The Foreman's Dilemma, also
called "The Banker's Stack" or "The Librarian's Problem", is a game of
intellect played by scholars, philosophers and similarly inclined people,
though originating in Nybelmar it can be
found occasionally among traders or intellectuals on
History. The Foreman's Dilemma is commonly thought to have originated with the Tarshinites of Nybelmar. The story told to explain its origins is as follows:
A foreman overseeing a warehouse had several dozen crates, of varying size, but no idea how to stack them so that he could fit as many as possible. Thinking that it may take weeks to sort the crates into meaningful piles using only the few men on duty and a single crane, the foreman consulted a scholar, known for his learning in such puzzles. The scholar directed the foreman's men to move the crates from where they had been stacked before in a particular order so that the crate on the bottom, being the largest) might be moved into place.
There being only enough space for so many crates of such a size, and only so much height in the warehouse, several stacks of crates, from largest to smallest, soon formed in the warehouse, and the foreman thanked the scholar. The scholar, being a of that sort, took the entire thing as an exercise in logic and wit, and soon brought the Dilemma back to his fellows, where they challenged each other by adding greater levels of difficulty to the game, either in the form of more objects or fewer places to move them, keeping in mind the rules that the first scholar had to abide by.
Similar stories are told, depending on the region and name of the game in that area, most are similar, one involving a banker attempting to stack bars in a rather full vault, another involving a librarian with several rather delicate books and only so much space to place them. The monks of the Monastery of Dawn tell a story of the neophyte Sasarta assigned to stack the books within the library, while the people of the city of Kimkatee speak of a banker with a vault overflowing with gold bars and still more to put in it. The game later fell out of favour, as more complex methods of play grew too difficult to solve and less complex methods were too easy.
An impatient mathematician of some cunning was presented with a student, an indolent wealthy boy, foisted on him for money from his family. The boy, being somewhat bright but lazy and his master being too enamoured with the money set about finding away to keep the boy out of his hair. He happened across the game, and presented it to the boy to play. The boy, who brought the game home, later used it to distract his siblings, and so the game spread to other teachers with similar students.
Equipment. The game may be played with any set of objects of varying sizes though most commonly, a set of wooden cubes or rings is used on a board with bits of doweling to place them on, though some omit this when the game becomes more complex than the usual style of play. Anything may be used to play the game as long it can be stacked and differentiated. Things like coins, books and even stones are pressed into service when necessary. Some include a roll of paper and quill to write down the movements on.
To set up the game the player simply decides which configuration to play by,
though they number well into the dozens though the simplest involves three pegs
and four rings called Savant Korotsa's Game or simply Korosta's Game in honor
of the mathematician who popularized it, places the rings on any one of the
pegs, most commonly the leftmost, and then proceeds to play.
Rules. Only one object may be moved at a time. It must be placed before another object can be moved. An object must be moved from the top of the pile to another pile. Objects cannot be taken from the middle or bottom of the pile. No larger object may be placed on a smaller object.