in the Shadow of Greatness


February 18, 2003

Health, Immortality, and Endurance

OK, here's something I haven't talked about before, the topic is suggested by recent posts from Dorothea and Ginger about healing and clerics, also note my previous answer to Jvstin's post about Queen Vialle's damaged eyesight: Health, Immortality, and Endurance Or what E. Wujcik might have told you about amberites:

Royals of Amber get mussed, stabbed, and in extreme cases, killed. Knowing how quickly they "bounce back" is a nice yardstick to have around for those players who hope there is some sort of objective scale to this. General 'glowing health' is the way I see Amber. A body restores itself because that is a natural fact of the ideal realm. As an example, joints wear more slowly because the material is literally denser and more resilient and lasts for a few centuries. Natural death for folks arriving in Amber as adults might be little different from their own home shadow. Natural death on the Golden Circle is normally at about 150 years; while in Amber it is probably closer to 300 years. Whatever numbers your GM uses, the important thing here is that Amber is a summit of health. Amberites are hard to kill.

For this little ramble, I'm going to ignore the attributes except Endurance. Yes, good Psyche might tell you to duck before the trigger is pulled. Mighty Strength will blunt the impact of the fall from the East Stair. Amazing Warfare might mean that your wounds are much less than the other guy's. Some positive Stuff could make a terrible situation prove less so in final outcome. Such matters are interpretive based on GM and specific game conditions.

All assumptions are built quickly from this: Dramatically speaking, how fast does a human die in combat? If you want to have a bitter and edgy game, you can set this to one single mistake. One traumatic wound and a mortal is dead. If you want to have mortal companions often fight alongside your Amber princess, then you may want to set this value to three or four. In my Amber I set this value to two. Two serious wounds, two dangerous gunshots, two well-placed arrows etcetera and so forth. Dramatically speaking, in my games I want life to be tenacious, so a single mistake does not kill a mortal. Ah, but there are so many permutations. What about double damage? What about weapons that throw a missile-a-second into a crowd? What about nuclear explosions? Well, what about them? They aren't the normal dramatic means are they? If they are, I suspect your Amber game is very different from mine. Move along, nothing to read here. Like in the novels by Zelazny, in my game, daggers, swords, slings and arrows are the outrageous misfortune you can expect dramatically. So my theory goes, that even Dalt cutting down a shadow-dweller will take two "actions" or two turns or two "decisions" as to how he is going to do that. Some characters will be of "no dramatic importance" and might expire faster, but the yardstick is still there to provide a measure of how quickly peril will be dished out. So, for example, when confronted by two officers of the law while hauling Corwin's ass out of a lake, Brand runs off. He does not pull a blade and snicker-snack a couple of trained guys who have guns. Ah, but of course, Amberites are tougher than mortals. You knew that, of course.

Chaosians on average are twice as durable as mortals and Amberites are twice as durable as Chaosians. So Chaosians get four serious mistakes and Amberites get eight such wounds before they are near to death and unable to defend themselves. No Amberite would want to annoy two law enforcement officers with some twelve shots between them. Who knows how practiced they are? How many shots can they get off and how quickly? No, immortal lives are worth more discretion. And Endurance is really, really important. Look at this chart. Yes, isn't that handy? Corwin, our hero of never-ending-endurance probably is top of the chart. He can soak up sixteen serious wounds. I want to assure you that I don't mean that you literally are guarenteed that shooting the man seventeen times means he's dead. But all things being equal and advantageous to your schemes, this should work for you. On the other hand, there is that double-damage thing to help you along. Knock yourself out. Everything else follows from common sense.

How long to heal a broken bone? Well, certainly eight weeks would fix most things for a healthy mortal. That's four weeks for a Chaosian unable or unskilled at shaping an advantage in healing or about two weeks for an average Amber royal's Endurance. Perhaps four days for Corwin. So now you know how long the fella was kept in that hospital before he woke up and decided to leave in chapter one. If the simulationists in your gaming group want to tell you that bullet wounds, stab wounds and magical wounds are all too different to be lumped into a "serious wound" category, then write me and I'll put you in touch with trans-dimensional health experts. For our game purposes, I think they are dramatically equal. More importantly, I've always felt that the system has to be simple enough to keep in your head, but respect the Zelazny canon and something of Wujcik's rule base. I'll leave it for the more bloody-minded GMs out there to decide just where/how the dangers of the universe fit into double, triple, and mega-damage types. It would be fair to consider that Brand might have lived with three arrows in him had he not also fallen off a cliff; that Caine probably did not have a double-damage or 'cursed' weapon (though it was silver); that Oberon sustained tremendous stress to be killed repairing the Pattern. As always, your mileage may vary. Additional healing information:

  • -magical or high-tech repairs will hold only in the shadow that spawned them (you might be able to save someone's life, or revive someone dead less than five minutes)
  • -amberites heal at slightly faster rates when shadow-repaired (brought back from the edge, your body will recover faster if the shadow tech/magic is allowing you mobility and exercise while your Real Healing goes after the Real Damage. You aren't as healthy as you appear, and shouldn't leave the shadow)
  • -shadow-regenerated parts will fail quickly upon return to Amber (missing parts atrophy within weeks, as they cannot be sustained by damaged systems)
  • -the more basic the shadow-healing method, the better it helps an amberite (rest, splints, transfer of energy from a cousin)
  • -the more esoteric the shadow-healing method, the less it helps an amberite (nano-tech, regen tanks, divine-gifted healing)
  • -full regeneration is a twenty year process (longer for below 0 Endurance, shorter for ranked Endurance)
  • -0 Endurance heals four times faster than shadow Endurance, and twice as fast as Chaos Endurance

Filed under : Amber at 18.02.2003