On Prophesies:

Total posts: [33]
Rabid Fujoshi
I was wondering if anyone here uses them, and why you do. I personally don't think they are really given the proper justification and whatnot in most stories that have them. Often we don't even know where the prophesy came from or how it was propagated or why anyone thinks it's legitimate and should be listened to.

I actually kind of think that Harry Potter did the best job with a prophesy in my recent memory. Not only was it more of a Self-Fullfilling prophesy kind of deal, but if Voldemort had tried to kill Neville instead of Harry the story kind of gives the implication that Voldy would probably have met a similar fate. It was an interesting twist on prophesies, and for this one we actually know where it came from and the whole world hadn't pegged either boys as 'the chosen one!' on their birth, they didn't even know about it, really, it was more or less Voldy being very superstitious, which he proved to be throughout the whole series. Also it didn't rhyme. Huge plus there.
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2 MrAHR16th Dec 2011 08:17:31 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I don't have prophecies, so much as a walking talking magical prophet.

He sees the futures.

He is never wrong.

He's also the hugest jackass in the world because of this, and everyone hates him.

I amuse myself so much over inane things.
3 Kuiper16th Dec 2011 08:21:24 PM from over to the right.
[insert title here]
The thing I've noticed about the few prophecies that were told in real-life settings (this will be biblical, but please bear with it if only for inspiration purposes) is that they are rather matter-of-fact and have applications at multiple times. Also, the useful thing about prophecies in the bible; they may ALWAYS come true, but that does NOT make them UNAVOIDABLE. If you did what the prophecy told you to do, you wouldn't get stuck with the smiting; instead, a few generations down the line did.

Neither of these traits make it to prophecies in fiction, which makes me sad. Also, no rhyming is ALWAYS a plus, to me, unless they make it sound so INSANELY COOL that it doesn't matter. That happens rarely...
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4 nrjxll16th Dec 2011 08:22:10 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
To be honest, I'm bored with prophecies. I don't dislike them as such, but I just can't think of anything really new to do with them. I certainly don't plan on ever writing one.

...Unless one counts the mere (purported) existence of The Chosen One as a "prophecy". I know a lot of people hate it, but while I'll never play it remotely straight, I do still find it an interesting trope to play around with.
5 KillerClowns16th Dec 2011 08:24:41 PM from the Midwest , Relationship Status: Healthy, deeply-felt respect for this here Shotgun
is taken by a fey mood!
Well, a prophecy does play a major part in my plot — basically, it says a the only way to kill a certain freakishly powerful insane king is to keep The Chosen One alive to take the throne after him. It has many details that make it clear to even the most imbecilic sage that a certain teenage girl from Minnesota is, in fact, that chose one.

The main reason it fits so well is because it's a forgery made by the protagonist and then conveniently "discovered" to keep her nutty superior from killing said teenage girl. But it proves to be a very effective bit of propaganda. Its main purpose in the plot is represent just how powerful belief can be, even if it's belief in a lie.

edited 16th Dec '11 8:25:38 PM by KillerClowns

Shadowed Philosopher
Closest thing I have to prophecy or The Chosen One is that there exist five really powerful elementals, the Titans (who are really just ordinary element-affiliated sorcerers except more so, but the most prodigiously strong ordinary fire affinity can pull off, like, a Lysol flamethrower at best, while these can do legitimate major-terrain-altering elemental effects), whose powers are reincarnated after their deaths, and by tradition these five are the rulers of supernatural society. Mostly because spells and wards can guard against other spells and wards, but you can't really block direct elemental manipulation, which means the five are the only ones who can reliably go into a sorcerer's territory and smoke him out regardless of his preparations.

Of course, what the five do, whether they actually act as leaders or not, et cetera is in no way predestined, and there have been some really nasty instances in backstory of asshole Titans.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
Rabid Fujoshi
The thing I find the most irritating about most prophesies is that we are are rarely told where they come from, how they got around, or why anyone bothers to listen to them. That and they read like bad poetry for the same of bad poetry. Why does a prophesy have to be poetic or cryptic for that matter?

edited 16th Dec '11 8:58:11 PM by NoirGrimoir

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Noir: I think it's because many real life prophecies are just as ambiguous.
Rabid Fujoshi
[up]That's because most real life prophesies are made up. If they were any more specific they would be wrong entirely. Presumably in Fantasy stories at least, the prophesies are completely true and probably written by someone who actually saw the future. They ought to be able to be more specific. And I don't see why prophesies have to be int he form of a poem. How about int he form of a field report? All facts no vague frippery?

edited 16th Dec '11 9:01:39 PM by NoirGrimoir

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10 nrjxll16th Dec 2011 09:06:52 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
I personally don't see why all fantasy prophecies have to be true in the first place.
11 PsychoFreaX16th Dec 2011 09:06:57 PM from Transcended Humanity
I agree when prophecies just come from somewhere unexplained like in some stories. It just doesn't have much impact for more intelligent audiences. The reason I have my prophecies more convincing is to have some object or seer who was proven right at many earlier points in the story. So when the big one comes along I could send a Screw Destiny message through. Prophecies in my work tends to be more pessimistic though.

edited 16th Dec '11 9:14:18 PM by PsychoFreaX

12 KillerClowns16th Dec 2011 09:07:59 PM from the Midwest , Relationship Status: Healthy, deeply-felt respect for this here Shotgun
is taken by a fey mood!
[up][up][up]I recall in Good Omens, the legitimate prophecies of one Agnes Nutter are hard to decipher simply because they were written by a woman in (if I recall correctly) the 17th century seeing the modern world. She did her best to be clear, but a lot of interpretation is necessary because she didn't have the context for a lot of her visions and wrote using the best metaphors she had for what she saw instead. Doesn't explain why prophecies are so damned messy in worlds with Medieval Stasis, though.

tl;dr: If a prophet is looking into a far different future, they've got a legitimate reason to be hard to understand, even when they're trying to be clear.

edited 16th Dec '11 9:15:41 PM by KillerClowns

13 Night16th Dec 2011 09:49:32 PM from PSNS Intrepid , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Bring it on! I'm right here!
I don't believe I've ever used them and I don't believe I ever will.
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Rabid Fujoshi
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15 USAF71316th Dec 2011 11:01:30 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I don't believe I've ever used them and I don't believe I ever will.

And if I do, the narrative is blatantly lying to your face, or I should be shot for being a jackass hack.
I am now known as Flyboy.
I don't have people actually looking into the future at any point. Which doesn't mean they don't think they can, but the only magical ability confirmed to be literally true in my 'verse is Elemental Magic - other stuff's more like their religion.

I've got a culture that highly values their Precursors, who seem to have left behind quite a lot of prophecies that people are trying to decipher. Interpreters try to approach things somewhat scientifically. Unfortunately, the prophecies are quite vague, and subject to multiple interpretations/translations, and sometimes overly metaphorical or confusing, and informed by cultural contexts of the time, so it's mainly after a major event happens that the scholars can say, oh, yes, this is (probably) what this prophecy referred to. And sometimes multiple events are traced back to the same prophecy. And while they don't doubt the validity of the prophecies themselves, there is a lot of healthy scepticism regarding whether current events were actually foretold, and therefore inevitable. And, of course, any prophecy might have already come true before they looked at them.

Prophecy is thought to be a lost art, so anyone with sense also ignores modern prophets, who're probably delusional or seeking attention. *

That was my attempt at taking prophecy seriously, and probably as far as I'd ever go - otherwise, prophecies are outright ignored.
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I don't like characters who can see the future. It's too plot contrivancey.
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Rabid Fujoshi
I don't hate seer characters and powers per se, but I agree the vast majority of the time they are crappily done and thrown in as an obvious short cut to making stuff happen instead of the author actually doing something crazy like using their brain to think up a realistic alternative.

For instance, the Clayr in The Old Kingdom Trilogy are awesome. Dorian from The Night Angel Trilogy is the worst plot contrivance ever created by man.
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Part of me doesn't like fate, period - I like things to be the results of my characters' choices, protag or antag - so that rather limits the kinds of prophecies I'd want to put in my stories. No prophecy would be all that specific about who's involved, no prophecy would state the outcome, no prophecy would be the cause of major forces/characters moving... which I suppose means that no prophecy's all that useful. Certainly, they'd never be necessary. Meaning the only reason to include them would be to make the people involved seem extra-special, which has no purpose whatsoever.

I don't particularly like the tropes, either. Whatever vision occurred probably did not pop into the seer's head in poem form; it wouldn't be deliberately misleading, and exact words are unimportant. Destiny is not actually a force of the universe and cannot make anyone do anything, nor does it need to be fought.

Characters also should earn the information they get, even if only by managing to contact someone with the information and no objections to sharing it, so prophecies wouldn't convey that, either.

I can appreciate it well-done in a story, but I don't know that it could ever resonate.
You will not go to space today.
Producer X Rin
None in mine. I just don't know how to put it in. Bits of foreshadowing, yes, but not prophesy.
Rabid Fujoshi
[up][up]I actually can see a somewhat reasonable version of a prophesy that would go by your rules.

"The Dark One will be back! (So be ready!)"
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Raven Wilder
I always figured prophecies were cryptic and vague because the human brain is only used to processing information in three dimensions, while seeing into the past or future requires them to process sensory input from a fourth dimension. They're lucky they don't Go Mad from the Revelation.

And for a good use of prophecy that doesn't hamper character choices, there's always the classic "Whosoever performs Miraculous Deed X shall receive Incredible Power Y."

edited 17th Dec '11 4:32:21 AM by RavenWilder

"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Shadowed Philosopher
[up]That...makes no sense at all, actually. If you're using 'fourth dimension' for time, then the human brain is entirely used to dealing with four dimensions. We can understand time. If you're thinking about four spacial dimensions, that might cause brain problems if you want, but there's no reason for visions of the future to invoke a fourth spacial dimension.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
24 MrAHR17th Dec 2011 11:05:39 AM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I HATE badly used Seers.

I remember in one of my stories, the guy who could see the future could only do it in fits of being "crazy" and it was so overwhelming, most of what he said was completely gibberish. In fact, it took him a good deal of his life to even realize he could see the future, mostly by trying to keep a notebook on him at all times. Before that, he had just assumed he had DID.

That was my first attempt.

My second attempt is the one I mentioned earlier. I really have faith in him. Mostly because I see it as a bit of a realistic take to what someone who could literally see EVERYTHING do. Maybe. I don't know.
I don't really think any sort of time manipulation characters could work, be it just seeing, or changing. They are nice when they take the center, but as a side plot, they're just messy. Prophecies are the same way. When they are taken to be completely-true-unavoidable, I have to wonder what's the point of them, if they're most likely going to be subverted anyway.

Total posts: 33