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Old 03-10-2019, 03:51 PM   #1
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Worth of Programmable Matter

Something I've been considering for a DF-like setting is having some of the loot in the form of what we'll call Shards - crystals of varying color that can be used in place of materials, facilities, and/or labor (time) for crafting items. They can't make anything biologically-derived (but can modify such, so they can turn a dead dragon into dragonscale armor and a delicious stew), and you can't use them to make anything you yourself couldn't make given the appropriate materials, facilities, and time*, but they're great for being able to make whatever you need (within those constraints) right away. They can also be used to enhance existing items, such as turning your favorite Fine Thrusting Broadsword into, say, a Very Fine Balanced Thrusting Broadsword. For our purposes we will consider Shards usable only in Town (and you'll typically want to take them to a craftsman to have him/her make what you need), not in the dungeon**.

Shards have a nominal value they can be used to create, ranging from $0.10 per red Shard to $100,000 per violet Shard (they follow ROYGBIV, with a x10 to value for each step along the spectrum). Creating something worth less than the crystal(s) used gives you the appropriate change. They are functionally weightless***. My question, however, is how much should such Shards be worth on the open market? The setting is basically the standard static "TL DF" (call it TL 4), and the value the Shards place on materials and labor are objective and unchanging for a given material/finished product and correspond to the "typical" value of the material. I'm thinking twice the nominal value, does that sound appropriate?

Additionally, how much should a craftsman charge to turn a fistful of Shards (provided by the client) into a finished product? It costs the craftsman functionally no time, so basically whatever they charge comes to them as profit. I'm thinking 10% of the worth of the item (plus the cost of any materials the craftsman provides). Does that sound appropriate?

As an example, lets say you want Prince Boris' Very Fine Balanced Ornate (+3) Thrusting Broadsword (LT59), worth $19,800. Creating this ex nihilo would require 1 indigo Shard, 9 blue Shards, and 8 green Shards, but we'll do it with 2 indigoes instead. Provided the armourer has the skills needed to produce such a piece, we can hand him the 2 indigo Shards and another $1,980 for the commission, and he'll hand us back 2 green Shards (which we can sell for $400, assuming we go with the "twice nominal value" price, for an end net cost of 2 indigo Shards +$1,580) and the sword. If the Prince already had a Fine Ornate (+2) Thrusting Broadsword, worth $4,800, enhancing it would only cost 1 indigo Shard and 5 blue Shards, plus a commission of $1,500. In fact, we may want to commission the armourer to enhance the balance and general quality (so adding Balanced and Very Fine), adding $12,000 to the weapon's worth (and thus costing 1 indigo, 2 blue, and a $1,200 commission), then take it to a jeweler to enhance its appearance (further +1 to Ornate), adding the final $3,000 to the weapon's worth (and costing 3 blue Shards and a $300 commission).

Were you instead willing to wait long enough for the armourer to make your fancy sword normally (or purchase one on the market), you could sell those two indigo shards for $40,000 (assuming we go with twice nominal value) and pay the normal price of $19,800, putting you $20,200 ahead after the transaction, rather than $1,580 in the hole as we were from having him create it ex nihilo.

*This is generally defined as "I have made this item before." You can use Familiarities for this if desired. Additionally, so long as the character has a base skill of 12 or higher in the relevant manufacturing skill, it's also possible to use Shards to learn how to make something - take the item, Shards equal to 100% of its value, and unmake the item. This consumes the item and Shards, but means you are now considered as having made the item before.
**Dungeons have a reversible corrupting effect that make it harder to leave if you've suffered enough of it, and can eventually kill you (or worse). Using Shards will corrupt you even faster, but the corruption doesn't have any real effect once you're far enough away from the dungeon. So, adventurers usually acquire Shards, take them to town, and either sell them or have craftsmen there use them so they only need to rest long enough for what corruption they suffered while delving fades before venturing back in.
***They're actually quite heavy for their size. Each is a crystal that looks just like a standard d8 (sans numbers, and transparent and glowing with ~1 candela of light of the appropriate color), but weighing far more - Shards have a density comparable to gold, and each weighs 0.05 lb. However, anyone transporting such will invariably have a Shardpurse, a small pouch that can only hold Shards, but does so in a extradimensional storage, negating their weight and volume. Conveniently, one can pull out any Shard - or combination of Shards that fit in the hand - that is of equal or lesser value than the total in the bag. For example, you could put 100 red Shards into the bag, and later take them out as a single yellow Shard.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:34 PM   #2
khorboth
 
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

That's one of the most DF things I've heard in a long time. It raises lots of unanswerable questions if put in a larger world, but for game mechanics, and in the genre it works great. Awesome.

Since the exchange rate up and down the spectrum is set in the pouches, only the time-money exchange rate is needed.

I'd peg it at the rate necessary for Comfortable wealth. Something like what a good craftsman would expect to earn from the time.

For use cost... I'd probably charge a base 10% but... +10% for someone with skill 15+ and another 10% at skill 18 and another 10% at skill 20. I'd also generally assign a rarity for skills. Drop those to 5% for common skills like blacksmith or carpenter, but raise to 15% or 20% for rare skills like jewelry or an exotic armory.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
That's one of the most DF things I've heard in a long time. It raises lots of unanswerable questions if put in a larger world
I'm one of those GMs who wrestles with the "unanswerable" questions, and the first one that pops to mind is supply. How common are these shards? Are MOST fine things made with blue-shifted shards?

Red shards are more interesting, because they make the cheap stuff. If they're vanishingly rare, then that doesn't matter. If they're common, then you get an anachronism, something comparable to modern cheap manufactured goods, not the best but available to people who otherwise couldn't afford those kinds of goods at all. Can you make pencils and post-it notes from red shards? Disposable lighters? Flashlight-keychains? Fashionable sandals that only have to last until fashions change? A red shard mine could make you rich.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
That's one of the most DF things I've heard in a long time. It raises lots of unanswerable questions if put in a larger world, but for game mechanics, and in the genre it works great. Awesome.
Thanks. It's based largely on some of the DF manga I've been reading recently (where adventurers make a good deal of their money off of selling monster cores). There's also some influence from The Legend of Zelda (the Shardpurse-Shard relationship is more-or-less how I see the Wallet-Rupee relationship working, although Shards use the light spectrum to assign value).

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
Since the exchange rate up and down the spectrum is set in the pouches, only the time-money exchange rate is needed.
Already covered by the books. For example, a $600 Thrusting Broadsword is made from around $41.40 of materials (LTC3) and the remaining $558.60 covers the cost of labor (and overhead, but it's not like Shards give you a price break for using them near a forge). With Shards, you can either make the weapon ex nihilo with 6 green Shards, or you can gather the relevant materials together (here, roughly 3 lb of iron and a lot of charcoal) and only pay in Shards for labor.

I should note here I used swords as the example for a reason, which I didn't clearly indicate in the original post. Swords and the like include charcoal in their material costs, which Shards cannot make (as it is biologically derived). However, Shards can still create swords ex nihilo, or from iron ingots (or old nails, iron ore, etc), because carbon itself is not biologically derived, and incorporating it into iron via Shardcraft isn't reliant on using charcoal.

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
For use cost... I'd probably charge a base 10% but... +10% for someone with skill 15+ and another 10% at skill 18 and another 10% at skill 20. I'd also generally assign a rarity for skills. Drop those to 5% for common skills like blacksmith or carpenter, but raise to 15% or 20% for rare skills like jewelry or an exotic armory.
The way I have the Shards working, higher-paid professions (like jewelers and the like) automatically produce higher-value goods (as that's the way it works in GURPS), and with the cost in Shards being a function of what the goods cost, this ends up working itself out. The big issues I'm looking for advice on are a) Is it appropriate to set the cost of Shards as twice the value of what they can produce? and b) Is it appropriate for craftsmen to charge 10% of the worth of the materials/labor the Shard are substituting for as a commission cost? I've also since thought of a c) If someone wants to "borrow" something from someone else for the purposes of using Shards to learn how to produce it (meaning the borrower will destroy the object then rebuild it and give the owner the identical replica, using up Shards equal to twice the nominal value of the object), what is an appropriate charge to the borrower for this? For this last, assume things like craft secrets don't exist in this world (as literally anything you produce can be copied simply with the expenditure of enough Shards; this may be a good explanation for TL never advancing).

I'm also considering making precious gems be impossible to create with Shards (so that they can serve as heirlooms for royal/noble families), and possibly even give an expiration date for Shards. Any thoughts from the hive mind?

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I'm one of those GMs who wrestles with the "unanswerable" questions, and the first one that pops to mind is supply. How common are these shards?
Monsters have a crystalline core, typically near where a mammal of comparable body type would have its sternum. Killing the monster then carving out this core will yield an item that, when carefully destroyed (there's a faultline in the crystal, placing an appropriate chisel and striking will produce the desired results), will produce a goodly number of Shards, the quality of which will depend on the power of the monster. Less-carefully destroying the core will yield similar results, but with fewer Shards (some adventurers prefer this method, however, as a) it's a good deal faster and b) with sufficient skill, you can pull it off while the monster is still alive, and destroying the core kills the monster). All dungeons (which constantly expand and produce monsters) have their own core, and destroying this yields similar results, albeit to a much greater degree (all but the most desperate or foolish adventurers take their time to destroy the Dungeon Core properly, as there's rarely a rush to destroy it and the sheer quantity of resulting Shards means losing a lot of wealth by botching it).

New dungeons pop up all the time, and while their cores become more valuable (that is, generate more and higher-quality Shards) as the dungeons themselves grow, larger dungeons produce more powerful monsters, and monsters raid nearby towns from time to time. Leaving a dungeon core be in order to make some sort of monster farm is rarely a good idea, so there are usually calls to subjugate dungeons as soon as they are discovered. As the forces of the various kingdoms are often busy doing other things (and most sane folk don't want to risk getting terminally corrupted by a dungeon), subjugation is the purview of murder-hobos adventurers.

That's the answer of where they come from. As to how common they are? Common enough a PC can expect to be able to buy enough (provided he has the funds) to make whatever gear he needs immediately, provided he's in a good-sized town (or a smaller one that's conveniently close to a dungeon), but rare enough it's still worthwhile to do things the old-fashioned way (because the Shards cost more than the goods they can produce).

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Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Are MOST fine things made with blue-shifted shards?
No, because anything that can be made from Shards can be made more slowly - but much more cheaply - through more traditional means. Wealthy nobles and royals may pride themselves on having new items frequently made via Shardcraft as a form of conspicuous consumption, but those who can manage to have such items made more traditionally but make it seem as though they have commissioned them via Shardcraft will have a leg up, being able to have their conspicuous consumption at a fraction of the cost.

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Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Red shards are more interesting, because they make the cheap stuff. If they're vanishingly rare, then that doesn't matter. If they're common, then you get an anachronism, something comparable to modern cheap manufactured goods, not the best but available to people who otherwise couldn't afford those kinds of goods at all. Can you make pencils and post-it notes from red shards? Disposable lighters? Flashlight-keychains? Fashionable sandals that only have to last until fashions change? A red shard mine could make you rich.
Anything you can make given the appropriate materials and workspace can be made with Shards, with a caveat that you'll need to provide any biologically-derived materials required. As the Shards to expend to produce the goods will cost twice as much as the resulting goods would cost using more traditional means to produce them, the only case where you'd turn a profit is when people are willing to spend a great deal more to have those hot sandals, like, omg RITE NAO!
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

Thanks for the reply. Sounds like you've set it up where it won't have too much weird effects on the economy, but time is money and "right now" is a thing people do pay extra for. If a valuable shard can be used to make most anything fast, people will hoard them for emergencies - I can see them used as currency. Also I can see making a weapon from a shard as a rite of passage for a warrior. -GEF
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:09 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reply. Sounds like you've set it up where it won't have too much weird effects on the economy, but time is money and "right now" is a thing people do pay extra for. If a valuable shard can be used to make most anything fast, people will hoard them for emergencies - I can see them used as currency. Also I can see making a weapon from a shard as a rite of passage for a warrior. -GEF
Yeah, ideally the Shards won't damage to economy too much. Disallowing the Shards from being used to create biological products was partially for this (I wanted there to still be a trade in expensive spices, silk, etc), partially to make monster loot (spider silk, dragon scales, etc) more special, and partially so warfare doesn't get a massive boost (food at twice the normal price is a steal for an army, as it means the bulk of the military is involved in combat and similar, rather than just the logistics of moving food around).

Hoarding is one of the reasons I considered giving Shards something of an expiration date, but I'm not certain that's really necessary. As for currency, this iteration of the idea (I've had variants of it a few times, but this is the most complete) actually started with the concept of Dungeon Coins that functioned the same way and were found in hoards within dungeons, but I feel making them basically shattered monster cores works better. As it stands, there are merchants that set up shop dangerously close to dungeons (typically with retired adventurers as guards) and accept Shards as currency for much-needed supplies, and will also purchase (or barter for) unneeded magic items and the like (dungeons also produce magic items, either wielded by sapient monsters or hidden away in chests). The exchange rate is worse than if the adventurer were to return to town, sell the Shards, and use the resulting money to purchase what he/she needs, but you can't beat the convenience.

As for rituals, creating something through Shardcraft is incredibly easy (provided you could make the item already), but it could be used to prove you know how to make something. Unmaking something through Shardcraft also teaches you how to make it using more traditional means, so some craftsmen will expand their repertoire in this way. I should also note that being able to create matter via Shardcraft requires you to have unmade it before, so most people who expect to frequently encounter Shards will use red ones to unmake a small quantity of a wide variety of materials to allow them to make it on-demand when needed.

I currently debating if Shardpurses should have a limit as to the worth of Shards they can hold (much like the Wallets in The Legend of Zelda), and if so how the cost-to-capacity relationship should work, and how much "starter" Shardpurses (which are quite cheap, so that every adventurer can be expected to have one) should hold. If I do go with this option, each person would be limited to a single Shardpurse due to some mystical mumbo-jumbo or another.
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

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The way I have the Shards working, higher-paid professions (like jewelers and the like) automatically produce higher-value goods (as that's the way it works in GURPS), and with the cost in Shards being a function of what the goods cost, this ends up working itself out. The big issues I'm looking for advice on are a) Is it appropriate to set the cost of Shards as twice the value of what they can produce? and b) Is it appropriate for craftsmen to charge 10% of the worth of the materials/labor the Shard are substituting for as a commission cost?
I misunderstood. I thought you were talking about 10% of the value of the crystals, not of the finished good. Yes, this neatly fixes the problem I was aiming at.

I'd still look at Comfortable labor costs for the value if they're fairly common or at Wealthy labor costs if they're not. The value of goods is too variable since material v. labor is all over the board.
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

You can essentially view this as a special type of currency: from the point of view of a customer, giving a craftsman a bunch of shards and getting back a finished item is no different from giving a craftsman a bunch of silver and getting back a finished item, so the real benefit is that it lets you do production much faster. A 100% 'rush job' surcharge isn't horrible as an approximation (note that, if you gave a craftsman shards to produce an item he already has in inventory, he probably pockets the shards and gives you the item from inventory).
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Old 03-11-2019, 04:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

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I misunderstood. I thought you were talking about 10% of the value of the crystals, not of the finished good.
Well, they're sort of the same thing. That $19,800 sword requires Shards with a nominal value of $19,800 after all (although buying said Shards on the market, you'd spend roughly twice that).

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The value of goods is too variable since material v. labor is all over the board.
I'm basically working under the assumption that the generic prices in GURPS Low Tech and its companions (and other places) are correct. I'm debating having the Shards treat certain materials as being worth more or less than you could typically purchase them for - for example, water might be treated as more expensive than it usually is in town, while platinum and aluminum are treated as cheaper than they would be for a TL4 society to produce. Anybody have any advice on other materials this treatment might be appropriate for?

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You can essentially view this as a special type of currency: from the point of view of a customer, giving a craftsman a bunch of shards and getting back a finished item is no different from giving a craftsman a bunch of silver and getting back a finished item, so the real benefit is that it lets you do production much faster.
Indeed, that is part of the idea. There's also the benefit that it allows you to upgrade existing items (in theory, you could have a character start with a Cheap weapon and keep upgrading it via Shards until it's some Very Fine Balanced Ornate powerhouse with a slew of enchantments thrown on).

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A 100% 'rush job' surcharge isn't horrible as an approximation (note that, if you gave a craftsman shards to produce an item he already has in inventory, he probably pockets the shards and gives you the item from inventory).
That would require some rather impressive slight of hand, as the normal custom with Shardcrafting is for the craftsman to produce the desired product right there in front of the client. If all you have to pay with are Shards, he'd probably sell you the item at a slight markup to account for him needing to go (or send an assistant) elsewhere to sell them for actual money (most craftsmen don't keep Shards around, as they're too tempting for thieves).
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Old 03-13-2019, 07:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Worth of Programmable Matter

I've decided how I want Shardpurses to work. The basic model has a capacity of S1000 (I've opted to shorten the above "nominal value of $n" and "enough Shards to make $n of goods" to simply "Sn"), is $50, and weighs 1 lb. It's typically made from mundane cloth or leather, with a thin lining of copper foil, and is a bit smaller than a typical coinpurse. The high weight isn't due to the construction - once enchanted as a Shardpurse, it suddenly becomes a good deal heavier. Wealthy folks may make their Shardpurses of more exotic cloth/leather, and line it with silver or gold (platinum doesn't work; humorously, as magic items don't degrade/decay, you could safely line it with roentgenium, provided you had some). Optimistic adventurers who can't afford a larger capacity will also carry a dedicated mundane coin purse - whenever their Shardpurse reaches capacity, they pull out a blue Shard and put it in the mundane coin purse (less optimistic adventurers who find their Shardpurses overly full typically pull out a few green Shards to make room, and keep these in their normal coin purse or elsewhere).

Shardpurses with large capacity are x100 to cost and +2 SSR (x2, x5, x10, etc) to weight per x10 to capacity, but their physical construction is no different (it simply costs more time - or Shards - to enchant them).

I should note here I made an error when stating the weights of Shards, as I was going off of this for weights, but found a (highly-inaccurate) value for dice density elsewhere. After actually calculating the volume of a d8 (it appears to be just a bit over 1 mL) and multiplying by the density of gold, I've decided (after rounding up) there are 20 Shards to a pound. I will update the erroneous post after submitting this one.

As there don't seem to be any objections, I think I'll stick with S1=$2 on the open market. Just outside of the dungeon, merchants don't pay as well - I'm thinking somewhere around S1=$1.5. For Shard exchanges to make a profit, a strict S1=$2 may not be quite appropriate - I'm thinking this is the price for an adventurer to purchase Shards, but selling them has a tax of 5% of the sale price (so you sell S1000 for $2000, but have to pay $100 in taxes, for a net gain of $1900).

I'm also considering expanding Shards a bit. The first part of this would be to allow for an S1,000,000 color, which would be UV-A. Such would be called black Shards, and would simply look like clear crystals. While the light they emit is invisible to most humans*, they cause nearby UV-fluorescent materials to, well, fluoresce. You won't find a black Shard while delving, but they can be created using a Shardpurse. There is no corresponding IR Shard.

The second bit would be to make them usable as a power supply for magic items and, if I opt to include them in the setting (leaning toward yes), clockwork mechanisms. For magic items, a higher rate of consumption means the item itself costs less to create (and buy), but I haven't decided upon how the relationship would work (I do know it would require occasionally reloading the item with fresh Shards, rather than being able to be conveniently linked to one's Shardpurse; time between reloads may also influence cost). For clockwork mechanisms, and probably a few pieces of common magitech that don't really count as "magic items" (like flameless torches), every S0.1 (that is, every red shard) would provide 100 Watts for 5 minutes**. Higher quality Shards simply last longer - to get more power, you have to sacrifice efficiency (every doubling of power halves total Joules; the equation works out to time in minutes equals 0.05 divided by the square of power in kW). Magitech light sources are inefficient in terms of Watts to lumens, and aren't as good as lanterns, but readily outcompete torches - S0.1 will shed light as a torch for 30 minutes (this works out to S0.2 per hour, as opposed to a lantern's ~$0.083 per hour and a torch's $3 per hour). Brighter lights are possible, but you'll need to do some math***.

For Shard-powered magic items, they can hold a set value of Shards at a time and use up the provided energy as needed (and you can't pull "excess" Shards back out - once you use a Shard to recharge one, that Shard is gone). For mundane Shard-powered items, they can also hold a set value of Shards at a time, but once charged they will output energy until they run out. Some do have "off switches" or the like, but this doesn't conserve Shard energy.

The third bit is an expansion of the idea that you can break down items to learn how to make them. All**** spells in the setting (which are built as Powers) come from the dungeons, specifically from special books - Grimoires - that can be found there. Once studied, a Grimoire can be used as a magical tool to cast a spell, but this can become quite cumbersome if you want to be able to quickly switch between spells, need something else in your offhand (Grimoires are fairly large), etc. Using Shards to unmake a Grimoire doesn't only teach you how to make more of such books - it also grants you the ability to use the spell without a Grimoire. And while Grimoires found in the dungeon are always for spells, it's possible to create them for many other things - more mundane Advantages (like Combat Reflexes), Skills, and Techniques. For leveled traits (like skills), Grimoires provide a number of character points toward such and have a maximum level they can raise a character to (representing the level of the creator). Such Grimoires are sometimes instead called Treatises.

This represents the most potentially problematic use of Shards, as it allows characters to spend Shards to gain character points, and may discourage niche protection (as characters can quickly - albeit expensively - teach each other their abilities). Having it require exotic ingredients that cannot be duplicated with Shardcraft (such as requiring the pages be made of vellum from the Dire Sheep of D'Irelund) might be a good way to prevent this, although depending on how much I have the Grimoires cost (in general, I intend to use a scheme similar to Christopher Rice’s Metatronic Generators to price most magic items, including Grimoires, but scale it so that the more character points the item is worth at the end, the more it costs per character point), this may be a non-issue.

*"Human" is a term applied to every non-monster sapient race, of which there are 6 (and none of them correspond to Earth humans). Elves, Dwarves, Giants, and Halflings simply see a clear crystal, so long as there isn't anything UV-fluorescent within range of the Shard. Catfolk see a faint glow, often imperceptible in bright light, while to Pixies, UV-A is just another color (which probably needs a name).

**This is based on a laborer making ~$300 per month (Average TL3 income under my own Wealth houserules). I assume a worker can generate roughly 5xBL Watts at a cost of 1 FP per hour, so if we assume 8 hours of work per day (probably 4 hours work, 1 hour rest, then another 4 hours of work, for a 9 hour workday), that's 20000 Watt-hours per month, or $0.015 per Watt-hour (over 100 times the modern US average of $0.12 per kiloWatt-hour of electricity). So, 100 Watts would cost $1.5 per hour. S1.5 per hour would correspond to S0.1 per 4 minutes. I opted to round this up to 5 minutes thanks to GURPS' rampant pentaphilia.

***At and below +0, every +1 to light level is +4 SSR (x5, x20, x100, x500, etc) to lux, which is +4SSR to lumens and thus +4 SSR to power. A typical torch is around 200 lumens and gets you to +0 light at 0.5 yards and is -1 to light per +2 SSR. One that gives +0 light at 2 yards (-1 at 5, -2 at 10, etc) is going to be around 4000 lumens (+8 SSR, or x20).
S0.1 lasting 30 minutes indicates the torch-like light source uses 40W. We need 800W for our super-torch, so each S0.1 lasts a little less than 5 seconds (I'm getting 4.6875s). If you're fine with lumens scaling a little bit differently from Watts, you can treat it as -8 SSR to endurance per +1 light level (or +8 SSR to endurance per +1 light level). So, a torch-equivalent lasts 30 minutes, a +1 torch (comparable to a good flashlight) lasts 1.5 minutes, +2 lasts 0.07 minutes (4.2 seconds), a -1 torch (comparable to a cell phone screen) would last 700 minutes (just shy of 12 hours), a -2 torch (comparable to a candle) would last 15000 minutes (250 hours, just shy of 10.5 days), etc. Do note that, if you're ok with red light, you'd be better off just using a red Shard (which produces 1 candela of light indefinitely) than a -2 flameless torch. I suspect Shards and flameless torches have replaced more traditional lighting means in most cases.

****Well, not quite. It's technically possible to create novel spells via research, but most mages don't bother. About the only known spells to have been created in this way are variants on interdimensional storage spells (the originals are from the dungeons), primarily utilized by Pixies.
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