Between the Motion and the Act

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
T.S. Eliot

Between the Motion and the Act

It was the best of times, and everybody knew it. Amber paid a terrible price in the Great War, but a sturdy peace was forged from it. Ghostwheel and Jale have bound Amber and Chaos together in a web of mutual dependence, powering a technological revolution -- and a threat of mutually assured destruction.

Now an unknown navy blockades Amber's harbor, while an army marches on Chaos. Has a new power stepped in to shatter the peace? Can you put the genie back in the bottle, or is this the beginning of the end? (See Also: The Day of Broken Branches.)

RESTRICTIONS: Bring your Amber characters and we'll tweak them to fit into this background. 150 points +/-5 stuff (+10 points if you get your completed character approved before the Con.) See for more background on new powers.

The Setting

The Patternfall War turned out to be but a warm up. In the seventeenth year of Merlin's reign, Chaos's old guard subverted Ghostwheel and used it to launch a major surprise attack on Amber. The city was badly damaged. Random and many of his brothers perished.

While Merlin struggled to regain control of his creation and his subjects, battle raged between Amber's survivors and many of the houses of Chaos. Despite heavy losses, Chaos held onto the upper hand. Desperate, Amber constructed a weapon capable of countering Ghostwheel: Jale. Forged with power stolen from Chaos, it made the fight fair again.

And it made continuing the war suicide for both sides. Once this could no longer be denied, Merlin and Martin reigned in their kingdoms and brokered a peace.

Finding that the two sides' superweapons could also be tools, each most powerful in their opponents' territory, the agreement called for each side to rebuild the other. New uses, more skillful and subtle, were found for both. They became the building blocks for a rough and ready technology. People mastered their use, and many eschewed the old powers in favor of the safer and simpler new tools.

Now peace rules the poles of existence. Amber and Chaos are rebuilt, better than before. It is a golden age. But are there shadows on the horizon?

About the PCs

In this world, Merlin and Martin's generation have effectively replaced Oberon's children in the grand scheme of things; they are the new Elders. While a few of the older family members are still around, they are not the main players anymore. The PCs have stepped into their shoes.


Exactly who designed Jale is one of Amber's most closely guarded state secrets, as is its exact physical location. What is generally known is this: it is a construct of Logrus and Sorcery in the same way that Ghostwheel is a construct of Pattern and Trump. It is intelligent, though it speaks but rarely; when it does, it uses Flora's voice.

It has three primary powers. On the small scale, it can duplicate the power of sorcery, casting spells on the fly, and creating new ones quickly. On the large scale, it can create shadow paths, trails linking shadow to shadow which anyone can travel. It can also alter the natural laws of a shadow, though this is a tricky and slow process.

Because its power focuses on manipulating shadow, Jale has relatively limited uses in Amber and the nearby shadows. It is extremely powerful and useful in the Courts of Chaos, whose small, loose patches of shadow it can quickly and effectively manipulate.

Jale/Ghostwheel versus the Older Powers

If you'll forgive the programming metaphor, the two constructs are like high level languages, next to the assembly language of the Pattern and Logrus. Those old powers offer unparalleled precision and control, but require more study and effort to achieve good results. Jale and Ghostwheel, on the other hand, allow you quick mastery and easy control over powerful forces.

For instance, a Pattern user can, almost subconsciously, instantly alter probability in a shadow. A Jale initiate cannot do that -- but he can, with just a little more effort, generate a new path across a dozen shadows, which would probably take the Pattern user weeks of hard work.

In a direct confrontation, the Pattern user has a more direct connection to the power source, and will generally prevail. On the other hand, a clever Jale initiate, avoiding direct confrontation, can frequently bring more forces to bear.

There is no reason someone cannot learn both the old methods and the new -- but that requires twice as much studying, of course.

New Rules

Note: It is possible to be attuned to both Jale and Ghostwheel, at different skill levels if desired. The point costs below are the costs for just one of the two.

Jale/Ghostwheel Terminal: 10 points Initiate has a trump card which reaches the public interface of the construct, and is recognized as a valid user. Using this, he can make verbal requests, which are interpreted as best the construct can. (Computer analogy: a simple text terminal over a modem line.)

Jale/Ghostwheel Interface: 20 points Initiate is imprinted with a direct link to the construct. He can perform many simple functions himself, or quickly communicate his wishes to the construct's AI. (Computer analogy: a full TCP/IP link over a T1 line.)

Jale/Ghostwheel Expert: 40 points Initiate is imprinted with a direct link to the construct, and is an expert on its use. He can perform most complex functions himself, and is skilled on getting the most from the construct's AI. (Computer analogy: a system administrator on a T1 line.)

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