Worldbuilding Power: Divination

Use Magical Insight in Character Development, Adventure Design, and Worldbuilding

Divination comes from the Latin word divinare, which translates as “to be inspired by God”. As a category of magic, its purpose is to help the caster gain insight, if not direct answers, to a wide variety of situations. The definition of divination magic has expanded over time to include any spells that aid the caster in understanding things. This covers the ability to comprehend both spoken and written languages, and communicate effectively with animals and plants. Divination allows casters to sense the presence of specific forces or objects, and to know another person’s ethical stances. It even extends into disciplines like telepathy, granting some casters the power to read minds.

For characters whose lives revolve around the gathering and exploitation of information, divination spells are useful tools. Catastrophic events can be avoided, or at least have their effects might be mitigated. In battle, there is an advantage in knowing what an opponent will do next. Cultures and societies can plan for the future, knowing what is likely to happen. The course of individual lives, and the larger forces of history, can be steered toward the best possible outcome.

Antagonists will seek the same advantages. They may not use divination as ethically as a protagonist would. They will use this category of magic to invade the privacy of others. The information they gain, and the secrets they steal, will be used for personal gain. A villain will use this ill-gotten knowledge to blackmail and extort aristocrats and monarchs. They will find ways to turn it to tactical advantage, not to avoid or at least lessen the casualties of war, but to maximize the carnage.

As with all magic, there will be some fear and misunderstanding among the common folk. The name itself implies that the caster consorts with strange deities and other supernatural beings. Secular casters will face resentment from those who feel such power belongs only in the hands of religious officials. Many people will be afraid of their own dark, shameful, and dangerous secrets being revealed. There may be a great deal of distrust if divination magic is used openly.

In this book, we’ll show you how to utilize divination in your worldbuilding endeavors. You’ll see how it can influence character, setting, and story elements. By the end, you’ll understand how to make Divination into an essential, useful, and entertaining part of your campaign.

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