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allenowen

Divination

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7 hours ago, allenowen said:

What's a good way for GM's to handle Divination? I understand the game mechanics, I just want to know how GM's handle it.

Let NPCs and PCs use it only if it fits the plot. Many interesting mystery plots won't be possible in RQG otherwise. The same goes for other knowledge spells.

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7 hours ago, allenowen said:

What's a good way for GM's to handle Divination? I understand the game mechanics, I just want to know how GM's handle it.

It's a tough one for me as well. I think the trick is to be vague but say something that will be accurate in hindsight. 

How good are you at riddles?

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We used to have a 6 word answer, but in RQG I'd allow a number of words up to the Adventurer's CHA. We also had GMs who would count on their fingers and say"Well, that's a tough question, I ...".

Or you could describe a vision the adventurer has. We did this in a scenario, where I had used Divination to see if Orlanth favoured us attacking an enemy stronghold, the vision came back with angry stormclouds, everyone else said that meant Orlanth was against it but I argued that he was for it as he is God of Storms.

Try to phrase the question so that it has a Yes/No answer, or ask a specific question as to who did something. That way, the GM has less wiggle room and, believe me, GMs use all the wiggle room they have.

Divination can be a useful tool, but it should not break a scenario. Sometimes, the Deity does not know the answer, or does not want to reveal it. Deities use clues and hints as often as straight answers, so if a Deity responds to a Divination with a straight answer be worried.

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9 hours ago, allenowen said:

What's a good way for GM's to handle Divination? I understand the game mechanics, I just want to know how GM's handle it.

With deity appropriate responses much as outlined on p.271.  Visions are good.  Broad, poetic messages are good.

As an example, maybe disease has broken out in Clearwine.  A PC of Ernalda seeks to divine the cause/source and succeeds.

Ernalda might respond: "In lower grounds where clan meets tribe, there Disorder does arise."

If you've got the Clearwine Map, it suggests the Lower City, possibly the Temple of the Tribe, possibly the Ernaldoring hall.  And the cause is Disorder.  

Still lots for PC's to investigate.  What does Disorder mean?  Is it a trickster?  Is it a Storm Bull causing fights?  Is it squabbles between clans at the tribal temple?  Is it a miserly or foul sacrifice?...

If the PC added a 2nd point of Divination to penetrate further, Ernalda might add: "Seek where serpent's fang drew blood from barley."

Blood suggests violence, maybe murder.  Does it refer to a place (an inn, a brewer), or perhaps to rival clans (tattoos of Ernaldoring serpent and Taraling barley), or perhaps to a weapon used (a dagger with serpent venom or a poisoned fang), or perhaps that the victim was a farmer?

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Yes, the deity should not answer straight (but it may be straight from his/her point of view: example, answer in clouds for Orlanth) and also should not be similar to a Google request  answer.

As a reminder, in Wyrms Footnotes #12, Greg Stafford shares his views in the article "Divination and Divine Intervention."

https://www.chaosium.com/wyrms-footnotes-12-pdf/

Also reprinted in Gloranthan Classics Volume III Cult Compendium p.268

https://www.chaosium.com/cult-compendium-pdf/

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10 hours ago, allenowen said:

What's a good way for GM's to handle Divination? I understand the game mechanics, I just want to know how GM's handle it.

I would recommend listening to the BBC's In Our Time episode - Delphic Oracle https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00txj8d. It's one of my many favourites.

It gives an excellent background and examples for Bronze Age divination.

Then have a look at this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oracular_statements_from_Delphi

These are almost ready made.

For other divination examples, Viking for example, the Poetic Edda has the Völuspá https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Völuspá or Thorbjorg in Eric the Red's saga.

With these in hand, it's pretty easy to get the hang of GMing divination. Never give the actual answer, alway allude to one that has multiple outcomes. 

There's an excellent example in the In Our Time podcast. It was the time of a UK election. The example question was "who will win the election". The answer given was Milliband. In real life there were two Millibands, brothers on different sides of the election...

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4 hours ago, David Scott said:

There's an excellent example in the In Our Time podcast. It was the time of a UK election. The example question was "who will win the election". The answer given was Milliband. In real life there were two Millibands, brothers on different sides of the election...

Even better: https://twentytwowords.com/the-crossword-puzzle-that-predicted-the-future-with-complete-confidence/

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I see divination as a powerful and dangerous tool for and against GM. If the god say white and after rolls and pc's decisions the result is black, you failed the job ;)

 

the answer must be realized

what it means :

if the GM wants something happen and will act to this thing to happen the answer can be clear : the bad king will be killed in the battle by a shadow (maybe the shadow of one of your pc, but not your PC in case of the pc failed something previously)

if the GM wants to let a part of luck, less clear, a great warrior with a beautiful armor on a (the color of the king's horse) horse will be killed in the battle by a shadow (the same of previously)

if the GM wants the pcs to find/know something, a voice would give few clear words (when the bad emperor will sleep, follow the path right to the altar of)

if the GM wants the pcs to find something by another way than divination, a vision of the place (a cave / a temple room / .... something dark, because it is undergrund or just because night, don't care, give few informations) or why not just the chest.. But where is this chest ? there are hundred caves here,   how many known or unknown buildings have a such room ? haha try another way than disturbing the gods

divination must be a gm tool to help the pc if they are confused not to avoid the challenge of a scenario.

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54 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I see divination as a powerful and dangerous tool for and against GM. If the god say white and after rolls and pc's decisions the result is black, you failed the job ;)

Possibly, but it is a brave GM who gives adventurers a prediction of the future via Divination, as PCs tend to go their own way.

I normally say "This is what is going to happen unless you act to change it", so it is a warning more than anything else.

 

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37 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I see divination as a powerful and dangerous tool for and against GM. If the god say white and after rolls and pc's decisions the result is black, you failed the job ;)

But then, isn't a divination a plot hole element allowing for a deus ex machina interference?

Look into the concept of failing forward, at a cost to the player characters. There may be side effects of at times gigantic proportions. "If you cross the river, a mighty empire will fall." The prophecy doesn't say whose empire, and neither does it say when, only that there will be a (however tenuous) causal or narrative connection between the prophecized activity and the eventual outcome.

 

Phrasing the divination in a way that incites the kind of activity by the player characters that the GM wants without railroading the subsequent events requires a lot of skill and experience. Something the author of a module cannot give much help on unless the module requires to be run with at least some pre-generated characters (be it as companions for the player characters, or as side characters of the players, or as the main characters of some players for this scenario). You might even have recurring guest players to your gaming table bringing in such pre-generated characters, alongside the usual cast of your serialized story. Or you may have a designated co-GM for running such plot-bearers without hogging all the spotlight (another difficult balancing act).

A very experienced or very confident GM can try to do this all on his own, but there are all manner of GM pitfalls involved - railroading, Mary-Sues, high-handed Deus ex Machina, or making all the contributions of the player characters pointless in the end (the Raiders of the Lost Ark syndrom according to Amy Farrah Fowler in the Big Bang Theory), singling out a subset of players to do stuff while the rest just follows as eye-witnesses or luggage-carriers.

There are quite a few stories worth telling, and in an RPG context that means playing, which require a certain dose of the GM pitfalls mentioned above. Or you might want to introduce them as a flash-back to a fast-forward, which is another high-handed GM technique which takes some agency from the players. But then so does creating a plot hook that cannot be avoided, even if your players go seriously about the refusal to heed the call to the quest as per Campbell.

 

Often, a Divination will just reveal some information from the past or the present of the act of Divination, making it little different from a library roll or a Lhankor Mhy Reconstruction spell. Those cases are easy.

You may penalize divinations looking into a future with respect to the amount of information you give. ""How can I (meaning the player character) achieve such a thing" is easier to answer than "How will I achieve such a thing," and "will I achieve my thing by doing this" needs to be answered in the vague. If "my thing" is "Will I personally cause the death of Argrath", the answer may well be a no, or it may be a "Yes, but .. He'll Be Back."

And it is not satisfactory at all if that same player character dies of a fumbled ride roll in the next scene...

 

 

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Pre-planning.  When creating a scenario, assume Divination will be used.  Make sure you narrow it down, because someone of the Knowledge Cult probably can't tell where something is buries if it's under the earth.  Someone who is of Ernalda will not be able to find out about things happening in Middle Air.

The gods require a particular question and will give an answer.  They cannot tell you anything about the future, and they have very little knowledge about the past.  They don't know specifics.  So, 'What will happen if' cannot be answered.   'How should I' can be, but may be from the god's point of view.

But above all, consider it first.  If your really interesting problem can be solved with Divination, then make sure that there is a really interesting solution too.

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While still very powerful, in RQ3 (even in the core rules, strangely, which had Fantasy Europe as the default setting instead of Glorantha) gods were explicitly unable to answer questions about the future as they were outside Time. One could consider porting that into RQG.

That still makes Divinations very powerful, but avoids any temporal paradoxes. I see such Divinations as useful for such questions (some examples from my campaign):

  • "How can I get rid of this Chaos curse of Doubt?"
  • "What enemies can we expect in the Stone Tower?"
  • "How did the Duke's wife contract the Shakes?"
  • "Why is the Duke's wife disease so resistant to treatment?"

Note that not all gods could answer all of these questions; I'd further want to restrict it such that:

  • Gods can't tell on each other. You can ask general questions about occupants of a location, but you couldn't ask "where did that nasty Tusk Rider just get teleported to via Divine Intervention?" and expect an answer as that would be Humakt/Odayla/Foundchild/Yelm revealing information about an initiate of the Bloody Tusk.
  • Gods generally only "see" their own domain. Orlanth can theoretically see anywhere the wind blows (I'd make it unlikely he could tell you much about what was happening underground); Ernalda can see into the Earth (so caves, underground bunkers, and the like are her domain - though she could certainly also tell you where to find fertile farming ground and the like), Humakt won't be of great assistance helping with healing, and so on.
  • Gods know pretty well what their Rune levels are doing, and to a much lesser extent what their initiates are doing. (There may be exceptions for illuminates here of course). They are not omniscient.

Most/all of these were in RQ3 I think; perhaps one of the upcoming sourcebooks will add in some of this or at least give some similar advice.

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In my game, I do NOT allow Divination to occur for more than giving a glimpse at a currently occurring situation or location or to see past events in order to find clues to a present mystery.  Why?  Because of the Great Compromise that created Time.  By creating Time, the Gods insured that the future is NOT SET!  Because the future can be changed by someone's actions, you CANNOT SEE IT as it has NOT happened yet!  Divination CAN show you things occurring NOW or that have occurred in the past (when Time becomes "set" and is then "fixed" for posterity... another element of The Great Compromise to be used as as a record of PROOF of one's divine actions).  A God can also only provide information about their own Sphere of Influence, their followers, and any friendly Cults who will allow the "intrusion" of a Divination Ritual.    

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