Saturday, September 10, 2011

!3781637 ?335

Nope, we're not discussing leet speak today, but you could consider it a grandfather of sorts. Type in today's title into any handy LED/LCD calculator (ignore the punctuation):

Turn it over, insert the punctuation in its new position, and you'll get:

Ever since I got my first LED Texas Instruments calculator back in the '70s, I've loved "calculator spelling" (apparently called "beghilos"). I'd hammer out various number sequences, turn the screen over and see if I spelled a word on the screen. C'mon, how many times have you spelled out "HELLO" or "BOOBIES"? Thousands of times, I'll bet. Well, a simple calculator screen can spell more than those two words. In fact, when the numbers 0 through 9 are viewed on the upside-down calculator screen, you have access to a 9-letter alphabet:

1 = I
2 = Z
3 = E
4 = h (lower-case)
5 = S
6 = g (lower-case)
7 = L
8 = B
9 = G again (though I prefer the lower-case g)
0 = O

So what can you do with this trick in your Mutant Future games? Well...

1. Your robot/android/cyborg NPCs can have both serial numbers and formal names. I had a bodyguard android with the designation "Model #317537." "But you may call me 'Leslie'," he said. Other good model number/names can include 7718 (Bill), 808 (Bob), 37738 (Belle), 317718 (Billie), 173 (Eli), and 35173 (Elise). Other good ones are Ellis, Eloise, Elsie, Gibbs, Giselle, Hobbes, Isis, and Lee. (I'll leave it up to you to figure out the model numbers on those last ones.)

2. An Ancient password could actually point toward a numeric code instead. Let's assume the PCs are trying to access a blast door sealed with a numeric codepad. They've found a scrap of paper hinting that the code means "honey makers". With a little creativity (and some INT rolls), they may come upon the solution of "BEES" or a numeric code of "5338".

3. Clever characters and NPCs may use the system as a code of sorts. A message that reads "0715 @ 1600" could be a message to meet at the nearby abandoned missile SILO at 1600 hours (or 4 p.m.).

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