The Pythagoras Box
by Elizabeth McCoy
There is an ancient mathematical joke . . .
There were three American Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin. One slept on an elk skin and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant. The first two each had a boy, and the one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.
This is apparently the basis of the Pythagorus Box (or vice versa?), which is actually three boxes, connected together so that a right triangle (i.e., one where the largest "point" is a 90-degree angle) is in the center. The two smaller, leather-covered boxes are large enough to hold an average human, while the one which appears to be covered in hippopotamus hide is correspondingly larger. (The GM may, of course, alter the size of the boxes as desired. Indeed, the boxes may alter their own sizes randomly . . .)
The Pythagorus Box's creation is likely to be a great mystery -- if for no other reason than that it's got an inherently silly premise. (In GURPS Illuminati University, it was probably created by Pun Magic (p. IOU115); in In Nomine, consider the effects of a Divine Intervention and an Infernal Intervention at the same time and what that says about the sense of humor of Lucifer and the Almighty; in Teenagers from Outer Space, someone probably built it during Shop Class and won't 'fess up.) Nevertheless, it is a potent artifact.
Not only . . .
This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.
Article publication date: March 29, 2002
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