So, I've been working on something for this for the game I'm designing, but most of the elements are not game specific, so I figured I'd share this here. It was inspired somewhat tangentially by the Dune thread.
Ironically, I always kind of disliked the idea of this power, now enjoying modelling it.
So, the problems with characters seeing into the future are many.
- First, it suddenly puts the whole narrative into the GMs hands instead of contributed to by the players
- Second, there's absolutely no way to make any such prediction come true without intrusive amounts of GM intervention
- Third, it means suddenly making up things one didn't plan and giving them a lot more weight than the normal stuff done on the fly
- Fourth, it forces the GM to reveal things that may actually reduce the suspense level of the game or make the rest of it all kind of just going through the motions
- Fifth, it, unlike most powers, because of the previous points, imo takes away from instead of contributing to the game
So, how to deal with these problems?
My idea was, essentially, to take the basic ideas underlying most divination and apply them to the problem.
Now, it would be horribly cumbersome to force a tarot, i ching, or khabbalic reading mid game and also apply it to the world and its personages they are playing. But, the basic ideas are applicable.
Use randomness to create a combination of things that allows the GM to look at the combination, find what is similar to what is already in store, look at what is not, what seems to have no use, and come up with a vision.
Now, true to the game, it doesn't matter what form of seeing the future one has. If it is related to time travel, then we can assume that the future, like the present, is comprised of countless bundles, some of which may be splitting off at the time one is observing, some of which are merely timelines so close to the one one is looking at to have intruded in on the view, etc. If it is done through dreams, go all David Lynch. If it is mystical, go all 'this dream produced by the director of the TV show Hannibal'.
So, if I have a player who can sometimes see into the future, we will set up some flash cards. When she wants to scry into the future, she defines either the person or place she is checking out(we'll presume the time is generally accurate, but not pinpoint accurate). I pull aside the card from the appropriate deck, people, place, whichever one.
Some cards are people. Some people are characters, some are types, like mother, sister, teacher, stranger, etc. Some are people they have met or know well. Some friends, some enemies. That's one deck.
Some cards are places. Real places, types of places. Of course, in each deck, there are some things only the GM knows.
Some cards are relations, types of interactions. Rivalry, conflict, hate, love, misfortune, betrayal, loyalty, loss.
Now, in the game I'm working on, the ability is measured in D6s, so you roll, you automatically get three picks plus whatever die result. Obviously Hero would do this differently, but the point is, you pay for the opportunity to add elements to the vision, you pay for a broader view.
Now, if the Scryer picks only people cards, then all she will know is that, more than likely, these X people will be together at the future point, or at least tied together somehow.
If she picks only location cards, then she only knows that these places are somehow important regarding this future point.
If she picks only relation cards, she will be presented with images that convey the sort of relations, but not know who or where.
Now, she does not get to look at the cards.
Say she picks three people cards, two relation cards, and one place. She then chooses(without seeing the cards' contents) which of the people there are tied by the relations. She could tie two of the people together by both relation cards, or assign one to two different pairs, with one person having ties to each of the other.
Now, the draw, she can do in game, but it should be assumed that this is an in-between game thing to give the GM the chance to look at the results.
The GM's role is to first, avoid as much as possible completely erasing any result within.
From there, the GM should consider the match of people and places. If one of the people is far too difficult to explain being in that place, but has a relation card with another of the people, then the GM should draw another place card and that one person will be in a portion of the vision that is actually elsewhere with the person they have a relation with, but the person they have a relation with should still, if not discounted by the GM from being in the first place, be in the first place also for that part of the vision.
From there, the GM can decide on which ways the relations go. These two have a hate card between them. Does A hate B, B hate A, or is it mutual? Thought should go into which things may contribute or not interfere most with the game.
Does this interpretation present interesting opportunities for in-game interactions? Does it actually flesh out this previously minor villain in an interesting way? These are the main things the GM is hoping for.
Then, the next session, the vision is presented sans cards. It is presented in broad ways, a pastiche of events that seem only half real, some things represented more by seeing the hate in an eye than in dialogue that details plans that must later be repeated.
Now, this doesn't get rid of the problem of how to make things happen, but it presents a very broad interpretation of what happens. It also shapes the story in a way that is not dictated by the GM alone, and also makes anything revealed too early hidden further in the broadness of the vision.
Further, the GM gets a new view of the landscape, and, frankly, the more the player uses the power, the less they end up being sure of. And the more they may fear actually causing the parts of the visions that they want to avoid by suddenly moving events against the people who somehow become part of it.
If a player attempts the same subject for a vision, they will simply get a repeat of the same vision.
Anyway, that's where I'm at on thinking through the process.