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Author Topic: [TSOY] Dwarven species design  (Read 11655 times)
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2008, 07:53:20 AM »

Troels,

Probably here, but I'm letting the pie cool for a few days, just because I'd ideally like to post some of the "external axis" stuff with them, if we can. I'm kicking around what sorts of Secrets would be best for the magical object/rite design, if thats the direction we go in. Regrettably, I don't have a ton of them hammered out yet (no pun intended), but I figure we should start laying some out.

Laying out Secrets which are about buying an item with powers are one thing (see the Secret of Imbuement), but I think Eero off-handedly mentioned one of my concerns, either in this thread or a different one, which is that letting pool expenditure take the place of XP expenditure always has potential risks to it. Pools can refresh much more quickly than XP does, in some cases, and so it can create a weird economy. You don't want to make any Secret which is about building cool magic items so prohibitively expensive that no one ever uses it, but make it too cheap and it devalues the utility of ordinary items and the standard way of purchasing Secrets. Consider the Secret of Quality Construction as an example, where you can effectively buy something which is about as good as the baseline Secret for the expenditure of 5 Reason. That's arguably the most expensive (non-Three Corner) Secret in the game, with only Sudden Knife coming close.

So, I'm musing on some ideas that are stackable, like Three-Corner Magic Secrets, and work something like this:

Secret of Crafting: Animated
You can create items which are semi-sentient, and possess some ability of their own. Choose one appropriate Ability to bestow on the item you are creating (such as Dueling for a sword, or Theft for a set of lock picks. The item has an Ability rating equal to the Success Level you achieve on the appropriate crafting check. The item bestows a bonus die when anyone is using the object, as it subtly corrects its own usage using its own insight. Additionally, for the expenditure of 3 Reason, the item can leap to life, so that animated swords fight on their own, and lockpicks open locks, freeing you to perform other actions. Creation Cost: 3 Reason, 1 Vigor.

Secret of Crafting: Creative
You can create items which produce a quantity of a raw natural manifesation, such as a bottle which consantly pours water from it, a staff which produces smoke, or a sword which glows with brilliant light. The Success Level achieved on the crafting check works as the Creation ability from Three-Corner Magic, but can produce one specific manifestation. In some situations, these manifestations may provide a bonus or penalty die, as necessary: a fiery sword might provide a bonus die on an Intimidate check, while a cloak which emits darkness could provide a penalty die to anyone trying to see the wearer clearly. Creation Cost: 2 Vigor, 1 Reason.


I don't know. They work fine enough, I suspect, but I'm just feeling a little uninspired about them.

I'm waiting for lightning to strike, I guess.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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oliof
Member

Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2008, 08:03:50 AM »

I dunno, I have a feeling some of the ideas that were kicked around regarding the Petrana Clockpunk Setting might be an inspiration.
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Troels
Member

Posts: 77


« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2008, 12:28:08 PM »

Pools can refresh much more quickly than XP does, in some cases, and so it can create a weird economy.

A bit of sim speaking here, but the logical consequence is industrialisation. If you have a couple rounds of chess with your buddies and suddenly everyone in the group has a flying, fiery sword ...ick!

Quote
So, I'm musing on some ideas that are stackable, like Three-Corner Magic Secrets, and work something like this:

Otherwise nice.

How about this for fluff/principles: To make the legendary artifacts of the dwarves, you need to put a bit of yourself into the artifact, in a grand ritual celebrated by many of your fellows. With the bit of you (advance(s)) comes the blessings of the honourable ancestors on enterprise serving the ideals of the Ring. Blessings flow upon those who serve the Ring, curses fall upon those who seek to usurp it's treasures for their own ends.

Oh, and BTW any Ring needs a specific Key of the Ring giving xp for attempts to serve the Ring's purpose.

So:
Secret of Dwarf Treasure
This object is dedicated to serving a specific Ring. Any dwarf of that Ring taking action to further the Way will receive a number of bonus dice for the scene equal to the number of xp he gets. Also, any dwarf of that Ring may use Familia (R) to bless a rightful wielder or curse any wielder. 1 Vigour buys a pool of bonus dice equal to the Familia check, two Instinct buy penalty dice.

Also, feel free to go wild with Signature Item, Imbuement, Inner Meaning and what-have-you. Stackable fancy magic could well be built on top of this. Maldorite dwarves might well put in actual 3<, Our dear qek Head-hunters could put in walozi stuff. Sounds good?
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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2008, 11:46:03 AM »

Had some Dwarven inspiration last night. Let me show you all what I'm kicking around, in terms of some fun crafting Secrets.

I'm going to combine Eero's suggestion about reduced experience costs, and perhaps run the Crafting Secrets as things which can be added to items that are appropriately prepared by being Imbued / Quality Constructed  / Inner-Meaninged etc. So, it might work a little more like how I've done it below.

First, let's update some prior posted Secrets, for clarity and alignment with the new ideas I'm kicking around:

Secret of the Forge
The character knows secrets that are only expressable in the first place in the secret language of the rings to which he belongs. The concepts, or even the necessary grammatical structures, are simply missing in other languages. These secrets allow the character to craft magic items (or rituals, as the case may be for non-craft Abilities) using dwarven Crafting Secrets. Items you create bear the quality of "dwarven", and therefore require one less Advance to own for anybody proficient with languages spoken in your ring or rings. Requirements: Secret of Ring-Tongue or an alder, thane or king who has it.

Secret of Dwarven Construction
You know the secrets of dwarven artisanry, and can make beautiful objects which are of excellent functionality and durability. Choose one Craft ability when you take this Secret. Any item you create using this Secret gives one bonus die to a particular ability when using this item, permanently. Additionally, the item is treated as if it were more durable; any attempt to shatter or break the item takes an additional penalty die. Cost: 4 Reason. Special: This Secret counts as the Secret of Quality Construction, for the purposes of any Crafting Secrets.

and now, to the meat of the matter:

Secret of Crafting: Animated
You can craft items which are semi-sentient, and possess some ability of their own. The item must be created with the Secret of Quality Construction, or in some other way confer a bonus die for the use of a specific ability, due to its fine workmanship. Choose one appropriate Ability to bestow on the item you are creating (such as Dueling for a sword, or Theft for a set of lock picks. The item has an Ability rating equal to the Success Level you achieve on the appropriate crafting check. Additionally, for the expenditure of 3 Reason, the item can leap to life, so that animated swords fight on their own, and lockpicks open locks, freeing you to perform other actions. Creation Cost: 3 Reason, 1 Vigor. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Creative
You can create items which produce a quantity of a raw natural manifesation, such as a bottle which consantly pours water from it, a staff which produces smoke, or a sword which glows with brilliant light. The item must already have some other form of Imbuement attached to it. The Success Level achieved on the crafting check works as the Creation ability from Three-Corner Magic, but can produce one specific manifestation. In some situations, these manifestations may provide a bonus or penalty die, as necessary: a fiery sword might provide a bonus die on an Intimidate check, while a cloak which emits darkness could provide a penalty die to anyone trying to see the wearer clearly. Creation Cost: 2 Vigor, 1 Reason. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Imbuement applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Perfected
You can craft items which are made with superior elegant designs, almost carrying an inherent skill of their own. The item must be created with the Secret of Quality Construction. The item provides a +1 bonus to the final check result, not the Success Level, of any ability check you make when wielding it for its quality construction purpose. This +1 is added to the dice result of the ability check. Creation Cost: 5 Reason, 1 Vigor, 1 Instinct. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Destined
You can craft items which are made with superior elegant designs, almost carrying an inherent skill of their own. The item must be created with the Secret of Quality Construction or the Secret of Imbuing. The item has one Key built into it, a purpose for which it was shaped. The wielder of said item receives XP as if he had that Key, so long as the object is in his possession. However, the item applies a penalty die to any action the owner takes in defiance of the Key's goals, including the Key's buyoff. The Key cannot be bought off without the object being reforged using this Secret. Creation Cost: 3 Reason, 2 Instinct. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction or Secret of Imbuement applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Selective
You can craft items which are designed only for specific users. This is famously used in dwarven neighborhoods in larger communities to make their alleyways and roads impossibly complex for outsiders to easily navigate. The item must be created with the Secret of Inner Meaning. The item applies a penalty die on users the creator does not specify at the time of creation, such as "anyone not in my family or clan" or "anyone other than myself." Creation Cost: 2 Reason, 1 Instinct. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Inner Meaning applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Reserve
You can craft items which are designed to store the energies of mortal hearts and minds within them, granting strength and confidence to their wielders. The item must be created with the Secret of Quality Construction. In game terms, these items serve as pool point "batteries", containing 2 pool points within them. The wielder can tap these items for the pool points, so long as he is using them for a purpose appropriate to the item in question. The pool in question, such as Vigor or Reason, is specified at the time of creation; the item replenishes its pools when the wielder does, so long as he has the object on his person at the time. Creation Cost: 3 Vigor, 1 Reason. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Multipurpose
You can craft items which are designed for more than one use. This might be as simple as a cloak which provides a bonus die to Stealth in shadows and a bonus die to Etiquette checks to impress under sunlight, or a hammer which provides a bonus die to Rough Crafts and Dueling checks. It could even be an item which transforms from one shape to another, such as a walking stick which becomes a whip-thin blade. The item must be created with the Secret of Quality Construction. This second quality is added when this Secret is applied. Creation Cost: 3 Reason. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Wyrdling
You can craft items use abilities in unusual ways, refocusing the strengths of the wielder. This might take the form of a belt which confers enhanced strength to a character, or a book full of ancient lore which obligingly answers questions you ask of it. Like the Transformation Secrets of Three-Corner Magic, the wielder of this flips either his best ability rating for an ability specified at the time the object is created, or else flips two pre-specified abilities (chosen when the object is created). The item must be created with either the Secret of Quality Construction or the Secret of Inner Meaning. Creation Cost: 3 Instinct, 1 Reason. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Quality Construction or Secret of Inner Meaning applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Vicious
You can create items have the furious energy of destruction bound within them. The item must already have some other form of harmful Imbuement attached to it.Outside of Bringing Down the Pain, these items deal 1/2 the total Success Level in harm on their successful use. During Bringing Down the Pain, the item behaves normally. Creation Cost: 5 Instinct, 2 Vigor. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Imbuement applied to it for harm.

Secret of Crafting: Obliterating
You can create weapons which penetrate even the hardest forms of defense, ignoring the defensive imbuing from anything except those with the Adamant quality. The item must already have some other form of Imbuement attached to it. The item ignores the defensive bonus from any imbued item but an Adamant one, dealing its normal damage plus its weapon bonus. Creation Cost: 3 Reason, 1 Instinct. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Imbuement applied to it.

Secret of Crafting: Adamant
You can create defensive items which prevent the benefits of Piercing Imbuings. These defensive items are treated as if they had a +2 imbued defense against Obliterating attacks. The item must already have some other form of defensive Imbuement attached to it. Creation Cost: 3 Reason, 1 Vigor. Special: The item to be granted this power must have the Secret of Imbuement applied to it for defense.


The idea behind this is that you could create, say, a Destined Imbued object, and if you had the Secret of the Forge, it would require only 1 advance for a dwarf in your ring to own (including yourself), not two. I think the synthesis of these ideas makes some potentially really doughty objects craftable, that you can use for a little bit and discard (not bothering to pay the advances for them), use for a while and buy cheaply if you're a dwarf, or give to someone else who buys more dearly (multiple advances), but they're still pretty bad-ass. Hopefully not world-breaking, though.

Does this make sense? Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, but its an attempt to try and create objects which are genuinely unusual, non-specific to any one culture, and don't totally break the game mechanics into pieces. Some of them I definitely like more than others.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2591


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« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2008, 05:38:23 PM »

This needs to be honed a bit, I think. Some issues:
  • Craft items shouldn't need to have Quality Construction or other such requirement Secrets, as that decreases flexibility and requires perhaps inappropriate Secrets on the item in question. I appreciate the idea that an exceptional item can't be "shoddy", but mechanically it's too much if I can't have a craft effect without needing to take a bonus die as well when I don't want to have that bonus die. It's better to require the creator to have the appropriate Secrets but not force them to be included in the items created.
  • While you don't comment on it explicitly, these Craft Secrets probably should require an Advance to own the item created with them.
However, more problematically, this is all a bit vague mechanically as long as we're not exactly clear on the larger magic item issue. Let me rewrite all the magic item -related stuff from ground up, perhaps that will help with making this solid. The following is partially from the Finnish edition, partially from my own files and partially created on the spot to match with the dwarven stuff.

Item qualities

The costs of item qualities are base costs for including the quality in an item when creating the item; separate Secrets are actually used to create the item itself. The actual Pool used depends on the Secret used to include the item quality.

Imbued Item
An imbued item is an item that has the power of a specific Secret. The Secret's usage cost, if any, is discounted by one from any pertinent Pool determined at the time of creation. The Imbued item costs Advances equal to the number of Secrets for a character owning the item on a permanent basis; losing or giving away the item frees these Advances for other purposes. A character going to Advance dept due to an Imbued item has difficulty controlling the item, suffering penalty dice equal to the amount of dept in any use of the item. Cost: 2 Pool

The Secret of Imbuement has always been a bit weird in that it's denoted as a Secret while it doesn't actually give a character any special ability. This could be understood as the Secret of Imbuement giving the character having it the power to create these items or something like that, but that's apparently not what Clinton intented. It's therefore more logical to characterize imbuement as a special property of the item itself. I'm also taking the opportunity to address what happens if a character insists on owning an item out of their range.

Rated Item
A rated item is an item that has a guaranteed (not contingent on a SG call) equipment rating at any level. An item may only have at most three +1 ratings, two +2 ratings and one +3 rating. The rated item costs Advances equal to the number of equipment ratings it possesses for a character owning the item on a permanent basis; losing or giving away the item permanently frees these Advances for other purposes. A character going to Advance dept due to an Imbued item has difficulty controlling the item, suffering penalty dice equal to the amount of dept in any use of the item. Cost: 1 Pool

I separated the two functions of imbuement into two Secrets in the Finnish edition for simplicity's sake. As above, an item having an equipment rating isn't really a Secret, so I rewrote it as an item quality for our purposes; we need to establish a clear distinction between item qualities and Secrets if we want to have a heavy-duty item rules system.

Masterwork Item
A masterwork item is one that gives a free bonus die for a character utilizing it for its intented purpose. Owning a masterwork item does not cost an Advance, which puts it in the box of mechanically significant but merely fictionally controlled features alongside herbs, poisons, contingent equipment ratings and probably several other things I can't think of right now. Cost: 5 Pool

Profound Item
A profound item has a quality rating equal to the check result made to create it. The item also has a specific meaning expressed at the time of its creation, and a specific audience for which it is intented. When faced with the profound item for the first time, the audience accepts the message of the item (at least fleetingly) unless they can beat the quality rating of the item with an appropriate check. Owning a profound item does not cost an Advance. Cost: 2 Pool

These two are simply extensions of the above principle of writing it out when an item works with some special rules. The profound item is a rewrite of the Secret of Hidden Meaning; while some will probably prefer the original with its flexibility, I like it more when it works like a poison or any other thing with conflict significance; simpler that way.

Rules for imbuing items with item qualities

Any item may be declared with a specific item quality by the SG when introducing the item, of course. Additionally, players may determine that an item actually has some quality when it becomes pertinent, provided that this makes sense for a mundane item and the SG judges it so. Mostly this is about equipment ratings. This option is used for items that "always had" the quality in question; for example, a player might want a suit of plate mail to have an equipment rating against weapons, which certainly makes sense in the setting, and thus requires no special procedure to declare, even though it will have immediate effects. As we know, TSoY frequently has fictionally identical items that differ mechanically from each other, like when one character's suit of plate actually has an equipment rating while another's is just color. All part and parcel of a formalistic rules system.

(Declaring an item quality in this manner doesn't actually cost any Pool points, despite the costs listed above; they're just used for the heavy-duty crafting Secrets I'll introduce soon.)

However, when we get to exceptional or even magical items and procuring them, the rules are silent; how does one create a magic item? TSoY implies that this happens via the above procedure, or perhaps by obtaining the item from NPCs who just happen to have them or just happen to be able to create them, but of course I have some Secrets for characters who want to be their own smiths. The Secrets below all assume that creating an item takes around one day per Pool point spent.

Secret of Quality Construction (Ability)
The character has an eye for details and is thus able to laboriously create items with the masterwork quality when using the designated Ability. Cost: 5 Reason

Secret of Inner Meaning
The character has the gift necessary for true art. He can create items of profound quality with suitable Abilities. Cost: 2 Instinct

Secret of Craftsmanship (Ability)
The character can create rated and imbued items with the designated Ability due to long experience or special education. He can create any item the SG considers representative of mundane possibilities of the local industrial and technological environment. This limitation is independent of the Advance cost of such items; while Secret of Flying Leap is probably outside the technological acumen of any Near cultures to replicate in an item, it is relatively trivial to load almost any type of item with multiple equipment bonuses. The item can have different qualities at most equal to the Ability check made the create the item. Cost: per quality from an Ability-appropriate Pool.

Of course, different magics can also be conseivably used to create items with qualities, and different cultures might have specific means to overcome the above limitations. And the SG can, of course, introduce pre-skyfire era artifacts with whatever amazing powers he wants. This is just the minimum for what we need to make the dwarves work.

Secret of the Great Project
When crafting an item with item qualities, the character does not need to pay Pool costs for the item all at once. Instead, he may stop work for research or rest and continue it whenever he feels like it (that is, when he again has Pool to spend). The player may decide how much of his Pool the character spends at once on creating the item. Requirements: Secret of Craftsmanship

This becomes necessary if somebody wants to make a really powerful item.

Dwarven Item Construction Crunch

Now, on to the actual topic at hand. Here's how I see the dwarven craft stuff:

Secret of Obsessed Crafting
The dwarf can use his Vigor Pool to pay the Pool costs of a particular crafting project. Cost: 2 Vigor Requirements: Secret of Purpose

Secret of the Ring-Tongue (Ring) (Ability)
A Ring-Tongue is a dwarven language based on common experiences and convictions of a Ring; it is a genuine language with its own lexicon, ortography and grammar, all crafted with care to mold the patterns of thought when using the language to think and express things. The creator of the language determines an Ability which gains a bonus die for any character with this Secret for that specific language, but only when the Ability is used for the Purpose of the Ring. Additionally, the Ring-Tongue is virulent: if the leader of the ring learns this Secret, all dwarves in the Ring have learned to speak and understand the language within a year and a day. Any dwarf of the ring may make a Familia (R) check to learn the language in a day from a willing source. Note that knowing the language and having this Secret are separate issues. Requirements: 5 Reason and a successful appropriate Ability (preferably some sort of linguistics, I'd imagine) check to create the Ring-Tongue in the first place; an appropriate Ring membership to learn.

Secret of Wondrous Craft (Ring-Tongue)
The items the character creates are not limited to mundane effects when the creation is undertaken with the designated Ring-Tongue; any quality combinations are possible insofar as the resulting item has an appropriate form for the qualities it has, and the character has access to the qualities from other Secrets; this Secret merely lifts the mundanity requirement. The upper limit to the number of allowed qualities in the item is doubled, as well. Any item created with this Secret will have special effects that make its magical nature obvious. Requirements: Secret of Craftsmanship, knowing a Ring-Tongue. Cost: per item quality from an Ability-appropriate Pool, +1 per quality.

This one is actually significantly more open-ended than the systems I've set up for my home games; I have huge problems with the idea that a character could take any Secret and put it into an item, even when the same Secret is rare or non-existant in the setting otherwise. Lots of quality control is therefore recommended; my own system is a bit too heavy for most, probably, unless your game actually revolves around magic smiths and what they can or can't make.

Secret of Ritual-craft (Ring-Tongue)
The character can create dwarven rituals with the Ring-Tongue specified; the ritual itself consists of actions pertinent for the Ability associated with the Ring-Tongue, so it's ritual singing for a singing Ability, ritual oaths for a poetic Ability and so on. A dwarven ritual is considered an item for the purposes of adding item qualities; a character can "lose" the ritual by forgetting it, but obviously enough it cannot be stolen. A ritual can, however, be taught to another character. Each ritual, when executed, requires an appropriate Ability check from the character performing the ritual; failure causes a penalty die for situations the ritual was intented to help until the next time the ritual is reneved. Success allows the character to wield the item qualities of the ritual as his own inherent abilities. When creating a ritual, the creator specifies how often and in what manner the ritual is executed: there is always a certain balance between frequency, regularity, obviousness, expense, convenience and effort involved.

I decided that this is exotic enough to need a Secret to faciliate; there's a reason that dwarves prefer material crafts.

Secret of Dwarven Construction (Ring-Tongue)
Dwarves naturally have an eye for details; the character can create items with the masterwork quality when using the designated Ring-Tongue. Cost: 3 Reason

Secret of the Forge
The character knows how to create items that make sense, if only the user has the necessary mind-set. Any such item created will have the Dwarven (Ring-Tongue) quality for the Ring-Tongue used in creating it. Requirements: Knowledge of a Ring-Tongue pertinent for crafting the item.

Secret of the Craft (item quality)
The character has mastered one item quality and may include it in any items he makes with the Secret of the Forge as long as the resulting item is considered mundane in its effect as per Secret of Craftsmanship. Requirements: Secret of the Forge Cost: per quality, Pool to be determined based on the type of craft case-by-case.

This last Secret is the pinnacle here (alongside Wondrous Craft, certainly), pretty much; as qualities cannot be really brought into play unless a specific Secret allows such, the Secret of the Craft is actually pretty flexible with the right qualities. It still doesn't make sense on the level of detail I prefer in my own games (where I like to have stuff like crafting proceed pretty realistically), but mechanically it's balanced.

Dwarven item qualities

I fixes some of these for balance and removed the ones that were irretrievably broken or simply piled on more bonuses without any interesting in-fiction purpose. They're listed separately from the others not because only dwarves can get them (if something here is appropriate for others, it's easy enough to make a Secret that gives access), but because I didn't want to mix the old and new stuff together.

Dwarven (Ring-Tongue)
A dwarven item costs less Advances to own for anybody who has the Secret of Ring-Tongue for the determined language. The deduction is one third of the total Advance cost of the item, rounded up. Dwarven quality itself does not cost Advances. Cost: no cost

Single-use Item
The item created is single-use and will be consumed when used. This reduces the Advance cost of owning the item to one Advance (if it was higher to begin with, that is). Cost: no cost for sensible cases, 4 Pool for exceptional ones.

Animated Item
The item is semi-sentient. Choose one appropriate Ability to bestow on the item you are creating (such as Dueling for a sword, or Theft for a set of lock picks). The item has an Ability rating of Adept, which the user may use instead of or in support of his own Ability, but only if he has the Ability in question. Animated item costs and Advance to own. Cost: 4 Pool

Magical Item (focus)
The item is a literal focus of Three-corner magic and can therefore do one specific thing that a single Three-corner focus could do. Alternatively, the item could only have the functionality of a focus, replicated in some clever manner by some other means but not actually counting as a focus. The success level of the crafting check is used instead of a focus Ability check when the focus is used. Magical item costs and Advance to own. Cost: 3 Pool

Destined Item
The item has one Key built into it, a purpose for which it was shaped. The wielder of said item receives XP as if he had that Key so long as the object is in his possession. However, the item applies a penalty die to any action the owner takes in defiance of the Key's goals, including the Key's buyoff. The Key cannot be bought off without the object being reforged, in which case the craftsman gains the buyoff experience. Destined item costs an Advance to own. Cost: 5 Pool

Selective Item (Ring-Tongue)
The item is designed to be intelligible only to specific users. Any user who does not know the chosen Ring-Tongue has to spend one Advance more to own the item. Cost: 3 Pool

Battery Item
The item includes 2 Pool points in a Pool specified at the time of creation. The points may be spent by the user of the item when wielding it; the points refresh when the user desists from using the item when he could. Battery item costs an Advance to own. Cost: 3 Pool

Obliterating Item
The item ignores opposing armor ratings when used in BDtP for dealing Harm in its intended manner. Obliterating item costs an Advance to own. Cost: 4 Pool

Adamant Item
The item is unbreakable by conventional or even unlikely means. Adamant item costs and Advance to own. Cost: 2 Pool

Hmm... now it's clear as far as rules-syntax goes, but not very flavorful. I think I prefer scrapping the long list of item qualifiers and condensing it into a much smaller one, wherein a single craft Secret allows a variety of different item creations. Secret of Adamant Craft, Secret of Living Cloth, that kind of thing.
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Troels
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Posts: 77


« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2008, 05:21:31 AM »

OK, I think you guys have pretty much nailed it here. I have only a few remarks, some of it is mostly colour really.

While you don't comment on it explicitly, these Craft Secrets probably should require an Advance to own the item created with them.

Agreed!

Quote
Secret of the Ring-Tongue (Ring) (Ability)
...
Secret of Ritual-craft (Ring-Tongue)
...
I decided that this is exotic enough to need a Secret to faciliate; there's a reason that dwarves prefer material crafts.

And these were what was missing, I think. They link item creation to dwarvishness and give what flexibility is needed to allow "deviant" dwarves to be dwarfish without tons of items. And they make different rings distinct. For me, they clinch the deal.

*Sound of much rejoicing*

Quote
Battery Item

Quibble: "Battery"? Makes sense, but breaks the mood.

Oh, and I'm not sure I feel great about paying an advance for a one-shot item. That should be one worldshaking SOB!

Quote
Hmm... now it's clear as far as rules-syntax goes, but not very flavorful. I think I prefer scrapping the long list of item qualifiers and condensing it into a much smaller one, wherein a single craft Secret allows a variety of different item creations. Secret of Adamant Craft, Secret of Living Cloth, that kind of thing.

Agreed.
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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2008, 01:32:08 PM »

Whew, Eero,

This is a dense post to get through. I've been dancing around it for a few days, and finally tried to tackle it today. Let me see if I can pin down what remains uncertain to me.

Quote
Secret of Obsessed Crafting
The dwarf can use his Vigor Pool to pay the Pool costs of a particular crafting project. Cost: 2 Vigor Requirements: Secret of Purpose

What's the Secret of Purpose? Is that something we covered earlier in the dwarf design?

---

I like how the Secret of Great Craft interacts with the rules about pools and time spent. I think its a very sensible in-game limitation to have such going.

---

[quote]This one is actually significantly more open-ended than the systems I've set up for my home games; I have huge problems with the idea that a character could take any Secret and put it into an item, even when the same Secret is rare or non-existant in the setting otherwise. Lots of quality control is therefore recommended; my own system is a bit too heavy for most, probably, unless your game actually revolves around magic smiths and what they can or can't make.[/quote]

You could easily put a rider on the Secret of Wondrous Craft that its taken multiple times, and each time its selected, you learn three new dwarven/magical qualities. Might keep things from spiralling out of control too quickly.

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Is Secret of Craftsmanship's "(Ability)" supposed to be the Ability used to create the item (i.e. Rough Crafts for blacksmithing) or the ability used to wield the item (i.e. Dueling for a sword)? In either case, I think you may have undercosted the Rated Item, in terms of pool cost. I know it only costs 1 advance to typically own such an item, and that's fine. But it seems like with the Secret of Craftsmanship, I could spend a pool point and work for a day to have a +3 weapon against the Potentate of Ammeni. Pretty cheap. By comparison to the Quality Construction cost (5 pool points for a bonus die), you're getting +3 harm for 1 pool point.

Maybe the pool cost should be per rating, so you'd at least sink 3 pool points in, and have to work for a few days? Considering the utility of weapons, I wouldn't balk at it being twice that, even (so, pool points = 2 x the item's rating). I'm just not sure I'm ready for the scenario where a group of players band together to do in their foe, and all of them show up wielding +3 weapons to kill him, thanks to their one craftsy friend, who's only out 3 Vigor for his trouble.

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Quote
I fixes some of these for balance and removed the ones that were irretrievably broken or simply piled on more bonuses without any interesting in-fiction purpose.

I'm assuming this is a reference to the "Perfected" item? That might not be as dangerous in TSOY 1st edition, where we're talking about a randomness scale between 2 and 22 on a check result (Transcendence = having a 10 in an ability, and rolling at least two 6's on 6-sided dice). You guys with the Fudge dice work a little differently. With a high enough pool cost attached, it might be more balanced than it seems, but I can't say in 2nd edition that its at all fair.

Glad you liked the Animated and Destined items, though. I thought those were fun variants to put into the hands of players and Storyguides.

Should the Battery item (I agree with Troels in that I'll probably rename it, maybe Reservoir items, or something) only refresh in that manner once a day? It wasn't intended to be an unlimited wellspring of pool points, after all. Just a quirky variant on an advance which grants you +1 pool. Basically, it was me applying the Secret of Imbuement's original design to a pool advance--yes, you get 2 pool points, but if you lose the item, the advance is gone.

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Quote
Hmm... now it's clear as far as rules-syntax goes, but not very flavorful. I think I prefer scrapping the long list of item qualifiers and condensing it into a much smaller one, wherein a single craft Secret allows a variety of different item creations. Secret of Adamant Craft, Secret of Living Cloth, that kind of thing.

I think the flavor is having a hard time coming out just because of the density of the rules. I may rename some of the Secrets, as we rewrite this, just because I think the terminology has become a little Byzantine. Clarifying will allow us to add a bit more spice to the Secrets, I think; you have a penchant for liking Secrets which actually ground us in the game world. That may be possible when the language streamlines a bit more.

Your system is definitely the right track, though.

Something tells me this has been the hardest development angle of the new "Frozen South" stuff. But I think its ultimately resulted in a system which is engaging, and has been lacking from the game previously. We'll have to wait and see if anyone field-tests it for us.

Thanks!

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2008, 06:30:09 PM »

Answers:

One-use items would presumably return the Advance when they are consumed. I picture dwarven alchemy, obviously, but I've also always wanted to play a character that makes those kick-ass crystal swords from Ultima VII as well.

Secret of Purpose was a Secret that was created earlier, I think. Might have been Key of Purpose, I'm not sure. Required Secret of Kin and represented the monomaniac fortitude a dwarf could bring to bear on a subject... actually, I need to probably rewrite that Secret, it needs to be a requirement for being a ring-leader, or at least help getting to be one.

I agree that ratings should cost 1 Pool for +1, two for +2 and 3 for +3. I left it out just now because the system is already awfully convoluted when considered as a TSoY subsystem - this isn't a game of pre-game character optimization, the subsystems should be shallow enough to allow interaction between them and during the game without leaving players in analysis paralysis. And then there's of course the issue of points of contact between the fiction and the mechanics - I'm not entirely happy with having an effect-based system that is even more abstract than Three-corner magic.

Secret of Craftsmanship (Ability) refers to the ability used to craft the item. So you need to take the Secret several times if you want to craft with multiple Abilities for some reason.

Also, I didn't mention this explicitly: one reason to take that list of craft stuff down a bit is that some of those effects are essentially replicable with Imbuement. I'd say that as a matter of clarity we should only create item qualities that are out of question as Secrets... and if it should prove that anything and everything on our list can be imbued, then we need to rethink this item quality stuff from the ground up.

Intermission while I remember to write this

Masterwork items (made by Quality Construction) are awesome bastards. I've always been tempted to remove them, as they introduce a bonus die coming from outside the resource systems of the game. This has nothing to do with the price of masterworking, though - the mere existence of bonus dice that are not systematized in the general rules system but also are not tracked via Secrets is fearsome and powerful mojo. I think that ultimately I'm going to restructure my character sheets and rules theory to account fully for these "setting-based" mechanical effects in a comprehensive framework that accounts for those masterwork bonuses in the same context as discretionary equipment bonuses and SG penalty dice - and poisons and such, of course. It doesn't help that the Finnish edition has more of that stuff... the problem for me is, I guess, that enough of these materials might well unbalance the system and draw attention from the xp-based reward structures. Somebody remind me to write about this in length at some point.

Back to the dwarven crafts...

Josh's suggestion of only allowing three specific craft qualities with one buying of a Secret is one way to go with limiting the arbitrary possibilities of a crafter mage. That'd work even better if the qualities in question were pre-grouped, so that you'd buy "Secret of Craft-group #1" and so on, with the groups linked together thematically. That's still a bit suspect for most of those qualities, though, from my viewpoint of wanting the crafting to work from in-setting meaning towards mechanics instead of the other way around. Effects-based works nicely for magical systems that have constrained power sets, but blowing the lid wide open for crafts doesn't seem so interesting...

Actually, what say you to a claim that Imbuement as generic access needs to go, as far as crafting your own items is concerned? Imbuement is excellent for creating a balanced magical item in mechanical sense, but it does not actually help us create interesting game mechanics around crafting. Saying that "this Secret allows you to imbue items" without any limitation just means that the character has been given the authority to "do anything", albeit in a mechanically balanced manner.

Specifically, though, I can see one way in which Imbuement can be game-interesting; this has nothing to do with dwarves, though:

Secret of Aura Imbuement
You can create items with elven, imbuement or rating qualities. The imbued Secret may be any you know yourself, within bounds of reason. The item has to have the quality of Elven and may have as many qualities as you like. Creating the imbuement involves handling, using and caressing the item, sometimes through an extensive period of time. Requirements: Secret of Immortality Cost: 1 xp per quality and any execution costs of the Secrets imbued, plus default cost in Vigor for any ratings imbued.

Secret of Aura Smithing
You may reduce the xp cost of creating an aura-imbued item with a successful, appropriate crafting Ability check, which reduces the xp cost by its successes. This Secret may be activated several times during an imbuing process, but only once per month or so. Failure ruins the item, retrieving base xp cost but not the xp used up by this Secret. Requirements: Secret of Aura Imbuement Cost: 3 Vigor and 1 xp added to item cost

Elven Item
An elven item has been imbued with an elven aura which can be recognized as the item's creator's. The item will lose all qualities and turn into a dull, gray version of itself should the creator of the item ever lose his aura. Using the item has a 1 Pool point discount for elves in addition to the general discount for items, but only if the elf knows the aura of the item and is in peace with its creator. This quality may be stacked, which will strengthen the aura and may even cause the item to develop the seed of a personality (to be defined further if interesting).

What makes this Secret work is the limitation to stuff the character knows himself - any such item will be reasonable and interesting because it reflects the knowledge and abilities of the character himself. If the character gets to imbuing something really weird, like Secret of Nobility, then the players either get to do some creative narration or have to forbid it according to the text.

For other character wanting to create items with Imbuement I'd go with the Secret of Craftsmanship defined earlier, with a strict eye for the mundanity requirement (if somebody can think of an elegant and useful mundanity requirement apart from SG judgement, I'm all ears). I'm not that bothered with a smith being able to create a zillion diffferent imbued items as long as they all inhabit a scale of effect and meaning recognized as possible for mundane smithing in the setting. (This has nothing to do with "realism", you understand; if smiths in Near should be able to make flying-girdles in your game, go right ahead.)

With that out of the way and all magical, free imbuing categorically forbidden (except perhaps for the elven exception above, for anybody who'd like to use it), exceptional dwarven items can be created with the same brutal principle that goblin transformation Secrets, elven auras and such use; just create Secrets case-by-case that define and structure the crafting environment of a dwarf. It might not have the immediate appeal and structural implications that some more abstract subsystems have, but it's more flavourful and can, if seeded well, have some cornerstone Secrets that become staples for item creation. For instance, something along these lines:

Eero's short overview of how crafting works

(You understand, I repeat stuff from upthread and other places so much here because I want to help others keep abreast of where my thinking is coming and going; all the material below affects how dwarven crafting should work.)

Common crafting Secrets

Secret of Quality Construction (Ability) - as before, represents exacting precision in artisanry
Secret of Inner Meaning - as before, special artistic talent
Secret of Craftsmanship (Ability) - a common Secret for any professional craftsman

These represent what is generally available crafting-wise in the primitive environs of Near. I'd imagine that an artisan might well have any or all of these. There are obviously enough elaborations like Secret of the Great Project and whatever else is needed, but fundamentally mundane and non-culture-specific crafting is limited to mundane imbuements and equipment ratings. Making that potentate-slaying dagger, for example, is not possible without something special.

Elven crafting

Secret of Aura Imbuement
Secret Aura Smithing

These give Elves a limited ability at creating special items that surmount the capabilities of normal artisanry and allow them to put their own living experience into magical items. Pretty sweet, that. This is also an example of how others apart from dwarves might do crafting; I imagine that Three-corner has some ability at enchanting items, for example, but just like this Elven stuff, we need not worry about it when determining the capabilities of dwarves.

Basic Dwarven crafting

Secret of Ring-Tongue - this language business is my basic rationalization for why dwarves can have racial knowledge-based Secrets in the first place
Secret of Dwarven Construction (Ring-Tongue) - cheaper masterwork items
Secret of Ritual Craft (Ring-Tongue) - this one has mind-blowing implications when your humanist dwarf really goes to town
Secret of Obsessed Crafting - this is pretty interesting combined with Secret of Stature, another Dwarven Secret...

Secret of the Forge needs to be reworded again to account for removing Wondrous Craft:

Secret of the Forge
Dwarves are a people of craft, whether physical or metaphysical. The character may use Secret of Craftsmanship to create items with any rating qualities appropriate for an item of that type, even seemingly supernatural ones. [This is where that potentate-slaying dagger might come from.] If the character knows a Ring-Tongue applicable to his crafting, he may impose the quality of dwarven on any item he creates, keyed to any Ring-Tongue he knows that is applicable to either crafting or using the item. Requirements: none [humans can be dwarf-trained for the rating work] Cost: 2 Reason

Whether the dwarven quality Advance discount should scale or not is a difficult question. If it doesn't scale, then it's mechanically preferable to create lots of small items, which isn't very good. I'm going to go with the scaling 1/3 discount version for now, and I'm going to encourage large items further still:

Secret of Relic-craft
An item crafted by the character may have the relic quality, which fixes the Advance cost of the item at 5 Advances. If the cost would otherwise be more than this, using the item suffers penalty dice equal to the difference in any use. If the cost would be less, using the item gains bonus dice, correspondingly. Requirements: Secret of the Forge Cost: 5 Reason

There might be other generic dwarven crafting Secrets. The real point of it, however, comes from the next section where I try to set some baseline examples of how to do specific craft stuff without using an effect-based system.

Setting-based dwarven crafting example, stonemasonry

Secret of Stone
The character knows the deepest secrets of stone and architecture, which give him wide opportunity for creation. He may imbue items of stone with stylistically appropriate Secrets while using Secret of Craftsmanship. Any Secret considered balanced and appropriate for the item may be imbued. Any items created must be dwarven se per Secret of the Forge. Requirements: Secret of the Forge, an appropriate Secret of Dwarven Construction

Secret of Animate Stone
The character may create stone statues and other items that have some rudimentary independence in thought and even movement. A stone tool made like this has the animated quality [if the independently defined qualities are not used much in separate Secrets, these shorthands should just be written out]; a stone creature has Advances five times the success level, distributed by the SG according to description of the character's intent (but reserving plenty of Advances for stone-like qualities like armor ratings); a stone place will slowly repair itself to fulfill its function. Requirements: Secret of Stone Cost: according to quality; 5 Reason; 3 Reason

Secret of Breaking Stone
The character sees the fault-lines in stone; with bright light and concentration he actually sees the crystal lattice of any minerals. A successful appropriate craft Ability check allows the character to break a stone into shards with a strike. This can be used to break through walls, create rifts in the stone-bed or to destroy stone items, to mention just a few uses. A stone character takes Harm equal to success level. Requirements: Secret of Stone Cost: 2 Instinct

Secret of Welcoming Stone
The character may use special welcoming stone in his building; this stone leeches Pool points from unwelcome visitors (Endure (V) against quality to resist) at the rate of one point from each Pool per hour and gives the points to inhabitants at the same speed, but transformed into Vigor. When used in weapons the stone bestows the leeching quality [to be written out; pretty obvious]. Cost: 3 Vigor; per quality

These are just examples, any interesting craft could work here, like iron, bronze, cloth, jewelry, bones, song (for those ritual crafters) or whatever makes sense case-by-case. The basic point is that we have a Secret (fifth-order at that, minimum!) that defines a basic craft mastery and allows wide lee-way in imbuing, from which immediately springs some blatantly supernatural shit; we're talking of sixth-order follow-up Secrets here, so even I, the champion of toned-down magic, am comfortable with all kinds of wacky shit at this depth, and do not really condone going any deeper; we're already ridiculously deep for something that is supposed to be a set of species crunch, which shouldn't be as comprehensive and character-consuming as cultural crunch is; I guess that dwarves are really more of a culture than a race.

The theory here is that by giving 2-3 example crafts like the stonemasonry, above, and combining that with the traditional imbuement, we can have more than enough mojo for dwarven artisans. Creating items stays interesting, too, as the capabilities of a craft depend quite a bit on the group's imagination; combining several crafts is also possible if a crafting project incorporates several branches. I'm pretty happy with this, except perhaps the aforementioned fact that this is rather deep as Secret structures go. Each step has its purpose, though, so perhaps it's not unacceptable. A smith character gets to do all kinds of cool stuff with the Secret of Craftsmanship alone, so perhaps it's not that bad if a character needs to spend almost Three-corner-like amounts of Advances before he gets the capstone Secrets in stonemasonry.

By the by: I need to slow down with all this TSoY stuff. I appreciate Josh's enthusiasm, but I have some other projects that need seeing-to. So don't mind it if I'm a bit slow to respond, and feel free to bug me about anything after the 16th if there's something you'd like my opinion on by then.
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shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« Reply #38 on: February 08, 2008, 08:28:00 AM »

Eero,

I understand your need to cool it for a bit. Sorry that we've been going at it like gang-busters. Work has been strangely dull here, so I've had a bunch of free time on my hands each morning.

Don't consider that any of these threads require daily responses. The only reason I've kicked into overdrive a bit is to have things done in case you and Clinton need to start hammering out stuff for printing.

This stuff looks pretty solid. I think it needs to be clarified, as its starting to read "like stereo instructions" (to steal a line from Tim Burton). The Short Overview above was really helpful for keeping things straight (thank you!). I'll go for a rewrite at some point in the next week, and hopefully bring it all together. The elven stuff looks really flavorful.

I think the stonecrafting Secrets provide a pretty good example of how to make the systems we're discussing flavorful and personal. But that aspect might also be addressing a need which isn't there in all games. I think its the case that my gaming group doesn't encounter the same problems you do in games of TSOY. If anything, we're even less concerned than Clinton is with his disclaimer about "Ability breadth" and "realism." The fact is that in many fantasy rules systems (D&D springs to mind, but its hardly the only offender), every Performance ability and Crafts ability is a completely separate one. With high levels in many games' Music skill, you still can't dance worth a damn. Similarly, with impressive ratings in Craft (leather armor), you know very little at all about crafting metal armor.

This is all well-and-good when realism is at stake, but has it actually ever improved anyone's play experience in anything other than the most sim-heavy gaming? The fact is that with your Theft ability in TSOY, you get a heck of a lot of general know-how, and we mostly don't sweat turning the thief into a character with a million skills. There's no separate Cutpurse, Pickpocket, Lockpicking, Safe-Cracking, Knot-Cutting, and dozen other abilities. It won't suit all game styles, but I sometimes feel the poor performer and the poor craftsman should be cut just as generous a break. They're also playing with systems which aren't necessary for a satisfying game experience; its simply the case that in most games you can do just fine with some decent ability to get your way socially and some ability to bust heads when it comes down to the fighting time. Mobility and sneakiness are nice as well, but not everyone uses them. The idea that your character is great at performance art or making things is a nice flourish, and an interesting one for people to go into. I don't want to then bog them down by requiring Secrets and Abilities which go so deep as to be the *only* thing your character is good at, while the thief is happily seducing, intimidating, making speeches, and slicing people up, all because the game encourages us to have one Theft ability (and a sprinkling of Stealth to get away, if you screw it up).

I'm surprised, more than anything, at the worry about people applying inappropriate imbuement to items, and the anxiety which prompts this being fifth- or sixth-order Secrets (using your terminology). I'm assuming you don't typically place limitations on the Secrets which characters choose for themselves, instead mostly let the player's choice prevail? If a beggar character suddenly took Secret of Nobility, you'd mostly require him to justify it as a character choice, or whip up something appropriately clever dramatically, correct? Is the danger here that doing the same thing with, say, a wand just doesn't lead to drama being exciting? That it makes dramatic elements disposable, the way magic items are disposable, and thus robs them of some of their personality and punch? That concern I can see, at least, if its the one we're getting at. The beggar-cum-noble gets thrust into a whole new world, and is full of interesting challenges and story; the "Hey, it's my magic wand of nobility, so everyone obey me!" scenario is a lot less punchy.

Perhaps rather than the "mundanity" solution, we address this with an in-game solution of "appropriateness of materials." I've always been a real fantasy goober for the idea of acquiring material components for the creation of items which are hard to find / difficult to acquire / lead to more interesting drama. Maybe the Secret of Nobility can only be imbued into an item with an exotic ingredient like a few drops of blood from a royal lineage, the bones of a long-dead king, or the heart of a lion? One wouldn't need to detail all of these things ahead of time (which would be *dreadfully* dull; I loathe long lists of mandatory ingredients), but instead provide some flavor text (like above) which suggests appropriate properties and correspondences. Show people the level of investment which should be going into an item, and trust individual Storyguides and player groups to work out the right ingredients. Perhaps I'm being too generous there in that I know exactly how stingy and drama-driven I'd be as an SG.

(It's also the case that "appropriateness of materials" kind of folds "mundanity" into it. If you're a princeling and a magical crafter, and you want to make a Wand of the Secret of Nobility, you've already got the materials closer at hand than your average peasant. We could easily say your own blood is sufficient, but that's still a little boring. Perhaps that of one of your older relatives will do. In either case, the challenge shouldn't be as great--the beggar asking for a few drops of royal blood has a much tougher time than you do sneaking into dad's room and nicking him in his sleep--and that accounts for the "mundanity" element quite nicely, while still keeping things story-driven.)

This actually ties in nicely with something I've been considering in general. Early on in the dwarven design process, I was fairly keen on the idea that dwarves held the physical body, and especially the physical remains, in relatively low regard, due to their quasi-elemental origins. Even though we've deviated from that idea (which is NOT a bad thing, incidentally), it might be fun to look at that in a new light.

To whit: if dwarves consider everything to ultimately serve the responsibilities of tradition and the goals of the ring, then even the physical body might be seen as nothing more than commodity and resource. Like any resource, it can be utilized, shaped, and remade if it best serves the purposes of the ring.

Secret of the Living Forge
You can turn dwarven craft upon living dwarven flesh, shaping it with scarification, tattoos, and other modifications which confer unusual effects. Like the Secret of the Forge, you may place special qualities on the living character you modify. If the subject does not wish for the modifications, he can resist your Crafts check with an appropriate ability check. The character may impose the quality of dwarven on the body he modifies (reducing the XP cost to keep the modifications by 1/3, rounded up). Requirements: Both craftsman and subject must have the ability to speak the same Ring-Tongue. Cost: 2 Reason, 1 Vigor, 1 Instinct.

Naturally, the implication is that the imbuing is temporary and will fade unless the cost is paid with appropriate XP. It makes for some interesting flavorful "branding" opportunities, as well; dwarven leaders can have their craftsmen place responsibilities on their ring-mates through branding them with imbuements and other properties. You can even theoretically be "Keyed" in this way, thanks to some of the Secrets we've talked about. Makes for an unusual options for punishment, also.

It may need a little reworking before final presentation and inclusion in the system, but there's something about a dwarf seeing even the bodies of his friends, and his own form, as just another tool to serve the Greater Cause that fits *so* nicely for me with their general ethos. I've been worried about getting away from the species ethic (you're right in that dwarves come dangerously close to a Culture in the way they operate, but keep in mind there are elements of that among the ratkin, as well, so we don't need to be too frightened by the prospect), and I think this is a potentially interesting way to bring us back to the very purpose of why dwarves should be making things and crafting and such.

This ties in with my thoughts about using materials above to an idea that was brewing in my head last night. While dwarves respect tradition and their forbears, I'm tempted to turn the traditional fantasy conceit of dwarven "ancestor veneration" on its ear. Death shouldn't be an escape from one's responsibilities to family, clan, and guild. Just because you've kicked the bucket doesn't mean you get to lay around and be lazy. I think its entertaining to believe that dwarven zeal typically regards even the bodies of their fallen family members as a resource to be used. As such, bone, blood, sinew, hair, and flesh are all key components in dwarven craft; when a dwarf says "This sword hilt was my grandfather's," he might be talking about his grandfather's armbones, not his grandfather's possessions.

Even the souls of dead dwarves are expected to be utilized in the projects of the various rings, making two rings' claims for the body and soul of a dead dwarf a fascinating matter of intra-species litigation ("Yes, yes, he was your uncle, but he was also our guild's treasurer. Come come now, be reasonable... we should at least receive his skull and all of his fingerbones...").

There's no saying this is a pleasant experience for the dead, either. One no longer gets to further one's personal ambitions, and is simply the ultimate tool of the greater agenda of the familia. As such, there are dwarves who pull away from their responsibilities late in life, filled with the regrets of a life spent serving only the interests of clan and guild. This is an act of unforgivable pettiness, of course, and ring-mates will try and bring a dwarf back to reason, and failing that simply do him in to preserve the honor and integrity of the ring (mostly as a matter of keeping up appearances). But it is rumored that some strong-willed dwarves manage to break away and die alone, or else their spirits escape the watchful eyes of the soul-crafters.

While they may be little more than dwarven bedtime stories, told to the young to keep them honest and sure, it is said that these petty spirits haunt the rings, looking for impressionable dwarves who they can coax towards serving their own interests. A petty ghost will try to tempt a dwarf into serving its interests by promising power, information, and assistance, even claiming to serve the living dwarf's goals or the "secret agenda of the ring." Despite their claims, these wicked souls are entirely motivated by personal desire rather than any sense of altriusm or greater goal, and will ultimately twist those who ally with them to serving the ghost's selfish needs. It is said that clanwardens and soul-crafters alike watch for the interference of these spirits, but even their eyes cannot be everywhere.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Rich F
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #39 on: February 08, 2008, 08:57:29 AM »

The secret of the living forge kind of reminds me of the Igor's from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, looking at bodyparts as a resource that can be shared around the community.  He plays them pretty comic, but you needn't and it brings up the idea of body harvesting which has some pretty interesting implications Smiley
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shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2008, 10:03:49 AM »

So, putting the cart before the horse, I figure I'll finish up the current discussion we're having about item creation, and then get back to the dwarf species stuff.

Eero, I see where you're going with some of that, but I don't know if it ultimately works for me. The fact that we've gone to sixth-order Secrets in some cases is really complex, I agree, and maybe worthwhile, but to then swerve back towards highly specific secrets (the stone-crafting ones you present above) seems a mistake. Other play groups may vary in this respect, but I feel like the stonework Secrets end up getting closer to spoon-feeding players specific Secrets, and feel much less like what I'd want from a real "item creation" system. What it doesn't feel is versatile, but more like a list of Secrets one can choose from, rather than a toolkit to build with. I respect your reasons for wanting the system to function like that (i.e. moving from a list of abstract powers to a system which is grounded in the specific setting of the characters, and the worries about the "mundanity" requirement), but it doesn't gel for me. Which is fine, of course. Everyone should ideally be using systems which suit their play experience, and that of their players, best.

I also worry that some of the order in which this all got bashed out leads to a lot of complex Secret terminology. The differences between quality names and the Secrets that generate them got fairly far afield from each other during that process, but thats only natural. Brainstorming is like that.

I've got a system here, which I think I'll probably end up using. It might not suit everyone's tastes, but its a fusion of a bunch of the suggestions you made, and the ideas which people have batted around during this process. I'm reprinting some things we've posted before, but its both for completeness sake, and to clean up some of the confusing terminology which has been running through the conversation. I've also split some ideas into two Secrets, which might not suit everyone's tastes, but reflects what I think keeps Secrets at the appropriate "order" and pool cost.

Open Item Creation Secrets
These Secrets should be added to the Open Secret list. While they are quite common for dwarven laborers, many of them use less advanced and slower techniques than dwarven crafters can manage.

Secret of Quality Construction
You have an eye for details and fine workmanship, and are able to laboriously create create items with the masterwork quality when using a specific Ability, chosen when this Secret is taken. Masterwork items provide a bonus die on specific checks appropriate to the item. Cost: 5 Reason

Secret of Inner Meaning
The character has the gift necessary for true art. He can create items of profound quality with suitable Abilities. Profound items can be used to transmit a specific meaning to a certain audience; if the audience cannot beat the quality rating of the profound item, they are forced to believe the message. Cost: 2 Instinct

Secret of Craftsmanship<rated items when using a specific Ability, chosen when this Secret is taken. The items you create can have a +/- 1 to 2 rating, reflecting their usefulness as weapons or defensive items. These follow the normal rules for rated items, as covered in The Shadow of Yesterday. Cost: Vigor equal to the rating of the item x 2.

Secret of Superior Craftsmanship<rated items with a rating up to +/-3. These superior items are always designed with a highly specific purpose in mind, and follow the normal rules for rated items. Prerequisite: Secret of Craftsmanship. Cost: 6 Vigor.

(I've split these into two, so getting the option to forge +/-3 items is both expensive and a second-order Secret. That won't suit everyone's tastes, but its about the right pace for my games.)

Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship<imbued<Prerequisite: Secret of Craftsmanship. Cost: 3 Vigor + the normal pool cost of the Secret.

Secret of Esoteric Imbuing
When you create an imbued item using the Secret of Imbuing, the Secret you include in the item may be from any Secret list, not simply one which is already accessible to you. In most cases, this requires the inclusion of rare materials or special knowledge in the design of the item. Prerequisite: Secret of Craftsmanship, Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship. Cost: As per Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship, +2 Reason.

Secret of Single-Use Design
You can design items with the single-use quality when using a specific Ability, chosen when this Secret is taken. Single-use items reduce their pool point for creation by one-half, but can only be used once before they must be built again from scratch. Cost: As per other creation Secrets, but 1/2 normal cost.

(This is a correction that I think needed to be made. Single-Use shouldn't affect one's cost to own the item--who cares about the XP cost of an item I'm only going to use once? I shouldn't have to add it to my character sheet at all--but instead reduces the pool cost. One use only is pretty grim for most items, so it should be generous to reflect this. Even a one-shot use of a Secret, if we use the Imbuing rules I'm suggesting above, is still time-consuming and costly to effect.)

Secret of the Great Project
When crafting an item with item qualities, the character does not need to pay Pool costs for the item all at once. Instead, he may stop work for research or rest and continue it whenever he feels like it (that is, when he again has Pool to spend). The player may decide how much of his Pool the character spends at once on creating the item. Requirements: Secret of Craftsmanship.

Secret of the Exotic Ingredient
When created an imbued<Prerequisite: Secret of Craftsmanship, Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship.


Dwarven Item Creation Secrets
Secret of Bloody Toil
You are capable of laboring at expense to your own body and mind, throwing everything you have into something you create. Any time you are required to pay the pool cost for creating an item, you can spend 1 Vigor and choose to take Harm instead. Every point of Harm can replace a pool point needed for creation. Cost: 1 Vigor. Prerequisite: Secret of Purpose.

Secret of Essence-Harvest
Pragmatic dwarves believe in wasting nothing; even the dying breaths of their Ring-mates are utilized for the greater success of the Ring. When an intelligent being dies in your presence, you can make an appropriate craft Ability check to utilize the spiritual essence of this being, for use in your creations. The successes on this craft check equal a number of points which can be used to pay any item creation expenditures. Cost: 1 Reason.

Secret of Obsessed Crafting
When beginning a crafting project, you can pay 2 Vigor and thereby substitute Vigor for any other pool costs required by the appropriate crafting Secrets. Cost: 2 Vigor at the beginning of the project. Prerequisite: Secret of Purpose.

Secret of Reforging<Cost: 1 Reason. Prerequisite: Secret of Purpose.

Secret of Dwarfbond Crafting
Your mastery of an appropriate Ring-Tongue allows you to create items that have the bonded quality for dwarves. Dwarf-bonded items cost one less Advance to own, but only for dwarf characters. All others must pay the normal Advance cost to own them. Dwarfbound items must feature the blood, bones, or other essential body parts of dwarves in their crafting. Prerequisite: Knowledge of an appropriate Ring-Tongue.

Secret of Dwarven Construction
Your understanding of a dwarven Ring-Tongue gives you special insight into how to craft items of excellent quality with greater ease than other laborers. Choose a specific Ability when you take this Secret; you can use it to create items with the masterwork quality (those which provide a bonus die on specific checks appropriate to the item). Additionally, you can choose Secrets from the Special Item Creation Secrets list, as if they were Open to you. Prerequisite: Knowledge of an appropriate Ring-Tongue Cost: 3 Reason. Special: This Secret stands in for the Secret of Quality Construction for the purposes of prerequisites.

Secret of Dwarven Craftsmanship
Your understanding of a dwarven Ring-Tongue gives you special insight into how to craft objects of surpassing power, even those which are enchanted by the force of communal language you pour into the project. You can craft imbued items with Secrets from any list (even one which is not normally open to you). Additionally, any item you create can have twice the number of qualities (so that a rated item could have up to six +/-1 ratings, or be imbued with two Secrets). Requirements: Secret of Craftsmanship, Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship, knowledge of an appropriate Ring-Tongue.

Secret of Dwarven Ensoulment
Your understanding of a dwarven Ring-Tongue gives you special insight into how to craft items which possess some sentience and will to them. Choose a specific Ability when you take this Secret; you can use it to create items with the animated or destined qualities (which can act on their own, and grant access to a specific Key for any user, respectively). At least one pool point used in the creation of these items must come from spiritual essence gained through the Secret of Essence-Harvest. Prerequisite: Secret of Essence-Harvest, knowledge of an appropriate Ring-Tongue. Cost: 3 Reason; at least 1 point of this must be paid with points gained through the Secret of Essence-Harvest.

Secret of Dwarven Ritual<Prerequisite: Knowledge of an appropriate Ring-Tongue.

Secret of Living Craft
You can turn dwarven craft upon living dwarven flesh, shaping it with scarification, tattoos, and other modifications which confer unusual effects. You can use any Secrets you know which grant special properties to an item on a living being. If the subject does not wish for the modifications, he can resist your Crafts check with an appropriate ability check. You may impose the quality of bonded on the subject you are modifying (reducing the XP cost to keep the modifications accordingly). Prerequisite: Both craftsman and subject must have the ability to speak the same Ring-Tongue. Cost: 2 Reason, 1 Vigor, 1 Instinct.


Special Item Creation Secrets
These Secrets represent magical skill at item creation. They are beyond the ken of most people, and create items which have a spiritual energy all of their own. In many cases, the Storyguide can feel free to mandate the Secret below being chosen:

Secret of the Magical Artisan
You have been trained in esoteric crafting techniques, and can bestow item qualities beyond those of even the greatest craftsmen who have not been touched by magic and the arcane. You can take other item creation Secrets from this list. Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction.

(The implication is that a Secret like this stands between the average human--or indeed goblin or elf-- craftsman, whereas dwarves get this "gateway Secret" via the Secret of Dwarven Construction).

Secret of Animated Crafting
Your knowledge of enchantment allows you to create items which possess some sentience and will, creating items with the animated quality. Choose one appropriate Ability to bestow on the item you are creating (such as Dueling for a sword, or Theft for a set of lock picks). The item has an Ability rating of Adept, which the user may use instead of or in support of his own Ability, but only if he has the Ability in question. Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 4 Reason.

Secret of Bonded Crafting
Your knowledge of enchantment allows you to create items which are intended for a specific wielder, such as elven blades or amulets for the Cult of the Red God, bestowing the bonded quality. Bonded items cost one less Advance to own, but only for characters from a specific group. All others must pay the normal Advance cost to own them. Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 5 Reason.

Secret of Destined Crafting
Your knowledge of enchantment allows you to create items whose course has been chosen for them, creating items with the destined<Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 5 Reason.

Secret of Leeching Crafting
Your knowledge of enchantment allows you to create items which drain the energies of others, bestowing the leeching quality. Leeching items drain pool points from characters they come into extended or forceful contact with. Typically, this results in the loss of 1 pool point per hour, or in the case of their use as a weapon, 1 pool point drained per successful strike. The type of pool drained is specified when the item is created. Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 3 Vigor.

Secret of Reservoir Crafting
Your knowledge of enchantment allows you to create items which contain a small reserve of energy within them, bestowing the reservoir quality. The item includes 2 Pool points in a Pool specified at the time of creation. The points may be spent by the user of the item when wielding it; the points refresh once per day, when the user desists from using the item when he could. Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 3 Vigor.

Secret of Relic-craft
You can create items that have the relic quality. Relic items have a fixed Advance cost of 5 Advances, no matter how many qualities are applied to them. If the cost of the item would normally be more than this, using the item suffers penalty dice equal to the difference in Advance cost. If the cost would be less, using the item gains bonus dice, correspondingly. Prerequisite: A Secret which allows you to create bonded items. Cost: 5 Reason

(I've included this for completeness, but I'm still not sure why its useful. It provides a pile of bonus dice, or else makes an item which oddly has penalty dice despite having interesting powers. In some cases, you're spending 5 Reason to provide your item with penalty dice, which seems bizarre to me. Am I missing the utility behind this somehow?)

--

Ironically, while some of this was done for clarity's sake, it has become a much more complex system than one which is just tailored for dwarves, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It does mean that the item creation stuff ends up as a weird species axis--its something which I'd potentially let anyone do, but the dwarves get more Species-specific Secrets than everyone else, and theirs are sometimes turbo-charged by comparison. It might mean it would be nice to give them a second axis to explore, as well, and that may come in future posts.
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shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2008, 10:14:10 AM »

(I realized there was more to add, so here's part 2 of the post above...)

Many other Species have their own unique approaches to design. Here are some examples of how to individualize those.

Elven Crafting Secrets
Secret of Elfbond Crafting
Your understanding of the elven aura and soul allow you to create items that have the bonded quality for elves. Elf-bonded items cost one less Advance to own, but only for elven characters. All others must pay the normal Advance cost to own them. Prerequisite: Secret of Immortality, Secret of Quality Construction. Cost: 4 Reason.

Secret of Aura-Imbued Craftsmanship
You can shape an item which has the aura-imbued<Prerequisite: Secret of Immortality, Secret of Quality Construction, Secret of Elfbound Crafting. Cost: 3 Vigor.

Secret of Soul Smithing
You may reduce the XP cost of creating an aura-imbued<Prerequisite: Secret of Immortality, Secret of Quality Construction, Secret of Aura-Imbued Craftsmanship. Cost: 3 Vigor.


Goblin Crafting Secrets
Secret of Chaotic Crafting
Goblin artifice has long been misunderstood by other species, who simply do not see the benefits in the often dangerous designs which goblins create. Nonetheless, goblins are often a source of fascinating, if unreliable, items, which they can produce in greater numbers than other craftsmen. You can create items that have the unreliable or dangerous<Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction, Secret of Craftsmanship. Cost: 3 Instinct.

Secret of Adaptive Crafting
Goblin smiths can design versatile items which transform to suit the specific purposes of the wielder. You can create items that have the adaptive<Prerequisite: Secret of Quality Construction, Secret of Craftsmanship. Cost: 3 Vigor, 2 Instinct.


Eero started this, during one of the revisions, and I think it's a good idea:

A list of all Item Special Qualities
Adaptive<Advance Cost: +2.

Animated<Advance Cost:: +1.

Aura-Imbued<Advance Cost: +1.

Bonded
Bonded items cost one less Advance to own than normal, for a specific group to acquire. In many cases, this may represent the special crafts of a certain species, or the cult secrets of a group. Advance Cost: -1.

Dangerous<Advance Cost: -1.

Destined<Advance Cost: +1.

Imbued
Imbued items possess a Secret within them. The lists from which these Secrets can be chosen may carry some restrictions. The Secret always costs 1 less pool point to use than normal. Advance Cost: +1.

Leeching
Leeching items drain pool points from characters they come into extended or forceful contact with. Typically, this results in the loss of 1 pool point per hour, or in the case of their use as a weapon, 1 pool point drained per successful strike. Advance Cost: +1.

Masterwork
Masterwork items provide a bonus die on specific checks when using the item. A masterwork blade might provide a bonus die on Dueling checks. Advance Cost: +1.

Profound
Profound items have a special message built into them, intended for a certain audience. When the intended audience is exposed to the item, they must resist the quality of the item (the result on the check made to craft the item) or else be forced to believe the message. Advance Cost: None.

Rated<Advance Cost: +1 per specific rating. An item with both a +1 and a +3 rating costs only 2 advances. In some cases, the Storyguide may provide items which have only a +/-1 rating for no additional Advance cost, but these tend to be temporary or unreliable items which might disappear during the story.

Relic
Relic items have a fixed Advance cost of 5 Advances, no matter how many qualities are applied to them. If the cost of the item would normally be more than this, using the item suffers penalty dice equal to the difference in Advance cost. If the cost would be less, using the item gains bonus dice, correspondingly. Advance Cost: 5, regardless of how many qualities are applied.

Reservoir
Reservoir items serves as batteries for pool points. The item includes 2 Pool points in a Pool specified at the time of creation. The points may be spent by the user of the item when wielding it; the points refresh once per day, when the user desists from using the item when he could. Advance Cost: +1.

Single-Use
Single-use items reduce their pool point for creation by one-half, but can only be used once before they must be built again from scratch. Classic examples include potions, explosives, and the like. Advance Cost: None. By their nature, Single-Use items cannot be purchased with Advances.

Unreliable<Advance Cost: -1.


That's it for now. I'm brushing up the dwarven Species stuff, based on suggestions and recommendations, so we might have that posted by the end of this week.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2008, 06:48:42 PM »

Seems like it'll work well enough. As I explained above I'm not entirely happy with an abstract system reminiscent of point-buy myself, but if it works for you, that's great.

The point with the relics is simply to proffer an alternative method for balancing a really, really powerful magical item. Otherwise an item that requires, say, ten advances (theoretically speaking, I don't think that almost anything would need that much) to own would be out of reach for most characters, unless you allowed going into Advance debt. The reason for why the relic is balanced (apart from the increasing dice penalty when you make a really large item, which then has to be off-set by spending Pool for bonus dice) is that I think that there's an upper ceiling to how much an item should cost: a stupendously powerful item will, at some point, become more of a macguffin around which the story will revolve, at which point the character will lose possession of the item more and more often, or spend more and more time guarding it. An item like that shouldn't cost an arbitrary number of Advances.

Also note that Secret of Aura Smithing doesn't do anything if you remove the xp cost from Elven crafting.
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shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« Reply #43 on: February 27, 2008, 09:38:58 AM »

We've handled the "advance debt" issue in a variety of interesting ways in the past with powerful macguffins. One of them was to simply say that "partial ownership" of an item was possible, from a story perspective. Just as nothing is really garuanteed as a character's possession until its purchased with Advances, if there was a truly powerful relic that cost 4 advances, it was possible in some of our games, while squabbling over it, to "buy shares" in it by purchasing some of its powers in Advances. Basically, the contentious players could then fight over it, and ultimately acquire it by defeating everyone else who had a claim on it, in which case those Advances opened up for the player who had lost the item. It was basically a variation on Zu theft, designed to suit a game in which a few important story relics were on most people's wish-lists.

Variations on that rule will work fine for some players, I imagine. I'd sort of assumed it was how most groups did things. The alternative is "Advance debt", but it appeals to me much less, as it just devotes Advance after Advance to a specific purpose, and doesn't do anything new for the story.

The One Ring of LoTR fame sort of sits in that "nebulous ownership" category, for me, at least in some portrayals. Neither Frodo, Gollum, nor even Sauron-via-the-Nazgul can truly be said to completely own it, but all are vying for it, and have some stake in it.

Incidentally, even the One Ring, which I'd probably stat out as a Profound, Adamant, Destined, Three-Corner Focused item works out to only about 4 advances to own, and costing something like 17 pool points (assuming 2 Instinct for profound, 5 Vigor for adamant, 5 Reason for destined, and 5 Reason for a Three-Corner Focus, as I'd say its 3 pool + the cost of the effect, and I'm assuming the ring's invisibility goes Enthrallment/Gentle Touch/Alter Senses). Of course, Sauron would need the following Secrets to pull this off:

Secret of Inner Meaning
Secret of Quality Construction
Secret of Adamantine Crafting*
Secret of Destined Crafting
Secret of Craftsmanship
Secret of Imbued Craftsmanship
Secret of Magical Crafting*

* I haven't made either of these, in the rules set below, but adapted ideas we talked about earlier and made some assumptions about what their pre-reqs and costs would be.

Assuming that Sauron doesn't have 10 Reason handy (which is dicey), he might need the Secret of Great Project, as well. He could potentially benefit from the Secret of the Exotic Ingredient, and knock his total pool cost down by -1.

So, somewhere around 16-17 pool, 7-9 Secrets, and 4 Advances provides us with everything that we ever see the Ring do in narrative during LoTR. Of course, we all know it has much more power than that, or else Sauron wouldn't have such a mad-on for it. So, maybe its actually a reservoir, and maybe it actually should be a Relic, to reflect its general mysterioso qualities.

If we assumed it was also a Relic, it'd cost 1 more Secret, 5 more Reason, and afford... a bonus die? It might be more satisfying for me if the Relic property had more incentives to it. Maybe it should be where the adamant property is located, and it should just be story-incentive that relics are almost impossible to destroy?


As for the Secret of Aura Smithing, I think I misunderstood what it was intended to do. Now it becomes more clear to me that you were intending for the Elven, Imbuement, and Rating properties to have both an XP cost and a pool cost for creation? Why would an elf pay an additional cost for a rated item, beyond everyone else? If we're assuming even Olaf the human craftsman can make a +1 or +2 item for standard costs (say 2-4 Vigor), why is the elf paying an additional +1 XP for the privilege? Does he get something out of it? If its to payoff the mundanity requirement you've talked about before for Secret of Imbuement, I can sort of see it, but for the ratings?

Maybe it'd be better to rewrite it like this?

Secret of Soul Smithing
You can pour your very life experience into any artisanry you perform. When using an Item Creation Secret, you can pay the pool cost in XP instead of pool points. Prerequisite: Secret of Immortality, Secret of Quality Construction, Secret of Elfbond Crafting. Cost: 1+ XP instead of pool points.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #44 on: February 27, 2008, 09:09:16 PM »

The point of paying xp in Secret of Aura Imbuement was that it's an alternative replacement for other crafting secrets; it allows a character to create rated and imbued items just like that, even without a need for proper tools and a forge (as the item is actually a normal item that is being enchanted by interaction with the elf). How strong this actually is depends on what other crafting stuff is available, but in the context of the post wherein I presented it, it was appropriate and flavourful to have it cost xp instead of Pool. Secret of Aura Smithing, in this context, is a specialization secret that allows a character to push the capabilities of aura imbuement without bankrupting himself; paying xp is a pretty big deal, so it's not something a character would want to do often.

Your idea of having a partially paid-for item be contested in the fiction is pretty interesting. I wouldn't probably have characters be able to pick and choose wich properties of an item they want to pay for (cherry-picking doesn't always make sense concerning a magic item's fictional context), but the basic idea is sound.
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