I’m working on the Keystone Grimoire, shuffling together all my thoughts on “how magic should work” into something that might be vaguely comprehensible (it starts with a chapter called Basic Metaphysics).
And I got to divination / augury / precognition, that lovely little nugget that has trainwrecked more games than any other storytelling trope.
What I cobbled together is way over on the heavy end for how I like my mechanics, but I think it looks like fun. I would, however, love to get some feedback on it, either in the comments here or on discord or twitter or whatever.
Scrying into the future is… less straightforward than the other kinds of Scrying. There are many theories on the matter and many academic diatribes on the subject, but the fact remains that even the most trusted prophets are not wholly reliable. On the bright side, even the direst premonitions appear to be avoidable with enough effort.
Prophecy does not fully and accurately predict the future; instead, it offers glimpses, hints, and warnings.
The best way to handle predicting the future is with a little minigame to make things interesting. When a player wants their character to prophecy the future, they assemble a die pool and roll as normal. If they fail to beat the difficulty, the future remains murky and unknown. If they succeed, then the real fun begins.
Everybody else at the table (including the GM) writes down one to three words or phrases. You want at least ten total. These can be things that the players think will be related to what the prophet asks, they can be elements of the story that they want to see more of, or they can be total non-sequiturs like “monkey.”
The prophet’s effect die determines how many questions they may ask, and they step down the effect die after each question. Each question is asked aloud, after which any of the other players may read off one of their words or phrases. The prophet’s player must then incorporate these phrases into an answer, which they write down.
Together the compiled answers constitute the complete prophecy, which is shared with the whole table. I like to put all the answers down on an index card under a suitably bombastic title.
For the rest of the session (or longer, if appropriate), players may try to fit the answers into the unfolding story. Any asset created (through test or plot point spend) relating to an answer is stepped up. If any actions are prescribed in an answer, characters who perform that action gain a plot point. Recovery rolls incorporating an answer step up their effect die. If any answer comes to pass in full, the prophet may strike it from the prophecy as “fulfilled” and every player gains a plot point.
Because the prophecy minigame takes some time to set up and resolve, avoid multiple prophecies in a single session. The prophet character might still roll dice for their precognition in less grandiose interactions, just not for generating another prophecy.
So what do you think? Too much? Too silly? Or not unpredictable enough?