Campaign of the Month: June 2012
New Oracle Class Ability
(also a class ability for the Gypsy class, as well as an optional class ability for certain other classes, where they may swap out one standard ability for this ability)
Oracles, at first level, gains a special ability of fortune telling, or divining the future. There are difficulties in divining the future within the context of a game. First, no one – not even the DM – knows exactly what is going to happen in the future of the characters. Second, if the PC’s come by too much information too easily, a lot of challenge disappears from an adventure. But these obstacles may be overcome using vague visions and possible outcome predictions. These are guides, which may not prove possible if actions dictate other outcomes.
The Oracle uses omens and divinations to enhance, not detract, from the game, adding to the atmosphere of the setting. Divination is a collection of professional skills that only an Oracle (or other class with this feature) may use with mystical ability. All others who have such a profession merely tinker at the craft and have no real insight or power over the omens. Each Profession (diviner) skill must be learned separately, but the Oracle gains one free rank in one skill at first level, and the supernatural ability to use that skill to its potential. The Oracle chooses one of the following types of divinations:
- Augury (Omen Reading)
- Card Reading
- Dice Reading (also Runecasting)
- Dream Interpretation
- Oracle (Divine Possession)
- Scapulomancy (Bone casting/reading)
- Tea Leaf Reading
- Visionary (visions)
Certain classes, such as Gypsies, prefer Card Reading, Dice Reading, Palmistry, and Scapulomancy over the other forms of divinations.
The Oracle can attempt one of three types of divinations, the omen, the reading, and the quick reading. She may use her special ability one time per week equal to her Charisma Modifier. Any additional queries result in confusing babble and nonsensical information. No information is granted.
The character must prepare and perform the proper ritual of the reading. This can never be done in combat. It requires a calm and safe place associated with the nature of the skill involved (a clear, cloudless night for Astrology, for example). The process for Omens and Readings take one hour to perform. Quick Readings can be completed in ten minutes, but are far more general and less accurate than a regular Reading.
Omen: Omens are the easiest type of divination for the DM to handle, because they are completely under the DM’s control. If there is a message to be communicated, then the DM knows exactly what that message is, and presumably it will not unbalance the adventure by giving too much away.
The Oracle states that she is seeking an omen. She prepares and performs the ritual, and at the end of the hour, the DM gives the character the cryptic information that he deems fit for the character to know. The information does not need to be related in any way to the adventure at hand, and can be innocuous and vague, cryptic or obtuse. This is a way for the DM to gently guide the Oracle towards whatever information the DM deems is useful.
Readings: Readings are a different matter altogether. A Oracle who is skilled in divination can choose to exercise that ability at any time, provided they meet the criteria for using the ability. The player then describes the question that she wishes to be answered, by writing it down for the DM to contemplate. The character spends the proper amount of time in the ritual, and at the end, makes a Knowledge (divination specialty) roll. This determines whether the character is able to obtain any information. If successful, a second roll is made, this time secretly by the DM, to interpret the results of the divination. This roll governs the quality of the information – how clear or obscure it is. This roll is made by the DM and thus gives him control over how much he wished to ‘fudge’ the roll – allowing him to control the information divined. Even if both rolls are made, if the DM has nothing he wishes to impart to the character, then the Oracle may well clearly learn the answers to a question other than the one he was divining.
The DC is determined by the DM. The base is 10 for basic information. The more specific and detailed the question, the higher the DC.
Modifiers to the roll: There can be various modifiers to both rolls. Circumstances can make a big difference.
- Working without equipment: -10 or more
- Working with improvised equipment: -2 to –10
- Disturbance: A failed Concentration roll with a DC: 10 (modified by the circumstance) if the reading is disturbed gives a -2 or more penalty to the roll.
- Supporting Skills: +2 or more, depending on the circumstances.
- Class level: The Oracle gains a +1 bonus for every two of her seer class levels.
- Test made by 11+: The diviner receives a very clear message. Note that a clear message is not necessarily easy to understand; while there is no doubt about the content of the message, its meaning may still be unclear.
- Test made by 6-10: The message is fairly clear, but it may be slightly incomplete. For example, it might mention danger but not treasure (or the other way around) or it might indicate more than one possible answer.
- Test made by 1-5: The message is seriously incomplete, and only mention one or two aspects of the answer to the question. For example, it might mention the color green and the number five, but not mention Orcs or caves.
- Test made exactly: The message only mentions one aspect of the answer to the question, and/or is very indirect and cryptic.
- Test Failed: No information is gained – although this does not necessarily mean that there is no response (especially if the roll was a fumble)
Quick Readings: When the Oracle performs a Quick Reading, she does not specify a specific question, but simply casts the bones, lays the cards, examines the skies, etc., and lets her natural insight determine the results. The fortune teller must name a subject for the reading, be it a person, an obstacle or situation, or she may leave the subject open. In any case, she will make a skill roll with the specific divination profession skill, with modifiers similar to that of the Reading. Again, if successful, the DM will make a second roll to determine the interpretation. Because there is not question, but merely a subject, the answer may be even more enigmatic than that of the Reading above, because the divination merely tells information of a random nature regarding the subject. The DM, if he desires, may use a deck of cards, such as the Pathfinder Chronicles Harrow Deck from Paizo Publishing. Alternately, the player may use such a deck, or any other device such as a personal Tarot deck. The player may interpret the cards as she likes, but in both cases, the DM has the final say on the outcome of the reading. He may be as cryptic or vague as he chooses. The Quick Reading is used primarily for role playing with NPC’s, adding more flavor to the game and the Oracle character’s mystique.