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Alchemy and Divination

 
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Alchemy and Divination Reply with quote

Odd question. Could an Alchemist duplicate Divination as an Art?

There is a tradition of chemicals being used to induce trances at Delphi, Diviners sage (Salvia) the plant. belladonna, mandrake root etc. All these psychoactive plants can create visions. Is it reasonable to modify this, add a splash of magick and allow an Alchemist to make a potion that has a Divinatory effect?
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Althalus

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Besides the problem of Divination in RPGs in itself, I would see no problem here. As a drawback, you could have the alchemist be stunned for the rest of the scene or a number of minutes after the spell, as the drugs wear off.
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Divination in RPG's is an odd point for me as well. With a high score in Divination, you could have a caster look back centuries and learn things in an instant. The mechanics seem odd. Does he have to watch an entire sequence of events or does he just get an insight into what he was looking for.

Would the duration be a scene or an hour (4 or 8 complications) and allow conversation with the person he was communicating with?

Can he target a person and have them appear in his area, even if that person had never been to that area? (An English caster summoning an English spirit while in France for example.)

Or can a Diviner look at an area and watch what happened there? And what if they did not know exactly when something happened. A room was entered and something taken in the night. Could a Diviner 'watch' the room from the night before and specify when the thief or thieves entered the room? Or would they have to scan through the entire evening to find out when the thieves came in?
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And can a person watch an event that was located at a distance? Divining that a person has shipwrecked on an island and is still alive? If a remote viewing is possible, at what range? and how accurate? Could you spy on someone? read over their shoulder? It's a trope in fantasy literature. Camber of Culdi did it to read battle plans for example.
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TAG Wiggy

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main reason divination sucks in RPGs is because without a book of rules it can be a game breaker. Divination is primarily a tool for the GM to pass on information. He controls what you see to fit his adventure.

If the mission is to sneak into an enemy camp and steal their battle plans, for instance, then divination might be a useful. Likely it will let you learn where the plans are located, but nothing more. The chances of you ever finding the right time to see the enemy commander read through each page so you can copy them is so minimal as to be non-existent, and you have no control the camera angle.

It's also sight only. No conversing, no audio feed, no summoning spirits from the past -- the spirits open the veil to the past or future. You might see a conversation from the point of view of one speaker only, but you'll never to know his language and have Read Lips to make much use of it.

Similarly, the GM controls how long something might take to view. Unless you already know the time an event occurs (within an hour or two), then you'll need to slap on a long duration to make sure and have a pot of tea ready for a long night of staring into your mirror or crystal ball.

Object reading is possible, but again, the GM controls what you see. You might see the victim. You might get a dagger's-eye view as it sticks into his chest, which only confirms it was the murder weapon. Unless the divination is essential to solving the mystery, the GM isn't going to reveal the killer's identity just because you have divination.

And as for what you might do with future knowleedge, take a look at what Nostradamus wrote. Vague, cryptic, and totally open to interpretation.
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After some consideration before play, and a brief discussion with the players when an appropriate scene came up, I used alchemical diviniation in my "The Light that Never Warms" campaign.

We did not want it to be something the group fell back on all the time so we decided the components were rare, difficult to prepare, and not entirely pleasant. The effect, however, could easily be shared among several characters, and provided additional roleplaying basis for their group being together.

In description, the alchemist would prepare a brazier and slowly introduce elements of the formula over time until he had produced coals. These coals by themselves were useless, but when boiled with another concoction of agents, would produce a heavily scented cloud of vapor which when inhaled would cause the subject to perceive beyond the veil of time. There is no real control over what is seen in these visions, but they tend to involve things of import to the diviner.
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oddly enough I used a Divination potion in our last session as well, also for the first time.

Not wanting to have it be a gamebreaker I was basing it on Remote Viewing of the 60's and the movie Suspect Zero. I also mentioned the Sight from Dune and all the distortions of looking ahead in time.

Overall the information was vague and inconclusive and I will likely only do it once more to further a story arc involving a relative.
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We used it more than a year ago in the first session of the campaign, once after that near the end of that story, and once again near the start of the next. That was the extent of its appearances in the game. The cost is prohibitive, but mainly the need for it has not arisen since.

No problems arose from its use, apart from the challenge of making it useful but open to interpretation.
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What cost did you put with it? My character had a headache and felt a little ill,but beyond that it was ok.

I think if I had done it again right after TheGit would have gotten nasty, but I avoided the temptation.
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was decided that certain components were seasonal growths collected in the south of France, which had to be dried and powdered carefully. If he wanted to be sure of quality/efficacy he had to get them himself.
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The GIT!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue I had when CanuckAlchemist used it in our last session was he was very specific about what he wanted to know and, unfortunately, the situation had a number of variables. As a result I gave hints of possible outcomes (most of which he would have already been able to figure out).

That said, one in particular he didn't pick up on the significance - being able to pull Durendal out of the stone was one of the scenes that he did see - as a result there was no real need for him to test it because I had effectively confirmed his character was descended from Roland. Oh well, divination still requires the person using it to be able to interpret the information being offered.
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