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Thread: Divination

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Divination

    Divination has to be one of the key fantasic elements of a political setting like Birthright. Both Divine and Arcane spellcasters can cast divinations, and you don't have to be blooded to advance as a divination expert. Diviners probabably have quite some demand for their services.

    One of the most popular forms of divination involves scrying. It is usually achieved by concentrating on or staring at an object having a shiny surface until a vision appears. The methods of scrying differ but after a period of concentration on the speculum visions, mental images, or impressions appear. Frequently the visions are symbolic and the scryer must be trained and skillful in interpreting their meanings. For this reason, among others the Scry skill was very useful.

    Another popular form of divination is astrology. I posted some Astrology rules for d20 in a post on Harald Khorien. What might be interesting is adding secret varients of astrology, representing the many variations there are in its practice, each excluding study of the others.

    Using cards, such as tarot cards is a fun way to get away from dice and do something physical at the gaming table, something pretty rare, unless you use minatures. You can stack the deck to reveal the information you want, or let the cards unfold as they do and either interpret them as an NPC, or let the players do it themselves. Like any random list of plots or adventure hooks, cards can add variety to the game.

    Divination specialists might examine fires, waters, airs, storms, animals, or whatever strikes you for their specialty. These special conditions can be added (or might replace) similar spell componants for divinations.

    What interesting divinations have DM's used?

    Any thoughts on using divinations?

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    I find that unless you are prepared as a D.M. the divinations can be a pain in the rear.
    The Best defense in this case I have found is a good offense, roll the random domain events months in advance so that you as the D.M. have a notion about what events are may be on the horizon and are developing in the campaign so that clues both natural and supernatural can be foreshadowed properly.
    It takes a little work but is much more satisfying than artificial restrictions on the casting of Divinations or responses so vague as to be next to worthless.
    I find this is also a good idea even for non divination purposes, after all such events as an assasination attempt rarely occur in a vaccum and are unlikely to be spontaneous occurances.
    Regents with good spy networks can get clues or warnings of plots that should be in motion long before the domain turn on which the attempt falls.

    As a player I found it very frustrating to have a random event pop up with a D.M. that went from Domain turn to Domain turn. Some events surely are unforseeable, but others stretch the creduality string a little far, even more so with the unprepared D.M.

    "Uh yeah...a Great captain arises in...uh... Ghonalison...he is rallying the locals...and his name is...."

    "Who is this man? If he is a great Captain should I have not heard of him prior to this, especialy if my citizens are placing loyalty in him? Whats his beef with me?"

    Anyway enough ranting. suffice to say Divinations and Spy networks require good D.M. prep. (I could have said just that and spared you all the Verbage)
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    I find that unless you are prepared as a D.M. the divinations can be a pain in the rear.
    Magic often is for DM's....it is part of the game.

    roll the random domain events months in advance so that you as the D.M. have a notion about what events are may be on the horizon and are developing in the campaign so that clues both natural and supernatural can be foreshadowed properly.
    Which is what needs to happen with divination spells that affect actions during a realm turn, month, or year of activities....this is what the PC should benefit from if they divine the future....although a slippery little "unknown/divulged" event might pop up and really catch them off guard from time to time.

    As a PC, my mage Cerillius Blueleaf had taken horticulture as a proficiency. He had found a great fruit plant existed in a nearby forest that would allow for simple "Yes/No" answers to single questions if imbibed in a special elixir. He went about establishing hot houses to create a store of these potions to help him rule better with simple yes/no answers....it was great to role play...also the anti oxidants helped my PC's overall health.

    It allowed for simple answers on the part of my DM, but allowed me to determine the tenor of an upcoming months encounters without revealing all the details....I could get a lot of yes or no questions in for a month...but my DM ruled that my PC got the trotsky's if he took the potion more than 3 times a week.....so sometimes my PC made proclimations from his garderobe.....on particuallaryly stressful months.

    If a player goes to using divination then they should reap the rewards, although a DM should feel free to mix in something unknown/disclosed from time to time to keep the game lively....

    Later

    Last edited by MatanThunder; 04-11-2007 at 05:23 AM.

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    If a player goes to using divination then they should reap the rewards, although a DM should feel free to mix in something unknown/disclosed from time to time to keep the game lively....

    Later

    [/QUOTE]

    I think the D.M. is obligated to lend an air of mystery to his responses to a divination as opposed to throwing somthing unforseen in to surprise a player.

    The best example may be from MacBeth where he certainly misinterpets the omens provided by the witches. Armed with the forknowledge of upcoming events and a good dose of preplanning the D.M. can throw some Nostradamus like quatrains down on the diviner and let them make of them what they will.

    "From the East will come a challenge when the ice lay hard upon the lands."

    can be a simple enough and vague enough reply to make a player wonder and protect his realm from an easterly invader in the winter months. But it could actualy refer to a personal challenge or some other crisis that falls in a winter turn.

    Or perhaps a late spring which heralds a famine which lowers province loyalty and presents challenge to the Ruler.

    I am not saying that a D.M. should completely gimp a divination, but the responses should never be certain, and should lend a more fantastic element to the campaign.
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dcolby
    I am not saying that a D.M. should completely gimp a divination, but the responses should never be certain, and should lend a more fantastic element to the campaign.
    This is one of the things I like about using skills, even when a spell is cast. Depending on the skill check, you can either fail the test, get a vague but true answer, or get a solid answer. I also think its important to consider how the divination is supposed to occur, because different methods have different strengths and weaknesses. Finally, there is the question itself. If someone asks "what happens next" I am tempted to answer "hunger, then sleep" or something obviously mundane. Does Boeruine plan war is a pretty specific question, but it to can be misinterpreted, because you haven't resolved against whom.

    I recall the Lydian king who consulted the Delpic Oracle and asked if he should make war against the Persian Empire, which spanned from central Anatolia (Turkey) to India. The Oracle answered, a mighty kingdom will fall. Assuming that "a mighty kingdom" refered to Persia, the Lydian king declared war, but the "mighty kingdom" was in fact Lydia.

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    Senior Member Beruin's Avatar
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    I used the Tarot cards provided in an old Ravenloft box several times as a DM, the last time to give my players some hints during a murder mystery set in the Imperial City. This was a small reading, using only the top four or so cards. I removed the cards I wanted them to draw from the deck and let them shuffle the deck. Then I tried to put these cards on top of the deck in secret.
    I still don't know whether they noticed this or are still wondering how I managed to get the cards to perfectly fit my reading.

    I also used the mushroom prophecy from the Tuornen PS. However I translated the words into German and changed the meaning somewhat. It now reads something like:

    One thin supper simmers in the worm's pot.
    One silent dreamer rests on a cold stone.
    Two wan candles glow at the fire's head.
    Two dire brothers sow bones on the field.

    Well, sounds better in German I guess, but that's the meaning.
    My players have found some clues, but are still trying to figure it out. The problem is I still haven't decided what all lines shall mean IMC. Esspecially those two dire brothers are giving me headaches, so suggestions who or what these two might be are welcome...
    Last edited by Beruin; 04-13-2007 at 12:56 PM.

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    Different strokes....of course...

    Some magic affects and spells will alter the way a game comes out. Now you don't have to allow the spell in "YOUR" game, but the spell/power of divination exists.

    Some of the spells and powers of very vague, but not all allow for arbitrary information to be dispensed, unless you are altering the spells discription of course.

    Divination works just fine in my opinion, even though I as DM will have to do more work to challenge my PC's.

    I think the D.M. is obligated to lend an air of mystery to his responses to a divination as opposed to throwing somthing unforseen in to surprise a player.
    Not to be contrary....but....

    I know that a DM should be a rule arbitrator. From there you can alter the system as you see fit, but the arbitration of the rules as set forth as official (or even as house rules) is the most important part.

    Paint a story, create a sense of intrigue, but I don't feel that suspense is necessarily the prime concern for me (personally) as a role player. For a ravenloft setting suspense is more important, but for birthright it isn't such an integral part.

    Unforseen randomness can create a sense of unpredictibility (suspense), as the PC will never know what randomness has in store for them. Suspense is building to a climax, which for me is far less important than not knowing for certain what is going to happen, whether that is a climax or just something unforseen.

    This of course comes back to divination. You can play what spells and powers you like, but true divination reveals the "Truth" in a usable form. Portents and lesser divination affects have their place, but if the spell/power says it can do something, you owe it to your players to let them know if you are using an "Altered" rule/affect......not that you are.

    I just hate to get involved in a game, and find out my DM is doing something that I can't live with and have to leave the game shortly thereafter. If a DM just tells me what they are altering, I can make a decision on whether I want to play that style of gaming or not. It has happened to me before, and probably will again.

    Each to their own of course.

    Later



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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Ah truth in a usable form....I think the Lydian example from above is an excellent case of 1. Truth and 2. extremely usable. How that King interpeted the vision not so good. I am not saying lie to the characters or even tell them less than they should receive information wise, I am saying telling them word for word what is going to happen next is well....a lazy d.m.

    Certainly the more powerful divinations are going to be more accurate, but you must guard against leading your players by the nose to fufill a prophesy. Don't paint yourself into a corner. Allow free will, the players are after all writing the story, you as the D.M. are just setting up the outline.

    "Difficult to read, always in motion the future is..."

    And certainly, not to be contrary as the subject here is Divination (Clr 4, Knowledge 4) Pg. 224 Players Handbook.

    "The advice can be as simple as a short phrase,or it might take the form of a cryptic rhyme or omen."

    I do not feel I am being at all arbitrary in my interpetation of how to provide my players with the answers to their divination attempts by forcing them to carefully phrase the questions and then think about the answers they get in return.
    Last edited by Dcolby; 04-13-2007 at 04:03 AM.
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Matan perhaps I should apologise.. I just read your profile and it lists your interests as 2nd edition D&D. I have not played 2nd edition in quite some time and it occurs to me that perhaps we are growling at each other over versions of the spell from two different editions. If that is the case and my tone has given offense I tender this humble apology.

    If however that is not the case and you think I am an ass who is to rough on his players...well....pfffffffft to you!
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    each other over versions of the spell from two different editions.
    And I use all the 2nd ed spells that I can find, especially those with realm/regent wide applications.....especially divinations...

    "Difficult to read, always in motion the future is... "
    Maybe with the force, but foresight and a whole slew of magic that I have converted to 2nd ed may grant far more insight than often allowed to PC's by most DM's.

    Also my magic fruit was a research project I did with my DM who I had let view my copy of Role Aids....Alchemists..

    AS to ......occurs to me that perhaps we are growling at each other....

    I try not to take it personal when I run up against other editions or styles. I am truely posting to my style and gaming decisions of the past. Truth be told, I have only had to get out of two games because of some DM's (not you) alterations to spell knowledge and use.

    I would leave after the end of the session.

    Later


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