Thursday, August 2, 2018

DIY 30 #2: Seer Cauldrons and Augury Stones

(continuing the DIY 30 ideas begun yesterday)

A seer cauldron is a large magical device used to divine the future, the past, far-away places, or sometimes deeper or more eldritch secrets. It is a large black cauldron, usually made of heavy iron, and set over a fire perhaps on a massive tripod; as such, it is more of a permanent-fixture kind of magic device that a magic-user might keep within her tower, or a sage within his library.

But the enchanted cauldron alone is not sufficient for visions of the past, future, etc.; it must, of course, be filled with water, and once the water has been brought to a rolling boil with a fuel marked with the right runes, it will reveal upon its suddenly, supernaturally glassy surface the object of inquiry.

The cheapest means of fuel is to carve the correct runes into the single largest log that will make up the fire under the base of the cauldron, and which will be burned to achieve the boil; unfortunately, such an unstable fuel, which burns away as it imparts its heat and energy into the cauldron, supplies only unstable visions. The future seen may be fundamentally correct, but will probably be easily changeable by sufficient application of will.

Those with real means, on the other hand, prefer augury stones. These are stones, specially enchanted and carved with the proper runes for augury and divination. To use them with a seer cauldron, one heats the augury stones up in a fire--a particularly hot fire, perhaps even the heart of a fire elemental!--until the stones are burning-hot, and then dumping the stones into the water of the cauldron and allowing them to bring the water to boil. Visions achieved via this means will be clearer and more likely to be true than those achieved merely through a wood-fire.

Augury stones can also be used without a seer cauldron--either by the same method, heating them and then boiling water with them, and looking over the water for a vision of the object of inquiry, OR, merely by casting them as an augur might "cast the bones". This latter, of course, produces the least complete of auguries.

Certain magic-users and seers who wish to protect their seer cauldron and augury stones from unwary thieves or users will mark false augury stones with glyphs of warding, or (as insurance against a too-ambitious apprentice perhaps?) with magical runes that will cause the false stone to explode when placed in the fire to heat before boiling the water.

The particulars of divinations or auguries allowed through the means of these items is left up to the referee; the spells divination, augury, contact other planes, etc. might be considered in rulings on them, but the ultimate results should remain somewhat mysterious, and never completely accurate or regular, to maintain the air of magic and mystery.

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