On the Imbuing of Occult Artifacts

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On the Imbuing of Occult Artifacts

Post by nobody » Sat Feb 13, 2021 2:43 pm

Rias, game channel, 11/7/2020 wrote:Glyph-based enchantments, for lack of a better word, are on my want-to-make-it-work list.
Me too, Rias, me too.

Why enchanting?
This is especially curious considering the discussion of occult pistols last November, which revealed that such items would require an arcanist to maintain, or even use them at all. Given that, what would be the point of creating occult artifacts? Let us consider the two issues separately.

- If an item must be maintained by an arcanist, that is no different from a weapon or tool that needs periodic repair. A warrior doesn't eschew bronze or steel simply because a metalworker is required to maintain it, they hire a metalworker or learn the skill themselves. Thus, if an occult artifact is sufficiently useful, that requirement of maintenance will be a low barrier that many will choose to clear by hiring an arcanist or learning arcana themselves.

- If an item requires an arcanist to use, the issues are quite different. There won't be a broad market for them, and town markets may or may not choose to deal in such items at all, though they do buy and sell anomalum chalk which requires skill with arcana, and a merchant doesn't need to be able to access the value of an item to recognize an opportunity to make money from it (though it might be a class of item with a greater margin between selling and buying prices because niche items are often a risk). Beyond market considerations though, why would an Arcanist make an item that only they can use? Because it provides the flexibility of having an occult effect prepared in advance at the cost of prep-work before hand and without the hazard of having to create an occult circle in a dangerous situation. It accomplishes that elusive design goal without having to introduce scrolls or glyph-filled books or glyph-inscribed gems. At least, potentially so.

How might the work of enchanting be done?
I would like to begin by considering enchanting as it presently exists, or at least, as it presently kind of exists. I am referring to the shaol glyph, which causes an object to levitate and follow its owner. While it is an effect which targets a person with the beldi activator glyph, it could just as well have targeted an item directly by having an alternative activator glyph that triggers with 'put <item> in/on circle' or even an alternate activator that always targets the right-hand held item rather than the person. It's also quasi-permanent, like an occult artifact. It isn't quite permanent, it can be dismissed and must be to handle the item, while a permanent occult artifact version might instead levitate after its owner until that owner decides to 'get' or 'stow' it (which wouldn't require dismissing it), and it would return to levitating when dropped, following whoever dropped it. Just using an occult circle with a different activator glyph doesn't feel right though - it doesn't feel like enchanting. It doesn't take more time or more effort or use more materials. There's arguably more leeway on the time and energy as different glyphs have different energy costs to create and activate and could have different round times to draw, but cost remains a concern - to create something lasting should cost something. One way to handle that could be sanity damage associated with use of the enchanting activator glyph, another might be decreasing maximum energy by some amount that heals over time or alternatively setting the energy regeneration rate to 0 for some amount of time after activating the glyph. Any or all of those feel right for the kind of taxing work that enchanting should be - they certainly add some danger, but it still doesn't cost riln. Looking at existing occult artifacts may help with that though.

- Crystal ESP pendants: these provide access to the ESP network locally, require no arcane knowledge to use, and fade over time. They do have an 'always on' listening effect even when their energy is exhausted - perhaps the needed energy for receiving is carried from the artifact doing the sending. Doesn't have any visible glyphs, but is made of crystal.

- Crystal ESP ball: this works like the pendants, but is bigger and stationary.

- Quivering bowstrings: like pendants, these are intended to degrade over time and they also break with use. Has no visible glyphs and isn't made of anything crystalline, at least not visibly so.

- Anomalum chalk: This doesn't seem to degrade over time, only with use. It requires arcana skill to use.

- Sorcerous foci: I haven't played a sorcerer, so I don't know a lot about these, like whether they require skill to use (I think yes?) or degrade over time (I think no?) or whether they could really be considered occult artifacts at all (probably?).

Those are the existing occult artifacts in game that I know of (and they're all common enough that I don't feel like mentioning them here is too much of a spoiler). Aside from anomalum chalk and sorcerous foci, occult artifacts of old Aetgard tend to be leaky - most of them don't hold occult energy indefinitely. I also recall that there has been some talk about eventually having ESP artifacts other than pendants as well as a way to recharge those. That gave me an idea of how enchanting might actually be implemented.

Enchanting process
I imagine the enchanting process consisting of a series of arcane glyph effects.

- 'open occult aura' glyph or occult primer: The first glyph effect places some kind of aura on an item that is receptive to occult power and that lasts for some amount of time. Think of this like a primer coat of paint, except completely non-optional. It could also be replaced by some kind of physical occult primer like anomalum chalk dust or something of that nature that a lore expert could think of with much greater ease than I. The advantage of that physical item is that it would be a good place to introduce a riln cost.

- 'energy transference' glyphs: The next glyph effect moves energy into an item. That could be moving energy out of a left-hand held item (like a pendant) and into a right-hand held item (like another ESP artifact, another occult artifact that has run out of energy, or an unenchanted item properly prepared by the previously mentioned 'open occult aura' glyph/occult primer). I also like the idea of a glyph that transfers energy from the arcanist into the right-hand held item, but it should be considerably more limited and considerably more costly. Either transference effect would be a good place to have that sanity/max energy/energy regen cost noted above, but from arcanist to object should have more severe costs as it circumvents a potential riln cost (having to buy a pendant, or many pendants, to drain into the would-be-occult-artifact). An energy transference glyph would probably need to be used multiple times to properly prepare an item for enchantment. An alternative to the left-hand to right-hand or arcanist to right-hand could be right-hand to item-in-circle or arcanist to item-in-circle, though that would probably require more code work and potentially be less desirable anyway.

- 'occult binding' activator glyph: After a potential occult artifact is sufficiently dense with occult energy, an activator glyph is used which attempts to bind the effect of the paired arcane effect glyph onto the right-hand held item (or in-occult-circle item; also I have no idea how enchanting should work with larger occult circles). Success and/or quality should vary, depending on the amount of energy transferred into the item in preparation (hence multiple uses of energy transference may be desirable as noted above), the skill of the arcanist, the complexity/effect of the glyph-effect to be bound, and the properties of the item to be enchanted - looking back at the occult artifacts of old Aetgard, smaller items seem to be the ones that were produced in greater quantity and/or survived in greater numbers and that could be because they're easier to enchant.

- 'seal occult aura' glyph or occult sealant: The last step should be like a finishing touch to seal the open occult aura/seal the occult primer and contain the (hopefully successfully bound) occult effect. It might also be a good optional intermediate step if an arcanist wants to add more energy but needs to recover and/or gather additional supplies, because the item is probably especially prone to leakage (or loss of occult energy) after being primed and before being sealed. This could also be replaced with a riln-sink occult sealant item. That would make repeated sessions of priming, transferring energy, and sealing more costly.

I originally imagined the process as being done entirely with glyphs, but the primer and sealant as riln-sink items would be a way to make it more cost intensive. That might actually be the better place to put the riln sinks instead of in the energy transference because I don't like the idea of new players not being able to buy a pendant because they've all been bought up to recharge or create occult artifacts. That being said, there could also be merit to occult primer and sealant being loot items that won't spawn if there are too many out there in game (like quivering bowstrings). That would be a way to bottleneck production certainly. It could also be split, like having sealant available as a riln-sink item but primer being a loot item.

Who gets what?
I think the occult primer and sealant (as either glyphs or materials) should be available to all scholars - making the glyph option available to Arcanists only might create interesting group effort incentives though. For energy transference it might be cool to have one kind be scholar exclusive and one open to everyone, but given that I don't like the idea of people consistently buying out pendants I now lean toward just having the 'transfer energy from arcanist to item' and I'd say leave that open to everyone. Occult binding glyphs should probably be exclusive to the relevant branches of scholar (sorcerous binding for Warlocks, druidic binding for Primalists, arcane binding for Arcanists).

Enchanting sorcerous and druidic effects
The steps for this would probably be similar for enchanting druidry or sorcery based effects, though the 'occult binding' step would be different as they would need a glyph (or glyph and activator glyph) that captures a cast spell of the appropriate type. Recharging sorcerous and druidic items should also receive special consideration - could they just be charged by draining pendants, or do they have to be charged by someone who can also hold a channel of the appropriate type? Do they need to be recharged (or enchanted for that matter) in a place of primal power / nether abundance? I have no answers there though, only questions.

A miscellany of other considerations
- The costs to sanity/max energy/energy regen could be used to pretty effectively limit the number of projects an arcanist is going to work on in a given amount of time.

- I like the idea of some of the enchantment glyphs being limited to capturable sites, but I'd rather see cool effect glyphs in those and enchanting glyphs be available in the library or in neutral explorable areas so that enchanting could fill the much needed day-to-day activities of arcanists.

- The occult effect being bound should probably determine whether or not the finished item requires an occult skill to use, but that might also be determined by applying an additional "layer" of enchantment to imbue the item with the needed skill. The difference being whether or not the arcanist has any say in whether or not the finished item (or any given glyph effect) can be used without an associated occult skill.

- Occult artifacts could have a risk of disenchantment upon recharging (and/or upon repairing for metal and leather items that get worn out), though having it be random seems distinctly different from current item damage mechanics in a way that would probably not promote their use unless the item in question is fabulously useful.

- If occult primer and/or sealant are loot items, I could probably get behind the idea of treasure hunting Arcanists being more of a thing as was suggested by another player a few weeks ago in the voice chat. (Treasure hunting Arcanists being the idea that Arcanist is to Treasure Hunter as Primalist is to Ranger, I think).

Edit to add: A solution to the pendant dilemma might be to have an 'energy transference' glyph that drains occult artifacts in preparation for creating new occult artifacts but which cannot recharge existing occult artifacts, and a separate 'energy recharge' glyph that can recharge existing occult artifacts. Make the former available to scholars only and the latter to anyone with arcana. Any enchanter may wish to have multiple pendants as part of their enchanting equipment, but they wouldn't need to burn through the market if they could instead just recharge the ones they have. Someone would inevitably burn through the market to save time and skip out on recharging their own pendants. To solve that issue, I'd recommend one additional change to accompany the enchanting system: make clear crystal pendants sell to the market for 75 riln/buy from the market for 100 riln. In this way, the market would provide economic incentive for anyone with enough arcana to buy up clear pendants, recharge them, and then sell them back to the market for a profit and a bit of arcana practice. Then enchanters interested in buying out charged pendants for enchanting also have incentive to sell their discharged clear pendants back to the market. As a delightful side effect, it also makes it fairly straightforward why one cannot add a second enchantment to an item that already has one: there isn't a glyph to prepare an occult artifact for further enchantment, although such a glyph would certainly be one worth fighting over and would be a great candidate for a capturable resource location if it were decided that multiple enchantments on a single item is viable and not terribly destabilizing.

Second edit to add: A brief summary of occult artifacts that could be created using existing glyph effects:
- An arbitrary object that emits light (distyr)

- An arbitrary object that when spoken to projects the speech to the surrounding area (solca; sayto <object> would be the trigger)

- An arbitrary object that when worn muffles the sounds produced by the user (terlu; boots, gloves, and masks would perhaps be the most appropriate)

- An arbitrary object that when worn blurs the form of the wearer (iquaj; outerwear would be the most appropriate, coats, robes, cloaks, etc.)

- An arbitrary object that when worn enhances hearing (uyto; hats would be the most appropriate)

- An arbitrary object that floats after the user when dropped (shaol)

- An arbitrary object that when worn creates an always-on warding sphere (dorun; outerwear and armor would be most appropriate)

For each of these, I don't know what a reasonable duration would be before recharge is necessary but aside from the solca based item (which is use-activated) all others would be always-on effects until the item ran out of energy.

Third edit to add: The durations for these is actually much easier to guess at than I'd thought initially. For each 'energy transference' used in preparation, set the maximum duration equal to the arcanist's duration for that glyph (1 use for solca) times ten (fully charged pendant = 500 riln, less discharged clear pendant = 100 riln = 400 riln = 4/5 of a stick of anomalum chalk = 40 uses = 10 small circles + 10 lines + 10 beldi + 10 effect glyph). Apply some reduction rate based on any inefficiency inherent in the process.

Also, honorable mention items: cloak of shadow cloak for warlocks, vest of vitality for primalists - both items would probably be vastly more popular than any of those above.

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Re: On the Imbuing of Occult Artifacts

Post by nobody » Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:51 pm

It seems I forgot about crystalline glyph beads in my list of know occult artifacts. They are made of a crystalline material (probably) and do have glyphs etched onto them. They also appear to not lose any energy over time, though they are still quite small. Alas, glyph etching is probably beyond the ability of modern Arcanists of the Lost Lands.

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