Sunday, January 31, 2010

Divers: Concrete Explanation, Part 1

"...Okay, we've officially gone down far enough now."

Here's the actual nuts and bolts of the process of Diving, inasmuch as I've presently conceived it. Let's start by going over the various terms and concepts. . .

"Diver Level" is a metagame term describing how far any character can 'push' themselves downwards. In terms of game balance, the score representing your Diver Level plays a similar role to your character level in D&D, since being able to dive deeper means you can then work to further unlock your own powers.

"Depth Level" is another arbitrary metagame number, essentially a unit of measurement; if I describe how a character "dives from level 4 to level 5", it means about the same thing as saying that "the submersible dives from 40 fathoms to 50 fathoms". All human beings exist across all depth levels, but their presence is generally imperceptible unless they're presently on the same depth level as you (give or take). The exception to this is depth level 0, the "surface" that we all normally operate on.

"Inner Powers" are the first type of supernatural abilities divers gain while in the depths. These powers simply enhance what you can do with your own physical body- unnatural levels of speed and strength, as well as more unusual talents such being able to run up walls and casually balance on power lines. They never involve any visual "special effects", though there are certainly cases where the use of the power makes a pretty striking image in and of itself.

"Aura Powers" are the other type of supernatural abilities. Your "aura" is your personal supply of an energy/force that can be willed into being and manipulated to create various effects; some basic example would be creating a shield or launching section of your aura as projectiles directed towards your enemy. The raw form of one's aura and the ways it can be applied are unique to each diver; swirling red flames, interwoven bands of pure white light, a crackling mass of blue-tinged lightning- all are possible.

"Manifestation Types"
are the different ways one's aura can manifest. Most divers carry out most applications of their aura by projecting their aura as raw energy and then directing it. Common variants include being able summon specific items (such as a weapon) or even shadows with specific abilities and applications. Meanwhile, one of the rarer options (albeit one that's much more frequent with spirits) is the actual transformation of your physical form. Manifestation types provide some of the most clear-cut implications about a diver's inner nature and personality.

"Partial Submersion" is when you're diving while maintaining your awareness of the Surface, allowing you to simultaneously perceive and operate across depth levels. Partial submersion has several limits; you can't use aura powers, and your location and actions in the depths can't vary too much from that of your surface self (though the exact amount of leeway increases the deeper you go).

Dive Link:
The phenomenon that occurs when you are partially submersed and observing/being observed by someone who isn't fully submersed. The downwards 'push' you exert on yourself in order to dive is distributed evenly among you, and can be assisted or opposed by another diver who's a part of the link. An effort which would normally take you down to depth level 6 would take you and a second person down to level 3, three people (including yourself) down to level 2, or 4-6 people down to level 1. Take someone down far enough and they become fully submersed, breaking the dive link- though you can still hold them in place by more direct means. Many divers and spirits can establish a weaker form of dive link that lets them pull someone on a different depth towards them (i.e. it's a skill).

"Full Submersion" is when you're diving without bothering to "keep one hand on" your surface self (meaning that it falls unconscious). You can dive further downwards and freely travel to distant locations, while having full access to both types of powers. You operate on your current depth level only, rather than being able to perceive and affect things all the way back to the surface. Since you can't perceive people who aren't currently diving to the same level, you have to make educated guesses as to how the elements at your present depth are tied to situations on the surface.

"Borders" are points in a region's depths where the current level is separate from the one below it. They don't exist as any kind of physical barrier, but divers can sense when they're pressing against one. The depths on two sides of a border can be markedly different, rather than being a part of a gradual transformation. The challenge a border poses is determined by its depth and your Diver Level. At first they're hardly noticeable. Then they act like speed bumps- you have to pause for a moment to force your way past, but it takes no significant effort. Next, they're like hills- it does take effort to get across, and that effort is increased by the number of 'hills' and 'speed bumps' you've already forced yourself past. Eventually (say, 75% of your maximum depth at the deepest) you reach the point where your Diver Level isn't high enough to push yourself over border at your current depth. Fortunately, borders never completely separate two sections of a region's depths; there's always some common link connecting the two, letting you cross so long as you've worked out the conditions (which usually involve some key location).

Art Credits: Unknown.

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