The elements of a creation are the concrete features that the players know about, and that allow them to describe the creation in the game world. The elements will, obviously, vary depending on what is being created, but their game-mechanical role will be more constant, and so can be described here.
Concepts and embodiments include elements in the creation, one for each role. That is, the concept is automatically an element, as is the embodiment. A concept might be “the birth of a kami” while the embodiment is “a painting”. Assessment does not add any elements itself, but it creates the option to include more, by either adding a concept or revising the existing creation.
Each element has a description, saying what it is in the game world, and possibly a mechanical effect. The mechanical effect does not always apply to the process of creating the work; instead, it might apply to the effects of the work in the game world. One element, for example, might change the context of success, so that the completed work has a greater effect on a particular audience than it might otherwise. Another might give the completed work an extra bonus under certain circumstances. Some elements will be purely descriptive, with no mechanical effects.
Elements with no mechanical effects are available to anyone. They are the basic building blocks used for that kind of work, and if the work is something that the players understand, they can freely add this sort of element, making them up as they wish. If the players do not know anything about the kind of work in question — Shinto matsuri, for example — they can use the list of free elements provided by the game.
Access to some elements with mechanical effects is gained through actions in the game. For example, a single action earlier in the game might give the players access to a particular element, with a very useful bonus, for a later creation. I suspect that this will be a good source of advantages to give out for successful rolls. Other beneficial elements might be available to anyone with a sufficiently high ability. This will increase the benefits of high abilities, which is probably a good thing; personae with better abilities should feel significantly better to the players.
These elements will have two types. The first type is specific to a particular situation. They might give the players a bonus with a particular character, for example. If a character really likes strawberries, then including strawberries in the dinner a personae is preparing will improve her reaction to the meal. These elements will typically be discovered in-game, as part of the process of learning about a situation. The second type is general, giving a bonus in any situation. Access to general elements comes with increasing ability and discoveries made in-game. As a rule, specific elements will be available to any persona who knows about them, while general elements, even those discovered in-game, will only be available to personae with sufficiently high abilities.
Elements need not be entirely beneficial. Some might impose a penalty to the roll necessary to incorporate them into a work, or be incompatible with certain other elements. To keep things simple, elements with no mechanical bonuses attached will not have penalties or incompatibilities either. Those elements are simply colour.
As personae develop, they get access to more elements, and thus become able to create better works. They need to keep a list of these elements, and this will make the character sheet complex, but the elements will build up slowly over time, and so should not overwhelm the player. If an element is specific to a situation, there is no need to record it, because it will not be useful outside that scenario. (This is something to be careful about in design: an element should either be generally useful, or restricted to a single scenario. Players should not have to keep track of elements of restricted utility.)
That leads into the question of persona development. Development was one of the major themes I gave for the game; how will it work? As a central part of the game, it should be more than simply adding elements to a list. In the next post, I will start to look at this aspect of the rules.