Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Golden Guide

The Golden Guide is a chalice with an ornate, hinged lid. Sometimes called the Oracle of the Cup, if the lid is lifted it is revealed that the cup is filled with strange flesh, and straining in this, a lipless mouth baring teeth. This mouth makes one-word utterances in a raspy hiss. If fed fresh blood it will answer a yes or no question. Everything it says is a lie.


I came up with this sweet little puppy back when I was brainstorming for the bachelor party Ziggurat, then forgot about him.

How I'll use it in play. If I know the answer to a question, I'll just lie. If I don't know I'll try to wing it. If it is a detail that doesn't seem megadungeon-wrecking one way or the other I'll roll:
  1. Certain
  2. Decidedly
  3. Likely
  4. Yes
  5. Perhaps
  6. Doubtful
  7. No
  8. Never
And if the player's question is muddled or two questions, etc, it will say "Unclear." Those answers may seem reminiscent.

Now the fact that it lies sucks. But once the players determine this is will be a very powerful object. Am I setting myself up for problems?

I'll leave myself two escape hatches: 1) they have to feed it fresh blood, hopefully making it at least an annoyance to ask constant questions and 2) it is not omniscient.

Have you used any kind of oracles in your games? Or had problems with players using too much divination?


  1. 1st: I'm stealing this. Actually i kinda already have always-lying ppl in my campaign so i'll have to work it in so it belongs to them.

    2nd: I haven't had problems with divination--by the time my players have gone and done whatever they need to do to figure out the divination is wrong, they've usualy forgotten all about the source, or have gotten things tangled up or confused. or don;t realize it;s wrong. or something else happens.

    i can imagine it becoming a problem in the future, but so far, no.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, and may it beguile your players well. :)

  3. One question. When a player opens it for the first time, what do you have it say? Just curious...

    One statement. If one of my characters found that thing, they more than likely would want to fling it into a volcano. It just seems wrong, and evil. Maybe it's just the picture...

  4. Well, I'm up for suggestions :) But I was thinking "Feed . . . feed" and see what the players try to feed it.

    I'd be cool with them trying to destroy it. I suppose it all depends on what they ask it and therefore get lied to about. If it is something important and they get really screwed, they may just fling it into the Maw.

    If they do, I'll be happy to have an npc show up with it later ;)

    1. Late to the party, because I'm reading back-issues, but I suggest, "Feed me, Seymour!"

    2. Thanks, I'm happy someone is reading these. I hope you find stuff you like.

  5. "Feed.." Yeah, that's what I was thinking also, but if the players asked it what it wanted to eat? Then what would it say? Is that the one time it won't lie or be ambigous?

    I would think it might get quite chatty, and explain EXACTLY what it wanted. Especially if it's evil... If it wanted the blood of a virgin Princess that might cause logistical problems...

  6. I went for a walk and thought about it some more. I like the idea of a chatty evil thing in a box, but for this I wanted it to have a more alien and puzzling aura than evil.

    So I think it won't say anything when they first open it, just act like a baby bird and hiss, only quieting once they give it fresh blood. Even then it won't talk unless they ask it a yes/no question.

    I think that might be the more puzzling/creepy approach.

  7. How much blood do they need to give it? If all it requires is some unspecified amount of blood, can't they simply give it a tiny drop when they need to ask a question?