“But boats don’t dock like that…”

WISH 65: That’s My Job

Does what you do for a living have any impact on your gaming? Have you had occupational details intrude on your descriptions of how something works? Have you ever dared a player to go ?Hotwire a car, then, if that?s how you think it?s done??

There are elements of my life that have definitely impacted my view of some games. With high-tech or sci-fi games, I constantly finding myself using real-life computer tech examples to explain why something isn’t working, why it is working, or how the player needs to manipulate it to make it work.

Me: See, the sensor suite on your ship isn’t the stock module that comes with the ship, but in the hardware config, the system is still set to the ‘default’ sensor suite, so the sensor screen is constantly popping up with ‘COM not Found’ errors, when it works at all.
Them: Then we’ll install drivers for the right suite.
Me: That’s the problem: the system can’t detect what the real suite is, and there’s nothing on the hardware itself to give you a clue as to who the real manufacturer is.

Needless to say, this kind of knowledge drives me absolutely batty in some games — for example, when a “Computer Whiz” character is being played by someone who, while a competent computer user, is not and has never been a computer support technician — I just start to twitch when they say “I’ll open up my (US-made) laptop and plug into their (European-based) network. Does that take one round or two?”
Forget shutting down the self-destruct countdown, folks — just getting a valid IP is going to take you a couple hours 🙂
Solution? I try not to think about it.
This also comes up quite frequently in the (rare) Pulp Adventures stuff that I run, since I play with a number of experts in various fields (at least when compared to myself. That’s proven to be very useful in some cases (“I’ve got a book that details the various advances of the Nazi party throughout the 20’s and 30’s.”) and less in others (“the muzzle velocity between the .45 1911 pistol and a comparable revolver really doesn’t warrant different damage dice”). Sometimes helpful, and sometimes it’s chafe.
(In retrospect, I should have set the whole thing in an alternate-history world with a pulp feel and less-specific real-world elements. 🙂


  1. Sure, which is why I just try to ignore stuff like muzzle velocities.
    Same reason I cackle when I can knock someone across a room with a .45 while playing Hitman 2, even when I know that the only way it would move a guy that far would be if the blast of the gun also knocked me backwards a similar distance.

  2. On the computer stuff …
    … if it bypasses what the GM intends without a commensurate amount of “Hey, that worked really great!” feelgoodness, then absolutely would you spend the next six hours trying to find the right cable, drivers, DHCP settings, and other nasty protocols. Hell, trying to get your modem to recognize the foreign dial tone would probably be a struggle.
    On the other hand, from a cinematic standpoint, and if it’s not going to screw things up, why not just plug and play. Bond never worries about crap like that. Neither, I’d guess, does Bristow (“Oops! Brought along a cell phone with the wrong cellular protocol chip. Oops.”)

  3. “(In retrospect, I should have set the whole thing in an alternate-history world with a pulp feel and less-specific real-world elements. :)”
    You may be interested in Bloodshadows. It was a setting for the Masterbook system that mixed pulp/noir settings with a fantasy world. It’s one of my favorite rpg settings.

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