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Complete Guide to Alterations

Alterations - General Information

Alterations - Current Guidelines

 

What's an Alteration?

So you're able to get "an alteration". What does that mean?

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 Rule)

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 cloak"

 

Short Description (AKA "The TAP")

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 description:

  • 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 detail.

  • 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 item's description.
  • 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 brilliance.

 

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 possible either.
  • 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!

 

Scripted Items

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.

Risque Clothing

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 items.

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.

Images

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."

Magical Properties

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.

Materials
Watersilk Moonspun silk
Heartstones Mistsilk
Firecat pelts Bloodwood
Meshor fox pelts Smokewood
Hiro bear pelts Tamarisk
Elven Silk Black hawthorn
Fae-woven silk (or any other material "woven by fae hands") Nightstalker silk (must provide silk or spinnarets)
Moonsilk (moonsilk is *not* suitable for individual threads or embroidery) Blue gold

Flowers
Vela'tohr blossoms Moon lily
Zamatak blossoms Fawn Lily
Blazing Star flower Ghost orchid
Clerical roses (Insanity rose, Betrothal rose, etc.) Queen of the night lily, or Queen-of-the-night lily

Gems
Nightfire opal Pink sapphire
Taisidonian pearl Saffron topaz
Taisidon emerald Dragon tear
Winter Emerald Xibar topaz
Glacier emerald Fire agate
Blue hawkseye Plumed agate
Sunset opal Moonspun Ruby
Animite (if desired in large quantities)  

Forging Materials
Kertig (ONLY in solid form. No filigree or working into other forms i.e. rings.) Niniam
Damite Lumium

 

Essence

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 pack.

Subjective Adjectives

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

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).

Weapons

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.

Books

"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."

Instruments

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.

Profession, Guild, 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.

Royal, Military, 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.

 

 


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