Monday, March 01, 2010

Divination Magic...

Good Afternoon, All:

The topic of today's post is divination magic. The use of divination magic is a common element in many fantasy campaigns. As a Referee, you will likely find yourself challenged in how you deal with such power. It's a common issue for many Referees, so if you've been hear, you are not alone. Many Referees try to find ways to limit the use of divination in order to preserve a sense of wonder and uncertainty. However, if that happens all the time, you are effectively removing part of a character's power and ability to contribute to the success of the adventure or campaign. No one wants that, particularly if you want to encourage your gamers to have fun.

My first suggestion here is that for every instance in which you limit divination magic, you should also create another instance where divination is one of the three paths to success for a given scenario either in this adventure or the next. This allows you to reward a character focused on divination magic, and maintain that as an element in your overall gaming experience. It is hard for players to accept prophecies and visions of the future if their own efforts never work out for them. In fact, under those circumstances, prophecies and visions could drive home their inability to contribute to the party's success, and bring down your group's morale.

On the other side of the coin, you may also find player characters that become too dependent on their divination magic. While it is important to allow them to have success with their abilities, bear in mind that the non-player characters are also aware of the existence of divination magic, its strengths and its weaknesses. Most divinations only focus on specific requests for information, so a well-rounded and multi-faceted challenge can often provide suspense because of the diversity of the impact of the challenge. In addition, when the non-player characters are able to avoid the effects of divination magic, that very event should present clues to the player characters that point them in the direction they might need to go. (If necessary, you may need to point that out to them through an NPC.) For example, if only a lead-lined room can prevent detection through divination, then the player characters may need to track down who has recently purchased a lot of lead or hired an expert in circumventing magical detections. Be open to such efforts, and you will be rewarded for supporting your players' creativity, enriching their gaming experience and adding a depth to your games that could prove very satisfying for all involved.

Finally, even if the party successfully uses divination magic, being forewarned does not mean that the party is automatically going to succeed at overcoming the challenges that lie between them and their goal. The use of divination magic may change a murder mystery into an action adventure, but there's still plenty of great gaming to be had, even with the foreknowledge granted through the use of divination.

Hope This Helps,


James said...

Some solid advice.

I am usually a player and not as often in the Referee role. When I have been running games, the players seldom use divination magic beyound the obvious detect magic and identify spells.

James Bobb said...

While most of my games thus far in the last year or so have been low level, the higher level games in the past had an issue with players choosing to pass up divination magic in favor of more direct effect spells.

Now that I'm running older retro-games like S&W and WoO, divinatory magic is less available to begin with, so we'll see how that works out at higher levels.