Pen and Paper RPG House Rules

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Unfinished Alternate Amber

Redo of below with Gnosis replacing experience. Gnosis represents experiential knowledge and to a certain extent wisdom and resistance to tricks and stunts.

A reworking of attributes for Amber: Creativity, Experience, Body and Psyche replace the old attributes. Warfare is replaced by battle stunts and abilities with Creativity and Experience handling different aspects of the strategy and tactics with Body taking strength, speed, and physical endurance.

Experience also grants points equal to its score that can be spent on “stunts” or “abilities” that can give a big advantage in a narrow area of expertise like hand to hand combat or advanced pattern abilities. Endurance no longer acts so much as a tiebreaker in an individual battle when both opponents are fresh but more as a penalty after extensive exertion.


Psyche would then be the sensitivity, overall oomph for most powers, mental endurance, and the ability to influence others in the local area and with stunts and abilities can dictate some social skills.


Body would replace Strength and cover strength, speed, basic healing, toughness, and physical endurance. It would be the key ability for shapeshifting. Raw physical ability.


Experience would influence how many skills and life experiences the character has had. It might make one a cynic and can represent a character’s resistance and ability at treachery. It can represent lifetimes studying xenobiology and cosmology in a star trek universe or centuries of battling the greatest gladiators of a thousand worlds. It primarily defends against tricks. Can represent caginess. The attribute is more than just what is learned by being alive but represents the challenges the character has overcome which isn’t limited to games of chess but goes beyond into ethics or love. In other words, it represents living more than just being alive. So going into a shadow in which you are god for millennia and only having people praise you isn’t going to help us much as the first month you’ve worked a retail or food service job that one summer in high school. How you explain your experience score will detail how the score will affect the gameplay. If you spent most of your time learning about war then your experience will help with that but it won’t help you as much with dealing with your new queen and the soon to come, children. The background story drives how experience impacts the game and by how much along with what you spend your experience on such as Stunts and Abilities. By itself, it is the least powerful of the abilities as it has only a minor to the moderate direct effect on conflicts but is the key to growing your character along with giving access to abilities and stunts.

Your experience score also gives you points you can spend on new abilities called stunts.

Experience would not be bidded on and is usually set by the GM or based on the character background. It will be the most likely Attribute to be increased during campaigns.


Creativity: Is the new major tiebreaker and governs the ability to come up with new tricks that turn the tide of battle or develop a novel strategy to win a game of chess. Creativity biggest influence is on psyche as the battle of the mind is where inventiveness plays the largest role. Coming up with a novel technique in combining trump and magic would be under this purview. Without a high creativity, characters can’t develop on their own new stunts and require training. Such as a Mage would need a spellbook in order to learn a new spell or come up with a power word while a creative genius could just invent one possibly on the spot and spontaneously cast it by merging parts of other spells he knows with an intuitive grasp of how magic works. Creativity can dictate some social skills like improvisation and thus be enhanced by stunts or abilities.



Range: Each step places the character well above the previous and is useful in determining some abilities.

  1. Below Human
  2. Average Human [0]
  3. Adept: [5] Someone very good at their profession and perfectly capable of crushing an average opponent. An Adept martial artist might run a dojo or an Adept chess player would win tournaments against masters. The product of a rich mortal lifetime of experience.
  4. Master: [10]The best or amongst the best in a world or shadow at something. A typical dweller of the GC.
  5. Chaos (Below Amber) : [15] The best in the history of an earthlike world or an average dweller in the courts of chaos. The adept of the GC.
  6. Amber (Average Amber): [25] The best an earthlike world could ever create with perfect conditions. The pinnacle of what is possible without extensive manipulation of power such as enchantment with magic or manipulation of shadow with Pattern or Logrus. The Adept of the courts, or Masters in Amber itself without Royal blood.
  7. Amber Adept: [50] A talented Amberite youngster or an Amberite without much talent or interest in the attribute. The Masters of the courts and the very best of the noble houses in Amber.
  8. Amber Master [75] A full-fledged Amberite or one of the best of the courts. The product of dozens or even hundreds of lifetimes of rich experiences.
  9. Amber Elder [100] One of the greats of Amber or the best that the courts have ever produced.
  10. Amber Paragon [150] One best be at this ability if one wishes to stand up to Benedict in battle or Brand/Fiona with Power. The best there have ever been in all of Reality.

Further steps increase by 50 points.

An example of a boost through a stunt could be a specialized nerve strike that increases the Body score by 1 step for damage considerations. The martial artist’s Body is 17 or just above Chaos. Between 15 and 25 is 10 points so this is 20% above Chaos. Between Amber and AA is 25 points so 20% of that is 5. Thus the damage the strike does would be based on a Body attribute of 30. The character, however, wouldn’t see an enhancement on his ability to strike so a superior opponent can still evade.

A character sheet should have this already calculated for up to 2 steps of increase. Some stunts and abilities might give static bonuses instead of steps, especially for narrow focus talents.


The major Powers are purchased with character points unlike stunts and abilities and only give the character access to the Power. Depending on Creativity and Experience the character learns how to tap into the Power to actually do something with it. So a beginner magician who spends a few experience points might only wield power words and maybe a cantrip or two and might have mastered the magic system of a single shadow while a Master of Magic with more creativity and Experience has access to all the sorcery and conjuration abilities and have a wide range of stunts. As it starts out with the Powers only give the talent to do something that can be channeled by an Ability or Stunt.

The character points cost of the Powers are Logrus 25, Shapeshifting 20, Pattern 30, Magic 15, Broken Pattern 10, and trump 25.

You spend your experience points on stunts and abilities which would include learning how to use your Powers using Psyche or special super effective tricks or specialties based on your background. Stunts represent hard-won skills and tricks with a narrow focus that greatly increase the character’s innate talent. Many stunts lose effectiveness against opponents familiar with them such as Power words or a particular type of strategy or attack. This gives an advantage to the highly creative who invent new stunts as their opponents may not have seen anything like it before and be really unprepared.

Abilities, on the other hand, govern either packages of stunts, the various talents formerly incorporated in the Powers, or near supernatural abilities like undergoing Hardening training which makes your skin as tough as stone or Lightning Speed which allows the character to strike first in almost all melee or firearm combat.

A demon summoning Mage might spend his experience points on a Psyche stunt called the Tower of Iron Will to defend against mental attacks and a Magic Ability called Demon Summoning. Another character might learn Warfare stunts like deadly hand to hand atemi strikes that paralyze unwitting opponents and a trick to disarm even skilled swordsman along with a Pattern Ability called hellriding.

Most stunts typically cost between 1 to 5 points depending on complexity or power and may have minimum requirements and you have to explain how you learned them or invented them.  Really powerful stunts or conglomerates of many minor stunts can become Abilities which cost at least 5 points with most ranging from 10 to 25.

Basic stunts only cost a point or two like a spell or a really good shield bash. As a rule though don’t get to bogged down on little stunts but combine them into an Ability…such as in gameplay learning the spells fire shield, summon fire sprite, fireball, wall of fire, and plasma bolt and later at the end of campaign combining them into an Ability called Fire Magic Specialty. This way you can clean up your character sheet and get more bang for your buck as your character grows and learns new things.

Benedict would represent his great battle prowess with an Ability called Advanced Warfare which would give him knowledge of every weapon, familiarity with almost every military strategy or tactics et cetera. He would also have lightning speed as an advanced Body Ability along with a stunt called Invisible Parry.

Most stunts typically raise a base ability by one step on the above scale. So a child of Gerard who learns one of his secret atemis would boost his Body score from Amber Adept to Amber Master for one strike. He better hope if fighting another Amberite that they hadn’t seen Gerard use it before! An extremely narrow stunt might boost an attribute by two steps but typically an Ability is needed for a two-step or more boost.


After a session, the GM would give points towards increasing the Experience Attribute and after campaigns give Character Points to gain access to Powers or increase the other Attributes or increase Good stuff. As a consequence, a specialist character will probably have their main Attribute and Experience Attribute as their highest scores by a large margin.


Character creation:

No amount of experience will grant a character access to a Power which is one reason that there are two different advancement systems one based on character points and the other based on experience points and the Experience attribute.

For this reason, depending on the campaign a 100 points will be good for a courts of chaos campaign or very young puppy amberites who might not have even walked the Pattern yet. 150 will give more of standard Amber start off while 200 would represent veterans which would require some bit of watching.





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