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Friday, October 19, 2012

Divination and Haruspicy

So a couple days ago, I finally saw Stardust, which is filled with lots of interesting stuff that could make its way into almost anyone's fantasy adventure gaming. In particular, I was thinking about the divination methods demonstrated by the witches: casting runes and sacrificing animals for haruspicy. There seemed to be a distinction between rune casting as yielding yes/no answers, versus haruspicy (reading entrails) giving more detail to the talented diviner.

When you're talking about divination in a game (other than spells like Detect Evil or Find Traps,) you have two situations: questions where the GM knows the answer (because it's about something already prepared) and questions the GM doesn't know the answer to yet. For yes/no questions with answers, it's a matter of checking whether the diviner gets a correct answer, then giving it. For haruspicy or anything else with more detail, basically each detail in the GM notes is its own yes/no question; if a diviner asks "will there be danger in the tomb?" and the GM knows that there are skeletons, a wight, and a curse on a crown, that's basically four yes/no questions.

If the GM doesn't know the answer, a simple d6 roll, with 1-2=no, 5-6=yes, and 3-4="reply hazy, ask again later," will take care of yes/no questions. But for haruspicy, something like the Quickie Dice Tool is going to be necessary. Roll several d12s on the sheet, interpret each die as color (horizontal position) + index number (vertical position), with the d12 result indicating which column on the table in the middle to use. The number of dice to roll depends on the hit dice of the animal sacrificed; the GM weaves the results together into a vague narrative and decides how to implement the answer into play.

This is something that probably should be limited to Magic-Users/Clerics who learn (i.e. research) the art of the haruspex, or to a Diviner class built as a Magic + Turning combo with the character class building rules I posted a while back.

1 comment:

  1. Haruspex - now there's a favourite word of mine that doesn't get enough attention