Jeweled Amber Skill Points

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This is for the Jeweled Amber games. Feel free to use it if you like.

Rationale on Skills in ADRPG[edit]

One of the base concepts in the game is that if an Amberite wants to know how to do something he can go out into shadow and learn it. Drive a car, pilot a plane, juggle, do sleight of hand, cook pasta right, build a house, manage a elephant as a mount. They find a shadow and find someone to teach them. Do it awhile, and they can manage it. So Amberites and their ilk can have a wide range of things they know how to do if the need arises. However; Learning a skill is not Mastering it. It isn't even being an expert. It isn't necessarily being really good at it. Its being able to do it.

So “Skills”.

I allow my PCs and NPCs to allocate points toward mastery of a skill.

  • 1 pip makes them an expert, but there are lots of experts at things in shadows.
  • 2 pips makes them great, but there are lots of people who are great at things.
  • 3 pips makes them rare, and there are long lists of people with rare abilities.
  • 4 pips makes one a virtuoso.
  • 5 pips is a nearly unique skill coming along once in a generation.
  • 6 Pips are for the people in shadow who are the very best at some skill.

Example-Sewing[edit]

I can sew well. I've even made some excellent looking costumes for SCA wear. I've done it off and on for 30 years. I might, possibly, have 1 pip in sewing. But i'm not an expert. I know experts. Nearly all of them would fall in the 1 to 2 pip zone. Someone who has worked for years in a sweatshop sewing clothes all day is solidly a 2 pip seamstress.

    • A professional costumer who makes their living sewing and creating costumes for theaters, TV, and movies is a 3 pip seamstress.
    • An academy award winning costume designer is 4 pips.
    • Edith Head is a 5 pip costume creator.

Example-Guitar[edit]

Learning how to play the guitar, even spending a couple years in shadow getting good with it, doing shows even, does not make even an Amberite able to show up Jimmy Page on stage. Nor Carlos Santana, Brian May, Muddy Waters, or Johnny Lee Hooker. Certainly not either Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix.

  • Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. The list is daunting. So call anyone on that list having at least 3 pips in Guitar. This would translate to playing most stringed instruments similar to a guitar, like mandolins, balalaika, Sitars and ukuleles at a 2 pip level, and probably even pianos and harpsichords at a 1 pip level. Familiarity and expertise might also translate to being able to play any musical instrument at least a little. So i'd call anyone on the list at least 3 pips.
    • Anyone in the top 20 might be 4 pip guitarists.
    • 5 Pip Players: Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendricx, Eric Clapton, Kieth Richards, B.B. King, and George Harrison are all 5 pip players.
    • Carlos Santana is # 20 on that list but I would put him in the 5 pip zone personally but maybe he is a 4 pip player, a nudge away from being a 5 pip players. Just waiting for one more perfect solo to join the 5 pip players.

Example-Horsemanship[edit]

Most Amberites know how to handle a horse if it was some part of their past. Care and feeding, grooming, riding, even racing. Certainly riding them in battle is something they probably can do if they are a militant character.

  • But if they put a pip into Horsemenship they have invested part of their life and interest into specifically being well versed in dealing with and riding horses.
    • 2 pips might mean they are knowledgeable with breeding, training, and teaching.
    • 3 pips is circus and trick riding level. Its masterful cavalry combat expertise.
  • In my games Benedict may be the best warrior but Julian has 5 pips in horsemanship. He spends a great deal of time in the saddle every day. He is amazing at managing breeding for the horses his rangers use. Benedict comes to him for advice on horse and animals. Julian has melded his combat style firmly into treating his horse as a partner as well as a weapon. And most of all, he found and befriended the greatest horse in shadow.

Languages[edit]

Thari is the base language of Amber as well as Chaos. As Amberites travel they pick up languages pretty easily. If they spend a significant amount of time in a shadow they can pick up languages easily. But even a few years does not make them experts in nuance and the history of the development of a language.

  • 1 pip makes a person an expert in dialects, accents, variations, slang, and jargon come easy to them.
  • 2 pips makes one speak like a native. Few detect their speech as learned
  • 3 pips is a scholarly understanding of the language in it historical context. Able to to expound on the detail of the language with native scholars.

Skills & Roleplaying[edit]

The thing I impress on players though is that the more pips they put in a skill the more it needs to be represented in their role playing. The higher the points, the greater the obsession.

  • 1 Pip in a skill like card magic/poker tricks, means the character probably always has a deck of cards on him.
  • 2 pips means he often has a deck of cards in his hands.
  • 3 pips means he may not realize he has a deck of cards in his hand and is going through card passes and riffs while talking about other topics.
  • 4 pips include the behavior from 3 pips but also include using them as weapons and to punctuate conversations. A 4 pip skill dominates the PC's life.
  • 5 Pips.....is obsessive.
  • 6 Pips is Unique

Players express themselves in these skills. A person with a pip in motorcycle and a pip in pool means that they are more likely to ride a motorcycle then a horse and are more likely to be found around a pool table if someone goes looking for them.

It gives a lot of spin in character creation and development. It has given players a chance to think about what direction they want their PC to go. In general they have spent 2 to 4 pips either in one skill or in a small collection. More then that starts making me question their devotion to a particular skill. I generally don't allow more then one 3 pip skill at the start. As game play goes on if they make a particular effort at using that skill I may at some point let them take a 4th pip. I've yet to let a PC allocate to a 5 pip skill. They would have to be really dedicated to making it a big part of who the PC is, how he reacts, and what people think of them.

Random nearly always has a deck of cards or a set of drum sticks in his hands. He has 4 pips in card tricks/card magic and 3 pips in Drums.

Skills from the GM point of view[edit]

The other thing the skills are good for, from a GM point of view, is it tells me what kind of scenes and scenarios a PC might be interested in.

  • 1 pip in motorcycles means down the line they run afoul of a biker gang.
  • 1 pip of poker tricks and they might get in a big card game with high power cheats.
  • 3 Pips in Sculpture means their home will be filled with their work. They will be fiercely protective of their work space. They might be interested in a series of games to find powerful materials to work or powerful tools. Also, they might have to deal with powerful thieves stealing their favorite creations.

Since as a GM i have a general idea what skills the elders have it gives me a hook for getting the PCs involved. A PC is fanatical about horses with a 3 pip skill, then he might work well with Julian. 2 pips in cooking? Maybe she and Flora would get along. A pip in guitar, maybe she and Corwin can sing duets. So i learn a bit about the player's interests in what they hope to see in what i their game too.

Skill Examples[edit]

1 Pip Skill Skilled Amateur[edit]

An expert in a particular activity.

  • College level or semi-pro baseball player. (Athlete)
  • An experienced guitar player. The difference being between people saying "He plays guitar" and "He's a guitar player".
  • An dedicated amateur race driver/street racer. Motorcycle racer. Jockey. A dedicated amateur and enthusiast.
  • A small room professional card or coin magician. Better then a kid's birthday party magician
  • A semi-professional artisan. painter, sculptor, carver. A good sense of the art, it process, its commercial aspects.
  • A fine and talented church choir singer. A college level music student.
  • A low level bard.
  • An amateur expert pool player. Good enough to hustle drinks and pocket money at any bar with a pool table.
  • A 3 and 4 ball juggler. Skillful enough to impress people juggling balls, oranges, soup cans.
  • General Practitioner Doctor
  • Linguist. Ability to speak in a language and effect dialects, accents, variations, slang, and jargon with natural ease.
  • Mechanic Ability to fix a machine with skill. An experienced mechanic.

2 Pip Skill Professional[edit]

A professional in a particular activity

  • Minor and major league baseball player. (Athlete)
  • An professional guitar player making his living regularly with his playing.
  • A professional race driver/street racer. Motorcycle racer. Jockey.
  • A big room professional card,coin, and stage magician. Magic Castle member.
  • A professional Artist. Painter, sculptor, carver, artisan able to make a living with their craft.
  • A fine and talented church choir soloist. Professional singer.
  • A medium level bard.
  • A professional pool player. Able to hustle big money and win big tournaments.
  • A juggler making a living at juggling almost any items with skill and patter.
  • General Surgeon. Specialist.
  • Linguist. Speak a language well enough, and with enough diversity and control that they are considered a native speaker. Few detect their speech as learned.
  • Professional mechanic and expert on the control and repair of a mechanical device.

3 Pip Skill Celebrity[edit]

A extremely well respected professional in a particular activity

  • Major league baseball player. All Star. MVP. Big money professional. Reggie Jackson, Wade Boggs, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Cap Anson
  • An professional guitarist, one of the best ever. Top 100. Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Carl Perkins, Glen Campbell, Buddy Holly.
  • An professional race driver. Motorcycle racer. Jockey.
  • A big room professional magician. Magic Castle Performer.
  • A professional painter, sculptor, carver, artisan able to make a living with their craft. Georgia O'Keefe, Renior, Edward Hopper, Max Ernst
  • Professional Opera singer. Stevie Nicks, Joe Cocker, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, Don Henley, Art Garfunkle.
  • A high level bard.
  • An professional pool player. In danger of being killed for hustling pool. A name able to win world class tournaments.
  • A professional juggler able to juggle a baseball, a chainsaw and a mop while talking and singing.
  • Surgical Specialist. Plastic, Transplant. Vascular. Trauma. Cyberware Implantation
  • Scholarly understanding of the language in it historical context. Able to to expound on the detail of the language with native scholars.
  • Developmental Mechanic and Mechanical device inventor. Understanding of a mechanical device from base principles to finished design.

4 Pip Skill All Star[edit]

A nearly incomparable talent. Famous or extremely well regarded world wide.

  • Major league baseball player.(Athlete) All-star. Hall of Famer. Yogi Berra,Roberto Clemente, Cal Ripkin, Tris Speaker, Sandy Koufax, Pete Rose
  • An professional guitarist. One of the best ever. Top 20. Prince, Johnny Ramone, Bo Didly, Brian May, Frank Zappa,Carlos, Santana, George Harrison.
  • A world class auto racer. Motorcycle racer. Jockey.
  • A world class professional magician. Las Vegas residency magician. David Blaine, Apollo Robbins, Criss Angel,
  • A world class artist famed beyond their time. Georgia O'Keefe, Renior, Edward Hopper, Max Ernst
  • A well known world class singer. Professional singer. James Taylor, David Bowie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Patsey Cline, Prince, Nina Simone
  • A 23rd level bard. A Crowned Bard.[[1]]
  • An professional pool player. Too well known to hustle pool. A name expected to win world class tournaments.
  • A Celebrity juggler able to juggle a baseball, a chainsaw and a mop while talking and singing.
  • Research Surgeon. Multiple Specialty.
  • Language Authority Considered and expert in a language. A worldly acknowledges authority on a language, the culture it serves.
  • Innovating Mechanical Inventor and theorist

5 Pip Skill Legendary[edit]

A extremely well respected professional in a particular activity

  • Legendary baseball player. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Randy Johnson, Joe Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Willie Mays, Stan Musial
  • Undisputed renowned guitarists. Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendricx, Eric Clapton, Kieth Richards, B.B. King, and George Harrison
  • A legendary race driver. Motorcycle racer. Jockey. Mario Andretti, Bill Shoemaker, AJ Foyt,
  • Legendary magicians. Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller,
  • A historically renowned Artist. painter, sculptor, carver, artisan able to make a living with their craft. Salvador Dali, Michaelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci,
  • A legendary professional singer. Stevie Nicks, Joe Cocker, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, Don Henley, Caruso, Pavarotti
  • A Thrice Crowned Bard [[2]] Venki, Beor, Fortunadas.
  • An professional pool player unable to get a game from someone unwilling to lose. Willie Moscone, Effen Reyes,
  • A legendary juggler able to juggle an alligator, a tiger, and a hamster while singing Opera and tightrope walking.
  • Epic Surgeon. John Heysham Gibbon (first open heart surgery), Christiaan Barnard (first heart transplantation), Calow Bruce-Nu Yark- (Creator of experimental cyberware.),Tristan Reese (Vehicular and Manufacturing Equipment interface cyberware implantation), Adrian of Mandalay (Surgical Power Crystal Implantation)
  • Language Final Authority-Creator of a cohesive language-Linguistic theory. JRR Tolkien-Elvish/Dwrvish. Ferdinand de Saussure-Developmen of Linguistics and symbolism. Noam Chomsky- Universal grammar, Tolknor Scripter-Psychohistory of Language

6 Pip Skill Unique[edit]

  • Understand Technical Systems-Visionary Tinkery-Erasamus Braldig
  • Hone Blade Edge-Mama Aglevar
  • Slieght of Hand-Conf of Tosa
  • Mathematics/Phyics/Psychohistory-Tolknor Scripter

Shadow Shaving[edit]

The basic premise of Skills in an Amber setting is that knowing how to do something does not make one an expert. An amberite can wander off into shadow, spend a few months and gain the ability to practice an activity. But if they spend decades at it they gain a Point in it and become an experienced expert.

Shadow Walking is an extremely specialized ability. It is the ability to concentrate on a very precise set of shadow parameters including details such as time ratios, minor changes in the time-line, addition or elimination of particular events, minor changes in details of places and individuals.

The greater the pattern imprint allows for reaching a chosen destination at a quicker rate.

The more skill points a shadow walker has in Shadow Shaving, the greater amount of detail that can be added to arrive at a more precise place in the same amount of time.

Example[edit]

Normal Shadow Walker and a Normal Destination[edit]

  • I walk to a water rich world with blue skies and warm weather.
  • It should be well populated with humans of my size and shape so i can blend in.
  • Magic should function as it does in Amber and the natural laws should function as in Amber.
  • The technological age should be a sword age.

Now clearly these 4 terms would not be the only things the walker considered in the course of getting there. And this assumes that the person is not going somewhere they are familiar with and that little changes are made along the way. "A yellow flower on the right, a darker sky, a bird of gray and green lands on the tree with blue flowers, "etc,etc. These little changes are all part of the process of shadow walking compacted into the 4 above statements. The faster one takes the path the more strain. So walking the 9 hours would be a slow and careful choice. Zooming around at 90 mph would be hard and mentally taxing.

Normal shadow walkers using a faster mode of travel,a "Hellride", is forcing great amounts of detail into short periods of time. However, taking longer to reach a spot, adding distance, breaks up the amount of change required in each step.

When Random asks Corwin to stop for him. He then concentrates while stopped, sorting out which changes in a long series so that in a short distance later a safe place to get gas exists. He need time not traveling at vehicle speed to get all the changes he needed sorted out in his mind so that when forward motion began he could smoothly make a lot of changes in a short distance.

Basic Imprint: Distance 36 miles.

  • 9 hours of walking at 4 miles per hour
  • 3 hours of riding a horse at a cantor of 12 miles per hour
  • 1 hour and 12 minutes of riding a horse at a gallop of 30 mph
  • 24 minutes riding a motorcycle at 90 mph

Advanced Imprint: Distance 18 miles.

  • 4 hours & 30 minutes of walking at 4 miles per hour
  • 90 minutes of riding a horse at a cantor of 12 miles per hour
  • 1 hour and 12 minutes of riding a horse at a gallop of 30 mph
  • 12 minutes riding a motorcycle at 90 mph

Master Imprint: Distance 9 miles.

  • 2 hours & 15 minutes of walking at 4 miles per hour
  • 45 minutes of riding a horse at a cantor of 12 miles per hour
  • 36 minutes of riding a horse at a gallop of 30 mph
  • 6 minutes riding a motorcycle at 90 mph)

In the first example a person walking for 9 hour to cover 36 miles is walking at a good pace but not straining themselves and are able to make changes in a reasonable rate. They will arrive at their destination tired but not mentally frazzled. If they had driven 90 MPH they might get there faster but their head would be really pounding and it might be hard for them to focus. If they took longer to get there, in distance and time, they would recover quicker and have arrived in better condition.

So, a person with skill in Shadow Shaving has practiced the method of delivering greater detail in the same amount of time and distance then those without such skill. An experienced shadow walker can expect at least 1 Pip in Shaving expertise but only one who has spent many years specifically practicing the methods would raise their skill to 2 pips. Like other skills, the greater the points dedicated the more it is a part of the person's character, expressed in their outlook and their role playing.

1 Pip in Shadow Shaving:[edit]

  • I walk to a water rich world with blue skies and warm weather.
  • It should be well populated with humans of my size and shape so i can blend in.
  • Magic should function as it does in Amber and the natural laws should function as in Amber.
  • In this realm should be 5 combative nations with long histories of conflict.
  • Horse riding is common.
  • The level of technology places it in a sword age with iron rich weaponry, recurved and long bows.
  • There should be dragons that are trainable and can be ridden.


2 Pips in Shadow Shaving:[edit]

  • I walk to a water rich world with blue skies and warm weather.
  • It should be well populated with humans of my size and shape so i can blend in.
  • Magic should function as it does in Amber and the natural laws should function as in Amber.
  • In this realm should be 5 combative nations with long histories of conflict.
  • Horse riding is common in the English manner with some using Thelusian cross-leg styles.
  • One of the nations uses the bow in a Mongolian style.
  • The level of technology places it in a sword age with iron rich weaponry, advanced steels, recurved and long bows.
  • There should be dragons that are trainable and can be ridden and have intelligences ranging from horse level to spoken and able to use magic.
  • While the world is racially human the dragons and bugbears of sufficient intelligence are allowed to participate in normal social, commercial, and military activities. Most kingdom will have dragons and bugbear forces in their military.
  • The languages should have a developmental tree from two distinct origins. Gold, silver, and copper are the common monetary styles with a rich trade in cut and uncut stones.
  • A vibrant artistic element exists in each of the countries with one being famous for scrimshaw and another being famous for silk weaving and painting The musical styles differ in each kingdom with one fond of strings instruments and one using wind instruments. There are no drums.
  • Clothes styles vary from realm to realm with the warmer regions favoring silks and the cold ones wear wool not furs.
  • Foods span the nations and there is an active fusion of food styles despite the nationalities that amounts to a peaceful exchange even among warring nations. Keeping of pets is common and one nation is reviled for its practice of using pet animals as a food source.
  • Variations in time relation to Amber can be found in adjacent shadows.

3 Pips in Shadow Shaving:[edit]

  • I walk to a water rich world with blue skies and warm weather.
  • It should be well populated with humans of my size and shape so i can blend in with a variety of distinct racial characteristics including ear shapes, hair colors, skin colors and dominant hand sides.
  • Magic should function as it does in Amber and the natural laws should function as in Amber. Wizardry and Magery should be able to be practiced after assaying a power construct.
  • In this realm should be five combative nations with long histories of conflict. Drunas, Pantar, Segara, Gandolin, and Shuntas
  • Horse riding is common in the English manner in Drunas, Pantar, and Shuntas with some using Thelusian cross-leg styles used in Segara and Gandolin.
  • Pantar uses the bow in a Mongolian style. Drunas uses nets in combat.
  • Shuntas has a tradition of using assassins and has a robust Assassin's secret society.
  • The level of technology is a sword age with iron rich weaponry, advanced steels, recurved and long bows. Extensive decorative is used in weaponry.
  • There should be dragons that are trainable and can be ridden and have intelligences ranging from horse level to spoken and able to use magic.
  • While the world is racially human the dragons and bugbears of sufficient intelligence are allowed to participate in normal social, commercial, and military activities. Most kingdom will have dragons and bugbear forces in their military. Dragons and Bugbears have achieved high ranks in Segara.
  • The languages should have a developmental tree from two distinct origins.
  • Gold, silver, and copper are the common monetary styles with a rich trade in cut and uncut stones. Each realm has a distinctive style of coinage except Pantar which uses the coinage of Drunus having once been a subject nation.
  • A vibrant artistic element exists in each of the countries with one being famous for scrimshaw and another being famous for silk weaving and painting The musical styles differ in each kingdom with one fond of strings instruments and one using wind instruments. Drums are only used in religious ceremonies.
  • All the nations except Segara follow the same religion. Segara is bitterly atheistic and practices non-divine ancestor veneration.
  • Clothes styles vary from realm to realm with the warmer regions favoring silks and the cold ones wear wool not furs.
    • Men in Pantera wear kilts.
    • Gandolin, a warm tropical nation uses silks extensively and nudity is common for men and women.
    • In Shuntas children wear an identical outfits in gray till they reach the age of 12, at which point they wear identical outfits of green for girls and red for boys. They
  • Foods span the nations and there is an active fusion of food styles despite the nationalities that amounts to a peaceful exchange even among warring nations. Keeping of pets is common and one nation is reviled for its practice of using pet animals as a food source.
  • Specific Time relations available in adjacent shadows.

4 Pips in Shadow Shaving:[edit]

  • All the above but specific social trends can be altered
  • All the above but people can have dramatically different lives.
  • All the above but weather patterns can be changed.
  • All the above and individual events can have different outcomes. (This is how Benedict watches the same battle over and over with different variables)
  • Walker has vast experience in the use of detailed shadow shaving.
  • Walker can find identical shadows in vastly separated positions in shadow. IE: a shadow east of Mandalay and an identical one in the Chaos Sway.

5 Pips in Shadow Shaving:[edit]

The Devil is in the Details