Q: What's the difference between an "upgrade" and an "improvement?"
A: An "Improvement" is, quite simply, a purchase made at the Training Grounds. An Improvement can be anything from +1 damage to an attack to upgrading a status ailment on an attack. An "Upgrade" is essentially a way of valuing these Improvements; each Improvement costs a certain number of Upgrades. A +1 damage Improvement, for example, counts for 1 Upgrade, while applying an Improvement to a Burn ailment counts for 2 Upgrades.
Q: The Training Grounds' form of currency is IP, and yet all the rates are listed in "upgrades." What's the deal? A: The upgrade rates mean two things. For one, if you buy an Improvement that costs a certain number of Upgrades, the IP rate for that Improvement is based on that number of upgrades. If you have, for example, an Improvement costing three upgrades with the upgrade rate being 1 IP, then that Improvement is going to cost 3 IP. Secondly, buying an Improvement that costs a certain number of upgrades adds that number of upgrades to the tech to which it applies. If you buy an Improvement costing 3 upgrades on a technique that has 2 upgrades on it already, that technique now has 5 upgrades on it. The number of upgrades on each technique MUST be documented in your storage topic!
Q: Why don't you just list the rates in IP then? A: Because upgrades don't always cost the same number of IP. In each section you'll find a "base rate" for upgrades which applies to unupgraded techniques. This base rate is increased by +1 IP per upgrade for every 5 upgrades the technique they're being applied to has on it already. For example, if the base upgrade rate is 1 IP and a 3-upgrade Improvement is being added to a tech that has 4 upgrades on it already, the cost is 5 IP--the first new upgrade costs 1 IP, since the tech has less than 5 upgrades, but the second two upgrades cost 2 IP each since at that point the tech has 5 upgrades or more.
Q: So what if an Improvement costs both Upgrades and IP? A: The flat IP rate attached to the rate is just that--a flat, unchanging IP rate. These additional costs are completely unaffected by the number of upgrades a tech has. So if an Improvement costs 2 upgrades + 3 IP, just figure out how much those 2 upgrades cost given how many upgrades are already on your tech, and then add 3 IP to that. Then, add 2 to that technique's upgrade count in your storage.
Q: If a multi-hit tech of some sort has an added effect on it, like +DP or a status ailment, how does that work? A: Think of these effects as the same as equipment- or trait-granted damage increases, because that's essentially how they work. If a strafe technique is listed as inflicting [Burn (4)], for example, that means that there are a number of ways you can distribute that Burn effect between the units targeted by the technique. If you're hitting three different enemies with this strafe, you can choose to inflict [Burn (4)] on one of them, or you can choose to inflict [Burn (2)] on one and [Burn (1)] on the other two, or even [Burn (2)] on two of them and nothing on the third. Each "point" of the Burn effect can target anyone you want it to as long as they're getting hit by the tech, and all such effects are additive (e.g. Burn 1 + Burn 1 = Burn 2). The same thing applies to +DP--each "+1 DP to dodge" effect can target a different target hit by the technique.
Q: I'm confused by the way Blessing of Sacrifice effects are upgraded. Help? A: Here's another way to think about it: it costs 1 upgrade to increase X*Y by 1. So if X is 5 and Y is 6, 5*6 is 30, and if you want to increase Y to 6, you're increasing X*Y by 5, since 5*7 is 35. That would be 5 upgrades.
Q: What's the deal with "requires and consumes an effect slot"? A: Techniques have a number of effect slots based on your rank. Damage takes up one of those slots, and each new element or added effect takes up another one. At Rank 1, each technique has 2 effect slots, so if your technique deals damage and does something else (like Burn or Wound), you can't buy any new types of upgrades, like new elements or new status ailments, to it. If an upgrades says it requires and consumes an effect slot, make sure your tech has that effect slot to spare. Full rules regarding effect slots can be found here.
Q: I have an ability that says it "saves X IP per Upgrade purchase." How does that work? A: This gives you a flat discount on each Upgrade that you buy in the Training Grounds. This effectively lowers base upgrade rates for your character by 0.25 IP, or whatever other value your ability lists. So if the average character would pay 1 IP for an upgrade, you pay 0.75 IP for it instead. The discount can apply more than once in one Improvement purchase. For example, if you buy an Improvement that's three upgrades and those upgrades cost 1 IP, you pay 2.25 IP instead of 3 - that's applying the discount three times, for the three upgrades involved in the purchase.
Q: I have another question! A: That's not a question. But either way, remember that the staff are always available to answer questions. Usually, your best bet is to ask in the CBox.