The Scions of Amber
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The Pattern is the most famous power in the Amber universe. Creating the Pattern brought about the current state of affairs with Infinite Shadow, essentially creating all the worlds that exist. Because of this it allows the easiest and most robust way to move between those worlds of any other power. Crossing the universe is as simple as getting up and walking for an Amberite who has been initiated into this power via the difficult and dangerous Pattern Walk.
Walking the Pattern is a brutal experience that can easily kill someone. Merely stepping on the Pattern is fatal if one doesn’t have the blood of Amber. Even for members of the family, the pattern can and will kill the unprepared. Stopping on the pattern is a very bad idea. Stepping off the lines means death. The Pattern constantly drains energy while it is being walked, a wounded or tired character can easily run out of energy before they can complete the roughly hour-long walk.
Thus, while it’s possible to teleport anywhere from the center of the Pattern, and the experience of walking it will remove curses and restore memories, it’s not something done lightly, or on a whim. Most characters will begin the game already having walked the Pattern once, so they have that grueling experience out of the way. Done once, it need never be done again for the character to walk in Shadow and learn more about the Pattern. Choosing to walk it again might be one way to gain insight, but it’s a bit like gaining insight on rocket engines by putting on a fireproof suit and climbing into one while it’s firing.
This basic level of Pattern is the power that is imprinted into the blood of every Amberite who walks it successfully for the first time. It is pretty much the coming of age and birthright ceremony of the Royals of Amber.
Shadow Walking: The basic and most important aspect of Pattern. The character moves from one world to another by deciding what will be seen around the next corner, over the next hill, past that tree up ahead. Any time the character’s vision is interrupted by fog, solid objects, darkness, whatever, he can decide what will come into view next. By making decisions that don’t completely agree with the world he’s in, the character can keep shifting things until he’s someplace totally different.
The normal way to use this power is with the small changes, making additions and subtractions from the current world one at a time until the desired place is reached. There’s another way to do it, however.
Hellriding: Hellriding is the act of picking a single detail that will remain constant, and pushing for a world that contains that single detail in common with the current one, and nothing else. Hellriding is much, much more difficult than Shadow Walking, but allows crossing large shadow distances much more quickly. It also tends to be more dangerous. Because the character has to break line of sight with everything in the shadow except one detail, some sort of special conditions have to be set up. Smoke, fog, landslides, wildfires and similar huge effects provide the necessary vision-blocking, but are not very comfortable or safe to be near.
There’s also the possibility of getting up off the ground enough that one can concentrate on only the sky, and shift the land below, but that also runs a risk of one’s flying method no longer working in one of the shadows, or sudden high-winds or other bad weather that can pose a risk to someone in flight.
- Both Shadow Walking and Hellriding are further detailed in The Stripling’s Guide to Shadow Walking
Finding Things In Shadow: A character can’t walk toward just anything. They are mostly limited by visual images. A character can walk toward a remembered or described or imagined image of a shadow, altering what they see until it matches what they want. Some details can be added, like the character can decide to a certain extent what the images mean. A ruined building may mean that it’s an old, historic structure, or that there was a great fire. There’s a limit to this at the basic level, as the character simply can’t hold too many ‘meta-details’ in their head, but by and large it’s plenty to get the character where they’d like to go.
What the character cannot do is walk toward something totally abstract or who’s location is unknown. ‘Uncle Bleys’, ‘A book on Ponies’, and ‘A fun shadow’ are all invalid destinations. Instead, the character should think up an image of a place that Bleys would likely be, or that he said he’d be near. Create an image of a library that would have the right kind of book, or picture a shadow that would be fun to visit.
Minor Shadow Manipulation: An Amberite on a journey need not start in a Camelot type shadow, and end up New York City wearing bright green silks and hand-sewn leather trousers. As a character moves through shadow, she can can use the ripple of changing realities to adapt clothing and carried gear to an appropriate state. These changes can’t be big, but as long as the character is shadow walking, the changes ought to be able to keep up with the changes in Shadow, for only a little extra effort.
This change applies to virtually everything, so the character will show up with the right ID, currency, clothing styles, and the whole bit when they arrive at their destination. In modern shadows, that ID won’t actually be connected to any kind of database unless the character has been there before and set up some kind of identity, but it will pass casual inspection at say, a bar that checks ages at the door.
Using this power requires moving in Shadow. More advanced users can mold shadow without moving, but for the raw initiate, movement is the key to everything.
Bloodcurse: A feared and dramatic ability within the blood of Amber is the bloodcurse. A character who is in some kind of emotional and/or physical torment may lay a terrible curse upon their enemy. The character must be dying, or at least in the kind of distress that makes one wish they were dead. The target named must be someone the character actually knows, though the name need not be known. They must also be related to the party that injured the character in some way.
When the curse is pronounced, the character immediately puts 10% of her total points toward the Curse, usually dropping deep into Bad Stuff. The enemy takes on that level of Bad Stuff as well, all of it focused toward making the wording of the curse come true. Bloodcurses lay a heavy burden even on other world-walking immortals. Used on Shadow, they could doom entire worlds, or instantly snuff the life of a Shadow Dweller.
The exact effects of a bloodcurse, and when it comes to an end (if ever) are up to the GM.
Pattern Energy: The Pattern is a potent source of energy, as every initiate learns during that first pattern walk when massive blue sparks blaze upward out of the Pattern. That energy can be focused and used for a number of useful effects.
- Cost: 10 points for the first Specialty, 5 points per additional improvement.
- Pattern Protection, shielding from hostile powers, etc.
- Pattern Focus, breaking barriers, enhancing other pattern abilities.
- Pattern Sight, using the pattern to get information about shadow.
- Pattern Infusion, putting pattern energy into objects or shadows.
Perspective: As a pattern user learns to manipulate shadow without moving, he discovers that it is largely a matter of one’s perspective being enforced upon the malleable shadow around him. There’s a trick to mastering this ability without constantly manipulating shadows into chaotic messes.
- Cost: 10 points for the first specialty, 5 points per additional improvement.
- Shadow manipulation, change the details of a shadow one is in.
- Probability manipulation, change the outcome of ‘random’ events.
- Reality manipulation, changing the rules that hold sway in a particular shadow.
- Dweller manipulation, changing the people or creatures in a shadow, wholesale or individually.
Shadow Sense: Paying attention to what the Pattern is telling you about the Shadow you’re in can reveal a lot about the mechanics and advantages or disadvantages of a place. It also provides information about things that have been affecting shadows.
- Cost: 5 points for this specialty and the same for further improvements.
- Sense Shadow paths, enabling tracking of shadow walkers and the discovery of often-used routes.
- Sense manipulations, getting an idea of what may have been recently changed, and what was used to make that change.
- Shadow secrets, get an idea of a shadow’s rules without having to test them, as well as it’s differences from Amber, including time-differential.
- Shadow seek, by feeling the connections between shadows, it becomes easier to find shadows one wants, and also to get into shadows that have been partially closed-off.
Shadow Travel: The basic abilities of shadow walking and hellriding are great, but as with any ability, practice and education can certainly improve them.
- Cost: 5 points for this specialty and the same for further improvements.
- Path of Desire, the ability to walk toward more desire-oriented targets, rather than mere images.
- Quick Shifting, as the pattern user gets better at moving in shadow, less of a vision break is needed to move, thus speeding up trips greatly.
- Efficient shifting, training in walking in shadow gets the character used to the drain, making long and difficult journeys less tiring.
- Hellwalker, the character learns several tricks to improve the brutally difficult practice of hellriding, reducing strain and risk of travel.