Amber: Shadow Binding and Superheroics

Personal Realities in the Amber Diceless RPG:

   While every amberite knows that “the rules”, including basic natural laws, change as they move from shadow to shadow, few have recognized the basic contradiction this implies. Biochemical and bioelectrical systems are incredibly delicate; a tiny fraction of the alteration which halts the simple combustion of gunpowder is more then enough to kill instantly. Despite this, creatures and people regularly transverse shadow unharmed. Even more oddly, while medicines and such often malfunction if taken oustide their original shadows, they never do anything odd when you move through shadow after taking them. Once poisoned, drunk, drugged, or high, you stay that way no matter where you go.

   Most amberites simply accept this, dismissing the chemical implications with their usual pragmatism. In reality, the explanation is relatively simple. Every living creature maintains its own, personal, internal “reality”. While this does not extend beyond themselves, it does suffice to keep them alive in weird realms – although even apparently identical creatures from different shadows may respond very differently to the same substance or force. A creatures internal reality even extends to cyberware and such, provided that such implants are fully enclosed in living tissue (those with advanced pattern or logrus mastery can “bridge” small gaps). There is, of course, a problem with this. Characters from amber or chaos have internal realities that don’t support high tech devices. To use cyberware, such a character must “adjust” his internal reality, a difficult process. In effect each piece of cyberware costs points. Advanced (and thus powerful) pieces are more difficult to adapt to, and so cost more points. Most pieces of cyberware cost from 1 to 5 points, depending on what they do (In most cases, the cost can be approximated by use of the rules on constructing artifacts). Note that creatures from appropriate shadows need not “pay” for cyberware, its already attuned to their personal reality. While such items work almost anywhere on the internal level, those with external effects are more problematic – unless backed by the will of an amberite.

   This takes us to Shadow Binding. The “Blood of Amber” is powerful; the mere presence of an amberite can strengthen a shadow, and eventually make it cast shadows of its own. Shadow Binding is usually found among the “unknown bastards” of Amber, those who are born and grow up in a particular shadow. Ignorant of their heritage, they accept the shadow as “real”, and unconsciously use their latent power to imbue it with the energies of the pattern.

   If introduced to shadow travel, such characters can draw on this energy reserve, letting them “ignore” the local rules in favor of those of their home realm. They can use their home realms tools, powers, and magics almost anywhere – although places of true reality such as Amber proper or (to a lesser extent) any primal plane, are a considerable strain. Obviously, Shadow Binding can’t be “picked up” after character creation, or taken more then once.

   The cost depends on what the user’s home realm permits. The more it allows, the more difficult it is to impose its laws on another shadow. The homeworld of a shadow binder is always a “primal plane”, highly resistant to pattern, logrus, and manipulations by it’s “owner” – who has, and can have, no special powers over “his” shadow; Shadow Binding is dedicated to maintaining, not controlling, Shadow. As with the true pattern and Dworkin, Shadow Binding will attempt to protect its user, but it is far weaker. The “cost” of shadow binding can be determined as follows;

  • +12 to +36 points of “Good Stuff”, only works in critical situations, 1/4’th cost (3 to 9 points).
  • A Primal Plane and a Sphere of Secondary Shadows (6 points). No “degree of control” is available – but the user may add Shadow Barriers as desired (0 to 4 points). The characters position “in” the shadow is variable, but he must “fit in”; he grew up in the shadow and belongs there. While his superior talents may give him many options, “god” is not likely to be one of them. The character must fit into his environment.
  • The Tools and Powers available from a particular realm are rated in each of five basic categories: Magical Powers, Invoked and Spiritual Powers, Psionic and Innate Powers, Technological Devices, and Bestowed Powers. The ratings include Little or None (No cost), Limited (5 points), Moderate (10 points), Advanced (15 points), Heroic (20 points), and Superheroic (25 points). The exact parameters of each category should be established in cooperation with the GM, but it might be wise to “set up” the characters powers under another game system.
  • Fortunately, the character need only pay for powers that he or she can use, he or she need not strain to impose laws permitting the use of powers or forces he or she does not control.
  • “Bestowed” talents can include the ability to transverse or manipulate shadow – either as devices do or as a sort of minor version of pattern or logrus. Such talents always work best in the primal planes secondary shadows and are much weaker elsewhere.
  • If a Shadow Binder ever opts to walk the Pattern, the points devoted to Shadow Binding will be transferred into Pattern Powers. If his or her home shadow is destroyed, despite it’s “primal” status, the effects can vary. Some Shadow Binders absorb the energies into themselves, and are – at least externally – unaffected. Some must seek out a similar realm and adopt it to regain their abilities. Others either transfer the points into more generic abilities or walk the Pattern. In most cases the choice should be left up to the player – although the character is perfectly welcome to agonize over such changes and the loss of their home.

   And now, for more fun, lets translate some comic-book characters. As it happens, these are what would now be considered fairly “classic” versions of these characters, as most of these notes go back quite a few years. These translations also assume that Amber characters are innately on the superheroic scale, as was discussed in the previous entry – and you’ll note that most of them don’t cost that many amber points…

Doctor Strange:

  • Psyche 25, Endurance Chaos, Strength Human, Warfare Chaos (Net -20)
  • Shadow Binding:
    • Good Stuff +12 (Critical Situations only) 3
    • Superheroic Magic 25
    • Primal Plane and its Shadows 6
    • Mystic Barriers to Entrance 2
  • Eye Of Agamotto:
    • Trump Image (Realm of Agamotto) 1
    • Exceptional Psychic Sense (Light of Truth) 4
    • Able to Mold Shadow Creatures 2
  • Cloak of Levitation:
    • Resistant to Normal Weapons 1
    • Able to Mold Shadow Stuff (Gravity) 1
  • Net Cost for Doctor Strange: 25 points.

Thor Odinson:

  • Psyche Chaos, Endurance Amber, Strength 30, Warfare Chaos (Net 10)
  • Mjolnir:
    • Deadly Damage 4
    • Able To Mold Shadow Stuff (Air and Weather effects only, drastic effects) 2
    • Combat Reflexes (Wielded at Amber rank) 2
    • Contains Named and Numbered Trump Images 2
  • Dense Flesh (Resistance to Firearms) 2
  • Net Cost for Thor: 22 points.

Adam Warlock:

  • Psyche Chaos (25), Endurance Amber, Strength Amber, Warfare Amber (Net -10)
  • Soul Gem:
    • Stupendous Psychic Power (Soul Vampire, versus chaos psyche or less, ranked psyche) 8
    • Transfer Quality (Psyche) 5
    • Able to Mold Shadow Creatures 2
    • Contains a Trump Image (Pocket Realm) 1
  • Cosmic Energy Absorbing Cell Enclaves:
    • Able to Mold Shadow Stuff (Cosmic Power, permits; Flight, Life Support, Energy Bolts, FTL Travel, and Light Generation) 4
    • Transfer Power 10
    • Resistance to Firearms 2
    • Transfer Quality 5
  • Bad Stuff: -2
  • If still in charge of marvel universe add a personal shadow with control of time flow. +3
  • Net Cost for Adam Warlock: 25 points, 28 with shadow.

Thanos:

  • Psyche Amber, Endurance 20, Strength 22, Warfare 3 (Net 45)
  • Cosmic Energy Absorbing Cellular Augmentation:
    • Able to Mold Shadow Stuff (Cosmic Power, permits: Life Support, Energy Bolts, Energy Deflection, Teleport Portals) 4
    • Transfer Power 10
    • Invulnerability to all Conventional Forces 4
    • Transfer Quality 5
  • Power Words (Psychic Disruption, Pain Attack, Chaos and Pattern Negation, Process Surge) 10
  • Bad Stuff: -18
  • While he had agents, they were never reliable, and so cannot have been bought with points.
  • Net Cost for Thanos: 60 points

Captain America:

  • Psyche Chaos, Endurance Chaos, Strength Chaos, Warfare Amber (Net -30)
  • Shield:
    • Impervious to Damage 8
    • Double Damage 2
    • Powered By Trump 4
    • Combat Mastery (Wielded at moderate rank) 4
  • Motorcycle, Van, and Assorted Equipment 8
  • Good Stuff 16
  • Net Cost for Captain America: 12 points

Silver Surfer:

  • Psyche Chaos (see powers), Endurance Human (see powers), Strength 24, Warfare 8 (Net -3)
  • Silvery Coating:
    • Invulnerable to All Conventional Forces 4
    • Regeneration / Life-Support 4
    • Transfer Power (Regeneration) 10
    • Tireless, Supernatural Stamina 4
    • Transfer Quality (Stamina) 5
    • Able to Mold Shadow Reality (Cosmic Energies) 4
    • Deadly Damage (Level of Cosmic Energies) 4
  • Surfboard:
    • Mold Shadow Stuff (FTL Flight, Phasing) 2
    • Contains a Trump Image (Hyperspace Portal) 1
  • Psionic Cellular Augmentation:
    • Extraordinary Psychic Sense (Life Detection, Postcognition, Telepathic Communication, Control of Board) 4
    • Transfer Quality (Ex Psychic Sense) 5
  • Bad Stuff -4
  • Net Cost for the Silver Surfer: 40 Points

   Now, within their specialities, any of those might be a challenge – or at least a noteworthy obstacle – to an Amber character, but they’re really no match for them in general. Of course, compared to a normal human being, they’re fairly godlike.

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