Amber – Advanced trump I, Tapping and Shunting

   Here are a couple of advanced trump techniques – or collections thereof – for the Amber Diceless RPG. In the original game quite a few of these were commonly accessed via a combination of (Very) Advanced Trump Powers and Power Words – allowing the user to access effects very very quickly.  

   Advanced Trump Powers were originally one of Arvon’s major research projects – not that he was all that advanced in the use of Trump himself, but because he was using his research as a lure for Jean, another player character…

   Trump Tapping is a technique for using trump energy to draw on energies, minds, and materials, out in shadow, channeling them “through” the user. While this limits the raw power available, it allows the user to control and shape the energies he taps – at least within limits. The users peak output is limited by his basic physical durability (strength or resistances), his total output is limited by his endurance, his “range” across shadow by his trump powers – and his speed and control by his psyche. The basic process is easy; the user envisions what he wants, “feeds” trump energies into the “image” to create a link, and taps the source. Psyche comes into play here as well, since it controls the users ability to visualize the pattern of what he wants. Things that can be tapped include:

  • Skills and Knowledges: These are available from a wide variety of minds out in shadow, and are gained by a slightly more “in depth” trump link then usual. This is easier if searching for common, local, information, harder if searching for something esoteric, tricky, or extremely specific. Users should be careful to specify exactly what they’re fishing for; variants abound out in shadow.
  • Physical Energies: This includes things like hard radiation, electricity, and solar energies. This kind of power is usually easy to get hold of, but difficult to handle. Most people prefer to bring this stuff through as much as possible outside of themselves. This limits their control, but allows them to pull off some fairly spectacular stunts.
  • Mystic Energies: While trump masters can tap such energies, without a sorcerer’s skills they can only use them in the crudest of fashions. Such “spells” as they can construct rely almost exclusively on raw power and are limited to the simplest of effects. If actually in a contest of magic with a mage, their effective skills are about equal to their (points in trump)/10.
  • Psychic Energies: Are easily available, but are of limited use. The problem is that it’s very very stupid to tap into the mind of anything that has more psychic power then you do – and if it has less, why bother? As a rule, tapping psychic energies is only useful if you value disguising your mental “signature” more than you mind the drastic loss in power. It is an excellent way to disguise your “aura” however.
  • Matter: Is usually actually pulled through outside of the user, and is easy to get if you just want a piece of rock or something. Blasts of water or magma, plates of food, and simple objects are fairly easy. A decent sword is harder, fitted armor is harder yet, and special items are nearly impossible without a preexisting link of some sort. Envisioning the trump image of a complex magical sword or something will probably take days and requires a psyche of at least three times an artifacts point cost. “Unique” items may also have to be “pulled away” from their owners, while anything which contains pattern or logrus energies can’t be summoned this way.
  • Spirits: While “spirits” of various sorts can be summoned via trump, the psychic link it creates allows or forces them to automatically, if temporarily, merge with the user. The resulting fusion may have a variety of useful powers or enhancements but will also display a variety of the spirits mental and physical traits. It can be a very disconcerting experience, resembling the effects of shapeshifting in many ways. The “fusion” is also vulnerable to anything that would normally affect wither of its components. This “technique” can also be used to draw on less personified spiritual forces, but the precise effects of such attempts are individual to each user.
  • Creatures: This application closely resembles the effects of a normal trump card – if you have a willing subject or a great advantage in psyche (or power), you can drag creatures through to you. Since creatures are pretty complicated “things” this takes anywhere from a few minutes to weeks.
  • Counterforces: This technique involves “inverting the pattern” of what you observe, and using that image to pull through an equal and opposite force, hopefully canceling out them both. Sadly, this takes more and more time as the complexity of the force(s) to be countered increases, is limited as usual, and can sometimes make things worse. Some forces feed on each other, nullify each other explosively, or even complement each other, such as tapping an immense positive charge to cancel a lightning bolt.
  • Psychic Backup: Like counterforces above, this is a specific, rather than a general, technique, allowing the user to draw on the minds out in shadow which have a natural resonance with his own – his shadows. While this does nothing to boost the users psychic potential or offensive powers, it does allow him to “spread” the effects of psychic attacks, drastically reducing their effects. While the user, as main focus, still carries the brunt of the assault, this will enable him to hold out a great deal longer – or even indefinitely against psyches no more than (trump/4) points above his own.
  • Reality: Is probably the most abstract thing that can be tapped via this technique. Drawing on a shadows “reality” allows the user to project a “bubble” of the shadows natural laws and forces around himself, creating a zone where the tools, implements, and powers of that shadow can operate. While this does not supersede the local natural laws, it does offer an alternative. More ambitious users should recall that any forces they tap are being channeled through themselves. This is most difficult near Amber or the Courts, but will work. It also requires a special attunement to the shadow which is tapped, usually either in the form of having bought and described it, or in the form of a unique power word.

   Trump Shunting is a technique used to transfer impinging energies, forces, and matter, out into shadow. While this can be done fairly quickly with practice, it does take time to establish the link and begin transferring whatever it is, thus its use as an emergency technique is a bit limited. It’s much more effective if the user has an appropriate set of power words. Like trump tap- ping, shunting involves the use of a one-way link, and isn’t available to characters who have not yet learned to create such links. The applications usually depend on what the link is designed to transmit.

  • Warp Screensare the most “general” class of shunt, a broad-spectrum field around the user which transfers anything and everything which attempts to enter. While this is a very effective defense, it also cuts off the users sensory input. This is a pain. Tuning the shield so the user can see offers “windows” for attack, while “damping it down” reduces it to weakening, rather than eliminating attacks. Even full-coverage shields aren’t invincible, trump-resistant effects can cause feedback effects against the user or penetrate them.
  • Energy Shunting allows the user to transfer out any impinging energies at or above the damaging level. The technique is extremely useful in evading injury. While it can be maintained, it’s most commonly used to block the effects of things like laser beams. Maintaining it is usually only necessary in exceptionally hostile environments.
  • Mass Transfer applies to incoming matter instead of energy. Unlike Energy Shunting, this effect is usually maintained over time, and can be attuned to particular types or states of matter. A field attuned to “plasma” will transfer out flames, but not rocks. This can even be used as a sort of filter, transferring away, say, the chlorine contaminating the air around the user. As useful as this can be, Mass Transfer is very difficult to maintain over a long period.
  • Auric Disguiseapplies to psychic energies. Unlike most of the previous techniques, this is a two-way, if intangible, link. It is usually used to divert psychic probes to something out in shadow, yielding false data for the prober. It’s not of much use as a defense, the psychic link is too delicate to maintain when the user is under psychic attack.
  • Kinetic Shunting is another two-way shunt – in this case, due to the relative nature of momentum and kinetic energy. Due to this same relative quality, this shunt can also be applied to the users person or to anything in his immediate environment, either removing or adding kinetic energy and momentum as the user desires. Sadly, imbuing momentum requires shunting the energy directly through the user to allow him to control it, and so is limited by the users basic strength and endurance. This effect does allow the user to fly, but this requires a good deal of practice and some attention to maintain.
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