Advanced Gear System – Item Composition and History
– Structural Properties
– Material Properties
– – Maintenance and Material
– – Maintenance and Structure
– Major Events
– Epic Potential
This is a concept for designing an advanced system for the gear and equipment, in order to greatly expand all the features and factors that go into a piece of gear. This is separated into two intertwined sets of properties: Composition and History. Composition is the sum of all the individual parts that make up the whole, and each of those parts can be individually analyzed and worked on. History is a detailed log of everything relevant to the item, including how it was maintained and by who, major and minor events the equipment has been involved in, and what has happened to increase the overall potential of an item.
Even with as much as we know about the final plans for the equipment system, I have a tough time giving concrete examples and quantifying values. This concept serves more as a design for how to approach a system where every item’s past is a part of the whole of a character’s arsenal, and can become a more important part of the world and its history.
Of the many things I do in life, creating weapons and armor and general goods is not one of them. I understand that there may be details which I have potentially missed in writing, gotten wrong, or excluded where it should have been included, in writing this document. Any advice and suggestions for things that could be included or improved would be great.
My first presentation of writing on this subject can be found below in “The Fighter from Cityplace”
And that was extrapolated into the very beginning of a new story here, which I never finished but someone else sure could. That is the story of “Taetham’s Slayer” posted below.
All of the parts which make up a piece of equipment are important to the overall attributes, effects, and and usability of the item. The haft of the axe is just as important as the blade. The plating, articulated chain, and cloth under-padding of a full platemail suit all work together to provide the total package of protection and comfort. Gems, runes, magical enchantments, and material upgrades all factor into the component to which they are attached or imbued.
Structural Properties are the factors in the actual manufacture and design of the equipment. This is the size, shape, weight, balance, strong / weak points, harmonic properties when it is struck or strikes something, functionality, and factors of design which might improve durability or functionality.
Examples: Designing a sword blade with a fuller and distal tapers will create a lighter blade than simply sharpening a flat sword-shaped piece of metal. Putting a different grind† on the edge will affect how long the edge stays sharp compared to how well it can cut finer materials, and maintaining a sharp edge is definitely important to reducing durability damage during continuous use with no maintenance in-between. Being able to adjust and fine-tune factors like center of percussion††, balance, and harmonics are also important to improving the quality and usability of the sword. Likewise, a sturdy cooking pot with a chinstrap attached won’t provide as much protection as a helmet with full head coverage, and the cooking pot helmet lacks acoustic designs to reduce the head-rattling percussion that occurs when a metal helmet is struck by something.
Material Properties represent all the different material components used in the item. The overall quality of the materials used, the blend of materials and alloys, power infused in of gems and runes and other adornments, and the actual type of material being used where another form of material could be used instead. Whether an item is repairable or not is also a factor of the material properties, as some brittle or easily-worn materials may need full replacement when they are broken or worn down.
Examples: A sword with a blade that is 70% steel and 30% mithril, with an integrated pommel + crossbar that is 50% brass and 50% iron, bearing a ruby on either side which confers engulfing flames on the blade. A suit of hardened elephant leather armor, with elephant leather that was cured and tanned in a way to make it extremely stiff, put together with steel chainmail and padded cloth, to create an organic platemail which can receive enchantments that metal-based armors cannot accept, but maintenance may require full replacement of damaged plates as the leather cannot be mended like steel can.
Maintenance is a major factor in composition, and has two major aspects to it. The first is when and how the item must be repaired and reworked to maintain functionality, and what it takes to complete that maintenance. The second is how the item can be enhanced or upgraded to make it more functional and effective through the maintenance process. Maintenance is how the Structural and Material properties are affected.
Maintenance and Material: As an item is used more, or as parts break or wear down and need replacement, the quality of the materials and crafter’s skill will determine the effects of maintenance on the overall item. Low skill can result in poor maintenance that shortens the lifespan and reduces the effectiveness of that item, even if high quality materials are used. Likewise, a low quality material in the hands of a skilled crafter will also produce poor maintenance results and compromise the item. A crafter should use materials which they are able to work with, and only take on items within their skill range, in order to avoid poor repairs and angry customers. One limited option for maintaining a crude item is an Upgrade Repair, a specific form of maintenance where superfluous material is removed from areas where it isn’t needed and used as the material to complete the maintenance.
Examples: A metallurgist with limited blacksmithing experiences creates a sword. Its strong, it works, but the shape and design is fairly crude. After being damaged in the field, the sword is taken to a talented blacksmith, who is able to improve the design of the sword’s blade and recover enough material from the upgrades to mend the damage to the blade in full. That sword is damaged again, but in desperation it is repaired in the field with inadequate equipment, throwing off the weight and balance while weakening the blade where it was maintained.
Maintenance and Structure: The actual upgrades and benefits from maintenance can be quite diverse. Maintenance isn’t just repairs, but other refurbishing or adjustments or changes to the style. Taking some length off a weapon to compromise damage and range for speed and precision. Reshaping a metal cooking pot into a helmet that doesn’t deafen the wearer if they should ever get struck. Maintenance is how gems and runes and magical enchantments are added to a pre-existing item. Just as poor material can ruin an item, poor structural maintenance can decrease the effectiveness of an item significantly. Just as high quality material can improve an item, high quality structural maintenance can vastly improve the functionality and usability of an item.
Examples: In a pinch, a Dwarf warrior located the halberd of a slain combatant and used a tool from her field tool kit to cut off most of the haft, and then tied a stone to the bottom to act as a counterbalance. While crude in appearance, the halberd-gone-battleaxe is more than enough to get the Dwarf back in battle were she is needed. After slaying a monster of great renown and absorbing its essence into the new hal-battleaxe, the material became ready for a powerful enchantment. Before getting the enchantment done, the Dwarf first gets her weapon reshaped back to the size and proportions befitting a Dwarf warrior, as well as affixing the stone counterbalance better than it had been before. What was once a plain halberd is now a refined magical Dwarf-sized battleaxe that has already seen significant combat.
History is the temporal component of the item, how the item gains extra powers and properties based on where it has been, what it has done, and what has been done with it. Materials themselves can also carry these properties, and materials from historically-significant sources (or ones that later become significant) may carry a history of their own.
Influences makes up the total of all major and minor things which influenced the item’s usage, growth and development. The harvesters who collected materials to create the axe and the regions where they were harvested from, the crafter who makes the axe, every crafter to maintain it, every creature slain by it, every tree it chopped down, every vendor whose hands it passed through, every adventure to grip the haft and use it for something, adds another layer of influence to the item. Influence comes into play when someone with affinity to that influence comes in contact with it, such as an apprentice crafter working on a sword their former master had designed and assembled years before, or a creature being fearful or enraged by seeing a spear that has slain a thousand of their kind.
Major Events are influences where the item is involved with something storyline related. Commissioned swords crafted for the NPC defenders at the new city being built, a shield that managed to resist the breath of a fierce dragon long enough for the dragon to be slain, a helmet crafted from a shard of the shattered armor of some god or deity. This will potentially add unique attributes to it, or make it possible for certain unique events to be unlocked or accessed by having it. For example, cloaks worn by players leading NPCs during a major battle may cause enemy assassins to hunt and target them, even after the battle has been completed.
Epic Potential is the amount by which the item can be improved based on events in the item’s history. Some epic potential fulfillment will happen automatically from use, while others must be utilized by a crafter. Each event in the item’s history can either add directly to automatic fulfillment, like slaying 100 of a certain creature to gain an affinity to slaying that creature, or chopping down 100 of one type of tree and gaining affinity to better harvesting of that tree type. Things that don’t add to an automatic fulfillment will increase the improvement potential, which is the ability for skilled crafters to make superior enhancements like adding or altering magical gems, runes, and essences. Epic potential can be raised with general use and maintenance, traveling to different places, each new influence, each influence to interact with the item after a long time apart, each battle it has seen, powerful creatures it has wounded or slain, allies it has fought in duels, introduction of splendorous materials, and many other things.
†More info on grind types can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grind
††More info on center of percussion can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_of_percussion
(I feel like I could say a lot more on this subject.)