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cosmicironymag

The Spot Obvious Problem

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Jan. 15th, 2010 | 08:49 am

Way back when I still played Pen and Paper Role-Playing Games, my Hapkido instructor Mark and his wife Leslie ran a brilliant Runequest game. He had a roll called "Spot Obvious". Normally, to resolve a characteristic roll (to see if you performed a feat of strength or constitution, for example) you take your stat, valued from 1 to 18 or more, multiple it by 5, and attempt to roll under it with a "percentile" roll - two 10-sided dice valued 0-9. For example, if you're pretty strong with a Strength of 15, you have a 75% chance of succeeding.

A "Spot Obvious" roll requires you to take your intelligence, multiply it by 5 and roll over it. If you're brilliant, say 18 Intelligence, you only have a 10% chance of spotting the obvious.

So the smarter you are, the less likely you will be to spot the obvious. In effect, a common sense roll.

The Spot Obvious problem references any case where a bunch of really smart people and experts have completely missed something so blindingly obvious that a 5 year old pointed it out ages ago.

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