Destroying a pattern item

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Spader
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Destroying a pattern item

Postby Spader » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:34 pm

Is there any consequences for destroying a pattern item?

One of my player keeps destroying all his pattern item to make sure it would never be used against him. Can't say there's no wisdom in that. In fact, since the death of King Varulus, I wonder why it has not been a common practice among the monarchs and magistrates of Barsaive.

The Undying
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Re: Destroying a pattern item

Postby The Undying » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:44 pm

I'm not sure the player's process makes sense.

First, how is the player determining that his/her items became a pattern item? Are you telling them? If so, easy solution: stop. After all, it's not like an Adept has some spidey senses that tells them a pattern item attached to their pattern has popped. Are they spending time every evening before bed scouring their items with Thread/Astral Sight for any hint that their items are starting to become pattern items? If so, another easy solution: make the action prohibitive, e.g., they can do it, but the amount of attention and time required means that they don't get to do anything else that evening. If they're being crazy paranoid and trying to scouring their stuff, this seems perfectly fair.

Next, not all pattern items are unimportant things. A Warrior's favorite weapon, a magician's grimoire, these are things that could become non-insignificant pattern items (e.g., major pattern items). In the case of a grimoire, there should be a significant penalty in destroying that. In the case of other stuff in that line, there's likely SOME impact (you really want to destroy your highly-forged weapon you've had for years?), but unless your players are different, a primary motivation for Adepts is to become the thing of legend, and going around destroying things associated with your legend doesn't really help there (Garmanarar, the great Warrior, slew the Horror Pew-pa-Dew and then quickly broke his blade in two, lest it become a pattern item! ... wth?)

Additionally, I think you'd be well within your rights as a GM to call shenanigans and just bring it to an end by fiat. This is pretty much akin to the following:
- Oop, I've walked ten miles in these shoes, time to burn them.
- Oop, fought five enemies with this sword, time to melt it down.
- Oop, too many people have seen me in this necklace, time to melt it down.
...

Finally, even if you DON'T want to call shenanigans, this is a great story hook. Adepts don't have control over what things become pattern items, even if your player is stripping naked and torching all his possessions every month. Have a recurring place in your adventures where they meet to discuss plans, make arrangements with others, etc. Do something like have the bartender recognize them as their legendary status grows and, COMPLETELY UNBEKNOWNST TO THE PLAYER, the bartender starts keeping a special ale mug for the character as a sign of respect. Bingo, you've got a minor pattern item over a bit of time that the player should have no knowledge over, nor any control of. AND, if they're being followed by some adversary, it's possible that they notice this behavior by the bartender, realize what's happened, and either steal the item or offer a decent fee for "the fine mug that Hero X has become so fond of." Bingo, pattern item in the wrong hands. This is all completely legit.

The Undying
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Re: Destroying a pattern item

Postby The Undying » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:22 am

Extra side notes: (1) If your player attempts to say they keep a constant vigil out for pattern items, and you're allowing pattern item identification via Thread Sight, just tack on a Strain cost, a la Astral Sight, and that'll nip that in the bud while being perfectly reasonable. (2) Your player may be operating under the assumption that, if there's a pattern item on their person and it's not a pattern/thread item they're aware of, then it's a new one bound to his true pattern and so destroy it. Remind them that, just because something is a pattern/thread item, you don't magically know what true pattern it's associated with. So, unless this player is going around destroying every pattern item they find just to be safe, good enough chance that one will eventually sneak by them.

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etherial
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Re: Destroying a pattern item

Postby etherial » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:19 am

Spader wrote:Is there any consequences for destroying a pattern item?

One of my player keeps destroying all his pattern item to make sure it would never be used against him. Can't say there's no wisdom in that. In fact, since the death of King Varulus, I wonder why it has not been a common practice among the monarchs and magistrates of Barsaive.


The only consequences are that people can't use your Pattern Items for or against you. I'm agreed that monarchs should keep a close eye on their Pattern Items, but handing them to their trusted Bodyguards, Family Members, and Viziers may make more sense than destroying them all. In my game, King Kovar's daughter mysteriously vanished in the Grand Bazaar and the PCs were asked to rescue her and were given one of her Pattern Items.

Utsukushi
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Re: Destroying a pattern item

Postby Utsukushi » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:00 pm

This also depends a lot on how you feel about it, as a GM. Were you hoping to use pattern items as a plot hook at some point? If not, it seems like a reasonably harmless character quirk -- Etherial's right, he's giving up some potential benefits along with the potential risks, along with the enhanced cost-of-living for going through stuff so violently.

But if you do want to discourage it for some reason, it occurs to me that such behavior is, by Barsaivian standards, bizarre. People don't do that, because the whole basis of what makes a Pattern Item a Pattern Item is that it's important to you. It would be like somebody in our society meticulously erasing all records of themselves wherever they go. It's easy for the player, because he, of course, does not actually care about these things because they're not real; he cares about the mechanics that potentially underlie them.

But for the character, it speaks of a deep-seated paranoia and a very disturbing desire to erase himself from the world.

To other Name-Givers, it could well suggest that he's Horror Marked. I mean, think about how little it once took to be branded a witch. Even if not Marked, it's certainly... weirdly nihilistic.

I could also easily see behavior like that as attracting some Horrors. Or Vestrial. Definitely Vestrial.

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Spader
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Re: Destroying a pattern item

Postby Spader » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:44 pm

I don't really wish to discourage him from doing that. I don't have any plan at the moments regarding the pattern items of my players. And I kinda have fun looking at one of then destroying his own properties once in a while.


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