Proof of concept for synthesized oracle mechanic

I like the punchy situations that oracle games like In A Wicked Age generate, but I don’t want to just create my own oracle tables. Instead of starting with pre-existing oracles, players will be randomly given words that they then need to synthesize into the kind of evocative thing you usually read off of an oracle table. To see if this was workable, I generated a list of 25 words and started rolling a d20. With each roll I took that many steps down the table, wrapping around if I went off the end, recording each word until I got a repeated word. Then I tried to see how difficult it was or oracle-ize the resulting words.

  1. Noble
  2. Responsibility
  3. Power
  4. Greed
  5. Inherit
  6. Small
  7. Male
  8. Female
  9. Corruption
  10. Prophecy
  11. Learning
  12. Winter
  13. Summer
  14. Fire
  15. Ice
  16. Duty
  17. Ambition
  18. Family
  19. Division
  20. Return
  21. Truth
  22. Lies
  23. Belief
  24. Love
  25. Hate

Ambition – Inherit – Ice – Duty – Noble – Duty: The second son of the Ice King wants the throne, not the responsibility of leading the army in battle.

Responsibility – Inherit – Learning – Ambition – Lies – Power – Family – Female – Lies: A woman has seduced the aged king, but is having second thoughts about her plans for the kingdom after his death.

Prophecy – Hate – Small – Winter – Ambition – Small: An ice sprite seeks to overturn the prophecy that spells doom for his people.

Division – Small – Duty – Inherit – Love – Inherit: The son of a spy is torn between his duty to complete his father’s mission to prevent a political marriage and his own growing infatuation with the princess.

Greed – Ice – Noble – Male – Noble: The new chief of the northern tribe hungers for more territory.

Fire – Small – Prophecy – Inherit – Lies – Noble – Inherit: The prince of the desert kingdom has discovered that his family’s reign in predicated on a misreading of the ancient prophecy.

Those all came pretty easily, so I think the mechanic is likely to work pretty well (although the “Ice King” feels a bit more sword and sorcery than epic fantasy).

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5 Responses to “Proof of concept for synthesized oracle mechanic”

  1. Hi,
    I agree — the oracles mechanic in In a Wicked Age is great. In addition to stirring up situations pregnant with conflict, the other thing they do really, really well is sketch in the edges of the setting. That’s where a lot of Vincent’s work must have been done.

  2. Hans Otterson Says:

    Dan-I really like this. I’ve been thinking about something along similar lines for a non-game chef game, and this really helps. Very cool. I would love to start play like this.

  3. These look rich and fun to create. The Dark mirrors idea from your earlier post, too, sounds like something that would be great to run with.

  4. […] may have found my star Continuing with my synthesized oracle mechanic, I arranged forty words around a square. The first attempt at a mechanic has the player roll 1d12 […]

  5. […] with my sythesized oracle and star chart mechanics, I realized that I can easily extract two numerical values from the star […]

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