Okay, as my mind gets into gear and my muse begins to wake up, here is the character sheet I would like to use, together with some basic information on how the point-buy system would / could work, based on the Amber DRPG rulebook:
[b]Chronological Age:[/b] *
[b]Attributes:[/b] (Human Rank = -25 points, Chaos rank = -10 points, Amber rank is for free, every point above Amber rank costs... 1 point)
[b]Pattern Imprint:[/b] Yes (50pts)**, No, Advanced (75pts)
[b]Trump Artistry:[/b] Yes (40pts), No, Advanced (60pts)
[b]Power Words:[/b] Yes (10pts ), No (can buy only once for 5 different power words)
[b]Sorcery:[/b] Yes (15pts), No
[b]Conjuration:[/b] Yes (20pts), No
[b]Personalized Artifact or Creature:[/b] Please describe (pts vary)
[b]Personalized Shadow:[/b] Please describe (pts vary)
[b]Shape Shifting:[/b] Yes (35pts), No, Advanced (65pts)
[b]Logrus Mastery:[/b] (requires Shape Shifting) Yes (45pts), No, Advanced (70pts)
[b]Allies:[/b] Ally in Amber (not an Amberite) (1pt), Family Friend (an Amberite) (2pts), Chaos Court Devotee (4pts), Amber Court Devotee (required if you want to take Pattern Imprint after the game starts) (6pts)
[b]Player Contribution:[/b] (two maximum, one contribution per category and month real time at least, each is worth an extra 10 points) Diary, Trumps/Artwork, Amber Stories, Poetry
[b]Good Stuff / Bad Stuff:[/b] Points left over count as Good Stuff, overspending gives you a corresponding number of Bad Stuff (think of it as good or bad karma for your character)
I think that should cover all the angles, except for two details, one small, one pretty big:
* Chronological Age: The smaller matter. How long your character has really lived might well make a difference to how many skills he/she could reasonably have picked up. At least in part that may depend on your character's background, but as a rule of thumb I would say your character's chronological age, no matter where in Shadow he/she was raised, should be no more than twice your apparent age, or thereabouts. That could still mean someone who looks around 20 could have the equivalent of several PhD's, but lets not go too much overboard for the younger, untested generation of Amberites.
** Gaining Pattern Imprint after the game starts:
You can gain this during the game by walking the Pattern. If you want to have it right at the start of the game you will have to spend the 50 points during character creation.
If you want to acquire Pattern Imprint during the game you will have to do three things: One, spend 6 points on the Amber Court Devotee ally. Two, spend an "advance" of at least 15 points on Pattern Imprint. Three, when you get a chance to walk the Pattern you have to write an account of your experience that has at least 100 words for every point you still need to reach the 50 point threshold. So if you just pay the minimum advance of 15 points you would have to write at least 3,500 words. If you pay an advance of 30 points you'd need to write at least 2,000 words, and so on.
Disadvantages of buying Pattern Imprint later: Even if you like to write long stories, be aware of three potential drawbacks of postponing getting Pattern Imprint. The first is that you can't just choose when to walk the Pattern. The final say over that lies with the Narrator. I will not hold you back unduly, but neither will there be a guarantee you can do it the moment you want to. Second, once you start walking the Pattern you can't stop or go back, i.e. until your story is finished and okay-ed, your character is out of the action. Third, your story should tell us something about your character and his/her personal experience. If it boils down to just a description of events without much personality – or if it is too derivative of Zelazny's descriptions – I might send you back to the drawing board and require some changes or a complete re-write. Walking the Pattern is an important part in any character's history and development, so it should be well-written.
I think this would allow characters to play out an important part of their character's development, without unbalancing the game too much. Spending 21 points (at the very least) just for the chance to maybe walk the Pattern at some point should probably be okay, but I am happy to adjust this, depending on the feedback of potential players.