Theovin Syindar, Lord of Chaos

Cover of Rifts first edition: a splugorthian s...

By Amber standards? Populated with very minor creatures.

As usual for Amber NPC’s, Theovin comes in several versions; after all, you never know how a given game master may want to use him.

Theovin, of Clan Syindar, is Erin’s (far) older brother or half-brother. He’s a trump artist, with the curious and annoying habit of picking up various “ultra-tech” items and powering them with trump energies – throwing in the powers of Self Healing and Alternate Form and (for robots and vehicles) Shadow Seek. While it does take him several hours to make such items, rather than simply being able to call for them, he can be counted on to have a small arsenal of energy weapons, sensors, computers, tools, and suits of “power armor” on him at any given time – usually disguised as an assortment of small ornaments and talismans. He also usually employs a powerful force field and a psychic screen generator.

That kind of gear won’t necessarily stop a full-out assault by a high-ranked assailant, but it provides a substantial edge – and will usually offer some options for escape.

  • Base Attributes: Strength: Chaos (-10 Points), Warfare: Amber (0 Points), Endurance: Amber (0 Points), Psyche 24 (24 Points).
  • Base Powers: Trump Artistry (40 Points), Basic Shape-Shifting (35 Points), and a Named and Numbered set of “Personal Planes” with Restricted Access (3 points, x2 for Named and Numbered = 6 Points).
  • Horde Of Devices: Various high-tech items, all Powered By Trump, Self Healing (or, in some cases, self-reloading), with an Alternate Form (usually some small trinket) and Shadow Seek (if appropriate). That’s a base of ten points, x3 for a horde = 30 Points.

That’s a total of 125 points – a fairly normal starting character. Game masters can either go with that or use one of the more experienced versions below:

The Adventuring Hero: Theovin’s older then Erin – but that’s not saying a lot for a Lord of Chaos. This version has a fondness for going forth and exploring the more dangerous sorts of shadows, such as “Rifts” Earth (yes, that’s another game entirely – but it’s a very exciting place to be an alien godling). This version will have Sorcery (15 Points), Power Words (15 Points), items that Store Spells (4 Points) and confer Regeneration (9 Points), 7 points of “Good Stuff”, and 25 points worth of allies, devotees, and such – for a total of 200 points. He’s actually, and simply, one of the “good guys”. His political position will resemble Gerard’s in Amber; the various manipulators may think he’s a dimwit, but everybody knows that they can count on him.

The Scheming Lordling: A lord of chaos he may be, but Theovin recognizes the potential of technology. It can be used to channel trump energy in so many ways… This version is as political and scheming as any normal Lord of Chaos – but he tends to be collecting power and allies with a view to the future, rather then for “immediate” use. Hence he tends to be fairly trustworthy and looks out for his friends and family… Of course, he expects them to return the favor. He’s a Logrus Master (45 Points), wields a set of 12 specialized Power Words related to psychic combat (17 Points), and uses an artifact that Confers Trump Defense (10 Points). He has a Warfare of 22 (22 Points), an Endurance of 5 (5 Points), and a point of “Good Stuff” (1 Point). 225 points base, may have allies and such at the option of the GM.

The Bothersome Punk: As one of the rowdier junior lords of chaos, Theovin tends to violate tradition a lot – and rides his motorcycle through places where it definitely does not belong. He’s a pest, but does tend to get (simpler) things done. This version is often acting as an errand-boy for someone else – whether due to some manipulation, or simply because he’s returning a favor. This version uses a device that Confers Trump Defense (10 Points) and a set of ten Power Words that allow him to make short-range teleport jumps, boost his devices – and resist attempts to capture him (15 Points) – for a total of 150 points.

The Potential Companion: A reasonably friendly, and rather inexperienced, fellow, this Theovin is a decent ally for any starting-level character, and will probably be interested in an alliance. He may seem omnipotent to Erin, but he isn’t ready to play in the big leagues yet. A character fortunate enough to forge an alliance with Theovin has a convenient source for trumps, high-tech equipment that works – and (probably) access to a nice secure shadow or two with plenty of resources. It can be very nice – but it means that you’re making his problems your problems as well. This version is rather unlikely to have extra powers – save possibly a device that Confers Trump Defense (10 points) – but will grow along with the player characters.

Regardless of the version, Theovin has provided Erin with several toys at one time or another, and with two “pets” – whether out of affection, from a desire to keep an eye on him, or simply wanting to protect him as a likely future ally. Brothers make good ones if they grow up liking you.

Arath and Charin are big robot “dogs”, with a fully natural appearance, advanced computer intelligences (no psychic presence – but friendly AI’s), vast physical capabilities (Run at 300+ MPH, capable of doing “destructive” damage with a variety of built-in energy weapons or their ultra-hard teeth and claws, multiple-ton hydraulic strength, a wide assortment of sensors, and an advanced tactical computer equivalent to a midlevel warfare rank), and a tendency to catch him, to try and talk him out of doing dangerous, and make him study his lessons and do his homework… Being powered by trump, they’re pretty indestructible.

Depending on just how authoritarian and restrictive they’re being, Erin may regard Arath and Charin as pets, friends, companions, annoyances, or as nuisances to be avoided at all costs. Like most independent characters in Amber, they can serve a variety of purposes.

“HEY! NOT NOW! THEY’RE IN TROUBLE! I GOTTA HELP! LEMME GO!” (As Erin gets carried off) “It’s Time for your bath Erin”, says the deep mechanical voice. “Your Mother will be very upset if you aren’t ready for your magic lessons tomorrow” “BUT I GOTTA STAY HERE! LEMME GO! PUT ME DOWN!” (the voices fade in the distance).

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Erin, of Clan Syindar, a youthful Lord of Chaos and Order

Cover of "Knight of Shadows"

Yep. This place again.

So I’m not supposed to – it’s a DARE… I Have to. Besides – everybody peeks. So mommy had said never to go near the Logrus. Suhay wouldn’t get mad. Everybody peeked at the Logrus at least once when they were kids (Well OK – maybe some of them lied). You could see it through some of the world-cracks… There was supposed to be a hole that let you see it down this way without even any guardians on it…

There was.

Wow… That’s neato. All wiggly lines – an arcs of power – an all those things that are there – an aren’t there (at the same time) – an the way it sorta “twists off” into other “places” that’re really weird – an the way it – it… I don’ feel so good. It’s all dizzy an it’s goin roun an roun…

Erin started to back away. And then the world split wide open – as the Logrus reached out and grabbed him.

HELP! MOMMY! ARTHEEEN! LEMME GO! LEMME OUT! MOMMMY!

Space warped. Colors swirled. Lines of fire reached across the world. Doorways to a million million realms gaped open around him. Shifting instinctively, flowing with the raging current of primordial power, Erin rode a wave of blazing energy into the heart of the Logrus. A whirling vortex of pulsing force spun around him, as what currently passed for his feet carried him through the shifting maze…

Something laughed.

When things settled down, Erin got very sick.

Back in human form, He dazedly opened his eyes as a dry, old, voice spoke; “Congratulations child… Even among trained adults few successfully walk the Logrus” “Ooh… Is that what I did?” “Hmm… How did you come to reach the Logrus anyway child?” “I was peeking – AN IT GRABBED ME!”

Suhay muttered, frowned, and peered at the Logrus…

“Well – Come child. Intentional or not, I will have to tell you something about the powers of the Logrus.” “Hey! Where’d all these funny rings come from anyhow?” “Didn’t you have them before child? Let me see…” (BY THE SERPENT!!!) “Child…? We have much to talk about I think… What’s your name?”

Suhay spent several hours (minutes? days?) teaching Erin enough about “using” Logrus powers to keep things under control… He gave him some “gloves” to make the rings less magically conspicuous – and he told him not to tell anybody about this…

Erin didn’t… He went home and Arthen (the butler) put him to bed. He didn’t need to tell Arthen anything anyway. Arthen always seemed to know about everything he did – but Arthen never told on him.

He spanked him sometimes, but he never told mommy.

He’d have to get up early tomorrow… There’d be so many neat places he could go now – an people to meet – an some really neat places an things to find (I wonder where I heard about those?) – an he could beat Tevrinn up now – an – an – (Yawn)… (Tired)… an… (Sleep).

Erin’s childhood in the Courts of Chaos has been rather isolated, and has really been mostly under the control of Arthen – and the other house servants / creatures. His (presumed) mother has always been rather distant, and he has no idea at all who his father might be… Save for when he gives the servants the slip, he rarely gets to meet or play with children from other houses.

As for why the Logrus pulled him through – maybe it wanted an agent, or thought it was funny, or liked the potential for weird chaos inherent in a small boy with power, or was annoyed, or it was simply an accident…

As for what Suhay is up to – maybe he was just mad, or didn’t want to deal with a string of dead kids when the rest decided to try it too, or simply doesn’t know what the Logrus is up to, or actually wants to conceal the fact that kids are so adaptable that they can walk the Logrus with no problem (and would that ever make for confusion in the courts), or he’s just amused, or who- knows-what.

Game Statistics:

  • Strength : Human (Amber with Rings) (-25 points).
  • Psyche : Chaos (-10 points).
  • Endurance : Chaos (-10 points).
  • Warfare: Human (Amber with Rings) (-25 points).
  • Standard Disadvantages: Diary 10 points, Game Log 10 points.
  • Personal Disadvantage: Erin is a small child. He has few skills outside of being a passable sneak-thief (for stealing treats and sneaking out) and hacker (of limited use in Amber). He’s far too small to use a big sword, emotionally immature, and people never take him seriously. He’s bright and intuitive, but it’s still -5 points.

This provides Erin with a total of 195 points to buy other powers with – including:

  • Basic Magic (5 points):

This covers a fair amount of theory, a simple spells (comparable to AD&D’s Cantrips and first-level spells), and the ability to recognize magical items and effects. In Amber terms this is pretty trivial – but it’s handy and well-suited to a child.

“I discovered a dark three-cornered one (a hat) which fitted me perfectly. The color was a little off, but I recalled a spell which altered it.” -Merlin, Knight Of Shadows.

  • Amber Devotee (6 points):

At the moment, the identity of Erin’s amber parent remains unknown – at least to him.

  • Chaos Devotee (4 points):

Erin assumes that the Lady of Chaos he knows as “mother” is his indeed his mother. Of course, given the intrigues of the setting, it’s possible that this is wrong.

  • Family Friend (2 points):

Lord Theovin of Chaos – his (presumed) elder brother.

  • Shapeshifting (35 points):

As a denizen of Chaos, Erin is, of course, a full shapeshifter.

  • Minor Logrus Powers (20 points):

It is debatable whether Erin has Logrus Powers or if the Logrus has him. While Erin can use Logrus Defense and Sight, his ability to manipulate Logrus Tendrils is limited by his youth, inexperience, and his inability to concentrate for very long. Unless whatever-it-is turns up in a minute or two he gets bored and loses focus. This does offer one interesting ability; he can travel through shadow in a series of very short “hops”, about equal to a hellride – but this includes little ability to navigate. Unless the Logrus (or something) decides to steer him, he tends to get lost a lot, and blunders all over shadow.

If Erin walks the pattern any time soon, it’s very, very, likely that he’ll acquire a “partial” version of that as well. It requires concentration too.

  • Good Stuff (12 points):

Things just tend to go well for Erin. Given the general lack of pre-planning and deep consideration which goes with his age, that’s probably a very good thing.

  • Runic Rings (90 points)

The Runic Rings can be found over HERE. They’re incredibly complex – and powerful – items. Sadly, the character they were originally written up for wound up almost never actually using them. It seemed a pity to waste all that work though – but coming up with a reason for a starting character to have a ninety-point set of items is a little awkward. Hence Erin…

  • Ten Power Words (15 points):

While the Runic Rings have plenty of power words built into them, Erin does have some of his own.

  • Resume True Form; Standard.
  • Burst Of Psyche; Standard.
  • Fugue; “Stretches” .01 seconds into 10-15, although the utility is limited by the massive inertia of items that don’t belong to the user.
  • Reconstruction; Summons or recreates any item which the user paid the points for. Summoning is far easier, and will be what happens if the item still exists.
  • Instinct Tap; Draws on the instincts that go with a form, allowing a shapeshifter to avoid practicing.
  • Power Tap; Draws on the powers of an item, allowing the user to briefly use one of them as his own.
  • Chaos Bolt; Focuses the energy of the Logrus into a (tiny) bolt of primal chaos… This is hard on anything of shadow that it hits, but fades away swiftly. It’s nowhere near the critical limit where it becomes self-sustaining.
  • Phasing; Turns the user briefly intangible, letting him move through things and pull various tricks.
  • Instant Shift; Lets a shapeshifter accomplish about five minutes worth of shifting.
  • Summon Logrus; Brings the logrus instantly to mind.

Obviously enough, most of those just let Erin use his other powers more spontaneously, although that would normally tire him rapidly. Given that his rings grant him endless stamina however, they now let him play a lot more.

  • Personal Shadows (6 points):

Yes, this is Amber, where – for a handful of points – you can own a set of personalized universes. Erin’s Shadows include several video-game universes, a carnival world, a realm for outdoor sports and camping with some rustic villages to play in, a giant shopping mall world where you can get almost anything (and he never has to pay), and so on. Fundamentally they’re all the same – fun places with lots of interesting things to do and a lot of inhabitants (both human and animal) who like him and are quite willing to help him out. This is a Named and Numbered (x2 cost for a set of twelve) set of Personal Shadows (1 point) with Restricted Access (+2 points, mostly due to being hidden off in obscure corners of shadow – but partly due to various childish procedures for gaining entry).

Sadly, Erin never got much play time either. Ah well; maybe one of these days.

The Amber-Chaos Summer Olympics

   Courtesy of the Amber Tribune – “All The News We’re Paid Enough To Print”. A Reprint of the Special Tribune Olympic Section, covering events agreed upon for the (winter themed) Amber-Chaos Summer Olympics. Please note that – since the Amber Tribune was, of course, published in Amber, some slight pro-Amber bias is to be expected.

   Judging Oversight and Appeals Committee: Kimball Kinnison, Captian Mar’Vell, Lao Tzu, Gandalf The White, Mary Poppins, Fiona (representing Amber), Chaldwell the Voluminous (representing Chaos).

  • Event: Hide and Shriek.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: The Phantom Stranger, Casper, Eukinidor, The Guant Man, Bruce Wayne, Judge Ooka, Vlad Tepes.

   Description: This event requires the selection of a hiding place thats both as public and as private as possible, as your score is determined by how many people (only olympic attendees count) you manage to leap out at and scare before the opposing team finds you. There is a bonus if you manage to stay concealed throughout the entire two hours of your teams turn, but its not all that large – ergo sneaking off into Shadow is probably going to be counterproductive. It’s set up for two teams of eight, each gets one turn of seeking and one turn of shrieking.

   Evaluation: Terror looks like a good bet for this one, but some clever shapechanger may well find a way to even the odds.

  • Event: Doughnutathon.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Wimpy, Richard The Lionhearted, Diogenes, Cardinal Richelou, Masha, Valder The Innkeeper, Wuntvor.

   Description: A simple event, a timed bicycle race over some rather nasty terrain. The catch is that you get to subtract five minutes from your time for every doughnut you eat at one of the refreshment stands along the way. This is an open event, anyone can enter.

   Evaluation: This looks like a contest of raw strength, endurance, and appetite. While Amber is probably ahead on the first two, who knows about the third? Shapeshifting may offer a substantial advantage in gobbling… Overall, a slight advantage to Amber.

  • Event: Cross-Shadow Tag.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: Paul Maud’dib, Yog-Sothoth, Aslan, Skeeve (The Great), Lord Incarnadine, Huntress Aleytys, Captian Crusader.

   Description: A wild chase across shadow, the only real requirement being that actual, physical, contact must be made to count. Two sessions with teams of four, the team that’s “it” longest loses, each will start as “it” once.

   Evaluation: Hard to call, since merely getting to the right shadow is not enough, you must also physically tag your opponent. Overall, a small advantage to Amber, but the Lords of Chaos probably have more practice.

  • Event: Null Gravity Billiards.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Mark Remilliard, Falcon, Cyclops, Marvin (The Paranoid Android), Retrief, Hari Seldon, Cassandra.

   Description: A sort of cross between dodgeball and 3-D billiards, you can score by either hitting your opponent with a multible bank shot or sinking one of your balls. Like most of the games using designated equipment powers can only be used on yourself. While both Chaos and Amber will be fielding “teams” of six in actual play they will be divided into three teams of two.

   Evaluation: Overall, a small advantage to the Lords of Chaos, who can shapeshift their feet to hang onto the walls better. Coming adrift makes you a marvelous target for bonus shots.

  • Event: Assassination.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: Chiun, Li Kao, Ming (The Merciless), Vlad Taltos, Raggedy Ann and Andy (Single vote), Miss Marple, Mario Greymist (Only via notes)

   Description: A freewheeling game of “killer”, allowing almost anything so long as 1) the target is not actually hurt, 2) innocent bystanders are not endangered, and 3) the judges say that it would have worked. Partial points will be awarded for likely but uncertain successes. The game is open, anyone can play as long as they notify the judges of their intended target in advance. Assasination runs throughout the Olympics and everyone is a fair target unless they are participating in another event, in which case they are immune for fifteen minutes before beginning any preparations involved and for a similar period after the event concludes. If they assasinate someone during this time no points are scored. Each repetition against any one target is worth 10 less points.

   Evaluation: Yet another tricky call. While the Lords of Chaos have had more practice, the lords of Amber have somewhat more formidable abilities on the average. There is also the question of numbers…

Assassination Point Values:

  • Benedict: 100
  • Bleys: 65
  • Fiona: 100 (-25 while actually judging events, -5 during a 15-minute grace period before and after events).
  • Florimel: -10 (20 if the attack is tasteful and color-coordinated with her current outfit).
  • Sabre: -50
  • Eric: 80 (120 point bonus for the first success)
  • Osric: 100
  • Finnado: 75
  • Random: 25
  • Corwin: 5
  • Dworkin: 35
  • Caine: 45
  • Hengwyr: 20
  • Julian: 30
  • Brand: -15
  • Dierdre: 35
  • Gerard: 15
  • Gwalmachai: 5
  • Llewella: 15
  • Jonathan: 12
  • Oberon: 100 (250 point bonus for first success)
  • Shelevastra: 45
  • Drizzt: 3
  • Wrath: 20
  • Unicorn: 1000
  • Serpent: 1000
  • Constantine: 15
  • Gavroche: 20
  • Goth: 15
  • Unspecified Lord of Amber: 15
  • Unspecified Lord of Chaos: 10
  • Event: High Velocity Snow Sculpture.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Michelangelo, Cellini, John Steed, Darth Vader, Elminster, Leonarda Da Vinci, Rodin.

   Description: In this event huge, horizontally hurtling snowballs are to be sculpted as they hurtle through huge tubes where the entrants wait on rocket skateboards. The contestants will have approximately 30 seconds to sculpt the passing snowballs, using a sword, axe, flamethrower, chainsaw, blowtorch, bare hands – or whatever the Judges will permit. This is an open event, and the results are judged on artistic merit.

   Evaluation: This one seems to require speed, artistic talent, and good balance. Overall, a small advantage to Amber, since their reflexes are a bit faster on average.

  • Event: Star Fleet Battles.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Ender Wiggins, Lord Vorkosigan, Mr Spock, Oracle, Fleet Commander Garth, Thanos, Arthur Dent.

   Description: A game for two teams of twelve in command of a massive fleet of warships. Since each player is in command of his own subfleet, there is a premium on teamwork and coordination. Pure tactical skill won’t suffice without good communications and skilled teammates.

   Evaluation: Yet another hard call. While the Lords of Amber may have the edge in tactical skills, the Lords of Chaos may be more used to working together if their team is drawn entirely from one clan.

  • Event: Planetary Strategic Chess.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Colonel Cletus Graham, Sun Tzu, Yoda, Emperor Palpatine, Willard Phule, Flinx, Tolwyn Of House Tancred.

   Description: While this is an open event the first few rounds are simply standard chess-type games. The final three rounds will be played with armies on a planetary scale.

   Evaluation: Amber seems to have the edge in this one, due to this, the games will include handicaps of up to 2 to 1 based on the players performance in earlier rounds.

  • Event: Freeform Conducting.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Cerebrus The Aardvark, Bach, Ieyasu, John Lennon, Daniel Howling Coyote, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Captain Wilton Parminter.

   Description: Another open event, although limited to a maximum of twelve entries from each side. Contestants get an orchestra and a medley of twelve pieces of music to conduct, and will be scored on the quality of their production and of the special effects they provide.

   Evaluation: This one seems to be a tossup. While the Lords of Chaos may be more used to the abrupt changes of mood and response an unrehearsed medley will demand, the lords of Amber have more talent for keeping an orchestra (or anything else) well organized.

  • Event: Zero-Gravity Snowball Fighting.
  • Type: Semifree.
  • Judges: Aiken Drum, Pogo, Brother Juniper, Seren, Mrs Pollifax, Napoleon Solo, Wyrd Dragonlord.

   Description: An open event involving freefloating snow forts, ropes, snow tunnels, and huge stockpiles of snow- balls. Entrants will be divied into teams of twelve, usually by their allegiance to Amber or Chaos. Hot chocolate is provided.

   Evaluation: [Looks like fun. Wear warm clothing and play nicely]. <Get off the system mother, this is serious>. [A giant snowball fight is serious? Don’t be silly. How come you never call your poor old brokendown mother when you’re going to be working late anymore? For this I wore my fingers to the bone raising you, Unicorn help me that I should have such an ungrateful son, but what can I do? The only way he talks to me any more is if I should hack my way onto his newspaper system, and for this I] {ERROR ERROR – OVERRIDE ACTIVE, EXTERNAL MODEM SYSTEM SHUTDOWN} <Ahem>.

  • Event: Hunting.
  • Type: Semifree.
  • Judges: Diana, Orion, Prince Humperdink, Kickaha, Daniel Boone, Curennos, Robin Hood.

   Description: Straightforward, several shadows full of game and a time limit. While only “sporting” methods are allowed, and all kills must be made by the contestant to count, methods are otherwise up to the contestants. Time penalties apply for rule infractions. This can be nasty if the penalty was for failing to kill a wounded animal, or for cruelty to animals, as Diana often adds the touch of turning you into an animal for the penalty period. The event will accommodate up to eight individuals from each side.

   Evaluation: Who knows? Julian looks like a good bet.

  • Event: Team Scavenger Hunt.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: Lazarus Long, Belgarion, Alexander Jones, Magician Humphrey, The Borg, Spiff, Aramis Merrow II.

   Description: This event comes in two grades, local and cross-shadow. The local competition is primarily for the kids, but the cross-shadow competition is definitely for adults. Suffice it to say that the list is long, weird, and often involves things in shadows a long way off that are closed to one or another power. The event is set up for two teams of ten, one from Amber and one from Chaos.

   Evaluation: While a lot depends on the list of items, rumors say that the list has been intentionally selected so that neither side will have any great advantage. This leaves it up to the individual players,

  • Event: Bobsledding.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: Vanyel Askevron (As the Forest of Sorrows), Frosty the Snowman, Willow, Gleep, Siddahartha The Enlightened One, Hiawatha, Monty Python.

   Description: Anything goes, as long as you confine the manipulations to your own sled (or don’t get caught) and actually do cover the track. Other then that, go for it. Up to three teams of four from each side can enter, each making three runs.

   Evaluation: Like any freeform event, this one may get pretty crazy – but it looks like Chaos has the advantage here. Both shapeshifting and logrus tendrils seem like they’re going to be pretty handy for this one.

  • Event: Dimensional Orienteering.
  • Type: Freeform.
  • Judges: Odysseus, Baden Powell, Dr Fate, Admiral Perry, Guy Gardener, Magellan, Saint Bernard.

   Description: An odyssey from point to perilous point, scattered throughout numerous shadows. How you get there is up to you but watch out for dangers around the check- points. Note that the maps only give clues, not precise images, hence a pure logrus search may take a long time. Up to eight individuals from Amber and eight from Chaos may enter as individuals, teams are allowed but are sort of irrelevant. The real race is against the clock at the finish line.

   Evaluation: Yet another hard one to call, but maybe a slight advantage to Chaos, since a combination of Logrus search and something like shadow seek seems to be the best bet for speed. On the other hand, being first means that you have to deal with a fresh new menace at each point.

  • Event: Topological Figure Skating.
  • Type: Designated Equipment.
  • Judges: Dr Fu Manchu, Sappho, Camber Of Culdi, Dr Dolittle, Maxwell Smart, James Bond, Gwyntelyn.

   Description: This event involves figure skating on ice frozen in a nonlinear gravatational field that has since shifted somewhat. While the current lay of the ice does offer clues about what gravity is doing there, the error can be up to about 10%. Both sides will be entering six contestants.

   Evaluation: Overall a modest advantage to Chaos. They are both more used to this sort of thing and have Logrus tendrils to help hold themselves up and assist in really fancy tricks. However, these manipulations tend to make them look rather graceless and wooden, hence the greater reflex speed typical of Amberites should make up part of the differance.

Latest Material Index

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   Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet

   RPG Design

   d20 Material

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   Amber Diceless RPG Material

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  • The Wanderer: A deceptive “survey vessel” for special agents. With autocad layout.

   It Came From The Late Late Late Show Material

Aristotle, The God

   Here we have a major artifact – or perhaps a an artificial character – for the Amber Diceless RPG. In most other settings, it should probably be regarded as a rather strange deity.

   Aristotle was one of Arvon’s early creations – and, like most such, was something that he never really “paid for” except to buy it as a “family ally”. Arvon tended to simply came up with a theory that he wanted to test, build a gadget using his trump-powered sorcery and conjuration, and pour vast amounts of power into it. The ones that survived this reckless jump-start were generally allowed to go their own way if they developed intelligence – which they usually did, whether or not he’d intentionally designed it into them – while Arvon started another experiment.

   Aristotle is an AI, based around a set of twelve three-dimensional computer matrixes designed by Gallifrey Industries Incorporated – a minor subsidiary of one of Arvon’s personal companies. They were each originally designed to serve as the primary processing node for a planetary computer network. Arvon converted them to work on trump energies, gave them the ability to manipulate both trump forces and lesser energies in a wide variety of ways, and linked them via trump, so that their network can operate across most of the multiverse.

   Up close, the twelve crystalline spheres normally float freely, orbiting each other in a complex pattern. They’re transparent, and thus are almost invisible save for a faint corona of energy and the occasional sparkling rainbow refraction. The spheres often seem to grow or shrink, but that may be nothing more than an optical illusion.

   In the original game Aristotle did seem to regard Arvon as “Dad”, and was often quite obliging. On the other hand, it wasn’t like that was a strain; Aristotle had the capacity to provide simultaneous computer services for about twenty billion people, and was operating out of a fast-time shadow to boot. The occasional minor request from an Amberite – or, for that matter, from a perfectly normal person – simply didn’t take up much of it’s capacity.

   In terms of points, Aristotle can be set up as shown below.

   Aristotle Design Features:

  • Contains an Ubiquitous Trump Image (6).
    • Horde of “Sealed” “Continuous” Links (6). (Basically these are almost impossible to block or interfere with. Some of these link the spheres, more are linked to power sources out in shadow).
    • This – per a GM ruling – subsumed “Powered By Trump” at no cost. Given that Arvon simply conjured things to begin with, this didn’t really matter.
  • Able to speak in Tongues and Voices (4).
  • Exceptional Psychic Sense/Trump Control and Shadow Scanning (4).
  • Multiple Tracking (Timesharing/Network mode, 1).
  • Bilocation (Twelve Spheres, 2).
  • Mold Shadow Stuff (Local Environment, Energy Direction, in the vicinity of any sphere) (1).
  • Psychic Barrier (Usually damped down to the “Psychic Neutral” level unless the system is under psychic attack) (4).
  • Computer speed “reflexes” (1).
  • Movement (Levitation) (1).
  • Possesses Named and Numbered Power Words (2).
  • Named and Numbered Alternate Forms (2).
  • The Unknown Powers Rule allowed a character to give his device 4, 8, or 12 points worth of powers at a cost of a mere 1, 2, or 3 points. Unfortunately, he or she would have no idea of what those powers were or why his or her item possessed them. In the case of Aristotle, Arvon threw in this modifier because it seemed appropriate to the creative nature of Trump and to let the GM play with things (3).

   The “Unknown Powers” might include:

   Ringmaster Package:

  • Animal vitality and stamina (2).
  • Rapid Healing (2).
  • Able to Mold Shadow Creatures (+1).
  • Ubiquitous Portals (+5).
  • Shapeshift Amberites (for environmental survival only, +2).

   The Ringmaster variant has taken up providing quick transport – along with offering adaption to the environment of the dimension entered – to stranded amberites, to the miscellaneous (and large) number of shadow-dwellers with amber blood, and to the occasional talented shadow-dweller. Given that the system can fairly readily handle hundreds of thousands of trump-transports per second, this version will providing unprecedented mobility to those it decides to assist. Will this lead to inter-shadow wars or will it lead to a golden age of trade and exploration?

   Vedic Wheel Package:

  • Animal vitality and stamina (2).
  • Rapid Healing (2).
  • Rack and use named and numbered “spells” (Energy effects from shadow) (+4).
  • Combat Reflexes (+2).
  • Double Damage on energy effects (+2).

   The Vedic Wheel is a self-aware weapon of terrible power – capable of shunting energies from shadow to shadow, and of storing up massive bursts of energy to be released later. More subtly, it will be able to project a wide variety of illusions across shadow, coordinate the efforts of dozens or hundreds of shadows, and spread information to wherever it will do the most good – for whatever it has in mind. With a free-willed, self-aware, teleporting transdimensional cannon with its own agenda on the loose, things may get very interesting very fast.

Amber – Advanced Trump II, Virtual Creation, Morphic Resonance, and Psychomancy

   Here we have part II of the series on advanced powers for the Amber Diceless RPG. Given that the last Amber game that I actually got to play in closed up rather a long time ago, some of the notes for research that was ongoing at that time may not be complete enough to bother with – but at the moment there are a lot more left.

   Virtual Creation is possibly the highest form of trump artistry – tapping the creative power of trump to give reality to creations of the imagination. Sadly, making such creations truly real and stable requires practice and specialization (IE, a create (x) power word), virtually limitless raw power, or an infusion of pattern energy. Keeping an object stable otherwise is a massive strain on the users personal energy. Simple energy fields are easier, and can be created quickly, but still represent a considerable drain. As a rule, the simpler the thing created, the easier it is to make and sustain.

  • Illusion Generation is the least draining approach, requiring very little of the users energies. Illusions can even be fed additional energy, allowing a static illusion to persist independently for a considerable period. The major difficulty is that the user needs to be able to fully envision his illusion, in detail, and in a 360oview. This is a major pain. In practice this usually requires that the user have a drawing or model to concentrate on, although a few users have developed the appropriate mental “trick” (a special power word). Using a trump image for a focus makes the envisionment part easy, but wastes vast amounts of energy since the card channels most of it through to whatever the image depicts. Such an approach is rather self-defeating on any large scale.
  • Energy Generation is more draining then crafting an illusion, but is far easier than creating the enormous rest-energy inherent in solid matter. It is simply the direct creation of pure energy, whether in the form of beams, spheres, walls, or whatever the user wants. As a rule the effort required to generate any substantial quantity of energy restricts things to relatively easy forms. You may manage basic AC current, but a symphony broadcast will be beyond you – unless you have special talents in the field (once again, some appropriate power words).
  • Force Fields are merely intense, structured, fields of energy. As such, they are more draining then simple energy generation, but are still relatively easy. They can be either stationary or reshaped at will. The field can be “tuned” to restrain or pass particular things, with time and effort or an appropriate power word. They can also be “charged” with various energies through Trump Tapping or related powers.
  • Matter Generation is the most power-intensive usage of trump energies, a vast drain on the user. Even with appropriate power words such objects usually fade in a few hours unless they remain in contact with the user. Maintaining any creation temporarily reduces the users Strength and/or Endurance. Living things and artifacts of power can’t be created without a link to the real item, whether in the form of having paid for it or through the use of a trump image. This limit can be bypassed in some cases, but only with the special permission of the GM.

   Morphic Resonance taps into the power of “archetypes”, the resonance fields shaped by large groups of similar creatures. Expressions of synchronicity, these fields act to bring things closer to their “ideal” (average?) form – operating through subtle guidance, coincidence, and gently molding developing creatures. In Amber terms, they are “broadcast” fields of trump energy, strongest where the creatures generating them are common, weaker in nearby shadows – and fading below background levels further out. Morphic fields are subconsciously tapped by shapeshifters to guide the millions of tiny changes involved in even a simple shift – but can be tapped on the conscious level by those sufficiently sensitive to trump energies. As they allow the user to tap into and manipulate the forms, powers, and structures of beings of shadow, this can be quite useful.

  • Animal Powers are gained by tapping the morphogenic fields associated with some type of local animal, such as a cheetah, hawk, or dolphin. Unlike a shapeshifters powers, no physical changes are involved. The effects are purely energy-based results of attunement to the field. Also unlike a shapeshifters powers, there is a significant mental impact. The thought-patterns of the creature have a strong influence on the user. Multiple attunement is possible – but requires practice, a high psyche, and considerable tolerance for confusion. This does have the useful side effect of negating the usual shapechangers need for practicing with a forms powers.
  • Formshifting is possible thru allowing the field to override your natural form. This has many limitations. The mental effects are powerful and the shift is limited to general forms, specific people are impossible. As a rule, this is an emergency tactic only. It is possible to force such links on others, Influencing their minds is fairly simple, overriding them requires a consider- able psychic advantage, and forcing a shift requires a massive one. A trump image can be used as a crutch to help single out the desired resonance, but this wastes a great deal of power, transmitting it to the creature depicted rather than using it to shift forms.
  • Adaption is a minor variant on the techniques given above, wherein the user attunes himself to the morphogenic field generated by the local intelligent species – or by the biosphere itself if no such species exists. The effect is to adapt the user to the local environment and culture (if any). This usually involves both mental and physical shifts, although rarely to any extreme degree. You may be able to grow scales, adjust to a higher gravity, and adjust the general conformation of your body – but if you want to visit a shadow with a chlorine/fluorine atmosphere, liquid oxygen seas, and crystalline, dolphin- like natives you’ll want to make other arrangements.
  • Environmental Awareness involves scanning the local fields and extracting an evaluation of what’s “normal” for the area. The flip side of this is the ability to detect things which are abnormal, such as the presence of odd creatures, or the influence of any of the major powers. While fairly crude – “Someone is using pattern power over that way” – this can locate alien creatures or powers anywhere in a shadow. In general, the amount of information gained depends on the users psyche.
  • Aura Shifting is the most subtle application of the morphogenic techniques, attuning the outer levels of the users aura to those of some type of local being. Unless penetrated by a direct active probe, this acts as an effective disguise against psychic investigation or things like pattern or logrus sight.
  • Worldshaping doesn’t actually tap into morphogenic fields, instead the user attempts to manipulate and feed power into them. While this allows the user to control the fields associated with things, as well as those of creatures, the effect tends to spread. This resembles the ability of the logrus to manipulate shadow, but is weaker on the local level while having more widespread effects. Unless the user is very careful his tinkering can affect many shadows. Even with caution it usually affects the entire local shadow. On a practical basis, using this technique normally involves “learning” some special techniques (power words) to restrict is effect to the immediate area.
  • Accelerated Healing is based on pouring trump energy into a beings personal morphogenic field – reinforcing it and him. As this greatly enhances the bodies tendency to return to its natural form, it generally allows the patient to regenerate any “missing pieces” in a week or two – or heal most ordinary injuries in an hour or so. This technique can also be used to return shapeshifted beings to their true forms or to “toughen” a creature, making it resistant to conventional injury.
  • Anchoring is setting up a resonant link between the user or target and the natural fields of the surrounding area. The net effect is to make the being affected an integral part of the area, so that any attempt to move thru shadow, trump out, teleport, etc has to transport the entire area to move the creature affected. In most cases this isn’t practical, leaving the being anchored to the one shadow. If the user anchors himself, he has the additional option of “spreading” energies directed against him across the immediate area – making himself almost immoveable and highly resistant to energy attacks
  • Ionization allows the user to channel energies into his targets (or his own) “personal” morphogenic field. The exact effects depend on what type of energy it is, as well whether the user is attempting to pour it into the targets field or through it into his body. Pouring it into the targets personal field automatically makes it a “natural” part of it, resulting in a being who is “charged” with said energy. This is dramatic and showy, but harmless to the being. Using trump energy this way gives the being a form of trump defense. Channeling it into a targets physical body is a basic energy attack, albeit one that is hard to block.

   Psychomancy deals with the amplification and projection, via local low-level trump links, of the users personal energies. While this effect resembles true psionics in a variety of ways, it is still limited by the wielders personal energies – even amplified and as considerable as these may be in an amberite. The amplification does have the side effect of boosting any psionic potential the user actually does have into operation, but unless he or she makes the effort (IE: spends the points) to develop them, such “powers” will remain minor at best. A major advantage of psychomancy lies in the fact that it can be projected “through” a trump image, to affect the subject or his immediate vicinity. “Tracing” such effects merely leads back to the image, not the user.

  • Strength Projection manifests as psychokinesis, the ability to mentally manipulate matter and energy. This isn’t a creative discipline, its basic forte is moving things around or holding them still. As a rule, whatever the user can sense can be manipulated – hence the range of possible applications is limited by the users senses, psyche, and reaction time.
  • Endurance Projection allows the user to channel and direct his own energies, manifesting them in a wide variety of ways. While personal energies are fairly weak compared to external sources, the exceptional fine control this ability offers usually makes up for the lack. This has a curious use in generating disruptive “vibrations”, a technique sometimes referred to as “exorcism”.
  • Psychic Projection normally manifests as telepathy, especially projective telepathy. This discipline lets the user generate “fast” mindlinks, psychic illusions, and emotional projections, dominate people, and “hurl mental bolts”, among other things.
  • Sympathetic Links are based on the users warfare as a measure of his reflexes and fine control of his body and nervous system. The user simply sets up a resonant link between his own body and that of his targets, using biofeedback effects to attempt to usurp control of his opponents physical processes. The major advantage here is that the user need not succeed in his attempt to be a major hindrance
  • Extended Senses are essentially just clairsentience in a variety of styles, extending and displacing the users natural physical and psychic senses. The only real additions are the ability to adjust for scale (large and small), and the ability to “feel” internal structures by projected tactile senses.
  • Sendings are trump energy constructs – animated and given “life” by an infusion of their creators personal energies. While only quasi-tangible at best, these are otherwise closely related to Creatures of Blood. These can be given more “extensive” or selective portions of the users energies, allowing him to project avatars or cast “shadows” for use as decoys or psychic weapons.

   Psionics are, as noted above, a “minor” side effect of amplifying the users personal energies. Psionic powers include a wide variety of psychic senses, apportion, and astral projection. Sadly, such abilities are usually trivial, unreliable, or take minutes of concentration. Still, they’re useful sometimes; the common application is looking for information… “Sir Kay never touched this bottle! It bears the imprint of an aura, yes – but not his”.

   Amplification is, as noted above, a basic component of psychomancy. Where relevant, such as for the first four, attribute-based, talents, this can be assumed to boost the effective level of the appropriate attribute by (Points in trump/5, maximum 24) points.

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.