5E Portraying Portent
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  1. #1
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    Portraying Portent

    How do you portray Portent in game? In particular, how do think it canonically works? I want one of my characters to be a Diviner Wizard for a story Iím writing. Iím thinking itís an intuition that allows the Diviner to advise their allies to take risks because he knows it will work out. I remember the DM from the webshow Fantasy High describes it as the Diviner intentionally warping fate/spacetime to affect an outcome.

  2. #2
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    I think of it as having seen certain omens for yourself and your party. If you have a low Portent roll, for example, you have foreseen woe and confusion for your enemies this day. Furthermore, you can spot opportunities when the right action from you or your allies will make that ill-luck manifest (in the form of a whiffed attack or a failed save).

  3. #3
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    While I've never played as a Divination Wizard, I always described my old War Cleric Half-Orc using his guided strike channel divinity as being similar to an epileptic seizure.

    After determining success or failure (and rolling damage on a hit), his eyes would roll back in their sockets, his body twitching uncontrollably until the start of my next turn.

    If another PC tried to talk to him during these episodes, I would tilt my head back and make this weird babbling shriek, which the other PCs always assumed to be the voice of Luthic.

    Different class and feature than the one you are asking about I know, but that would be how I personally represent the Portend feature of the School of Divination sub-class: a kind of supernaturally-induced seizure.
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  4. #4
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    I just see it as deja vue all over again. Something only half-remembered until the moment before it counts, or a brief flash that doesn't make sense until you're in the moment.
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  5. #5
    I see portent as a ritual cast in the morning: geomancy, the rolling of bones, reading tea leaves, chicken entrails - whatever.

    It gives the diviner some general insight that is vague/obscure at the moment it's cast. Some kind event on a general situation that is unclear until the moment arises.

    Then, when a situation arises where portent dice might be used, I narrate that as the caster suddenly realizing that the omen they predicted in the morning coincides with this specific moment, which pushes them to act.

    So, an enemy attacking them might cause the player to use that 1 he rolled to make the enemy miss and is narrated as insight striking the diviner at the right moment, putting the omen from the morning together with event as it unfolds, causing him to dodge.

    Or the he realizes that casting Hold Person at that moment was the event the he'd predicted in the morning and the player uses that 1 to make the target fail a save.

    So, in that sense, I see it as an active thing instead of a passive flash of omniscience.
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  6. #6
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    @TaranTheWanderer Love your name. Thereís a special place in my heart for the Chronicles of Prydain. ❤️

    Thanks for the responses, all! I think I like Taranís suggestion best, I feel like there needs to be some active input from the Diviner to best fit the mechanic. Still open for more suggestions though!
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  7. #7
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    When i run Portent for my PC i always start to include a lot of references to dreams. My character starts waking up in fits, resting not so peacefully, tossing, turning and so on. i also make occasional references in game to "this looks familiar" or "i know that smell" and so on.

    So when the moment comes and i want to take over a roll, i interject some form of relevant comment like "remember... " or "go low..." or even make a reference to somehow distracting their target (sort of the deja vu flavor of the help action) as i hand over the die roll result.

    When i had it from players, i suggested the same sort of approach but if they have a better idea for its manifestation, i am fine with that too. in a scifi game, it was represented as a sort of Ai/tactical overlay that would sometimes hit a key resolution/calculation/estimation at just the right time. A more fantasy manifestation of that could be a sort of spirit or "whisper from divines (or patron)". You get a 19 locked in on your deception roll because the little voice in your head tells you a key to distracting the guard.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ZenBear View Post
    @TaranTheWanderer Love your name. Thereís a special place in my heart for the Chronicles of Prydain. ❤️

    Thanks for the responses, all! I think I like Taranís suggestion best, I feel like there needs to be some active input from the Diviner to best fit the mechanic. Still open for more suggestions though!
    Thanks. The thing I'd point out is if, in the unlikely event that they can't do their divination(like being tied up and a prisoner), this mode of portent might prevent them from doing getting their dice. You might give them inspiration if you want to deny them a special ability that they should get every day.

    Or, i'd encourage them to describe how they do their portent in that tricky situation. Maybe they fashion some straw into divining stick or they do the farmers almanac trick:

    "3 crows are sitting in a tree outside my cell window. Crows are an omen of bad luck and the number three signifies xyz."

    Portents come in all kinds of forms. A Diviner knows how to read them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bitbrain View Post
    While I've never played as a Divination Wizard, I always described my old War Cleric Half-Orc using his guided strike channel divinity as being similar to an epileptic seizure.

    After determining success or failure (and rolling damage on a hit), his eyes would roll back in their sockets, his body twitching uncontrollably until the start of my next turn.

    If another PC tried to talk to him during these episodes, I would tilt my head back and make this weird babbling shriek, which the other PCs always assumed to be the voice of Luthic.

    Different class and feature than the one you are asking about I know, but that would be how I personally represent the Portend feature of the School of Divination sub-class: a kind of supernaturally-induced seizure.
    That right there is a player I'd love to have at my table.

    (But not knowing where they are, I sent a friend request instead.)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
    That right there is a player I'd love to have at my table.

    (But not knowing where they are, I sent a friend request instead.)
    Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near the state of New Jersey.

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