the Athanor

Primal Paramounts of Shadow

"Long ago, each had given up asking the question of whether their immortality was worth the price. Death is not a stranger to the athanor, only quiet, easy Death. When an athanor dies, it is in pain and suffering, body struggling to maintain a haven for life. Still, despite the phenomenal healing powers that are their heritage, athanor can die, they can suicide."
---Jane Lindskold, Changer
   copyright © 1998 Jane Lindskold - reference here is for amusement only and is not intended to infringe on author's rights.

"There are people whose watch stops at a certain hour and who remain permanently at that age."

This essay will present a new facet of the Infinity of Shadow. Those unique beings known collectively as the Athanor *.

The Primal Paramounts of Shadow. Mortals who have passed into a crucible of power and been somehow transformed. Collectively, they refer to themselves as the Athanor. Others call them gods, heroes, titans, banes, nightmares.

Their power comes from within. Their blood is bound in arcane fashion to primal sources of Shadow Power.

Some call them Blessed. Knowing them might be a Curse. Loving them like unto a Doom.

Each Athanor is known for their legendary association with power or resilience or both. Each Athanor seems to succeed and prosper with unique qualities. Some scholars have tried to contrast the personal power of the Athanor with the Demons of the Abyss-- as if the infinite variety of Shadow might be bounded by such inventions and categories. In fact, infinite variety seems to be the only common point of the Athanor and the Demons.

Like restless spirits-- they may wander Shadow looking for lost truths or moving on when their life continues past mortal span. Like gypsies or tinkers-- they are not often welcomed and might be little missed once they move on. Like ancient guardians-- they may abide in a Shadow letting events and history pass them by-- taking comfort from familiar surroundings-- lending prescence and legend to their locus.
ADRPG Notes:

All Athanor characters start with 10 points in Athanor Contact and 40 points in Athanor Blood. Characters start with 30 points to distribute freely. Endurance must be at least 0 (Amber). The points total for starting Athanor is 80. Buying down any stat except Endurance is permitted.

Athanor Blood points may or may not change as the character grows, they represent the core ability of the character and the character's unique signature among the Athanor.

Athanor Blood Attribute is the power to suddenly boost your natural attributes. Any points put into Blood Attribute can be applied to a predetermined attribute at need to the limit of Endurance. Attributes pushed this way draw triple Endurance rates. Description matching the character's typical use is required for approval. ** ** VOID see new notes below!

Athanor Blood Aspect is the power to change appearance or do arcane works that defy the form you were born with. Description matching the character's typical use is required for approval. Most partial power systems can be encompassed by this pool of points. A few rules apply to keep the flavor of the source:

Athanor Contact is your relation to other Athanor. You may have passing relations (1) with 10 other Athanor, or cordial relations (2) with 5, or a strong relation for 4 points each occurance. To be acknowledged by an Athanor parent is 3 points and includes only a passing relationship. To have contact with a well-known Athanor doubles all costs, so parental acknowledgement by a well-known Athanor is 6 pts. Contact with ancient Athanor is only possible in game and cannot be bought in your character's back story.

Per ADRPG rules, Good Stuff and Bad Stuff is possible. Suggested max total for either is 5 or -5.

Example Athanor:

Jizzalka Description: She has human form. Perhaps a bit too thin, with dusky skin and white blonde hair that insists on falling into her eyes. A slender dancer's figure. She speaks with an accent and often makes mistakes over the oddest things that are common knowledge.
  • Psyche: 10
  • Strength: 30
  • Endurance: 0
  • Warfare: 10
  • Athanor Blood: 40
    • Aspect: 5 Shape Shift Features, 5 Shape Shift Animal, 10 Shape Shift Mass, 10 Shape Shift Wounds, 10 Spell Resistance
  • Athanor Contact:
    10 passing contacts
  • * Athanor: Alchemical Furnace adapted for composing the Stone of the Philosopher.
    GM Notes:

    Why the Athanor?

    Firstly, to enrich the expression of infinite Shadow. To toy with the philosophy of what is Real in the universe of Amber. To expand on the geometry of the canon text.

    Let me explain in particular.

    Roger Zelazny gives us two peoples who are Real within his series. Chaosians, chosen of the Serpent. Amberites, chosen of the Unicorn. Two points that define a line between them. RZ also presents his universe as containing many people and creatures that can challenge the dominance of these two Real peoples-- yet are incidental threats to the challenges the protagonists set for themselves. Among these; Shroudlings, Demons, Dragons, Fire Angels, Manticores.

    I suppose my view revolves around where one believes the Chaosians came from originally.

    Geometry (in my use) being the major points of Abyss, Amber, Courts and the undefined origin of the Chaosians. To me-- the origin must be in Shadow.

    Canon text shows us that Oberon seeks into Shadow when he really wants a new solution to a problem that concerns him. As Dworkin seems to have done to invent Amber itself. If you want to invent something or find a treasure or a new idea-- you can't go wrong starting with an infinity of possibilities.

    Dworkin's escape from the Courts is one of the many reasons that I describe my version of the Courts of Chaos as the cultural opposite of invention. IMC, the Courts is a success story in stagnation. The Courts is what Amber could become if the Amberites ever ignore infinite Shadow long enough-- blinded by the power and perspective of Dworkin's Pattern.

    In this case, the best way the GM can implement that theory and theme is to continue to deepen the infinity of Shadow that the Players have to roam in. Increasing the geometry of Shadow. More points of origin. More powers. More concepts for the Players to discover, encompass, absorb, or try to control.

    The Empire of the Gleaming Banner is an independant fixed point in this new geometry, like Amber.

    The Athanor are now a mobile one. Gifted, powerful, sometimes able to dominate a Shadow. Sometimes able to transcend a Shadow?

    Secondly (remember I said firstly when I answered this!), some dramatic justice is served. It occurred to me after meeting RZ's good friend and collaborator Jane Lindskold-- that the immortals of the Athanor and of Amber might meet on near equal ground within my Universe-- and both might benefit.**

    In fact, as I examined the canon text, what if they already had? For some points of the tale suggest something like it did happen.

    We shall see. I'll let you know how it playtests.
    Your friend in Shadow,
    Arref Mak
    22 Apr 99

      ** This in no way represents Ms. Lindskold's opinion, inferred or otherwise. It does not spring from anything she has said or implied. I am not in contact with her. I have no permission to use her ideas and no infringment on her copyrighted works is intended. If these ideas interest you, please write to Avon Books and ask for more stories about the Athanor by Jane Lindskold. Read her work. It's good stuff.

    ** ** 4 Jul 99 - Well, so far two Athanor PC's have been introduced to the game and I find some things work well, others don't.

    First of all, there doesn't seem to be a good reasonn to put any Attribute points within the Athanor grouping. Arcane Power and Attributes don't necessarily need to mix, since I judge Attributes to represent power already. The long and short of it is, two types of Endurance, or Strength, etc. doesn't add anything to the story, so I am giving up on that point. Athanor Attributes are not subject to the Blood Pool.

    ** ** ** 11 Dec 00 - I'll revamp this entire page at some point.

    Blood Attributes are definitely out. The Athanor play has worked well. History of the characters is now established as a blood inheritance. This works just like Chaos or Amber blood at start of game, the PC must pay for such contacts. As such, Blood Contact is 10 pts.

    Then powers should be identified by primal source with the GM. Best done by telling the GM what you'd like to do and how it fits the character. Any ideas about back story should be introduced at the same time. Then the GM will be able to "tie in" the primal powers that fit the character concept. Unless the PC is built with advanced knowledge of powers, then exactly how the powers work is as much a mystery as Pattern is to beginning characters.


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