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Eristed on Item History

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:45 am
by The Undying
Most any Adept has experience with Thread Items. Through Thread Sight, we have all looked upon them, seen the essence or heart of each, and interacted with them only in so much as to harness their powers. Astral Sight allows some of us to see more, observe which bits and pieces of an item are actually involved in the pattern. However, it is only those of us with Item History that can truly know a Thread Item.

Unlike other patterns, Thread Item patterns are a composite of the legends from which they were born and shaped. Yes, it's true that an item gains a pattern simply through a Naming, but it is through the magics of enchantment and involvement in fate-changing actions that items become Thread Items. Through these acts, the item's pattern is altered, maintaining a lasting impression of that magic or event. It is that impression, that shape, through which the item's pattern allows Adepts to manifest power, power that in no small coincidence almost always shares components of the act that created the impression.

As I said before, Astral Sight and Thread Sight allows Adepts to SEE the pattern enough to know of its existence and to weave threads against it. In a sense, though, this is like blindly reaching out into the dark, groping at edges, and grabbing hold for better or worse. There is an element of trust as an Adept does not really know what will happen once that thread is woven - others can TELL them what to expect for a thread anchored at a particular point, but the Adept cannot KNOW until the weaving is performed.

Item History, on the other hand, is the way in which Adepts study the impressions and shapes in a Thread Item's pattern to learn the nature and the past of the pattern. Through this Talent, we can examine the unique aspects of the pattern - the dents, the cracks, the odd bursts of colors, the hard knots among the pliable surfaces - aspects that other Adepts can never experience. As we explore these unique elements, we get a sense of how they were created - events such as a brush with a Horror, a sacrifice, or a killing blow. We obtain a feeling of what power an Adept may unlock by weaving a thread to that point - powers such as strength against the Horror or its ilk, an edge in survival in those final moments when Death beckons to us, or a funnel through which we can sacrifice wisps of our Life to make a blow with the sword even more deadly. We also sometimes get a sense of the True Patterns involved in the moment, revealing hints of the Namegivers, places, and items present when the shaping took place. Without this knowledge, gained for ourselves or gifted by others, it is impossible to know an item's pattern well enough to weave our own pattern to them and access the item's power.

Now, should an Adept learn Item History? Who am I to say. The question is akin to asking "should a Warrior learn the craft of unarmed combat?" Perhaps, but perhaps not - perhaps the Warrior prefers the feel of sword to fist, in which case learning unarmed combat only serves to distract their craft in swordplay. Like all our magics, the decisions of which Talents we practice and to which extent is a highly personal decision. This Talent in particular is not glamorous - it will not serve you in combat or in the crafting of words. However, without this Talent, much of Barsaive's history and the power it bequeaths to those that come after would be lost. I think the question each Adept must ask themselves is "do I want to truly know the items through which I shall build my legend, or am I content to use the tools that fate provides"? If the former calls to you, then there is a world of knowledge forever closed to you without this power.

Re: Eristed on Item History

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:49 am
by The Undying
I'm not sure how unique we are in this, but our group basically made Item History the sink for LP-granting treasure. It was a Talent we wanted to have for group access, and given the amount of time we spend traveling, it's the difference between getting some gear examined while adventuring and buying up all the vendor time in a city trying to batch process the stuff while in town.

For what it's worth, I think this is a great talent to have on the go, and I'd highly recommend any GM expand the scope of the talent slightly. RAW, the talent takes obscenely long to use, even for mundane items. I think there's room to get interesting information with hours worth of examination while not tripping on other Talents/Skills that other Disciplines (like Scout and Thief) bring to the table.