Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Symbological Item Creation
Symbological items are versatile and can have effects similar to spells; however they are more limited in use and form, and can be used by anyone once created. They are created by Symbological “Runesmiths” – who must have at least one rank in the Edge in order to create an item!
A default Symbological Item contains one symbol; has an effective Rank (ER) of 1 (Independent of the symbols that comprise it); is a one-use item; has a small to moderate effect (such as causing 10 damage or healing a minor wound); requires the user to be in direct contact with it to activate; only affects those in direct contact; and requires the user to take a mental action and make a Symbology check (TH equal to item’s ER) to activate it. If the user does not know what the item is or does, they can attempt to determine this with Ka and Symbology skills, and may attempt to activate it even without knowing what the effect will be (though of course this has some dangers).
Deviating from these assumptions on creation increases the ER of the item. Items may also have drawbacks; at the GM’s discretion these may reduce the ER.
No item may have a higher ER than the potency of the most potent symbol within it.
Lines listed as “Variable” may give a greater (or lesser) effect than stated, depending on how powerful the combination is; e.g. a “Powerful” item might do 20 damage rather than 15, but this is a larger ER boost.
Items are a lot less versatile than spells. Item effects are either instantaneous or very brief (GM will adjudicate, but 1-2 combat rounds would be standard if the desired effect ‘has’ to be ongoing); however some more powerful items may be able to trigger repeatedly (e.g. flaming sword may do extra fire damage on each strike). Items, like spells, do one specific, preprogrammed thing which the user cannot easily change on a whim; unlike spells, item creation is also long-winded and the primary effect of the item is utterly dominant, with secondary symbols only adding minor enhancement.
The symbols within an item can be drained to allow the user to regain karma, as standard. However the item cannot function while it is powered by an inactive symbol.
Items share any drawbacks the powering symbol may have; and it may not be possible to create certain effects with certain symbols as a result (e.g. an Energy symbol with the drawback that it can only cool and freeze things, could not be used to make an item that produces a fiery explosion).
Crafting a symbological item follows roughly the standard Crafting rules, except as follows: it requires a Symbology check; has a craft interval of days equal to item ER; requires total cumulative successes of 4x(number of symbols included plus highest symbol rank plus item ER); and the ‘quality’ roll must equal or exceed 1/4 the cumulative Craft TH at each interval, or there has been a significant problem (do not add successes for that interval and subtract successes equal to the days in that interval; if this takes successes to zero the process has failed entirely and materials are wasted).
The following list are examples and not exhaustive; note that each Symbol can have only one effect in the item.
One-Use: Activating the item inactivates its powering symbols, rendering it unusuable until they have regenerated. ER +0.
Area effect: Base 3m radius. ER+1 (variable depending on effect)
Rechargeable: The item is not destroyed or damaged, and the symbols remain active when used; it can be recharged by spending mana equal to 5 plus the item’s ER. This takes an hour of meditation. ER+1.
Mana Draw: The item is not one-use, but when activated it draws on the user’s mana pool to power itself, much like a spell, allowing it to be used almost continuously. The base draw is 5, plus the item’s ER. ER+2.
Permanent: The item is not one use, but has a continuous effect. It still needs to be recharged once per day by dealing 20 mana draw to a volunteer; if this is not done, it ‘powers down’ and becomes inactive. ER+4
Activation Range: The item can be activated by the last person to hold it, up to 10m away from them. ER+1, and REQUIRES a Void symbol.
Specificity: The item’s activation is complex or enciphered so only those ‘in the know’ can use it at all. The requirement is something obvious that others might observe and copy, e.g. command word, sequence of gestures. ER+0 and REQUIRES a Knowledge symbol.
Self-triggering: The item activates automatically when specific conditions are met. These can be anything, as long as they occur in such a way that the symbol could reasonably ‘detect’ them (e.g. command words said by someone in another country aren’t reasonably detectable). ER+2, and this REQUIRES a Knowledge symbol.
Obvious Trigger: The item’s triggering is set up to be very formulaic so others can be trained to activate that specific item without requiring a check (though it still requires an action). Anyone not trained in its activation can deduce how to use it much more quickly and easily than a standard item, gaining 4 rerolls on checks to activate it. ER+0
Delayed: When triggered, the item does not activate immediately, it is delayed by a set amount of time. ER+1, REQUIRES an Entropy symbol.
Powerful: The item’s effect is greater than standard, such as healing 2 or more wounds or causing 15 damage. Some kinds of enhancement may require additional symbols (e.g. increasing the radius of an Energy-based explosion is a Space effect). ER+1 (variable)
Example item drawbacks:
-Overload: Activating the item damages it and effectively destroys it. Symbols are inactivated but not destroyed, and can be recovered. It must be crafted again from scratch. ER -3.
-Feeble: The item’s effect is minor, such as only speeding up the healing of a minor wound, or dealing 5 damage. ER-1 (variable).
-Inconvenient: The item’s effect requires additional factors to work which prevent it being used on demand; such as needing to be submerged, or in contact with at least a kilogram of wood, or requires physical fuel that is consumed each activation. ER-1 (Variable).