§17.15. Understanding things by their properties

Items are ordinarily understood only by their original given names. For instance, if we have:

In the Herb Garden is a china pot.

then the player could refer to this as "pot", "china pot" or "china". We can embellish this by adding extra forms:

Understand "chinese pot" or "chinese vase" as the china pot.

But suppose the pot changes its nature in the course of play? If we have:

The china pot can be unbroken or broken. The china pot is unbroken.

After dropping the china pot:
    say "Crack!";
    now the china pot is broken;
    now the printed name of the pot is "broken pot".

So now the player would reasonably expect to call it "broken pot", a wording which would have been rejected before. We can achieve this by writing:

Understand the unbroken property as describing the pot.

which allows "unbroken" or "broken" to describe the pot, depending on its state. And, since the player might well use a different adjective but with the same idea in mind, we can even add:

Understand "shattered" or "cracked" or "smashed" as broken. Understand "pristine" as unbroken.

This is something of a toy example, but the feature looks rather more useful when there are more pots than just one:

"Terracotta"

A flowerpot is a kind of thing. A flowerpot can be unbroken or broken. Understand the broken property as describing a flowerpot.

After dropping an unbroken flowerpot:
    say "Crack!";
    now the noun is broken;
    now the printed name of the noun is "broken flowerpot";
    now the printed plural name of the noun is "broken flowerpots".

The Herb Garden is a room. In the Herb Garden are ten unbroken flowerpots.

We then have the dialogue:

Herb Garden
You can see ten flowerpots here.
>get two flowerpots
flowerpot: Taken.
flowerpot: Taken.
>drop all
flowerpot: Crack!
flowerpot: Crack!
>look
Herb Garden
You can see two broken flowerpots and eight flowerpots here.
>get an unbroken flowerpot
Taken.

and so on and so forth.

There are in fact two slightly different forms of this kind of sentence:

Understand the broken property as describing a flowerpot.
Understand the broken property as referring to a flowerpot.

The only difference is that in the "describing" case, the property's name alone can mean the thing in question - so "take unbroken" will work; whereas, in the "referring to", the property's name can only be used as an adjective preceding the name of thing itself - so "take unbroken flowerpot" will work but "take unbroken" will not.


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*ExampleAspect
Understanding aspect ratios (a unit) in the names of televisions.

*ExampleHymenaeus
Understanding "flaming torch" and "extinguished torch" to refer to torches when lit and unlit.

**ExampleChannel 1
Understanding channels (a number) in the names of televisions.

**ExampleTerracottissima
The flowerpots once again, but this time arranged so that after the first breakage all undamaged pots are said to be "unbroken", to distinguish them from the others.

**ExamplePeers
The peers of the English realm come in six flavours - Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquess, Duke and Prince - and must always be addressed properly. While a peerage is for life, it may at the royal pleasure be promoted.

***ExampleChannel 2
Understanding channels (a number) in the names of televisions, with more sophisticated parsing of the change channel action.

***ExampleTerracottissima Maxima
Flowerpots with textual names that might change during play.

***ExampleTilt 1
A deck of cards with fully implemented individual cards, which can be separately drawn and discarded, and referred to by name.