Monday 11 October 2021

Skill of the Day: Dowsing!



Primary Ability: Wisdom 

Alternative Abilities: none 

Usual Time Requirement: varies, not usable in combat

Availability: Level 1

Type/Rate of Development: Campaign/Strategic; Slow (1:3)


OSRIC: none

Swords & Wizardry: none

Labyrinth Lord: none


OSRIC: none

Swords & Wizardry: none

Labyrinth Lord: none

OSRIC: Druid**,  Mentalist**, Seer**, Ranger*, Witch*
S&W: Druid*, Ranger*, Witch*
Labyrinth Lord: Druid**, Fortune Teller**, Mystic**, Ranger*, Witch*


Time to look at another item off the list of things left undone: Skill of the Day! It's been in abeyance for far too long - I get distracted easily - but here's a new skill (if you want to understand what this is, check out this post).  

Without further preamble, I rolled a 4 and a 1 on my d12s, and came up with the skill Dowsing, which I am classing as a Strategic or Campaign skill, rather than a Tactical or Adventure skill. Campaign skills are generally used during exploration or downtime. Dowsing is, of course, the art of locating water sources using the proverbial Y-shaped stick. The required level of Competency will vary with the availability of groundwater and the amount of magical 'noise' in the vicinity (highly magical areas such ley lines and faerie forests might confuse the Dowser's intuitive sense). Also, magical 'dead zones' will make this task much harder, increasing the required Competency Level by 4. As a rough guideline, a Dowser can examine one 10'r area (multiplied by their level of Competency) every five minutes. A Druid with Dowsing 3, therefore, can examine a 30' radius area every five minutes. 

Loss of the Dowser's divining rod - to which they are uniquely attuned - imposes a penalty of 3 Competency Levels (to a minimum of 1) until it is recovered or a new rod procured.  Note that such cannot be bought, or crafted: it must be found. There is a cumulative 5% chance per day spent searching for the right rod that one will be found (the maximum % chance is 80%). The Dowser must then spend 1d12 hours attuning themselves to the rod (usually through a combination of contemplation and experimentation) before it can be used.

Obviously, this skill is most useful in the strategic environment, especially when travelling long distances in arid regions. Another application is to sell one's services to farmers, landowners and travellers in marginal areas. As a rough figure, a Dowser can expect a base of 1 sp per day spent searching and anywhere between 1-100 gp should they find water sufficient to the needs of their client, with the payment dependent on quality, quantity and ease of access of the discovered water source. 

Lastly, there is always the possibility that other resources may be found, although such discoveries are almost always serendipitous. A Dowser searching for resources other than water (for example, gold, gems or copper) must overcome a Competency requirement of 10 (plus or minus 1-3 depending on how common or accessible the material is in the area surveyed). Note that Dowsers with Competency in skills such as Gem Lore or Metallurgy may be able to reduce this penalty (by no more than 1, in any case). Applying the same principle, a Dowser with Competency in Heal or Surgery could also search for bones... 

If you look at the summary chart above, you’ll note that the rate of development is “slow”: you gain 1 Competency Level for every three adventuring levels. The (*) indicates that the listed classes develop the Dowsing skill at 1 Competency Level per two adventuring levels. Two asterisks “**” denotes development at 1:1. 

Adventure Hook: Grasley Yearden, an experienced Dowser (Human Fortune Teller, L7, AL N, Dowsing Competency level 7) has gone missing: hired by an impecunious noble house to search their holdings for water to alleviate the effects of prolonged drought, she spent over a month in her search of their lands before disappearing. her findings are - apparently - unknown. The noble house insist they never received her report, and suspect that she may have fallen victim to foul play. However, the noble family has a bad reputation, and are quite capable of disappearing a mere Fortune Teller to avoid paying for their services...or suppressing their findings. 

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