The Powers in
"Relative Difficulties"

This analysis of the powers present in the game known as "Relative Difficulties" is based on what is known by the author, from in-game observation and discussion after the fact.

The system for buying powers was very simple; if you started buying a power you could not buy part of it, you had to get the whole thing. So if you had Basic Pattern and bought, for example, the Pattern lens part, you had to spend some of your points every time you got some on increasing the number of points you had in Pattern until you had the full Advanced level.

This also applied to the Exalted levels; if you began to study part of an Exalted level you had to get it all.

I think the main intention of this was to stop everyone buying little parts of every power; the in-game explanation was that all the knowledge was related, so if you learnt part of a power you kind of picked up the rest as you went along anyway, so you had to pay for it.



In many ways the power of Pattern Imprints was limited, which led to a number of complaints from those players whose characters had to purchase the power in order to achieve anything in the game (see the complaints section and the section on the Power Craze). Basic Pattern Imprint was really only useful for movement through Shadow; the other abilities were either never explored or never proved useful, despite the fact that they can be quite handy.

One really required Advanced Pattern Imprint to be useful; with that you could examine vital clues that would be missed otherwise, change Shadows (mostly used to casually destroy the headquarter Shadow of a particular foe) and teleport to places.

Rylan (played by Robin Richards) was the greatest exponent of Pattern other than Fiona. He could (amongst other things) rack spells in his Pattern Sign, summon the Pattern Sign faster than anyone else and make changes to Shadow faster.


Broken Pattern

The power of Broken Pattern was in many ways merely a cheap way of getting a lens, albeit a frequently deficient one. It was the only way that some characters (namely Intruder) were able to learn anything without assistance from someone with either Advanced Pattern or basic Logrus.

For a time, however, Andreas (played by David Cooke) possessed the Exalted Broken Pattern power, which cost fifty points. It was effectively a stepping stone up to Advanced Pattern; you could do everything you could do with Broken Pattern Adept with very, very little risk and almost as well as you could do it with Advanced Pattern, but you could not do everything Advanced Pattern could do. Due to the pressures of the Power Craze Andreas eventually upgraded to Advanced Pattern (despite not really being a student of power, another source of complaint), but retained the ability to access his Broken Pattern powers.



Logrus remained fairly unchanged below the Exalted level. The only PCs to possess the power were Bethal (played by Rachel Poxon) and Helkin (played by Chris Duke); Helkin did not remain around for very long, while Bethal stayed on and became the leading light in Logrus circles, apparently second only to Suhuy himself. In fact, she became his principal aide.

The Exalted abilities she displayed included the capability for looking through the lenses of others using Logrus (if she came into contact with them), controlling the lenses and tendrils of others, the creation of more intelligent Logrus servants and finally the terrible Maelstrom, whereby an unlucky individual would find themselves surrounded by a lethal whirlwind of tendrils and Primal Chaos.



In a way Trump Artistry was the most underused of the greater powers, a source of some annoyance to the author, who played the Trump Master Intruder. At the normal levels it remained unchanged, while the Exalted abilities remained little more than enhancements of the Advanced level. The most important ability was the so-called Trump Deck Of The Mind; the cards one memorised using the Advanced ability Trump Memory could be used to do anything a normal card could be used for, from scrys to contact identification to blocking. Other abilities included faster contact initiation, mental Trump creation (doing away with the creation and memorising of physical cards) and the possibility of the Ultimate Trump Defence; essentially a mental card incorporating a Trump Trap that can be summoned up as a defence against a psychic intrusion to put the interloper somewhere unpleasant.

Much of the abilities of Trump, however, were supplanted by the widespread use of Sorcery due to the Power Craze. No one needed to have any Trumps made to go anywhere specific when a teleport spell targeted using the psychic impression of a location supplied by another player did the job with having to wait a few days to get the card. As a result, Trump was effectively relegated to second class status, especially since it did not have any kind of lens (though it might have appeared eventually).

Since Intruder was centred around Trump he thus had the misfortune of having a power that was all but nonessential to the group as a whole and also blind and deaf with regards to investigating power-related clues. This was a cause of some irritation on the part of the author.



Shapeshifting was a power that was little used by any except Syrex (played by Glen Elliot) who was the greatest shapeshifter and the cause and the ultimate example of the Power Craze. With his Exalted level of Shapeshifting he could take on the appearance and persona of anyone and retain absolute control; in effect he could take on much of the power of any character and yet remain true to himself, acting on his own perception of events rather than those of the individual he was copying. He could also perform incredibly fast changes into almost everything; he once evaded arrest by instantly transforming into water (his elemental form? unknown) and running down the corridor in all directions and reforming later somewhere else.

But his greatest achievement was in the first sessions, run by John Hunt; he actually became the entire Courts of Chaos, somehow accurate enough to fool people who had lived there all their lives. But that was back when the game was much more loose, fortunately, and was not possible later on.



As one of the main powers of the Power Craze, Sorcery was the tool of choice, eclipsing Trump and, to a degree, Pattern and Logrus, as a means of transportation. Armed with a psychic impression of a place, either acquired first hand or from some helpful family member (none of whom ever exploited the exchange), one could flit around Shadow with ease. And as weapons went none could match it, although sometimes sorcerous combat could get a little dull (which, of course, led to some complaints, mostly with regards to the Searchlight of Power Effect) .



Conjuration was essentially used only as a means of creating dangerous spells that conjured up things. The best example of this was the scary Nightguard spell, which took twenty four hours to cast and rack and summoned up a dozen (Named and Numbered) very tough warriors. Beyond using it as an addition to Sorcery Conjuration saw little use and no one ever attained an Exalted level in it to the author's knowledge.


Power Words

Power Words saw even less use than Conjuration. A few characters had them, but they were not often used because they grew distinctly less effective with repeated use against a specific target. No one ever bothered with even looking into the possibility of Exalted Power Words.