Randomizing in complex systems.

Let me share with you why Tarot and Tarokka and random tables AND ROLE PLAYING RULES IN GENERAL are compelling to me. Oddly enough, the solution was best articulated in “Mostly Harmless” by Douglas Adams.

I know that astrology isn’t a science,” said Gail. “Of course it isn’t. It’s just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis or–what’s that strange thing you British play?”

“Er, cricket? Self-loathing?”

“Parliamentary democracy. The rules just kind of got there. They don’t make any kind of sense except in terms of themselves. But when you start to exercise those rules, all sorts of processes start to happen and you start to find out all sorts of stuff about people. In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It’s just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It’s like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that’s now been taken away and hidden. The graphite’s not important. It’s just the means of revealing their indentations. So you see, astrology’s nothing to do with astronomy. It’s just to do with people thinking about people.”

I found that insight stunning years ago, and to my fellow dice-slingers and rule-thinkers and table-makers, I share this gentle wisdom.

While that’s sinking in, check out this incredible rune-spinner! Use it while thinking about people, fictional or otherwise.

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