Characters in Amber DRPG are represented by four attributes: Psyche, Strength, Endurance and Warfare.
Psyche is used for feats of willpower or magic.
Strength is used for feats of strength or unarmed combat.
Endurance is used for feats of endurance.
Warfare is used for armed combat, from duelling to commanding armies
The attributes run from -25 (normal human level), through -10 (normal level for a denizen of the Courts of Chaos) and 0 (normal level for an inhabitant of Amber), upwards without limit. Scores above 0 are "ranked", with the highest score being ranked 1st, the next-highest 2nd, and so on. The character with 1st rank in each attribute is considered "superior" in that attribute, being considered to be substantially better than the character with 2nd rank even if the difference in scores is small. All else being equal, a character with a higher rank in an attribute will always win a contest based on that attribute.
The Attribute Auction
A character's ability scores are purchased during character creation in an auction; players get 100 character points, and bid on each attribute in turn. The character who bids the most for an attribute is "ranked" first and is considered superior to all other characters in that attribute. Unlike conventional auctions, bids are non-refundable; if one player bids 65 for psyche and another wins with a bid of 66, then the character with 66 is "superior" to the character with 65 even though there is only one bid difference. Instead, lower bidding characters are ranked in ascending order according to how much they have bid, the characters becoming progressively weaker in that attribute as they pay less for it. After the auction, players can secretly pay extra points to raise their ranks, but they can only pay to raise their scores to an existing rank. Further, a character with a bid-for rank is considered to have a slight advantage over character with a bought-up rank.
The Auction simulates a 'history' of competition between the descendants of Oberon for player characters who have not had dozens of decades to get to know each other. Through the competitive Auction, characters may begin the game vying for standings. The auction serves to introduce some unpredictability into character creation without the need to resort to dice, cards, or other randomizing devices. A player may intend, for example, to create a character who is a strong, mighty warrior, but being "outplayed" in the auction may result in lower attribute scores than anticipated, therefore necessitating a change of character concept. Since a player cannot control another player's bids, and since all bids are non-refundable, the auction involves a considerable amount of strategizing and prioritization by players. A willingness to spend as many points as possible on an attribute may improve your chances of a high ranking, but too reckless a spending strategy could leave a player with few points to spend on powers and objects. In a hotly contested auction, such as for the important attribute of warfare, the most valuable skill is the ability to force one's opponents to back down. With two or more equally determined players, this can result in a "bidding war" where the attribute is driven up by increments to large sums. An alternative strategy is to try to cow other players into submission with a high opening bid. Most players bid low amounts between one and ten points in an initial bid in order to feel out the competition and to save points for other uses. A high enough opening bid could signal a player's determination to be first ranked in that attribute, thereby dissuading others from competing.
Characters in Amber DRPG have access to the powers seen in the Chronicles of Amber: Pattern, Logrus, Shape-shifting, Trump, and Magic.
Pattern: A character who has walked the pattern can walk in shadow to any possible universe, and while there can manipulate probability.
Logrus: A character who has mastered the Logrus can send out Logrus tendrils and pull themselves or objects through shadow.
Shape-shifting: Shape-shifters can alter their physical form and abilities.
Trump: Trump Artists can create Trumps, a sort of tarot card which allows mental communication and travel. The book features Trump portraits of each of the elder Amberites. The trump picture of Corwin is executed in a subtly different style - and has features very similar to Roger Zelazny's.
Magic: Three types of magic are detailed: Power Words, with a quick, small effect; Sorcery, with pre-prepared spells as in many other game systems; and Conjuration, the creation of small objects.
Each of the first three powers is available in an advanced form.
Unspent character points become good stuff - a good luck for the character. Players are also allowed to overspend (in moderation), with the points becoming bad stuff - bad luck which the Gamemaster should inflict on the character. Stuff governs how non-player characters perceive and respond to the character: characters with good stuff will often receive friendly or helpful reactions, while characters with bad stuff are often treated with suspicion or hostility.
As well as representing luck, stuff can be seen as representing a character's outlook on the universe: characters with good stuff seeing the multiverse as a cheerful place, while characters with bad stuff see it as hostile.
In any given fair conflict between two characters, the character with the higher score in the relevant attribute will eventually win. The key words here are fair and eventually - if characters' ranks are close, and the weaker character has obtained some advantage, then the weaker character can escape defeat or perhaps prevail. Close ranks result in longer contests while greater difference between ranks result in fast resolution. Alternatively, if characters' attribute ranks are close, the weaker character can try to change the relevant attribute by changing the nature of the conflict. For example, if two characters are wrestling the relevant attribute is Strength; a character could reveal a weapon, changing it to Warfare; they could try to overcome the other character's mind using a power, changing it to Psyche; or they could concentrate their strength on defense, changing it to Endurance. If there is a substantial difference between characters' ranks, the conflict is generally over before the weaker character can react.
The 'Golden Rule'
Amber DRPG advises gamemasters to change rules as they see fit - even to the point of adding or removing powers or attributes.