Ambarquenta

Ambarquenta is the Heren Turambarion's homemade Middle-earth roleplaying game. In the long run, we hope that it will become an enjoyable and well-balanced alternative to the other great games featured on this site. Yet, such an endeavour brings with it a tremendous workload, and therefore we must ask you for a little patience, and to return to this site every now and then to see whether a new chapter has been added to the core rulebook we're currently writing.

At the time being, the second beta version (2012.2) of the core rulebook is available for download here. The PDF book comes as a password-protected ZIP-archive sized 6.0 MB (Mac users may have to drag-and-drop the file to Stuffit Expander). See below for a short synopsis of what's changed since the last major release. In addition, gamemasters who wish to run their roleplaying adventures using the Ambarquenta rules are kindly invited to download the six-pages Turambar's Screen.

Please note that you'll need to obtain a password to open and print this over 330 pages long e-book by sending an e-mail to olorwe@gmx.at. The reason why we must ask you to do so is that we have, for simplicity's sake, copied the wording of large parts of the rulebook from various other roleplaying games (which are all listed in the 'Credits' section of the book). While primarily generic play rules have actually been plagiarized by doing so, this course of action allowed us to speed up the work on Ambarquenta a lot.

The current version of Ambarquenta features a brief Introduction to the game's mechanics, as well as detailed chapters on Your Character's Tale (1), Attributes (2), Races and Cultures (3), Skills (4), Abilities and Flaws (5), Weapons and Gear (6), Finishing Touches (7), Character Improvement (8), Adventuring (9), Combat (10), and – though still incomplete – Magic (11). In addition, Appendix A presents the (optional) concept of everyday Occupations, and Appendix B introduces yout to the herbs and poisons of Middle-earth.

Expect further appendices introducing prominent and ordinary NPCs, a bestiary, and guidelines for creating your own NPCs and fell beasts in future versions of Ambarquenta. However, with the cast of sample characters available for download in the character repository, there's no reason to wait any longer before playtesting Ambarquenta! Just download the character sheet (version 4.8, in Microsoft Excel and PDF format, package file size: 570 KB), find an experienced group of gamers, and create some brave characters that you and friends can pit against the hosts of the Enemy.

Playtesting and other ways to contribute

We'd greatly appreciate to learn what you think about the preview version, and, of course, about your ideas for improving the game's existing and completing its missing chapters. We also kindly invite you and your gaming group to become playtesters of Ambarquenta, or to contribute in any other way you'd like to (for example, by creating NPCs or preparing creature write-ups). Probably the best way to get in touch with us and our friends who are involved in the design process of Ambarquenta is to discuss your ideas and suggestions in the Heren Turambarion's forum. Of course you can also direct any comments or inquires to olorwe@gmx.at.

Please also note that a playtesting feedback form is part of the download of the character sheet.

Design Principles

While you are waiting for the Heren Turambarion to get back to you with the e-mail containing your password, you might be interested to learn a little more about our design principles: First, Ambarquenta is a fairly 'realistic' game. Of course there are magic spells (as well as other forms of magic) and everything else a good Middle-earth RPG requires, but certain conditions of real world physics are still represented by the system. Hence, it isn't the kind of game in which you can create ridiculously overpowered starting characters, or ever hope to become a cinematic superhero.

The second principle is playability, and this frequently overrules realism. The most accurate combat system isn't worth a penny if it makes a simple encounter last for hours, or (and this was even more important to us when we decided to write an RPG ourselves) if the Turambar has to keep too many details in mind. Thus, realism governs the character creation and improvement process (which is helped quite a lot by the character sheet), while intuitive playability dominates the actual game play. Yet, a comprehensive set of modular optional rules allows extremely detailed combat resolution - simply use the amount of options you deem appropriate for a given encounter. So prepare for fast-moving play-rules that are far more realistic (and lethal) than those you may know from many other major roleplaying games.

Another important element is flexibility. A character has the opportunity to learn or practise any skill or ability he has access to, without the usual limitations by abstract concepts such as levels, character classes, or character points. Nevertheless, by the system's inherent mechanics, your character will show a unique pattern from the beginning on, a personal aptitude towards being whatever you want him to be...

Changelog

Release 2012.2:
Most importantly, this otherwise minor release features revised rules for Shock tests (far less dice rolls are now involved, under normal circumstances) and adds some spells to the Middle-earth grimoire. In addition, some details have been changed here and there, though nothing spectacular. However, spellcasters should heed the changes of parameters (namely, spell ranges and durations) as many existing spells have been revised, too.

Release 2012.1:
After some fundamental changes to the combat system, it’s time to move Ambarquenta to a beta version status! While this release features not much additional new content, it drastically amends a few core rules which had turned out to be problematic in the playtesting process.
First, initiative now occurs in a fixed turn order. Action points are still used, but they only determine how many actions a character can perform in a given round, not the precise time at which they become effective. If you wish, a little realism has been sacrificed in favour of an enhanced playability.
Second, a new defensive tactical option, the anticipatory parry, has been added. It must be declared before it’s even clear that you’re going to be the target of an attack, but if you are attacked and your parry fails, you’ll take far less damage than when using an interrupt parry.
Third, the effects of critical injuries have been partially mitigated, so that less dice rolls are required and the overall threat level is lowered.
Fourth, a damage cap has been reintroduced. One-handed and ranged attacks can now no longer score any LoS greater than +4, and two-handed attacks are limited to LoS +6.
Beyond the field of battle, the most prominent revision affects Ambar. Ambar is no longer a cyclical attribute; instead, characters have the chance to recover a single point of spent Ambar at the beginning of a new game session. The way how the Ambar score is determined has also been changed, and it has been replaced by Will in the formula that’s used for establishing the number of points each Corruption Level can hold.
In addition, numerous details and bugs have been changed – too many, and too insignificant at the same time, to mention them all explicitly.

Release 8.0:
Again, this is no major release as far as the size of the core rulebook is concerned. But there are some critical new rules, replacing important mechanics that have existed almost since the start of this project.

First, there is a new option on determining action allowance and initiative. Instead of making an Insight test (as was offered as an option in previous editions), you may roll the dice at the beginning of each new action round to reflect the imponderables and fortuities of combat, and each character’s reactions to them.

Second, and even more important, all damage codes (of weapons, natural attacks, and spells alike) have been revised. Instead of differentiating between LoS +0 and any additional LoS, each LoS contributes the same amount of damage. And instead of the damage cap (which told you how many LoS to count at most when attacking with a given damage aspect), damage aspects now simply dictate how many wound points of damage you inflict with each LoS when using a particular aspect. A broadsword, for example, has a damage code of 1.5B/4E/2P. An attack which scores LoS +4 could deal 7.5 points of blunt damage, 20 points of edged damage, or 10 points of pointed damage. Depending on the type and make of armour the target wears, it may still be a good idea to choose the sword’s blunt or pointed damage aspect. The attacker must decide which aspect to use before rolling his attack skill test.

Release 7.9:
In a way, this is a major release, but since the chapter on magic is still incomplete, the book is only labelled “release 7.9”. New contents include the character archetypes and Appendix B, Herbs and Poisons. The magic chapter has been expanded and its first part (encompassing the rules and magical abilities) is completed; the grimoire is still far from complete, though, and also missing are rules for, and examples of, enchanted items.

There are also some major rules revisions which are all based on playtesting observations. Most importantly, injury thresholds have been increased (by +3 each, on average); shock tests & treatment have been mitigated (unconsciousness doesn’t occur before LoF -3); the damage aspect caps of most blunt weapons have been reduced so that they now deal one or two LoS less maximum damage than before (the advantage of the blunt damage aspect is still that it’s generally hard to protect oneself against it, but its disadvantage is emphasized: blunt weapons are generally less dangerous than edged or pointed ones when scoring high LoS); finally, the threshold at which Ambar refreshes has been raised from 5 to 7 (which might allow to use it a bit more freely); and of course there are again too many smaller clarifications and amendments to mention.

Release 7.8:
Veteran development and optional experience levels have again been revised. More importantly, Table 4.4: Apprenticeship Skill Pick Cost has been changed. Skills of “Easy” learning difficulty now are more expensive at higher ranks, whereas “Hard” skills are a little cheaper.

Release 7.7:
The number of attribute buy points available to typical player characters has been cut by 10 points, to 130. This number is slightly below the average you could expect when rolling large numbers of characters, but still closer to the average than the former 140 points.

The number of extra picks a character can at most obtain from flaws has also been reduced by approximately 20 points. On the other hand, the rank limits for youth skill development, as well as those for hobby and lore skills, have been increased. Some minor changes have also been made to the pick costs of some abilities. Lastly, the optional guidelines for “experience levels” (primarily intended for NPC creation) have been refined and moved to Chapter Four (where they can now be found under ‘Later Life’ skill development).

Please note that this is the first time we release the core rulebook as a self-extracting archive. This offers the considerable advantage that you won’t be asked for a password when opening the PDF once you have extracted the file. Just in case this shouldn’t work on a non-Windows platform, please send an e-mail to olorwe@gmx.at!

Release 7.6:
This release features fully functional bookmarks (instead of references to the table of contents). Aside from this practical revision, only the Sense Power spell has been added, and all Elves receive one additional free rank in the Art of Thought, Speech, and Perception so that it is ensured that every Elf can use Mind-speech without having to buy any ranks during character creation.

Release 7.5:
The hallmark of this release is the first publication of parts of Chapter Eleven, Magic. Though not quite as ambitious as originally planned, we hope that it will still provide decent mechanics for those players and Turambari who believe that character magic should play a role in their tales of fate. What you here see first in print is widely based on Decipher’s LotR RPG, but altered and expanded so as to more thoroughly and satisfyingly distinguish Elven “Art” and “learned” magic. As a consequence, all references to the Art in Chapter Three, Races, have also been revised.

Another major change affects the way how extended tests are resolved. Finally, some minor revisions streamline horse chase rules and movement tests (including the movement percentage results of Table 9.10: Levels of Success and Failure).

Release 7.2:
The most important change is that attributes are grouped together for skill development purposes, as known from ability development. "Acquiring Skills" on page 70 describes the new mechanic. Consequently, there's neither a need to transfer development picks from one attribute to another, nor a rule that allows you to do so anymore.

Veteran character development has also been revised (cf. page 73). The Grace-based activity level factor is replaced by a Turambar's arbitrary ruling (and he should be very conservative with the multiplier he applies). This allows much more flexibility and control of a veteran character's power level. Also, the Will divisor has been increased from 20 to 30 to further reduce the available number of veteran development picks.

I'd still consider any non-veteran character created under the old rules as rules-legal, although they are discriminated compared to those created according to the new pick-class rule. "Old school" veteran characters are generally overpowered; hence, all steps concerning veteran development should be repeated from scratch (youth and apprenticeship development do not necessarily have to be repeated).

Overall, these changes are supposed to make skill development a little easier (in terms of bookkeeping) while maintaining the idea that skills are proportional to one's natural aptitudes (i.e., attribute scores).
Having three sets of development picks (physical, mental, general) in two stages of character creation (youth, apprenticeship) is of course still a bit tricky, but Ambarquenta doesn't aim at casual gamers anyway!

Ambarquenta - Tales of Fate in Middle-earth © 2001-2012 The Heren Turambarion. All rights on original contents reserved. For commercial purposes, no parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission of The Heren Turambarion. Permission granted to distribute this publication in any form, but exclusively, among the members of your playing group, provided that you have notified The Heren Turambarion by e-mailing to olorwe@gmx.at and obtained the reading password by no third party. Please note that some of the contents of this publication have been copied and modified from the books listed under 'sources of inspiration' in the 'Credits' section and are not subject to the copyright of The Heren Turambarion.


Last edited 2012-January-18
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olorwe@gmx.at,
30 Dec 2011 08:36
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olorwe@gmx.at,
18 Jan 2012 02:56
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olorwe@gmx.at,
30 Dec 2011 08:37
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