Divination and Augury

As explained in Mysteries, Revised, Divination & Augury is a system of Hermetic Divination, and is bound by the Law of Time.

Where should I look for a Supernatural Virtue, presumably Major, that describes divination that is NOT Hermetic and, thus, like traditional divination, actually can make statements about the future?

Arts & Academy... Astrological Inceptions... and they don't require a virtue or even supernatural powers to use.

Personally, the "Limit of Time" is high on my "ignore" list. We don't use it in my saga and I don't see any good reason why it was added to the rules in 5th edition.

The rukles for divination in TMRE can be easily adapted to non hermetic practicioners. You can also find rules for those in:

  • Rival Magic (augustan brotherhood, they use the aeneid to find answers to their questions)
  • (IIRC) the hyperborean himnists from Ancient Magic
  • Art and Academe (astrology)
  • Cradle and the crescent (same as A&A, more or less)
  • Maybe a rune by the vitkir in Rival Magic

If you want to see (most) non hermetic traditions out there there is a thread compiled by yours truly

Maybe you can get some ideas from there.


Personally, I have to agree with Lucius. I remember scrying spells from previous editions -- gazing into fire, for example. But it seems to me that current editors must have felt that the Law of Time, which ostensibly keeps players from time-traveling, must also, by logic, prevent scrying on the past or future, and so they felt obligated to remove all such scrying spells from the game.

Which, in my opinion, is a damn shame.

IMO, it's far simpler, and more sensible than that.

If you remove the limit of Time, so that players can actually see the "true" future, then it MUST come to pass, which is awfully bothersome to any GM. And for the past? Well, it just screws any and all investigation story if players can just see what happened.

Thus, IIRC, each and every method of divination available to the players suffers either from lack of precision or from some form this limit, which means, not that you can't predict things, but that you can make predictions based on the current state of events. And yes, this includes the divinations from Ars and Academe, and the Divination Hermetic Mysteries.
Still IIRC, this is also how demons divine the future.

So you won't know if the baron will actually kill the duke. But, as he intends do do it at the duke's daughter mariage, you might get a vision of him stabing the duke, which is not the "true" future, but an extrapolation based on the current situation.
In practice, unless constraining the story, a GM can only remove the limit of time relative to the past. If you try to remove it for the future, sooner or later, you'll run into the problem of the players trying to prevent some event. If you let them, their divination was inacurate (and it can't be! You've removed the limit!), and if you don't, they'll (rightly) feel frustrated.

This is pretty well explained somewhere, probably in the corebook itself under the explanation for the limit.

If you do not make a movie out of what they see of the future you can bend the situation to throw ideas and some info to them of what WOULD happen if they do nothing and do so in a fairly allegorical way. For me Augury is like a controlled version of Visions. It is neither more precise nor more informative. We have used those with no problem. it is the same as with death prophecy: A "death by a tree falling on your head" should make you wary of all wooden weapons, not just forests.

About the past, make it a movie. A hooded guy will still be hooded. A man that died by a poisoned goblet will simply be eating and bend forward after drinking from it, dead. And it costs LOTS of vis. Mentem is MUCH more dangerous than "scry the past" spells when it comes to destroy the mystery plots in Ars.


Which is exactly how divinations works, due precisely to the limit of time :wink:
Throwing aside the limit would mean being able to see what WILL happen. This is what angels do, AFAIR.
Please, reread the corebook on the Limit, IIRC, it's all here already (and read Ars and Academe about inceptions, while you're at it, it works the same way).

Hooded guy? Not if you can change the "camera" view. And the poison, what if you can do multiple castings to see who brought it there from where? Followed by subsequent "past scryings? You're throwing quite artificial limits there, if I may.
It also means being able to scry on the founders to learn their secrets, scry on the diedne to learn the truth (and their secrets)... All things mentem can't do (and if someone has just forgotten something, or didn't notice it, which is something fairly common and normal, mentem can't help you either).
A magus can PeMe his own mind to "hide" a crime he did commit. He can't perdo his own past if people can just scry it. So if a magus is accused of a crime he doesn't remember (guilty or not)? Mentem is useless as an insta-solve. Scrying the past isn't.

This does not mean things can't have the appearance of scrying. But, with the limit in place, none of these are reliable (save the last one, of course)
The future? PLease, read again what I say above.
As for the past, interrogating an item who witnessed something is very much like scrying it (save that the item can lie, which is fun and useful to a ST). If you communicate with a fire, asking it what it witsnessed, why can't the cosmetic aspect of the spell be visions of what the fire tells (even if it lies!) appearing in your mind or in the fire, just like any "scrying" vision?
And for the present? Nothing stops you from having an InIm scrying pool that depicts things happening right now at AC range.

Anyway, you may disagree about it being a good thing, I'm just saying why, IMO, does the limit exist and why, as a SG, I do like it

it has worked fine for us so far. Memories of events fade pver time. Yes, you can go to that forest of the founders near durenmar and see their council no problem because that is a really significant event that has embedded itself in the place (AC et al). However, you cannot go there and see stags move past the fane since the 'place does not give crap about that.

You cannot change the POV of the hooded guy. Not IMS. Unless you also happen to have another sigjnificant AC from another POV. The poisoned guy will get a nice perspective from the dead guy and from the goblet, since those are significant events for the goblet or the body, but the wall painting is not an AC to the event so will not give you info on that particular scene.

Artificial? Likely. Usable? Definitively yes. And way more mystical than simply removing a trademark of tradition magic from the world.

But well, we play Ars with D6 and have reworked the combat system and books 100%, so we might be playing a different game anyway.


While I hate to cite The Other Game, the designers of D&D 3e struggled with these issues also and came to a completely opposite answer. They reasoned that if seeing the past, or speaking with the dead or object reading or whatever other divinations you had available, messed up your adventure then you had designed your adventure wrong. Instead of avoiding or forbidding such spells, they reasoned, the adventure should require the use of such magic. Looking back and seeing what happened still requires finding the place where it happened and performing the ritual... two events that can be laden with investigation and adventure in their own right... and witnessing a murder (for example) even from the past, doesn't mean you get all the relevant facts... sure, you can see Sir Talbot slip poison into Lord Robert's goblet, but why does he have no memory of doing so?

As for the future... I fall back on the ancient muppety wisdom of Yoda. Always in motion, the future. Sure, you can see what is most likely to happen, but people have free will. The future can be changed... or can it? Most stories about seeing the future involve struggling to prevent it. Seeing the Sir Talbot will slip poison into Lord Robert's goblet means that now you can stop him from doing so, right? So if you have Sir Talbot locked up in a prison of magical ice in your dungeon he can't poison the Lord... but then why did Jannin the grog just see Sir Talbot ridding out with morning hunt?

Forbidding divninatory magic is just plain laziness... and it goes against the fact that a lot of "historic" magic was about doing just that. Rather then doing away with it, we should rise to the challenge it represents.

Why should that be an absolute must? The future hasn´t happened until it has happened so what you see will always be what you might get.

Then you´re making it far too easy! You need to know both when and where to look first of all. And then you need the skill to actually manage to target that point in time and space(ie succeeding with Finesse).
And personally i set up so with scrying through time, you have to use 2 Durations, one for the duration of the spell and the other for how far away in time, at most, you can see. Add to that an additional Target value that ups the spells a couple of Magnitudes and things wont ever be easy.

And in doing so, they make the event happen as predicted... :smiling_imp:

Huh? Why? It can be ever so accurate and still end up wrong in the end because something changed in the meantime.

Oh yeah, exponentially worse!

Magic is an ART, not a science after all.

I can even think of a reasonable explination of why it might be the case that future visions are vague and symbolic...

Free will exists, therefore there cannot be one "true" future but rather many possible futures of greater or lesser degrees of certainty. A spell looking into the future, therefore, sees not one future but many... perhaps all... possible futures. Because of the limits of the mind of the magus or the nature of the spell or both, all of those different and disjointed possible futures get seen in terms of symbol and allegory with the most likely futures being the clearest symbols but colored by all the other possible outcomes. Finally, the magus who has seen these visions of the future must then try to express them and can only do so in terms of symbolism.

In addition to the suggestions already given, the Muspelli (Rival Magic) offer an ability called Spadomur which covers most aspects of divination; but they still can't see clearly into the future.


I'd REALLY have liked it if people, before answering, had taken the time to read me...
Because about all I've read of what to do if you "remove the limit of time on scrying" are, as I've been telling about 3 times, already how actual divinations in ArsM already works, despite all obeying the Limit of Time.

Read also, for a purely hermetic divination: The Mysteries p58 (especially the first paragraph on the third row), and the exemple divinations on Mysteries p60.

Since when do AC have a POW? And how do you determine it? GM fiat?
So, for exemple, if using an AC range InVi spell to scry on someone in a room because you've got an AC to him, you can see one half of a room -which one? And why not the floor?), but not the other half, because it's not in your POV?

Excuse me, I do not want to offend you, but I find that a lot more constraining, frustrating for the players, and poor than the current systems, because it's not that they can't see the past. They can see it, but it's useless.
IMO, it works fine for things like Visions, which have your pov(although, unless you get a lot more symbolic, players will ditch it as useless sooner or later), but for scrying pools to give always an unchanging, incomplete POV... Where's your Rego? Where's your finesse? Hell, where is your "I cast the spell again"?

Which is (again) exactly how the current divination systems currently work, under the limit of time... They do not show the actual future, they answer based on the current state of events, which means, to quote LuciusT "Sure, you can see what is most likely to happen, but people have free will. The future can be changed...". A&A says almost the same thing for inceptions, IIRC.

If I may lazily quote myself... Especially the last phrase...

You may spring this once or twice (which the current systems allows perfectly!), and it'll be fun. But if it happens every time... :unamused:

I'd add that the "D&D" solution is not a perfect one to me, because it means you can't have non-heavily magical stories without also a perfect reason about why the magi aren't available or willing to help. So screw "A Musical Murder Mystery", from ToME, which can be played with magi or non-magi. The Other Game is, in a way, a lot more magic-heavy than Ars, and I'd hate to have every Ars Mystery story necessarily be magic-heavy.

Memories? Are we talking about the kind of Intellego Divination I spoke above, the one which is perfectly RAW, in which you interrogate, say, a tree for its memories about what happened in a given place, memories which may have faded, or do we actually break the limit of time and look into the actual past?

Because, from what I know, the past doesn't fade, nor does it have anything to do with Memory.

From what I see, you're all saying "I break the limit of time", and then throwing left and right limitations that make your scrying work mostly like actual Ars divination...
Breaking the limit of time on intellego spells means that you can see another time, past or future, just like you can see another place. That is, perfectly well, thank you.
It does NOT mean that you make guesses based on the current state of events or how someone actually feels now. Which is mostly what Hermetic Divination does. Which is all that any storyguide can actually do IRL, unless being a Death Note level manipulative genius, or railroading his players.
Nor does it means that you interrogate a place's "memories". Which basic intellego magic lets you do when you talk to a fire, a plant, a rock (Ok, it can lie, but this is solvable)...

Not to be rude but where do you read that? I don't recall seeing anything whatsoever in the rules that says that.

Fixer, none of us was removing the limit of time, just showing how we have used augury in our sagas. In fact I was not evern aware that eyes of the past did not exist in 5th edition (haven't checked now either), so don't nbeat a dead horse. We basically agree here :slight_smile:


Scrying the past is still possible under 5th edition rules. All you need is a witness whose memories you can read (as opposed to just talking to them). A nearby tree, or the table in the room will do. According to TOME, these can see and hear.

I'm currently in a campaign in which someone is good at perception and uses premonitions all the time. The storyguide deals with it quite cleverly so far, but it is certainly a challenge and has the potential to ruin surprises.