Spell Law has an advice section on how to handle different spells and their effects such as invisibility, illusions and how spell effects can interfere with each other such as Aura and Blur counteracting each other. What it doesn’t handle is the future.
There are two ways of seeing into your characters future, divination and magic. The first is a mundane skill, anyone can learn it and it involves using tarot cards, runes, tea leaves and crystal balls etc. to get a glimpse of the future. The skill is a RM2 skill and appears in Companion II along with a neat little table of modifiers and difficulties. It is great for predicting the very near future in vague terms with limited accuracy. I have a Seer in my world who keeps telling party members that ‘there will be a death in the next two minutes’. As a GM I can be fairly certain that if the party is about to sneak around the corner into a Drow partrol then that prediction is likely to come true but also dividination is vague. Yes the death card comes up but you never know whos death. The seer casts rune stones for her divining and that is not something that you can do in the pitch black while everyone is trying to be quiet. Divination I think works well. The other option is harder to handle.
There is the sort of thing I mean. this is the first level spell from the Seer base lists.
1. Intuitions I – Caster gets a vision of what will happen in the next minute if they take a specified action.
So the party are about to burst through the door and confront the bad guys body guard. Does the vision include the death of one of the party? What if it doesn’t but as it turns out it should have done?
As a GM you should have a reasonable idea of relative difficulty of each encounter but there is always the chance of a freak accident or the dice gremlins prevent the main fighter in the group from rolling anything about a 06.
You could argue that the simple act of knowing the future changes the future and what the seer saw was one possible and the most probable future at that moment if the seer had not cast the spell and the party forewarned. The spell above is the first level spell but at fifth level the Seer can see five minutes into the future and at 15th they can see one minute for every level so that could easily extend into the half hours.
Imagine the Seer casts Intuitions I while the party are preparing to kick in the door. He or she sees that the guards are caught entirely by surprise and a fight ensues with the party winning at the time the vision ends. The Seer does not tell anyone what he saw. The door flies open, the magic user casts fireball, fumbles and the attack goes off at ground zero blowing up the party. Surely the Seer would have seen that? The arguemets over the Seer changing the future do not really hold up as the plan was formulated before the spell was cast and not changed as a result, it is not even a case of the plan being delayed even by 10 seconds. Everything should have been as the vision showed.
I don’t know the right solution to this but this is what I am doing currently.
For the duration of the spell if there is a game changing dice roll I pick a number from a random number chart and use that instead. So if the player fumbles his fireball I change the dice roll. The players all know that once magic has been invoked then their fate is already ‘written’. As soon as the sixth round is over then all dice rolls stand.
This has worked well so far as the players know I am not ‘fudging’ dice rolls or fixing things. It is literally just the few rounds and the few critical freak rolls that get changed.
I also use this table for subtle perception rolls. If the party all walk past a secret door but no one is explicitly looking for it I will just pick their dice roll from the table. I think my players are paranoid, as soon as the GM picks up his dice the pary draw their swords.
It is easy enough to create something like this is a spreadsheet but I find I barely use a single row in a weekend and at three weekends gaming a year a single page will last me 10 years.
does anyone else have any ideas on how to handle a player knowing the future?
p.s. I am on holiday/vacation next week. I will still see, read and approve all your comments but there may be a bit of delay. I don’t spend my entire holiday glued to my phone.