The hooded cleric solemnly lights a candle in the dank crypt, clutching her divining bones. Her adventuring companions look on anxiously, swords drawn, as she begins the ritual of Augury. Chanting an ancient prayer, she casts the marked bones on the floor before her. Cracking and splintering, they form a pattern that makes her brow furrow in concern. “Woe,” she whispers. “Great peril awaits us down this path.” With those grim tidings, the party turns and leaves the crypt, choosing to face the unknown rather than the foretold doom.
Such is the power of Augury, a divination spell that allows clerics to commune with otherworldly powers and glimpse impending fortune or misfortune. This mystical ritual can steer the party toward triumph rather than tragedy, with a bit of guidance from beyond the mortal veil.
Understanding the Augury Ritual
At its core, Augury is a ritual used to divine the results of a planned course of action. By communing with gods, spirits, or mystical forces using divination tools, the cleric can receive a vague sign regarding whether said action will lead to weal or woe.
To perform the ritual, the cleric requires three components – verbal incantations, somatic gestures, and specially marked divination tools worth at least 25gp. These tools traditionally include materials like carved bones, sticks, gems, or cards, engraved with mystical symbols. As the caster manipulates these artifacts, chanting prayers to otherworldly powers, they focus on a simple course of action they or their party aim to take within the next 30 minutes.
Once the ritual concludes, the DM reveals one of four omens in response:
- Weal – The action will likely bring good fortune.
- Woe – The action will likely bring ill fortune.
- Weal and woe – A mix of fortunes, both good and ill.
- Nothing – No clear or impactful fortune revealed.
These omens provide a glimpse into potential outcomes, but remain vague. The results account only for circumstances at the time of casting. Any future changes or actions may alter fate's flow. While cryptic, these signs grant guidance for the cleric's next steps on the winding path ahead.
Interpreting Augury's Omens
Deciphering the meaning behind Augury's omens is more art than science. One must rely on intuition, insight, and experience to interpret the signs with wisdom. However, certain guidelines can help unravel the riddles.
Weal indicates that the action stands to gain the party some boon, whether bolstering their status, fortune, knowledge, or other assets. The cleric may receive a vision of radiant sunlight breaking through clouds, a breeze carrying spring flowers, or other signs of good fortune. While positive, Weal does not guarantee complete success or safety. Hidden threats may yet lurk beneath auspicious omens.
Conversely, Woe foretells the action leading to loss, hardship, peril, or other misfortune. Visions of dark storm clouds, bone-chilling wind, and cawing ravens signal this dire omen. However, Weal and Woe may both have shades of grey. A risky gambit may bring both achievement and sacrifice.
Weal and woe reveals a blend of blessings and tribulations. The action bears both boons and banes. Interpreting this mixed bag requires wisdom to weigh the rewards against the risks. Visions of sun and rain, thorns and roses, represent this dichotomy. special discernment is required to determine if the gains outweigh potential costs.
Nothing provides the least clarity, indicating the action has no clear or significant bearing on the party's fortune, for good or ill. Some describe this omen as a blank void, or mundane objects like dust, smoke, or echoes. While less definitive, Nothing indicates the party likely faces no immediate threat or boon from the action.
With practice, clerics can learn to read beyond surface meanings to untangle subtler insights. However, all omens require careful consideration rather than blind faith. Augury provides guidance, not gospel.
Phrasing Questions for Clearer Omens
Just as a compass can only guide travelers who know their destination, Augury proves most fruitful when clerics seek omens about specific goals. Broad questions beget vague answers. To gain the most useful guidance, clerics should frame questions carefully.
First, focus the query on simple, direct actions to be taken in the next 30 minutes. Rather than asking if journeying to a distant city will bring fortune, ask about immediate steps, like which road to take from the current crossroads. Avoid complex or conditional actions. The mystic powers interpret words, not intention.
Secondly, ask about actions the cleric or their party will take themselves, not those of others. Seeking guidance about an NPC's unknown plans will only confuse the results. Keep the scope narrow and relevant.
Additionally, “yes or no” phrasing often provides clearer results than open-ended questions. For example, asking “Will immediately drinking this potion result in beneficial effects for me?” could elicit Weal or Woe. Conversely, asking what will happen after drinking the potion may get Nothing or Weal and Woe.
Though Augury favors directness, creativity can also pay off. Rather than asking about attacking a beast, a cleric may ask about “attempting to negotiate with the beast” or “avoiding confrontation.” Such careful phrasing considers multiple angles.
While practice makes perfect, thoughtful wording begets clearer omens. As with any mystic art, Augury rewards patience, care, and wisdom.
Using Augury for Insight and Guidance
Augury's usefulness spans far beyond choosing left or right at a crossroads. Creative clerics can gain insights into many concerns that weigh upon adventurers. By carefully framing inquiries, Augury provides guidance on critical matters including:
- Avoiding Hazards – Ask about triggering traps, opening doors, approaching suspicious NPCs, or drinking unidentified potions. Weal indicates safety.
- Combat Tactics – Inquire whether a particular battle plan or maneuver will prove advantageous. Weal suggests fortune favors the strategy.
- Negotiations – Discern whether parley with factions bears fruit before committing words or resources.
- Investigating Mysteries – Seek revelations about suspects, places, or situations that puzzle the party. Use care not to ask about unknowns.
- Seeking Opportunity – Determine if side adventures hold worthwhile rewards or only wasted time and tribulation.
- Arcane Matters – Investigate the nature of magical effects, items, barriers, or portals before interacting.
- Potential Shelter – Judge hazards and hospitality in unfamiliar settlements where the party may rest.
With thought and creativity, clerics can make Augury a versatile companion. Even simple binary choices become easier with a divine hint. While results remain subjective, clever inquires glean insight from the great beyond.
Maximizing Repeated Use of Augury
Unlike many rituals, Augury's limitation lies not in spell slots or components, but in its obscuring fog of uncertainty. The mystical powers favor decisive action, not relentless interrogation. Each casting after the first each day increases the odds of a random result, diminishing its usefulness. Therefore, clerics should reserve their questions for crossroads where guidance is indispensable.
By reserving Augury for crucial dilemmas, clerics honor their connection to the divine. While ritual casting requires no spell slots, capriciously invoking otherworldly omens for trivial matters may annoy powerful patrons. Clerics who repeatedly seek omens for minor issues risk diluted results. Choose wisely when calling upon higher powers.
However, when confronting predicaments with grave consequences, do not fear to repeatedly cast Augury before acting. In dire straits, wisdom warrants caution. Repeated divination and discussion of results help clerics extract every shred of insight from opaque omens before committing to perilous action. Even vague omens bless those navigating murky waters filled with hidden threats. When used judiciously, persistence pays off.
Of course, no oracle sees all ends. While Augury peers beyond the mortal veil, fate ever unfolds in unexpected ways. Omens provide guidance, not gospel. Balance heeding Augury's signs with boldness to take destiny in hand. Through wisdom, clarity; through boldness, victory. Trust in the signs, but also trust thyself.
Augury Answers Only What Is Asked
Though a ritual of divination, Augury provides but a keyhole glimpse rather than a panoramic view. The powers answer only what is asked directly, and nothing more. Like an oracle glimpsing strands of the tapestry of fate, interpreting the fragments requires intuition. Augury never reveals the full picture.
No follow-up questions receive answers. The cleric cannot ask why perils await in a location, only if their presence endangers the party. Omens may hint at forces at work, but provide no details. Augury indicates possible fortune, but not underlying causes or means to change fate's flow.
Clerics aspiring to command destiny may seek more revelation through higher mysteries. Spells like Divination and Commune pierce deeper veils. Yet Augury epitomizes divination in its purest form – fragmentary glimpses of looming fate. Partial knowledge guides without halting the climb.
Augury As a Gameplay Element
Augury introduces fun gameplay elements for both clerics and DMs. As a signature spell exclusive to clerics, Augury encourages character building and party teamwork. Rather than a wizard detecting traps, the cleric provides a mystical watchman. Their connection to divine wisdom fuels the journey.
For DMs, Augury poses a creative challenge. Preserving free will, drama, and suspense while providing truthful counsel requires skill. DMs must avoid heavy-handed Railroading or negation of player agency. Yet done right, Augury incorporates mystical elements organically. The dance between fate and free will spices adventures.
DMs have many tools to implement Augury:
- Oracular NPCs like sages, seers, and prophets to foreshadow challenges.
- Prophetic dreams, visions, and mystic messengers conveying cryptic warnings.
- Symbols on game props like cards, dice, and maps hinting at weal or woe when interpreting Augury results.
- Weather patterns, animal behavior, astronomical phenomena hinting at omens.
- Rumors, legends, and lore relating to key locations or quests. Research can uncover clues.
By integrating Augury creatively, DMs provide guidance while preserving mystery and agency. Players then guide fate through their actions. Augury mingles divine whis