2.6.9 Defining Objects
The basic procedure for defining objects is similar to that of
defining other categories: using the
Below is an example of the process, in which we define `Silver Charm', an object which can be made by a mage with the artificer skill, to be used as a component for spells (the same Silver Charm specified as a component for many of the `Maggi' spells in Standard Spells). This example introduces most of the issues that arise when defining objects. Issues specific to defining objects used in combat are discussed on the next two pages, Defining Weapons and Defining Armor.
==================================== >> What class is Silver Charm? >> [Enter a class, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> What is the components class value for Silver Charm? >> [Enter a number, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> Class entered. Do you want to enter another class? (y/n) ====================================
After the category and name are specified, the system will prompt for the class of the object. Object classes may be thought of as subcategories within the object class. In other words, what kind of object is the silver charm? At this point, we should enter a class specific to this object that will let us define spells that require it as a component: `enchanted silver charm'.
Once the class is entered, we are asked for a `class value'. The class value is a number, indicating either `how many times' or `how well' the object fullfils the class. For the silver charm, as for most object class values, we should enter `1'. The silver charm is one enchanted silver charm. Other objects, though, will fulfull a class multiple times. For example, a box of .38 special ammunition would have a value of `50' for the `.38 special ammunition' class. Or, objects may be especially good instances of their class. When defining an average quality lock, we would enter `1' for the `locks class value'. When defining an especially good lock, we would enter `2', `3', or higher.
The `enchanted silver charm' entry defines the type of object in a
way that will let us specify it as a spell component. Usually, you
should add one or more `informational' classes, so that players and
staff can find the object in the database. For an object like the silver
charm, it would be a good idea though not strictly necessary
to give it a couple additional classes such as `components' and
`enchanted objects'. For these entries, the class value does not matter:
just enter `1'. This will allow players and staff to find the object
with commands such as
==================================== >> Does this object modify Abilities? (y/n) ====================================
The silver charm does not modify abilities; it allows characters to use abilities they have. Other objects might. An especially well made, well balanced sword might give +1 to a character's Swords skill. A cursed gem might give -2 to Constitution. Objects such as cybernetic implants or magic scrolls could give characters a wide range of abilities. To define such objects, enter `yes' at this prompt, and then specify an ability category, the specific ability, and then the amount, positive or negative, by which it modifies the ability. This modification will be applied to anyone who is carrying the object. If the object is not being carried, it will be applied to anyone in the room. To negate these effects entirely, put the object in a container.
The modification is not displayed on character sheets: players
won't necessarily realize that they are carrying a cursed gem, or that
the obelisk in the room is working against mages, `damping magic' by
reducing their Mage skill. If commands such as
==================================== >> Does this object wear out with use? (y/n) ====================================
Normally, Argo objects last indefinitely, unless they are
used in a way that causes them to be removed from the game (being used
as a material or being sold). You may, however, wish to specify that an
object may only be used a certain number of times. A medical kit that
only holds a limited amount of supplies, an cheaply made shield... For
objects such as these, enter `yes' at this prompt. The system will
prompt you for the number of times the object may be used. A usecount
for the object will be incremented each time it is used with the
==================================== >> Can players make this object? (y/n) ====================================
One of the goals in Argo's design is to make artisans a viable character class: while many, perhaps most, players will prefer more active roles (fighters and mages, cops and crackers, starfighter pilots and smugglers), some may want to play characters who make the things that make the other roles possible swords and armor, magical artifacts, cybernetic implants, ship components earning a good living in the process.
The key to making this IC economy work, I believe, is a `three tier' approach to defining objects.
The first, `base' tier is materials: define objects that, while not necessarily useful in themselves, are needed materials for making other objects: steel, hardened leather, yew stave; eye of newt, deadly nightshade, mithril dust; class-6 comcircuit board, microsolenoid, UV-IR sensor; etc.
The second tier is standard objects, `book versions' of useful
objects, such as the weapons and armor
discussed in the manual, and uploadable with ascr-combat. The objects would
be widely available, at or near `book' price, by using the
The third tier is special, rare, or improved objects. Like the
standard objects, these are entered in the database, specifying their
classes, properties, and the skills, tools, and materials needed to make
them. Unlike the standard objects, they will almost never be made
available automatically, with the
By these criteria, and using the standard spells, the silver charm in our example would be a second tier object. True, it is an enchanted object, and so is inherently rare and unusual, but is a component for a number of relatively low-level spells... Any mage specializing in the Lore of Maggi will need one of these charms; it enables characters to use skills they acquired by the expenditure of character development points, but does not give them any special advantages beyond this, just as a broadsword allows a fighter to use his Swords skill. Such an item should be relatively expensive, because it contains precious metals and is enchanted. Players should be able to make it, if they have the requisite tools, materials, and skills. The materials should cost much less than the final product. We should configure source locations where it can be purchased, at or near book price... though perhaps only on an intermittent basis, because of its rarity.
(The next page, Defining Weapons, provideds an example of a third-tier object.)
So, we should enter `yes' at this prompt: players can make this object.
==================================== >> Are any Abilities required to make this object? (y/n) >> NOTE: These are simply Abilities the character has to have. >> No rolls will be made against Abilities specified here. >> Please enter 'Yes' or 'No'. >> What is the category of this Ability? >> [Enter category ('stats', 'skills', etc), .n for none, or .q to quit] >> What is the instance of this Ability? >> [Enter instance ('str', 'mechanic', etc), or .q to quit] >> What is the level of this Ability? >> [Enter level number, or .q to quit] >> Ability recorded. Do you want to add another? (y/n) ====================================
You can specify multiple abilities as prerequisites for making an object. As the prompt above indicates, no rolls are made against these abilities (the ability to roll against is specified next). Use the prerequisite abilities as a way of limiting the ability to make the object to appropriately skilled individuals. For extremely simple objects, you may wish to answer `no' to the first prompt in this group, indicating that anyone can make them... If, for some strange reason, your database had a `Paper Airplane' object, you could answer `no' to the `Are any Abilities required' prompt, and specify `paper' as required material... anyone with a piece of paper would be able to make a paper airplane. Or, a more realistic example, you might want to define a weapon object such as `light club' that anyone can make from a range of materials.The organizing idea of spells and magical skills supplied in the standard set is that magicians practice the craft of Mage, defined as a skill, which measures their ability to understand magical principles and perform the gestures and incantations or other rituals that help attune them to magical forces necessary to use these principles in a way that affects the world around them. Some mages will have supplemented their training with the Artificer skill, which deals with binding these forces to physical objects. Within the broad area of magical lore are more specific areas: bodies of lore created by gifted mages of ages past, who codified and recorded their discoveries. Being able to cast spells of any significance requires that the characters develop both the (general) Mage skill and the (specific) Lore skill associated with a group of spells. The ability to make objects associated with these spells will require additional training: the Artificer skill.
Although it is not explicitly stated in the spell definitions, Maggi made her advances in the magical arts by drawing upon her affinity for and acquaintance with the faerie race. This is reflected in the prerequisites and materials for many of her spells. So, an object like the enchanted silver charm should have both Mage and Artificer as prerequisite abilities. And, because it is associated with a particular group of spells, it should have an additional prerequisite that ensures the artificer has some understanding of this body of magical lore: either the Lore of Maggi skill or the Faerie Lore skill will do. The silver charm is a component for most of Maggi's spells, including some fundamental or low level ones, so the levels required as prerequisites should not be very high... simply enough to ensure that the artificer understands the basic principles of the lore supporting the spells for which the object would be used. The `book' version of Silver Charm has the following prerequisites:
Skills: Artificer (2)
When defining your own spells, respond to prompts to enter comparable prerequisites... either extending the rationale of magical lore used with the standard spells, or applying a comparable rationale developed to support the theme of your own world.
==================================== >> Is one or more rolls required to successfully make this object? (y/n) >> NOTE: More than one roll may be specified. If multiple rolls are specified, the player must succeed on all rolls in order to successfully make the object. >> What is the category of this Ability? >> [Enter stat, skill, spell, or psiab (no dis-ads), or .q to quit >> What is the instance of this Ability? >> [Enter instance ('str', 'mechanic', etc.), or .q to quit] ====================================
Prerequisite abilities are those that the character must have in
order to attempt to make an object. The prompts above allow you to
specify a different, possibly overlapping, set of abilities: those which
will be rolled against when the players attempt to create the object
(The rolls specified here are made automatically. When a player
initiates the process of creating an object with the
==================================== >> What is the difficulty modifier for this roll? >> [Enter roll modifier number, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> Roll entered. Do you want to enter an additional roll? (y/n) ====================================
Specifying high levels for prerequisite abilities allows you to
ensure that only highly skilled characters can make highly complex
objects, but this method by itself leads to unrealistic results. For
example, if you defined a magical object such as `Palentir' as requiring
Mage 8 and Artificer 8, only characters with very high abilities would
be able to attempt to make the object, but, if they could meet the
initial conditions, they would almost always succeed, because their
relavent abilities are so high. Similar considerations apply for very
simple objects: the Smith skill may be a prerequisite for both the
`Horseshoe' and `Well-balanced Rapier' objects; clearly it should be
easier to make the horseshoe... That is, all other things being equal,
==================================== >> Are any tools required to make this object? (y/n) >> What tools are required to make the object? >> [Enter *class* of tool, or .q to quit] >> How many instances of this tool are required? >> [Enter a number, or .q to quit] >> Tool entered. Are any other tools required? (y/n) ====================================
If appropriate, specify tools required to make the object. Tools are objects, defined in the database, that the character must have, either in his inventory or in the room, in order to make the object. Tools can be used repeatedly. Use a class name to specify the tool, not the name of the object. The silver bell requires `artificer's tools', so we enter this as the tool. The only standard object which fulfills this class is the `Artificer's Workbench'... only players who have an Artificer's Workbench will be able to make these charms. If additional objects having `artificer's tools' as a class are added to the database, these could be used as well. If there are no defined objects having the class you enter here, the system will print a warning, but you will be able to continue with the definition. You can specify multiple tools, or that the character has several instances of a specific tool.
==================================== >> Are any materials required to make this object? (y/n) >> What materials are required to make the object? >> [Enter *class* of tool, or .q to quit] >> How many instances of this material are required? >> [Enter a number, or .q to quit] >> Material entered. Are any other materials required? (y/n) ====================================
Materials are entered in exactly the same way as tools. The only
difference is that when players use the
The Silver Charm defined in the standard database requires one instance of silver and two instances of Faerie Dew to create.
==================================== >> How long does it take to make this object? >> [Enter time, or .h for help, or .q to quit] ====================================
Most objects require some time to make... naturally, more complex or difficult objects, or those requiring an aging or maturation period will take longer. Specify the time required as a time string, containing a positive number and a unit of time... `30 seconds', `1 day', `12 years'. The silver charm defined in the standard database requires 2 days. The time of other standard objects ranges from a few seconds to 3 months.
==================================== >> Does it cost money to make this object? (y/n) ====================================
If specifying the exact materials required to make objects proves too
time consuming, or ends up filling your database with innumerable
trivial objects, or is simply not appropriate for a given object, you
can instead specify a cost to make the object, and let it be assumed
that if the character pays this much money, he will be able to acquire
whatever is needed to make the object. Or, conceivably, you will specify
a cost in addition to materials... perhaps there is a tax or fee
associated with the object, or someone has to be bribed in order to get
needed materials. Any cost specified here is immediately charged to the
player when the
==================================== >> Can the object be repaired if it breaks or wears out? (y/n) >> Are any Abilities required to repair the object? (y/n) >> What is the category of this Ability? >> [Enter category ('stats', 'skills', etc), .n for none, or .q to quit] >> What is the instance of this Ability? >> [Enter instance ('str', 'mechanic', etc), or .q to quit] >> What is the level of this Ability? >> [Enter level number, or .q to quit] >> Ability recorded. Do you want to add an additional Ability? (y/n) >> Are any tools required to repair this object? (y/n) >> Are any materials required to repair this object? (y/n) >> What materials are required to repair the object? >> [Enter *class* of tool, or .q to quit] >> How many instances of this material are required? >> [Enter a number, or .q to quit] >> Material entered. Are any other materials required? (y/n) >> How long does it take to repair this object? >> [Enter time, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> Does it cost money to repair this object? (y/n) ====================================
Sometimes, objects get broken. Critical effects that break weapons
are the most common example. You can specify prerequisites, rolls,
tools, and/or materials needed to repair an object with the
==================================== >> What is the book price of this object? >> [Enter price in coppers, or .q to quit] ====================================
Enter a `book price' for the object. Note that the price is specified
using the `small coin' denomination. The standard Silver Charm object
costs `4 silver pieces and 20 copper pieces'... we would enter `420' at
this prompt. This is fairly expensive more than any of the
standard weapons, and approaching the price of a suit of plate armor.
After all, enchanted objects should be hard to come by. But the
materials required to make the object cost only 220 small coins, and 120
of this is for Faerie Dew... the artisan might buy this, or he might be
able to find locations where it can be collected at no cost (he has
discovered that if he goes to the Hidden Dell and types
==================================== >> Finally, please enter a description for the object: >> Welcome to the list editor. You can get help by entering '.h' on >> a line by itself. '.end' will save and exit. '.abort' will abort >> any changes. To save changes and continue editing, use '.save'. < Insert at line 1 > A delicate silver charm. < Editor exited. > >> List saved. ====================================
The last step in defining an object is giving it a default
description. The system automatically invokes the list editor at this
point: enter the description and, when finished, enter
==================================== >> Silver Charm defined. >> Do you wish to enter another definition? (y/n) >> Done. ====================================
The object definition is now complete. Players and staff can display
the entry with
==================================== >> OBJECT INFORMATION FOR 'SILVER CHARM': Std. Cost: 4 silver and 20 coppers Class: Components (1) Class: Enchanted Objects (1) Class: Enchanted Silver Charm (1) Create Prereq's: Skills: Artificer (2) Create Prereq's: Skills: Faerie Lore (1) Create Prereq's: Skills: Mage (1) Create Tools: Artificer's Tools (1) Create Materials: Faerie Dew (2) Create Materials: Silver (1) Create Rolls: Skills: Artisan (0) Create Time: 2 days ====================================
There is nothing secret or sensitive about the Silver Charm database
entry. For some objects, you may wish to restrict this information to
staff members. For example, if an on-going plot on your world revolves
around attempts to steal an object believed to be a matter generator,
uncertainty about the object's capabilities may be an important part of
the plotline... an object such as this should be hidden. Use