by Doyce Testerman

The Problem:

There are only four stats in Amber, and as such, they have a tendency, in my mind, to be stretched too far. Warfare, surely a useful skill, governs everything from chess, fencing, tactics, grand stratagems, and even martial arts techniques by some people's definitions. And that's just one of the stats.

The rule I use (influenced by the interaction of the four stats in the diceless system Everway) is that no stat exists in a vacuum. Every activity has one major stat that influences the outcome, and one stat that influences it to a lesser degree. I'm going to try to give an example of all the possible (or at least likely) interactions:

Swordplay Warfare + (Str/2) Makes Gerard (with, say, a warfare of 50 but a Str of 200) much more formidable, as he comes out a with a very respectable point total (50 + 200/2 = 150).
Tactics Warfare + (Psyche/2) Makes Brand a serious threat to everyone, except maybe Benedict, and still gives old Benny a run for the money.
Psyche Finesse Psyche + (Warfare/2) Used for determining success of psyche/power/spell attacks. -*OR*- Chess/etc -- As anyone who spars/duels/plays RPG's can attest, the Chess environment does take a different mindset than the battlefield.
Brute Psyche Psyche + (Str/2) OR + (End/2) (GM's choice) Put that huge battery of endurance/body fitness to use! I use this as a basis for how much damage spells and other blasts of offensive energy will do to the target, as well as for tests of willpower once psychic contact is established.
Hand-to-Hand Strength + (Warfare/2) Put some oomf into arguments that high Warfare gives good hand-to-hand techniques, but still lets Gerard remain the (very) Big-Dog at the top of the heap.
Strength Finesse Strength + (Psyche/2) I've heard some good suggestions for this, most notably in tasks like rock climbing, hang-gliding, and other situations where a person's physical power needs to be applied with a little control.

If you have any suggestions, write me with ideas on what else combinations might govern.
I put together an Excel spreadsheet to track all my NPC's and PC's using this system.

Be the Ball, Danny

There are a few rules or statements outlined in the ADRPG book, as well as what I would call 'standard house rules' that a great number of people use that I wanted to provide easy 'conversion' for in the Holistic system. They follow below:

Combat Resolution:

First laid out by Randy Trimmer, this is a system to give the Amber GM a quick idea of the outcome of a battle between two opponents whose skill levels are not closely matched. (Applies to contests of Swordplay, Psyche Finesse, or Hand-to-Hand.)

Character 1 (C1)
Character 2 (C2)



C1's skill is generally equal to C2's skill


Fight could go on for days.

C1 is not twice as good as C2, but is still somewhat superior.


Fight turns in C1's favor in 20 minutes to several hours.

C1 is at least twice good as C2.


Fight turns in C1's favor in 2 - 15 minutes.

C1 is at least three times as good as C2.


Fight turns in C1's favor in 30 seconds to 2 minutes

C1 is at least four times as good as C2.


Fight turns in C1's favor in 2-15 seconds -- get the body bag.


  1. The weaker opponent (Character 2, in this example) can draw out the fight (and their life) by going from 'normal' aggressiveness to 'defensive' -- this moves the 'Result' up one 'notch. They can move the result up two 'notches' by going 'full defensive'.
  2. The stronger opponent can go more aggressive to speed things up, but will probably get hurt in the process if the fight was originally within two notches of 'close'. A weaker oppenent can speed the contest up this way as well, but not in the way they were hoping for.
  3. With weapons, a mismatch between the defender's armor versus the attacker's weapon (you're attacking Julian's armor with a hoof-cleaning knife) can move the 'Result' towards a more survivable area, sometimes even into the weaker opponent's favor. It doesn't help with Hand-to-Hand.

The system does not, of course, take roleplay and general sneakiness into account, and as such is only really useful in 'automatic' fights, 'clean' sparring, and NPC to NPC fights.

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