Mancy, or, Why Divination is Cool, Mechanics for it

The -mancy suffix actually means divination, not control. Learned this just recently and made me feel kinda' stupid. Also opened up some ideas for me.

The purpose of the mechanics below is to go with my Esoteries system. I don't like spells or spellcasting as they usually are, and wanted to come up with ways to replace standard, flamboyant magic and wizards in my games. Read more about what Esoteries are here.

I currently have a player using these mancy rules in my Sunday campaign. It's been dope so far. The answers she's gotten from her divinations have helped the party decide on various plans, but has yet to yield anything gamebreaking or too explicit. Also makes for some cool roleplay moments.

Note that not all settings are meant to have all Esoteries in them. Dark Sun for example has curios, psionics and sorceries. My Heaven Bless'd & Burned setting has curios, miracles, and mancy.

MANCY

Image result for melisandre stares into the flame art
Melisandre from GoT is the archetypical pyromancer-using Cleric.
Divination has guided mankind since they left the muddy basin they evolved in. Every kingdom is dictated by it, every nation forged on its back, every war fought with its truths.

To use mancy, first decide which of the four methods you use for your divinations. Each method dictates a different type of information.
  1. Anthropomancy, or divination by entrails. Produces strange visions, encoded in shadowed symbols, that show a possible future for a question ask.
  2. Asterimancy, or divination through stars. The sky, star maps, globes and pools that reflect the heavens. Reading this tells you what sort of supernatural events are quickly approaching.
  3. Geomancy, or divination by earth. Break rocks, listen to how soil slides through the hand, hear the vibrations of trees, and then you will know what has happened recently in your area.
  4. Necromancy, or divination through the dead. Take a skull, paint it, lavish it with oils, and then place it on a table in a dark room. Ask it three questions, and it will answer truthfully.
  5. Oionomancy, or divination by symbol. Watch the flights of birds, see what strange colors appear on someone's back, study how many crosses sit atop buildings around you. These will tell you when something dangerous, supernatural, or determined is nearby.
  6. Pyromancy, or divination through flame. Light a flame, stare in it, use bones instead of coal. In the fires you will see a series of images that tell you of dangers to come.
You have a d6. This is your Divination Die. Roll it when you go to perform your mancy. Add +1 to the roll if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • You are under no pressure.
  • You have copious amounts of your preferred element.
  • You are unharmed and under no curses or other ill effects.
The following chart shows how exact of an answer should be given by the Referee.

1-2: Vague answers, cryptic, lots of symbols, nothing direct.
3-4: An answer requiring less interpretation, some explanation, familiar things and obvious clues
5-6: Clear answer, obvious people or creatures, no real trickery, still somewhat encoded
7+: Exact answer, no room for interpretation.

Everytime you perform mancy, the maximum X-in-6 chance you have goes down. So, if you do it 3 times in a day, any roll above a 3 is treated as a 3. With 8 hours of rest and letting omens leave your mind, this resets completely.


AN EXAMPLE: In my Sunday game, we have an anthropomancy. Last session, she divined with the entrails of a murdered man to see what creature had killed him. She rolled low, only a 1, and the answer she was given showed the shadows of a woman with six limbs, wings, paws, and that lived in the trees. The entire party went hunting for this creature. It turned out the woman was actually a human woman who was using dead animal parts to trick the party. Technically they were given the right answer, but it was so vague and cryptic because of her low roll that what came out confused them. If she had rolled higher, it would have been clearer that this was a human woman, not some monster.


USING THIS IN YOUR GAMES

Image result for divination art

If your game has divination spells, remove all of them. Mancy is your divination spell now.

Magic-Users (of any kind), Clerics, and Elves have a 1-in-6 chance of knowing Mancy when created. Everytime they level up, reroll this chance again but add +1. One can also learn Mancy from another Mancer, though it takes a month of study to get the basics.

One can study another type of mancy by themselves. Instead of learning new spells, you can make a 1-in-6 chance and increase it by your Wisdom modifier to learn a new type of Mancy when you gain a level.

Fighters, Thieves/Specialists, and whoever else can learn Mancy as well, but their 1-in-6 chance never increases as they level.

Quick Sorcerer-King and City-State Generators for Dark Sun Games

I'm all about the whole "Make the setting yours"-style of setting books. Dark Sun, fantastic as it is, lacks this. This post is dedicated to coming up with your own Sorcerer-Kings and their surrounding City-States.

THE SORCERER-KINGS

Image result for sorcerer king dark sun
Dragon is the best of all.
Defiling is power--this these Sorcerer-Kings know well. Their strip Athas of its lifeforce and use it to build great citadels where they alone rule. Some claim divine right. Others are unashamedly tyrannical. All hold absolute power.

Pick up a die of every size from d4-d20 from a standard set. Roll them, refer to the tables below, and then choose a variant stat block at the bottom of this section that you can use as a template to customize your generated Sorcerer-King.

TITLE
  1. The Albatross
  2. They Who Swallow Seas
  3. Mother-Eater
  4. Killed Sun
NAME
Odds indicate male, evens indicate female
  1. Annshamash
  2. Ishgal
  3. Na-Suen
  4. Uki
  5. Dumesh
  6. Ereshlil
CLAIM TO POWER
  1. Inherited authority from Dead Gods
  2. Killed the previous ruler
  3. United countless tribes under their rule
  4. Oracles and seers prophesied their rise and fall
  5. Was the heir of the previous ruler
  6. Granted to them by a Master of the Way
  7. Raised their City-State from Defiled ash
  8. Chosen by the people--and by trickery
THEIR MAGIC...
  1. Is slowly turning them into the next Dragon.
  2. Turns the nightmares of rebels and heretics into vicious demons.
  3. Defiles exclusively children's lives as a means of control.
  4. Is actually Preserving or Psionics in disguise.
  5. Attracts predatory animals, who haunt the outskirts of their domain.
  6. Forces the dead to rise from their graves to serve their Sorcerer-King.
  7. Causes the sun to grow darker yet.
  8. Creates vicious lightning storms that, if the stars are right, are rain-pregnant.
  9. Is not their own; a cabal of sorcerers masquerades behind one figurehead.
  10. Creates a plague of curses that kills dozens whenever a great spell is cast.
THEIR GOAL IS TO...
  1. Rule until their death, then rule throughout their undeath.
  2. Kill the Dragon and harvest his power.
  3. Amass an army of Disciples so that no army can best them.
  4. Extinguish the sun so that they may take its place in the heavens.
  5. Conquer all other City-States and draw from them as tributaries.
  6. Bring the green back to Athas.
  7. Slaughter Halflings and take their resources.
  8. Learn how to create obedient life, so that treachery can never happen again.
  9. Elevate to the status of a true god.
  10. Discover what lies across the Sea of Silt.
  11. Become a dragon themselves.
  12. Kill all Defilers and Preservers, so that magic may be theirs alone to control.
A DEFINING FEATURE IS THEIR...
  1. Love of strange animals, whose skins they wear and bones they pierce themselves with.
  2. Skin pale as moonrock or dark as obsidian, scarred neither by combat or disease.
  3. A set of three eyes that open across their forehead and palms when they weave magic.
  4. Scarification, which covers their normally nude frame.
  5. Hair, braided with the hair of every person who has ever tried to kill them.
  6. Opulence--wealth of a thousand kinds hangs from their wrists and shoulders.
  7. Weight, as they have the girth of ten men or are thin as spears.
  8. Diseases, for they are always sick and covered in sores.
  9. Hatred of conflict, leading to laws against violence within their cities, punishable by death.
  10. Absence, they are rarely seen, and rumor holds it they are often outside their City-States.
  11. Martial mind, as they are a fantastic general who rarely loses on the field.
  12. Multiple personalities, some of which are kinder or more tyrannical than others.
  13. Existence, as their name and powers are a title passed down and shared by every heir.
  14. Age, for they are either young as an infant or wizened beyond belief.
  15. Interaction with the populace, for they are always walking the streets alone.
  16. Second head, which rests beside their first and is always spouting the secrets of others.
  17. Shifting appearance, as something about them, from sex to hair color to number of limbs, changes daily.
  18. Power, as they are actually weak Defilers who rule through lies and tricks.
  19. Paranoia, which guides them at all times and has seen them executing many an innocent soul.
  20. Senses, for they are blind, deaf, and mute, yet aware all the same.

HD: 20 (+1d20 additional HD)
AC: 19 (Charms, hides, or curses protecting them)
Speed: As man
Morale: 12 (-3 or -6 if found outside City-State and without Defiling power)
Attack: Defiling Pull, save vs Breath Weapon or take 3d6 damage, effects all within 5-100'.
Special:
Roll for one of the following options.
  1. They are a Master of the Way. Roll 4d6 to decide which Ways they know; they know all Psionic Powers of that Way. Know only 3 1st level spells.
  2. They have 6 of their 20 levels as Fighters or Specialist/Thieves.
  3. 1d8 of their skills have 6-in-6 chances of success.
  4. They have an assortment of magical swords.
  5. They are a lich, and their phylactery is held somewhere underneath the city.
  6. They use the Weird Magic System from Vaginas are Magic!/Eldritch Cock.
  7. They can Defile their City-State as many times per day as they want without losing spell slot intake.
  8. They are immune to any spell cast through Defiling.

THE CITY-STATE

Image result for dark sun city-state
Tyr.
Same procedure as above. Some dice you will be rolling twice.

CITY NAME
  1. Mythopolis
  2. Asur
  3. Ka'Dinger
  4. Qahirah
CITY TITLE
  1. Where Hopes Dies
  2. The City of Metal
  3. The Haunted State
  4. Cradle of Suns
CITY LOCATION
  1. On top a sprawling oasis.
  2. A battlefield where grass grew from the bodies.
  3. The shores of the Sea of Silt.
  4. Inside a canyon wall in the Tablelands.
  5. Bordering the Forest Ridge.
  6. An crater-lake inside the Sea of Silt.
MAIN TRADE
  1. Slaves
  2. Food (Fruits, Meats, Humans, or Crops)
  3. Alcohols
  4. Old-world secrets.
  5. Weapons, armors, and mercernaries.
  6. Lumber & textiles
DEFINING LANDMARK
  1. A great obsidian obelisk carved with the history of the City-State.
  2. The oasis at its center, whose water is the color of sapphires.
  3. A massive, blue city wall with heliographs of the City-State's religion burned onto it.
  4. A tower filled with strange gardens and entrail divinations tha towers a thousand feet into the sky.
  5. Its ziggurats, atop which domed palisades sit.
  6. Skull racks, where the heads of criminals, heretics, and assassins hang.
  7. The city is terraced, raises higher and higher until one reaches the center.
  8. It is only visible as a mirage until one has reached its borders.
FAMED FOR ITS...
  1. Intellect Fortresses, of which there are many, each inhabited by another Master of the Way.
  2. Seers, oracles, and diviners, who use both elemental and entrail-based divination to grasp the future.
  3. Gladiator arenas, where strange creatures, wild talents, and scarred slaves fight to the death.
  4. Slave trade. Pleasure slaves and laborers are the most common, and few are as beautiful or as heat resistant.
  5. Tyranny. The laws here are draconian and uncompromising.
  6. Lushness. The oasis is massive and a forest is in constant bloom 'round its edges.
  7. Ruins. Underneath the city are the sprawling ruins of the Old World, filled with yet unmined metals and treasures.
  8. Diverse ecology, as strange creatures, all some manner of psionic or strange, can be found within the borders of the City-State's domain.
  9. Lack of slaves. Here, all men are free, and all men are artist, and all men work.
  10. Military. Every man, woman, and child is trained in the arts of murder and expected to ply them at some point.
DISTRICTS
Roll 1d6d12. Circle each d12 rolled and reference the table for what kind of neighborhood has been created. Remember to rename the districts with something thematic to the city itself.
  1. Scrimshaw. This district is dedicated to the creation of weapons and armor from Athas's detritus.
  2. Well-Nobles. Here the well and food nobles live, safely protected by templars and slaves. Also where the wells are.
  3. Freeman's District. Where the City-State's freemen live, work, and engage in countless dramas.
  4. Blood Zones. Slums built on the outside of the city's wall, filled with slaves. Named as so because of the violences that happen here.
  5. Slave Field: Crops. The countless crop fields that feed the city.
  6. Slave Field: Mining. A series of mines into the ruins or veins underground for precious materials.
  7. Worship Districts. Where different forms of worship, always to the Sorcerer-King, are performed. Also where Templars live.
  8. Gate Towns. Visitors, including merchants, must spend time here before being allowed into the city's heart.
  9. Bazaars. Where trading happens. Open 1d20+10 days a month.
  10. Red Sun District. A pleasure district, filled with slaves, strange drugs, and psionic meditations.
  11. War Streets. Where both the city's militia and its guardsmen are barracked. This district also has jails and torture prisons as well.
  12. The Defiled Heart. The palisades of the richest, most powerful, and most favored of the Sorcerer-King, as well as their own palace.
DISTRICT LANDMARKS
When you create a district roll a d20 1d4 times across the map. Circle the areas and refer to the chart to see what landmarks are here.
  1. Gladiator Pit. Where weekly, sometimes daily, blood games are held.
  2. Torture Platforms. Where enemies of the City-State or Sorcerer-King are tortured and executed.
  3. Foreign Caravan. Visitors from a distant Athasian City-State or tribe. Odd things can be found on sell here.
  4. Well. 5-in-6 chance to be dried. Otherwise, it's a forgotten treasure ready to be mined.
  5. Undiscovered Ruin Entrance. An as-of-yet untapped treasure that can be found. Likely dangerous.
  6. Noble Estate. Either a crop or well-noble. 2-in-6 chance that a Master of the Way is teaching here.
  7. Slave Slum. A shantytown where slaves are kept. Patrolled by templars or other hired help.
  8. False Home. The family that lives here are paid handsomely to hide the Preserver base underneath their home.
  9. Monster Pens. Where strange creatures for the Gladiator Pit or the militia are kept, fed, and bred.
  10. Trade Caravan. A trade caravan just recently let into the city. Contains 1. Food 2. Alcohols 3. Weapons/Armors 4. General supplies.
  11. Bard's Theatre. A small, open-sky theatre where singers and dancers perform regularly. 
  12. Sorcerer-King Monument. Some kind of monument to the current Sorcerer-King. Offerings are left here.
  13. Bard's Alley. Alleyways that usually go unpatrolled. Filled with whisperers and criminals.
  14. Arables. Farmland, though small and quaint. Milled by slaves.
  15. War Maker. Famed creator of weapons and armors.
  16. Unmarked Building. Where the most dangerous criminals are kept, and where strange things are done.
  17. Untended Secret Garden. A strange thing that should not exist. 
  18. Pleasure House. As advertised.
  19. Storage House. Where food, water, or other goods are kept.
  20. Sorcerer-King's Vacation House. The second heart of the city.

The Theurge; a Recurring Antagonist in my Dark Sun Games

He is eight feet tall and not a single hair dares weed his body. Both eyes are sootblack and his laugh is loud and hearty and his voice a susurrus that cannot and should not be ignored. Every muscle across his frame is covered in tight skin that allows it to ripple under the Dark Sun's ruby light. He is the color of porcelein. He burns, and he bleeds, but he neither scars nor cripples. A grinding mind sits enthroned in his skull and it rules the Way as Sorcerer-Kings do their city-states and no other laws are permitted to exist when one is within the scope of his sight or the threat of his voice or the death of his thoughts. Thrice has he met the Dragon and a dozen times have the slavers he commands been killed to a man and every time he has the supped on their ribs and danced on the graves he dug for his precious brothers and sisters while laughing and singing his own praises that tell the world that he will never die. Never once has this song been a lie and never it will be and even when Athas has decided to turn to dust or once more live green the Theurge will remain and he will dance and he will sing and he will dance and he will sing and never will he sleep.

Image result for engineer art alien
Engineers capture well his image.


The Theurge

HD: 20+20
AC: As naked
Speed: As man
Attack: 2d12 mind thrust, +10 to hit.
Morale: 12
Special: 
  • Has a 6-in-6 Psionics skill.
  • Knows all 12 powers under both Psychoportation and Telepathy.
  • Has the power Your Life is My Life. When someone dies within his presence, he psionically consumes the years of life they would have lived. In this way, he regenerates 6hp per round and will never age.
  • Is usually found as apart (but never the leader of) a crew of 1d10 slavers with 1d12 slaves in tow.
  • Saves as a 20th level Magic-User.
  • Will rarely fight enemies to the death, either theirs or his. Will either enslave or reduce to 0 HP, stabilize, and let them live.
  • Anyone who has been hit by one of his mind thrusts has their location known to him at all times.
  • Can create an Intellect Fortress as he wills.


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Fucks with the party, enslaves them, watches them escapes, continues the game. Based heavily off of the Judge from Blood Meridian.