Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Probability "Cooker"



Brookida had told him that there was even one small area where the metal had been changed from one alloy to another.  The structural integrity of the ship was intact, but it meant that someone had come awfully close to them with a probability distorter.  It was disturbing to think that that piece of Streaker had been swapped with another similar but slightly different ship, containing similar but slightly different fugitives, in some hypothetical parallel universe.(David Brin, Startide Rising, 1983)


This passage about the effect of probability distorters inspired me to make the following contraption:

The party enters a room filled with strange machinery and blinking lights.  A small hatch is visible, roughly in the centre of the largest machine.  If the party puts anything in the compartment(1ft x 6in x 1ft), seals it, and presses the button, then it will be swapped with a similar item from a parallel universe.

To determine the effect, roll a d6 and add a pinch of imagination:

Master Table(Type of Change)

  1. Material Change Sub-Table
  2. Type Change Sub-Table
  3. Bizarro Change Sub-Table
  4. Genre Switch Sub-Table
  5. Absent Change Sub-Table
  6. Incompatible Change Sub-Table


Material Change Sub-Table

The item is now made out of another material.
  1. More Valuable Material(Sword gains Gold-inlay)
  2. Similar Material(Sword turns from Iron to Steel)
  3. Less Valuable Material(Sword turns to Brass)
  4. Inappropriate Material(Sword turns to Plastic)
  5. Poorly-Understood Material(Sword turns to Pure Energy, non-existence, etc.)
  6. Item is now enchanted/cursed(roll effect at random)


Type Change Sub-Table

(If you get the same type, re-roll)
  1. Animal
  2. Mineral
  3. Vegetable
  4. Man-made
  5. Liquid
  6. Gas

Bizarro Change Sub-Table

Roll a Random Item from SCP 261 (d100 should do)

Genre Switch Sub-Table

The same item from a world with a different genre.

  1. Caveman Cthulhu
  2. High Fantasy
  3. Spelljammer
  4. Arabian Knights
  5. Wild West
  6. Hardboiled Detective
  7. Everything is Dolphins
  8. My Little Pony
  9. Cyberpunk
  10. Space Marines

Absent Change Sub-Table

Nothing appears except...
  1. A strange smell
  2. Some condensation
  3. A small pile of ashes
  4. A short sucking sensation
  5. An inert powder
  6. Just nothing

Incompatible Change Sub-Table

Something from a parallel universe with incompatible laws of physics.
  1. Same item, made from a tasty Jello-mix
  2. Same item, too small to be useful
  3. Same item, too large to be useful--only a portion small enough to fit in the "Cooker" appears
  4. Bad Reaction- explodes as a bomb, damaging the machine and anyone too close
  5. Out of phase- item can be seen dimly, but cannot be touched--your hand passes right through it.  It fades away after a few seconds.
  6. Item shatters upon contact with air

Let's Give this a Trial Run

Curious what this machine does, the party thief puts in a dagger and presses the button.  After about a minute the door opens...
  • Out of phase- item can be seen dimly, but cannot be touched--your hand passes right through it.  It fades away after a few seconds.

The party puts in a copper coin...
  • Nothing is left but a strange smell

The party puts in a lantern with oil...
  • A glowing stone appears, wet with salt-water(Everything is Dolphins)

Hoping to get a magic-effect, the Elf puts in his favourite bowstring...
  • He pulls out a 1-ft long section of very thick rope(Too big to be useful)

The mage puts in a small ruby he found...
  • He pulls out a rectangular block of solid ruby 1ft x 6in x 1ft(Can't believe I rolled Too big to be useful twice in a row!)

The barbarian puts in his collection of 4 gold rings...
  • Nothing is left in the compartment, although it feels a bit sticky(Some condensation).  With a roar, he stabs the mage and takes his ruby-block!

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