Aliases: Random Number Generator, Blind Luck
First appearance: Notably Nethack (The Dev Team | PC | 1987 )
M.O.: Leading to death by any means available
Known Crimes: Taunting players mercilessly
Demise: Sorry, the RNG always wins

Profile by Ben Elgin | March 31, 2011

Random numbers have been a bane to game-players since long before the advent of silicon chips and color televisions. Whether through dice, cards, spinners, or reels, players have long relinquished their fate to the vagaries of randomization. Parlor games like pick-up-sticks tapped into the random power of chaos theory (before it was invented, even) to provide a new challenge with each fresh attempt.

But before video games, players at least had a physical focus for their prayers, their thanks, and their anger. With tangible random generators, one could reach out to the comfort of ritual—cut the deck one more time, kiss the dice before the throw. Not that it helped, but you could at least pretend.

The modern Random Number Generator hides itself, unseen algorithms flitting behind the screen, pulling the strings. Every variation in damage, every random treasure drop, every status effect’s chance to connect—they all ask the RNG, do we or don’t we?

Do we fulfill the dreams a player dared hope to dream, or dash them on the rocks of despair?

Shall we conjure up a stunningly rare weapon, or a crushingly difficult monster?

Perhaps we’ll dish up that critical hit desperately needed to finish off the last beast before it strikes... or perhaps the monster gets the critical instead.

But don’t let yet another player death at the hands of the RNG get you down. After all, you can always roll up a new character.

Previous: Red Falcon | GameSpite Quarterly 7 | Next: Ridley