Need some advice – I’d like to introduce an Omens move – but Omens are like a coin, they have two sides.

Need some advice – I’d like to introduce an Omens move – but Omens are like a coin, they have two sides.

Need some advice – I’d like to introduce an Omens move – but Omens are like a coin, they have two sides. Some see it as positive, while others as negative. I want to introduce the Omens idea and the write a move that allows the PCs to interpret an event or item or NPC as part of the campaign’s overall Omen. I have no idea what the omen is outside of Good is winning or Evil is winning – I want the PCs to help define it – but how does that translate into a Move? Maybe 10+ and the interpretation is true and grants a bonus? 7-9 points in the “right” direction? Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks!

11 thoughts on “Need some advice – I’d like to introduce an Omens move – but Omens are like a coin, they have two sides.”

  1. What if the omen is always true, but your roll tells you if you are believed?

    On a 10+ you are believed, on a 7-9 they maybe believe you but don’t do anything about it. On a miss it’s still true, but no one believes you and you will, in fact, be driven away helpless to stop the doom you see approaching.

    I’m thinking more like fortune telling though.

    Here’s another one, what if the omen is like a doom you foretell, and what you roll tells you how much you will be able to stop it. 10+ you can stop it, 7-9 you can blunt it’s impact, 6+ you won’t be able to affect this doom.

  2. Hmmm. Maybe. I want to motivate the PCs to provide/interpret the Omens. So maybe it’s something that would impact the game like that. So believed would mean less monsters ahead or they get a special quest item. I think I have more trouble with the middle ground – what would constitute. Murky omen? I guess it might be more situational…

  3. Yes! Good point! However I still like the “believed” idea. As if the game work will respond to the success of their interpretation. So I am guessing it’s a Wis. roll. And maybe the answer is 10+ believed and impacted in favor of PCs, 7-9 dependent on immediate actions (if they act in accordance to their omens it could swing in a particular way), 6- bad omen

  4. I think I get what you’re saying.  I’ve been spending a little bit of time trying to figure out some custom moves for a Norse style campaign, and in doing so I’ve been looking at things concerning “Honor” as well as interpreting “Omens”.

    This is only the roughest of beginnings, but it’ll let you see where I’m thinking:

    Read an Omen

    When you recognize an omen hidden amongst the mundane, describe what has struck you as peculiar and the initial impression it gives then roll+Wis.  On a hit, the GM will reveal something supernatural or interesting about the current situation with potential reward or warning, and might ask you a question or two; answer them.  On a 10+, the GM will give you good detail.  On a 7-9, the GM will give you only an impression or vague direction.  If you already know all there is to know, the GM will tell you that.

    The hope here is that the players, being aware of this move, would be able to populate the world with omens rather than me throwing them out like bait and hoping they bite.  I want the campaign to feel like the gods are paying attention and interjecting constantly with direction, boons, and threats; which makes it that much more powerful to give the players opportunity to pepper in those moments as well.  And by stating that it’s “hidden amongst the mundane” separates it from the big fantasy stuff that gets thrown in–so when they see something blatantly fantastic or dangerous they aren’t trying to decipher hidden meanings. 

    Player: “Whoa, a big shadow just flew overhead!  I want to read that omen!” 

    GM: “No need, it’s pretty clear.  Something gigantic is out there and you suddenly feel pretty doomed, and insignificant.”

    These could come from latching onto things that interest them in descriptions I provide

    (Player: “You said the tree is filled with ravens, like black leaves filling the bare branches, right?  That sounds like it could be an omen!” 

    GM: “Cool, yeah it does sound unique.  What’s it make you think of? And roll+Wis”),

    or from players simply injecting them like a flag that screams to me “I want something supernatural again!”:

    (Player: “Hey, so we’re surrounded by the remains of the Urholdt army right?  Like massacred bodies all over?  This one, the one you said looks like the general, I might be going crazy but I can’t help but feel like there’s a really strange pattern to the way his blood is pooling up.  [wink-wink]”

    GM: “Ok, sounds like you think you see an omen huh?  What’s it looking like? And roll+Wis.”)

    I get that this can be more or less shot-gunned by creative players, but like any roll it should carry a degree of risk with it.  Yeah, there’s a chance for introducing some supernatural insight and bonuses, but even on a hit I (as the GM) can choose whether to ask some leading questions or not.  And any questions asked should be leading ones: (“Nice, you rolled an 11!  You can tell that something has been watching you guys, observing you through those ravens, evaluating your worth.  Who is it likely most interested in?  Why are you suddenly so afraid that you might have offended it, what did you just do?”)

    And obviously on a miss you can throw any sort of GM move you wish as it’s a prime opportunity to reveal unwelcome truths, or approaching threats, etc.

  5. Oops, I also forgot to include: if you really want to emphasize the “two-sides of the same coin” thing then that should be pushed in the questions you ask as a GM.  Whenever they read an omen, in addition to giving valuable information ask them a question about the potential downside or adverse interpretations.

  6. Wow! Thanks for the insight Kevin Tompos. I think I have a mix between the two ideas. Right now it’s (playing a Greyhawk mod):


    The light will always rise to meet the darkness, but what of current events? Which side is winning the battle? When you encounter and event, item or NPC, you can attempt to interpret it as a sign of Omens. Speak your interpretation the. Roll+Wis., Int. or Cha. depending on the situation. 10+ Gods of Greyhawk! It must be true! The world will believe that Omen to be true. 7 – 9 The future is uncertain – the Omen cannot be trusted. 6 or less: Score one for the Darkness, you’re not sure if you will make it to the end alive!

    Maybe a 10+ means less monsters ahead or an easier way through or a + 2 damage because that is the magic sword! 7-9 will put the PCs on edge enough as they decide how to proceed and 6 or less, maybe it’s a sneak attack or used resource.

    I think we are all on the same page but it all comes down to GM interpretation. I allow Int. And Cha. For my rolls because maybe the NPC is charmed to give up knowledge or there was some personal insight there. Int. Might be more like solving a puzzle of events. Of course I can rule those as unusable depending on the situation (you can’t charm a magic sword for insight … Or can you?!).

    I have my session tomorrow. I will report back on how it went.

  7. Had a blast in the session … But didn’t get a chance to introduce Omens. Game got off to a slow start (in an already burned down Village of Homlett!) but I should have a chance to intro and test it out from the start of next week’s session.

  8. Re-reading some core DW rules, one thing i definitely want to do more of is make my PCs choose between situations. I don’t feel as if i’m offering enough choice in the games, i’m kind of running more reactionary in the conversation (which has been a blast), but i’d like to move more toward using choice, not just damage or straight up consequence. So how about this for Omens 7-9: Choose:

    -2 HP due to emotional worry damage, but learn an ugly truth; or Have a likely premonition that something bad will befall a companion(, but you’ll have a chance to save the day).

    So i’d either take HP from the PC and give them some more info or give them a head’s up that something will happen to a friend. Then i can telegraph that move in one of the next encounters and give that PC a chance to save his friend (perhaps also at his HP expense). The part in parenthesis i’m toying with not adding and just running  – but i always try to run my games with the adage: the more the players know, the more fun it is. 

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