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Author Topic: Secret of Imbuement & Living Morph  (Read 8953 times)
Doyce
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« on: November 10, 2006, 06:11:02 PM »

Quick question:

Someone wants a furry cloak that, norse-like, lets them change into an animal form.  Okay. Great. Secret of Imbuement with Secret of Living Morph from 3-corner magic.  Falcon-shape would cost them probably 2 instinct for half-size and Secret of Flight.

Question:
Do they need the Transformtion skill to make it work?
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2006, 02:47:29 AM »

They don't need the skill, but they do need to make a succesful untrained roll to use the item. The degree of success will only matter if they're trying to change somebody against their will, change fast enough to counter some split-second maneuver by somebody else, or otherwise get into conflict about it.

This is a basic feature of three-corner magic: the skills of it's use are completely normal skills, but pervasive to it's use. This can be easily changed by adding a Secret that allows one to use some other skill instead. Like this:

Secret of Mundane Interface
With a successfull Divination check, modify a given threecorner working to allow one threecorner ability to be replaced with the corresponding passive ability for one roll. Cost: 1 Reason

Add that to your cape twice and assign the Transformation check from Secret of Living Morph, and the Divination check from Secret of Mundane Interface as the targets, changing the item from requiring Divination and Transformation to requiring Resistance and Reflex. Problem solved, although the item now requires two advances and two pool points more. That is fine with me, because sidestepping the need for any threecorner knowledge whatsoever should be costly.

(An option that's not often considered when making magical items here: think about first making a spell that does what you want, and then assigning that spell into the item. Again it'll take more xp, but depending on how you read the rules it might be more appropriate that way. I'd check what the English rules say about Spells, as I seem to remember making some itty-bitty change in the Finnish version, but the English version seems to be currently down.)

If the player doesn't mind not succeeding all the time, a cool solution is to simply add Ability focus (Transformation) (I know that's not its name, can't remember the English name for the secret that gives an extra die to rolls.) to the cape with the hope that this'll allow the character to succeed most of the time in using the cape. It all depends on whether the point is to have a dabbler in the mystic arts or a legendary nordic artefact as the focus of the story.

A third solution is to simply drop threecorner, which might be what I'd do if I wanted to have a nordic magical wibe. Threecorner is all about the mundane magical lore that reveals the secret structure of the world. Nordic magical craft, in comparison, is about the sacred and secret act of smithing, which produces an item of convenience and power, quite usable for anybody with the power and will to claim it. That sounds like something quite fun to create in TSOY, but doing it via threecorner requires the kind of diversions I outline above.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2006, 04:11:05 AM »

You could just also have it be a broadly useful item, giving the usually "weapons and armor" +1 bonus when it's useful.

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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2006, 05:46:45 AM »

Good point Ben, although I still wouldn't let the player get away with any flying into inaccessible places, sneaking into places humans can't fit in or any such "qualitative" results. In other words, the +1 would be appropriate in helping the character achieve something they could, in theory, achieve on their own (like, say, "turn my nails into claws and rip them apart"). If the item allows the character to both try inhuman goals like "flying out of their reach" and gives the weapon bonus, then it would also stand to reason that one could obtain the same item without the weapon bonus for free (xp-wise) as a "mundane" prop that just happens to allow shapeshifting. (This by analogue with a sword that certainly can be had without spending xp, as long as you don't insist on the weapon bonus.) That'd certainly be an interesting setting! More likely, you'd require the item to have one Secret for shapeshifting and one for the weapon bonus.

Anyway, that reminds me of the absolutely simplest way of doing shapeshifting in TSOY:

Secret of animistic Falcon-shape
You can change into a falcon with a successful Prayer check. The check may suffer penalty dice for hurry or outside obstruction. While in the animal form you can use your passive abilities at -1 rank to cover any instictive knowledge the actual animal would possess. Cost: 2 Vigor
OR
Secret of animistic shapeshifting
You can change into any animal with a successful Prayer check. The check may suffer penalty dice for hurry or outside obstruction. If the animal is not native to your tribal grounds or you have no tribe, roll an appropriate location-wise ability first. While in the animal form, you can use your passive abilities at -1 rank to cover any instictive knowledge the actual animal would possess. Cost: 3 Vigor

(If you want to set this in Near, you could tie it to Qek magic by requiring the character to find an animal roho or whatever the dead equivalent is called to loan him the form. Or simply give it to the horse-nomads; Finnish folks have lately played it by giving the horse-people a competing form of shamanism, which tends to be pretty interesting when they interact with Qek.)

The above is very simple and cheap, because it does nothing at all to the character's mechanical abilities, while completely restructuring the character's means of initiating conflict. A character changed into a falcon that way gains only the benefits and drawbacks of being a flying, smallish predatory animal, no more, no less. This has repercussions in terms of what conflicts you can initiate and resist, as well as where you or your opponent suffer penalty dice, but not for any other resources of the character. I'm a compassionate man, so I allowed the poor shapeshifter to try flying, pecking, grooming and other such animal things with his passive abilities, but to really shine, he has to outright spend time in the form and learn such various abilities as Flying that humans do not possess.

(Of course you could take the above tack, but allow the character access to animal abilities as specified in the rules for animals. I'd only do that if it also disallowed using learned abilities, as the animal abilities are intentionally more vague than anything humans have. Mixing animal and cultural abilities would be meaningless mechanically.)

As you can see, this is easily the cheapest way of creating an item that allows shapeshifting into a falcon. The drawback is that it's not tied to anything setting-wise as is, so getting an item made with the above secret is difficult, to say the least. If I were gamemastering, and there weren't any cultures that could reasonably possess that secret, I'd make it available only through special smithing secrets of the dark elves or something like that. Like this:

Secret of Crafting the Wondrous Item
The character can imbue items with secrets that are not otherwise available in the campaign, but that the group considers mechanically balanced. This requires a successful Lore check (in addition to the craft check), which may suffer penalty dice for the secret being out of the left field compared to other magics in the campaign. Prerequisite: Secret of Smithing or whatever you require from characters who want to imbue magical items during the game. Cost: 3 Reason

(To understand the above, consider what imbuing an item means in the setting: some of those imbuements are common and I'd have no trouble with players just declaring them spontaneously, like most of the weapon and armor bonuses. Others, like putting the Secret of Flying into an item, are definitely magical, and I'd allow it only if I allowed characters themselves to learn to fly spontaneously in the middle of the scene, with no explanation whatsoever. Which I sometimes do, if the character has the appropriately mysterious past that justifies suddenly appearing magical might. Usually my answer is to define a secret that specifically allows characters to craft magical items, so it can be done in some sensible and reasonable time frame by skilled professionals. Better for my suspension of disbelief, you could say. Of these crafting secrets there are two variants: one that allows the character to imbue anything he knows himself, and one that allows him to imbue any secret at all, but it also requires a craft check.)

Out of curiousity, are we discussing an item that allows the generic threecorner polymorphing effect, or one that only specifically allows one to change into a falcon? The latter is one of those interesting side effects of making the effect in the item a spell instead of imbuing each necessary threecorner secret separately. Cheaper in experience terms, but much more limited in use. Remembering this, here's how I'd construct the originally requested item:

Shawl of Falcon-form
Spell of Falcon-form (5 Instinct + 2 Reason - 1, let's say = 4 Instinct & 2 Reason): {
     Secret of Living Morph (5 Instinct):
     - one-quarter size (closer to real falcons)
     - Secret of Flight
     - switch best ability with Predator senses for that all important scouting function
     Secret of Mundane Interface (Transformation) (1 Reason)
     Secret of Mundane Interface (Divination) (1 Reason)
}
Cost: Discount the cost of the spell by one, so let's say 3 Instinct and 2 Reason. Owning requires 1 advance.

The shawl costs only 1 advance to own, but requires 3 Instinct and 2 Reason to use. Using requires successful Reflex and Resistance checks from best to worst. Seems pretty reasonable for both balance and color. Let's compare with the generic animal polymorph shawl:

Shawl of Shapeshifting
Secret of Living Morph (1+ Instinct)
Secret of Mundane Interface (Transformation) (1 Reason)
Secret of Mundane Interface (Divination) (1 Reason)
Cost: Discount the cost of the working by one, whatever it ends up being. Owning requires 3 advances.

As you can see, the shawl of Shapeshifting is much more generally useful, but you pay for it in terms of advances. Also, I don't remember if this is in the English rules, but the Finnish rules posit that any threecorner working that is not a spell and requires more than one ability check falls under the rules of using support abilities in BDTP. Also, when I'm GMing I'm going to assume that any non-spell threecorner magic requires at least a small modicum of time and ritual, so no avoiding a surprise sword-swing with multiple-ability threecorner workings. Comparing the two shawls above, I picture it as the difference between a simple one-button tool and a complex expert tool; or as we've applied the Mundane Interface to both, perhaps better to speak of simple automated action and simple-to-use-but-still-requiring-many-choices automated interface. Both are relatively easy to use and require no training, but the shapeshifting shawl is just that much slower and more complex because you have to actually choose what you're doing with it.

Man, do I like babbling about TSOY. More play and less learned treatise, I say.
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Doyce
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2006, 06:57:14 AM »

Out of curiousity, are we discussing an item that allows the generic threecorner polymorphing effect, or one that only specifically allows one to change into a falcon?

Right now, I'm just going with the generic polymorph -- the character can do wolves, birds... pretty much anything wild from the La Rus area she hails from.  Bears.  What have you.  It's sort of a Donkeyskin riff, with shapeshifting.

     Secret of Mundane Interface (Transformation) (1 Reason)
     Secret of Mundane Interface (Divination) (1 Reason)

Since I can't find this secret anywhere, I'm going to assume it's something you've added -- I'm unclear as to its purpose.  I suppose my way is simpler.

Skinchanger Cloak
Secret of Imbuement, imbued with Secret of Living Morph (1+ Instinct/effect)
Cost: Discount the cost of the working by one, whatever it ends up being. Owning requires 1 advance.  Use requires a Transformation skill check, but the skill can (only in the case of using this cloak) be used untrained.

Typically, a change to a largish raptor would be a size change (+1 instinct), Secret of Flight (+1 instinct), optionally flip-flopping their best skill with some sort of Predatory Sense ability (+1 instinct), for a total of 4 Instinct, -1 for the Imbuement discount, total of 3.  A 'simple' wolf would be +1 armor and +1 weapons for a total Instinct cost of 1 +1 +1 -1 = 2 Instinct.  More if you wanted that "Predatory Sense" flip-flop.

The character's highest skill is normally Carousing, so that's a pretty good flip-flop when you're in animal form. :)
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Doyce
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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2006, 07:18:55 AM »

Alternately (and borrowing from Euro's suggestions):

Skinchanger Cloak, Version Two
Secret of Imbuement, imbued with Secret of Animistic Shapeshifting
You can change into any animal with a successful Prayer check. The check may suffer penalty dice for hurry or outside obstruction. If the animal is not native to your native lands, roll an appropriate location-wise ability first. While in the animal form, you can use your passive abilities (Endure, React, Resist) at -1 rank to perform any instinctive abilities the actual animal would possess. (Using Endure to fly, for example, or React for scent tracting.) Cost: 3 Vigor - 1 = 2 Vigor

This one's cheaper, but less flexible, doesn't allow pool shifting, and you might end up wanting to actually use advances on things like "Flying" or "Predatory Senses", so that you don't have to default to penalized "passive" skills.

Version one is 'better', but assumes the character's a bit of a spellcaster in her own right (using Transformation), while version two is more limited, but probably not as tiring, and not as much book-keeping to figure out what qualities you have every time.  It is, however, way more flexible in terms of letting you flip-flop skills and such -- with Version One you can sort of decide 'how far' you want to 'go into' an animal form -- deep immersion might use a lot of pool points, but you could flip flop in some good 'animal skills' for your better skills to make you really at home as an beast.

I'll toss those options at the player and see what grabs them -- either answer will tell me more about the character. :)
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2006, 07:46:24 AM »

Now I'm Euro again. How demeaning.

That's how it works, Doyce. As for Secret of Mundane Interface, I added that in my first post to get around the necessity of rolling the threecorner skills with a non-initiated character. (It's there twice because the Mundane Interface itself is a Divination-based threecorner secret, so by only taking it once I'd just be shifting from a Transformation check to a Divination+Reflex check.) It's indeed unnecessary if you don't mind that the cloak only works some of the time, or if the character is already skilled with Transformation.

Ah, I remember now another approach to unskilled threecorner use, which I wrote for our Finnish forums a while back:

Secret of the Magic Gem
A threecorner magician can set a spell he knows into an expensive jewel (the more expensive the stronger the spell). Anybody can use the jewel to activate the spell. This Secret works exactly like imbuing an item, except there is no discount, and no need to use threecorner abilities: any threecorner abilities in the spell are replaced by the corresponding passive abilities (as the gem directs the spell, and the user only needs to lend his life-force to it). Any wizard can create Magic Gems (insofar as they can imbue items), but keeping the gem requires expenditure of an advance. The gem can additionally be imbued, if you want.

In other words, when you remove my particular color from that, I seem to have thought that paying an additional advance is a fair price for getting a spell (note, not a generic access) from threecorner magic without the necessity of learning the skills. Seems sensible. So you could say that I'm apparently happy with giving the Shawl of Falcon-form with no Reason cost but one more advance, apparently. The Shawl of Shapeshifting, on the other hand, shouldn't be discounted in that manner... actually, now that I think of it, that Secret of Mundane Interface might be a tad overpowered as is. I recommend playtesting carefully and increasing the cost to 2 Reason if necessary. An interesting secret none-the-less, as it allows one to play a D&D-style sorcerer with no knowledge, only talent.

Also, one benefit I forgot to mention about my Shawl of Shapeshifting: You can, of course, opt to not use the Mundane Interface for one or both abilities, dropping the Reason cost. Only makes sense if the character is a trained magician, of course. How intricate.
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