§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.

 ExampleAspectUnderstanding aspect ratios (a unit) in the names of televisions.

 ExampleHymenaeusUnderstanding "flaming torch" and "extinguished torch" to refer to torches when lit and unlit.

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

 ExampleTerracottissimaThe 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.

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

 ExampleTerracottissima MaximaFlowerpots with textual names that might change during play.

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