Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Journal- Final two sessions

Journal- End Game

We followed up the lead she gave us and invaded the warehouse lair of the fiendish Carlott. It was clearly a trap, but we had no choice but to spring it. Six archers appeared above us and began to rain arrows down on us. I was able to get two quick kills right away, but then they began to target me more seriously making it more difficult for me to aim. Ulfred charged the door in an attempt to break it down, but failed and was struck down by an arrow. Volkrad took an arrow to the head and collapsed unconscious as well. Luckily Furdok and Konrad managed to get up to where the snipers were and began to engage them, allowing me to finish off the last couple of archers. Carlott then appeared, but fled when she saw her thugs were being cut down. I pursued her, but she got away. Still, her cult was smashed and posters of her face are now plastered all about town, so I’m sure her capture is only a matter of time.

Luckily, neither Volrad nor Ulfred were seriously injured; I was able to use my healing arts on them and they recovered satisfactorily. We then went home to rest from a night of conflict. The next day we went to see Maximillian Saer for the first time and got some relatively useful information, most pertinent of which was that he had had an affair with Klara Roban. We spoke to her as well, but she was completely intransigent and went so far as to imply that we were chaotic ourselves.

We went back to our inn, and after a little while the thief we had tracked down earlier, Solveig Thudrin, came to talk to us. She offered us the information that the same person who had hired her had also hired a man she knew named Andreas who also hung out at the Cockpit. She was very nice and gave us this information for free. Perhaps she felt guilty about robbing us? It’s hard to tell. You think you have these Men figured out, and they go and do something completely unexpected.

So we went to talk to Andreas who told us that the man who had hired him had gone by the name of Master Helsig, and had an office at the Empire House! Andreas had hauled several crates across town for him, through a side door there at the Empire House and to an office inside. He was payed well and never knew what was inside. We decided to investigate this lead next.

Knowing Lord Frederick knows EVERYONE who is anyone is ALtdorf, we went to see him yet again in order to secure entrance to the Empire House. This proved to be very easy, and we followed the directions that Andreas had given us to the side door he had gone through and thence to the office.

Except it wasn’t an office, it was a broom closet. Some of us began to have a sneaking suspicion that we’d been had. I was not sure myself, but Ulfred suggested we look for a secret door within the closet. To be honest, I thought that idea was silly…I mean, it seemed unreasonable to assume that there was some hidden chamber within the seat of Altdorf’s law enforcement center. And yet, once he made the suggestion, I rather halfheartedly stepped in to the closet and glanced around for the tell-tale sign of a hidden door.

To my surprise, there was one there, clear as day. To me anyway, the others did not seem to see it. I don’t know why, but I seem to be better than the Men and the dwarf at finding things concealed. Perhaps it comes of my life in the forest, where everything you need to survive or which is trying to kill you is usually well-hidden. You must learn to see the inobvious or you won’t see much of anything for long.

Once I pointed it out though, Ulfred saw it right away though it wasn’t until I pulled it open that the others could really see it. Behind it was a set of stone stairs leading down into a large chamber festooned with blasphemous symbols and a perfidious altar. While the others went to explore it for clues, I stood watch at the foot of the stairs in case someone stumbled upon us. Which, someone did.

Or rather, I should say, something. A demon appeared in a burst of flame at the top of the stairs and flew shrieking down the steps at me. I shouted to Volkrad to run, but he apparently did not see what I had seen and stood confused, only turning at the last minute as the fiend swooped at him. Luckily he ducked its claw and managed to stumble out of its way as Furdok and Konrad courageously charged it head on. Poor Lord Frederick, however, was not prepared for his first encounter face to face with Chaos, and fled as far as he could get to the other side of the room. Ulfred ran with him, determined to make sure Lord Frederick was safe and unharmed before he returned to bravely face the menace.

Now veteran daemonslayers, we five used every means at our disposal to quickly dispatch the creature, though several were dearly wounded in the process. Still, when the battle was over we stood victorious. I quickly began to see to the various injuries.

While I was doing so, that foul Bright Mage Wolfgang Shennect crept down the stairs and came upon us, tossing flaming death at Furdok, Konrad, and Ulfred! I knew he was evil! I knew it! Somehow, the three managed to survive the onslaught, and I began to shower Wolfgang with arrows while they gathered their wits about them long enough to charge him to prevent him from casting anymore of his flaming balls. His magic was powerful, however, and most of our blows seemed to do little or no damage to him. Soon, he was attempting to end Furdok’s life with a magical flaming blade he summoned.

With every spell he cast, Lord Fredrick was forming a crafty idea in his head. Finally he rushed over to the altar and smashed a small idol into pieces which he had seen there. Immediately, all of Wolfgang’s spells ended, and without them he was easily dispatched to his deserved reward. Apparently, the Lord had noticed that every time Wolfgang cast, the idol’s eyes would glow, and had rightly determined it to somehow be the source of his power. We congratulated him on his first victory over the forces of evil!

Flush with this achievement, he offered us the use of his manor house to rest and recuperate in for the remainder of our stay in Altdorf, which we gladly accepted. The next day Johann Shmidt came to see him. Looking back on what I have written before, I see that I neglected to mention him. We met him on a previous visit to Lord Frederick’s, and found him to be adventuresome but somewhat shallow. At first when I heard his name I thought he was the man we had met at the Three Feathers, but he was not. Apparently there are two Johann Shmidts!

Anyway, he was looking for action, and so we had invited him along with us but had, on that particular day, failed to find anyone who wanted to kill us (somehow). So he had left us rather in a huff. On this day, after the Lord regaled him with the tale of our various exploits the previous days, he was once again eager to join us. He mentioned that he had known adventurers before (adventurers? Is that really what we are? What a strange idea…I did not set out to have an adventure. I never have. Adventure, if that is indeed what you would call this non-stop attempt by the tides of Chaos to slay us, has just kind of happened to me. Us. I think most of us would rather be safe at home drinking ale or reading a tome. But alas, destiny seems to have other plans for us.) which made me perhaps wonder if he did not know the person we were seeking who had the ritual which could destroy the dagger.

By great luck, he did! Finally we managed to track down at least one of the people who had spent time traveling with the Kin from Ulthuan we had heard about. He told us he knew a Gabrielle Marsner, an Amethyst magister, who had indeed been part of such a group not too long past. We went to speak with her, and she told us that she did indeed have such a ritual and was willing to help us destroy the dagger.

The only obstacle which remained was Gottri Hammerfist, the insane dwarf (to be clear, I mean MORE insane than the average dwarf) witch hunter. We had to get him out of the way, and the only thing that seemed reasonable was to have him committed to someplace where Shallya could ease his mind of it’s burdens. However, that would require Klara.

She was firmly in Gottri’s court, but after giving it some thought I decided to try a desperate gamble in order to sway her to our point of view. I had to go see her alone, but for some reason Furdok demanded I give him 20 gold crowns for the privilege. See what I mean about their sanity? Well, I rather understood where he was coming from actually which really worries me. He was trying to make a point about trust…mainly, he did not trust me to make the right call with Klara. So I guess he was willing to trust me with the task if I was willing to trust him with my money. Gold means a lot to them, so I guess it was a big deal that I handed it over. I really don’t care about it too much, honestly, but in any case I was confident I could see this thing through successfully.

I went to see her, and I’m afraid I will have to keep the details of our conversation to myself for now, just in case someone reads this. Suffice it to say that she and I shared some things which made her see things in a new light. Once I told her that Gottri was claiming the entire Light College was a nest of cultists, she finally agreed he could use some “rest”, and agreed to set things in motion.

Unfortunately, Lady Baern stepped right in the way, preventing it from going through. After some desperate discussion amongst ourselves, we convinced Lord Frederick that the only way to get her to sway on this would be to give her a medal to get her the recognition she believed she deserved. We went to see her and informed her, obliquely, that if she were to cease to be an obstacle in Gottri’s remission to a Shallyan asylum, she would be awarded a medal in a public ceremony at the Gorgon Club along with several others who had gloriously thwarted the forces of chaos. She ate it up, and soon had agreed to allow Gottri to get some “rest”.

Finally, we got the dagger from Messner and delivered it and the things needed for the ritual to Gabrielle in the old cemetery. It was a long ritual, and we brought along Johann in case the dagger tried to bring help to prevent it’s destruction. Luckily, the only thing it could manage was another daemon, this one seemingly less difficult to slay than the one we had destroyed in Middenheim. Johann was no use, however, as he fled screaming from it at first sight. We killed it of course, but I can’t help noting that the ritual Gabrielle cast to destroy the dagger had nearly the exact same result, perceptually anyway, as the ritual which Liebnitz used to release the demon from the skull. We killed that demon, but were told the essence still survived and was loose in the world. Is the dagger’s essence truly destroyed, or has that escaped as well?

In any case, it seems certain that the third artifact lies in the path of our destiny as well. The questions are where is it, what is it, and who has it? Though I long to get out of this city, I fear we may be here for a while as those questions are answered. Meanwhile, I worry about the cultists which escaped us. Somebody burned down Gottri’s house, and the thing which disturbs me is that it happened after Wolfgang’s death. We had told him Gottri was standing in the way of our obtaining the dagger, and I would have expected a fiend like him to try to kill Gottri to get him out of the way, and fire would certainly be his modus operandi. So is there another corrupt Bright Mage out there who did not realize his Master had been killed?

You can’t trust anyone who works so closely with the winds of Aqshy, and now Volkrad has become one of them. I worry a great deal about this. I will need to keep an eye on him, for I fear that he may be led astray by the passions of fire in the same way Wolfgang was. I hope that he can contain the destructive urge which is such an integral part of the Lore of Fire.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yoohoo, I'll make you famous!


The new day started like any other. At first, it appeared to me that it would be another pointless round of talking to people who didn’t really have any idea what we were on about, or worse yet were secretly plotting to kill us. Actually, some of them may be, it’s hard to tell. However, Konrad, Volkrad and I went off to go interview some people in order to get some opinions on the character of Magister Messner, who has been greatly maligned by the witch hunting dwarf and his friends. Ulfred and Furdok went to go talk to the dwarf again for some reason, and then I believe back to the temple of Sigmar’s records, where Furdok apparently finally came to the realization that he has no idea how to read.

Our day was much much more fruitful. We talked to Lord Frederick again, who gave the idea of Messner being aligned with chaos very little credence, and then recommended we speak to Theodora about it as well as a Jade Magister named Guillaume. He was of the opinion that they could put our fears about Messner to rest, and in this he was correct.

Not only did Theodora, the ex-witch hunter, soundly and definitively denounce the notion of Messner being chaotic, she also finally gave us the story on what Lady Bairn did when she “single handedly” brought down a Chaos cult. It was not impressive, and basically involved an accident combined with fortuitous coincidence. Still, we decided to make sure, and proceeded to consult Magister Guillaume.

He was also very helpful. He told us that he believed it unlikely in the extreme that the White College would put a wizard in charge of the safe keeping of chaotic artifacts without thoroughly vetting him for any signs of chaotic leanings. He suggested that, should we come clean to Messner about our intentions vis a vis the dagger, he would probably be more forthcoming about it’s whereabouts, and in this he was correct. Furthermore, he informed us that he had a ritual which could cleanse the dagger. The downside was that the ritual required an intelligent being to willingly sacrifice their life in order to accomplish it. Still, it was something.

After that we went to see Messner again, where Volkrad spoke to him and told him our true reasons for seeking the dagger and what was at stake. After some time, we seemed to convince him of our sincerity and he informed us that, yes indeed, the dagger was within the Order’s vaults. However, he was not willing to give it to us unless we could show him proof that we had a ritual that would actually destroy it, and that we were willing to go through with. Also, we had to somehow get Gottri off his back. He was quite aware of the dwarf’s insane hatred for him, and told us that if he found out that he was releasing chaos artifacts from the vaults he would not hesitate in the slightest to have Messner burned at the stake. He needs us to get Gottri out of the way before he can do anything (no, not kill him).

Returning to the Burning Chair, we informed our comrades of our success, and then shortly afterwards were summoned by messenger to a meeting at the Burning Table where we were confronted by Wolfgang, the Bright mage we had accompanied on the road here and who we suspected of having arranged the robbery of our rooms at this very Inn.

He threatened us with calling the witch hunters on us, saying he suspected us of being involved with chaos, but was willing to let us defend our innocence to him. Which we did, but there were several things wrong with this scenario. First, he had absolutely no evidence of any of us cavorting with the Ruinous Powers, since we in fact do not, and had no such damning evidence in hand when he had our rooms tossed. Therefore it seems odd he would still accuse us. Furthermore, he pretended no knowledge of the burglary, even though we gave him every chance to come clean about it without actually telling him we knew he had done it. We mentioned that Volkrad’s grimoire had gone missing, and had he been a true friend he would have brought it back to us or at the very least told us where it was. Instead he feigned ignorance. If he had good intentions when investigating us, I believe he would have come clean about the theft.

Finally, once we explained what we were doing, he seemed so quickly to accept our innocence that it seems unlikely he ever doubted it to begin with. He offered up his own ritual to destroy the dagger, one which seemed infinitely easier than the one Guillame told us of. If it is real, it’s a boon, but what if he just wants to get us to bring him the dagger so he can steal it, or worse yet release the demon from within? We told him we would meet him later to discuss it.

It was shortly after that our snitch from the Three Beards came and informed us that the lady we were looking for was currently there! This day just kept getting better! We rushed over there and, sure enough, located her in the crowd.

She saw us too, however, and quickly made her way outside, with us hot on her trail. She led us on a merry chase through the slums of Altdorf, finally losing us in an alley in a rough area on one of the river islands. I was able to trail her to a “plaza” where we lost any sign of her. Among the buildings surrounding the plaza were two warehouses. In my experience with cultists, it seems to me they tend to hide in secret basements hidden in warehouses or taverns, and so I decided to investigate the two buildings, choosing one at random in which to begin.

There was nothing at all inside, but when we emerged we found that Furdok was being shot at. He had stayed outside, watching the bridge which led to the next island, and was being hit with arrows. I located the woman doing the shooting and put an arrow of my own in her arm, at which she fled.

We followed her, suspecting that we may be being led into a trap. We were right of course. We finally cornered her in a small cattle market, where we were jumped by three mutants and a man using dark, sinister magic. I took to the rooftop to make sure they could not escape out the back door, if there was any. It turned out there was not, but it was a great position from which to attack our attackers from. Unfortunately, I could not see the woman with the bow from where I was at, and she wounded Volkrad quite dearly. I could see the warlock from where I was, but the angle was such that I could not get a shot at him. He, however, was free to cast his evil magics upon my companions. Finally he came out into the open in order to use one of his fiendish spells upon Konrad at close range, but before I could do anything about it the woman broke cover and began to shoot at me. One of her arrows struck me a glancing blow on my side, but I put a couple more of my quarrels into her and she collapsed, unable to continue. Volkrad was able to take down the warlock with one of his mighty dart spells, and we had won the day. At first, we thought the warlock had succeeded in killing Konrad, but it turned out he was still breathing and I was able to save him with some quick application of some of the medicinals I carry with me.

I then turned to the archer, who lay dying on the floor of the market, her blood staining the hay red. I offered the use of some of the same remedies I had used on Konrad if she would tell us where the woman who had hired her was hiding. The archer informed me of the locale, and to my not-so-great surprise, it was the second warehouse, the one I had not gotten around to searching. At that point I was in something of a dilemma. I had suggested to her I would heal her, but I had not actually promised her. She was detestable and in league with Chaos, so I was quite hesitant to follow through and actually help her. Still, if the information she gave us was true, it would be only just to help her (though turn her straight over to the witch hunters afterwards, which would render the aid moot). Thankfully she ended my quandary by dying before I completely made up my mind.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

They Call Me Bruce

"They Call Me Bruce is the tale of a small town set upon by demons after a group of teen-agers unwittingly unleash an ancient curse. Campbell, playing himself, is kidnapped off the set of a B horror movie and, despite his protestations that he's just an actor, is forced to play the role of his heroic movie character in order to save the town."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Journal: 2 sessions worth

Journal- The search begins

It has been a few days since I have been able to find time to write in my journal, and there have been many events and people rushing by in that short span. I usually try to write at night while my companions are sleeping when I have plenty of spare time, but that has proved to be impossible of late. Every time I settle in for the night, some man or dwarf (usually dwarf, oddly enough) comes rushing in to tell me we’ve been robbed or attacked by chaos demons. They make fun of me for sleeping in the stable with Stormweather, but so far nobody has made off with my belongings or tried to suck out my vital fluids. I tried to tell them that cities are bad news, but they don’t listen. If I had my druthers, we’d be camping in the forest outside of Altdorf, but I think the best I can do is convince them to stay in a different inn where hopefully nobody will know where we are.

But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. As I said, we have been in ALtdorf for several days now, and accomplished much and nothing at all. As for the dagger we seek, no sign have we uncovered. Every well we visit in hopes of gaining some indication of it’s whereabouts proves dry. The first day we visited the Celestial College where Volkrad paid his license fee and spoke to a Magister to help point us in the right direction. Oddly, I can’t recall exactly what the college looked like, although the windows and mirrors were very shiny and clean. The Magister, Dieter Klemperer, indicated to us that the College of Light stored many dangerous artifacts of Chaos in a secret vault and we should talk to them. He also gave us the names of a couple of other highly placed people who may know people who may know something.

We split up for a bit, sending Volkrad to speak to the White Magister while the rest of us hobnobbed with the “important people” in town. Oddly, the noble Lord took a liking to us and provided us with several leads. What followed was a series of visitations to various dignitaries interspersed with attempts upon our lives by various threats both natural and unnatural. In order to lessen confusion, I will summarize the results of our conversations in a simple fashion before proceeding to the parts where someone attempts to do us harm.

The results of our investigations were thus:

The White Wizard claimed no knowledge of the dagger.

Apparently there was a group of people in Altdorf some indeterminable amount of time in the past who had fought cults here and knew some ritual which was capable of destroying chaos artifacts. Of them we can find little trace except the note that they had a High Elf with them who has since returned to Ulthuan (good riddance).

The Lady Bairn apparently single handedly defeated a chaos cult in her youth, though no details about this victory are available. She is intolerably snobbish and snooty which leads me to believe she may have been friends with the High Elf though she denies this.

A dwarven witch hunter named Gottri claims that all the white wizards are chaotic and should not be trusted. This may mean the magister Volkrad spoke to was lying about not having the dagger. However the dwarf was also, let me see if I can remember how Konrad put it, “completely off his nut”.

There are no records at either the temple of Ulric or Sigmar with any mention whatsoever of the priest who wrote the letter which first brought the dagger to our attention. However, we do have the name of a priestess of Sigmar that we have yet to speak to who is well connected to witch hunters in this city.

There are also a few other people we have leads on but have yet to speak to.

Now, the first night of our investigations ended with us in the inn’s bar, having dinner. A messenger boy delivered a letter to us, which I then opened there at the table. A daemon appeared out of thin air and immediately set about trying separate Konrad from his limbs. Luckily it was not a big daemon and proved to be little trouble for our battle tested group. I myself declined to fight the thing, turning instead to pursue and question the boy who delivered the tainted letter.

After some questions and bribes, it became apparent to us that he was not complicit in the attack but had been hired by an unknown woman of singular description to deliver said note. It was near the 3 Beards tavern, and so we resolved to investigate and see if we could find this woman there and get her to explain to us why she was sending us missives filled with chaos spawn. That night, however, she eluded our grasp.

The next night was the robbery. We, or I should more properly say they, returned to the room to find it ransacked, though only Volkrad’s hard won grimoire had been stolen. It was at that time where we began a rather informal policy of working in shifts, whereby Furdok and Konrad were on night duty, Volkrad and Ulfred on days, and somehow I was on call for both daily and nightly business. Apparently the men equate “doesn’t need to sleep” with “doesn’t need to rest, or take a well-deserved break, or even just take five minutes to clear one’s head and try to forget how bad this stupid city smells all the time”.

In any case I admit that it was my decision to track down the robbers that very night rather than letting the trail go cold. Questioning the innkeeper revealed that a disturbance had occurred in the bar that evening, a row started by a bald dwarf and a huge hulking Norscan. Even given the difficulties of tracking someone through the filthy but well traveled streets of Altdorf, trailing this pair proved remarkably easy. We ended up at a seedy riverside pub where Furdok and Konrad questioned the two, and discovered the thief was a tall woman with a scar named Solveig Thudrin. At first I thought she may have been the same woman who sent us the demon-laden epistle, but the descriptions did not match. She was to be found at a barbaric arena known as the Cockpit, but the place was closed by the time we got there. However an employee there, when properly motivated, provided us with information about Solveig which enabled us to find her the next evening.

In the meantime, we tried to find this other woman as well, but she proved far more difficult to track down. We ended up hiring a young man whose job was to sit in the 3 Beards and drink all day and tell us if anyone fitting the description of the woman showed up there.

It was actually on our way from the 3 Beards to the Cockpit that the four thugs set upon Ulfred, Volkrad, and I. Ulfred and I caught sight of them as they lunged from the alleyway, and quickly drew our blades to defend ourselves. Ulfred, brave as ever, delivered a telling blow to the first thug which immediately set him to flight. I also delivered a sword blow to one, but he was braver than his companion and returned with a nasty wound of his own to my side. Volkrad was caught flatfooted, but his luck was with him as his assailant stumbled over some trash on the way out of the alley and was unable to strike him.

After that we made short work of them, especially Ulfred who decapitated one with a single mighty swing of his halberd. Volkrad was wounded, but managed to cast a spell of slumber upon his attacker which then allowed us to question him and find out that it was the same woman who had sent us the daemongram who had hired them to bring her our heads. Luckily, our wounds were not serious and I was able to patch them up quickly.

Solveig we found at the Cockpit as promised, and after talking to her we determined that she was not hired by the woman who was quickly becoming our nemesis, but by a man in disguise calling himself “Dieter”. She took us to where she had met with him, and to our surprise Volkrad recognized the burnt out ruins as being on or near the grounds of the Bright College. Solveig informed us that she had been hired to search our rooms for anything bearing suspicious arcane or chaotic natures and deliver them here to this place. The book was the only thing she found which had possibly matched that description, and as it happened we actually located the grimoire discarded carelessly among the debris. Also nearby was a scrap of orange-yellow robe, a sign that it had in fact been a Bright Magister who had done this.

Putting two and two together, I deduced that the culprit must have been Wolfgang, the wizard we had met on the road from Middenheim to Altdorf. Volkrad thinks perhaps it was a frame job, and this cannot be discounted as it was not entirely difficult to track down the evidence. However, I am not convinced of this. To me it seems more like skullduggery perpetrated by someone unfamiliar with the general methods of skullduggery, which is to say done poorly and amateurly. To be honest, part of the reason I think this is because I probably would have made the same mistakes.

Reasonably sure of the perpetrator, I now must wonder about his motives. Was he suspicious of us as being allied with chaos, given the way we seemed to attract beastmen on our travels here? Or is he allied with chaos himself and looking to advance his own agenda somehow? This remains to be seen.

I shall close this chapter with an account of an event which I was not myself a witness to, the attack which has led me to suggest a change of location. Apparently the rest of them were set upon in the night by some kind of ghostly vampiric entity. The bizarre descriptions I received varied tremendously but the general accounts indicate a floating cloud of screaming faces with blood sucking tentacles protrubing from it. However, the odd thing about this creature was that it was completely invisible and ethereal unless viewed in a mirror. It had nearly killed Ulfred and Volkrad, and driven Konrad to brink of death or madness, before it’s nature was discovered and they were able to dispatch it. Only by viewing it in the mirror and using that perspective to attack it were they able to save themselves from certain doom.

What would I have done had they all been killed? I don’t know for sure. All alone, I doubt I could stay in this stinking urban morass. Maybe I could scrounge together enough money from their belongings to hire some people to continue the search, but how could I trust them? I would rather go back to Middenheim. It’s still a city, but a better and less crowded place than this one.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Toilet Seats and Game Theory

I found this article at Science Creative Quarterly, and though that it was of general interest to the group, given that we are gamers...

By Richard Harter

The toilet seat problem has been the subject of much controversey. In this paper we consider a simplified model of the toilet seat problem. We shall show that for this model there is an inherent conflict of interest which can be resolved by a equity solution.

Consider a bathroom with one omnipurpose toilet (also known as a WC) which is used for two toilet operations which we shall designate as #1 and #2. The toilet has an attachment which we shall refer to as the seat (but see remark 1 below) which may be in either of two positions which we shall designate as up and down.

Toilet operations are performed by members of the human species (see remark 2 below) who fall into two categories, popularly designated as male and female. For convenience we shall use the name John to refer to the typical male and Marsha to refer to the typical female.

The performance of toilet operations by John and Marsha differ in a number of respects. The costs of these operations are peculiar to the respective sexes and are fixed except with respect to the position of the toilet seat. In particular:

Marsha performs toilet operations #1 and #2 with the seat in the down position. John performs toilet operation #1 with the seat in the up position and toilet operation #2 with the seat in the down position. If the seat is in the wrong position before performing the toilet operation the position must be changed at an average cost C. Optionally the position may be changed after performing the toilet operation, also at an average cost C. (Changing the position of the seat during the performance of a toilet operation is beyond the scope of this note and is definitely not recommended.)

Consider the scenario where John and Marsha each use a separate toilet. It should be obvious to the most casual observer that each minimizes the seat position transfer cost by not altering the seat position after performing a toilet operation.

For Marsha the seat position transfer cost is 0 since all operations are performed with the seat in the down position. For John the cost is greater than 0 since seat position transfers must be performed.

Let p be the probability that John will perform a #1 operation vs a #2 operation. Assume that John optimizes his seat position transfer cost (see remark 3 below.) Then it is easy to determine that John’s average cost of seat position transfer per toilet opeation is

B = 2p(1-p)C

where B is the bachelor cost of toilet seat position transfers per toilet operation.

Now let us consider the scenario where John and Marsha cohabit and both use the same toilet. In our analysis we shall assume that John and Marsha perform toilet operations with the same frequency (see remark 4 below) and that the order in which they perform them is random. They discover to their mutual displeasure that their cohabitation adversely alters the toilet seat position transfer cost function for each of them. What is more there is an inherent conflict of interest. Attempts to resolve the problem typically revolve around two strategies which we shall designate as J and M

Strategy J
Each person retains the default strategy that they used before cohabiting. This strategy is proposed by John with the argument “Why does it matter if the seat is up or down?”. As we see below this strategy benefits John.

Strategy M
Each person leaves the seat down. This strategy is proposed by Marsha with the argument “It ought to be down.” As we see below this strategy benefits Marsha.

Consequences of strategy J:
Under strategy J the toilet seat is is in the up position with probability p/2. The respective average cost of toilet seat transfer operations for John and Marsha are:

John: p(3/2-p)C
Marsha: pC/2

The incremental costs (difference between pre and post habitation costs) are:

John: ( p - 1/2)pC
Marsha: pC/2
Total: (p^2)C

John’s incremental cost would actually be negative if p were less than 1/2. This is not the case; p>1/2. Note that Marsha’s incremental cost is greater than John’s for p<1. Marsha objects.

Consequences of strategy M:
In strategy M the seat is always left down. When John performs operation #1 he lifts the seat before the operation and lowers it after the operation. The respective average cost of toilet seat transfer operations is:

John: 2pC
Marsha: 0

The incremental costs are:

John: 2(p^2)C
Marsha: 0
Total: 2(p^2)C

In these strategy Marsha bears no cost; all of the incremental costs are borne by John. John objects. Note also that the combined incremental cost of strategy M is greater than that of strategy J.

It is notable that John and Marsha each advocates a strategy that benefits them. This is predictable under game theory. However the conflict over strategies has a cost M in marital discord that is greater than the cumulative cost of toilet seat transfers. It behooves John and Marsha, therefore, to adopt a strategy that minimizes M.

This is not simple. A common reaction is to advance sundry arguments to justify adopting strategy M or J. All such arguments are suspect because they are self serving (and often accompanied with the “If you loved me” ploy.) A sound strategy is one that is equitable and is seen to be equitable. In this regard there are three candidate criteria:

(1) Minimize the joint total cost
(2) Equalize the respective total costs
(3) Equalize the respective incremental costs

The argument for (1) is that John and Marsha are now as one and it is the joint costs and benefits of the union that should be considered. This principle is not universally accepted. It is readily seen that (see remark 5) that the joint total cost is optimized by strategy J which has already been seen to be suspect.

Criterion (2) seems plausible. It requires, however, that Marsha put the seat in the up position after performing a toilet operation some percentage of the time. No instance of this behaviour has ever been observed in recorded history; ergo this criterion can be ruled out. (But see remark 6.)

Criterion (3) argues that the mututal increased cost of toilet seat operations should be shared equitably, i.e., neither party should bear a disproportionate share of the costs of cohabitation. A short calculation reveals that criterion (3) can be achieved if John leaves the seat up after performing toilet operation #1 with a frequency

f = (2p-1)/p

Since the value of p is seldom precisely measured and is variable in any event it suffices to use an approximate value of f. If we assume that p=2/3 then f=1/2. This suggests the following convenient rule of thumb:

In the morning John leaves the seat up after performing #1.
In the evening he puts it down.

This rule may not be precise but it is simple and approximately equitable; moreover the use of a definite rule sets expectations. The seat is put down in the evening to avoid the notorious “middle of the night surprise”.

I expect that this analysis should settle the toilet seat controversey for once and for all - if John and Marsha are mathematicians.

* * *
Remark 1: The toilet has an additional attachment called the toilet seat lid which can only be down if the toilet seat is down. When the lid is down the toilet is (or should be) non-functional for toilet operations. Some persons maintain the toilet seat lid in the down position when the toilet is not use. For these persons the analysis in this note is moot. Such persons pay a fixed cost in seat movement for all toilet operations.

Remark 2: Toilets are also used by domestic animals as a convenient source of drinking water unless the lid is down. (See remark 1)

Remark 3: Experimental evidence suggests that almost all bachelors optimize the seat transfer cost, the exception being those who put the seat up after performing a #2 operation.

Remark 4: Folklore has it that Marsha performs more toilet operations than John, hypothetically because of a smaller bladder. John, however, drinks more beer. We shall not discuss his prostate problem.

Remark 5: “Readily seen” in this context means “It looks obvious but I don’t know how to prove it; you figure it out.”

Remark 6: The toilet lid solution is to put the toilet lid down after all toilet operations. This solution imposes a cost of 2C on each party and is accordingly more expensive. It is, however, more esthetic. It also eliminates the “doggy drinking” problem