Ritualistically Speaking: hand of fate

Fate does not care about what you want, and that is why asking its hand for advice can often lead you into danger. But danger is what makes playing dungeons and dragons so much fun. DMs often feel like divination breaks their game, or at least the mysteries they work hard to build. I think it allows a good DM to expand the mystery and allows the players to feel like they are making progress as they search.

Hand of Fate

Cost: 70 gp Market Price: 175 gp Skill: Religion (no check)
Level: 4 Category: Divination Time: 10 minutes Duration: 10 minutes

When you perform the ritual, ask up to three questions about possible courses of action. A translucent blue hand appears and indicates with a gesture what the most rewarding course of action is.
If you describe courses of action that refer to directions or specific objects, then the hand points toward the choice that bears the greatest reward. If you ask the hand, “Should we head down the stairs or through the doors?” then the hand responds by pointing either to the stairs or the doors. If you ask the hand, “Which of these three levers should we pull first?” then the hand responds by pointing to a lever.
If you describe only a single course of action, the ritual assumes that inaction is your other option. The hand either beckons you (to indicate that you should proceed) or gestures for you to halt. For example, the question “Should we explore the ruins of Solitronia?” results in the hand either beckoning you or gesturing for you to halt.
The hand can’t assess events in the far future; its judgment extends only to likely events in the next hour. If the hand can’t indicate a preference, the ritual has no effect and expends no components.
There are two drawbacks to using the ritual to aid your decisions. First, fate values rewards over risk, and this ritual provides guidance accordingly. It points you toward a high risk, high reward option before pointing you toward a low risk, low reward alternative. For example, if one tunnel leads to a dragon and great wealth and the other tunnel leads back to town, then the hand points toward the dragon. However, a high risk, low reward alternative is considered less rewarding than a low risk, low reward option.
Second, the hand can choose only the most rewarding course of action relative to the alternatives provided. That doesn’t mean that the indicated choice is necessarily a good idea, only that it’s a better idea than the other options you’ve indicated. In the example above, if all three levers activate traps, then the hand points toward the lever that triggers a trap less lethal than the others.

First published in Player’s Handbook.

Had of fate isn’t an “I win” button, it isn’t even a free answer machine, it’s a clever way to make the players think and play both cautiously and boldly at the same time. We all know that everyone loves a player who plays boldly.

Making it accessible: A DM or player looking to make this ritual more accessible has a few options. The 10 min casting time really isn’t all that bad; making a focus for instant casting really isn’t a top priority but if players really want it a hand or glove would be a great focus. The glove or hand should be of a very specific sort, perhaps a glove from armor found in some lucky way, or the hand of a follower of the raven queen. The focus should be hard to obtain and have some meaningful connection to fate.

Attaching the ritual to a focus should weaken the effect of the spell by reducing the number of questions the players are able to ask. The benefit gained for this cost would be the ability to cast the ritual at any time as a minor action and the ability to save a question and ask again later. The ritual, as always, should have to be cast every day or the focus won’t be charged.

When designing a focus for this ritual flavor text could be simple but fun. The hand or glove could spring to life and have a personality. You could even make it try to escape to reunite with it’s original owner if the players are not watching. I think adding fun arcane hiccups to the players new inventory item opens the door to really enjoyable RP moments.

DMs: The hand isn’t hard to work into your story, players who don’t like to make choices will often turn to scrying or divination for answers; making Hand of Fate fun is where it is at. Opening up your campaign to a more sand box setting and giving playing multiple options to completing goals in both skill challenges and quests will grant plenty of opportunities for players to use this ritual.

A great example would be challenging players to gain audience with a king who wants nothing to do with them. Laying out plenty of options for the players such as: A. Disguising them selves as minstrels hired to play at a royal function. B. Befriending a local dignitary and gaining enough favor that he may take them to the kings court. C. Breaking into the castle and sneaking in to the kings throne room. D. Finding the king on his daily walks in the garden and trying to approach him with out the knowledge of his guards.

Giving all these options different levels of success and separate outcomes gives weight to the hand of fate ritual. This kind of challenge also gives a great deal of weight to the questions the party asks. A DM must read the ritual very carefully the description of the spell. “Fate values rewards over risk” and each option might carry a different risk vs reward. It might be more rewarding to befriend the dignitary but the players must preform some dangerous quests to gain his favor. On the other hand breaking into the castle which might result in imprisonment and might not put them in the kings good graces even if they succeed. It might also be more rewarding to find the king in the garden, but it also carries the grave risk of combat with the kings guard and making enemies with the king altogether.

Players: Play wise and play boldly, that is the heart of this ritual. To use this ritual properly a player must ask the proper question. When giving the hand options make sure you have already given them thought and considered all of your available options. Players must also understand that an answer from the hand might/will lead them into more danger than if they had chosen their own path a bold risk for reward.

The hand might also be used for more mundane tasks than just getting a direction for an adventure. As with the seek rumor ritual a clever player might use hand of fate to find a merchant offering lower prices or higher buy back value, cheaper accommodations, or better travel options. A DM should reward good RP thinking with discounts or benefits of some small nature, but also remember that the hand does not care about how much risk is involved. A player wanting to find the best deal might find that he has been ripped off and given lesser quality goods, or the cheap inn houses bandits who might try to waylay the party.

Combat: Risk vs. Reward in combat! Players thinking quick on their feet might ask the hand if a course of action is beneficial in combat. “Would swinging on the rope to kick the enemy into the fire be a better idea than hitting it with my sword?”. In this instance a DM would be able to look at the monsters defenses figure out the attack and damage and tell the player if their bold idea is a rewarding idea. Players might also want to pick out which enemy should be their first target. Questions about which one has the least health or worst armor might lead players to kill a minion first so asking the correct question is always important.

If players are able to catch a glimpse of their enemy before combat the group might ask the hand if waiting for a particular action might be the best course of action. If a group of enemies are arguing the players might ask which enemy would be more likely to fall victim to their attempts to  turn them against one an other. Or if the enemy looks like it might be moving or separating the party could ask the hand if they should wait and follow or attack now. The hand might know that the enemy who is leaving the group has something of value so the player should attack the whole group, or that waiting for the enemies numbers to diminish might give them the same reward with less risk.

If a DM wants to let players use the hand to gain a combat bonus they would allow the player to ask the hand which part of the enemy would be best to strike. A simple power bonus to the attack or damage could then be granted but at a risk. Following the advice of the hand might grant the player a +2 power bonus to hit but also grants the target a +1 bonus of their own since the player would be so focused on hitting the enemy in one spot and not waiting for an opening.

Risk vs. Reward and playing wise and bold are at the heart of this crazy awesome ritual.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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