Only when you forget you are human, will you remember you are a god.
Unlike in most Amber games, the player characters in The Darkest Hour are the run-of-the-mill Amberites, Rebmans, or Chaosians, i.e. ‘human.’ But just because they’re human, doesn’t mean they’re any less heroic. Each is a unique person and will play a vital role in the future of Amber and Creation. With luck, the system below (a mixture of Everway and Amber Diceless) should allow you to create the identity you’ve always wanted to try in the Amber Universe.
Step #1: Identity
What’s in a name? A lot actually. If your character is a noble, then that name carries weight in Amber society—as well as potential risks. They may have a nickname or moniker they prefer to their birth name. A Shadow Dweller may have a name which’s meaning and spelling are based on another language. Names have meaning, especially in regards to Magic. A True Name, for example, can be a character’s undoing if it falls into the wrong hands. As such, you may wish to go through the entire process before naming your character.
What underlying motivation drives your character and their actions? Do they even have a purpose in their lives? Some suggestions include:
- Adversity: The character consciously or unconsciously seeks to test themselves against the problems of the world.
- Beauty: The character seeks to experience or share that which is beautiful.
- Conquest: The character seeks to exercise power over some element in his/her life, be it external or internal in nature.
- Ennui: The character literally drifts through life for no other reason than to experience it.
- Knowledge: The character seeks mundane or magical knowledge.
- Mystery: The character seeks to fulfill some secret or subtle understanding, something others may not understand.
- Prosperity: The character seeks some form of affluence, be it monetary or prestige.
Choose a one-word motivation and write a short explanation of why this purpose drives them.
Each character has a virtue, the one positive quality about themselves that they are most proud of. Look over the Fortune Cards (from Everway) and chose one that best defines your character’s Virtue. During the game, if your character is in a situation where this Virtue will shine, they will be at an advantage. Try to role-play this appropriately.
Each character also has a Fault, the one negative quality about themselves they most wish they could change (or are completely unaware of). Look over the Fortune Cards (from Everway) and chose one that best defines your character’s Fault. During the game, if your character is in a situation where this Fault could rear its ugly head, they will be at an disadvantage. Try to role-play this appropriately.
Finally, there is the Fate card. Think of where your character has been and where your character is going. Is there something your character is struggling to change either inside himself or in Creation? It should be something important to your character that will change the characters perspective on things once it is resolved. Find a card that best describes that struggle. That will be your character’s Fate card and help define your character’s journey throughout the campaign. Whether or not it will result in the positive or negative aspect of the Fortune Card remains to be seen.
NOTE: If you don't have access to the Everway Fortune Deck (you poor, poor creature), there is website listing all the meanings here
Step #2: Character Building
You now have 20 character-points to divide between your character’s Traits, Magic, and Qualities.
Traits are broad terms that define the capabilities of your character. You must spend at least 2 points on each Trait, and no more than 7 points may be spent on any one Trait. The four main Traits are:
- Academics (general intelligence and wisdom)
- Athletics (general strength)
- Courage (general force of will and endurance)
- Cool (charm, charisma, and wits)
|1: Weak||Mentally stunted, verging on retardation||Physically weak and/or virtually helpless||Timid, sickly, susceptible||Socially inept, utterly clueless|
|2: Limited||Slacker, barely literate||Scrawny, fragile, clumsy||Lethargic, timid, tires easily||Unpolished, tongue-tied|
|4: Above Average||Smart, well-read||Energetic, quick reflexes, nimble||Tough, bold, determined||Expressive, clever, smooth|
|5: Powerful||Bright, highly knowledgeable||Perfect health, highly skilled, muscular||Fearless, forceful, driven, hardy||Popular, compassionate, witty|
|6: Inspirational||Brilliant, scholarly||Powerful, near maximum human potential||Badass, iron-willed, enduring||Charismatic, razor-sharp|
|7: True Chaos Rank||Skilled intellectual, insightful and understanding||Olympic gold-medalist, physical prowess exceeds human limitations||Unflinching, physical resilience exceeds human limitations||Intuitive, alluring, fast on feet|
|8: Master||Super-genius||Combat master, unmatched strength||Unstoppable||Unforgettable|
|9: Heroic/ Legendary||Phenomenal insight and intelligence with vast knowledge base||Physical ideal, legendary prowess and finesse||Impervious to most mental and physical adversities||Inspiring to nations, shrewd beyond measure|
|10: True Amber Rank||Elder||Elder||Elder||Elder|
Once you have assigned your points for each Trait, you must then choose a Specialty for each one as well. Specialties should be appropriate to the Trait and are relatively narrow in focus. For example, ‘Swordfight’ would be an appropriate Specialty for Athletics, while ‘Combat’ would not. When the situation permits, your Specialty will allow you to act beyond the normal limits of your Trait. For example, the Academics Specialty ‘Book Smarts’ would provide the character an advantage when studying tomes, but not for designing a spell formula.
Magic lets you make systematic, disciplined use of supernatural forces. There are several Schools of magic a will-worker can utilize (described in the MagicPower section), but their Magic score defines the limits of their abilities. Although you do not have to spend points in Magic, you cannot spend more than 5 points.
A Quality is something unique that your character possesses or that your character can do. For example, this could be an innate power, increased social status or monetary advantages, or a special item or companion. Each character also begins the game with a Racial Quality, depending on where they originated from (see below).
The point cost of a Quality is measured three ways (Major, Versatility, and Frequency):
Major: Does this give the player power over the story? Can this affect other characters in a significant way? If so, then it costs 1 point. Qualities that hand a lot of control over to the player may be rated Major twice, thus costing 2 points.
Versatility: Is this something that can be used in many ways? If so, then it costs 1 point. Is this something that can be used by many people? If so, this is also 1 point. So, if the answer to both these questions is 'yes,' the Quality costs 2 points.
Frequency: Will the power frequently come into play? If so, then it costs 1 point.
Try to consider game-balance when designing a Quailty. Over-the-top Qualities are likely to be rejected. Some examples of Qualities include:
|Animals and Companions|
|Superior Horse (1 pt M): A horse of superior quality that can run for great distances, understand advanced commands, carry heavy weights, etc||Cat Familiar (2 pts F,V): An intelligent cat that can talk to hero, spy, carry written messages, stand guard, etc||Wolf Companion (3 pts F, V, M): A powerful wolf with human intelligence that can fight, track, stand guard, and perform complex duties||Wyvern (4 pts F, V, 2M): A wyvern with feral intelligence that can be used to fly and fight on. Has usual supernatural powers associated with its breed. Watch your limbs though; it isn’t cuddly in the slightest|
|Mage-armor (1 pt M): You’ve come into the possession of Mage-armor, a robe as soft and flexible as silk, but resistant to normal weapons||Flame-tongue (2 pts V,M): You’ve come into the possession of a magical sword that can be made to burn. It causes Double Damage and can ignite flammable objects||Clockwork Nightingale (3 pts F, V, M): A Mechanica nightingale that can talk, read & write, as well as possesses some magical sensitivity||Pattern/Logrus Weapon (4 pts F, V, 2M): Also known as a ‘Don’t Point That Thing At My Shadow!’ weapon, this item can put a hole through pretty much anything and do other nastiness as well. There should be a VERY, VERY good reason why you’d be in the possession of one of these|
|Persuasive Voice (1 pt F): You have a soothing voice that can sway hearts of others||Venus’ Blessing (2 pts F, M): People are often attracted to you, particularly those of sexual compatibility. Social situations are usually easier for you||Entrancement (3 pts F, V, M): You have the power to control another’s will by staring into their eyes and giving them verbal commands. A strong-willed person, however, can resist your effort||Landed Noble (4 pts F, V, 2M): You owe fealty to the King or one of the Golden Circle nobles and control land, servants, and men-at-arms. You also have access to wealth and prestige, which can be used to your advantage|
|Fast Healing (1 pt. F): Recovers 5x faster than normal||Shape-shift Healing (2 pts F, M): Wounds close in minutes and possesses advanced elemental and poison resistance||Shapeshifting 3 pts. (F, V, M): Can turn into any natural creature up to size of horse||Weir-Blooded (4pts F, V, 2M): Can turn into a powerful wolf or wolf hybrid with great strength, regeneration, and immunity to normal (non-silver/magic) weapons|
More will be added, if needed
Finally, what sort of Shadow or Realm does this character originate from? Are they from Amber, Rebma, the Golden Circle, Chaos, or somewhere in Shadow? Each Race possesses natural abilities that can provide the character with an advantage in certain situations. See below:
|Blood of the Unicorn: Even the lowliest Amberite is descended from the race of the Unicorn, making them more ‘real.’ As such, they are generally healthier and longer lived than most Shadow Dwellers. They also possess a natural resistance to Magic, Pattern, and Logrus, albeit very slight one; i.e., while you might survive a Lightning Bolt spell where a Shadow Dweller would not, don’t go running into a Shadow Storm or stand in the path of Dara’s Logrus Tendrils… that is unless you want to become chunky salsa, anyway.|
|Blood of the Sea: Rebmans are highly attuned to the ocean (for obvious reasons) and have fully adapted to that environment. As such, they can breathe and see underwater, as well withstand high pressures and extreme cold. They are also masterful swimmers and have a natural affinity for sea-creatures.|
|Blood of the Serpent: Chaosians live in a particularly violent and ever-changing environment. Even the most stable Way is warped by the ever-present radiation of the Logrus. To survive the many dangers of their world, every Chaosian has developed a Demonic Form and can shape-shift into it freely. Although each Demonic Form is unique in appearance, it provides the Chaosian with natural armor and weapons (just as in the main rules).|
|Golden Circle & Shadow|
|Blood of <Shadow>: Denizens of the Golden Circle and Shadow Dwellers are a varied lot, with every race possessing a natural affinity or talent of some sort. If you are from the Golden Circle or Shadow, you gain a free 1-pt Quality (Versatility) to describe this racial advantage. For example, you might have Blood of the Horse, which provides you with a supernatural empathy for horses and superior riding abilities. Or you might have Blood of the Eldar, providing you with exquisite beauty and heightened dexterity. Maybe you have Blood of the Selkie, providing you with the ability to turn into a seal. Use your imagination and run it by the GM.|
And there you go! You’re done. Welcome to The Darkest Hour. I hope you’ll have as much fun playing, as I’ll have tortur… err… running you.