A Question of Augurs

Why are Augurs limited to females (male Augurs in ancient Rome) and why are they limited to three lifepaths?
(Seems odd to have a max. number)

Especially when augers are so obviously phallic…

That’s “urs” not “ers”
(good one though!)

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Are you saying U is less phallic than E? Yeah, I can see that.

I was actually wondering why this lifepath is restricted to females, and why most females who take this lifepath are limited to no more than three lifepaths. There are both male and female prophets and soothsayers in fantasy literature, and many have aquired several talents and skill sets in their lifetimes (some being quite old indeed). Often times destitute, and shunned for their prophetic powers.
It would seem that the Augur lifepath would be a great fit for such a character if he was allowedto take it and wasn’t limited to only three lifepaths.

I just don’t see the reason for the requirement or the limitation.

It sounds like the oracles. Wasn’t the Delphi Oracle always some young woman?

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In addition to the Oracle of Delphi, there is the young girl, Arha, from Khargot from Earthsea. There is no explicit setting setting in BW, but there certainly is a tone implied. BW comes down on the side of it cool to have special adolecent women being chosen as prophets and seers. This is an example of a small restrictions in a game adding lots of color to what a game world can potentially look like. There is no more reason needed other than that. It certainly doesn’t break anything to have some grizzled 38 year old male augur, but it changes the feel and tone, just like there is nothing world destroying if they let men be girl scouts, but the existence of adult male girl scouts would certainly impact peoples mental picture of a generic girl scout!

Imagine you’re playing a game and you receive a letter from across the sea that the “augur of X” or whatever has had a vision and requests your characters council. What image would instantly appear in your mind of this augur? If the augur can literally be anyone, then the GM must be clear and detailed about who this NPC is, as it stands BtB, much of the work is done for him and everyone at the table has a very clear collective understanding about what an augur is without lots of exposition.

Of course the complication of such an assumption could be hilarious if the dashing young hero throws caution to the wind and risks life and limb to hurry to the aid of the young damsel only to find it is her grandfather who is the prophet in dire need of aid.

So far no one has a reason why the Augur is restricted to no more than three lifepaths total (unless Midwife or Country Wife).
Oddly enough, a Farmer or an Itenerant Priest could become a Midwife and thus qualify for the Augur lifepath without being Female or limited to three lifepaths, even if he is a male.

So, again I question if these requirements are even necessary.
Does it break anything to remove them? Or is there some vital design inherent in them that I just do not see?

Restrictions for Augur are either you have previously selected the Midwife or Country Wife LP OR you’re a three LP starting character and declare your gender as female.

So a male character, either born peasant, farmer, midwife, augur (4 LP) or any born, any acolyte, itenerant priest, midwife, augur (5 LP) would be legal ?
(Farmers and Itenerant Priests can become Midwives)

The gender thing is really up to you, but Midwife and Country Wife are both female-specific lifepaths.

Well it may not make any sense to me, but you must have had your reasons for setting these limits of gender and number of lifepaths. I don’t see where it would break anything to lift them, especially the three lifepath limit for females who are not Midwives or Country Wives makes it difficult to burn up a fortune teller type of character in a 4 LP game (ideally a peasant: born, augur, peddler, lead to outcast: crazy witch).
It just doesn’t make any sense and I just have to except it as such.
(Kind of like the way the Child Prodigy die trait assumes that the kid never gets to grow up before the game begins).

Some of it is setting reinforcement, it’s just not the one you’re looking for. The Augur lifepath is for “wise women” which are common in literature, but also notably in Germanic and Norse culture. The intent is to have kick ass folk magic women in the setting, that’s it.

As to the Child Prodigy trait, it’s meant for playing a character who is a child prodigy right now. It gives a little extra oomph to a 2LP character. Of course it’s pretty easy to come up with a 2LP human character who is not technically a child!

I thought those characters were quite old, but the lifepath requirement is that the character be young. What is with that? Is there a tradition of exclusively young augurs I’m not familiar with?

It’s an “or” requirement:

  1. must have taken the Midwife or Country Wife LP
  2. must have <= 3 LPs

So it covers both. The latter is more the realm of fairy tales, admittedly.

Yeah, I understood that. I had hoped it would be clear that I am talking about the second case, but let me make that explicit. Why are non-Midwife/Country Wife Augurs restricted to being young? Is there a particular inspiration (from fairy tales?) should have in mind for the second case? Given the source material I am familiar with, I would have expected a minimum number of lifepaths, or a requirement of Midwife/Country Wife, but allowing 3-lifepath women but not 4-lifepath women seems strange. Where does that come from?
Edit: To put it another way, if the inspiration is wise old women, why are the requirements for older women more restrictive than for younger women?

What other LP is appropriate in the Villager setting? Lazy Stayabout?, woodcutter? The limit serves to emphasize that any character who is an augur is really about being someone who is an augur. Otherwise it allows for characters whose backstory includes augur, but now the character is a pirate captain or court sorcerer or something. You can become those things of course, but when you start the game as an augur, you are committing yourself to play right then and there as either a magical child, a woman of prominence (midwife, country wife) or a recent exile of some sort from the former. Nothing is stopping a player from then becoming a pirate captain or court wizard or blacksmith, but augur is about either starting as an augur, having lived a life of a woman respected in her community for having been an augur, or running away from being an augur. Being an augur is not a trait like “gifted”, its something important about your character right now.

Nothing, of course, “breaks” if a group abandons this (none of the character classes or races are designed around “balance”), but you are abandoning a certain flavor to the campaign, which again, is fine. All too often in games “street urchin” is the only child/youth character class available. BW has others, augurs being one of them and female to boot. The argument is never ending, “why can’t men be country husbands?” Well, Luke decided that it would be cool for one of the most powerful character builds to be women only. I also think thats pretty cool.

Cool Opcero, that’s the sort of answer I was looking for. I do have a couple follow-up questions about your answer.
-Isn’t Born Peasant-Augur-Lazy Stayabout or Born Peasant-Augur-Woodcutter legal? I’m not seeing anything about the lifepath requirements that would make such a thing possible with more lifepaths but not with three.
-Wouldn’t requiring Augur to be your last lifepath be a better requirement for making sure it’s a big part of your life right now?
-Why would a character who has “lived a life of a woman respected in her community for having been an augur” require taking Country Wife or Midwife before becoming an Augur?

I’m particularly puzzles why making an old woman who is currently an Augur but as never been a Country Wife/Midwife is not allowed. Cassandra is specifically referenced in the lifepath traits, but I couldn’t actually make a character like her in this system since she would be older than three lifepaths and neither a wife nor a midwife.

You’re right about all that. born peasant–>augur–>woodcutter works as long as one is loose with gender roles (how is an 18 year old girl a physical laborer for example). Augur wouldn’t have to be last, especially if the character is hiding her powers from the rest of the village.

Cassandra is specifically referenced in the lifepath traits, but I couldn’t actually make a character like her in this system since she would be older than three lifepaths and neither a wife nor a midwife.

Well, you can make a character that will become like Cassandra. Players have the same issues when they burn up a a Knight or a Lord and realize that the just burned character isn’t going to be the finished hero at the end of the story, but the hero at the beginning. The life paths start the journey, they don’t created a finished archetype. BW gives you a knight without a horse, or a Lord without an army etc.