11 July, 2010

Unexploited Resource #3: The Magic Eight Ball

I've decided that the Magic Eight-Ball has absolutely huge potential as a roleplaying resource.

The game I've just finished "Come One, Come All" uses it as a randomising mechanism, but it could be used in so many more ways...

So, in accordance with the Unexploited resource format I'm developing, here are 10 things to consider and ways you might be able to use this marvellous toy.

  1. The magic eight-ball can resolve binary disputes fairly simply. The standard ball has 20 possible answers. 10 of which are traditionally considered positive, 5 of which are considered neutral and 5 of which are considered negative. Instead of "Say Yes or Roll the Dice"...how about "Say Yes or consult the Eight-Ball".
  2. As a storytelling oracle, the subtleties in the Eight-balls answers become more interesting. "Does Event X happen?", it might happen now, it might happen later, it might happen in a different way than expected, it might appear to happen, you might not be sure if it's happening or not, it might be definitely not happening, it might appear to be definitely not happening...you get the idea. Unless there is a definite response, there is room for story twists and interpretations.
  3. While we look to the Eight-Ball with definitive questions, the Eight-Ball throws back uncertainty. This could be a good analogue when used in a game where quantum uncertainty or even mysticism become core elements.
  4. Turn it sideways, and the eight on the ball becomes a sigil for infinity...surely there is some meaning that can be derived from that.
  5. Unlike dice and cards, a magic Eight-Ball is easy to carry around and it doesn't get messy or require a flat surface to determine its randomisation.
  6. The device has the word "Magic" in it's name, there has to be something mystical about that.
  7. With 20 possible results, on a spectrum from definitely "yes" to definitely "no", the Eight-Ball has the same granularity as a d20. In this light, a lot of the same benefits from die rolling also apply to the eight ball.
  8. Using the Eight-Ball is instinctive, as a child's toy it only takes one or two flips to see the potential in it. Different people also have an innate reaction to develop their own rituals to get the best possible reading from the ball.
  9. Without distinct numbers on it, the Eight-Ball prompts its user to think in a non-numeric (possibly even non-linear) format. This is obviously most useful in games based on the possession of traits, not games with numerically assigned attributes or skills.
  10. There are a variety of themed Eight-Balls available, each of which could be used to enhance the play experience in different genres of game.
Like many of my unexploited resources, I'm sure there is a lot more potential to be explored.
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