Lores fundamentally represents what a character has invested effort into learning about and/or being close to — what, in short, he's interested in. Having the Lore for Amber City, for instance, represents a knowledge of the city's layout, people known in the city and so on.
What are Lores Used For?
Lores have several practical uses:
- They represent what you're connected to, and therefore, they govern the gossip that you can hear and your ease of influence over groups of NPC. For more details, read up on the Gossip system.
- They represent what you know, and therefore are used as part of the seals on Packets.
- They are used as prereqs to determine what gifts are available to you.
- They may directly contain setting secrets.
Lore and Stories
The staff looks at investment in Lores as a way to learn what aspects of the setting people are most interested in. For instance, if lots of people have the Arden lore, there's clearly lots of interest in its doings, and the staff will introduce and encourage story elements that impact Arden and those connected to it.
Lores are not static. New Lores will be introduced on an ongoing basis, and may be introduced by players (with staff okay) as well as the staff. Furthermore, Lores can change as the game goes on.
Lores are also not necessarily factually true. The lore that's revealed at a given level represents what those people who have that level of knowledge commonly think about the subject. For instance, most lores at level 0 are what the guy on the street thinks — usually things that are speculative and frequently utterly wrong.
Some lores represent adventure seeds. Typically, whenever a place is described, it's intended to be an IC discovery — something where you can go out and have a scene discovering the information given in the lore text.
What Should I Do If a Lore Level is Blank?
Not all lore levels contain in-game information. Over time, more such information will be filled in, but in general, the information that is placed in lores is intended to be significant, and a significant percentage of such information is setting secrets, particularly at lore levels of greater than 5, or narrow secret lores.
In general, "color" information related to a lore will be part of a wiki — either the game's main wiki, or a propco-maintained wiki for player-managed props. We strongly encourage player propcos to maintain information on their props in this kind of public format, and in general, the staff leaves that kind of detail to the propcos — our focus is largely on the cosmology secrets. You should use your lore level as a guide to what color information you are likely to know IC.
If you need information about a prop or any element of the setting, you should consult the prop controller if there is one, or submit a GM request if not.
What Do Lore Levels Mean?
It is not our intent to micro-manage what characters know and don't know, nor to legislate what characters claim about themselves. Those of Amber and its surrounding shadows are long-lived, and often well-traveled; it is simply assumed that they have knowledge and skills that reflect those lives. What we represent on sheets is not general knowledge, but mechanical impact. It's the question of the degree to which a character knows or can do something narratively significant. Just as gifts represent a strength that is significant enough to have narrative impact, lores represent current knowledge, interests, and involvement that are significant enough to have narrative and mechanical impact.
Lores are technically rated from 1-10, but for most purposes they can be considered to go from 1-5, with five representing a mastery of the subject. Levels beyond five are refinements, representing experience, secrets and other unique tricks. Keeping in mind the caveat "relative to current narrative significance", the lore levels break out as follows, with more detail for what the levels mean for an organization, location or some specialized field of knowledge:
Level 1 in a lore represents a character who has taken an interest in the subject, enough to seek a little education.
The character knows most of the important names and landmarks of a place. This is equivalent to the knowledge of a tourist who read a travel guide to the place, once.
The character knows a little about this group of people and what they're interested in. He's got an acquaintance or two that's part of this group.
The character knows a little bit about this subject, enough to have a conversation about it. This is the equivalent of having read a few books on the topic. Enough to fiercely argue the topic on the Internet.
Level 2 represents a character who has a reasonable amount of education, but little real experience to season that knowledge.
The character knows their way around and can talk a good game without looking foolish. He's visited this place many times, or has lived here for a while. He knows some people around the place, too.
The character is familiar with this group of people, and can talk about them and what they're interested in without sounding foolish. He's got a number of friends who belong to this group.
The character knows a modest amount about this subject, enough to have an extended conversation about it, and to be an initiate of the power (if relevant). This is the equivalent of having taken a course or two in the subject, or having been actively tutored by someone for a period of time.
Level 3 is all the knowledge most people will ever need on a topic, unless it is something specific to their interest. It represents a solid balance of education and experience.
The character knows this place like a native — well enough to know a few small secrets, like shortcuts, the place to find the best sausage, and how not to get mugged. He has a pretty good circle of contacts, acquaintances, and friends here.
This character knows this group well. He's almost certainly part of this group. He is actively involved in what they're interested in.
The character knows quite a bit about this subject, and has made an active study of it for several years. Although he is not making original discoveries, he understands the subject fairly thoroughly, and is a decent practitioner of the subject.
At level four, the character has opted to pursue the matter farther, dipping into more esoteric lore and current research on the topic.
The character knows this place like a well-settled native, has a few known haunts he favors, and has got a broad circle of contacts, acquaintances and friends here. For instance, he's been to most of the sausage places in town at least once. He's out and about often enough that he's a recognizable face (apart from any fame he might have).
This character knows this group intimately. He is a member of it, actively involved, well-connected, and may have some real influence within it.
The character has deep knowledge and expertise on this subject, and has made a lengthy study of it. His skill is high enough to earn respect from others.
The character lives and breathes this stuff.
Location: 'Like the back of my hand'
The character knows this place like the back of his hand, and he's well-connected, too. For instance, not only does he know where the best sausage can be found, but he can tell you about most of the sausage places in town and how they compare, and when he goes into his favorite sausage places, they greet him by name.
This character is very well-known to this group, is deeply connected on a day to day basis in their interests, and is very influencial.
The character has made extensive study of the topic, and knows it well enough to realize how incredibly lacking their previous understanding was. He understands complexities and controversies in this field, and has some idea of how the boundaries of knowledge in this field can be pushed. He is able to conduct research in this field, and can potentially make truly new discoveries, although not paradigm-breaking ones.
The differences between lore levels over 5 are very small and mostly revolve around details unimportant to any but those who are similarly knowledgeable. These represent the most esoteric parts of lore.
There are a few lores which are much narrower in their scope than usual. These lores tend to be very limited in what information and contacts they represent. Their real virtue is that they tend to be very potent in terms of fulfilling prerequisites. There are very few of these lores in the game at the moment, but there will be more as time goes on.
Lores in Character Creation
Lores are generally set by the staff when your character sheet is approved, but depending on how detailed your concept was (and how much of it is really going to be fleshed out by your sheet), it may be done after your background is approved, instead. This is rare; f you find yourself needing a pre-requisite lore for a gift during chargen, please talk to a staff member, and we'll fix things appropriately.
Lores are set based on a character's background. Almost every character begins with at least one lore at 3, representing the thing, organization, or place that he is most deeply connected to. Many characters may begin with more than one lore at 3; this is typical for characters who are Amber natives and have deep ties to it.
All characters begin with the same number of points in lores, with the exception of those tied to an Amber noble House, who have a few extra points assigned to their House's lore. All new character lores are low, reflecting that they have just become narratively significant and do not yet have enduring ties to the elements that are represented by lores. New characters can rapidly buy up lores using Focus, representing what they're investing their time in now.
Amnesiacs begin with no lores, but the GMs are often willing to unlock a lore based around a homeland, and a character with amnesia will begin with more focus then usual, allowing them to 'remember' some of the initial, early lores that could otherwise go onto their sheet at charcen.
Lores and Advancement
After character creation, players may buy new gifts and lores. The list of gifts and lores available to be purchased depends upon what lores and gifts the character already knows. Buy improving existing lores, the character can increase the range of lores available. As the character improves his lores, they number of gifts available for purchase also increases.
Some lores have pre-requisites to even know they exist. Some lore levels may have pre-requisites to buy. In some cases, the pre-requisite may be training — instead of, or in addition to, having a minimum level in other lores, or particular gifts.
In general, there are multiple possible pre-requisite paths to learning a given lore at higher levels (and we are likely to add additional paths over time). One or more of those paths is generally a self-learning path, where you pursue a set of related knowledges that allows you to self-discover something new. Other paths are training paths, which require you to acquire some broader foundational knowledge, but where someone who is already knowledgeable in a lore teaches you more about it. It takes a trainer time to teach someone, though (represented by their expenditure of Focus), so if you are seeking training, you'll need to find a way to make it worth their while. Finally, there are paths that are based on proposals; put in a +submit gm indicating what you'd like to do to achieve a higher-level lore, and if it's reasonable (usually must be grounded in multiple scenes, and preferably a storyline), it's likely to be approved.