Encyclopaedia Arcana #8: Divination Magic (Part Two)

The first part of this entry explained that divination magic allows its user to see the probability of future events.  This second part will take a look at what that means in practice.

A Hundred and One Uses for Seeing the Future

For a start diviners don’t get surprised much, at least not in the short term.  A diviner can see the next few seconds of his own immediate future very clearly and trying to give them a surprise (pleasant or unpleasant) rarely works unless the diviner is asleep at the wheel.

Divination magic is also great for finding your way around.  A diviner can move in pitch darkness as fast as a normal person can in full daylight.  He can’t actually see, but he knows which futures lead to him bumping into something or tripping over and he can choose different ones.  He can also quickly pick out a route through an unfamiliar location by taking a second to find out where a path leads and whether there are obstacles on it.

Divination is a powerful defence as well.  Diviners are very good at dodging and with a bit of practice can quite literally dodge bullets.  It’s not that they’re fast – they’re no quicker than a normal man – but no matter how swift the attack they’re just not there when it lands.  They can look through the futures, find the ones in which they’re not hit, and take the necessary actions to lead to them, often without seeming to make any particular effort.  There are limits and they can’t dodge things that simply can’t be dodged, but trying to hit an alert diviner is frustratingly difficult.

Finally, although it’s rarely used in this way, divination magic can be surprisingly effective as a means of attack.  Most mages tend to assume diviners have no offensive ability, and in a way it’s true – divination magic is completely useless for directly hurting someone.  But there’s nothing stopping a diviner from picking up a weapon and an attack from someone who knows exactly how to get through your defences and where to hit to do the most damage can be very nasty indeed.  They don’t have the brute force that an elemental mage does, but their knowledge gives them powerful leverage.

Secrets and Shadows

Although the tricks above can help diviners deal with short-term problems, it’s not what they specialise in.  A diviner’s real power lies in information.

Other mages tend to assume that diviners can find out the answer to any question by thinking about it.  This is both right and wrong.  Diviners can’t simply ask a question and get an answer – the universe doesn’t run a question-and-answer hotline (or if it does, diviners don’t know the number).  However, diviners can look into possible futures.  They can find out what would happen in conversations if they introduced a certain subject, see what would be visible to their eyes if they moved a certain way, discover what’s behind a door or inside a private room . . .

What this adds up to is a lot of information.  Most of it’s useless, but odd bits aren’t.  And while diviners usually don’t know what they’re going to get, they have a lot of practice at putting pieces together and they can nearly always find out far more than other people would like them to.

Which doesn’t necessarily make them many friends.

No-One Likes A Know-It-All

Other mages have very mixed feelings about diviners.  Almost every type of magic has more direct ability to influence the physical world than divination does, and for all their tricks diviners are no match for a battle-mage.  What this means is that practically any mage who looks at a diviner knows that he could beat him up without much effort.

On the other hand that mage also knows that said diviner, given time and motivation, could find out every one of the mage’s most private, embarrassing, and dangerous secrets.  And mages – especially ones who play the deadly political games of the Light Council and the Dark cabals – have a lot of secrets.  Mages like the idea of diviners working for them, but they most definitely don’t like the idea of diviners working against them, and they’re never quite sure which one a diviner is doing.

As a result mages tend to prefer to keep diviners at a distance, and the feeling’s often mutual.  Diviners know how other mages see them and are keenly aware of exactly how easily a battle-mage could crush them in a direct conflict.  It’s usually much safer for a diviner to stay on the edges of magical society, out of sight.

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One Response to Encyclopaedia Arcana #8: Divination Magic (Part Two)

  1. TjStorm says:

    Im just wondering if anyone has considered that diviners would make excellent assassins. Battle-mages could certainly easily decimate a diviner up close and personal. But consider that the diviner is a mile away with a sniper rifle. They know where there target is highly-likely to be and when. They know where to set up with the greatest chance of getting away. And when shooting simply look about 5 seconds into the future, does the bullet hit? If no then readjust until he/she gets it right, then fire. The bullet is so quick, no person or mage could throw up a defence in time.

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