Unisystem Amber

You are the Counter Amberite to hellride to this Shadow since March 10th, 2004, Shadow Earth Time

These notes are meant for playing in the setting of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber novels using the Unisystem. They are inspired by the novels themselves, Phage Press’ Amber Diceless Role-Playing, written by Erick Wujcik, and, last but not least, the unofficial Non-Diceless Roleplaying in Limitless Shadows -- an excellent resource for GURPS written by Joshua Kubli (being a lazy guy, I even copied some of the descriptive text). Recently, I’ve found an also unofficial GURPS Amber. Although a bit too crunchy for my tastes, I did base some things on it (and also copied some text).

I’ve freely plundered both full and lite versions of the Unisystem, though I must confess that I may have favored the former. This might give these notes a schizoid feel. However, adjusting the material to find the mix point you desire should be easy enough.

This work is far from complete. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

UPDATES

March 10th, 2004
POWERS: Pattern Imprint: Walking the Pattern

July 16th, 2003
SKILLS

CHARACTERS
QUALITIES
DRAWBACKS
SKILLS
POWERS
ALLIES & ARTIFACTS
MAGICAL ITEMS
WRITE-UPS
LINKS

CJ Carella's WitchCraft is copyright CJ Carella 1996-2002. CJ Carella's WitchCraft is a trademark of CJ Carella. CJ Carella's WitchCraft is published under exclusive license by Eden Studios. The CJ Carella's WitchCraft trademark is used without Mr. Carella's or Eden Studios' permission and neither of those parties is responsible for the content of this site


CHARACTERS

     Starting Amberites and Chaosites are Legendary level characters and should use the Greater Gifted or Supernatural Types. Elder Amberites, like Oberon’s children, are undoubtedly in the Mythical range.

Characters points
 
Starting
Middle
Elder
Attributes
20
25
30
Qualities
15
20
30
Drawbacks
Up to 10
Up to 15
Up to 20
Skills
25
35
50
Powers
60
120
190

1. Surplus Power points can be distributed among the other categories, if the player so desires and the GM agrees.
2. I don't include Drama points because I think most of its uses are inappropriate for an Amber camapign, though certain aspects might be explained as the Amberite's power over Shadow probability. I suggest using Good and Bad Luck. Since Cast Members will probably have very high levels in their scores, low levels of Bad Luck might seem ineficient. However, in this campaign, the GM can accumulate levels not used in a session and apply them later cumulatively, as long as such an action wouldn't result in the Cast Member's death.

 

Racial Qualities
Amberite Chaosite
Attributes: +5 STR [5], +3 DEX [3], +3 CON [3], +1 INT [1], +1 PER [1], +2 WILL [2] Attributes: +3 STR [3], +2 DEX [2], +2 CON [2], +1 WILL [1]
Essence: +30 [3] Essence: +10 [1]
Qualities: Blood of Amber [5], Immortal [0] Qualities: Blood of Chaos [3], Immortal [0], Shapeshifter 1 [5]
Total: 22 points Total: 17 points

 

QUALITIES

Age
2-point/level Supernatural Quality
     For Unisystem Amber, use the Lite version of this Quality.

Blood of Amber
5-point Supernatural Quality
     This is a prerequisite to walking the Pattern. Characters with this Quality have the ability to cast a Blood Curse. The Curse may only be cast when the PC is at -10 Life Points and is equivalent to the Accursed Drawback at level 10. The Curse comes true. Should the Cast Member survive the experience, they will suffer from the effects of their own Curse in one way or another, and an enormous sacrifice will be required to expunge it. This is a powerful tool to take campaigns in new directions, and GMs shouldn't be afraid to use it, or go with an unexpected Curse. Blood of Amber can be purchased with points from either the Qualities or Powers categories.
     Note that a Cast Member may have this Quality without having the Amberite package. In that case, the character is a direct descendant of Oberon, but so far removed in generations, that he doesn’t have the same physical characteristics of the Royal family.

Blood of Chaos
3-point Supernatural Quality
     This is the Chaosite version of the Blood of Amber Quality. It allows the character to traverse the Logrus (note that without Shapeshift, he will die), but doesn’t give him the ability to cast a Blood Curse.

Jewel of Judgement Initiation
15-point Supernatural Quality; Prerequisite: Blood of Amber
     This allows one to use the Jewel of Judgement, the traditional symbol of Amberite royalty, and a powerful and dangerous talisman of weather control.

Resistance (Shadow Editing)
1 point/level Supernatural Quality
     This allows a Shadow-Dweller to resist the effects of Shadow Editing on themselves, and is usually gained by a long association with an object of Substance. The maximum level that may be bought is level 20; GMs may restrict Shadow-Dwellers to lesser levels, perhaps to 10 maximum.

Status
1 point/level Quality
     Shows the character's position in the family hierarchy, and their relation to the throne. This gets very confusing, but can be generalized as follows. Note also that this can change rapidly in or against your favor (as it did for Random and for Merlin). (While this advantage is useful for "justifying" your claim to the throne, it is not likely to be useful in repelling a coup! Thus the low point value).

 

DRAWBACKS

 

SKILLS

     Besides being immortal, Amberites can easily find a shadow with the appropriate time flow and learn any skill they want. Because of that, Cast Members should buy skills from the cinematic list. They should be treated as Special skills for cost purposes. Players can also buy Regular skills if they want to specialize their characters’ interests. However, the skill level of the specialty should be based on the cinematic level.

Example: Nei buys 5 levels of the Melee skill for his character, Frederique. This costs 10 points (2/level until level 5 for Special skills). He decides that Freddie has had extensive training with swords in general, so he buys 3 levels of that skill. Since this would effectively be level 8 (5 + 3) of the Hand Weapons (Swords) skill, it costs 9 points (3/level after level 5 for Regular skills). So Frederique has Melee 5: Swords 8, costing a total of 19 points.

     If you don’t mind the extra bookkeeping, you can also use the Optional Specialties.

Example: Frederique has a thing for rapiers and Nei decides to spend another point and further specialize his character in them. For 20 points, Freddie ends up with Melee 5: Swords (Rapier) 10 (he still has 8 levels with swords, he’s just better with rapiers).

* New skill

 

POWERS

     It took me a while to decide how I wanted to handle the Powers ruleswise. Basically, I could go two ways: have a fixed-cost Power with a controlling skill or a level-based Quality. I went with the former, because, as I understand the novels, Power use is more a question of refinement than raw power. This is true even of Shapeshift and Sorcery, but since these two already have mechanics built for them, I used those instead.

Pattern Imprint (Basic)
50-point Power; Prerequisite: Blood of Amber
     Birthright of every Royal Amberite, the Pattern Imprint is acquired by assaying the Pattern, not necessarily the one in Castle Amber, an oval design 150 by 100 yards, similar to a Celtic arabesque. This is a grueling process that is not done lightly.

Walking the Pattern
     
In order to traverse the Pattern, the Cast Member must succeed in a series of Constitution or Willpower rolls (whichever is lower). Failure doesn’t mean immediate death, only that the character slowed down or didn’t advance. He needs to repeat the roll with an additional -1. If he fails again, he repeats the roll once more, now with a -2 penalty, and so on. Each roll made while walking the Pattern also drains the character of D10 (5) Essence points +/- the penalty/bonus for each section (minimum expenditure of 1). For example, at the First Steps, Essence cost is equal to D10-2 (3), while at the Second Veil, it’s D10+3 (8). Successes obtained in the rolls reduce Essence cost at a 1-to-1 ration (minimum expenditure of 1)

The First Steps: +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: 0
This is just the warm up part of the Pattern. It gets worse.

The Second Veil: -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: -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: 0
This is the last roll you need to make. Consider it a cooling down exercise. Once you succeed at this roll you finish the Pattern walk (this might cause one to lose consciousness).

     Amberites who have already walked the Pattern can give aid by advising you. Every success in a Intelligence roll grants a +1 bonus to the character. However, the helper can intentionally mislead someone. This turns the successes into penalties. Royals can also channel Essence points at a 5-to-1 ratio to the Pattern walker. By making a Willpower roll, the Amberite can send as many Essence points as he has successes. Essence can also be used to increase the roll when crossing more difficult areas. Every 3 points spent this way give the character a +1 to the roll. Note that all the effects of Essence loss (WitchCraft, p. 154) are applicable when walking the Pattern. So, if the character’s Essence pool drops to less than half, he incurs an additional -1 penalty. That’s why Royals try to be fully rested when they do so. If the character fall unconscious while on the Pattern, he's torn to primordial shreds.
     Sometimes, a character will not be able to finish the Pattern. His only chance resides in being physically pulled off it. Physically pulling someone off the Pattern automatically causes D6 x 5 (15) damage (which bypass defenses) to both the walker and the helper. In addition, both characters must make a Constitution or Willpower roll (whichever is lower) 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 Willpower + Trump skill. If this roll is successful then the walker has been pulled free. Both individuals take D6 x 5 (15) damage (as above) and, moreover, the Trump is destroyed. The walker must also make a Survival roll. There are no additional penalties on this roll and the helper does not run the risk of obliteration. If the helper's Trump skill roll fails, then they both take D6 x 3 (9) 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 Trump skill + Constitution or Willpower (whichever is lower) roll at -2. If this roll fails, he is destroyed. If it succeeds, he takes D6 x 3 (9) damage , loses 5 Essence points and his Trump is destroyed.

Example: Paulino, one of Oberon’s many bastards, is about to walk the Pattern for the first time. His has Constitution 7, Willpower 5 and 70 points in his Essence Pool. Paulino managed to ingratiate himself with Bleys, who will help him in the ordeal. Bleys makes an Intelligence roll and gets 2 successes. This gives Paulino +2 throughout the process. He steps into the Pattern, making his Willpower roll with a total bonus of +4 (+2 for First Steps, +2 for Bleys’ help), succeeds and loses 2 Essence points. Next, he gets to the First Veil and rolls again. He succeeds once more and loses 7 Essence points. So far, so good, but now Paulino reaches the Second Veil, the most difficult part of the Pattern. He rolls with a total penalty of -1 and gets a final result of 9, making it through (and losing 4 Essence points). All the while, Bleys is talking to him and advising him on what to do. A little more confident, Paulino arrives at the Grand Arch. However, here he fails his roll, stumbling and losing 10 Essence points. Encouraged by Bleys, Paulino keeps moving. He rolls again, now with a -1 penalty (-1 for the Grand Arch, -2 for an extra attempt and +2 for Bleys’ advice). He fails again, losing 8 more points of Essence. Paulino concentrates and summons his inner strength. He spends 9 points of Essence to cancel the penalty (now at -3), plus 6 more to get a +2 bonus. Unfortunately, this reduces his Essence pool to below half, giving him another -1. Rolling again,  Paulino succeeds and moves on, losing 5 points of Essence. At this point, Bleys decides to boost Paulino’s endurance. Making a Willpower roll, he scores 3 successes, which give Paulino 3 Essence points and drains Bleys of 15. Still in the Grand Arch, Paulino spends 3 more points to get +1. He succeeds, losing 5 Essence points. Bleys channels another Essence point to him. At the final stage of the Grand Arch, Paulino rolls again , succeeds and loses only 2 Essence points. At the Final Veil, Paulino succeeds at his last roll, loses 6 Essence points and finishes the Pattern. Paulino is drenched in sweat and only has 7 points in his Essence Pool, but he has acquired the Pattern Imprint Power. He also owes Bleys a big favor, since without his help, walking the Pattern would have been even more difficult.

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; the character takes 1 point of damage for every 5 points of damage (or fraction thereof) he had when he walked 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.
     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.


 

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Last Update: 10-Mar-04

 

 

 

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