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TOPIC: Prophecy Mystery

Prophecy Mys­tery 4 years 5 months ago #2356

  • Michael
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The Prophecy Mys­tery is fre­quently over­looked, but actu­ally quite pow­er­ful. Prac­ticed by an expe­ri­enced sor­cerer, it can pro­vide sup­port (the Omen rat­ing) over a long time. An Omen that a war is going to be won would for exam­ple aid all Checks, by any­body, that are made in sup­port of the war effort and would at the same time ham­per all Checks, by any­body, made in oppo­si­tion oft he war effort. And while one die, or even two dice in case of direct oppo­si­tion, might not look much, Blade’s usu­ally small dice­pool sizes and ela­tively low TNs mean that it will, over time, accu­mu­late into a huge advan­tage. I would there­fore like to look in depth at the Prophecy Mys­tery.

The The­ory

The Prophecy Mys­tery works upon the belief held by prac­ti­cally all civil­i­sa­tions at all time that events are pre­de­ter­mined and the future fixed, a belief even shared even by some­thing as sup­pos­edly advanced and enlight­e­nend as con­tem­po­rary Chris­t­ian the­ol­ogy (If God is omni­scient, he knows what’s going to hap­pen to mor­row. If he knows today what’s going to hap­pen tomor­row, what’s going to hap­pen tomor­row is already fixed.)

It should be clear that a sor­cerer using Prophecy does not cre­ate or influ­ence the future, he merely glimpses hints of what is com­ing to pass. As such, his skill at Prophecy (i.e. his Cast­ing Suc­cesses) would strictly speak­ing only deter­mine the clar­ity with which he per­ceives the future, not have any impact on that future. That his Cast­ing Suc­cesses do have a bear­ing on whether the future is favourable or not (i.e. mod­i­fies the d12 roll) makes allowance for two things:

On a pro­saic, mechan­i­cal basis it pro­vides some ben­e­fit for hav­ing a good Prophecy SP. And, truth be told, this is the main rea­son why we set up Prophecy to work the way it does.

As an in-​game ratio­nale it makes allowance for the sor­cerer who sees the future with greater clar­ity (i.e. achieves many Cast­ing Suc­cesses) being able to see pro­pi­tious times to start the ven­ture and times and things where dan­ger threat­ens and which are to be avoided.

Try­ing Again

So what if a sor­cere isn’t happy with what he sees in the future? Can he try again? Well, it depends.

Look at how the Mys­tery works on the assump­tion that future is fixed. It fol­lows that an indif­fer­ent out­come (i.e. mod­i­fied d12 roll of 6 or 7 and thus no Omen rat­ing) can­not mean that this par­tic­u­lar future is not yet fixed – future, all future, is after all fixed. The only remain­ing expla­na­tion is that the sor­cerer was unable to read the signs with suf­fi­cient clar­ity. What­ever method he uses to divine the future did not yield a clear result.

In this case, and only in the case of an indif­fer­ent out­come, may the sor­cerer try again, but not imme­di­ately. Some change in the cir­cum­stances of how he is work­ing his sor­cery needs to come to pass first – he may need to fast and then turn to the entrails of a new sac­ri­fi­cial ani­mal, he may need to wait until the stars shift suf­fi­ciently in the heav­ens for a new read­ing, etc. How long he needs to wait depends on the method he uses for div­ina­tion and on the flavour of sor­cery in the cam­paign, but it should prob­a­bly never be less than a day or more than ten days.

If Prophecy yields an Omen rat­ing (mod­i­fied d12 results of 15 and 812), this out­come stands. The sor­cerer has glimpsed the future, and even if he doesn’t like it, that’s that.

Being Wrong

As we play­ers don’t want out­comes to be pre­de­ter­mined, sor­cer­ers can of course be wrong. While the aid of an Omen rat­ing does make a cer­tain out­come more likely, it does not ensure it. In the case when a Prophecy does not come to pass, the in-​game ratio­nale can­not be that the future was changed – remem­ber, all future is fixed and pre­de­ter­mined. The ratio­nale thus can only be that the sor­cerer inter­preted the signs incor­rectly.

Even sor­cer­ers them­selves will invari­ably ascribe to this inter­pre­ta­tion, as explain­ing an appar­ent error with the future hav­ing been changed and thus not being pre­de­ter­mined would under­mine the very basis of Prophecy! How­ever, sor­cer­ers will usu­ally be quick to point out that their pre­dic­tion wasn’t wrong at all, but that peo­ple inter­preted them incor­rectly. Being vague and ambigu­ous in how one voices one’s pre­dic­tions in the first place helps a lot with dam­age con­trol after a wrong one…

Oppos­ing Prophe­cies

Prophe­cies work on a first come first serve basis. If an Omen rat­ing is already in place for some event because of a sorcerer’s use of the Prophecy Mys­tery, no other sor­cerer can achieve a dif­fer­ent result for pre­dict­ing the out­come of the same event; it doesn’t mat­ter one whit whether or not he is vastly more pow­er­ful than the orig­i­na­tor of the prior pre­dic­tion. Only for as long as no Omen rat­ing is in place, for exam­ple when a prior use of Prophecy yielded an indif­fer­ent result, may he achieve a dif­fer­ent result.

That is not to say that he may not try Prophecy at all, or that it will not work. The mechan­ics are resolved as nor­mal, includ­ing the mod­i­fied d12 roll. How­ever, if the mod­i­fied out­come of this roll is any­thing but 6 or 7 (unclear, indif­fer­ent), the sor­cerer is told inde­pen­dently from this roll what the signs really pur­port – the out­come of the prior Prophecy.

While a sor­cerer can­not top­ple or influ­ence the orig­i­nal Omen rat­ing he can still try for Omen rat­ings for smaller events within a larger pre­dic­tion. An Omen that a war is going to be won does not pre­vent an Omen that any sin­gle bat­tle within the war is going to be won by the side des­tined to actu­ally lose the entire war. Some com­mon sense needs to be employed here, as some sup­pos­edly minor events might be so major that an Omen for them can hardly be rec­on­ciled with a con­trary Omen for a major event. If both sides in a war which one side is des­tined (via Omen) to win throw all their forces into one huge bat­tle, the side des­tined to lose the war can hardly have an Omen in effect to win this bat­tle. Even though rea­sons could prob­a­bly be found why the side los­ing such a bat­tle does still win the war, such men­tal gym­nas­tics and the sub­se­quent plot con­tor­tions should best be avoided by sim­ply not all­wo­ing such a major con­flic­it­ing Omen in the first place.

If opp­so­ing Omens are in effect, for exam­ple the one about the war being won by one side but a cer­tain bat­tle by the other side, both oppos­ing Omen rat­ings are sim­ply ignored for resolv­ing the smaller event within the larger one.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 3 years 5 months ago by Michael.
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