Signs and Portents
Night Magnitude 4
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying.
At the completion of this ritual, all contributors receive a mystic vision related to things that are happening, have happened or may happen at the event. The information is often cryptic and is not a catalogue of events that will happen, more the suggestion of things that are likely to happen, or that are relevant to those events.
Each contributor tends to receive a different vision. An individual caster can receive only one vision at each event; performing the ritual again will simply reveal the same vision, even if it is no longer immediately relevant.
It is not possible to direct this spell so as to gain information about specific topics.
The result of this spell is liable to be delivered in the form of a written vision, acquired from GOD. The contributors can study their vision as long as they like, but cannot discuss it or make notes until they have handed the slip back to a referee; at that point they are free to roleplay however they like - they may play through the process of receiving the vision, or act as if they have been in waking trance and the vision has already passed.
It is not possible to direct this spell to gain information about specific topics, nor does it matter where the ritual is performed - like Whispering Shadow Courtiers, a single pool of visions exists that all Signs and Portents rituals draw on.
This ritual, and others like it, have been used for countless centuries among the Kallavesi. This is the most effective of their vision rituals, delivering a 'waking dream' that concerns events of import and immediate relevance for an entire coven of Night magicians. It is common for all members of a visionary coven, especially one of the Naga-dominated covens of the Kallavesa swamps, to have at least a little training in the Lore of Night; even if they are focused in other lores, being able to contribute to this ritual helps build bonds between members of the coven.
The ritual is also quite popular with Varushkan magicians. cabalists, volhov and wardens alike make use of the ritual to learn about important events that may threaten themselves, their vales, or their countrymen. On more than one occasion a volhov, wise one or warden has turned up unexpectedly in response to a vision to offer help or advice to those in need. The ritual is historically tied to the Ushka half of the Varushkan nation's roots, and according to historians was used extensively in the years before the Vard came to help them survive in the dangerous environment of the monster-haunted hills and forests.
Unlike may divinations associated with the Realm of Day (Eyes of the Sun and Moon for example), each member of a coven will tend to receive a different vision. Interpreting and exploiting the vision is often a challenge, and most mystics who make a habit of performing this spell are used to the idea that they may never learn exactly what the import of their vision was. Those who can unravel the riddles of Night in a timely fashion, however, may gain useful insight into current or future events.
While the vision always concerns events of immediate importance, the information itself might be about the past or the present, as well as the potential futures. For example, there is a well-known story about a Freeborn mystic who received a vision of himself killing an exotically-dressed woman. It was only after the deaths of several of his family that he realised the vision related to a past murder, committed by his uncle, against a family of Faraden traders whose agents were now taking their revenge on the descendants of the man who had wronged them. That said, the ritual tends to draw most often on current and potential future events - in contrast to the Whispering Shadow Courtiers ritual which tends to focus much more on past events.
Members of the Imperial Synod has expressed concern about the use of this ritual, and have pointed to it as proof of heresy among many magicians. By attempting to scry the future, it has been claimed, magicians are dabbling in the false virtue of hope, denying human primacy in favour of submission to fate. The mystics who bother to engage with this accusation have repeatedly pointed out that the future is not fixed, and that all this mysterious ritual allows one to do is explore the skein, the great dance, the Net of the Heavens or what-have-you. By looking ahead, they can see the pitfalls that may befall them or their allies, and strive to prevent such unpleasent visions becoming reality.
This ritual creates similar effects to the goosewhisper infusion. Experimentation has suggested that the potion and the ritual both allow one to reach the same extended state of consciousness - visions received using the potion are the same visions created by multiple uses of the ritual, and vice versa (OOC Note: This means that a given individual has only one vision each event, regardless of whether they are using a ritual or a potion).
Some attempts have been made to use Liao with this ritual, but the results have been unsatisfying in the extreme. The visions associated with liao easily overhelm the subtle visions created with Signs and Portents.
Different covens - indeed, different ritualists may have any number of methods of performing this ritual. For the solo ritualist, this often involves divination by cards,or by runestones. For groups, it often involves the use of herbs which are drunk or inhaled, and which create a receptive, trance-like state. Slow, improvised dance or gentle music may also feature, as might the study of fire, rising smoke, a wide bowl of water, or the shapes made by blood spattering against the rune-inscribed hide of a reindeer. The important thing is to enter the trance state and be receptive to the visions the ritual creates.
The rune Wyr is often used with this ritual, as are scenes of divination and magic involving characters such as The Bishop or The Doctor, or the evocation of wise animals or creatures such as sphinxes.