Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Licking The Idol

A stone idol of Kaal-Uk-Ur, the Grinning Glutton

A couple of weird synchronicities or deja-vu moments today, both calling back to Monday night's game session.

First, the PCs discovered a cave that had a vein of bluish ore in it - that's how it's described in In Search Of The Unknown and that's what I told them, knowing it didn't matter (yet) exactly what kind of ore it was.  One of the players immediately wondered aloud if it was mithril (hell no).  But it got me to wondering whether this setting even had such a thing - and apparently I was immediately inclined toward a "no" on that.

Then jrients comes along asking about the value of mithril.  Weird.

Meanwhile, also in Monday night's excursion, the 'heroes' (I use the term loosely - these are some money-grubbing hobos right here) came across a magic idol of a less-popular god.  This is also right out of the module, but I reinterpreted the way the magic was triggered.  In the description, one must break off a piece of the idol and put it in their mouth to activate the random blessing/curse effect.  Who the hell would do that?  Sensing comedy potential, I did the following:

1) Alert the thief that she recognized the buddha-bellied idol as representative of Kaal-Uk-Ur, better known as the Grinning Glutton, a fringe god of luck with a moribund following.
2) Scrawl "LICK ME AND TAKE YOUR CHANCES" on the wall by the idol.

Given these inputs, obviously, a PC licked the idol.  And gained +1 Strength.  Of course everyone started pressuring everyone else to give it a lick, and eventually they all did (to varying effects, nothing horrible was rolled save poor Grom lost a point of Charisma).

Then at work today someone brought up the Deck of Many Things, asking whether - if such an artifact were before us in real life - any of us would dare pull a card.  Some interesting discussion, but it brought me right back to licking the idol.  How does one choose to do such a thing?  Even once you know how great the risk might be?

One point raised during the Deck of Many Things debate - I think maybe by me - is that once you're high enough level, a lot of the 'bad' effects are less 'bad' because you're better at avoiding, fighting off, or reversing the card's consequences.  Someone else countered that when you're high level, many of the 'good' results are just not that impressive in the scheme of things; and further that the boon gained by a 'good' result at low level is game-changing (in every sense of the phrase) and this potential must be factored into the risk calculation.

Anyway, weird deja vu followed by nerd-argument.  But there's a smidge of real-life resonance there, I think, not only in general but in particular, since I've just started pouring valuable time and brainspace into gaming again, praying everything turns out the way I dream.  When you face a situation that could turn out very good or pretty bad, what's the calculus?  How do you decide?  When you set out on a bold new adventure or project, how do you calculate opportunity cost for something that's inherently qualitative?  Sometimes you get out the slide rule and try to 'math' the problem to death -- other times you have confidence and hope and faith and push forward despite the risk.

I have to wonder if I'm 'man enough' to lick the idol.  Are you?


  1. I have to lick most everything, nowadays, when I've misplaced my store-bought teeth. Without my choppers it's one of the only ways I can take in nourishment.


  2. In my game group, the shorthand is, "It's your turn to touch the altar."