Long-Term Benefits Scroll Alterations

Quite possibly the most anticipated of the LTBs is the opportunity to get an alteration. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the system, there are more restrictions on them than on normal merchant alterations.

Here's a summary of the questions, answers, and comments that have been on the message boards, as well as a few things I've found out myself while using the scroll system.

1. How to get alteration scrolls and how to use them
2. Standard Merchant Contract
3. What can and cannot be altered and why
3a. Forged weapons and armor and tanned items
3b. Holy weapons
4. Special gems and materials
5. Orders, crests, and special symbols
6. Alterations and balancing, tempering, repairing, etc.
7. Response time
8. Other random notes from random GMs

1. How do I get an alteration scroll? And how do I use it?

Alteration scrolls are located in all four long term benefits tents in the sea caves.

With the scroll in your right hand, hold the item you wish to alter in your left, and WRITE NEW [tap description]; [look/show description]; [read description]. [This particular format isn't necessary; it is, however, the format I use in making it easier for the GMs to tell where the tap, show, and read descriptions start and end.] Be aware that weapons, armor, and shields don't have a space for a read description.

Once you've written out your alteration request, stow the scroll and the item you're altering on you. Don't put them in your locker, and whatever you do--DON'T DROP THE SCROLL.

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

Do not, under any circumstances, drop your alteration scroll, no matter WHAT the lying little scrap of paper tells you. This causes the scroll to go away permanently, and there are currently only about 3 people in the universe who can get you another one.

If you want to change the item you are working on, please hold the new item in your left hand and "WRITE CHANGE this here's my description, etc."

The GM will send runners with news of any changes that need to be made.

2. Standard Merchant Contract

The individual merchants that the Estate Council contracts to perform alteration services have a wide range of quirks and preferences. However, there are a few guidelines that members can follow to make their alteration experience go more smoothly:

  1. Alterers are unable to make items pulsate, glow, or otherwise seem to have a life of their own.
  2. Alterers are unable to make items that force someone to feel a particular emotion or impact them physically. 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.
  3. Alterers do not make things that drip with blood and gore.
  4. Alterers do not make items that are demonic (or its derivatives) evil, or wicked. Each alterer has his own tolerance for other "dark" descriptions, and ABSOLUTE authority to refuse to make an item if they feel a description is inappropriate.
  5. Alterers rarely make items that contain "unknown" or "forgotten" anything -- magic, language, runes, etc.
  6. Some alterers will not work with the body parts of sentient creatures.
  7. An alterer has the ABSOLUTE authority to refuse to make any item which he feels exhibits poor taste or is not in keeping with the flavor and spirit of the lands.
  8. An alterer has the ABSOLUTE authority to set a limit on description lengths. This varies from alterer to to alterer, so make sure you read his or her sign. The most common limits for premium alterers are:
  9. Most alterers will have a sign that announces their fee for services, if a voucher is required, and if a bank runner is available.
  10. Alters have the ABSOLUTE authority to boot anyone who is behaving disruptively from the tent. If you are asked to leave the tent, there is NO GUARANTEE that the alterer will serve you when your place on the list comes up.
  11. 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 doggedly argue 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 you do get sent to the end of the line, there is NO GUARANTEE that the alterer will get to you again before the session is over.
  12. Lastly, arranging the craftsmen and artisans for members is a costly business. To ensure that no member or group of members ends up monopolizing services, the Estate Holder Council requests that members wait 4 months between using a craftsman's services and seeking to use their services again. This, of course, applies only to the craftsmen and artisans contracted by the Estate Council specifically for members, and not to any merchant open to Estate Holders and non-Estate Holders alike which you may come across in the normal course of your travels. (Plainly... please restrict yourselves to one alteration every 4 months per account for alterers arranged specifically for premium members to give more people chances at a turn.)

3. What can and cannot be altered and why

Slightly modified quote from GM Meriel:

Generally speaking, items that "do something" are usually off-limits to being altered. Sometimes, the original maker will note the limits on an item can be altered, but most times the alterer will find that an item cannot be changed.

One way to keep from disappointment is to keep in mind:

  1. the older an item, that is, the longer it has been in the realms then the more likely it is that the item can't be altered,
  2. the more complex an item is in the things it does, then the more likely it is that the item can't be altered,
  3. it is always up to the alterer to determine whether or not they will alter a particular item at all. The alterer may see that it is something special and not want to take the time to go through the code of how an item is built when they could be serving another customer. Personally, I'd much rather serve 10 people in an hour than serve 1 person and spend time arguing with them over their alteration and researching if the alteration can in fact be done at all. Secondly, the alterer may not have the necessary coding skill to research to start with. And lastly,
  4. an item may be noted that it should not be altered, period. Whether it can be or not isn't an issue here, possibly it could (again with research). But whether it could or not isn't up for debate since as GMs, we honor each other's notations as to the alterability of an item.

At this point, a great many items have been either cleared or barred from being altered (via the scroll system, or entirely). This is mostly a list of what's been barred, and guidelines concerning whether or not something can be.

Can be altered:

Cannot be altered:

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

Skralthaen will be doing everything related to spellbooks for "a while", at least.

He's promised to open them to alterations at some point, but nobody else can even do that just yet.

Cannot be used in alterations:

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

GMs who create new substances/verbs/scripts/whatever have the final say on whether or not anyone can do anything with their substance/verb/script/whatever.

The GM who invented firesilk says it belongs to her for one year. After that, we'll all renegotiate.

3a. Forged weapons and armor and tanned items

These items need to be noted as such, or they have a decided tendency to break.

3b. Holy weapons

Quotes from GM Iocanthe:

Holy weapons don't take well to being bonded or run through the scroll alteration system or anything else.

Please don't try to do either of those things with it. If you haven't already gotten a holy weapon, and want to alter one that you'll do later, that should be fine.

Bonding + Holy weapon = ABadThing(tm)

These two things do not at all go along with each other.

The last case I saw where someone tried to do this, their weapon forgot it was a weapon entirely.

4. Special gems and materials

Common and/or regular gems such as rubies, sapphires, silver, gold, etc., do not need to be supplied for the alteration. However, things like gems from quests, or otherwise extremely rare materials need to be on hand. The GM handling your alteration will make arrangements to pick it up.

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

If you're asking for a gem that we can't find in the hands of any player, isn't documented anywhere that we can find, and isn't sold in jewelry shops, we're going to need you to provide it. If you're asking for a gem that is extremely limited (like the dragon tears), we're also going to ask you to provide that.

Standard gems, like rubies, emeralds, topaz, etc, are generally not going to be a problem. However - if you are asking for a broadsword made of cat's eye quartz, or a gem-encrusted shield/armor item - there may be questions about how feasible that is.

Alterations still need to make some sense.

5. Orders, crests, and special symbols

Quotes from GM Iocanthe:

In many cases, symbols will need to be described instead of listed as "A symbol of the mysterious group I'm thinking of". We can describe "a dark bird outlined against a golden moon", which you then can explain to those who look at the item as "That's the symbol of the mysterious group I was thinking of", but unless it is something EVERY Joe-on-the-street would know, you're going to have a hard time getting it in an alteration.

If you're in a recognized order, yes you can get your order's crest on items.

If you're not in a recognized order, you can design something else and we can call it a crest, with details in the look. (We wouldn't call it the Secret Order of the Death Monkey crest in the TAP, but we could say "there's a crest featuring a red-eyed monkey on the left shoulder" or something like that.)

6. Alterations and balancing, tempering, repairing, etc.

The alteration scroll system is *only* for cosmetic alterations. In other words, it can't make a weapon more balanced, weapons or armor stronger, or restore nearly destroyed anything to pristine condition. Nor can it add or change verb scripts on anything.

Quote from GM Rinae on balancing/tempering:

We just change the tap, look, and reads of an item. We can't change the balance/stats of anything.

Quote from GM Iocanthe on repairs:

The official word on this is, no, we cannot repair armor as an alteration service at this time.

In fact, trying to use your scroll on a damaged item will cause problems with that item for the rest of its natural (and probably shortened) life, so if you're asking for armor/weapon alterations using the scroll, please make sure it is in pristine condition first.

Armor repair is a much more complicated issue than changing what an item looks like.

There may, at some time, be a merchant who is able to restore 'too damaged' items, but it will not be via the scroll system, and as far as I know, the people who are technically capable of doing such work are not anywhere near even having the time to look at this as an option at this time.

7. Response time

The time from idea to finished product depends on a lot of things, and can vary from less than an hour to more than a week. There are some things you can do to minimize the wait/adjustment time.

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

How long your request takes depends on a few things.

Grammar is important. If your idea is filled with misspelled words and incomplete sentences, this will delay the final product while we contact you via the scroll to let you know what changes have to be made.

Subject matter is important. If you're requesting something we simply cannot do, need to collect materials on because you're asking for something rare, or if your idea does not fit into Elanthia as we know it, this also will delay the final product as we try to use the scrolls to communicate with you.

Clarity of concept is important. If your idea is clear, concise and easy for us to see when you turn it in, you'll have it back quickly. If you're using vague terms that don't have clear pictures associated with them, we're going to need to ask you to clear them up, and this also will take time.

Alterations are your way of showing the rest of the world what your item has always looked like to you. The faster you make your vision clear to us, the faster it will be in your hands.

Another quote from GM Iocanthe:

Response times vary - depending on who is available to work on the scrolls, and what the rest of the workload looks like. When we've got other involved projects to work on, the scrolls still get done - but we don't have hours to deliberate over them like when there's nothing else going on.

Yet another quote from GM Iocanthe:

There are actually 4 people working on these now - but all 4 of us are also responsible for several other rather large projects which have deadlines looming, and other side projects that we like to keep current on, and every once in a while, we even attempt to have a real life and spend a few minutes with our families and friends.

It isn't that we're out to make anyone wait - but you are one priority among many.

8. Other random notes from random GMs(mostly...you guessed it!)

The following messages are worthy of note, but didn't fall into any other category.

Quote from GM Iocanthe:

Lately, we're getting a lot of requests for things that we can't do, so I wanted to remind everyone to take a peek at the Premium article (9? I'm at work and can't remember!) that lists the basic guidelines of what will and won't happen in alterations. [This would be #2, the Standard Merchant Contract.]

An alteration is a way to let the rest of the world see what your item has always looked like in your imagination. However, it is obvious that some of you have imaginations that go far beyond the scope of Elanthia while you're playing!

Bows will remain bows. They're going to be made of wood. No other material in Elanthia currently has the flexibility required to make bows except wood.

The fabrics we make your clothes out of are going to be IC. If they're rare enough, we may not be able to work with them at all. (Firesilk and shadowsilk are two that we can not touch, at all.)

Your weapons and armor will need to look like weapons and armor when they're done. They need to look sturdy. It's possible to make them pretty and sturdy, or gory and sturdy, but they're going to look like they can do the job they're for.

Magic sigils, symbols, scripts, etc. All out. When the day comes that mages can enchant items, the mage may be able to add such things to your items. We cannot. Likewise, we don't make non-magical things look magical.

Bikinis are out of season, no matter what other name you might apply to them.

Miniskirts, likewise, are out of season. So are skirts slit to the thighs and belly-revealing shirts. While these are all acceptable for you to wear today, they don't fit in the time period our game takes place in.

I don't mean to sound grouchy, but I *like* altering things, and having a pile of requests that I simply have to say "no" to makes me cranky!

And another...

If you're asking for an embellishment to the wooden bow that makes sense - sinew makes sense, horn, in moderation, makes sense - that is something that I'd at least run by a Ranger GM to get a final yes or no. If you're asking for things that they've already told me "no" on, the answer "no" will come back much faster.

Yet another...

There are a few different gem cases out there. Best way to find out if your individual gem case is do-able is to use your scroll and ask. Worst we can do is say, "Sorry, that's not something we can work on." (And that applies for all specific items you may be wondering about. Considering how many similar items are out there, there's no way we can say yes or no without seeing the actual item.)

Female-only leathers can be altered. However, they're not going to come out sexy as a string bikini! They might be rough, tough, rugged leathers that conform to your curves, though... ;)

A note from Dulcinia [paraphrased]

Containers need to be emptied before being altered.

Yet another GM Iocanthe quote, paraphrased

If the GM needs to look up the word in a dictionary, it's not going on the alteration.

Another quote from GM Iocanthe

The basic item type is going to be the same. We may be able to change a robe to a similar name (a surcoat, maybe, or a coat?), but changing it to 'an outfit' is probably not something we'd be able to do. If you present your idea via scroll, though, perhaps we can find a way to make it something we can all live with?

More GM Iocanthe-provided information

When it comes to pelts, there are some that we're more or less picky on. If you're asking for wolf pelt, we need to make sure that it doesn't look like you're wearing some lonesome Ranger's former companion draped around your neck.

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