Elegance, and solving the Pun-Pun problem

One of the things that gives me immense pleasure in the world is solving a problem.

It’s why I do cryptic crosswords.
It’s why I started out as a programmer.
It’s why I became an internet strategist, then a website editor.
It’s why I write.

In writing, it’s finding the right line, the right character, the right plot twist, the right set piece.

As every hacker, writer, strategist, and crossword-setter knows, there are many acceptable solutions to a problem. But only a few are elegant.

Which brings us to Pun-Pun.

You may, if you’re reading this blog, be aware of my fondness for role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. A selection of rules which allow you to create characters, who can then go and fight monsters.

As with any set of rules, you can find places where they allow you to do things that the creators might not intend. In hacking and MMORPGs, these are known as exploits, or (sometimes) just sploits. Where you take advantage of someone not seeing all the consequences of the rules they’ve made.

And, just like in hacking or MMORPGs, people have found exploits in D&D. Sometimes to get an unstoppable character, but more often just for the sheer hellacious fun of it all. It’s problem solving at a very pure level. Given this set of rules, what’s the most powerful character you can build?

Well, here he is: Pun-Pun the Divine Kobold, created by Khan the Destroyer.

For those of you who don’t want to work through the reasoning: A Kobold is one of the crappiest monsters in D&D. They exist purely to have the shit kicked out of them by first-level adventurers. But, thanks to some hard thinking, Pun-Pun can become a God.

By fifth level.

It’s the elegance that makes it great. (Of course, if you’re not going to read it you’ll just have to trust me on this one.)

Think of it: A simple Kobold! With the power of a God! Surely humanity is Doomed!

But no! On the horizon: a Saviour!

LordOfProcrastination has found a way for a simple Elf to raise themselves to Divinity.

By fourth level.

And the way they achieve this divine power is by hiring a few assistants, casting a few spells, and then throwing themselves off a cliff.

Elegance. I love it.

2 thoughts on “Elegance, and solving the Pun-Pun problem”

  1. I put it to you, sir, that by posting this, as opposed to a review of your 2007 and a list of your plans for 2008, you’re really not playing the game. :)

    Get a load o’ that kobold though, huh?

  2. 2007 – Did not become omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent.

    Goals for 2008 – Destroy this puny mortal plane! Ascend to My destiny!

    (Possible hitches, to be overcome: am neither Kobold nor Elf. Further research required.)

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