A character’s stats are not about what he does, but how he does it. In most situations, there are multiple possible approaches. If you need to break into someone’s house, you might climb nimbly up through a window, break down a door with brute force, fast talk your way in, or watch the place long enough to find a gap in the security. In a fight, you might try to win with speed, strength, cunning or just sheer guts. This flexibility is the basis of the stat system on our game –- each stat dictates how capable the character is at a particular approach.
The stats are:
Force — This stat covers the application of force, usually through strength or other direct action.
Grace –- This stat covers speed and agility, and is most useful for going around problems.
Wits –- This is the arena of cunning and guile. It's useful for studying a problem and finding the right solution.
Resolve –- This covers issues of patience and endurance. Sometimes you can just ride out a problem. This can hurt a lot, and bring a lot of problems, but there are benefits to being the last man standing.
Stats and Combat
By way of illustration, consider how each of these stats might be used by a swordsman.
- A swordsman who favors Force may lean towards heavier weapons. His blows are precise and powerful, and he looks to end the fight in the most direct fashion possible.
- A swordsman who favors Grace will stay in constant motion, looking for opportunities and waiting for a chance to strike.
- A swordsman who favors Wits will make careful study of his opponent, come to understand the patterns of his attacks and defenses, and exploit the weaknesses that are present.
- A swordsman who favors Resolve would fight defensively, wearing his opponent down, and waiting until they make a mistake.
In short, there is no “combat stat,” just different ways to approach combat.
Stats and Social Interaction
As another example, the same thinking applies equally easily to a courtier attempting to influence NPCs.
- A courtier who favors Force applies their strong presence to get things done. Intimidation and inspiration are all part of the game.
- A courtier who favors Grace is in the right place at the right time, and allows insults and confusion to slide smoothly off their gracious exterior.
- A courtier who favors Wits uses their knowledge and understanding of others like a blade — either scalpel or stiletto, based on their inclinations.
- A courtier who favors Resolve is blessed with the greatest of gifts: patience. The ability to keep a level head, and even temperament and an absolutely unyielding position can go a long way.
Stats begin with a ranking of 1, denoting no particular talent with that approach. There are fifteen ranks which can be purchased at character creation or later, with advancement.
Here are a few guidelines as to what the ranks mean:
- A rank of 1 indicates someone of no note; even in a typical shadow world, this is average at best.
- A rank of 2 is the minimum required to survive a walk of the Pattern.
- A rank of 3 indicates a talented individual, one who could make a good living in a related pursuit.
- A rank of 5 represents the best in the typical shadow world. Even in Amber, this is good.
- A rank of 6 is worthy of spawning legends and myths in the typical shadow world.
- A rank of 8 is remarkable, even in Amber.
- A rank of 10 is transcendent. Even in Amber, this is among the best of the best.
There are no non-Feature characters with stats above 10. There is a single Feature character with an 11 (known by the tarot rank of Page) in each of the stats, represent that stat's archetype.
For those curious about the use of tarot symbolism, it extends to the stats as well.
As such, a character’s stats might look like:
Force: 6 of Rods
Grace: Page (11) of Cups
Wits: 9 of Swords
Resolve: 4 of Pentacles
The cost of ranks increases as they go up. It does not cost many points to buy up to 5, it costs a few more to buy up to 10, and ranks get very expensive from there.
Stats may be bought to 10 with no limitations.
Use +cg set stat to rank to change the value of a stat during character generation.
Stats as a Gateway for Gifts and Lores
Certain gifts and lores have stats as a pre-requisite. These fall into four categories:
- Requiring that all of your stats, summed together, total to a certain number or higher
- Requiring that all of your stats are each a certain number or higher
- Requiring that at least one of your stats be a certain number or higher
- Requiring that a specific stat be a certain number or higher
Some notable numbers:
- For those of the Blood of Oberon, buying Pattern initiation (PAT-WA: Pattern Walker) requires all your stats be at 2 or higher.
- Many second-tier abilities require that all of your stats be 3 or higher.
- Many second-tier abilities require at least one stat at 5 or more.
- Second-tier bonuses (purchasable only with advancement) usually require at least one stat at 7 or more.
- Abilities of greater potency often require that your stats total to 12+, 15+, 20+, or 25+.
You might want to start by buying all of your stats to 3 in chargen, and then lowering them only if you need more points for gifts. (Note that in chargen, you can lower a stat to the point where you no longer meet the pre-reqs for a gift, but you won't be able to submit your sheet for approval until you fix that.)
Later, when your character gets into conflicts, you'll find that a comparison is based on a stat that you choose and a stat that your opponent chooses. That means that there are many good ways to spread your points between your stats. There are advantages to being a specialist in a particular approach, as well as advantages to being more of a generalist.
We suggest that you buy stats based on your character's personality and the way he's likely to approach problems. Because all stats are useful in nearly all situations (with a few exceptions, it's fairly easy to justify all four approaches to a given problem), a stat choice is primarily a matter of flavor.
We also suggest that you not spend too many points on stats, initially. If there are specific things that you want your character to be good at (vs. being talented at a general approach), you'll probably want to spend points on related Gifts instead. However, you don't want your stats to be too low, or you will be unable to access some gifts and lores.