Game Main > Stainless Steel Rat

Return of the Stainless Steel Rat

designed by Greg Costikyan

1981, Simulations Publications, Inc (ARES magazine #10)

This game's innovation was the so-called "Suspension of disbelief points".

The name comes from "willing suspension of disbelief", a description of typical science fiction and fantasy novel readers. They would engage their faculty for "willing suspension of disbelief" in order to enjoy the novels. So people who knew that it was ludicrous for tornadoes to transport houses to nations that don't appear on any map could still enjoy reading The Wizard of Oz.

In the game the player outfits his character by purchasing various pieces of equipment with WSOD points. During the game, damage inflicted upon the character by unfortunate combat results can be negated by expenditure of WSOD points. (With a lightning-like move, Slippery Jim dodges the remarkably slow laser beam!) Winning the game depends upon finding clues. Each turn, the player can spend WSOD to "stumble over a clue".

As a penalty, the player is punished by having to expend WSOD points if they kill another character during the game.

And at any time, if the WSOD expenditure goes over the limit, the player automatically loses. (What happens is that the story has become so unbelievable that the reader has closed the book and hurls it away in disgust)

The Details: equipment costs from 1-5 WSOD. Player may purchase up to 9 pieces of equipment, for each additional piece there is a tax of 5 WSOD (actually it is the cost to increase your "carrying capacity"). 2 WSOD will negate a "stun" combat result on the player, 5 WSOD will negate a wound. Stumbling over a clue cost 5 WSOD. The player automatically loses if their WSOD expenditure goes over 75.

It occurs to me that levels of victory can be measured by how close one comes to 75 WSOD. This might have been playtested and found unworkable.