Does Premonitions give a combat bonus?

A question arose, about giving a fighter type character the Premonitions supernatural ability.
As in, do they have a 6th sense providing a mechanical bonus in combat?

Perhaps in each combat round they roll a Premonitions check, before the combat rolls.
On a Prem success, they add a bonus to either Defence or Attack roll,
On a Prem failure they don't get a bonus,
On a Prem botch, the combat roll is automatic botch (but still roll combat to see if extra botches are added)


For me a premonition would take time that would preclude combat.

Generally no. They would almost certainly get a Premonitions roll just before combat, for example to detect an incoming ambush with enough time to prepare for it, but in combat they're far too busy to listen to little inklings of hints in the back of their mind.


I find most combats are aided by rolling as few dice as possible. Adding a premonitions roll every round sounds annoying - especially for the rest of the players. Plus, I'm pretty sure even a character without premonition realizes that there's immediate danger coming when that guy with the sword he's fighting has failed to die last round.

Plus, premonitions doesn't state 'it tells you how to get away from incoming danger'. It just says "Danger Coming!" which isn't something I think would give a mechanical bonus for in combat. Or any kind of numerical bonus...ever.


The suggestion was that premonition might give the sense that the next blow is likely from that direction, or you feel that the opponent is next going to dodge left sort of thing.

I was going to give it a high target number for distraction, increasing for each extra combatant in range.

It was an idea for a minor noblewoman who survived an enemy raid and gets a reputation of prodigal knife fighter.

If not Premonitions, would either Intuition or Lucky provide useful combat "hunches"?

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Mythic Quickness, Lightning Reflexes, Puissant Brawl...I think there are plenty of options there. If you did want something explicitly supernatural I think I'd make it an additional Minor Virtue that requires Premonitions and allows you, when expending a fatigue level for Exertion to add your Combat Ability again to either Attack or Defense for a round, to further add your Premonitions ability to the total in question. Possibly Defense-only; it's already outrageously strong for a duelist. But that would give the effect you're looking for without requiring any additional rolls per combat round.

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Look up ArM5 p.136 Shriek of the Impending Shafts for the kind of "premonitions" which - perhaps with a little training - would protect a grog well.

ArM5 p. 67 Premonitions requires a very high roll to be specific enough to dodge the incoming weapon.

I would say no, but not necessarily for the same reasons that others have said no.

To me, premonitions are not precise enough to predict the opponents actions to an extent which grants a bonus. In combat you are well aware of the danger, and premonitions cannot add anything.

I don't think Lucky does either, since combat is predominantly skill, and the same reason applies to Intuition.

There are a couple of exceptional situations where these virtues arguably apply though.

  1. Premonition could allow you to turn, apparently without cause, to avert a surprise attack.
  2. Intuition, IMO, applies to fighting blind-folded. (Trust the force.)
  3. Luck may mean that the opponents attack your friends, rather than yourself, when the choice is even. E.g. if there are two of you, 6+ on a d10 means that the attacker strikes at your friend. Luck gives +3, so the chance goes from 50% to 80%. Just a possibility.
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As I see it premonition should not give a combat bonus but rather the impulse to cast some combat buffs because one has a gut feeling that it will come in handy.

I say yes (am I the first one to explicity answer that? Good for me!).

Yes, because:

The same could be said about any other situation where Premonitions kick in, or for any other character concept. So you want to be a diplomat with Premonitions? No no no, better pick Puissant Intrigue, Affinity with Folk Ken, Piercing Gaze... that huge set of options is there for anyone.

If a character gets a virtue, he is expected to get a benefit from it (also if a player asks for that, he is already anticipating to have fun with that, and this is a game, it is supposed to be fun). Are there many virtues that he can use to be better at what he does? Well, then he can pick and choose as many as he see fit (and can afford). Is there any reason he shouldn't pick the virtue if the player wants it? Obviously not. Isn't to expect that a warrior with premonitions would have some advantage in combat? I think he should, because that's his thing, and his virtues should apply to his concept. It is frustrating when you answer "oh, yeah, so you got Premonitions!, quite cool virtue for your legendary swordsman. It's such a shame you are only going to use it when you are not in a fight".

Before combat starts, roll Premonitions against 6+. For each 3 points of success you roll in advance one stress die. Then, each round during combat, before any roll is made, you can pull off one of your "foreseen" rolls on whoever is rolling. I'd even allow to reuse the skill by spending a confidence level: spend one, and you make another roll, and can anticipate more rolls.

In this way a character with Premonitions do have an advantage in combat. It is not a killing advantage (it is not like you get a 12 on Premonitions, anticipate two rolls, get a 2 and a 9, and say "ok, 9 is my attack and 2 is the defensive roll of my target", because you can only change one roll per round), he is not going to win the fight just because a Premonitions roll went good. It is not slowing the game because you are actually moving rolls before the fight (as soon as he starts pre-rolling the player is going to start thinking things like "an open ended roll! That's going to be my first blow"). And it have to happens fast because the player needs to call to assign the roll before the roll is made, so if you are playing fast then he is going to answer fast as well.


@Ouroboros 's idea is interesting. A lot more creative than the mechanical bonus that I thought the question concerned. In a sense it means that premonition does not kick in at every turn (read round), and the player decides when it kicks in.

Unfortunately, the idea makes for a very tactical game, with more die rolls to make and more die results to keep track of - the extra die rolls are remembered for later use. I can see a case for playing all combat as miniature games. That could be fun. But I really prefer the the narrative game, which would not be helped by more dice and book keeping.

Anyway, premonitions as a flat combat bonus would be both overpowered and boring. Premonitions as a boon in select situations could be interesting, both in tactical and narrative incarnations.

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No, except circumstantially. It might warn the character to be well-armed in the first place ("Do I always keep my sword close when I am wooing a lady? Well..."). It might certainly foil an ambush attempt ("That roof looks ... wrong to me"). It might, similarly, give a sense that reinforcements for your opponent are coming soon ("I really should end this combat quickly").

Remember, Premonitions is already a very useful Minor Virtue. You should not let it "double up".
If you want to play a fighting grog to whom Premonitions gives a sixth sense in combat that helps him out every round, then give him Puissant <favourite fighting style>, where the Puissant bonus is explained by his sixth sense!

Premonitions can be useful in some situations in combat - for example warning you when an opponent you were not aware of has crept up behind you and is about to stab you in the back.

But in general it won't be detailed enough to give a bonus in combat - you may get a premonition that the opponent in front of you will try to kill you, but that won't be very useful because the fact that he tried to do just that five seconds ago makes it fairly obvvious that he may try again.

One could reasonably rule that you get to roll for Premonitions each round, and if you beat some (fairly high) Ease Factor then you do get a small bonus to your Defense total that round.
Downside with that is an extra roll each round, most of which won't make any difference due to the EF needed to get enough details being so high.

When fighting an opponent in close combat, you are necessarily focused on that opponent and the field of battle close to him. It is very, very easy to be unaware of events that would normally be obvious, such as the big guy with the poleaxe who's about to flank you. Any kind of view-restricting headgear compounds the issue. This is why so many grogs have Awareness(battle). And, it's why that Ability and specialization get used a lot in games that I run.

I would definitely allow someone to substitute a Premonitions roll for that Awareness roll if the player requested it. More than that, I would allow such a roll for things that even a highly aware character couldn't roll for, such as the invisible thug with a poleaxe. That's not combat bonuses, but it's still a potentially life-saving edge.

As an aside, I would also definitely allow Lucky to apply to similar situations in largish battles. In a duel, skill, size, and strength are paramount. In a scrum, luck plays an unsettlingly large role--especially if archers and crossbowmen are part of the picture.

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The way I see it Premonitions don't only tell that the guy in front of you is trying to kill you, but how.

I thought about that, but I don't like the "let's give a bonus" solution because that's what other virtues do (even when we do give bonus when characters use one abilities to help, support or build towards the outcome of other ability). Also, the extra roll per round seems just too much for me. Except for combat Awareness as Samsaptaka says, which is quite cool.

It could, definetively. Though we use Lucky just like the enemy archer is choosing a target, and that's not the lucky character.

It might, but to get that kind of detail would require a very good Premonitions roll, so unless you have put a lot of XP into the Premonitions ability and/or is very lucky with the die roll, you won't get much detail very often.

The dictionary meaning of premonition is a feeling that something unpleasant is going to happen. Not how nor what. I checked both google and Oxford Advanced Learners and got the same answer.

Be that as it may, the more detailed, perfect, and complete knowledge the premonitions give, the more powerful it is. We don't have to go far down this route before it becomes a major virtue.

How good a roll would someone need to make? I would expect that the character with Premonitions would have a 5 or so in the Ability (otherwise, why take it?). With a Perception of, say, +2, that gives 7 + die roll. The EF for imminent, mortal peril (i.e. someone trying to kill you right now) is only 3. Every 3 points over that gives some detail. A roll of 2 gives the character a 9: 3 = "you're in danger", +3 = "it will come from behind you", +3 = "it's going to be an arrow". That's plenty enough to act on.

The level of "Someone will try to attack you from behind in a few moments" shouldn't be all that hard to achieve. That kind of warning is perfectly resonable for Premonitions to give you.

It is when you move to the level of "Your opponent intends to feint to the left and then follow up with a strike to the center" that it becomes tricky - especially since the opponent in question may change his mind half-way through. Unfortunately that is the level of detail needed to warrant any bonuses to your combat rolls.

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