244: Tabletop Roleplaying

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Tabletop Roleplaying
I may have also tossed one of a pair of teleportation rings into the ocean, with interesting results.
Title text: I may have also tossed one of a pair of teleportation rings into the ocean, with interesting results.


Four people are playing a role-playing game. Megan is the game master (GM), describing the events of the adventure and what happens. The other people control imaginary characters in the game. Cueball attempts to have his character lead other characters in the imaginary construction of dice and gaming sheets. This would allow his character to become the GM of a new game inside the game they're currently playing, effectively taking control of the game away from Megan (at least temporarily). To "recurse" refers to recursion, a concept of computer programming where a piece of code calls itself, essentially making the code run multiple times "within" itself. This may be the simplest way to implement an otherwise long and complicated action. (For example, a folder may contain files inside, but also more folders inside. Asking a computer to 'search through everything' in a folder may involve first checking the files in that folder, and then checking the folders in that folder and 'searching through everything' again in those folders. The single command to 'search through everything' may cause numerous additional 'search through everything' commands to trigger on increasingly nested folders, stopping only once a folder(s) with only files inside (and no folders inside) is found.)

It should be noted that Megan, the current GM, has multiple ways of dealing with this scene to prevent Cueball from attempting to take control of the game. She could simply allude to the success or failure of the recursive game and "skip to the next scene." She could also allow the roleplaying to continue more literally, with crafting checks determining the quality of the miniatures and a gambling check determining the outcome of the in-universe RPG session. Finally, she could simply have the party's plans be interrupted by some sort of threat, or just drop huge rocks on the party.

The title text refers to a pair of fictional rings. Anything passing through one gets teleported instantly to the other, as if the two rings were next to each other. There's an old gamer theory that, if you drop one of the rings in the ocean, water will naturally pass through it and out the other ring, potentially draining the entire ocean, or at least creating a perpetual seawater fountain out of the other ring. And if you teleported one ring directly to the bottom of the ocean, the amount of pressure pushing the water through would cause a gigantic, never-ending torrent, obliterating anything placed in its path. That idea is drawn out in 969: Delta-P. A similar concept is addressed in Drain the Oceans, where a reader asked "How quickly would the oceans drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space was created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water is being drained?". This question may have been inspired by the mention of throwing teleport rings into the ocean in this cartoon.

The rings themselves are most likely inspired by the "Ring Gates" item from the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide (the most recent edition of Dungeons and Dragons at the time this comic was published), which had a similar function. However, a key thing to note is that the rings only allow 100 lbs of material to pass through them each day, meaning that your geyser would only erupt every 24 hours (though this may still qualify as an "interesting result").

External Links[edit]


[Four people sit around a table. Megan has an open gamebook in front of her.]
Megan: Your party enters the tavern.
Cueball: I gather everyone around a table. I have the elves start whittling dice and get out some parchment for character sheets.
Megan: Hey, no recursing.

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Maybe could have a link to 969: Delta-P put in at an appropriate juncture in the explanation? 03:42, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Check out https://www.google.com/#q=recursion108.162.219.202 03:52, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

I may be missing something, but why are the teleportation rings given a dimension "each about two feet in diameter" in the explanation? There isn't anything in the comic. If there is a reason, please elaborate.--Pudder (talk) 16:02, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps it's in reference to the apparent size of Portal gun holes? I'm not sure, anyone else have any ideas? Leafy Greens (talk) 02:29, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

I got Nerd sniped by the portal gun idea, and how it breaks the physics laws. If you placed one on the bottom of a lake, after an hydroelectric dam, and the other on the top of the dam, you'd have an infinite supply of energy, as you filled the dam forever and ever. A truly infinite supply, not like a star that takes billions of years to extinguish. That has to brake the laws of thermodynamics and entropy at some point. Aligning both portals in a vaccuum on earth's gravity would allow infinite time under 1g acceleration for anything dropped between portals. Hitting the speed of light would take 1 year, give or take (if you followed Newtonian cinematics), at which point my brain BSODs on this thought experiment. It suggests that the portal consumes an infinite amount of energy to remain open and cannot exist on this universe. Otherwise, we just discovered a moto-continuum and a source for infinite energy. Edit: this comment makes sense on the Delta-P page (969), so you should follow it. Gonemad79 (talk) 20:02, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Presumably, teleportation rings do not create energy. Therefore, if the two rings are at different elevation, items put into the higher one will come out shooting from the lower one (converting the liberated potential energy into kinetic energy -- as normal falling would). Conversely, items put into the lower ring will have to be pushed very hard to make them come out through the higher one (equivalent to the pushing required to lift the passed object to the higher elevation). Hence, placing one deep in the ocean (and the other above sea level) won't cause anything dramatic to happen. The deep water will be held back by gravity and not push out through the ring. Mountain Hikes (talk) 04:02, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Wait... What if you somehow put one of the teleportation rings through the other? What would happen then? Vince7778 (talk) 23:01, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

If this follows the mechanics of Portal, then all rings must be strictly the same size and one ring won't ever be able to pass through another. Zowayix (talk) 03:29, 7 April 2017 (UTC)
But: Do all objects have to be put through the first ring completely to reappear in the second, or is travel between the two instantaneous? If so, even rings of the same size would fit inside each other at least (alomst) half way and strange things would probably happen... --Felis Catus (talk) 20:27, 28 May 2017 (UTC)

A different problem with breaking physics in D and D occurs because a turn lasts six seconds and passing an object doesn't end a turn, if on your turn you hire people to pass objects in a circle, you could make that object move as many rotations as you want in just six seconds, meaning that you could have it accelerate infinitely in just six seconds! YAY LOOPHOLES! (You could also end that turn by throwing it at something, like a monster..... YAY LOOPHOLES!)

A better thing for her to say is "No metagaming," because not only is information unknown to his character (what D&D is) influencing his actions, but he's also attempting to create a game within a game. Though I agree with the description that it'd be nicer to let it play out to some degree, he missed a joke opportunity. 01:38, 21 August 2018 (UTC)

D&D pun missed: no "recursing" but "cursing" someone with magic is presumably OK. Nitpicking (talk) 21:15, 20 August 2021 (UTC)