This material is gathered and polished from discussions on the Amber Mailing List and other sources. New edits are in yellow highlight.


essay by Arref Mak

IMC, someone who spends 50 points on Strength, is going to get as much information, in order to make decisions as a 50 Warfare PC does. Not the same information certainly. Warfare and Strength lead to two different perceptions of the world. Is not Strength the determinate to martial arts? Is not the body as powerful as the mind, grasshopper?

What did the big man say?, "Do not be certain that your blade will protect you, if I can get my hands on you but once."

Ok, the rules state even a single point of Attribute guarantees supremacy -- given all things being equal. And each player can tell his intentions to the GM, in order to affect what "equal" may or may not mean.

But what about timing? Equality is nothing without opportunity.

"In general, Strength is the fastest of the Attributes when characters are in a hand-to-hand clinch. Otherwise, reaction time is determined by Warfare, so a better Warfare rank determines a character's reflexes.

Finally, nothing can work faster than thought, so mental combat is fastest of all. However, there must be mind to mind contact already set up."
---pg. 95 ADRPG

I'm going to try to restate the above in Ranking Order that conforms to what I think it is trying to say (and what I use as a GM). First to last, the logic is:

Endurance is the Very Fastest attribute, -if effort is made.
Psyche is the Fastest attribute, -if minds are in contact.
Strength is the Fast attribute, -if objects are in reach.
Warfare determines all reactions, -not determined by a faster attribute.

Fast to me means which Attribute, and which PC gets the GM's attention first. What order does 'opportunity' follow.

So, if a player says, "I shoot Fiona with my primal-chaos crossbow. I bet I've got her Warfare beat so she's toast."

What happens? The GM must follow a certain priority of opportunity. You may notice as I explain each Attribute in turn, that the order of speed and opportunity begins with the Attribute least likely to overtly affect conflict between players and moves to the most powerful Attribute for use in conflict. This works very well. A great system.

In the case of Endurance, this is usually elegant (Endurance just works until it is used up) but can be more complex. IOW, an Endurance PC might say, "I'm ready for it" or even "I try to ignore the shock of being hit" and their Endurance actions would be considered before any other Attribute action.

Let me digress for just three paragraphs, Why make Endurance the fastest Attribute? The rules don't give it any "speed" rating.

Two reasons, first, a complete system must decide where Endurance fits into opportunity. It is inherent to the value of the Attribute to know how it fares in test against the others.

Second, Since Erick Wujcik doesn't give us a rules guide, that tends to judge Endurance is last and slowest; beneath consideration and only reacting after other conflicts are resolved. This denies power to Endurance and relegates it to the "long term" issues of staying power, healing and regeneration. I rule that Endurance is also resistance to a range of immediate conflicts, from thirst and starvation, to sleep and torture. From helping your Psyche hold off a Trump contact, to keeping silent while having your eyes burned out. I rule it comes first and fastest precisely because I want Endurance to be a powerful Attribute. Since it is an Attribute that usually only affects the self, putting it first doesn't complicate conflicts between players either.

Unless the Player opts for "Pushing" another Attribute with Endurance, which is a subject for another essay. "Pushing" is a House Rule where Endurance may be used at a faster rate to temporarily increase energy of another Attribute in conflict.

In the case of Psyche, Fiona is toast if she doesn't have another mind in contact already, so her greater speed of thought isn't helpful. If she had someone in mental contact, she could take some Psyche action before the bolt was fired. One that would have to be ruled on before the bolt arrived and might save her.

This does NOT mean that Fiona can "catch someone's eye" and stop them from firing the crossbow. That would be a two step action. "Catching" their eye is establishing contact. Once contact is made, then Psyche is useful.

In the case of Strength, perhaps Fiona has more Strength than the Warfare of the PC, and so grabs a chair that is right at hand and blocks the bolt with it. This is a legitimate example of Strength being faster than Warfare.

And if the Warfare of the crossbow attack was only slightly better than the Strength of Fiona, it might also be a fair ruling to say that the "chair block" manuever is partially successful, but some damage still gets through the chair. Stuff, roleplaying, and 'environment' must always temper such events.

This is an important point. Direct comparison of Attributes is made. Fiona doesn't go first because she has greater Strength than the crossbow wielder's Strength, she goes first if her Strength is greater than the Warfare attribute being used against her. This is an important difference. Parity between Attributes is important. It is also the reason Gerard is just as dangerous as Benedict in many situations.

If all the above has been exhausted, then Fiona takes the shot, losing to the Warfare action.

In this system I'm describing, there are literally four speeds in competition with each other. Some of them are helpful depending on the situation, some are not.

This is the most important point to understand. The Characters should know how to compete and get good use from their skills and talents. Fiona's experience tells her to forget Psyche in a situation where Warfare of 10 is faster. Corwin loses to Gerard because he is outmaneuvered when Gerard controls the time and place.

Controlling the situation, being aware of how to use your Attributes in the GM's described setting, will determine your survival in such conflicts. Understanding that Gerard's famous strength, Fiona's mind, and Benedict's weapons have limits is necessary to young amberites.

Given that a few points of Attribute could be crucial, I think arbitrating Attribute powers is an important part of a GM's job. Attribute conflicts are the backbone to the system of the diceless game. Once you have the logic down pat, you can turn your attentions to the real fun; characters and role-playing.


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