Let’s start with the basics.
Prophesies are Serious Business, and they’re hard to do well (let alone right).
So here are the ground rules:
– Prophesies must always add something to the game.
– Prophesies always complicate the situation.
I’m going to start with “Doomsaying,” because this one is pretty straightforward. A Diviner (prophet, oracle, fortune-teller, et cetera) wants to know when or how something will end. This is what Fate is all about. We’ll break it down by tiers.
– When will a person die.
– When will an IMPORTANT person (king, emperor, wizard) die.
– When will a group of people (city, army) die.
– When will a LARGE group of people (race, empire) die.
– When will an idea (culture, art movement, nation) die?
– When will an IMPORTANT idea (abstract concept) die?
– When will an object be destroyed?
– When will an IMPORTANT object (artifact) be destroyed?
– When will a place (a building?) be destroyed?
– When will an IMPORTANT place (a country, wonder, or world) be destroyed?
– (Special case) When will an immortal (angel, demon, etc) die?
– (Special case) When will an IMPORTANT immortal (god) die?
Now, for the purpose of our discussion here, there will be some limitations placed on these things.
First of all, a “race” of people is never really as large or extensive as people think it is. Due to errors in transmission for example, a given “race” of people exists for four generations (about 100 years), and is localized to a geographical area.
“Race” is a hugely controversial word with all kinds of baggage.
I mean, there’s genetics, identity, and history all wrapped up in it — to say the least — not to mention the fact that the D&D “races” are better described as species anyway. So we’re going to do a lot of approximation.
And that’s the least of our problems.
Lots of these that players will never care about. Having a bunch of extraneous rules no one uses is a bigger problem than Political Correctness.
But you know the funny thing about magical predictions? They’re about creating predictable results. I’ve tried to contextualize the use of prophesy in each RPGs and strategy games. Prophesy ought to be gameable.
After organizing the TARGET of a doom-saying, there must needs be a complication. A condition for the thing to happen. A CHOSEN NOUN — be it prophesied person, place, or thing. And does it ever complicate things.
Because Fate can be manipulated.
Sure, if Laius hadn’t had his infant son exposed on a mountaintop, he might have survived the ensuing road rage from running over Oedipus’s foot.
But sending away his son him did guarantee Laius’s rule for another full a decade, which ain’t bad. He could have been smarter about it, but look at what he got.
It’s never as simple as it looks.
When you create a Prophesy, you also set the conditions for the target’s survival.
If you’ve prophesied “the magic sword X” will defeat the Evil Overlord, there’s a good chance he’ll rule for the thousand years it takes to find the pieces and reforge the magic sword when it’s shattered and scattered to the winds.
In this sense, you can use Doom-Saying defensively, to determine how you’re going to be defeated and attempt to avert it as long as possible.
In summary, when you create a new Doom-Saying, you choose a Target and a Chosen Noun. Every other Prophesy comes back to Doom-Saying.
If there’s a Prophesy The Evil Will Return, it’s only because The Evil Wasn’t Properly Destroyed The First Time Around.
A Doom-Saying is always final. A Doom-Saying relates the LAST time a thing will be destroyed, not one of the steps along the way, or the Big Sealing that will happen UNTIL the Big Bad can be finally destroyed.
Doom-Saying Prophesy checklist:
– Must add something to the game (no pointless prophesies).
– Must create a “Chosen Noun” (person, place, or thing).
– Must be final (the last time the target is defeated).