Monday, November 18, 2019

Magic items are born not made




"Govannion discovered and set down the high secrets of all crafts. These Arawn stole to hoard in Annuvin where none may ever profit from them." The potter Annlaw's face turned grave. "A lifetime have I striven to discover them again, to guess what might have been their nature. Much have I learned--learned by doing, as a child learns to walk. But my steps falter. The deepest lore yet lies beyond my grasp. I fear it ever shall. Let me gain this lore," Annlaw said, "and I'll yearn for no magical tools. Let me find the knowledge. And these," he added, holding up his clay-crusted hands, "these will be enough to serve me."

Annlaw drew up his coarse robe and seated himself at the wheel, which he quickly set spinning, and on it flung a lump of clay. The potter bent almost humbly to his work, and reached out his hands as tenderly as if he were lifting an unfledged bird. Before Taran's eyes Annlaw began shaping a tall slender vessel. As Taran stared in awe, the clay seemed to shimmer on the swiftly turning wheel and to change from moment to moment. Now Taran understood Annlaw's words, for indeed between the potter's deft fingers and the clay he saw no separation, as though Annlaw's hands flowed into the clay and gave it life. Annlaw was silent and intent; his lined face had brightened; the years had fallen away from it. Taran felt his heart fill with a joy that seemed to reach from the potter to himself, and in that moment understood that he was in the presence of a true master craftsman, greater than any he had ever know. "Fflewddur was wrong," Taran murmured, "If there is enchantment, it lies not in the potter's wheel but in the potter."

Lloyd Alexander, Taran Wanderer

This post is written for a world in which Arawn has not stolen the deepest lore of the crafts to hoard in Annuvin, but where that lore is known by master craftsmen like Annlaw Clay-Shaper. It is also written for a world of rare magic, where magical items are unique and not available for purchase.

This post is a followup to my rules for commissioning the creation of splendid artifacts. These allowed the players to take remarkable materials acquired during their adventures to master craftsmen to have them made into splendid but non-magical items. Splendid items have a unique identity and provide non-magical benefits. They also evoke the achievements and experiences of the party. I mentioned in passing that most splendid items are not magical, but that every magical item is also a splendid item. But how does a splendid item become magical?

A splendid item has been imbued with the idiosyncratic visions of a true artist who employs the deepest lore of his craft to breath life into rare materials. At the highest levels, craft itself passes into a kind of proto-magic, for the artisan speaks the hidden language of things, and composes an artifact set apart from ordinary objects. Such items are receptive to the impressions of remarkable events in which they play a role, which kindles in them their latent magic. Magical items are not made, they are born.

When a splendid item plays a role in a wondrous, epic, improbable event, it becomes magical. The enchantments that results is unpredictable, but the splendid item usually contributes something of its own unique nature, and something of the magic of the events that touch it. A magic item is thus influenced by the kind of artifact it is, the materials from which it is made, the intentions and artistry of its craftsman, and the events of which it has been a part.

Cursed items are kindled in the same way. When they are involved in great treachery, hideous blasphemy, terrible misfortune, or pitiful failures, befitting a tale of woe or perfidy that might be memorialized in poetry or told across the campfire for generations, then they acquire a devious and ruinous nature, weaving such afflictions as befit the combination of their own nature and that of the misfortunes of which they have been a part.

This means that every magical item comes with an origin story. It is a story that begins with the materials of its composition, and the identity of its maker, and ends with the tale that kindles the flames of its latent magic. In a game in which this system is used, spells identifying the nature and workings of magical items (identify) are stricken from the spell list. One identifies a magical object and its powers only by learning the story of its birth. Luckily, I have rules for non-magical research to help uncover things like this.



The Mechanics


When a party member is carrying a splendid item, and the item plays a role in a remarkable adventure, then either the player or DM may propose that its magic has been kindled. Both must agree that the events that transpired were worthy to live on in speech or song. If they agree, the DM should then decide on the magic of the thing in collaboration with the player. As the one who knows the level of magic in the setting and what would be "gamebreaking", the DM has the final say, but should endeavor to incorporate the player's suggestions. As a rule of thumb, the more remarkable the splendid item, and the more worthy the tale, the greater the magic kindled. Try to make the magic unique, fitting some combination of the spirit of the materials, the wielder, the craftsman, and, above all, the event that gave it birth.

What follows is the origin story of a magical item from my dreamlands game. This item is a high-powered magical item that is epic in flavor. So keep in mind that memorable stories come in all varieties, from the humorous tales of a trickster to stories of astounding sheer dumb luck, and many items, splendid as they are in one way or another, are considerably humbler than the war hammer Tempest Revelation.

A Splendid Artifact is Made


A century before Ultan's door opened in the space beneath the stairs of a printshop off Eidolon Alley, an equally incongruous door was seen floating on the oily waters of Lake Wooling by a fisherman heading at dawn to catch two-headed trout. Trying to haul the valuable door out, the fisherman accidentally opened it. This induced the strangest vertigo, for the door seemed to open not into the watery depths of the lake, but rather into airy jungle heights with no land in sight.

Soon word of this impossible portal made its way to the Chatelaine. Her rule was then young, and she had not hardened and been so corrupted by the power she wielded, which was in those days less absolute, more in need of compromise and friendship. But her magic was potent even then, and there was a man who served her, a sworn knight, who drew power from her blessing. His name was Sir Garanax, and he loved her not a little. She knew, or at least suspected, where the door led, and sent Garanax beyond its bourn as ambassador and champion.

In those days, the Zyanese aristocracy still travelled the White Jungle. Thus, in his jungle travels, Garanax came to know the nobles of that city, and eventually found his way to the court of Lathanon, last of the Incandescent Kings. He was often a guest at the King's legendary Hanging Palace in the lower levels of the jungle. It was there that he met Lathanon's concubine, the unparalleled Lady Shirishanu--Guide, warrior, poet, beloved of the Sibilant Maiden. Garanax was won over by Shirishanu's courage, grace, and potent fancy.

Soon she began to eclipse the Chatelaine in his heart. More and more he clung to the oaths he had sworn the witch queen of Rastingdrung as shield to protect himself against these divided loyalties. The Chatelaine was delighted by this connection to the royalty of Zyan, a far more illustrious--and wealthy--lineage than any available to her in the waking world, and encouraged his connection to Lathanon's court and Shirishanu at every turn. But it was not easy for Garanax, who longed more and more to be by his lady of the dreamlands, and who felt even his oaths to the Chatelaine threaten to become hollow words. And he feared that were his vows to become empty promises he would no longer be a knight.

Something in his troubled mind led him to have the war hammer fashioned. He sought first in the waking world the carvers of Rastingdrung, legendary throughout the Wilderlands for their work with the shining beach, a tree of lustrous wood that glistens like silver when oiled, and grows only in the hills about Lake Wooling. He went to Andori, greatest of the carvers, whom they called the Troubador, for his hands flowed across wood like the fingers of a musician across a fret, calling musical forms from the depths of the wood, and he sang the simple and ancient songs of Rastingdrung with his fair voice as he worked. Into Andori's workshop he went, carry a fine piece of shining birch hewn from a tree split by lightning the night before. From this the Troubador fashion a handle of silver shining wood that flashed upwards like a crackling flash across black stormy clouds to a setting at top into which a hammer head might be placed.

Next, in the dreamlands Garanax sought Lathanon's mason, the incomparable Asmorath Por whom everyone deemed mad, for he gave stones tender alchemical bathes to alter their inner constitution as one would lovingly bathe a baby, and could be caught whispering and cooing to the stones, and wept bitter tears as he shaped their surface with chisel and plane. To Asmorath Por he brought his prize possession, an uncut piece of dusk topaz from the depths of a cumulonimbus mine--claimed as were-gild from a spirit of the air he had briefly imprisoned in one of his many escapades in Wishery. This remarkable stone the mason shaped into the head of the hammer, fitting it into the handle, harder than steel but lighter so that it could be swung with a savage force. The mason's alchemical treatments altered the stone, so that one saw on its surface the colors of a cloud dipped in pink at dusk, but beneath in the depth of the stone one could see the darkness of night or perhaps a storm cloud, which showed through now and again. And in rare moments, the stone would appear to churn or roil. Such was the masterful art of Asmorath Por who understood stones perhaps too well.

Sir Garanax named the hammer Tempest Revelation, for the Chatelaine was a queen of storms, and Shirishanu a font of revelation. Tempest Revelation was a splendid artifact granting Sir Garanax a non-magical +1 to damage. But it was ready to be the stuff of legend, and waited only for its magic to be kindled by a deed worthy of song.



The Magic of Tempest Revelation is Kindled


During one of his many rambles through the jungle, Sir Garanax came upon the unmistakable trail of the Sanguine Wyrm, a terrible serpentine dragon that haunted the jungle's bright groves. Cunning Garanax tracked it to its lair. Returning to the Summer Palace where the courtiers feasted and made merry, he called on them to assemble a hunting party. The bravest of them rode out, the noblemen and women arrayed for hunting on their strange mounts, with a splendid retinue in train.

Surprising the beast, they drove it from its lair. Crafty Garanax attacked always from below, directing Lathanon's noble hounds to chase the serpent ever upwards, harrying him at great cost, for the old Wyrm was desperate in its rage and its thirst for survival was boundless. They pursued it until the great beast, exhausted, was tangled in the densest jungle where the boughs grew in thickets, and had no choice but to face his pursuers, hampered and constrained by the cutting branches that ensnared him. There the Wyrm slew many, as its terrible jaws gnashed the life from many well-clad noblemen and women, and its gyrations sent their splendid retinue spinning into the depths.

Seeing that this must be ended or King Lathanon himself would be slain, Garanax hurled himself at the maw of the great beast. In its rage, the Sanguine Wyrm swallowed him in great triumph, not realizing that it had brought its own doom home. For, as the jaws snapped on him, Garanax slammed Tempest Revelation in a terrible blow on the lower jaw, through the soft muscle of the tongue, shattering the bone beneath utterly. As the beast's head whipped from side to side, Garanax was tossed to and fro in a black and bloody whirlwind, but the others rallied, seizing the moment of vulnerability to pierce it with their long spears, and the teeth of hounds tore its flesh until it no longer moved. As Garanax emerged from the mouth, spitting up blood and covered in bone, the magic of Tempest Revelation was kindled.


The Enchantment


Tempest Revelation is an intelligent war hammer +2/+4 vs. dragons. It is ego 9 and intelligence 13. It does not speak, but can subtly affects the feelings of its wielder. It's powers differ depending on whether it is in the dreamlands or the waking world. In the dreamlands, once per adventure, the clouds on its hammerhead can blacken and roil, releasing a 6d6 lightning bolt with a crash of thunder. In the waking world, once per adventure or downtime, the hammer when struck against unblemished stone, will produce phantasms, calling forth an illusory scene, as a clairvoyance spell. These revelations are chosen by the hammer. Sometimes they provide useful intelligence, but just as often they show the wielder something they would rather not see. For the vision is influenced by the nature of Tempest Revelation, which loves ambiguous relations and divided loyalties, and will often reveal scenes chosen to complicate relationships. For it is a hammer for border crossers, and code switchers, those with conflicted identities who dwell between two worlds. Those who wield the hammer find over time that their heart becomes capacious enough to contain unresolved contradictions, although never comfortably, and they are drawn ineluctably into fraught triangular relationships.

Since Tempest Revelation is a truly splendid artifact, its wielder a great hero, and its birthing an epic event, we know that its enchantment must be powerful. In early editions of D&D, powerful magical weapons are: (1) intelligent, (2) have large bonuses to hit and damage which are often greater against certain kinds of foes, and (3) have multiple powers that can be used once over a given period of time.  Thus, Tempest Revelation has a hefty +2 to hit and damage against regular foes, and a whopping +4 to hit and damage against dragons, since the Sanguine Wyrm was a dragon of sorts. Since Garanax made the hammer as an expression of his conflicted heart, Tempest Revelation bears this imprint in its personality and disposition. Since it was created from materials from both the waking world and Wishery, it has different powers in each milieu, each corresponding to one of Garanax's patrons, for the Chatelaine is a witch queen of storms, and the Lady Shirishanu is a font of prophecy. In the dreamlands, the power is straightforward, owing to Andori's simple and plain songs, but in the waking world, the power is crooked, tainted by Asmorath Por's madness.

Of course, simpler magic items will lack such complexity. For these more humble artifacts, one must choose one or two powers, deciding whether to emphasize the materials, the maker, the wielder, or (most likely) the event kindling the item's magic. The guiding principle is that whatever enchantments are selected should serve as a fitting end to the tale of the item's creation and birth.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Cultivating Relationships



This is a continuation of my series presenting a system of downtime activities. The idea is to introduce a downtime minigame that encourages the players to pursue various avenues that make the world a more dynamic place, choosing at most one downtime action. You can find the rest of the series here. I'm going to let you in on a secret. The way I'm developing this system is by asking myself, "What do my most engaged players already do that is generative of dynamic and fun games?" My goal is just to create a system that reminds players who maybe don't intuitively do this kind of stuff that it's always an option.

So here's something that player characters often want to do in downtime in my experience: cultivate relationships with people. Here are some real examples from my game.

  • A player character wants to befriend the guards at the Pagodas of the Hanging Merchants to use as a source of information. 
  • A player wants to spend time with a boy the players rescued from a cult, trying to acculturate him to the waking world, and undo his brainwashing. 
  • A player wants to seduce the Chatelaine of Storms, the evil witch queen of Rastingdrung. 

The basic mechanic I propose continues the use of clocks from earlier posts. When the player announces the intention to cultivate a relationship of one kind or another, the DM should set a clock. Sometimes this clock will be a generic relationship clock. In other cases, where the stakes are higher and the goals more specific, the clock will tailored to the individual and relationship in question.

For generic clocks there are four ticks representing four levels of intimacy of relationship: Acquaintances, Associates, Friends, and Intimates. To advance the clock on a relationship, the player says how their character is strengthening the bond between them. This is connected with one of Vincent and Meguey Baker's koans: "If you want to do the move, do it." In this context what this means is that you cannot deepen a relationship by saying "my character deepens the relationship". You must say how the character does this, how the relationship is deepened. The DM will judge if this makes sense. If so, the player will roll 2d6 modified by charisma, and advance the relationship clock on a 7+.

However, in some cases it makes sense to give a tick for free, as people who share an adventure, for example, will be acquaintances, or someone on whom the character has lavished extraordinary and much needed generosity will be associates. By contrast, for many people and relationships, it makes sense to put a hard limit on the clock, absent an extremely convincing way of deepening the bond. Sometimes it is hard but not impossible to overcome barriers, and so a penalty may be applied. On the other hand, there may be excellent reason for the NPC to be receptive, in which case, there may be a bonus.

Each level allows the character to draw on the relationship for information or favors to different degrees. However, in some cases it says that favors "may come with a cost". In these cases, to draw on this higher level of favor may strain the relationship, and so comes with stakes. The player rolls a reaction roll (2d6) modified by Charisma. On a 6 or lower, the NPC will decline the favor. On a 7 to 9 the NPC will perform the favor with the DM reserving the option to introduce a complication. For example, they might do it, but it might remove a tick from the clock, or they might do the favor but request one in return, which if unrequited will remove a tick. Or they might get the wrong idea about the character and what they want. Or whatever. On a 10+ they will simply perform the favor.

As a side note: You might wonder why not also have a mixed result on a roll of 7-9 for advancing the clock on a relationship? My answer is influenced by an insight of Emmy Allen's on twitter. Old-school D&D is a different game than Apocalypse World and its progeny. The game is not generally driven by escalating consequences of partial success, "faustian bargains", and the like. It is rather a game that is structured around resource management and high-stakes success/failure rolls, and "fictional positioning" is about tactically setting the stakes of those rolls, and avoiding them where one can. One thus must introduce mixed results carefully into this style of game or they will make players feel like their characters can't do anything, since crummy or mixed success is not generally a thing. (After all, Apocalypse generalizes the sole mechanic in old D&D that worked this way: the reaction roll.) In this kind of a game, it's better to reserve mixed result rolls for optional situations that involve pushing the limits, where the players know the stakes and that mixed results are possible as a special outcome. My thought is that merely trying to get to know someone better is not such a situation.

The Generic Relationship Clock





1 Tick: Acquaintances


Someone who you know from around the way.

  • There is an easy opening to casual conversation. General information that the NPC has nor reason to keep secret will be easy to extract. 
  • The NPC will do small and costless courtesies.

2 Ticks: Associates


There is some bond of a lesser kind between you, some shared pleasure, common interest, small shared experience, a minor debt of gratitude, etc.

  • The NPC will share or keep an ear out for gossip. 
  • The NPC will do small and costless courtesies.
  • The NPC will do minor favors, although they may come at a cost. 

3 Ticks: Friends


There is a serious bond between you, real pleasure in one another's company, a common cause, a major shared experience, a debt of real gratitude, etc.

  • The NPC will be willing to share what information they have unless they have a very good reason not to. 
  • The NPC will do small favors.
  • The character may request major favors, although they may come with a cost.    

4 Ticks: Intimates


There is a deep bond between you, like true or very old friends, or those who fought in war together, or lovers, or someone who looks up to you with deep respect.

  • The NPC will share information freely with you.
  • The NPC will do major favors. 
  • The character may ask the NPC to walk into the flames with them, although it may come at a cost. 

An Example of the Use of a Generic Clock 



Suppose Salinger one-eye has decided to cultivate a relationship with a guard named Pergamor at the pagodas of the hanging merchants. Observing the guards, Salinger learns that they gather around the campfire at the end of the day to drink, gossip, and gamble. He decides it makes most sense to bring a gift of drink collectively to the guards, and sit with them at their campfire. He rolls 2d6 modified by charisma and gets a 9. He is now an acquaintance with Pargamor.

In a later downtime at the pagodas, he wishes to deepen the relationship. In a great victory, the party has recently routed the Lurid Toads who were plaguing the guards and the merchant vessels. Salinger's player says he will bring a drink to Pergamor alone, regaling him with the full tale of the routing of the toads. Since this heroic act has left a favorable impression on the guards, the DM rules this overture will automatically advance the clock. He is now an associate of Pergamor, who drinks and listens eagerly with a dawning respect.

The character now uses his connection to get gossip from the guard. This Salinger can do for free. But as it turns out, this is not enough. Salinger wants Pergamor to do a small favor for him, delivering inside information about the manifests and schedule of the merchant ships that sail up to Zyan. He wants the information now, and doesn't want for the next downtime to deepen the relationship. So Salinger decides he will risk the cost for a minor favor. To sweeten the deal he offers to pay Pergamor for the information. The DM allows the player to make a reaction roll modified by +1 for the generous sums in question. The player rolls a modified 7, squeaking by with a complication.

The DM decides that Pergamor will do the job, but that the offer of money has turned the relationship into a business proposition, and that no further ticks on the relationship clock can be gained. Instead of a potential friend, Salinger is now the bank.

Custom Clocks


Fetching to be sure...
...but she's just not having it.


But that was a little prosaic. Sometimes something special is called for. Let us suppose now instead that Salinger One-eye wishes to seduce the Chatelaine of Storms, the powerful witch queen of Rastingdrung in the waking world. The party knows she takes paramours from time to time, including most recently the visiting nephew of the World Emperor. She also maintains a court that full of backbiting shenanigans worthy of a Jack Vance novel. She is fickle and narcissistic and takes pleasure in humiliating people. She keeps a stable of apprentices, whom she pits against one another. She is, in other words, a real dangerous piece of work. When Salinger's player proposes this course of action, I think, rubbing my hands together, "Well, this will call for a special clock."

This is a long term campaign goal for the character. It is also something fun and dangerous and full of potential consequences. As a DM my thought is: let's keep this going for a while and spin out the drama. Let us say the clock will have 5 ticks instead of 4. I also think that this is a peril-filled proposition that will enmesh one in palace intrigues. So merely to advance ticks should come with some danger. So here's what I have come with.

Some ticks in the relationship have a requirement that the player must meet in order to make the roll. Furthermore, the relationship roll comes with partial successes that introduce complications, to be determined by rolling on the "complications table" to come. Remember that "To do the move, do it"--the player must describe how they attempt to deepen the relationship with the Chatelaine.

Tick 1: You've Caught her Attention


She has taken note of you, and thinks of you as at least, maybe, in the space of romantic possibility.

Requirement: You can only roll for this tick if you rise to the Chatelaine's attention. This requires having done something remarkable that casts you in a favorable light with her. Let's get real: her possible romantic partners are nearly unlimited, and this has got to at least seem like it might be interesting for her.

  • You have the pleasure of being seen by a very powerful woman.

Tick 2: Flirting


She takes pleasure in flirting with you. She is enjoying the game.

  • You have the pleasure of perilous flirtation with a very powerful woman. 
  • You and the party receive invitations to special events at the palace.

Tick 3: A Discrete Tryst


The Chatelaine arranges for a single discrete tryst with the character to be described in collaboration between the player and DM.

Requirement: You must bestow a remarkable gift on the Chatelaine. But what can you get a witch queen who already has everything?

  • You may privately communicate with the Chatelaine by passing notes through an intermediary.
  • You may advance the clock on one NPC at court to the level of acquaintance. 
  • The Chatelaine will bestow a single valuable gift upon you. 

Tick 4: Sometimes Lovers


The Chatelaine arranges romantic dalliances with you now and again. Your comings and goings are noted at court.

Requirement: You must do something unspeakably debonair or fetching, such as to awaken the flames of the Chatelaine's jaded desire.
  • You have open access to the Chatelaine's palace. 
  • You may advance the clock on two NPCs at court to the level of acquaintance.
  • You may advance the clock on one NPC at court to the level of associate. 
  • The Chatelaine will perform small favors for you, but they may come at a cost.
  • You acquire one rival for the Chatelaine's affections. (This is in addition to any rivals you may have acquired through the complications table.)

Tick 5: Paramour


You are installed as the Chatelaine's paramour at court. For the moment, you have captured her romantic attention.

Requirement: You must vanquish your romantic rival in a public fashion that the Chatelaine knows about. The Chatelaine must be satisfied that you have defeated them in the struggle for her affection. (Merely making the rival disappear does not suffice, for she will merely pick another.)
  • You now must reside in lavish quarters at the Castle.
  • Each downtime you receive an allowance of 500 GP. 
  • You may advance the clock on all NPCs at court to the level of acquaintance.
  • You may advance the clock on three NPCs at the court to the level of associate. 
  • The Chatelaine will perform small favors for you.
  • The Chatelaine will perform major favors for you, but they may come at a cost.

Complications (1d8)


  1. The Chatelaine gives you an unwelcome gift. For example, perhaps she gives you rare fighting fish from the Silver Skein isles that must be maintained in an elaborate fish tank, and fed rare foods for the cost of 500 gp per downtime. (If you cannot pay, they become listless and then die.) Or perhaps she gives you a cursed locket with her picture that loudly commands you in to look at her face at unpredictable and inopportune times. 
  2. The Chatelaine is receptive, but there is something about you that rubs her the wrong way. She wishes you to correct this flaw. Perhaps she requires you to study tiresome and complicated court etiquette with a private tutor. Or perhaps she wishes you to outfit yourself with a wardrobe up to the latest aristocratic fashions. Whatever it is, it costs an arm and a leg (3d6x100gp) and takes 1d4 downtime actions to complete. You do not receive the tick on the clock until you have improved yourself.
  3. The Chatelaine is receptive, but feels you have been too forward and wishes to teach you a lesson. Perhaps she makes the lives of your friends (the party) difficult, or perhaps she thwarts your other purposes.
  4. The Chatelaine wishes you to prove your affection. She sends you on a perilous and preposterous mission. Perhaps she wishes you to steal back a gift she just gave to the King of Zyan in the dreamlands. Or perhaps she wishes you to recover a paladin's body from the lair of the hydra so that she may question his spirit. If you do not complete this quest by the next downtime action, you do not receive the tick. 
  5. The Chatelaine inserts you into palace intrigue in such a way as to win you an enemy. For example, she asks you to judge the acrimonious conflict between two potentates. Or perhaps she asks you to do the job of someone else in such a way as to humiliate them.
  6. Your rise in the Chatelaine's affection wins you a romantic rival. He or she will stop at nothing to undermine your efforts.
  7. Your rise in the Chatelaine's affection draws the attention of a third party at the palace who seeks to advance their cause with the Chatelaine through you. Perhaps they blackmail you, or perhaps they bribe you, or otherwise incentivize you to achieve their objectives. 
  8. Your rise in the Chatelaine's affection has drawn the attention of a mysterious occult entity. Perhaps it is one of her apprentices, a fairy, a demon, or a spirit. They place a strange curse on you. Perhaps you must insult the Chatelaine whenever you are in her presence. Or perhaps they see through your eyes and ears, using you as a living conduit to spy on her.
Aleks, if you are reading this, this is how we will be handling Salinger's pursuit of the Chatelaine moving forward. In light of his enchanting dance performance at the Festival of the Sybarites, he currently has one tick on the clock. You have her attention! What you do next is up to you.