Complete Guide to Alterations
Alterations - General Information
Alterations - Current Guidelines
What's an Alteration?
So you're able to get "an alteration". What does
An alteration allows you to customize ("alter")
one of your items to fit your character's persona or create
a role-playing tool. The "Alterer" (A GM-played merchant
who specializes in alterations) works with you in rewriting
an items description based on your design or ideas.
Every Alterer is different, so be sure to read the signs
posted in their tent, shop or wagon. If there is no information
posted, ask them to explain what kind of work they do. For
example, some alteration merchants specialize in armor, some
only work on cloaks, and others only work in specific metals.
Also, some prefer you to have the full idea ready to go while
others will prefer you to have a general idea of what you
want and they'll go from there. A few will even create items
of their own design after just interacting with (or even sometimes
just looking at!) your character.
Generally speaking, an Alterer can do several things to your
items. They can add a color to your item (turning "a
broadsword" into "a blood red broadsword"),
add an adornment (making it "a blood red broadsword with
an onyx pommel"), or more!
The Basics (The 15/15/15
The base description of an item is limited in the total number
of spaces used. The number of spaces allowed is commonly referred
to as the "15/15/15 rule." The base description
is broken up into three sections: article, adjective, and
noun. Each of those sections cannot be longer than 15 characters.
Example: "a,red,cloak" would be 1/3/5.
Another example would be: "a blued-steel,pearl-hilted,longsword",
which amounts to 13/12/9.
- Rule One: Spaces and punctuation between words count as
part of the 15 allowed per section!
- Rule Two: The last 15 is reserved for the NOUN only.
Example: "an opal-clasped,spidersilk,hooded cloak"
This is not correct even though it fits the 15/15/15 spaces,
because the noun should be "cloak" and not "hooded
Short Description (AKA
The second part of an alteration is called a "short
description" or "the TAP". A short description
contains the base description with additional information
about the design, such as, "an elegant black spidersilk
cloak adorned with a faceted ruby clasp."
There are a few tips to keep in mind when requesting a short
- The phrase should be limited to 10 words or less.
- No commas are allowed.
- Ending your phrase with a noun usually sounds best. Example:
"a silver-threaded spidersilk backpack edged with braided
cording" is preferable to "a silver-threaded spidersilk
backpack trimmed with braided cording around the edges."
Long Description (AKA "The
SHOW" or "The LOOK")
Yet another possible alteration for an item is "The
LOOK" or "The SHOW" of that item. This creates
a design that other adventurers can see only when you SHOW
them that item or when you LOOK at it. This is usually a paragraph
(usually no more than 20 words) that describes your item in
- Rule One: Avoid using words that the viewer could not
possibly assess from looking at the item. There is no way
of knowing that "This elegant cloak has been passed
down through seven generations" or "This antique
cloak was once owned by the Mayor of Groobaville" simply
by looking at it, so do not include such phrases in the
- Rule Two: Describe your item without telling the viewer
how to feel, how they react, or what they imagine when they
see it. For instance, the dragon embroidered on your cloak
can't strike fear and terror in all who see it, nor could
its diamond-set eyes momentarily blind anyone with their
Additional Tips and Information
On Creating Your Masterpiece:
- Avoid the words "seems to" or "appears
to." Since you are already closely "showing"
the item to someone when you have a show description, it
is usually not necessary to include phrases like "Upon
closer inspection" or "Looking more closely"
in the description.
- Most Alterers do not make items that are demonic (or its
derivatives) evil, or wicked. Each Alterer has his/her own
tolerance for other "dark" descriptions. On the
other end of the spectrum, remember that there are no angels
in Elanthia, so items with angels in their description aren't
- Alterers rarely make items that contain "unknown"
or "forgotten" anything -- an unknown language,
forgotten runes, etc.
- Most Alterers will not work with the body parts of sentient
creatures. This includes fur, skins, teeth, etc. NO Alterers
will create items that use bits and pieces of any of the
existing races (no S'Kra Mur skin backpacks, etc.).
On Working With the Alterer:
- Have your descriptions ready when it's your turn. Anyone
not ready, who can't make up their mind in a reasonable
time, or who wishes to argue at length about a description
that the Alterer has refused to accept may find themselves
told that they will have to wait until the end of the line
in order to keep delay to other customers to a minimum.
- If we say no to an item, please don't insist. The merchant
is aware of their limitations, as well as the Alteration
Guidelines they have to follow. Also, it may go against
the personality traits of the merchant the GameMaster is
role-playing. Be sure to also role play with the merchant
as another character in Elanthia and not as a GameMaster.
- Don't plead with a merchant to make you an item just because
someone else has one. It may be the unique item you have
always dreamed of, but the merchant must feel comfortable
with the item falling within their abilities and guidelines,
before they can customize the item for you. We are constantly
trying to improve our consistency and standards. As the
rules have become more refined over the years, some things
that were "illegal" are now perfectly ok, but
some items that were once allowed may no longer be acceptable.
- Securing a spot on a list DOES NOT GUARANTEE you will
be seen by that Alterer during that session, or even at
all. Alterers do their best to budget their time and only
open as many spots as they think they can handle in the
time they have, but unprepared clients, technical difficulties,
or unexpected emergencies may mean that the Alterer has
to shut down before everyone on the list gets served. Please
try to be patient and understanding in these situations!
Many items are made with a script attached to provide them
with special verbs, magical abilities, or other features.
Altering these items can sometimes break the item and keep
them from working in the intended manner. For that reason,
Alterers may choose not to alter a particular scripted item
unless they are the original creator of the item or they can
verify that the requested alteration won't harm the way the
script functions. In addition, some merchants might prefer
to not alter scripted items and may refuse to do so.
Clothing or items that represent lingerie, suggestive undergarments,
or "adult toys" of any sort are forbidden. A garter
in and of itself is not sexually explicit. Neither is a bodice.
Likewise, a chemise is about as unflattering as you can get.
"Sexy" clothing is okay, but only to a point. For
example, a "low-cut bodice" is fine, as are "plunging
necklines", but anythingmore than that may stand
the risk of being rejected.
Out Of Genre Items
Don't ask for items that give you a mental image of something
outside the realms. If your outfit looks like a hula dancer,
a 60's prom queen or World War II infantry uniform, it forces
those around you out of the medieval ambiance. If it doesn't
exist in Elanthia, we won't make them. We also cannot create
items out of material that can't or don't exist (aluminum,
plastic, nylon, kevlar). Mini-skirts, belly rings, trench
coats, and cargo pants are other examples of Out-Of-Genre
Adornments and Embellishments
Some merchants may require you provide the requested pieces
for your alteration, particularly for the rarer types. In
addition, while the IMAGES of some animals can be used on
items, bits and pieces of those animals cannot. For example,
there are no huntable dragons, drakes, or unicorns in the
realm, so a dragon claw clasp, drake-skin backpack, or unicorn
horns on your helmet would not be acceptable for an alteration.
(Note: SOME rare, special merchants may sell items that have
unattainable components, or even the unattainable components
themselves.) However, a picture of a dragon on your shield
or a prancing unicorn on your hat is perfectly fine.
In some cases, the material of an item (if already specified)
cannot be changed to another material (this generally refers
to special metals used in weapons). An Alterer cannot make
"a broadsword" into "a kertig broadsword",
but small amounts of these materials added to the item in
a purely decorative fashion are sometimes possible. (see Rare
Materials, Flowers, Gems, and Metals)
Names and Lettering
All words or letters that can be understood must be in a
commonly known language and placed in the "SHOW"
or "READ" of an item.
Player names will go on alterations under special circumstances
only. For instance, we will not place the image of your least
favorite person's severed head on your shield. However, we
might engrave a short note on an item if it is clearly a gift:
"To Sue, with love, Bob." GM names are not allowed
on alterations under any circumstances.
Suggestion: avoid using languages other than Common. Some
spells or special items might enable other Elanthian tongues
to be readable, but they wouldn't work when you showed them
an item with a Dwarven-language inscription.
When you request any image it must be one that could realistically
be stitched, engraved, painted, or otherwise placed on your
item. The image cannot imply action or movement or tell the
viewer how they feel. It must be an image that would realistically
be recognizable to all viewers, and the detail must be something
the viewer can realistically see. A viewer could not possibly
assess the image as that of your "long lost great grandfather
humming a merry tune as he filets hordes of squealing inkhornes."
Items can not be made to glow, pulsate, vibrate, shake, rattle,
squirm, giggle, shimmer, or emanate, unless there's a really
good reason for such, based in the item's actual qualities.
A non-scripted item does not move. A non-magic item could
not glow. It might glitter or scintillate if it is encrusted
with gems, but it will not cast any light of its own. Avoid
the words "seems to" or "appears to".
A cloak that "seems to have a life of its own" is
one that tromps all over the rule of not making an item appear
to have properties it does not have.
Rare Materials, Flowers,
Gems, and Metals
The following tables list specific items that must be provided
by the player for use in alterations.
|Meshor fox pelts
|Hiro bear pelts
|Fae-woven silk (or any other material "woven by
||Nightstalker silk (must provide silk or spinnarets)
|Moonsilk (moonsilk is *not* suitable for
individual threads or embroidery)
|Blazing Star flower
|Clerical roses (Insanity rose, Betrothal rose, etc.)
||Queen of the night lily, or Queen-of-the-night lily
|Animite (if desired in large quantities)
|Kertig (ONLY in solid form. No filigree
or working into other forms i.e. rings.)
Do not ask to change the basic essence of what an item is.
A broadsword cannot be changed into "a war-axe,"
as it's not an axe. A jacket cannot become pants. A cloak
though, CAN become a cape or a backpack could become a travel
Use caution when describing your items. Avoid words that
exist only in the mind, and are particular to each individual.
Words like electrifying, seductive, alluring, baffling, horrendous,
frightening, and mysterious are best avoided, since they wouldn't
necessarily invoke that illusion or feeling to all that viewed
the item or feature.
Armor cannot be converted into clothes. Simply put, armor
is armor and should look heavy enough to do its job. You cannot
alter a suit of chainmail into a dress (or vice versa).
Unusual weapon and armor names are sometimes permitted for
items, provided they match our weapon naming standards. These
will be limited to special merchants who can advise you of
the available choices. While they MIGHT be able to make a
helm into a bascinet, or a longsword into "a Rissan-crafted
warblade", changing your dagger into "a gut-slicer"
or "pigsticker" would not be acceptable. The judgment
call remains on the side of the merchant.
"Personalized" book--such as journals, tomes, diaries
and so on--can be created by certain Alterers with titles
that reflect ownership. Avoid artifacts or official documents
such as "The Lost Sea Scrolls of Drogor" or "Bank
of Riverhaven Deposit Logs - 342 a.v."
Not all Alterers may feel comfortable working on musical
instruments (or may not be allowed to). Those that do offer
their services will often have specific guidelines that will
be posted in their tent.
Pockets and Containers
The size of pockets added to an item or the size of a container
should make sense. A coin pouch, for example, should not be
able to hold a battleaxe. A sleek silk dress cannot have pockets
the size of a haversack.
Racial and Occupational Items
Use of specific races, occupations, guild names and professions
should be avoided when designing most alterations. For instance,
"a Ranger's broadsword" could not generally be distinguished
from "a Cleric's broadsword."
An exception to this would be something that creates a distinct
and familiar visualization and has a "SHOW" description
that indicates why it is what it is. A list of acceptable
profession and occupational titles for use in alterations
can be found here.
and Governmental Items
Do not ask for any adornment or description with wording
that signifies a special military rank, governmental position,
royal connections or appointments. The exception to this rule
is the title "Captain" for nautical/boat themed
items. Any ranks above Captain (Admiral, etc.) ARE, however,
subject to this rule.
Avoid requesting an alteration that mentions a reference
to royal ancestors or divine lineage. We want to try to keep
historic lore within that which has been approved for the
game. Likewise, we have a distinguished list of gods and goddesses
and feel there are enough to go around.