Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Using Nostradamus Predictions as Adventure Seeds

While flipping channels yesterday, I stumbled across yet another show about Nostradamus's predictions, and it struck me that Nostradamus quatrains could make cool little adventure seeds. Not to mention they sound cool enough for the words of the predictions themselves to be incorporated into the game world.

Take, for example, the passage I clicked haphazardly from the Nostradamus Quatrain Browser:
Before the Empire changes
a very wonderful event will take place.
The field moved, the pillar of porphyry
put in place, changed on the gnarled rock

- Century I Quatrain 43
Okay. I had to look up porphyry, but that's half the fun of a Nostradamus quatrain, isn't it? Looking stuff up? From Wikipedia:
Porphyry is a variety of igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts. In its non-geologic, traditional use, the term "porphyry" refers to the purple-red form of this stone, valued for its appearance.

The term "porphyry" is from Greek and means "purple". Purple was the color of royalty, and the "Imperial Porphyry" was a deep purple igneous rock with large crystals of plagioclase. This rock was prized for various monuments and building projects in Imperial Rome and later.
So we have a wonderful event... the raising of a monument or the construction of a building, royal in nature, and it has been placed on what was a gnarled rock.

Now we just have to take this event that has happened and find our inciting incident. (Any of you who've ever dabbled in screenwriting know that the story doesn't really get started until the inciting incident). We could either work out from the event without help from Nostradamus, or poke around again until something makes sense. Like...
The fertile, spacious Ausonian plain
Will produce so many gadflies and locusts,
The solar brightness will become clouded,
All devoured, great plague to come from them.

- Century IV Quatrain 48
Okay. So by the quatrains above, and with a little embellishment, and some help from Donjon's Fantasy Name Generator, the adventure seed we've generated looks something like this...
An obelisk honoring King Awfrith was erected at the edge of the Ausonian plains in honor of his victory over the tribes of the Arman. The festivities had barely begun the sky grew black with gadflies and locusts, and so began the plague on the peoples of Baltha. Awfrith's son Waltin, recent heir to the throne, is at his wits' end. He's seeking a group of adventurers to investigate the blah, blah, blah... evil wizard... blah, blah, blah... towering citadel... blah, blah, blah... reward... blah, blah, blah...
Or you could just use the d30 Adventure Seed Generator.


  1. nice idea

    so the next question becomes:
    what dice do you roll to randomly choose a Century/Quatrain combination ?

  2. Since there are 942 quatrains (9 centuries w/ 100 quatrains each, and century 7 w/ only 42 quatrains)....
    - Roll 1d10 to determine the century
    - Roll d% for all centuries except 7 to determine quatrain
    - For century 7: roll a d10 and consult below
    1-2 = result from 1-10; roll a new d10 = quatrain # (from 1-10)
    3-4 = result from 11-20; roll a new d10 and add 10 = quatrain # (from 11-20)
    5-6 = result from 21-30; roll a new d10 and add 20 = quatrain # (from 21-30)
    7-8 = result from 31-40; roll a new d10 and add 30 = quatrain # (from 31-40)
    9-0 = result from 41-42;
    roll any even-sided die, odd result = quatrain 41, even result = quatrain 42

  3. Century V #53

    "The law of the sun, (a star) contending with Venus,
    (feminine) appropriates the spirit of prophecy.
    Neither the one nor the other will be understood.
    The law of the great Messiah holds through a star, (sun)"

    This one is telling us about a coming supernova, i.e.,
    exploded star.

    Google search: Nostradamus' Star