How would you design a seer/soothsayer/oracle character?


I'd like to design a seer/soothsayer/oracle character following the rules, but beyong Premonitions and Visions, i have little ideas.
I don't remember having seen anything close to real seer/oracle power in books.
What virtues / flaws would you use to make such character? Would you use any hedge tradition?
Of course, i could handwave rules and just decide that the character can have accurate glimpse of future - other than the flaw Visions, which let no real control -, but the character is meant to be a player character so i'd like to stick to rules if possible.

Thank you

There's the astrology stuff in Arte and Academe, and there's also divination stuff in Mysteries Revised. I think Realm of Power, Divine may have dream interpretation.

Second Sight, Divination, Magic Sensitivity, and Sense Holiness & Unholiness are all useful.

Divining(Theurgical) + Earth allows you to talk to rocks about what happened in the past.


You wish to storyguide a player character seer? Then don't go beyond Visions for an "accurate glimpse of future"!
But there's for example TMRE p.58ff Divination & Augury, HoH:S p.108 Hermetic Haruspexes and A&A p.72ff Astrological Inceptions for lots of flavor when divining information and not just using Intellego.


Well, we agreed with the player that his character would be more of a plot device. He could control the divination for minor topics - and never be assured that the future he foresee will actually happen, since even glimpsing into the future might be enough to change it - and i'd use his character for major divinations, when it suits my story.
Granted, Visions could do most of that, but i was looking for other possibilities
Also, the character wouldn't be an hermetic magus, so no Haruspex. And the virtue hermetic diviniation cannot bring glimpse of the future...

Well, technically the Hermetic version gives a "likely" glimpse of the future, if nothing changes - basically it's a mystical predictive algorithm, and actually probably the one that's most useful to model PC-controlled prophecy. (To make it a bit more useful, I'd recommend combining it with Second Sight, and then GM-rule that you don't need to have Penetration to make it work.)

As others have said - there's a Power in RoP:D that is pretty much prophecy - Comprehension(?) or Insight(?) or something like that. The upper levels of that power are "God comes down and answers your questions about the future in a clear and concise manner, and then hangs around for any follow-up questions". The lesser powers are, as expected, less clear.

RoP:I also has a vaguely similar power that demons use to give people glimpses of the future; serf's parma on that one, unfortunately.

I would do something like this:

Perception +3 (or higher)

Affinity with Divination [1]
Divination [3] <- if this doesn't use Perception (can't remember), high Intelligence, too
Premonitions [1]
Puissant Divination [1]
Second Sight [1]

Visions [-1]

Yeah, that looks like a good build.

I'd add on that, with Divination, you need to choose a specific way that the character does their ritual divination. (Anyone with Divination can do informal divination just by looking at clouds or dice or whatever - this is for the ritual Divination bonus.) There isn't one in the list, so I'd recommend using the "Dreams" option as a template, and instead cast it as "Visions". Meaning that, once they have a vision, they can mine that vision for specific content, based on their Divination ability.

Call it a +4, if they can somehow control their ability to have a vision - such as by taking a hallucinogen or whatever (in the same way that someone can control if/when they dream), or +6 or so if they can't control it.

Because of the unpredictable nature of PC's action, Divination is a tricky concept to put in place for PC character when it involves other PC characters.
If it is only use as a Plot tool, it is hardly a virtue. It might even be more a flaw like "Voice of the Norns" as it is completely uncontrolable. But if the PC want to have some control on it and use it on regular basis, you need to come up with a simple mechanisms to simulate how does divining can impact the game.

I had that recently in my game and went around with the following rules:

  • The requester must have a some how narrow question. I cannot be something like how are going the coming 10 years.
  • The Seer does his Divination roll with whatever skill (Vision, Divination...), against a set difficulty (that you can adjust depending on how far is the prediction and how long last the event covered by the vision).
  • Assuming he succeed, as GM I will vaguely describe what could happen
  • Then to simulate the succesful vision and the readiness of the character when the scene will occur, he will have either the ability to reroll one or several rolls or have a bonus on every roll during the scene (given that he "knows" what will happen, he can more easily anticipate and react, hence the bonus).

Obviously, if the player took action to entirely prevent the scene from occuring, he does not have any bonus (unless he was able to identify the pivotal moment which should trigger the whole scene).

Yes, I am not answering your question regarding how to build the character, but I might give you a simple, mechanical way to handle Divination instead of having to regularly come with vague predictions which could be frustrating for the PC who is spending XP in a skill that he cannot really use.

Although now that I think about it...

Someone with that many Supernatural Gifts (Divination, Second Sight, and Premonitions) Would likely either have to have the Gift, be a part of some sort of Mystery Cult, or else have a really odd (for Mythic Europe) backstory.

Of course, if you're just kitbashing some sort of "Prophet" ability out of available materials, no biggie - but in terms of a RAW analysis, it's the Gift that allows an individual to "learn" magic abilities (or at least pick them up by osmosis), rather than to have them inherent.

If you wanted to stay RAW, you could either have it be Initiation-based, or just slap together a Gifted hedge tradition, and call it good. From what I recall, the default Hedge tradition is 3 major virtues, plus a minor one:

"Heirs of Cassandra"

  • Gentle Gift (Major)
  • Divination (Major)
  • Comprehend Magic (Major)
  • Premonitions (minor)

Are they supposed to have a major Supernatural flaw as well? I can't remember - ah, well. If necessary, throw in a Major version of Visions (ie, one that completely knocks you out and gives massive migraines or whatever), to round it out.

I swapped out Second Sight for Comprehend Magic (from HoH:S - 128), just to keep the "3 major, 1 minor" idea alive. I also added in Gentle Gift, just to keep the character from running into issues with being Gifted. (As it didn't sound like it's part of the original character concept.)

While it offers up yet another book for you to reference, the Muspelli in Rival Magic have a Major Supernatural Ability called Spadomur. This allows them to summon visions; it broadly acts like the Visions Flaw but with more control in the hands of the character. I have used this Ability, repackaged under the name of "Crystal-Gazing", for a variant of Folk Witch, and I guess you could replicate various medieval divinatory practices, particularly ones involved with gazing into reflective surfaces (such as a shew-stone or mirror).


Two additional books worth looking at for this sort of mechanic, I think, are Realms of Power: Faerie and Cradle & Crescent. The former dreamer character requires four points of Virtues (for an appropriate Method, probably Enchantment, and the Dream Power) and either one Flaw (Faerie Antipathy) or the free Virtue that gives both a positive and negative Sympathy Trait. The latter could be an unGifted sahir who uses the spirit he summons and his knowledge of mathematics to calculate the most likely future, which requires at least six points of Virtues (Solomonic Astronomy, and Sihr or another form of summoning).

This is quite a cool idea of how to work it overall, but I don't think you can use the Gentle Gift here. Initiation, Gift opening, and the free Supernatural Ability you get from the Gift are all limited to things that grant Abilities, right? Like, you can't learn something you weren't inherently born with unless it has a skill attached. So Second Sight and stuff are cool, but not, for example, Lesser Immunity.

Still, making a tradition out of it is a pretty great idea for a way to go. Kudos to you.

IIRC, there are Mysteries that grant Second Sight. It's canonical now that Gentle Gift can be taught to apprentices, in the book Apprentices. Matt Ryan wrote the section for teaching Hermetic Virtues, and he was explicit that he didn't want to limit any particular virtue to being teachable or not and to leave that to the troupes playing. So, some sagas may have a teachable Gentle Gift, and some may not.

No. Initiation is not limited to Virtues that grant Abilities. Indeed, most Mystery Virtues do not.
And ofcourse, there's teaching during apprenticeship, as J.L mentions.

Oh. My bad. I guess I shouldn't open my mouth on these issues until I have all the sourcebooks. My statement was mostly drawn from Core and HMRE.

Don't worry about it. I think being able to teach the Gentle Gift is somewhat controversial, myself, and I'm not entirely sold on it personally. It is canon, however. And despite what anyone might say, teaching any major Hermetic Virtue isn't an easy thing, you start with needing a teaching SQ of 21, and add +3 for each minor Hermetic Virtue, +9 for each Major Hermetic Virtue, and subtract the same for each minor or major flaw passed at the same time, respectively. Getting a 21 SQ means that Com+Teacher+Good Teacher+Lab has to equal at least 12.

Yeah - so, as a Gifted Tradition, they might be better off with writing a book about the relevant Supernatural Abilities. After all, they're only taking a -1 per Supernatural ability level, rather than a Hermetic (who takes -15; -1 for each TeFo, at a minimum). So for Premonitions/Second Sight/Comprehend Magic/Divination, you only need a source Quality of 8 or so for each, to get over the growing penalty for each.

Once that's done, they only really need one Outer Mystery initiation Script, for Gentle Gift/Visions. (Or Visions + Greater Malediction, representing "Really Nasty Visions that'll knock you on your bum.")

Or maybe they have Initiation Scripts for all of them, but the Gifted only have to go through the first.

I'm confused. If these are Favored Abilities, then there are no penalties. If not, even with the Gift they cannot be learned from scratch from a book.

True, Training or Teaching only.

Supernatural Abilities can be learned from books if you have the proper mindset for it - it's discussed in the Judiasm section of RoP:D.