Template: Seer (Precognition)

Getting back into my other campaign, the Land of the True Game, with this template for the Seer gamesman. Seers are a little unusual in that their powers are described as being passive only and it isn’t clear that they require much in the way of energy to use their talent.

So even though a cool thing about this setting is that the gamesmen’s magic depends on heat, in the Seer’s case the source material says that the heat required appears negligible — if there is absolutely no heat around, I guess you won’t have a vision? Not sure. As the GM, I’d often just use something like “you feel a sudden chill” if you are standing next to a Seer who is struck by knowledge of the future.

The Seer

The required costume of a seer is a hood with a moth-wing mask.

Since it is common knowledge that seers can’t control what they see, for so-called “full coverage” of the future, every ruler thinks that more seers are better than fewer seers. That means a seer can get free room and board for life by pledging themselves to a demensne, where their only job will be to wander around the castle and amuse themselves while waiting to be struck by a vision. Since visions are out of the control of the seers themselves, they don’t have to do very much! This is the most common way that seers are employed.

Some seers (and their masters) believe that being physically near particular people, objects, etc. increases the chances for a vision about that topic. That means the job of a seer might also involve being trotted in occasionally to stand near various important people and objects in the hope of producing a vision about them.

“Hang on, let me get my seer in here to touch your hand or something.”

This would be a weird way to spend your time in contemporary society, but it’s completely normal in this setting.

“I’m Not a ‘People Person'”

As visions can be quite disturbing, it is a professional hazard of the Seer to eventually become inured to suffering and/or unbothered by things that are difficult to watch. They are quite likely to be callous, unfazeable, or lack empathy. Unlike wizards, seers are not scholars, but some are bookish and acquire an interest in reading and mysticism. The bookish seer might spend time looking at maps or reading about distant places to see if they can identify a location that they saw in a vision, for example. Or they could read religious writings/stories about interpreting portents and signs, since that is in effect their business.

In general, seers are often pretty strange. They do not usually have people skills. They are likely to stare into space a lot, be prone to conversational non sequiturs, act like they have ADHD, and/or just generally be weird mystics. They are not like storytellers who deliver a nice packaged vision of your future. While they may have fortune-telling skill, the usual seer does their fortune-telling in a more uncanny and disturbing (and out-of-control) mode.

Since a lot of a seer’s life is hanging around waiting for a vision, they are the game piece most likely to be acquainted with background skills like board games, meditation, and writing. Their inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity, alcoholism, and gambling addictions. Their tendency toward mysticism and the difficulty they have in separating vision from reality can lead them to a variety of strange beliefs (vows, duties, and so on) and even toward serious mental illness.

Impersonating a Seer

Seers are also the game piece that it is easiest to impersonate. Since visions are uncontrollable and difficult to interpret, who is to say that you are truly a seer or not? Maybe you just had a weird dream caused by indigestion? However, remember that talent in this setting is real — real seers do produce accurate visions of the future. That means that any deception by a pseudo-seer is probably not a viable long-term strategy. That is, if a ruler employed a purported “seer” in their keep who never produced a useful vision, they would eventually turn that fake-seer out. Word might even get around about the charlatan.

“There are Two Kinds of Seers”

It is said “there are two kinds of seers.” This is an idiom to mean that there are two extremes of a thing. The source of the idiom is this: Travelling seers must often beg for alms in order to eat since they cannot produce visions reliably and many Seers have no other useful skills. So that means seers on the move alone are often beggars, hanging around in taverns hoping for people to buy them food and drink–but are still respected as talented gamesmen (e.g., status 1). Some seers attached to a ruler are also underpaid (and potentially underfed) as their ability to produce random, esoteric, difficult-to-interpret stories about the future is seen by some as not contributing very much. A proper demensne should have at least one seer, but the seer might not get much respect (or pay).

Then there’s the other kind of seer. In contrast, seers attached to a plush demensne may be sedentary and coddled for the rest of their lives, and grow quite fat. Since their powers are passive, they don’t need to do anything at all but wait for the next vision. There is also a superstition among some rulers that harming a seer is bad luck as it will harm your chances for a good future (this superstition is not true). Rulers thus tend to be disposed well toward seers.

Seers Don’t Fight

Whatever kind of seer you are, note that seers are often combat ineffective or even partial pacifists. (Proselytizing pacifists who are totally nonviolent are incompatible with this very violent setting.) The rules of the true game say that the seer’s job is to have visions, not to engage in combat. Still, some seers can defend themselves adequately.

Seer Template

159 points

Attributes: ST 11 [10]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 13 [60]; HT 11 [10].
Secondary Characteristics: Dam 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 13 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [5]; Basic Move 6 [0].
Advantages: Visions (Overwhelming): Precognition (Backlash, Stunning -10%; True Game ESP -20%; Passive Only, -20%) [12] and Status 1 (Gamesman) [5]. ⬤ 30 points chosen from among +1 ST [10], +1 DX [20], +1 IQ [20], +1 or +2 HT [10 or 20], Will +1 to +4 [5/level], Fearlessness [2/level] or Unfazeable [15], Intuition [15], Luck [15], Patron (Nearby Ruler or Wizard; 6 or less) [5] or take the Patron as a Favor [1], Pitiable [5], Resistant to Disease (+3) or (+8) [3 or 5], Signature Gear [varies], Tenure [5].
Disadvantages: Choose one of either Flashbacks (of prior visions) [-5], Nightmares [-5], or Phantom Voices [-5] ⬤ Select an additional -30 points from among: Alcoholism [-15], Bad Sight (Nearsighted) [-25], Callous [-5] or Low Empathy [-20] or Oblivious [-5], Code of Honor (Gamesman’s) [-10], Easy to Kill [-2/level], Fat [-3], FP-1 [-3], Fearfulness [-2/level], HP-1 [-2], Noisy [-2], Pacifism (Reluctant Killer or Cannot Harm Innocents or Cannot Kill) [-5, -10, or -15], increase existing Phantom Voices to [-10], Sense of Duty (Seers) [-10], Short Attention Span [-10], Truthfulness [-5*], Vow (Chastity or Vegetarianism) [-5] or Vow (No edged weapons) [-10], Weirdness Magnet [-15], or Xenophilia [-10]. ⬤ In addition, choose either:

  1. Laziness [-10] or Cowardice [-10*]; Gluttony [-5] or Unfit [-5]
  2. Wealth (Struggling) [-10] and: Selfless [-5*] or Skinny [-5];

Primary Skills: Visions (Psionic Power Skill) IQ+5 [16]-18, Fortune Telling (Vision Interpretation) IQ-1 [1]-12

Secondary Skills: Panhandling IQ+0 [1]-13 or the perk Brotherhood (Rulers) [1] ⬤ Choose one package from:

  1. Non-combatant: Cloak DX-1 [1]-11 ⬤ Either Stealth DX+1 [4]-13 or Acting IQ+1 [4]-14
  2. Combatant: Either Staff DX+1 [4]-13 or Sling DX+0 [4]-12 ⬤ Either Boxing DX-1 [1]-11 or Garrote DX+0 [1]-12.

Background Skills: Meditation Will-2 [1]-11 or Dreaming Will-2 [1]-11; Module: Educated [7] and spend four points from among: Gambling IQ-1 [1]-12, Game (Chess or Go) IQ+0 [1]-13, and/or spend points on skills listed under the Educated module, either to improve them or acquire new ones.

Lenses

Bookish (+3 points): Research IQ-1 [1]-12, Writing IQ-1 [1]-12 and either Occultism IQ-1 [1]-12 or Theology (True Game) IQ-2 [1]-11.

No Side Effects (+8 points): Remove the Backlash, Stunning -10% limitation on the Precognition power [3] and remove a -5 point disadvantage from among Flashbacks (of prior visions) [5], Nightmares [5], or Phantom Voices [5].

Powerful (+14 points): Remove the Passive Only -20% limitation on the Precognition Power [6] — this should be used carefully and with GM permission as it changes the flavor of Seers quite a bit. Add [8] points to the Visions skill for a skill of 16.

The above can be stacked. The modules Survivor (+21 points) and Minor Heretic (+4 points) can also be stacked.

Notes:

  • Truthfulness can be a very serious disadvantage for a seer because it prohibits them from making up false visions.
  • In this setting, Pitiable is a very useful advantage for a non-combatant who travels around meeting new people a lot, as a panhandling Seer might do.
  • Note that per the GURPS Basic Set p. B196, Fortune Telling is NOT a skill roll that allows you to see the future, it is the skill of “packaging” or “selling” your vision in a convincing and culturally-appropriate way. Theology or occultism are also helpful in this pursuit.
  • Although there is some overlap between “fortune telling” and “acting,” the skill of Acting should be used when you are trying to completely fabricate a made-up vision that improves your situation in some way. Acting is required as it is the skill used “to lie convincingly.”
  • The Flashbacks disadvantage, if chosen, is intended to model the situation where the seer just can’t get certain disturbing visions out of her head, and cannot stop thinking about them sometimes. As per the rule on p. B136, the seer can distinguish a flashback from a true vision. The flashback is a memory of a vision.
  • This is surely obvious, but don’t combine noisy with stealth.
  • An asterisk (*) next to a cost means that a self-control number is required. This assumes a number of 12.
  • This is an adventuring-skills-light template, as is true for all of the templates in this campaign. See the discussion of why this template is skills-light.

(Image coda: “Carnival Mask” from the needpix.com free image library.)

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