The Right Tool for the Job

I wanted to cut my hair, but I'm terribly lazy about scheduling something with my hairdresser. And since I'm keeping my hair short, it seemed like an easy thing to start doing myself.
Before. Let's do this thing.
So I took my trusty beard trimmer (it works just like hair clippers, yeah?) and had at it. 30 minutes later, the battery died and I was about 1/3 of the way through. Luckily I managed to get the front fairly even.

I may be a bit liberal on my assessment of "fairly even".
During. I shaved as well, but don't let that throw you.
I went out and came back with a $30 hair trimmer. 5 minutes after that, I was done. I spent a few more minutes evening out a few stray hairs, but I effectively finished in 1/6 the time that I spent floundering around with the incorrect tool.

Now I know, and I'll never make that mistake again.
After. Darkness falls. Joy returns.
And the moral of the story? If you don't have the right tool for the job, it'll take you much longer to get anything done.

Pocket Tool Kits
My whole experience with cutting hair became apropos to a thread on G+ later that week. In the spirit of never getting caught unprepared (and if you're a GM, you could fill your brain with far worse advice than the guidelines in Never Unprepared), may I suggest carrying a mutitool?
That's a beautiful thing.
I've carried a Swiss Army Knife since I was about 8, and I had one confiscated at the Denver airport when I was young. Knowing that one little bit of metal in my pocket could be employed as a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, a file, a corkscrew, a toothpick, or a knife gave me an extra boost of confidence that I could overcome whatever the world would throw at me. Suffice it to say I like the idea of a multitool.
A Roman personal care kit for the traveler.
How Does This Relate To Gaming?
The idea of a single device with many uses really appeals to me (thanks also in part to Alton Brown's insistence on Multitaskers in the kitchen). Unsurprisingly, I like mutitool rulesets. They're sometimes called "Universal Rules", but the rules can only really handle multiple settings. I'm not sure a true multitool ruleset exists, though I think systems like Fate, RISUS, and Cortex Plus come closest with the idea of attaching Aspects to anything you can think of to create any flavor of conflict on the fly.

Don't get me wrong here. I love Champions, I have a soft spot for CORPS, and GURPS has awesome setting books, but everything in those systems revolves around powers, skills, and combat. It's harder to have the depth of rules and panoply of useful choices with, say, a social conflict rather than with bared-steel combat under these rules.
Or you could just start telling stories.
If you wanted to be pedantic, you could make the case that AD&D is a multitool ruleset, since you could bolt on new rules and subsystems to handle whatever situation you wanted. Does that approach work well and make sense with the central system? Maybe a little bit. You can do it, but will it be worth the time invested in hacking the system?

And that's the point: Every system has its limitations. If you want persistent PCs, don't choose a game where death lurks behind every corner, even during character creation (thanks, Traveller!). If you want a sci-fi feel with stealthy infiltration and computer hacking, maybe a fantasy hack and slash system isn't your best choice.

Many different tools exist. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Isn't the AD&D 2nd edition Rogue or Bard a great model for the Stealthy Infiltration and Computer Hacking bit? :D

    1. Absolutely. Replace "Computer" with "Dragon" and you're golden. *grin*