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Astrology, Mystara-Style

by Bruce Heard

Warning: The Surgeon General has determined this data is more for colour than serious gaming. Persistent use of this material may cause injury or death.

There are two sorts of people from the point of view of astrology in Mystara -- those whose ultimate fate is governed by astrology (most NPCs) and those who have taken their fate in their own hands (all the others). The information below primarily concerns the first group, but does also have some effect on the others. Here are a few things than can be determined by "the stars".

Finding the Time of Death

This only applies to the first group, essentially NPCs. Most NPC figures directly involved with PCs should be included unless this would cause a problem with an ongoing campaign plot. In general, this is useful for royalty figures and other rulers who essentially remain part of the campaign background. Finding the time of death of an NPC can (should) be done at birth. Mechanics given below, however, allow finding out the information at a later time without creating a situation where a living NPC ought to have died earlier, "according to the stars".

The most important is to first find the exact time and location of a subject character's birth -- the year (AC), month, day, hour and minute of the birth, and its location. For example, AC 955, Thaumont, 02, 17:01 (presumably somewhere near in Glantri).

The numbers need to be converted first, as follows:

955 = no change
Thaumont = 03
Day 02 = 02
Time 17:01 = 1021mn
Location* = -30 + 45 = 15
* Longitude 30 degree west
* Latitude 45 degree north

(*) No idea what the exact coordinates are for "somewhere near Glantri". I made this up for the sake of expediency. I'll fix this later to make more geographical sense.

Initial Coordinates = Year x Month + Day + Time + Location, or 955 x 3 + 2 + 1021 + 15 = 6,751 (yes, it's a bogus formula! But, hey -- it's a rather bogus idea on the first place, so please bear with me).

Here's another fix to the formula

Year x Month x Day + Time + Location

I would also add that if a child is born when the sun and the moon are both down, us the first and last digits to form a percentile number. Use it to make a check. If it fails, the infant dies at birth.

Find the first digit of the number and consult the chart below.

Write the result down. Take the two last digits of the number and add them to the chart's result (if there's only one digit, then double it and add it to the result instead). In the above example, the first digit is 6, which gives a "30". The two last digits add up to 6. The final total is 36.

Take the present age of the subject, and subtract it from the subject's maximum longevity. For example, we're talking about a 17 year old warrior, with a max. longevity of 120 years (???), or 120-17 = 103.

Multiply this result (103) times the final number found above (36) and divide by 100, or 103*36/100 = 37.08. According to "the stars", this warrior has about 37 more years to live.

For the actual date, use the remaining fraction in the latest result (0.08). Multiply 336 by 0.08; the result indicates the number of days after his birthday that the warrior still has to live during the presumed year of his death. 336x0.08 = 26.88. Therefore, he still has 26 days -- which takes his ToD into the following month.

Use the last remaining fraction to determine the time of death (0.88) which is 21 hours and 7 minutes from the exact time of his birthday -- which takes his ToD into the following day.

So the exact date of this warrior's death would be: AC 1009, Flaurmont 01, at 14:08, at the age of 54.

Tah Dah! :o)

Following the same calculations, someone born in AC 955, Ambyrmont 25, at 10:09 (same location), would then be likely to pass away in AC 1066, Klarmont 18, at 16:52, at the age of 110.

Famous NPCs Astrological ToD:

Eusebius -- born AC 961 in Thyatis City, on Kaldmont 6th, at 17:22. Time of Death as of AC 961, would be AC 1019, on Felmont 12, at 07:46, age 57, which is his true Astrological ToD.

Eriadna -- born AC 920 in Sundsvall, on Ambyrmont 12th, at 06:29. Time of Death as of AC 920, would be AC 1040, same date, same time, age 120, which is her true astrological ToD. Sorry Porphy -- this wasn't meant as a slam against Thyatis. These are just examples. :o)

Questions remaining:

Since I wrote this and did not have rulesbooks at hand, what is the maximum longevity of a human in the AD&D game? Ditto, I need to check the trailmaps and other sources to find the longevity/latitude of a given point on the map.

Proviso re. astrological death predictions: there are exceptions, naturally, that come in the person of PCs and other characters "who have taken charge of their own fates" (defined by the DM). There are two rulings on this. If a PC defeats and for whatever reasons kills someone whose time hasn't come yet "according to the stars", then the PC has effectively broken someone else's fate (redo calculations), or the DM may somehow bring back that PC (the obscure-death rule used in other games like Marvel for example). The same goes to the case where a PC manages to prevent the astrologically-predicted death of an NPC. In this case too, redo calculations. This may significantly extend the life of that NPC as a result!

Cheating: some important NPCs should not die too late or too soon, which the above system may cause. Either assume that NPC is one who has taken charge of his fate, or play around with the actual date of birth/location (you'll need a spreadsheet for this), until you get the desired result. That's how I found the birthdate leading to a life lasting 110 years.

Naturally, as I pointed out earlier, the astrological date of death can't be used with PCs. It can on the other hand translate into a truly "bad day". The stellar and planetary alignments are particularly negative that day, causing all attack rolls and saving throws to suffer a significant penalty. More on this later...

Naturally, powerful people may want to hide their true date of birth or alter it in some way to prevent the above from being known. In the game, it would take a sage with an Astrology proficiency to perform the calculations (I could see this as an Ethengarian or Ochalean speciality). The skill check would require a INT roll with a -5 penalty.