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Author Topic: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions  (Read 15776 times)

NW_Kohaku

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Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« on: February 23, 2012, 09:02:17 pm »

Put on the Eternal Suggestions Voting as "Alchemical Material Property Tokens" if you wish to vote for this.

One thing that makes Dwarf Fortress somewhat unique is in the way that objects are handled by the game - objects are not just one thing as they are in most games (a steel longsword is just one item, as completely distinct from an orihalcum longsword as it is from any other weapon in the game), but rather the combination of a "material" (what defines the physical and chemical properties of that item), a "shape" (the specific type of tool or item class it belongs to, and what defines how the item is used), and possibly "improvements" (which are mostly cosmetic descriptors like hanging rings that exist for the purposes of the player's entertainment or increasing value, but without much gameplay effect at the moment). 

"Alchemy" in most games is like how most of the reactions  that already exist in DF work right now - a set, specific list of items producing a set, specific product with set, specific properties.  Dwarf Fortress, however, really needs to make much more use of its category-based reactions system, as DF is flooded with different material types that come from the various different types of barely-distinguished stones, and hundreds of different creature types.

This is especially problematic now that we are going into having to use specific materials against specific night creatures.  As someone said in another thread, we may be called upon to kill a beast that is only vulnerable to weapons carved from frozen sperm whale ambergris, nevermind the fact that sperm whales may be extinct in this world, and it will be impossible to create such a weapon.

It also provides a use for the several currently "useless" materials, like ores that cannot be smelted into useful types of metal (such as cinnibar or cobaltite).

By adding either raw-defined or procedural material properties (at the player's choice) onto materials, the tremendous number of different materials can be given a meaning in their differences.  This was always intended, but never actually implemented, as, I believe, Toady never really figured out how, and that is why I suggest transferable "alchemical material property" tokens as a solution.

I have been musing over the idea for over a year, now, and I believe that the best way to incorporate a truly innovative alchemy system for Dwarf Fortress is to embrace the rather loosely-defined rules that govern the game, and allow players to create a radically wide array of effects from the materials that they have on hand. 

On the games that helped inspire this idea (skippable):
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Outline of what will need to be implemented:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Click here for a post with pretty pictures detailing the simplified view of this!

Alchemical Reaction Webs
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Data storage
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Interface
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Reaction Catalysts
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 05:25:59 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 09:03:31 pm »

The creation of procedurally generated metals and other procedural materials
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Relevance to the Interaction and Syndrome System
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Nutrition Material Tokens
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Descriptive Property Tokens
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Property Tiers
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 05:32:49 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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monk12

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2012, 06:35:44 pm »

I do love these giant threads of yours- they always make me think. "Waffle Trolls" gave me a good laugh too.

I think one thought that kept surfacing for me during my read was the concept of dilution. Basically, when you mix things you either get an "elemental" new item (Density A + Density B = Average A+B), a "mixed" item (Stinky + Delicious = Something that is equally stinky and delicious), or a "diluted" item. A diluted item is similar to the "elemental" mixture in that the properties added affect one another, except that they don't necessarily counteract or eliminate. It is similar to the mixed item in that they retain their individual effects, except they do not retain their initial strength.

For example, adding Stinky and Rose smells together gets you something equally stinky and rosy, not a neutral scent. However the strength of both properties is not as strong- it isn't as rosy as a rosy thing, nor as stinky as a stinky thing. If you added Stinky and Rose and Lilac and Orchid and Mango, you aren't going to identify it as something that is all of those things- it'll just be generally "flowery" or "pungent." By the time the ingredients get that diluted, their individual effects are negligible but still add up to something non-neutral.

At the same time, it may be possible to distill such a creation into its discrete elements, so the game still needs to track this information. By the same reasoning, you could theoretically distill iron to extract its essential "ironness" to forge a more effective weapon against iron-weak creatures, even if it would overall be a worse weapon. A creature weak to bronze would be hurt by bismuth bronze, but to a lesser extent than pure bronze. Similarly, a creature weak to bismuth bronze could be more vulnerable to regular bronze if the specific material tag it is weak to is present in the bronze half of the mixture, or it could be able to ignore the effects entirely if the tag is present in the bismuth half, or only created by the combination of the two substances.

All in all, very interesting and worth supporting. Not quite enough to supplant my current votes in ESV (Class Warfare, Improved Religion and Improved Farming) but easily my first runner-up. Hopefully Toady will actually get to some of those items before I'm toothless and old :P

NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2012, 06:59:18 pm »

I can't claim credit for the term "waffle trolls", that was someone else's term used in reaction to the Future of the Fortress thread.

Anyway, regarding "dilution", one of the reasons that items cancel out is to make it possible to actually remove some properties, rather than just muddy them. 

Like I said, in Atelier Rorona, one of the problems you constantly faced was trying to remove the properties you didn't want from the items you were creating while putting the properties you did want on - and "useless" properties took higher priority, so you had to find ways to cancel them.  To that end, Rorona let you cancel out properties that were opposed even when they were of different strengths.  So the tier-3 "small" token, "ant-sized", could be cancelled out by the tier-1 "big" token. 

Likewise, tokens shouldn't interfere with other tokens (excepting the ones that react or cancel out), but simply stack.  There shouldn't be a way to make iron more "irony" other than having the iron token(s), and removing other properties is not going to make those more prominent.  Doing so would wind up making a bit of a mess in just trying to calculate out the ultimate effects of everything.

The point of this is that we aren't necessarily mixing paint, here, we're having (al)chemical reactions. The whole can be much greater or less or something completely sideways from the sum of the parts.  The useless descriptor tokens "small" and "energetic" might merge to form "agility +1", which is the point of those "useless" descriptor tokens - they can be combined to make something useful if you know how.
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Patchy

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2012, 07:32:19 pm »

Interesting, never played the 2 games you cited as your inspiration. But in some ways your suggestion reminds me of morrowinds alchemy system with the properties passing over to the new potion. It pretty much took 2 materials with the same property to combine and pass the property on to the product potion. Though this looks to be a bit more complex than morrowind. Still sounds fun though.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2012, 08:09:02 pm »

Interesting, never played the 2 games you cited as your inspiration. But in some ways your suggestion reminds me of morrowinds alchemy system with the properties passing over to the new potion. It pretty much took 2 materials with the same property to combine and pass the property on to the product potion. Though this looks to be a bit more complex than morrowind. Still sounds fun though.

Yes, the Elder Scrolls series has something I would have used for inspiration, had it not been for the fact that Gust Corporation games just plain have a far more robust system for alchemy. 

This owes mostly to the fact that the crafting system is the core gameplay element, and combat is lucky to come in at a distant second, and sometimes comes in lower.  Gust Corporation games, aside from Ar Tonelico and the Atelier Iris series, tend to skew more towards a more casual and more female demographic, although not quite as strong as the Harvest Moon series does. 

One of the things that's really striking about the Gust Corporation series, though, is that you aren't just taking a few raw materials and directly making a finished product.

Atelier Iris 2, which had by far the most abusable system of any crafting game I've ever seen, would even let you create a basic healing potion out of a basic weed and some water, and then make a high healing potion out of the basic healing potion and some more easily-obtained herbs, with the effects of the basic herbs compounding with the effects already in the basic healing potion.  You could then use the high healing potion you just created (using a basic healing potion) as an ingredient in the formula for the basic healing potion again, further compounding the effects, so that you could make a basic healing potion have range boosters that affect the whole party, and massively pump up the healing potential so that you can heal up to half your total health for your whole party even in the late game with the most basic craftable healing item in your inventory.  You could even use these feedback loops to give the same all-powerful equipment boosting attributes to basically any piece of craftable equipment in the game, due to the fact that the "alchemy web" of items you could feed in as raw materials eventually linked almost every single item - once you gained the all-powerful properties you wanted, you could just pass them along, and the fact that the properties you power-pumped had higher priority than the random trash attributes that might get tacked on meant that only the abusable properties you tweaked onto your equipment would be passed. 

Even in one of the games with a far more sane alchemy web, like Mana Khemia 1, making top-tier armor and weapons took so many intermediary steps that making a full batch of the top-tier items wound up taking something on the order of 2000 raw material items, including over 300 units of "legion steel".  That's basically over 120 raw material items per top-tier item, by the way.  This is because a top-tier item takes three or four intermediary items that exist only to be used to make more complex items or are lower-tier weapons or armor items that you are upgrading, and those items are upgraded forms of lower-tier weapons or armor plus two or three more intermediary items that are only used in the making of more items, which are themselves made of two or three more items that are only used in the making of more items.

The reason I went through so much legion steel is because I could buy it, and it made some of the cheapest versions of a healing item that is used to create a holy badge (five legion steel total apiece, three for the heal-all used in making it alone) that is the cheapest way to make a freak-ton of intermediary items.

You can only carry 99 of any given item in your inventory, by the way.  Because I am the sort of player who wants to keep one of every item in my inventory, making all these from scratch instead of just upgrading my old stuff took 5 hours, and required 4 trips to the store for that one type of raw material alone.

I actually ran out of, and had to go back on runs to dungeons in order to get a basic, weed-like type of grass used in basic potions, dirt, and water while making those items, by the way.  I RAN OUT OF DIRT, WATER, AND WEEDS, AND HAD TO GO EXPLORING FOR THEM.  That's how much crafting it takes to make these things.

So, anyway, that's the sort of idea I have for a crafting system - make the sky the limit in terms of what you can actually make.  Make it possible to have some really game-breaking weapons (well, aside from the spoilerite), but make you have to toil 'till your eyes bleed from the effort of actually trying to find the way through the maze of alchemy reactions it takes to actually claw your way to the top of the alchemy web.
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Watsst

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 09:40:51 pm »

While I do understand that alchemy back in the day was just not very well understood chemistry, I've found with current mods that being able to create new metals and such from items gets needlessly complicated sometimes, when compared to the ease of getting steel from merchants. Either would require new raw stats, or an edit of to the ease of getting some ores. While alchemy could go in that direction I'm kinda hoping it doesnt. Keep the creature weaknesses to an advantage rather than a restriction on how to kill it.

Rather the alchemy went the way of drugs. Drugs were used before the 1400's (cocaine leaves, opium, chocolate, vikings using mushrooms to go berserk in battle) so that solves toadys timeline restrictions, would allow for the creation of temorary buffs that could be used in some mists, and would be fun. Having an army that could use drugs in battle to ignore pain or go berserk, only to suffer for it later would be fun. Possible addiction and having to guard the drug stockpile from some dwarves, as well as other possible concotions would create much FUN

Edit: Fixed
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 01:45:06 am by Watsst »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 10:27:03 pm »

... when compared to the ease of getting ***** or steel from merchants.

We don't say the "A-word" around here.  You might want to correct your reference to the Spoilerite. 

Anyway, whether or not creature weaknesses are an absolute mandatory thing is sort of outside the realm of this specific suggestion.  Given what Toady has said on the subject in the Future of the Fortress thread, he seems to be pretty heavily in favor of "creatures not being 100% killable without using their weakness", and that he's simply trying to work out how to best give players the ability to get access to those weaknesses in both Adventure and Fortress modes.

I'm not sure exactly of how you want alchemy to work, however, so I'd have to ask you to explain exactly what you mean...

What I'm suggesting, however, is not so much that you will be forced into a crazy complicated mod-style reaction, but rather, that crazy complicated reactions could be possible, but where you have complete control over how much you want to follow it.

In the current game, you have the choice of setting up a complex clothing factory with growers of cloth and dye in your farms, setting up weavers and clothiers and dyers, and producing all sorts of clothing for your fortress and for trade... or you can maybe buy a few shoes off a caravan and generally let your dwarves go naked.

In the current game, you can fight all your battles face-to-face with "real dwarves" that eschew crossbows and traps and magmacannons and atom smashers, or you can just seal yourself off and ignore the rest of the world and play the parts you want.

In the current game, you can completely ignore the geology the game incorporates, you can completely ignore the complex histories that go into legends mode.  You can completely ignore Adventure Mode entirely, or Fortress Mode, for that matter.

There's a big difference in making something players have to use very clunky and giving them a system enough complexity to entertain the people who are interested in exploring, but which they never have to explore if they don't want to.  Because it doesn't hurt you that something fantastically complex is there, and who knows, maybe at some point, you'll suddenly find that you like it, after all.
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Watsst

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 02:44:24 am »

Sorry about the spoilerite, fixed.

From what I read of your post I take it you want alchemy so that you can use a large range of materials, useless and otherwise, so you can make other stuff like metals? There was alot of talk about other games so I didnt really get all that you were suggesting specifically to be added to DF. If I'm wrong about something let me know.

Well I'll mention the Civilization Forge mod, which you've probably played. They massively updated the amount of stuff you can do through alchemy to create metals such as Incendium, Glacium, Tempestium etc. To go with this you have to create about 10 extra workshops to create all the different metals. It is pretty cool being able to create squads that are covered in all red, green, black or white armor and all the complexity is there. The problem with it though, is that it requires meticulous micro-management to get it to work properly, you cant just set it up and have dwarves go and make it, and you will definitely have to keep looking up how to do it (which I do for normal DF anyway... wiki I love you). And at the end of it what do you end up with? More metal... which means you can make coloured expensive furniture, or a few different weapons in different materials. Not much would be added to the game. Which is not saying I dont like it, loved the mod, but the micromanagement was killer, and would probably be liked by less than 50% of the people who play the game. Links below.

Civilization Forge Mod: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=31157.0
Alchemy Page: http://www.brightsoft.net/AlchemyGraph.png

In my opinion, I think alchemy should be more herbal. Not like generic "healing" or "mana" potion making, but powders for poisons, drugs, strange concoctions. Its something that would open the game up in terms of things to do, and would add something new. Again my opinion. Heck, if both could be made that would be fine, but I hate having to mircomanage what each dwarf does, so as to produce about 10 bars, which would make barely anything when I have a fortress of 200 dwarfs.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 11:16:20 am »

Sorry about the spoilerite, fixed.

From what I read of your post I take it you want alchemy so that you can use a large range of materials, useless and otherwise, so you can make other stuff like metals? There was alot of talk about other games so I didnt really get all that you were suggesting specifically to be added to DF. If I'm wrong about something let me know.

Well I'll mention the Civilization Forge mod, which you've probably played. They massively updated the amount of stuff you can do through alchemy to create metals such as Incendium, Glacium, Tempestium etc. To go with this you have to create about 10 extra workshops to create all the different metals. It is pretty cool being able to create squads that are covered in all red, green, black or white armor and all the complexity is there. The problem with it though, is that it requires meticulous micro-management to get it to work properly, you cant just set it up and have dwarves go and make it, and you will definitely have to keep looking up how to do it (which I do for normal DF anyway... wiki I love you). And at the end of it what do you end up with? More metal... which means you can make coloured expensive furniture, or a few different weapons in different materials. Not much would be added to the game. Which is not saying I dont like it, loved the mod, but the micromanagement was killer, and would probably be liked by less than 50% of the people who play the game. Links below.

Civilization Forge Mod: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=31157.0
Alchemy Page: http://www.brightsoft.net/AlchemyGraph.png

In my opinion, I think alchemy should be more herbal. Not like generic "healing" or "mana" potion making, but powders for poisons, drugs, strange concoctions. Its something that would open the game up in terms of things to do, and would add something new. Again my opinion. Heck, if both could be made that would be fine, but I hate having to mircomanage what each dwarf does, so as to produce about 10 bars, which would make barely anything when I have a fortress of 200 dwarfs.

I think you're being thrown off a little by the term "alchemy".

I'm not proposing an "alchemy workshop", the way that it exists in those other mods.  I'm proposing rewriting the way all reactions work in the game.  As in, the thing I'm talking about takes place when you smelt ore into metal at a smelter, it takes place when you cook food at the kitchen, it takes place when you weave fabric into thread, carve furniture from wood, etc. etc. etc. 

Any type of transformation of an item into another item would be covered by this system.  That's because the change I am proposing is a change to the fundamental way in which materials are recorded and interact with one another when they are transformed into another item. 

The point of this is to make, for example, chalk different from dolomite.  To make granite different from gabbro, or for that matter, granite different from sandstone. 

Toady had always meant for gabbro and granite to have notably different properties, but he never really figured out how to do so.  This is the way in which it could take place.

As for the micromanagement that would occur from having the ability to have a long, complex creation chain, again, I have to say that there's no real need to make any material that is too complex.  There's no point in playing one of those mods that give you complex formulas for metals to create a metal chair that you could have made with simple stone anyway and then complaining about how you went through an unnecessary set of steps when the simpler solution was right in front of you.

Beyond that, however, what we need is what we have always needed - a redesign of the interface governing the workshops that players have suggested and voted up into the top of the Eternal Suggestions Voting since 2008. 

I could suggest that again, (and why not?  I guess I could throw that in there...) but it would just be suggesting the same thing again.
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jseah

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 01:44:54 pm »

This is an excellent suggestion!  I like it almost as much as the plants one.  Terraforming plants FTW.  (material property token then allows you to make terraforming statues...)

Might want to ask people to search for "Alchemical Material Property Tokens" in the ESV or it will be impossible to find. 

Not everyone is as crazy as me to scroll through the list looking for it. 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 02:55:35 pm »

Thank you for the encouragement. 

Might want to ask people to search for "Alchemical Material Property Tokens" in the ESV or it will be impossible to find. 

Not everyone is as crazy as me to scroll through the list looking for it.

It should link directly to the specific item.  It does for me when I click on it...
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Watsst

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 03:12:38 pm »

Well after reading all this, and trying to understand it I guess I can say, its beyond me. I retract previous statements.
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jseah

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 04:26:42 pm »

It should link directly to the specific item.  It does for me when I click on it...
Certainly doesn't for me. 

Still, I have doubled the vote count!  =P

Anyway, a few thoughts:
Dwarf AI could quite easily work out how to make certain things from certain others.  It's basically a travelling salesman problem with potential "steps" from each point represented as vectors from each object to be added. 
Then the player could say "these things are available, use as much as you want.  use these other things with certain limits.  Make X"
Dwarves go "not possible, closest is Y"

Scratch that.  Travelling salesman problems are not easy. 
EDIT: actually Dijkstra's Algorithm might be useful.  This is just like an infinitely extensible graph...


Another one is that all properties except those with numbers can be done with On/Off.  Some properties might have scales from +1 to +X, but what governs increasing the scale is not linear and thus you can't add them.  It would be better to implement them as mutually exclusive On/Off properties (higher ones override lower ones)

Presumably, one can write reaction statements as:
Input: [Material Property 1] + [Material Property 2] + ...
Properties in catalysts: [Material Property 1] + [Material Property 2] + ...
Output: [Material Property 1] + [Material Property 2] + ...
Catalyst gains/removes: [Material Property 1] + [Material Property 2] + ...

And then let what property transfers be dependent on the base type of reaction. 
Once all the properties have been transferred, the reactions are checked and happen.  The list of reactions is ordered by priority, so certain property reactions happen first.  (eg. Density and solid/liquid/gas state changes)

Most of them would be take one item [+additive] and make one item. 
Thread [+dye] -> Cloth.  Or metal ore [+flux +additive] --furnace--> metal

Some of them would take one item and make two, splitting all or some of a list of properties from one to the other. 
Wine --still--> Spirits + Leftover Mash

Some of them would take two things and make two, exchanging some or all of a list of properties from one to the other. 
Water + plant --container + heat--> plant extract + plant debris
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 09:47:32 pm by jseah »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Alchemical Material Property Tokens: Redesigning Reactions
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 11:10:19 pm »

I don't necessarily want dwarven AI handling this.  I kind of like the discovery.  With that said, being able to make a map is a critical aspect to discovery, so I added the "Alchemy Journal" to the Interface section. 

As for how reactions work, what you would actually see is something more like the following, if you made the raw format a little more legible:

Code: [Select]
Workshop Reaction: Smelt with carbon and flux:
     Building: any smelter
     Requirement: Dwarven smelting techniques enabled
     Reagent 1: any metal
     Reagent 2: bar with "carbonized" token
     Reagent 3: any stone
     Reagent 4: Heat source (although the carbonized bar counts)
     Product: metal type

Then, you might see something like this in the property reaction raws:
Code: [Select]
Property Token Reaction: Becomes Steel
    Catalyst: Smelter
    Token 1: token(s) that characterize pig iron (may just be "carbonized" and "iron")
    Token 2: Flux token
    Token 3: Carbonized token
    Product Token: token(s) that define steel

You can put in any metal, any sort of carbon-rich bar, and anything that counts as flux, and you'll get something in return.

If you put in pig iron, coke, and a basic flux like chalk, you'll get Steel.  If you meddle with the inputs, you'll get something different. 

Since you can keep feeding a metal into the reaction, however, you can keep adding strange properties to the same metal and keep feeding it through the reaction to give it odd tokens before finally doing a "steel-like" reaction, which can give you steel, but maybe with something extra on top.

The point is that your reactions don't have defined outcomes, the game just checks for token reactions at the time that you have a workshop reaction.  Nothing stops you from making reactions that do little but stack property tokens on or cancel tokens out while spitting out the same "shape" of item you put in, plus or minus some property tokens. 

So, instead of just trying to make a specific type of item straight away, what a player might do is constantly loop a single item that is a bar of metal through various smeltings to add all sorts of crazy properties before finally sending it off to become made into a final product. 

Likewise, with the medical/potion/cooking/organic stuff, you might just constantly fiddle with the properties of some basic "plant" item or "meat" item or whatever, and try to pass around and collect on a single item all the properties you want before passing it into the finished product reaction to become made into a potion or a finished dish. 

That way, you could, say, have the ability to use an edible plant and some water to make some sort of drinkable potion.  The basic plants and water you have won't actually give you any beneficial effects, however.  If you prepare the plants by stewing them with another plant, however, it might result in a plant with new properties thanks to a property token reaction.  Then, if the water is altered with some bone powder being dissolved in, its properties might change, as well.  So then, when you finally make the potion, the properties might have some completely different effect than when you just made a potion of the basic crop plant and basic well water.

Hence, you don't need that many actual workshop reactions.  You can pretty much cover everything with "plant + liquid + container for liquid = potion + container for potion" and then maybe some for "powder + liquid + container for liquid = liquid + container for liquid" or some similar things that are all very vague classes of reactions.

What gets complicated, and where all the "magic takes place" is in the property token reactions.

(I should probably add this part into the main, as well...)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 11:12:38 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

Improved Farming
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