Point Items: Random Questions and Musings (Merc)

A collection of questions and concerns I have about point items, from the minor to the significant.

To start with, Patternblades, Logrusfoils, and Spikards. Why do they cost what they cost? Your normal Primal Blade has, at casual inspection, something like 36 points worth of Item Qualities embedded into; it does Primal Damage, it has Impenetrable Armor, it spellbreaks. This is without even begginning to get into things like Greyswandir, which can also shapeshift.

Why the hell does something like this cost only 16 points? If any of us wanted to forge something like Beryllina (which I know for a fact that Kanna paid for each and every quality in full) we would have to pay for EVERYTHING, yet those who have a Primal Weapon get by on the cheap?

In addition, Spikards cost 32 points. This would appear to indicate, upon another casual inspection (I may be wrong about this; if so, I apologize), that we are in fact paying fully for all the Qualities it possesses. Why? How come the Warfare people get a break on their Primal artifacts, when Psyche/Powers? people, who already must invest points in Sorcery or Elementalism (at the very least) to use a Spikard effectively must pay through the nose? All Ota Minor needs to use his sixteen-point Patternblade is his Warfare; Minako and Makoto, by contrast, must not only use their Psyche, they must also pay for their Sorcery or their Elementalism, and THEN must pay twice as much as Ota for the Primal artifact that fits their strengths.

Moving on...

Primal Damage. The Items page says that Primal Damage weapons 'literally destroy those they oppose by igniting their blood. (Accent is my own) Wounds from such a weapon are eventually fatal, unless the victim has some way to shed the flaming blood in time.' Such a potent ability costs sixteen points and is not casually available for purchase into a weapon.

Or is it?

Whoopass burned Kanako to death, _setting her blood on fire_ until she burned into ash. A dream version of it, in Tir, later set Suzuka's blood on fire from a fairly minor wound, and she required the services of Kanako, an Advanced Logrus user, in order to snuff them. Demetrius' Camber blade set a fair number of Chaosians on fire back in UnS, as have other Flawed Pattern blades during all three games, and the Lesser Logrusfoils (such as the Souma blade) can presumably do the same sort of thing to the Blood of Order.

Only, these things do not cost what the Items page says it takes to cause Primal Damage and set people's blood on fire. Whoopass' damage quality, if I recall correctly, is eight points. So is the Camber blade. Eight points is _Destructive_ Damage, not Primal. Why are they setting people's blood on fire and burning them to death? Are there circumstances in which one need NOT pay for the Primal Damage quality in order to do this to people? If so, what are they, and may they please be detailed on the Items page in their appropriate areas?

Moving to another category yet again...

What is the procedure for 'burning' previously-held point items to get the points back? Random, for example, got her points back from Whoopass when she had to give it up to Deirdre. This makes sense, at least to me; she doesn't have the sword anymore, she's not getting it back anytime soon, and it's not doing her any good. so she got the points back, as if it had been destroyed. However, I understand Minor was permitted to 'flip' the fourteen points she had invested in Ginshishi into Greyswandir in order to pay for it. How does that work? Was she required to destroy the glove or give it away? If not, does she still have it, thus in effect gaining a very potent weapon she can still (with Greyswandir) use for free? I'd like to know what the procedure is for shuffling points around like this.

So, to recap, my questions are...

A few questions of minor note...

Patternblades and Logrusfoils have reduced costs because they come with various strings attached. Unlike something you make yourself, other people are automatically going to take an interest in who has them, and someone usually has a better claim than you. Some of them also serve as plot devices in various of the plots of the ongoing campaign, as a result of which, I didn't want the point costs to be too prohibitive.

Spikards cost more because they are very potent, and because I have not built any plots which required anyone to be attuned to one in order to prevent destruction.

The Higher Level shadows of Pattern/Logrus weapons (the 'Lesser Logrusfoils' and 'Flawed/Broken? Pattern blades') possess some degree of ability to ignite the blood of Order or Chaos (as appropriate). Depending on the degree of removal, it typically requires more prolonged contact (a mere scratch won't do it), and such weapons only ignite activated blood of whatever. (It's an 8 point quality. Weapon does weaker Primal effects, only does 4 point damage to those not effected by it).

Basically, if you give a point item away or it is destroyed, you can reclaim the points. I'm willing to let people do this for something they're going to give away fairly soon, but haven't been able to do yet, for whatever reason. Should the person end up holding onto and using it for what I consider an unreasonable amount of time after removing the points, then I will charge them the points again.

Spikards cast spells in their portfolio at blinding speeds. They can cast other spells as if they were a sorceror with fast-casting. They also function as a spell rack.

Dragon Spikards work anywhere there's a Logrus.

Unicorn Spikards are much more secure than Dragon Spikards.

New Chaos had to make a new batch of foils, yep.


Brain-Eating And You (John)

By player request, I will be toning down the ease with which brains are eaten. This has the following consequences:

Power Words (Merc)

Does having Pattern or Logrus Defence up influence the effects of power words aimed at a character or things the character is in contact with? Can Sorcery wards and Contingency spells be rigged to automatically detect and snuff the usage of power words? What happens if you try to true name somebody and get it wrong?

Pattern / Logrus / Etc. Defense provides hefty additional resistance to Power Words as it does to other powers. It also closes the True Name loophole. Sorcery can be used to detect and snuff Power Words. (This becomes a Psychic contest). There is no particular penalty for using the wrong True Name.

Power Words Redux (post one late night Dan and Merc conversation)

Anything which conveys greater Psychic resistance can help resist power words. Pattern Defense, Magical Defenses, having someone share brainpower with you, etc.

However... Basic Power Words, backed by a true name, will go through raw psychic or basic magical defenses like it wasn't there. Exceedingly strong magical defenses (8 point mental defense through conjuration, Power Sorceries), Trump Defense, and Pattern/Logrus Defense will stop any Basic Power word, even if backed by a True Name. The one exception to this is that Basic Power Words which target a specific power, if backed by a True Name, will cut through that Power and disrupt it. (Ie, Advanced Pattern Sorcery is not immune to Magic Disrupt, but it will stop Basic Induce Fear)

Advanced Power Words will go through any magical defense or Trump Defense if backed by a True Name. An Advanced Power Word backed by a true name and by 75% of the Psyche of the Defender will go through Pattern or Logrus Defense. APW backed byless than 75% fail against Pattern or Logrus Defense, even if you know the true name.

Exalted Power Words affect anyone you know the true name of or who has less Psyche than you.

Most Power Words can be duplicated by Sorcery, but not by petty magics.

Logrus vs. Trump: The Eternal Struggle (Merc)

How much, exactly, do Logrus and Trump not like each other?

It's a pretty established fact by now, by dint of much painful experience, that they interact much more violently than the 'nasty shock' detailed on the Trump page that Logus users may expect when touching an active trump. Some additional clarification on how Logrus and Trump interact with each other in common situations we are likely to encounter (Trump Constructs, high-end Trump Master enemies such as Wu-Shinji, etc.) In addition, it would be helpful to know under what circumstances Logrus and Trump may safely interact, such as during Miki's massive cross-shadow Trump scrying in UnS.

Additionally, how do Trump and Pattern interact?

Since the redesign after UnS, there are a number of Pattern powers now in existence (Sign of the Pattern, various forms of Pattern Defence) which produce an actual extrusion of the Pattern which can be moved around and applied physically (sometimes with great force) to things. This is in addition to things such as Jacqueline's Pattern Tendrils spell which existed in the past, as well as things like Might of the Pattern and Pattern Focus, which shove massive amounts of Pattern energy into people. What happens if you hit active Trump energy sources with such extrusions of the Pattern, or if people filled with such massive amounts of Pattern touch them? Does it produce a similar shock as Logrus users encountering Trump? If not, why not?

What is Trump?

Trump, as it exists in the realm of John's Anime-Amber, is the closest thing there is to a 'Balance' power. This is because it taps the energy released by the collision and interaction of Pattern and Logrus. This interaction creates a field which suffuses the entire universe, from the Pattern to the Logrus to the Walls of Night. This is why Trump normally works everywhere, except in unusual locations. This field, however, is not easily tapped into; normally one needs attunement to a Primal Power in order to do so (though one can use Elementalism to build limited-use Elemental Trumps which only work in and connect to areas dominated strongly by a particular element).

The power of Trump collects more strongly in certain locations known as 'trump fonts', places where the eddies and currents of the field knot themselves together and produce additional Trump Energy. Such fonts often have a particular creative theme to them, such as the Golden Age of Radio feel to the Trump Font Aeris is built on.

Trump essentially works by using the energy field of Pattern/Logrus interaction as a communications and transport medium. Everything in the universe has a unique psychic signature, although shadows of the same thing will have highly similar ones. The act of creation of a Trump is the creation of an artifact which is linked into this field. Anyone can then use this artifact to link themselves into the field of Pattern/Logrus interaction and use the psychic imprint within the card to guide themselves to psychic contact with whatever the card represents. Once a link exists, minds and bodies can travel through the link back and forth. Sufficiently skilled trump artists begin to learn how to tap into the field directly to do things without needing cards by burning the linkages into their own minds even as they make a card, or eventually just by knowing the psychic imprint. Everyone else needs a card to help them.

Because Trump is a derivative power, it is weaker than Logrus or Pattern. In a conflict between it and the others, it will lose if the minds on both sides are of equal strength. In the case of Pattern/Trump? conflict (such as the Sign of the Pattern whacking a trump in use), the energies of Pattern calcify the trump energies, disrupting the psychic signatures involved and causing the connection to crash. This may cause some feedback to the Pattern user, depending on the strength of the Trump user, but Pattern is sufficiently stronger than Trump that usually the Trump will simply be snuffed.

While Logrus is stronger than Trump, it is not as much stronger as Pattern is. The result is that when it disrupts Trump, it does so by pumping additional chaos into the energy field. The result is an explosion which produces feedback for both parties involved which is more severe for the trump artist (if both minds are equal).

Sufficiently skillful users of Primal Powers can combine Trump with the Primal of their choice in various ways, since Trump taps a field created by the Primal Powers. This is risky and tricky, but can be done.

The Primal Powers can be used through an open trump connection as long as one is careful in how one uses them; Logrus and Pattern manifestations need to avoid touching the 'sides' of the connection, or they'll tend to rip it apart. Thus, one could extend a Logrus Tendril or Extended Pattern Defense through an open Trump connection.

Miscellaneous Rules

Shining Things (Alan)

How much work goes on on the GM end of things to make sure these are balanced? To clarify: we have PCs and NPCs who are the new Children of the Elements as their Shining Thing, which gives them their Icon (very potent in and of itself, especially with something like Tomos and Justice where it's very well-matched to the abilities the character already has), various other special abilities, and a certain amount of prestige. Counterbalancing this are certain responsibilities and obligations, and a tendency to get a big target painted on your head (though this latter has benefits to it as well).

On the other side, we have things like Telemain's special relationship to Aeris, which seems on the surface like a much less "useful" (tricky word, I admit) Shining Thing than being a Child of the Elements. How much balancing occurs to ensure (assuming this is even a desired ideal) that people are getting roughly the same amount of benefit (or harm) out of their Shining Thing?

I have tried to ensure that the various Shining Things are balanced, but it's often difficult to do so, because you're dealing with things which are not point-related (at least directly). In some cases there are other problems as well to trying to balance them because some players had stronger concepts than others for what to do for a shining thing. (Travis and I had a hard time figuring out something appropriate for him. Some of the major NPCs have Shining Things, a fair number don't because I simply had no appropriate ideas for them.) So I have tried to make them balance out, but it's not always possible.

Signatures vs Notable Skills (Mike)

What exactly is the distinction, in practice, between our characters' Signature and their Notable Skills? Is our Signature more 'potent'? If so, to what degree? What function does the Signature serve in the game?

Signatures are more potent than Notable Skills by a fair amount, and serve the same function as NS in effectively raising your appropriate attribute(s) in the relevant area. In some cases, it may also have non-stat based effects (like, say, having 'Rampaging Sex Hulk' as your signature). I also used them to guide me during my creation of the NPCs, as while many different people may have the same NS, every person, ideally, should have a distinct Signature trait. I thus made a distinct effort to avoid creating NPCs with the same signature as each other or as other PCs.

Special and Super Techniques (Dan and Rod)

What, exactly, is the difference between the Super techniques and a regular Special technique? What are the conditions under which the super and special techniques are effective, and what makes them ineffective? Is just seeing them used ever, against anyone, enough, or do they specifically have to be used against you to make them ineffective in the future? Once you've seen them, do they become completely ineffective, or just successively less effective like a power word until after some number they're not effective at all? If so, how many uses does it normally take for them to become completely ineffective?

The terms 'special', 'super', and 'secret' have tended to be used by me interchangeably to describe these techniques. Still, we can split secret techniques into two categories: fixed and variable. The fixed techniques are usually signature moves taught to you by some specific trainer (The Drake Mouth, the Utena Lunge, etc) or picked up in certain Adventures. They add the same amount to the appropriate skill under any circumstance in which you can use them at all. (Even if you are, say, using Pattern Defense, you still get the full bonus.) For someone with low to middling amounts of skill, fixed techniques are usually much higher in yield than a variable secret technique.

The other category are variable techniques, which are usually gained from the generic training packages. They add a multiplier to your skill, so the better you are, the more benefit you get. The flip side of this is that they don't help as much if you're suffering penalties to your skill for some reason.

Targets of skill inferior to yours have to be a victim of the secret technique before they can develop countermeasures. Targets of skill superior to yours can simply observe the technique in use and develop an appropriate countermeasure. Second-hand impressions from those of skill inferior to yours is not enough for someone to figure out how to counter it; someone of skill superior to yours can pass on knowledge of the counter measure if they so desire.

Against a foe superior to you, a secret technique only works once. Against an inferior foe, you may be able to use it several times before they figure out how to do countermeasures. Although you probably won't NEED to use it against someone worse than you.

As a general rule, you can count on your foes not knowing your secret techniques as of the start of the game; the exception is any situation where I judge you likely have used those techiques in front of someone repeatedly or against them (like Minor vs. Uotani or Hanajima nad Uotani having seen Tomos' techniques, etc.)

Weapon Skills, Martial Arts, and Luffy vs the Scorpion King (submitted by Mike)

I was asking around the Keep on this the other night... when a shapeshifter makes with the demony or stretchy, what combat stat governs it?

I seemed to recall that WS applied when dealing with a projection or limb that is longer than three inches and not part of your natural form. So sword-length horns or claws, scorpion-man tails, etc would all fall under WS.

Alan recalled that while scorpion-man tails fell under WS, things like Luffy stretching his arms fell under MA, but was unable to account for why this would be.

If both Alan and I are remembering correctly, does this mean that WS applies when dealing with long (3 inch or more) limbs/projections/etc that are NOT part of your natural (ie human) form, and that MA applies when dealing with what is basically just elongated versions of your human form (Luffy gomu-gomu punching people)? What are the exact rules on this?

My current ruling is somewhat fuzzy, but is basically based on the principle of asking whether an attack is more like a weapon attack by a weapon glued to your body or whether it is a logical extension of normal unarmed attack. Body weaponry which is very large tends to get into the realm of weapon skills because the way in which you fight is going to become more like how WS people fight.

A better example than a scorpion tail would be someone like Wolverine, who has several foot long claws coming out of his arms; this is pretty much the same as having swords glued to your arm. Whereas a scorpion tail, most of the tail is vulnerable to injury and there's just a small stinger at the end. So something like a scorpion tail would be MA unless the stinger itself was huge relative to your body size, but foot long claws would be WS.

The final judgement is--does the body weaponry effectively function as a tool which can be injured without causing meaningful pain and injury to the person using it while providing the benefits of a medium to large weapon? If so, it is more like a weapon than it is like fighting with your body, and therefore falls under WS instead of MA. Lufy may be able to stretch his arms 20 feet, but those arms can be hacked up, causing him pain, blood-loss, etc. Having your two foot long claws hacked off may hurt somewhat, but not on the level of having your tail cut off or your arm hacked in half.