the added power one has available after walking a Pattern.
There may be other uses for walking the Pattern as well. These will likely be discovered or invented during the game. For example, during the course of the Amber books Corwin discovered that one needed to walk the Pattern in order to attune oneself to the Jewel of Judgment.
Inscribing/Repairing a Pattern
Needless to say, this is a major process that will certainly tax your reserves and require a high Will and/or Pattern ability. It also requires that one be attuned to the Jewel of Judgment and that one possess it. What is known about this process is mainly conjecture about how Oberon and Dworkin created the first Pattern.
Walking the Alternate Patterns
The other Patterns can be walked in much the same way as the Pattern beneath Castle Amber with the following distinctions. When walking an alternate Pattern one can use straight Health or default off some other Pattern skill at -3.
This Pattern is just like the Amber Pattern, only reversed. This doesn't make it more difficult, just different. The character needs to purchase a separate Pattern skill for Rebma.
This Pattern is more difficult to navigate. The character suffers a -1 penalty on all Pattern skill rolls here. If the character possesses a 16 or higher Enigmas skill (see GURPS Werewolf or Mage) then he does not suffer this penalty.
Unlike the castle Amber Pattern this one does not grant bonuses for breaking into a location. However, it does grant a +4 on rolls to locate someone or something. It is also superior at relocating one to an abstract concept.
As with Rebma, this Pattern requires its own Pattern Skill.
This Pattern is more strenuous to navigate. Apply a -2 to all rolls to navigate this Pattern. Walking this Pattern (and having enough skill in the other Patterns) gives one access to the Primal Pattern skill which allows the character to perform special actions.
Jewel of Judgment:
This Pattern is special. Instead of using Health for this roll the characters uses IQ. See the other sections on the Jewel of Judgment for more information.
Before explaining how movement occurs I will first give a general description of how Shadow itself is handled. As far as anyone knows there is no limit to Shadow. Either Shadow is infinite and all its possible permutations already exist, or Shadow is finite but new worlds are created in their seeking (making it functionally infinite). This is a metaphysical question, and as such has little practical importance.
Shadows have a variety of features and traits which serve to individuate them. Each of these features is something like an adjective, or a description of some particular quality. Because one can always specify further features, or add more adjectives, there is no limit to the possible number of shadows that can be constructed.
One should avoid thinking of Shadow features as merely numerical values such as Tech Level or Magic Level. This might be convenient but it distracts from the actual uniqueness of Shadows. A world might be low-tech but operate on the laws of physics of our earth. Two high magic worlds might operate on completely different principles. This could also be true for high-tech worlds. Instead, think of a shadow as having certain definite features. When you eventually want to move, it is those features which you will either alter, add to, or delete. Ultimately, any feature is possible as long as that feature does not impose restrictions on other shadows (in particular, Amber). Of course, extreme features require extreme Shadows, and these can be difficult to get to or even dangerous.
Shadow features can be broken down into two categories, Laws and States. Laws describe the rules under which the shadow operates. They are the physics of that shadow and determine how that shadow can evolve over time and what is possible and impossible within the shadow. For our purposes things such as the structure of space, time-flow, and what constitutes substance are considered Laws.
States describe the actual way things have turned out in the shadow. That the sky is blue is due in part to the way light operates, but it is also due to the fact that the world's atmosphere is made up of the particles it happens to be made up of. Shadows with the same Laws can have different states based on different arrangements of the stuff which operate given those Laws. Thus a shadow could be just like earth in that it has the same Laws, but it happens that the American revolution never occurred. That shadow would have a different State description but retain the same Law description.
With this in mind one should be able to recognize that simple ascriptions of tech level can be misleading. If a shadow is dominated by a medieval technology why is that the case? Is it because internal combustion engines and gunpowder won't work? Or perhaps they do work but the people living there just haven't developed the technology yet. Perhaps the world is composed of the four classic elements instead of sub-atomic particles.
Typically a shadow can be described with a few Law and State features. The rest of the details can be assumed in the overall picture of the shadow.
Shadows are somewhat plastic. That is they can retain their identity despite some slight alterations. The reason for this property is that when describing a shadow many features are left out. No shadow is completely formed. That is, a shadow always has some portions of it that are left to be defined. Thus, when an Amberite says that he wants a red and white horse to be grazing on the other side of the next hill what he is in fact doing is bringing the shadow into focus (making it more real). Even when an Amberite merely reacts to what he assumes are natural features of a shadow he is, in effect, solidifying that part of the shadow. By interacting with the feature he makes the feature an integral part of the shadow.
This explains why the long term presence of a scion of Amber tends to make shadows (such as Shadow Earth) more solid and less vulnerable to alteration.
The question then becomes when is an alteration significant enough to imply that one has shifted to a new shadow. Obviously, altering a well-established Law or State will imply a shift has occurred. Yet, the dividing line between well-established and poorly established is unclear. One thing is certain, Laws tend to be less flexible than States. Since a State is already contingent within the framework of the shadow's Laws, a State is easier to alter than a Law.
Amber itself and its close environs are almost completely established. Thus, use of Pattern in those locations is very difficult.
Universal Laws are few but important. It is a Universal Law that no shadow can be self-inconsistent. That is, its Laws and/or States cannot create contradictions. However, even this Law has been violated in certain extreme cases. Typically these shadows are at the furthest reaches of Chaos and incredibly unstable. It is conjectured that consistency is one of the rules the Pattern in Amber imposes on Shadow.
Taking stuff (and creatures) across shadow is possible. If the Laws are sufficiently similar then the item or creature will function normally. However, if the Laws disallow certain features of the item or creature then those features will vanish. This frequently results in the item decaying or the creature sickening and dying.
Amberites themselves never face this danger since their Pattern sustains them through any environment. Items made with Pattern (or rare other major powers) and creatures sustained by such can also survive across worlds. Essentially, they carry their own Laws with them. Certain forms of magic or psychic powers are also strongly enough based in true power to be sustained across worlds.
Shadow is not represented spatially. Instead, distance is correlated with similarity of description. Shadows with similar descriptions are close together while those with divergent descriptions are far apart. Since Laws are more controlling in this respect two shadows might be widely divergent in their States and yet be close to each other due to highly similar Laws.
For the most part one can resort to basic level descriptions for a shadow. That is one can give it a Tech level, magical power level, or some kind of psionic level. If you want more detail for a shadow describe its technology limitations more specifically. Magic and psionics tend to fall into more general categories but even they can be made specific. Perhaps the magic of a shadow only allows spontaneous magic. Or a shadow is powerful in one college and weak in others. Likewise for psionic levels. Telepathy might work at base level while psychokinesis works poorly if at all. The GURPS system is incredibly flexible on this account and practically any shadow can be constructed utilizing the GURPS rules.
Tech level and magic level can be easily handled according to the GURPS rules (use Mana level for the magical power of a shadow). For psionics, treat the power level as a modifier to the power level of any psionic power owned by a character. Usually this will take the form of either allowing psionics at the base values or applying a flat penalty to power levels. If this penalty reduces a character's psionic power level to zero or lower then the character loses the use of that power within that shadow. Rare shadows may grant a bonus to Psionic power. If this is the case the bonus should not more than double the base power level of the character (unless the shadow is one where everyone has psionic powers).
Superpowers (powers from the GURPS Supers book) are the rarest of them all. Unless otherwise specifically noted, assume that a shadow does not allow those powers at all (and thus any points spent on them are discarded). Super-powered shadows tend to be close to chaos.
Laws: Gunpowder, explosives and generated electricity do not work. Low mana level and -5 power level for all psionic powers. Steam does not generate enough force to be used in engines. Highly complex metal structures and any form of plastic will quickly deteriorate in Amber.
States: Social science is at a fairly high level and technological achievements have maximized use of the available laws. Due to trade, many complex items based on simple mechanics and efficient production are available.
Laws: The laws are similar to Amber in many ways although a small degree of natural magic operates within the realm. Animal spells and plant spells operate at the normal mana level. This magic presence is what allows the existence of the Weir. Due to its proximity to Amber and innate strength the magic of this realm can sustain its creatures in Amber and other Shadows. In some of the furthest reaches of Arden combustion engines appear to work. These are the areas closest to shadow where one can make a shadow shifting roll at no penalty.
States: Like Amber, Arden enjoys the fruits of large amounts of trade. The equipment and people living in Arden are the best of the best. Arden however is far less populated than Amber proper and remains something of a wilderness.
Laws: The Laws of Shadow Earth are those Laws you see written up in physics textbooks. Shadow earth counts as a low mana realm and -2 psionic power level realm. Shadow Earth has been made very strong by the presence of several Amberites over many years.
States: The State of Shadow Earth is as we see it now.
Many well-defined other worlds exist as shadows. Any GURPS campaign book can serve as a template for a shadow. This is advantageous because the campaign books give detailed and specific information on what a shadow is like, as well as providing ready-made adventures.
Some of these shadows will have powerful entities inhabiting them (for instance, the GURPS Supers world). Generally it is best to treat the denizens of these high- powered worlds as gaining their power from the shadow itself. If they leave their shadow their power level should drop off drastically (that is, chop points and abilities off their character sheets). None-the-less they can be dangerous at home.
These powerful shadows tend to be located closer to chaos since they are so different. It is also reasonable for an Amberite to develop powers appropriate to the shadow through use of Pattern. One way to handle this is to take the base points of a player character built on the world and subtract 100. The resulting number is the number of points an Amberite can use to purchase additional abilities appropriate to the world. This should require a little work and use of the Pattern skill to accomplish. Needless to say, these extra powers only last while the character is on that world.
Time in Shadow
It is well known that different shadows occasionally have different rates of time passage. Close to Amber these rates tend to be close to the rate of time passage in Amber. If you want an extreme rate you typically need to travel to distant shadows such as those close to chaos.
Amber time serves as the universal standard. The Pattern serves as something of an internal clock for all of Shadow and it even sends out a constant pulse feeding energy to Amberites and shadow alike.
Movement through shadow is accomplished primarily by physically walking and altering features of the environment. At the lowest levels the best one can do is alter the States of a shadow and thereby indirectly influence the Laws governing a shadow. When someone moves what he does is influence the unspecified features of the environment. Features that are not perceived are always unspecified to at least some degree. Thus, even though the trees are all blue on this side of a hill does not mean that they are all blue on the far side of the hill. The Amberite thus focuses on the color of the trees and imposing his will so that they will be the desired color upon surmounting the hill. Subsequent changes of this sort eventually become incompatible with the shadow one is in and thus the Amberite passes into a different shadow. At higher levels of ability one gains the ability to make more radical changes and/or make the changes occur more rapidly.
In making these changes the Amberite is always defining something, and thus making the shadows he moves through more solid. This solidifying effect has repercussions that can range from useful, to annoying, to downright dangerous. One of the repercussions is that the Amberite tends to leave a trail of somewhat better defined shadows. Due to the vagaries of shadow the solidifying effect eventually wears off, thus the trail can grow cold. The time it takes this effect to wear off is related to the amount of time and degree of interaction the Amberite has with the shadow. Just walking through a shadow creates an temporary effect while living in a shadow for many years can solidify it for a very long time.
Shadow walking (Pattern Movement)
Standard movement through shadow is a slow process of creating gradual changes. This is possible if the character has a Pattern skill of at least 10 and has walked one of the Patterns.
Each shadow shift takes some time. When traveling at a normal leisurely pace assume that the character makes about 10 gradual shifts per 6 minutes. Typically, the actual time a shadow walk will take is determined by what is being sought in shadow (see the rules for Seeking a Goal).
Shifting shadow is considered to be part of a full movement action. During this movement the character must be able to perceive some new environmental feature. It is this feature which the character alters. Thus, any shadow shift is restricted by one's movement abilities. If one cannot perceive a new environmental feature after a movement action then he takes a -5 penalty on his shifting roll (thus if a character is placed in a cell shifting shadow becomes much more difficult). If the character cannot see at all then he suffers an additional -5 to his roll. If the character has no perceptual interaction at all with the world (i.e. no sight, sound, smell and so on) then he cannot shift at all.
In ordinary travel the character moves enough to clearly perceive a new part of the environment and makes gradual shifts. It may require several gradual shifts to actually enter a new shadow.
A character can also attempt to make a more severe shift. This increases the difficulty of the Pattern skill roll. The following list gives the types of shadow alterations, the bonus or penalty to Pattern skill when making that sort of alteration, and the number of shift points acquired with that alteration. Shift points are an abstract means of determining when a shadow has been left and what gross changes to the world can be achieved.
If the character doesn't care where he shifts to then grant a +2 on the Pattern skill roll. The GM can then arbitrarily determine the shadow shifted to. When this happens it may be useful to call for a luck roll (or the GM can make the luck roll himself).
Type of Shift Bonus/Penalty Shift Points Gradual +5 1/10 Slight +2 1 Moderate +0 2 Major -2 5 Drastic -5 15
Under ordinary circumstances one can get anywhere (slowly) by making gradual shifts. However, some of the more severe modifications require an additional roll once one has accumulated all the necessary shift points. This roll will typically be at some kind of penalty. If this roll fails then the shift stops at the next lowest level.
Example: If someone wants to shift to a no mana world then the character must acquire the necessary shift points then make a Pattern roll at -5. If the roll fails then the character only makes it as far as a poor mana world.
The following list gives an indication of how many shift points must be accumulated to affect the given change. Shift points are accumulated towards a task in accordance with the above shadow shifting rules. When enough shift points have been accumulated the task is accomplished and the character can go on to a new task.
Enter a new shadow: 5 shift points
This is the number of points required to leave a shadow. These points are not actually spent. Instead they represent the number of points of other sorts of shifts that must be accomplished before someone is considered to be in an alternate shadow.
This number also serves as a limit on the plasticity of a shadow. A shadow can typically only sustain so much alteration before it becomes a new shadow. This can be circumvented to a degree by making the changes gradually over a long time. As each change is made the character gives the shadow time to adapt to the change. The character must maintain the alteration by intermittently reinforcing it or the shadow will return to its previous state. By sustaining the alteration for a period of a month or so the change can be made permanent. Further changes can then be made from this new base state of the shadow.
Using the Pattern Manipulation skill can increase the plasticity of a shadow. For every -2 taken to the Pattern Manipulation skill roll the character can double the number of shift points allowed before being forced from the shadow.
Raise/Lower Tech Level: 5 shift points
Each shift of this sort raises or lowers the technology level by one. Raising the tech level from 14 to 15 or from 15 to 16 requires 20 shift points.
Particular categories of technology can be raised or lowered. The shift point requirement should be based on the breadth of the category. Some examples follow:
Category Shift Cost Cybernetics 1/4 Medicine/Biology 1/4 Personal Weapons 1/6 Personal Armor 1/6 Vehicles 1/4 Space Travel 1/4 Computers 1/5 Communications 1/5 Sensors 1/5
Shifting to a tech level 0, 1, 15, or 16 world requires an additional roll at -5. This penalty is only -3 if these effects apply to 4 or fewer technology categories. A roll is also required if the technology varies drastically between two or more categories. Subtract the lowest technology category level from the highest. If this is over two then the character must make a Pattern roll at a penalty equal to that number in order to shift to that world.
Raise/Lower Mana Level: 15 shift points
Each shift of this degree raises or lowers the mana level by one. Using Yrth from GURPS Fantasy as our example (mana level normal) one shift can raise it to high mana or lower it to poor mana. It is more difficult to raise a mana level to very high or lower it to none. Either of these changes requires 45 shift points.
These sorts of shifts can be itemized for particular types of magic or colleges of magic. This typically divides the number of shift points required by 5. You do not get points back by lowering the mana level for one college and raising it for another. Any alteration requires shift points.
Shifting to a no mana world or a very high mana world requires an additional roll at -5. This penalty is only -3 if these effects apply to 6 or fewer magic colleges.
Raise/Lower Psionic Level: 3 shift points
Each shift of this degree raises or lowers the Psionic power level of the shadow by one point. Raising the power level above zero requires twice as many shift points for each level raised. Thus, if someone starts on shadow earth (psionic power level -2) 4 shifts of this degree can raise the psionic power level to +1 or lower it to -6.
As for magic, these types of shifts can be itemized for particular categories of psionic powers. This typically divides the shift point cost by 4 (for simplicity simply multiply the number of shift points acquired by four and apply it to raising or lowering the appropriate power level(s)).
One can completely turn psionic powers off by lowering the power level to -10 and using another 30 shift points. In that case no-one can use psionics, even if they happen to have extremely high levels of the power.
Psionic Powers can be made universally available by raising the power level sufficiently and spending an additional 45 shift points.
Shifting to a no power world or a world where psionic powers are universally available requires an additional roll at -5. This penalty is only -3 if these effects apply to 4 or fewer psionic powers.
Time Flow: special
This allows the Amberite to alter the time flow of an area. Time flow is measured in multiples of Amber standard time. The following chart lists the shift point requirement for each rate of time flow. Moving up or down the chart costs the difference between the current time flow and the target time (treat negative numbers as positive after finding the difference). Accessing certain time flow rates may also require a Pattern skill roll.
Rate Shift Cost Roll Required 1/365 3000 -10 1/30 1000 -5 1/7 400 -2 1/4 150 Normal 1/2 40 na 2/3 25 na 1 (Amber) 0 na 3/2 (Shadow Earth) 25 na 2 40 na 4 100 Normal 7 200 -2 30 500 -5 365 1500 -10
Altered time flow areas can be dangerous or useful. In a fast time flow area you can spend several months healing while only several days pass back in Amber. However, in a fast time flow shadow you will also recover hero points more slowly.
Slow time flow areas are mostly annoying and potentially dangerous. They serve as good traps for the unwary and unskilled Pattern user. Someone could be lured into a slow- time zone and spend a month there only to discover that 30 years have passed back in Amber. A Pattern user can detect if this is happening through sensing the shadow's structure. Pattern users can also shield themselves from the shadow's time flow by making a Pattern skill roll at -3. When the character does this he essentially steps part way outside the shadow and must then decide whether he will continue on to another shadow or go ahead and enter.
Political Climate: variable
The political and social climate of a world describe the practices of the sentient beings inhabiting the world. This factor can generally be described by the degree of freedom individuals possess, noted as the Law level. Higher law levels imply greater government control, lower law levels represent lesser government control. At law level zero there is no government, the state is in anarchy.
This only provides a rough overview so far. Obviously there is a great deal of variety within a law level. For instance, Stalinist Russia, Fascist Germany, and Imperial Rome all suffered under extremely high levels of law. Moreover, their legal systems were all oppressive (particularly to those of certain ethnic groups). The citizens of the United States enjoyed a great deal of freedom in the 1800s (especially on the frontier) with the exception that many ethnic groups (Native Americans, Blacks, Chinese immigrants) were severely oppressed. Victorian England may have had a fairly low level of explicit law but a fairly high level of law when one takes into account social practice and etiquette. Even what we call enlightened societies might have high law levels. Look at the number of paternalistic laws such as seatbelt and smoking laws that are in effect in modern day America. Lastly, any society under high levels of taxation is at least relatively restrictive in that it determines what one can and cannot do with one's income. True anarchies seldom exist (or at least tend not to last long). People are social creatures and they quickly form into groups. Frequently these groups wind up being totalitarian.
With the above examples in mind it should be clear that using a single factor to describe something as complex as the legal structure of a society is inadequate. However, single factors are convenient and usually enough to give one a rough feeling of what is going on in a culture. If greater detail is desired then use the following rules.
A more detailed analysis of a culture can be achieved by focusing on a few factors: taxation; official restrictions on individual liberty; unofficial restrictions on individual liberty; services provided. Each of these factors may vary in their application to members of certain ethnic, social, gender, or economic classes.
For purposes of shadow walking altering one of the below levels by one requires 3 shift points. If one is using the simpler system then altering the overall law level by one requires 10 shift points. Changing to an alternate form of government which provides the same benefits and restrictions usually counts as a 5 shift point alteration. This can be adjusted up or down based on other factors. For example, assuming all other factors being equal shifting from a democratic system modeled after the United States to a parliamentary system modeled after Canada (one without an actual king or queen) might be a very slight alteration (2 shift points). The parliamentary system of England (one with figurehead royalty) would be a normal 5 point shift. Likewise shifting from a fascist government such as Nazi Germany to another fascist government such as fascist Italy would be a slight shift (2 shift points) whereas shifting to Stalinist Russia might be 5 shift points and shifting to a theocratic dictatorship might require 8 or more shift points. Part of the reason for these varying shift point costs is due to the degree to which ordinary life is different under the different systems. Each system justifies its actions in different ways and its members behave in different ways.
All the above assumes that the only significant changes in the world are its law levels. Certainly, many such worlds will also be different is a number of minor features which will tend to increase the number of shift points required.
All social levels are rated on a scale from 0 to 7. 7 is considered high or total control while 0 is considered very low or no control. These levels are intended to match up with the legality classes of equipment (as presented in the GURPS Ultratech book and other places). In general, the overall law level of a place determines what legality classes of items are outlawed. Thus a world with a law level of 4 will restrict access to all equipment with a legality class of 4 or less. A world with a law level of 7 would restrict access to pretty much everything (including items like toothbrushes). Obviously extremely high law levels are only present in the most paranoid and controlling of nations.
0 No taxes
1 Very low taxes (below 10%)
2 Low taxes (between 10% and 20%)
3 Moderate taxes (between 21% and 40%). This category represents average taxation. Taxes might be higher for certain individuals (as in a gradated tax system).
4 High-Moderate taxes (around 50%)
5 High taxes (above 65%) at this level the government gets more of your money than you do
6 Very high taxes (above 90%)
7 Total taxes, citizens receive all goods as services
Official restrictions can take many forms. For the most part assume that the overall level applies to all sub- categories. If you want to be more specific break down this level by category. In this case the shift points required to alter a specific category is 1 per level.
The following is a list of typical categories. In each case it is possible that the government officially identifies as crimes actions that it has little practical control over. For game purposes the following list assumes that the government can actually control its citizens at the given level. If the government makes higher level actions illegal but cannot or does not enforce those restrictions then treat the government as having the level at which it can enforce restrictions.
This is the degree to which the government monitors its citizens. This is aided by higher technology and larger internal police forces.
0 The government keeps no records of its citizens.
1 Citizens are tracked merely for existence or non-existence. Citizens do not need to register.
2 Citizens must register with the government and give a residence. This is typically the minimum level required for purposes of taxation.
3 Citizens must keep the government up to date on their location and whether or not they leave the country. Various services provided by the government require additional information thus keeping the government informed of the citizen's activity. This is roughly equivalent to modern United States.
4 The government keeps fairly constant tabs on its citizens and has considerable personal information regarding them. Some monitoring of particular individuals occurs.
5 The government has substantial files on its citizens and regularly monitors particular individuals.
6 The government monitors its citizens through constant non-invasive measures. This is either through secret police and/or remote viewing.
7 The government constantly knows where each of its citizens is located and what they are doing. This is typically only possible if the government can plant something within the citizen. They might even monitor their citizen's thoughts.
This is the degree of protection the government provides against violation of individuals' rights against other individuals.
0 Everyone for themselves.
1 Sparse policing. This is like the American west of the 19th century.
2 Police are something of a figurehead. They can occasionally stop crime. This would be like Chicago of the gang era.
3 Police are outnumbered but can crack down on the more severe crimes. This is like a modern inner city of a major crime area.
4 Police can keep up with the criminals but strain to do so. This is like a modern inner city in a lower crime area.
5 Police on beat patrols. Typically one on every corner. This is like a well off suburb.
6 As for 5 but more police and better equipment.
7 Police are everywhere. No crime goes unpunished. This level requires special powers.
0 Anything goes.
1 Open displays of sexuality are allowed.
2 Public nudity is okay.
3 Birth control is freely allowed. Abortion has some restrictions but is generally available.
4 Abortion is not legal.
5 Birth control is not legal.
6 Sex is only allowed within the marriage.
7 Sex is not allowed at all (in order to survive the culture probably uses alternate methods of reproduction).
0 No restrictions
1 2 3 General religious freedom
4 5 Only allows variants of a religion
6 One religion only
7 No religions allowed at all. Note that this does not apply to Communist Russia since they essentially allowed variations of Communism to serve as a surrogate for religion. This level represents a world where independent thought is completely quashed (i.e. Orwellian and worse).
Paternalistic laws are those laws enacted with the goal of protecting citizens from themselves.
0 No such laws.
1 Laws to prevent grievous injury to self (such as making it illegal to sell self into slavery or prevent extremely hazardous actions).
2 Legalized prostitution and drug use (Amsterdam).
3 Laws to protect from obviously self-destructive actions, but moderately harmful actions are allowed.
4 Laws to protect health and some vices. Many forms of addictive drugs are illegal (United States).
5 Laws to protect against common unhealthy vices such as alcohol and smoking.
6 Some laws regarding exercise and diet.
7 The government completely controls the everyday actions of its citizens. Their diet, recreation habits and lifestyle are all legislated.
This represents the severity with which the government typically punishes actions deemed criminal.
0 Everyone is completely forgiven. This is practically like having no laws though this form of government can make people feel bad if they commit wrongs.
1 Reform is the sole goal. People will be re-educated or moved to a place where they won't harm others (but not a place designed to make them suffer).
2 Prison is more a place of reform than of punishment.
3 Punishment tends to fit the crime. Prison is seen as primarily a form of punishment but also has the purpose of reforming. No death penalty.
4 Punishment tends to fit the crime. Prison is seen as primarily a form of punishment but also has the purpose of reforming. There is a death penalty for very severe crimes.
5 Punishment is made to be more severe than the crime committed. Life sentences are common.
6 Punishment is extremely severe and may involve public spectacles.
7 Death penalty for nearly anything. Torture may be employed.
These are just like official restrictions with the difference being that there is no legal form of punishment for violating these restrictions. That does not mean that violating these restrictions is necessarily safer or easier. What sorts of activities are restricted in this manner is handled as for Official restrictions. However, the penalty for violating unofficial restrictions usually comes in the form of penalties to one's reaction roll. Naturally, violating some of these practices may incur a greater penalty than violating others.
These cover what the government or social structure provides as benefits for its members. Examples are roads, education, health care, unemployment insurance, national defense, disaster relief and protection, and so on. To a large extent tech level will have an influence on what services the government can provide. Also, higher tech levels can provide more services for less money (usually).
[Of course, this has to come from somewhere. Governments get their resources from taxes, and taxes come from people doing the work in the society. You do the math: The more the government gives away, the more it has to take from the working citizens (whose generosity is almost never voluntary, at least in human societies).]
0 The government provides no services.
1 The government provides minimal services such as protection from crime and military defense.
2 The government also provides some infrastructure and education.
3 The government provides higher education, welfare and health care for the poor.
4 The government provides all the above services for all its people.
5 The government provides standard living expenses for its citizens such as housing, food, transportation and jobs.
6 The government provides some common luxury items that most people want and provides the above services at improved levels.
7 A utopia. The government provides everything that its people could possibly need.
Habitat: 5 shift points/level
The habitat of a shadow is defined by its gross environmental features. This includes the typical climate as well as the type and variety of terrain.
In the following chart when it says +n that means that the given feature is not part of the normal level system. Instead treat n as the level of difference from standard Amber. Thus, a heliocentric world is still 10 levels away from a no gravity world despite the fact that being heliocentric already requires 2 levels of Strangeness.
In most cases there will be at least some minimal change of habitat when moving to an alternate shadow. This will take the form of the sky being a different color, different sorts of mundane plants and animals being present. To account for this add 2d6 shift points to the cost of most major shifts. Occasionally these points can be subsumed under the cost of the other sorts of shifts (for instance when shifting from Earth to an exactly similar world that has magic present at a higher level). These points can be rolled for when going to a somewhat random alternate world. If a character when shifting simply wants to alter the color of the sky or the type of plants nearby then that is a 1 point shift. If the character is simply changing the shading a bit (such as going from a light blue sky to a slightly darker blue) then that counts as a 1/10th point shift.
Mountains Level Completely flat 0 Mild elevation changes 1 Moderate elevation changes (Earthlike) 2 Severe elevation changes 3
Water Level None (dry) 0 Sparse (vapor or ice caps) 1 Limited (less than 25%) 2 Moderate (around 50%) 3 Plentiful (Earthlike) 4 Complete (Ocean world) 5
Atmosphere Level Vacuum 0 Sparse/Thin 1 Earthlike 2 Dense 3 Exotic +1 Toxic +2
Vegetation Level No vegetation 0 Desert/Tundra 1 Plains 2 Earthlike 3 Heavily forested 4 Jungle/swamp world 5 Unusual life forms +1
Animal Life Level No life 0 Sparse/simple life forms 1 Advanced life forms 2 Very complex life forms 3 Sentient life forms 4 Large variety +1
Strangeness Level Roll Geocentric, flat (Amberlike) 0 na Heliocentric +2 na No gravity +10 -5 Shifting terrain +6 -2 Slightly alien +2 na Moderately alien +4 +0 Highly alien +8 -3 Severely alien +16 -8 Superheroes world +10 -5 Vampire/Werewolf/Mage world +6 -2 Cthulhoid world +8 -3 Martial Arts Masters +4 -2 Chambara rules +6 -3 Stun Point rules +8 -5 Skin Passive Defense +6 -3 Trump blocked (requires roll) +5 -3 Each extra -1 to Trump roll +2 -2
The strangeness of a world can also require a skill roll to achieve. The modifier to that roll is listed after the level modifier.
Note that very high time flow levels are almost always associated with highly alien habitats (or worse). A Pattern roll at -2 is required to access a highly alien shadow and a roll at -5 is required for a severely alien habitat.
Environmental Alterations (Pattern Manipulation)
There are an infinite number of possible environmental alterations. Therefore I won't even try to survey them all here. These rules will provide guidelines for what sorts of effects can be achieved with environmental alterations.
Most of the Law alterations are effectively covered in the above rules on Tech level, magic, psionics, and time flow. Other laws should be handled on a case by case basis.
State alterations are always alterations of contingent facts within the world. There are two factors important to state alterations. The first factor is degree of establishment. It is typically easier to alter a non- established state than an established one. Thus, it is easier to change the outcome of a die roll than a roll which has already occurred. A state is established if it is perceived. Who perceives a state is also important. States perceived by Amberites (and other individuals of power) are more fixed than states perceived by mere inhabitants of shadow.
The second factor is the subjective likelihood of the target state. A target state which has a high subjective likelihood is easier to achieve than one which has a low subjective likelihood. Subjective likelihood is just what it says. It is the likelihood a given individual assigns to a particular event occurring. Despite its name subjective likelihoods are not all that subjective. For one thing, a potential state might affect large numbers of people. All of their assignments of likelihood would work together to establish the difficulty of a given event occurring. Secondly, the laws and previously established states of a shadow serve to generate parameters for the likelihood of a given state occurring. Lastly, most Amberites assign pretty much similar likelihoods to certain states occurring given previous conditions.
Establishment Modifier Never perceived +2 Occasionally perceived by non-powered +0 Occasionally perceived by powered -2 Frequently perceived by non-powered -2 Frequently perceived by powered -5 Currently perceived by non-powered* -5 Currently perceived by powered* -10 Large group is currently perceiving -3
* In these cases there needs to be an opportunity for the event to transpire without actually being noticed during the transpiring. If this is not possible assess another -5 penalty.
Note that the Amberite doing the manipulation actually counts. Therefore he typically causes the alteration to occur outside his field of perception. Future events should almost always be treated as if never perceived, but events whose effects are in theory already existent even though they have not yet been perceived by the Amberite may fall under one of the other classifications.
Subjective Probability Modifier Event is very common given circumstances (about 90%) +5 Event is common given circumstances (about 70%) +2 Event is fairly common given circumstances (about 50%) +0 Event is uncommon given circumstances (about 30%) -2 Event is rare given circumstances (about 10%) -5 Event is very rare given circumstances (about 2%) -10
Special Note: Amberites who are insane actually gain some benefits. Their subjective probabilities can be very unusual, thus an insane Amberite (or even one hopped up on drugs) can sometimes create very rare events at much lower penalties (possibly even at bonuses).
Shadowwalking near Amber (Pattern Movement)
This is practically impossible without some advanced Pattern skills. Typically the character should walk or ride out of Amber proper before he attempts to shift shadow. Amber proper covers an area of about 15 miles in radius. After this one is in Arden or another of the very close Golden Circle worlds. It is difficult to shift shadow in these worlds as well. The character must make a Pattern roll at - 4 in order to successfully shift shadow from one of these locations (failure indicates that the character must wait at least a day before making another attempt). Another 30 miles of travel through Arden will get one to the outer reaches of Arden. From here shifting shadow uses the normal rules.
Anyone can travel between the Golden circle worlds using regular movement. This is due to the large shadow paths connecting them. It is considered a great honor (and boost to the economy) to be made a golden circle world.
Final Notes on shadowwalking:
The above section gives rather detailed rules on performing a wide variety of actions with Pattern. Typically they will not even be necessary. These are meant to be used when the player is in some specific circumstances and attempting to get some specific effect. If the player has a great deal of time when he is seeking an effect it is typically enough to say he simply succeeds or use the rules regarding seeking goals in shadow.
Hellriding (Pattern Movement)
Hellriding is the use of Pattern to move as quickly as possible through shadow.
The basic movement and any rolls required are as normal. However, an additional hellriding roll is required. This roll is performed at a -1 per 20 full points of shifting. Unlike most of the other Pattern abilities this power is based on Health, not Intelligence (much like walking the Pattern).
Hellriding divides the time required for seeking a goal by ten. However it is both fatiguing and dangerous. It costs 2 fatigue points to hellride plus an additional fatigue point per 20 full points of shifting. If the Pattern roll fails then a second roll must be made (at ones normal level) in order to avoid a mishap. A critical failure automatically results in a mishap and the side effects are even more severe.
Tracking Through Shadow (Pattern Perception)
This use of Pattern tracks the disturbances that an Amberite makes while moving through shadow. The Amberite makes a skill roll based on how recently a character moved through the area and the degree of effect a character had on the area. This works poorly if the target spent a great deal of time in the shadow since by doing so he spread out his effect. It is thus harder to localize exactly where the character entered and left the shadow.
Hellriders leave a messy trail behind and are therefore much easier to track (+3 on all tracking rolls). If the passage was recent enough then the character might be able to follow the target using the shadow paths he forged. This can be useful when the target made a particularly difficult shadow shift.
One roll is required to pick up the trail and then a subsequent roll is required for every hour (Amber time) thereafter to maintain it. If the trail is lost after initially picking it up the character is allowed one extra roll to attempt to re-acquire it. If the second roll fails then the character has lost the trail.
This use of Pattern requires a minimal Pattern Movement skill of 10. In addition, if the trail leads one into a shadow that requires a Pattern Movement skill roll to enter then the character must also make that roll.
Modifiers Bonus Trail less than 15 minutes old +2 Trail less than 1 hour old +0 Trail less than 5 hours old -2 Trail less than 1 day old -5 Trail less than 1 week old -10 Trail less than 1 month old -15 Trail less than 1 year old -25 Tracking a hellrider +3 Tracking an army +5
In the process of moving through shadow one essentially forges small and temporary shadow pathways. Even non- Amberites can sometimes use these pathways to follow the character. This is usually based on how recent the character passed through and the special abilities of the follower. Followers with magical powers or enhanced senses are better able to perceive the precise path that was taken. This is important because the follower must frequently not only travel in the same direction (or along the same road) but must also follow some of the same exact movements.
One way to follow someone is to keep him in sight and try to track his precise movements. This can be done by successfully shadowing a character (using the shadowing skill at a -2 penalty, lower this penalty if the follower has appropriate special powers). This is one of the primary ways a mundane creature can follow an Amberite. The person being followed can try to shake the tail using the standard rules for the Shadowing skill. If shaking the tail with the aid of Pattern assess the -2 penalty to the shadower since it is much easier to shake someone off if you can move across worlds.
Leading others through Shadow (Pattern Movement)
An Amberite can lead others through shadow. When this is done on a small scale (less than twenty people) this is handled just like normal shadow walking. However this can also be used to lead large armies through shadow. Use the following chart to determine the time multiple on travel and the number of troops that can be led. One can hellride while leading others through shadow in this fashion but incurs a penalty on the hellriding roll equal to double the time multiple for the force size.
Number of Creatures Time Multiple Pattern Skill 100 2 10 1000 3 11 10,000 4 12 20,000 4 13 40,000 4 14 100,000 5 15 200,000 5 16 400,000 5 17 1,000,000 6 18 and so on...
Typical Uses of Pattern
Shortening Travel Time (Pattern Movement)
The Amberite can make travel time quicker by taking a shortcut through shadow. This can have the added advantage of bypassing some obstacles (such as borders, seas or mountain ranges).
Effect Modifier 1/2 travel time +2 1/4 travel time +0 1/10 travel time -2 1/100 travel time -5 Bypass border +0 Bypass difficult terrain -2 Bypass impassable terrain -5
The Amberite can seek out equipment in shadow. This equipment can come in many forms, from diamonds or other sorts of wealth to vehicles or even armies.
Seeking a Goal (Pattern Movement or Pattern Perception)
Seeking out a goal in shadow is a long term project. The difficulty of this project is based on what is being sought. Moreover, these projects take time. Because you are traveling through so many shadows this time is measured against Amber standard time.
These rules are an extension of the normal rules for shifting shadow in individual cases. When seeking a goal in shadow I normally assume that the character is traveling at a fairly normal rate and using gradual shifts.
If the goal being sought is a shadow with a certain sort of definition use the rules under shadowwalking to determine the number of shift points required to get to that shadow. Each shift point counts as roughly 6 minutes of travel. Thus every 10 shift points represents about one hour of travel. After the character spends the required amount of time moving through shadow he makes any required rolls. If any of the required rolls fails then he stops in a shadow just short of what he was seeking. If the rolls succeed then he accomplishes his task.
Some goals may require entering special shadows. If this is the case then call for Pattern Movement rolls normally (or Pattern Manipulation rolls if the shadow is blocked).
Pattern Manipulation skill can also be used to get stuff. This should be accomplished using the rules for Environmental Alterations given earlier.
Example: A character is working his way from Shadow Earth to Forest Arden. This requires a 3 level technology shift (from 7 to 4) costing 15 shift points. Going from heliocentric to geocentric costs another 10 points. Law level stays roughly the same but becomes essentially a dictatorship (albeit benevolent). That costs 10 points. Magic level goes up for 2 colleges at a cost of 6 points. Psionic level goes down to -5 at a cost of 9 points. Time flow goes from 3/2 to 1 at a cost of 25 points. Vegetation level goes up by one at a cost of 5 points. The alterations in life forms are essentially covered by the different mana level. Other various differences might account for about 5 to 10 shift points. The total shift point cost is thus around 85 shift points, or eight and a half hours worth of travel, which seems in line with how long the books indicated it took (look at Corwin's trip with Random in Nine Princes in Amber, it was essentially a long road trip like driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas).
Determine the value of the item sought in money terms or in character point terms. The difficulty and time required to find the item is then based on either of those two values. When hellriding divide the time required by 10 but penalize the seek roll with a -2 in addition to requiring a hellriding roll.
Note that the items found in this search are usually shadow specific (except wealth). Thus seeking the almighty blood sword of annihilation will usually result in an artifact which, while powerful on its own shadow, is much less impressive on other shadows.
Value Modifier Time <$1000 or 5 cp +2 2d6 x5 minutes <$100,000 or 10 cp +0 2d6 hours <$10,000,000 or 15 cp -2 1d6 days <$1,000,000,000 or 20 cp -5 1d6 weeks 1/2 time required -2 na 1/5 time required -5 na 2x time required +1 na 5x time required +3 na 10x time required +6 na Magical item* -2 x2 Psionic item* -3 x2 Ultra tech item (15 or 16) -3 x2 Very unusual item -3 x3 Seeking a 2x time shadow na 1d6 hours Seeking a 4x time shadow +0 2d6 hours Seeking a 7x time shadow -2 3d6 hours Seeking a 30x time shadow -5 1d6 days Seeking a 365x time shadow -10 3d6 days
* These items will typically only work in their own shadow and perhaps a few nearby shadows. For items that work more generally see the rules for Seeking Items of Power.
The numbers for seeking a fast time shadow assume that the character is starting out at a normal time shadow.
Seeking an army (Pattern Movement or Perception)
The Amberite can seek a willing army in shadow. This army is constructed using the troop strength rules from GURPS Conan. Troop strength value (TSV), quantity, and morale are all important factors. TSV is defined as the average troop strength per creature. Ideally this will be high so that the army can be smaller, more manageable and thus easier to lead through shadow. Other important qualities are missile capability, siege engine, and cavalry.
The base time required to find and train 1000 troops is one day Amber time. All the troops should be of the same type when the character makes a roll. If this roll is failed then the time is wasted. If this roll is critically failed then not only is the time wasted but the character's current army has met some sort of disaster and disbanded. It is thus best to work in large chunks (so as to avoid the risk of a critical failure). Still, the character must balance this against the value of having a variety of troop types. Having access to a special realm (such as Amber or Arden) can reduce some of the risk of critical failure. The character can ignore 1 critical failure result while gathering an army if he has access to a standard special realm such as Forest Arden. Possessing Arden also grants a +2 on troop gathering rolls. Possessing Amber allows the character to ignore two critical failure rolls and grants a +4 on troop gathering rolls.
A Leadership skill roll can add +1 to this use of Pattern with an additional +1 for every two points by which the roll was made.
Traits Modifier TSV 1 +2 each +1 to TSV -1 Missile capable -4 Siege (not compatible w/ cavalry) -2 Cavalry (not compatible w/ siege) -2 Morale 9 +4 Morale 11 +2 Morale 13 +0 Morale 14 -2 Morale 15 -4 Morale 16 -8 1/2 time -2 1/4 time -5 1/10 time -10 2x time +1 4x time +3 10x time +6 100x time +10
Seeking a person (Pattern Perception)
The Amberite can seek a specific person in shadow. This typically leads the character to the location of the target in shadow. This power does not work at all if the target is in Amber or one of the nearby worlds. It will also automatically fail if the target is in some form of strengthened or blocked shadow (for example, the Keep of the Four Worlds).
The target's attitude towards the character must be Good or better for this to work easily (use the NPC reactions chart from the GURPS Basic rulebook). The target's reaction to the character will affect the success roll for this power. The character can choose to overcome this resistance but the target will notice subtle signs in his environment indicating that someone else is shifting shadow towards him. The target can then attempt to resist the interception by making a successful Pattern Movement skill roll. The character can choose to give the target a -1 on this resistance roll for every -2 he takes on his own roll. If the Amberite is actively overcoming the target's resistance then he can ignore the penalties for target attitude. However, doing this alerts the target.
When pursuing a fleeing target the character starts out at a range level of 10 (this can be altered given different circumstances). Every hour the involved parties make their rolls. If the hunter succeeds and the quarry fails then lower the range by 2 levels. If they both succeed or fail then there is no change. If the quarry succeeds and the hunter fails then increase the range by 3 levels. When the range is reduced to 0 or less the hunter has caught his quarry. If it is increased above 20 then the quarry has lost his hunter and is effectively immune to being tracked by that hunter for about a month.
If alerted the target might actually try to find the seeker. If this occurs lower the range level by two for each successful roll made on either side. It is quite likely that both parties will try to get the drop on the other. This is best handled by having both parties take the appropriate penalties while making their seeking rolls and then rolling a quick contest of skills between the two parties. The winner gets to choose the general type of terrain and gets one free attack at the other. If only one party made the last seek roll then add +4 to his skill for purposes of the quick contest. If both sides fail the quick contest then neither has the advantage. When two hostile parties are seeking each other neither of them suffers the - 4 skill penalty for hunting a hostile target (they still suffer ambush penalties however).
Note: It is easy to avoid being followed if one notices it. All one needs to do is Trump away, at which point the hunter must reacquire the target (if possible). Obviously, Trumping to Amber makes you immune to further seeking.
Reaction Time Modifier Good 4d6 hours -2 Very Good 2d6 hours +0 Excellent 1d6 hours +2 Hostile special -3 Set Trap 1 RL/success -4
Seeking a concept (Pattern Perception)
Amberites can also seek abstract concepts in shadow. Some guidelines follow but this is best handled on a case by case basis. Seeking love will typically lead the character to an NPC who will be an appropriate match for the character. If a player does this have him describe the target of the search. Seeking one's future is somewhat strange. Technically any future event should satisfy this goal (even the most mundane). However, Amberites sometimes have fates associated with them and seeking this goal might put one on the path towards that destiny.
It can also happen that the character reaches a sort of primal plane of the concept in question. A character seeking love might find himself in a realm where the global concept of love lives. These sorts of encounters can be extremely interesting (or confusing). A critical failure or success might result in finding one of these primal planes.
Concepts like adventure are easy to handle. Simply send the character somewhere and run him through a scenario. The advantage of GURPS is that this scenario could come from practically any worldbook (or be adapted from another game).
Goal Modifier Time Love +0 2d6 x5 hours Adventure +0 1d6 x5 hours Future +2d6 -7 1d100 hours
Seeking Places and Objects of Power (Pattern Perception) Places and objects of power are special. They have influence across shadow. As such they are rare. Rarity is a funny thing in an infinite universe. After all, there should be an infinite number of rare things as well. I will use the relative frequency interpretation in these rules. The rarity of an item is the frequency of its appearance within shadow compared to the frequency of its not appearing within shadows. Common items are found in most shadows and uncommon items are found in fewer shadows. The question then becomes how many shadows does one need to travel through on the average to find a particular item.
Those were just some technical notes. The heart of the issue is that one cannot simply make a die roll to find an item such as Grayswandir, a special servitor such as Morgenstern, or a shadow such as the Keep of the Four Worlds (with an exception). Items, creatures, and places such as these will be encountered as part of role-playing. The GM should consider them to be the 'treasure' of the campaign, dealing them or information about them out as rewards for certain actions (and almost always involving some sort of scenario).
The exception to the above rule is that once a thing of power is known about it can be sought using Pattern Perception. Pattern Perception thus becomes the skill to use when seeking a particular object and Pattern movement the skill to use when seeking a type of object. The time it takes to do this should vary based on the circumstances of the goal but one can use the normal rules for seeking equipment as a guideline. Likewise the bonus or penalty on the skill roll should be assigned by the GM.
Covering your Trail (Pattern Perception)
An Amberite can consciously cover his trail while walking through shadow. This doubles the time it takes to travel and requires a skill roll. A successful skill roll penalizes trackers with a -2 to their roll with an additional -1 per 2 points by which the roll was made.
Sensing the Structure of a Shadow (Pattern Perception) Anyone with Pattern has an inherent sense of the structure of shadow. A character can make a Pattern skill roll when in a shadow to tell the time flow, mana level, and psionic level of the shadow. This roll might also reveal other anomalies. This roll can also give a general indication of how close to chaos the shadow is.
Blocked Shadows (Pattern Manipulation)
Some shadows are blocked off. These require a Pattern skill roll to access. This roll may be modified based on the particular shadow. Typical modifications are +0 for simple difficulties, -2 for low level blocking, and -5 for high level blocking. A modifier of -10 can be applied if the shadow is very difficult to access. The shadow might also require multiple rolls at varying difficulties to access. This typically implies that the shadow can only be accessed through certain other shadows (analogous to having to go through several locked doors).
Advanced Uses of Pattern
The following uses of Pattern require that the character possess the Primal Pattern skill. Each of the actions is still listed as using one of the basic forms of Pattern. The character uses either the appropriate basic Pattern skill or his Primal Pattern skill, whichever is lower, to make his roll.
Movement in and around Amber (Pattern Movement)
Fiona and Oberon could apparently shift shadow near Amber. Fiona walked to the Primal Pattern and Oberon (in the guise of Ganelon) shifted near Kolvir. Thus it is theoretically possible to shift directly to these areas.
The character controls a small area of Amber proper in performing this action. This area becomes flexible enough to shift into and out of. This allows Shadow walking into and out of Amber itself. There is a penalty of -4 to the skill roll for these actions.
If this power is used to move into or out of Arden or another of the close Golden Circle worlds then there is no penalty on the roll.
Environmental Alteration near Amber (Pattern Manipulation)
This ability can also be used to create a local alteration of the rules in Amber. This works just like affecting the rules in a shadow except there is little risk of accidentally shifting out of a shadow. The character can enact whatever changes he wants (with the appropriate difficulties). These alterations affect an area of about 100 yards in diameter. Constraining the area to 5 yards in diameter grants a +5 bonus on the skill roll. This latter application is usually reserved for special experiments.
Altering the rules in Amber itself incurs a -3 penalty on the roll. Altering the rules in Arden incurs no penalty when using Primal Pattern.
A critical failure on one of these rolls expels the character into a shadow appropriate to the kind of changes being made and requires a second skill roll. If this roll fails then some kind of harm might result. If it critically fails then the effect might be really bad.
Locking a Shadow (Pattern Manipulation)
The Amberite can lock a shadow. This requires a roll against one's Advanced Pattern skill. A regular success on this roll locks it at a minimal level. Anyone who wants to enter the shadow must make a regular Pattern skill roll to do so. The Advanced Pattern initiate may take a -1 on the skill roll for every -1 he wants to apply to Pattern users attempting to enter the shadow.
Environmental Alterations (Pattern Manipulation)
The Advanced Pattern initiate can alter the environment of a shadow without moving or perceiving it. These sorts of actions are handled as usual however the player must use his Advanced Pattern skill.
The Advanced Pattern initiate can also affect a shadow directly with much less risk of shifting to an adjacent shadow. The character can alter a shadow using as many shift points as he wants. He must still make a roll against his Advanced Pattern skill with a -1 per ten full shift points. A critical failure means that he has shifted to an adjacent shadow.
Pattern Sensing (Pattern Perception)
The Amberite can use his Pattern ability to perceive. There are two methods of doing this, direct and indirect. Direct sensing allows the Amberite to look at an object or creature and analyze it for traces of power (of various kinds). This sort of direct observation can reveal a great deal of information about a subject. A regular skill roll will reveal what special powers an object possesses and the sorts of laws and states required for an object to exist. This is not quick (it takes at least 10 seconds for a cursory look and several minutes or even longer for a real investigation).
Indirect sensing keeps a character aware of gross anomalies in shadow. A character can make a regular skill roll to detect if there are shadow storms traveling in nearby shadows. This might also reveal other large effects. The character could also set up warning systems in shadow to indicate major shadow-wide disturbances out there. This is rather complicated and frequently requires sorcerous, psionic, or Trump help.
Peering Through Shadow (Pattern Perception)
With this ability the character can perceive across shadow in a way similar to clairvoyance. This ability is particularly difficult. The character must purchase a special advantage, Detach Perceptions (costing 25 points). Moreover, all rolls to use this ability incur a -5 in addition to any other penalties. The character makes a roll at -1 per 10 full shift points of difference between his shadow and the shadow he is perceiving. This roll incurs an additional -2 if one is looking into Amber itself and -4 if looking at the primal Pattern. This effectively places someone's point of view at a location within the target shadow. This perception can also be routed through another shadow to look in the shadow the character currently occupies. This requires a roll at -2. The character must be able to determine where he is going to place his point of view, either by having been there before or by picking it out in relation to some other known location.
Forging Shadow Paths (Pattern Manipulation)
The Amberite can blaze trails through shadows. This is handled much like normal shadow travel except it takes ten times as long and always requires a skill roll (at an additional -2 if a skill roll was already required). Typically shadow paths are set up between nearby shadows and are relatively narrow (about the width of a large river or mountain pass).
These paths are usable by anyone who travels along them. Their typical duration is 2d6 months though shadow storms cause them to deteriorate more rapidly. An existing shadow path can be strengthened by going over it again (using the same process). This is much easier taking only normal movement time and requiring no roll. Moreover, even someone without Primal Pattern skill can maintain a path by simply traveling the path (taking twice as long) and making a Pattern Movement or Manipulation skill roll. If a shadow path is maintained for a long enough time and/or used often enough it can become self-sustaining. All the Golden Circle shadow paths are self sustaining by now.
A shadow path can be destroyed by making a Pattern Manipulation roll at -2. This penalty should be increased for more established shadow paths. For instance, the sea path from Amber to Begma might incur a -10 penalty because it is so well established.
Shadow Pockets (Pattern Manipulation)
An Amberite can create Shadow pockets. Essentially the pocket is a shadow fragment. Many shadow fragments exist in between the full fledged shadows. These fragment shadows combine the characteristics of the nearby full shadows, but are far more plastic. An highly skilled Pattern user could create a pocket deep out in shadow and play with its time flow to create a fast time shadow. There are dangers to this however, since denizens of the nearby shadows might detect you, or changes in the nearby shadows tend to change the fragment. If one wants a truly secure vault or hiding space it is best to create a pocket near Amber, where the walls between shadow are more solid and the fragments are less subject to random alteration coming from nearby shadows (after all, the nearby shadows don't change).
Naturally, creating a shadow pocket closer to Amber is more difficult. Apply the usual penalties for effects near Amber. A base roll creates a pocket the size of a large walk in closet (about 30 cubic yards). Each doubling of the volume incurs a -1 to the skill roll. Creating a pocket in shadow incurs no additional penalties but the character might want to strengthen the pocket. This requires an additional skill check. Attempting a base success gives it a strength of 1 and each -2 taken on this roll gives it an additional point of strength. The strength of the pocket serves as a penalty for rolls to destroy the pocket or as a bonus for resisting the effects of shadow storms. Pockets can also be locked according to the regular rules but because they are so confined this is easier. Give the character a +2 to rolls to lock a shadow pocket.
Creating a shadow pocket in Amber incurs a -5 penalty to the creation roll but automatically gives it 5 points of strength. Moreover, these pockets are not harmed by shadow storms. Creating a pocket near Amber (for instance, in Arden) incurs a -2 penalty and automatically gives it 2 points of strength. Shadow storms are infrequent in these locales.
A shadow pocket can be destroyed by making a Pattern roll. The strength of the pocket should be taken as a penalty on this roll. Doing this takes about 2d6 minutes but can be done in just a second or two if the character knows about the pocket and takes an additional -5 on the skill roll.
Shadow storms are systems of chaos which move through shadow. They can be extremely local (only affecting a certain part of the shadow it is in) or be spread across several shadows. Shadow storms are created by random chance and also by specific actions. For instance, repairing the primal pattern instigated a storm which spread across all of shadow. Certain uses of other powers can also create shadow storms. Shadow storms create a number of role-playing effects. A shadow storm might causes local variations in the laws and states of a world. They could also transposes objects or creatures from one shadow to another.
Use of any Pattern skill within a shadow storm is more difficult. Penalize all use of Pattern with a -2 (this may vary according to the intensity of the storm). Shadow storms can also destroy pocket shadows and shadow paths. If the pocket shadow or shadow path was created by a particular individual have him make a Pattern skill roll penalized according to the intensity of the storm. If this roll fails the construction dissipates. Strengthened shadow paths (such as Golden Circle paths) should get a bonus on this roll according to their strength
Trump Skill (Mental, Hard)
Defaults to IQ-4
This is a mental hard skill. This covers the actual use of trumps both standard and special. Eidetic memory does not grant a cost benefit to the learning of this skill.
Trump Artistry (Mental, Very Hard)
Prerequisites: Trump Skill 15 and Artist
This skill covers the creation and construction of Trumps. Eidetic memory does not grant a cost benefit to the learning of this skill. This skill cannot be possessed at a skill level higher than one's Artist skill.
Trump Sensing (Mental, Very Hard)
Prerequisites: Trump Skill 15
This skill allows the character to perform certain forms of passive sensation through trumps.
Trump Conflict and Use
Use of Trumps:
It generally takes 1 second to pull a Trump out, 1 second to activate a Trump, and 1 second to step through. It also takes one second to answer a Trump contact.
If you are maintaining, answering, or opening a Trump contact you must use concentrate actions. Both parties do not need to use a concentrate action maintaining contact; as long as one of the two parties does so then the contact remains open.
While maintaining a Trump contact you are distracted, and receive a -1 to all other actions (including defensive actions). This distraction even applies if someone else is doing the maintaining. The only exception is that Advanced or better Trump users can maintain a quiet contact with someone. The Advanced user maintains the contact and the person being contacted suffers no distractions (he can communicate through the Trump at only a minimal level though, and needs to spend an action to do anything significant through the Trump link).
If you are Trumping to a place the above sequence is all that is required. But if you are Trumping to a person you generally have to concentrate each turn while waiting for the person on the other end to answer the Trump call (obviously, if you are in trouble then you better contact a place, or a person who is very reliable).
Because the use of trumps allows direct mind to mind contact between the participants it also serves as a simple channel to attack someone psychically. This means that every trump contact carries an inherent risk. The being on the other end of the contact might use this opening to engage in direct mind vs. mind battle. There are other dangers as well. Some people might be able to listen in on your trump communication, and perhaps even step in and attack you even though you were talking to someone else. Even trumping to locations carries a danger. The location may be monitored. It could even be sentient, and malignant.
Psychic conflict with trump uses the character's Trump skill modified by the Strong Will advantage (or disadvantage). The defender in a Trump psychic conflict can simply use his Intelligence plus Strong Will if that is superior to his Trump skill.
Needless to say, Trump conflict can only be initiated against those with the ability to use Trumps. There might be rare cases where you can Trump someone who cannot ordinarily use Trumps (this will probably require a special Trump). That person is then as vulnerable as any other Trump user.
Trump conflict should be considered as something like grappling. The initial contact is like the initial grab. Once contact is made both communicants have a hold on each other. Once that hold is established they can each then decide to exploit the hold or try to gain some form of advantage. Thus a trump contact is not unlike shaking hands; you are both essentially putting yourself at the other's mercy.
Distractions During Combat:
Trump conflict is more distracting than normal trump usage. If you are engaged in trump conflict, or are trying to initiate contact then you must choose one of the following two options: Trump focused (you are focusing your attention on the trump battle) or Physical focused (you are concentrating your attention on physical concerns).
If you are trump focused you suffer no penalties on your trump actions but suffer -2 on all physical actions and can only take step moves.
If you are physical focused you suffer a -1 on physical actions (you are still in Trump contact after all) and a -2 on Trump actions (including resistance rolls).
If you are simply trying to resist an initial contact that is being forced on you, you suffer a -1 penalty that can either be applied to Trump actions or physical actions as you see fit.
In most situations initial contact will be made by one person initiating a trump call and another person answering the trump call. If this occurs then both participants are considered to be in contact. The other method of making contact is by one being forcing the contact upon another.
There are 3 levels of contact possible. The first level is surface contact. It is the most common and is what happens when one first makes trump contact. Surface contact allows active communication or scanning of thoughts that are actually being concentrated on for sending. Second level communication grants deep access. It allows characters to read each others actual thoughts and memories. This can be used to transmit an image to another character. Third level contact is total contact. It allows deep probes of the other's subconscious and can allow contact with unconscious or comatose individuals. Total contact is difficult to achieve even when both parties are willing.
Note that contact is a two way street. If you have deep contact with someone he has deep contact with you. Deep contact should only be allowed with someone you trust.
This should be a rare and difficult occurrence. In order to force someone into trump contact the initiator not only needs to be far superior in mental power, but also needs to have the trump skills to back up that power.
In order to force contact the attacker must have the necessary trump image (naturally); this can be a card or memorized image. The attacker must then overcome the target's willpower in a psychic duel.
The process of handling this is much like a telepathic attack from the psionics book. The attacker can attempt to force contact by using a concentrate action. The attacker makes a Trump roll (as modified by Strong Will) and, if successful, the defender makes a Trump roll to resist. The attacker can attempt to overpower the defender by taking a - 2 to his own roll for every -1 to the defender's roll. Because forcing contact is particularly difficult the attacker suffers an additional -3 penalty to his Trump roll. If the initial attempt fails the attacker can try again by spending a Fatigue point and taking an additional -1 to his roll (cumulative). This is just like making a telepathic attack.
Similar rules can be used to simulate an attempt to force contact across some form of Trump barrier (though the attacker will be attacking the barrier instead of the target). One can assume that the barrier defends as if it were the person who created it or give it a standard penalty that applies to all attempts at Trump contact. Note that even requiring a roll is more difficult than normal so assessing an additional penalty implies that the Trump barrier is particularly strong. Others may help in this process. For every ten skill levels of help the character should get a +1 on his roll to break through the barrier. If one of the helpers is secretly resisting then subtract double his level from the effective total.
All forced contact, once successful, initiates surface contact.
Once contact has been established both combatants can now make mental attacks against one another. No actual physical attacks are allowed (though physical attacks can be used to describe the visual effect).
Anyone can perform a mental attack through Trump. Likewise, people get all their normal mental defenses against Trump attacks.
Mental Attack Rolls via Trump:
The process of handling this is much like a telepathic attack from the psionics book. The attacker makes a Trump roll (as modified by Strong Will) and, if successful, the defender makes a Trump roll to resist. When resisting an attack the character can use either his Trump skill or his Intelligence. Strong will always serves as a modifier to these rolls. The attacker can attempt to overpower the defender by taking a -2 to his own roll for every -1 to the defender's roll. If the attacker fails his roll he can try again by spending a Fatigue point and taking an additional - 1 to his roll (cumulative). The defender making his roll merely means that the combat continues.
Fatigue points may be spent to increase the chance of success of these rolls on a one for one basis. The maximum bonus one can gain is a +5 to the roll.
Generally speaking spells and physical actions cannot be performed through a Trump link. However, psionic powers can be so used. The range is considered to be 0 meters (thus even a zero power level is sufficient for telepathy actions). The attack operates at the lower of the character's Trump or Psionics skill. The primary reason for using psionics is that it allows for a wider variety of effects. Normal Trump use only allows the character to paralyze his victim. Psionics allows the character to mind control him, burn him, or any other sort of psionic action.
Actions in Trump Battles:
What follows is a short list of actions that are available only in Trump battles. The actions typically include the rules necessary to implement them. Normal combat actions are still available (and may be necessary if some asshole is engaging you in Trump battle while you are in the midst of a physical battle).
This is like maintaining a hold. If neither communicant performs one of these actions the trump contact is broken. Typically the communicant who initiated the battle (and also happens to be in a safe location) will be the one maintaining contact.
This action gives a -2 penalty to physical actions and only allows step moves. This action is subsumed under other sorts of Trump actions. Thus, when one tries to increase the contact level, dominate the target, or use some other ability, he is also assumed to be maintaining contact.
Increase Contact Level from Surface to Deep:
This will raise the contact level from 1 to 2. If the other side is willing it simply happens, and the level goes up by one.
* If the other side is unwilling this requires a standard mental attack. The level is raised by one once if the attacker succeeds at his Trump roll and the defender fails at his resistance roll. Use the standard rules for attempting to overpower an individual. Also, if this action fails then making another attempt costs a Fatigue point and incurs a -1 penalty to the action.
* Once the participants are at deep contact they both suffer a -2 penalty to defense rolls against further psychic attacks.
Increase Contact Level from Deep to Total:
This will raise the contact level from 2 to 3. Even if the other side is willing this set of rolls should be made (or role-played). This is because it is extremely unnatural to open your mind to this extent. Only one side needs to succeed and that opens level 3 contact both ways.
* This requires a standard mental attack at a -5 penalty. The target can choose not to resist this roll.
* At total contact both participants suffer a -5 to resistance rolls. Moreover, any psychic shields either side possesses are bypassed.
Lower Contact Level:
This allows a character to downgrade the contact, or break contact entirely. Cooperation means that it happens with no dice roll required.
* The character can try to break contact by making a standard mental attack roll with a +2 bonus to the roll. One difference is that he may use his Intelligence and Strong Will in place of his Trump skill (essentially his defensive attributes). The resistance roll is not affected by level of contact in this case. Resisting this form of action is innately more difficult. The character attempting to maintain contact takes a -3 penalty on his resistance roll (and cannot spend hero points to sustain it).
* The character can attempt to lower the contact by two levels by taking no bonus on the roll, or attempt to lower it three levels by taking a -3 on the roll.
This is a standard mental attack. If this action is successful then the victim is temporarily paralyzed. Every second the victim may make a willpower roll at -2 in order to break free. Attempting to break free costs a fatigue point. While the victim is paralyzed the attacker can choose to use a more mundane form of attack through the Trump contact (such as a physical or magical attack), step through to the target, or pull the victim through the link. Naturally, while paralyzed the victim gets no defense rolls (but can still make resistance rolls).
Special Uses of Trumps
One can identify the person calling by pulling out one's Trumps, sifting through them and detecting the subtle signals sent off by the Trump of the person calling you. This requires 1d6+1 seconds to perform and a Trump Sensing skill roll at -2. If successful you know who is calling you.
This will not work if you do not possess the correct Trump (though it will tell you that the caller is not from one of your Trumps).
Skilled Trump users can attempt to mask their call as being from another person. This requires that the character have a trump of the target and a trump of the person he is going to mask himself as. He then makes a Trump skill roll at -8 in order to pull off this trick. The character must still use some other means to disguise his physical appearance (this is not immediately necessary since appearances are not revealed until full surface contact is made).
By making a Trump skill roll a character can open a Trump gate. This gate acts like an open portal through which objects can freely pass. Doing this requires a person on each side of the link but only one of them needs to make the roll. If successful a doorway sized portal opens up (about 3 feet wide by 7 feet high). This area can be doubled for every -1 taken to the roll.
This takes a concentrate action to maintain.
Jamming a Trump requires a Trump skill roll. This forces the victim to make a Trump skill roll when he wants to use the Trump. For each -2 you take on the jamming roll you can assess a -1 penalty to the victim's roll. You can try to jam more than one trump by taking an additional -2 to your roll for each doubling of the number of Trumps jammed. It takes a concentrate action to jam trumps and you must have the victim's trump available.
One can eavesdrop on others use of Trumps. You must have one of the parties' Trumps and make a Trump Sensing skill roll at -8. Each additional -1 taken to this roll gives a - 1 on attempts to notice the eavesdropping.
Noticing someone eavesdropping requires that the character actively look for it and make a skill roll by at least 2 (in addition to the other penalties). Characters with a Trump skill of 20 or higher do not need to ask for a roll. The GM should secretly roll for them if they do not specifically request a roll. This incurs a -5 penalty to the skill roll.
Eavesdropping only allows the character to detect surface communications. Note that even when two individuals are at deep contact much of their communication effectively transpires at the surface level.
This can even be used against someone who is not currently using Trump as a sort of telepathy. This sort of use incurs a penalty of -16 to the Trump Sensing roll and only allows the reading of surface thoughts. The target can attempt to detect this sort of intrusion normally.
You can scan your available Trumps to see if they are currently being used. This requires a Trump Sensing skill roll at -4.
Creating a Trump is a fairly simple process. You must have the Trump Artistry Skill at level 13 or higher. Constructing a Trump takes 1d6 hours if the subject is present (and modeling). No skill roll is required. This can be sped up to 1d6x10 minutes if time is a constraint but requires a normal skill roll. The quicker version also lacks the artistic refinement of a regular trump.
You can create a trump from memory by spending 2d6 hours and making a skill roll at a base -3. This penalty can be increased if the character has a poor recollection of the scene. Eidetic memory allows you to create trumps of any scene committed to memory with a normal skill roll.
Temporary Trump sketches can be made in 2d6 minutes with a successful Trump artistry roll. This roll gets a +2 bonus, thus making it easier to create the trump sketch from memory. These trump images last only as long as the medium supports them. Even in ideal conditions they fade over time lasting at most 2d6 months.
Repairing a Trump Image:
Corwin repairs a trump sketch made by Dworkin in the first book of the series. This ability mirrors that action. This is the only Trump artistry ability to which one can default (Trump Skill at -4). Doing this requires a normal roll against Trump artistry and restores it to its original condition.
The simplest form of trump trap is making a trump of a dangerous location or entity and then leaving it lying around. Amberites tend to be recklessly curious and will often investigate the trump on their own initiative.
Another form of trump trap is one that automatically pulls someone through when they activate it. This requires a skill roll at -3 to create and takes 2d6 days. The trap has a its own skill and potency level. The skill level is used for the traps attack roll and the potency level serves as the penalty on the target's resistance roll. The trap then acts like a person, attacking whoever uses it. If it succeeds the effect occurs. If it fails the victim can choose to put the trump away or use it normally. Trapped trumps have no fatigue or hero points.
The skill level of a trapped trump is equal to the level of the trump artist after all penalties are taken into account. The intensity level starts at a base 0 but can be increased by 1 for every -2 the artist takes to his roll.
Other sorts of trap effects can be used. They should be handled using the same general procedure (possibly varying the base penalty to create the trap). For instance, someone might create a trap that locks the victim into the trump. This is fairly potent and would have at least a -8 penalty on the creation roll.
Trumps of the Unpowered:
One can create a Trump of someone without the ability to use trumps. This requires a Trump artistry roll at -5 and takes 2d6 days due to its difficulty. The subject can then be contacted via that particular Trump as if he had the Trump power. The subject must be present to model for the artist.
Trumps for the Unpowered:
Special Trumps can be made that anyone can use. These are extremely difficult to make. Make an artistry roll at -10 and take 2d6 weeks to complete the work.
Trump and Magic
Trump can be very useful when combined with magic. There are a number of possible effects. One of them is listed below.
You may use your Trump power to conjure or summon creatures. This requires a Trump of the appropriate native realm and a normal magic skill roll. Use the lower of your Trump skill (as modified by Magical aptitude) or magic skill. The creatures appear very quickly due to the Trump link (within 2d6 seconds). They must still be bargained with or controlled.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Peterson, reprinted by permission