Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ancient Armory: Probability Analyzer

Bordering on the mystic, the Probability Analyzer can predict the consequences of future actions with astounding accuracy. Appearing as a fist-sized black pearl emblazoned with the symbol for infinity, the Probability Analyzer is a portable analytical supercomputer with very basic artificial intelligence. The apparatus’ surface is riddled with sensory devices, monitoring the actions and state of mind of the holder, as well as the surrounding area, other creatures nearby, recent conversations held, etc. The device is also well-versed in horoscopes, astrological signs, biorhythms, and other pseudosciences, using these factors in its computations.

If a YES/NO question regarding a future action is posed to the Analyzer, the device weighs all input it has absorbed and begins determining random outcomes if such an action is pursued. Making billions of computations per second, it will make a “best judgment” prediction as to the positive or negative outcome of the suggested action. The answers the Analyzer will provide are one of the following 20:

Positive outcome:
1. As I see it, yes
2. It is certain
3. It is decidedly so
4. Most likely
5. Outlook good
6. Signs point to yes
7. Without a doubt
8. Yes
9. Yes - definitely
10. You may rely on it

Negative outcome:
11. Don't count on it
12. My reply is no
13. My sources say no
14. Outlook not so good
15. Very doubtful

Ambiguous/Unknown outcome or unclear question:
16. Reply hazy, try again
17. Ask again later
18. Better not tell you now
19. Cannot predict now
20. Concentrate and ask again

However, the predictive computing ability of the Analyzer uses a lot of power, making it very prone to overheating if overused. The Analyzer starts with a 100% accuracy rating. Every question asked within a short period of time overheats the device, dropping the accuracy rating by 10% for each question asked within a 4-hour period. (For example, on the third question asked within that period, the device has only a 70% accuracy rating.) The device will cool down at the rate of 10% per hour if unused. If the device ever drops to a 50% or less accuracy, the Analyzer will burn out permanently. Ergo, if the characters get greedy, the device will begin feeding them randomly incorrect predictions as well as being rendered useless in the process.

The Probability Analyzer is an incredibly rare experimental Ancient artifact and will not be found randomly in a ruin or in an NPC’s possession. Rumors tell of religions based around the predictive ability of the device and/or powerful overlords who have used it to take over entire continents. This is not a device to be introduced into your campaign lightly.

However, if you wish to simply screw with your players, make the device a children’s toy and roll a d20 for a random result when consulted. ;)


  1. This is yet another clever idea on this great blog. I can see one of these used in an Oracle of Delphi like encounter, with the oracle treated like a sage until somebody else finds a box of these things. I don't run an "our Earth" Mutant Future game, but I will certainly snag this idea for my game. Thank you for the great post!

  2. Oh yes, this idea will most definitely be "borrowed." :P

  3. Thanks gang. Glad you like it. I had a similar minor magic item in a long-ago fantasy game called a Boon/Bane Coin. Looked like a typical copper piece, except one side was scratched up and marred (think Two Face's coin in the Batman comics). Anyway, if a PC asked about a course of action aloud and then flipped the coin, the coin would come up clean if the course of action was a good one, or marred if it was a bad idea. But the coin was unable to tell you WHY an idea was a good one or a bad one, so there was often some confusion.

    PC: "Should we really open this huge reinforced iron door with the human skulls on it?"

    [coin toss - it comes up BOON because of the untold riches beyond the door - PCs open the door and find themselves face-to-face with a large, angry, ancient red dragon protecting its hoard]