Pharasma's edict on prophecy


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


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One of Pharasma's three edicts is "strive to understand ancient prophecies." Isn't this edict totally obsolete in the Age of Lost Omens, when prophecies are no longer valid? Are you supposed to study them anyway and figure out what should have happened / been going to happen?

I don't see this as having any noticeable impact on game, I'm just wondering what lore I might be missing.


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in theory it could be ancient prophecies that had already come to pass and you are just trying to understand how it interacted with the effect.


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My understanding was that prophecy isn't completely dead, but is becoming a less important aspect of Pharasma's domain.

It's not that all prophecy is invalid, but a specific prophecy might not be.

I know no major prophecy has come true in the Age of Lost Omens, but this implies minor prophecies do come true.

Dataphiles

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It's not all prophecies that are broken it's just that they aren't what they used to be. It used to be that an oracle made a prophecy and that prophecy would come true. Now? Prophecies might not come true or if they do come true they're a bit off.

If you want to go with the Harry Potter version of divination you would have Professor Trelawny talking about how it used to be easier for the inner eye to pierce the veil of the future. Now that veil has become much thicker. It's harder to interpret the images that the oracles are able to glimpse.

That sort of thing.

Edit: Mainly, PCs are able to screw things up and prevent prophecies from coming true. Additionally, it allows the GM to kill players who are "destined" to do a certain thing.


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I'm pretty sure Pharasma herself still has a pretty good handle on what's going to happen, she (or forces beyond her control) has just draw up a veil to prevent other people from easily accessing fate itself.

The edict is mostly "to try to emulate the goddess" not "to understand things that are beyond your ken."


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It could be researching how to get prophecies back on track. Pharasma's salty about losing her favorite domain and is tasking her clerics with getting it back.


I dunno about even minor prophecies being reliable;

Inner Sea Gods pg 117 wrote:
Though prophecy is no longer reliable, prophets continue to be born, and most of them are rendered insane by their confusing and contradictory visions.
BellyBeard wrote:
It could be researching how to get prophecies back on track. Pharasma's salty about losing her favorite domain and is tasking her clerics with getting it back.

Oh, I do like that idea.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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This edict is basically asking worshipers to study old prophecies that were proclaimed and played out in the thousands of years before the Age of Lost Omens began a mere 100 or so years ago. It's essentially a "Take time to study your history books" but with a focus on a specific type of history—historical prophecies. How they were written, distributed, followed, and interpreted, with the benefit of hindsight. And to study whether the prophecies came true because there was no fate, or because they came true because mortals chose to (either consciously or unconsciously) take action to ensure they would play out as predicted.

It's not about getting them back on track. That's something many in the church tried for decades immediately after the Age of Lost Omens began, and it resulted in a number of followers losing their faith or going insane or worse (see "Pathfinder #64: Beyond the Doomsday Door" for a specific example). Today, Pharasma doesn't encourage her followers to try to get prophecies back on track and in fact is encouraging folks to embrace the fact that they've got a perception of having even more free will and agency to make their own choices without feeling like dusty old words written by long dead soothsayers might be locking them into place.

(And a bit of metagame stuff to keep in mind: putting prophecies in a tabletop RPG are pretty much the most cliched and awkward form of railroading a GM can do to their players, and that's a BIG reason why we chose to set up Golarion in this way—without prophecies being an option for any of us who write for the setting to fall back on as a crutch, we avoid creating adventures where there's anything close to the idea that there's a pre-determined outcome and that players are forced to follow plots exactly. In my experience, putting a prophecy into a tabletop RPG is more or less ensuring at least one, if not all, of your players are going to lose sight of the main story and game and focus on pushing back against what you're seeming to tell them MUST happen to their characters.)

Exo-Guardians

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
I dunno about even minor prophecies being reliable

depends on your definition of "prophecy" i suppose. some predictive magic still works, for example spells like True Strike and Augury specifically say they give you a an accurate "glimpse into the future".


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I'm fond of the notion that Pharasma wanted prophecy to be largely inaccessible to mortals, in large part so that nobody figures out what she's up to.

But from a non-diagetic perspective, you can't really have "fate or prophecy" be a major part of the setting or the metaplot if you're going to let players loose in it- they're going to actively oppose or just ignore fate more often than they are going to fulfill whatever prophecy.


Much is now clear.

Thanks for the thorough answer, JJ!

(And hey, kudos to kaid for getting it right.)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm fond of the notion that Pharasma wanted prophecy to be largely inaccessible to mortals, in large part so that nobody figures out what she's up to.

But from a non-diagetic perspective, you can't really have "fate or prophecy" be a major part of the setting or the metaplot if you're going to let players loose in it- they're going to actively oppose or just ignore fate more often than they are going to fulfill whatever prophecy.

Exactly.

From a meta perspective, we could have called the "Age of Lost Omens" the "Age of Player Characters."

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