GSGuide Wiki

The following can be found in game by typing ALTER.

Alterations - General[]

1) Where to Start[]

You have successfully secured the services of an alterer. Where do you begin?

An alteration allows you to customize one of your items. This is an opportunity for you to adorn some of your belongings to fit your character's persona or create a roleplaying tool.

Being prepared is a big key to having a good experience at a merchant event. Do you have an idea ready for the item you would like worked on? Have you pictured it in your mind's eye? Even if you would like the merchant to design the item for you, it's good to have a basic idea or two ready ahead of time.

Be sure to read the signs posted at the merchant you are attending, so that you understand what kind of work they do. Merchants who are sewing pockets into items usually won't add a silver clasp to your cloak.

Some alteration merchants offer a variety of skills. They can add or change the colors, gems, fittings and devices, or even the fabric of clothing. They might offer adornments of feathers, bones, or embroidery. Very talented merchants sometimes change the overall style of your item -- like turning a tattered shirt you found in the wilds into bejewelled organza blouse.

2) Base Descriptions (the 15/15/15 rule)[]

The base description is also called a "tap description" and it is what everyone sees when you move the item in and out of your backpack, or you look in your locker, and glance down at your hands, etc.

The base description is limited in the total number of spaces used. The number of spaces allowed is commonly referred to as the"15/15/15 rule." The base description is broken up into three sections: article, adjective, and noun. Each of those sections cannot be longer than 15 characters.

Example: "a,red,cloak" would be 1/3/5.

Another example would be: "a pearl-hilted,vultite,longsword", which amounts to 14/7/9. Spaces and punctuation between words count as part of the 15 allowed per section. The last 15 is reserved for the NOUN only.

Example: "an opal-clasped,spidersilk,traveling cloak"

The above is not correct even though it fits the 15/15/15 spaces.

When an item has a show description the base description must follow the 15/15/15 rule.

3) Long Descriptions (seen all the time and when TAPPED)[]

Another type of alteration is called a "long description." A long description contains the base description with a phrase added to it, such as, "an elegant black spidersilk cloak adorned with a faceted ruby clasp." There are a few tips to keep in mind when requesting a long description:

- Try to keep the phrase to under 12 words.
- No commas are allowed.
- No names or phrases, unless the item is large enough for wording to
  be seen at a long distance -- for instance, painted large on a cloak.
- Ending your phrase with a noun usually sounds best.
    Example: "a silver-threaded spidersilk backpack edged with braided cording"

Long descriptions are always visible and also show when TAPPED. Containers with long descriptions can be INSPECTED -- a particularly handy tool when stock items on merchant displays only have their base descriptions visible.

4) Show (seen when you SHOW it or LOOK at it)[]

When merchants say they can add a "show" to your item, they are creating a design that other adventurers can see when you SHOW them that item or when you LOOK at it. This is usually a paragraph (about 500 characters) that describes your item in detail, without telling the viewer how to feel or what they imagine. The show is added to a base description of an item. Avoid providing information that the viewer could not possibly assess from looking at the item such as "This elegant cloak has been passed down through seven generations." or "This antique cloak was once owned by the Baron of Studeldorf."

5) Additional Tips[]

A. How realistic is the design you're requesting? What does it look like? Can you picture it in your mind? Avoid the words "seems to" or "appears to." Since you are already closely "showing" the item to someone when you have a show description, it is usually not necessary to include phrases like "Upon closer inspection" or "Looking more closely" in the description.

B. Avoid telling the viewer how they feel, think, what they are imagining, or how they might react when looking at the item.

C. Research the item you're asking for. Even if it was an item from the 15th century, if it sounds odd and is not something you have seen in the lands before, other players might respond with, "What the heck is a XXXX!" It could be in-genre, but too obscure to use as your item noun or color.

D. Merchants may refuse to create a particular design. This may happen if the design violates one of the rules stated in the ALTER verb, or if it violates the restrictions pre-set by the GM for their merchant's services. There might also be other valid reasons, like it is identical to special quest or auction items that are limited in quantity. Some merchants might enjoy working with scary, ugly, and grotesque requests, some won't touch them. Merchants might prefer to work only on items available from their shops, others might chose to work on a single type of item during a given session. A tailor, for instance, might not be able to dye your leather armor; a toymaker might not be able to add a leather hilt to your sword. When a merchant refuses your design, please respect the GM's decision and choose another design.

E. Don't plead with a merchant to make you an item just because So-And-So has one. It may be the unique item you have always dreamed of, but the merchant must feel comfortable with the item falling within their abilities and the guidelines, before they can customize the item for you. We are constantly trying to improve our consistency and standards. As the rules have become more refined over the years, some things that were once allowed may not be available any longer.

F. Don't ask for items that give you a mental image of something outside the realms. If your outfit looks like a hula dancer, a 60's prom queen or World War II infantry uniform, it forces those around you out of the medieval ambiance. If it doesn't exist in Elanthia, we won't make them. Mini-skirts, belly rings, trench coats, and cargo pants are some examples of out-of-genre items. The same is true for real world language based-names, such as kimono, choli, sarong, etc. They can all be adequately described in detail using common Elanthian (robe, bodice or shirt, and wrap-skirt) or Elanthian culturally specific nouns.

G. Always take advantage of the many official documents to aid your designs. In recent years, a bunch of cultural information has cropped up that can serve as excellent resources. Each race now has both costume and cultural guides. Specific Elanthian flora research and Arkati symbolism are also available. Some of the gems have special meanings, as do the jewelry they fit into! Check out these links for more information:

Alterations - Guidelines[]

6) Scripted Items[]

Many items are made with a script attached, to provide them with special abilities. Altering these items can sometimes break the properties of the item. Merchants may chose not to alter a scripted item, unless they are the original creator of the item or they can verify that the requested alteration won't harm the way the script functions. To be on the safe side, some merchants might prefer not to alter scripted items at all. You can ANALYZE items to see if they are scripted, as well as ask the merchant to check them for you.

7) Risque Clothing[]

Clothing or items that represent lingerie, undergarments, or "adult toys" of any sort, are forbidden. Avoid mentioning body parts in alteration descriptions. Sexy clothing is okay, but only to a point. You can have a "low-cut bodice", but anything more risque stands the risk of being rejected. An evening dress cut to reveal the soft skin beneath takes on a somewhat grisly connotation when seen lying on the ground or being stuffed into a backpack. Tight-fitting clothing wouldn't look right when in your hand.

8) Out of Genre[]

Items judged to be out-of-genre, such as mini-skirts, go-go boots, sneakers, etc., will be rejected.

We will not create items out of material we don't have (aluminum, plastic), nor will we create things that don't exist in Elanthia (a nazi helmet, a denim jacket). They're OOG. Likewise modern items such as, trench coats, dusters, halter tops, maternity gowns, and hot pants should also be avoided. (We also won't create straightjackets for you to wear, or realistic animal features for your body.)

9) Adornments[]

Some merchants may require that you provide the adornment for your alteration, particularly for the rarer types of gems, skins, or metals -- they'll inform you if your request falls into that category. Most often, these are items that are difficult to come by: they don't generate often or they only exist in an area where only the most experienced characters can adventure. Examples of this would include some of the unscripted Rift gems or other rare gems; rare skins and pelts from critters; and very rare metals, woods, and gems. A listing of metals, woods; and their rarity, can be found at

The quantity of material supplied should match the amount of embellishment requested -- but do keep in mind that not all merchants have the skills to smelt a weapon into fine jewelry creations, e.g., additional costs for handling rare materials and converting them can apply.

Some rare materials might be restricted or simply not lend themselves to serving as an adornment. Black and white ora, for example, are reserved for weapons. Adamantine, coraesine, drakar, gornar, krodera, kroderine, rhimar, urglaes, urnon, zelnorn, and zorchar cannot be used due to their unique and innate qualities. Veniom is so thin and light, crumpling easily, that it would be unsuitable for use as anything with substance, lending itself better as an accent, like threading and tracery. Rift gems with special properties are not suitable for alterations (doomstones, Eye-of-Koar emeralds, firemote orbs, oblivion quartz, midnight blue riftstones, shadowglass orbs).

Magical woods can be used in small quantities, as in buttons on a shirt and toggles on a cloak, or as inlay and banding on larger items. A listing of metals and woods, their properties and their rarity can be found at

Gem rarity is a knowledge that all merchants should possess. Again, just because a merchant might have made items from those materials in the past is no guarantee that it will be done today.

There are no huntable dragons in the realm, so a dragon claw clasp would not be acceptable for an alteration, but a silver dragon claw-shaped clasp is fine. We currently don't have drakes, unicorns, or other mythical creatures; however, their images can often be rendered depending on the skill of the merchant. As an example, a monkey's paw would be acceptable since that is something you can skin. Blood-soaked, blood-spattered, and bloodstained items are permissible, if the material is appropriate for sustaining the above for a long period of time.

10) Names and Lettering[]

All words designed to be understood by everyone must be in the Common language when placed in the description of an item. GM names do not go on alterations. Player names only go on alterations under special circumstances. For instance, we will not place the image of your enemy's severed head on your shield. However, we might engrave a short note on an item that is clearly a gift: "To Sue, with love, Bob."

Some items can be enscribed with one of Elanthia's various tongues and will only be readable to those familiar with that language. A merchant can examine the item for suitability, but they may not offer that as a possible service, especially if they're not well versed in that particular tongue. The lettering should also go into a show description, unless the item is large enough to bear words that can be seen from a good distance.

11) Images[]

When you request any image it must be one that could realistically be stitched, engraved, painted, or otherwise placed on your item. The image cannot show action or movement or tell the viewer how they feel. It must be an image that would realistically be recognizable to all viewers, and the detail must be something the viewer can realistically see. A viewer could not possibly assess that the image was that of your long lost great grandfather humming a merry tune as he filets hordes of sneering coyotes.

12) Magical Properties[]

Items can't be made to glow, pulsate, vibrate, shake, rattle, squirm, giggle, shimmer, or emanate, unless there's a really good reason for such, based in the item's actual qualities. A non-scripted item does not move of its own accord. A non-magic item could not glow. It might glitter or scintillate if it's encrusted with gems, but it won't cast any light of its own. Avoid the words, "seems to" or "appears to". A "cloak that seems to have a life of its own" is one that tromps all over the rule of not making an item appear to have properties it does not have.

13) Metals and Materials[]

The base material of a weapon, armor, shield, or lockpick must never be changed to another material. This can affect the properties of the item and impact its performance. Small bits of other metals added to the item are often acceptable, such as "a mithril-banded shield" or "an ora-hilted sword." By the same token, changing a spidersilk cloak into a leather cape might require a change in weight, since one is significantly lighter than the other.

Cloth of gold (and platinum or silver) is created when metal thread is woven into the warp of linen, wool, or silk fabric. Ductible metals that allow threading include vaalin and veniom, although due to its ability to lighten what it is incorporated into, cloth of veniom is a very rare fabric only available in limited quantity and by special merchants.

Rare metals should not be requested unless you can provide it in sufficient quantities to the merchant. Even then, smelting and forging such metals might be beyond the skill of the merchant. (See ALTER 9 for more information.)

"Ancient" metals, such as laen or shaalk, should never be requested and are subject to conversion to modern metals when an alteration is requested. (Ancient metals refers to those metal names in existence that have since been changed for copyright reasons. This also applies to ancient creatures, such as raax.)

14) Essence[]

Do not ask to change the basic essence of what an item is. A falchion cannot be changed into "a dwarven war-axe," as it's not an axe. A jacket cannot become pants. A cloak, though, can become a cape, or a backpack can become a knapsack.

Please do not ask the merchant to create two items out of one. A surcoat should not have a gown peeking out from it, nor will boots have pants tucked into them. Exceptions would be a flounce of under-skirting or the flash of a lining (inside cloaks and other over-garments). Items scripted or designed to be two items together or dual items (i.e. twin back-scabbards) are also exempted.

15) Subjective Adjectives[]

Use caution when describing your items. Avoid words that exist only in the mind, and are particular to each individual. Words like electrifying, seductive, alluring, baffling, horrendous, frightening, and mysterious are best avoided, since they wouldn't necessarily invoke that illusion or feeling to all who will view the item or feature.

16) Armor[]

Armor cannot be altered to resemble normal clothing like gowns, bodices, nightgowns, shirts, pants, etc. Simply put, armor is armor and should look heavy enough to do its job.

17) Weapons[]

Unusual weapon and armor names are permitted for the item, provided they match our weapon naming standards. A merchant can advise you of the choices that are available. You might make a helm into a bascinet, or a falchion into "an elven-crafted warblade", but "a cascading riftblade" would not be acceptable. Do not try to convince a merchant to create something like this for you. The judgment call is on the side of the merchant.

Check out the weapon types page for a list of approved weapon names:

18) Books[]

Personal books can be created, such as journals, tomes, prayerbooks, ledgers, etc. What should be avoided is requesting artifacts or official documents, like "The Lost Sea Scrolls of Niima" or "Bank of Elanith Deposits- 5102", or a long description that reads "a really big book with the words "How I Spent My Vacation on Teras by Hoppity Oneleg" written on the cover."

19) Instruments[]

Not all merchants may feel comfortable working on musical instruments. Those that do offer their services have specific guidelines they must follow. For example, the noun must remain the same -- a flute can not become a harp. The article and adjective can be altered, with the exception of finger cymbals, where the word finger is in the adjective field, and must remain there. Instruments cannot be altered to become wearable, and don't have enough mass to support a whole mural painted upon them. Keep instrument materials realistic. While a lyre with strings of diamonds might look pretty, it would be impossible to play. Additionally, please don't ask to change your linden theorbo to one made of vultite -- most instruments are made primarily from wood.

20) Pockets and Containers[]

The size of a container should make sense. A backpack, for example, should not be made into a coin pouch. A sleek silk dress should not have pockets the size of a backpack. Likewise, encumbrance should match.

21) Professions and Races[]

Use of professions and normal titles should be avoided when designing an alteration. For instance, "a ranger's backpack" could not be distinguished from "a cleric's backpack." The same goes for items like "a great lord's vultite shield."

An exception to this would be something that creates a distinct and familiar visualization, such as a wizard's hat, as many of us know them to be brimmed, pointy hats, a la Fantasia and Gandalf. Items like "an elven-crafted shield" or "a Mhoragian satchel" are fine, since cultures would reasonably have recognizeable styles or techniques.

22) Official Titles[]

Avoid asking for any adornment that signifies you might have a special privilege or rank, unless it has indeed been officially awarded to you. This also currently includes "spurs" which are special reserved items.

Avoid requesting an alteration that mentions a reference to royal ancestors. We want to try to keep historic lore within that which has been approved for the game. Likewise, we have a distinguished list of gods and goddesses, and feel there are enough to go around.

Each deity has their own particular symbol, that you can learn more about at:

Feature Alterations - Guidelines[]

23) Hair Style[]

Everyone needs to have a basic hair style and hair color, but hair textures and hair quirks are optional. The order hair fields appear is: "She has <hair style>, <hair texture> <hair color> hair <hair quirk>." Please note that "hair" appears after the color choice and before the quirk. Here is an example of how to phrase a hair alteration:

"I would like long, tousled titian hair twisted into a mass of tiny braids."

Hair style is a mandatory field and addresses basically the length of your hair. Long, short, waist-length, and cropped are examples of this. It also allows you to chose bald as an option, but then the other hair fields will be negated. All you will see is a line that says "He/She has a bald head." The "shaven head" option will be seen as "a shaven head of [haircolor] hair" when people look at you.

24) Hair Texture[]

Hair texture is an optional field covering adjectives that describe the texture of your hair, like curly, straight, wavy, tousled, ringleted, etc.

25) Hair Color[]

Hair colors can range from normal to exotic, but should shy away from words that are subjective and OOG, like "She has mysterious fire engine red hair." So you can have raven black, sky blue, and dirt brown hair, but no electric blue or neon orange tresses. This is a mandatory field.

26) Hair Quirks[]

This is an optional field where you can add other hair information. If you want "hair with golden highlights pulled into an upsweep," this is where the merchant will add it. Keep in mind it needs to make sense when phrased, since it follows after your color, style, and texture. An example of this would be:

"She has waist-length, curly mahogany hair streaked with ash blonde highlights arranged in a cascade atop her head."

Refrain from asking for items to be placed into the hair that would normally fall out or would only remain in your hair temporarily -- leaves, dirt, dust, loose feathers and flower blossoms, diamond dusting or items currently sold/found in the game, like hairclips and barrettes. Permanent items, like beads entwined inbraids or ribbons tied off to form ponytails, are acceptable.

Terms like mullet, buzz cut, afro, dreadlocks should be avoided, as they evoke a real-world/OOG image. Instead, find ways to describe how the hair actually looks.

27) Eye Characteristics[]

Typical eye characteristics include such descriptives as long-lashed, sleepy, almond-shaped, big, gold-flecked, etc. Please do not ask for cat-like (or other animals), feral, hypnotic, come-hither, or glowing eyes. Only Erithians can have slit-pupiled eyes. Since eyes work with a variety of other verbs, the phrasing of eye feature alterations is critical. A phrasing that works better with verbs that access eyes is:

"She has long, thick-lashed lilac eyes."

An example of what would not work is:

"She has long, thick lashes framing her lilac eyes"

Eye feature alterations will always end with the noun "eyes."

28) Eye Color[]

Eye colors should be similar to those eye colors available naturally in life -- green, grey, black/dark, blue, brown, violet -- with pink reserved for those who are albinos. No red or bright yellow, or other unnatural humanoid colors. Additionally, requests for permanent makeup (on the eyes, cheeks, and lips) will be refused, to avoid conflicting descriptions that can occur with the current makeup system.

29) Complexion[]

Skin colors should be somewhat realistic with no odd hues, markings, or permanent ill-health appearances. This includes anything that could normally be healed by an empath or herbs, such as oozing blisters and fresh wounds. Colors need to be natural, especially since it works with other verbs, like blush.

Complexion feature alterations will always end with the noun "skin."

A request for a complexion alteration might go like this:

"He has flawless ebony skin."

30) Height[]

Height is a general field that conveys your stature to people... short, smaller than normal for your race, average, taller than average for your race, tall. No doll-like, no midget, no colossan heights, especially not if it conflicts with your race -- like a giant dwarf.

31) Body[]

Adding a body build description as a feature alteration is currently on hold, pending future changes to the game that might use this field. Please do not request things like long sensuous legs or a curvaeous form in other feature alteration fields to get around this current restriction.

32) Face[]

Facial characteristics are similiar to noses, in that the terms are usually pretty general -- oval, heart-shaped, round, weathered, wrinkled, plump. Please don't request permanent facial expressions like "a pale, round face locked in an eternal grimace."

Face feature alterations will always end with the noun "face."

You can phrase a request for a face alteration like so:

"She has a freckled, heart-shaped face."

33) Nose[]

Nose characteristics are generally long, short, snubbed, pointed, crooked, bumpy, broken, but should never be something hideously disfigured -- like missing altogether, actively bleeding, or leaking phlegm. Try to avoid subjective adjectives like charming, sophisticated, or other personality-like traits.

Nose feature alterations will always end with the noun "nose."

An example of a nose request might look like this:

"He has a large, hooked nose."

34) Distinguishing Marks[]

Distinguishing marks covers those kinds of things that aren't covered by other systems, such as unique scars, birthmarks, beauty marks, warts, and refinements like thin eyebrows, high cheekbones, full lips. Again, try not to ask for suggestive adjectives like kissable lips, or removeable items like normal injuries and scars, piercings, and tattoos/brands/markings. They also need to be visible at all times, not hidden under clothing, such as scarred hands, which can be covered by gloves, or scars on your shoulder blades.

The DMark field cannot be used to put facial hair on non-dwarven women or other races for which facial/body hair is not available, or other racially restricted features.

35) Other Unique Features[]

This is the last line that appears at the bottom of all your features when someone "LOOKS" at you. This does not mean you can ask for cat-like ears, a bushy tail, or try to circumvent some of the restrictions above. A good example of the unique field use would be:

"She has a smattering of pale freckles dusted across the bridge of her nose."
"He has a dimpled chin framed by a large, drooping mustache."

Vampiric or canine-like teeth, webbed digits, large... uh... body attributes [or small ones], and permanent handicaps that affect the senses, health, and other skills or abilities are also not allowed.

Wing Alterations -- Guidelines[]

36) Wing Color[]

Aelotoi wing colors are limited to the following: golds, silvers, greens, blues, and browns. These colors can be described as any hue in those families, and can shimmer or sparkle. Please do not request white, pink, red, purple, or any other color that would be atypical for an Aelotoi.

A wing alteration request should be phrased as "a pair of <adjectives and colors> wings" with a maximum of 60 characters used for the adjectives and color, like the example below:

"a pair of gold-veined, cerulean blue and jade green, round wings"
"a pair of slender, asymmetrically gold-veined, cocoa brown wings"

37) Wing Size[]

Aelotoi wings are standard in size and should not be changed to make them oversized or miniature.

38) Wing Shape[]

Aelotoi wings are insect-like and fold against the back. They can not be modified into heart-shaped, butterfly-shaped, or angel-like wings, or anything other than rounded, like those of a fly.

39) Texture and Compositions[]

The wings of an Aelotoi are a thin, usually transparent or translucent membrane with several veins running through them, and should remain as such. Please do not ask a merchant to change their composition and convert them to metal, wood, leather, feathers, scales, fabric or any other material. They need to remain sheer to some degree, without any opaque markings.

40) Decoration and Adornment[]

Currently there are no mechanics for piercing, painting, tattooing or any other decoration for wings. This includes opaque spots, eyes, striped patterns, zigzags, or other designs not generally organic to insect wings. We're also not able to hang things from the wings or cover them (since the wing verbs don't support this).

41) Wing Mutilation[]

Merchants will not be able to remove Aelotoi wing(s), or add wings to non-Aelotoi races. At this point, there's nothing to stop a pair of mutilated wings from using any of the wing verbs. A request for "a pair of bloody stumps where his wings used to be" would look silly as the wing verbs would still allow them to flap. Likewise, broken, limp, or useless wings would still be able to flutter and whatnot, so similar alteration requests should not be honored.

What can be requested, for those who want mutilated wings, is to ask for them to be torn, scratched, malformed, deformed, stunted, slit, slashed or mangled.