For a PC, there's an escape hatch: since fate planning changes all the time, and since demons and others mess regularly with the tapestry of fate, you can escape your destiny by … well, escaping your destiny.
Imagine that you're shown: YOU WILL BE KILLED BY YOUR FIRSTBORN DAUGHTER.
There's really nothing you can do about this, per se. You can't say "I won't have kids." If you do, then you're inviting fate to show you why you're going to have a kid. Anything from already having a daughter (say, a Sidereal Exalt you've forgotten about) to falling in love *hard* with someone who'll die unless they have a child to someone casting a spell that buds a clone off of you. It's considered rude to make a female PC pregnant without the player's consent, but there are so many other possibilities for an enterprising Storyteller! (Including, er, getting the player's consent.)
Similarly, you can't have a kid and then say "Now I kill this child." Greek legends show you what kind of thing happens here. You may even find yourself in Limit Break during childbirth, and heaven only knows what'll happen then.
What *can* happen, however, is that when the child shows up fifteen years later to kill you for some reason or other, you have a chance to survive, just due to the way fate changes over time. The miniscule odds of survival jump by an order of magnitude if you're an Essence channeler, by another if you're a PC, and by a third if other people are trying to help. You get all three, and you're back up to the default level for something intended to be a serious horrible but beatable challenge in the game.
The Charm says that "the character simply states what is preordained."
It also says that "the player chooses a fate … he finds dramatically interesting."
So there is no Charm in the book that gives a Sidereal character the power to name any fate he wants.
There is only a Charm that allows a Sidereal's player to name any fate he wants, subject to Storyteller veto.
This is specifically so that, when you encounter Acrisius, and he is mouthing off and defying the celestial order, and you show him your palm, instead of:
ACRISIUS: Ha! I laugh at all the gods!
PLAYER: Eat Transcendent Hatchet! What's the worst thing that's going to happen to him?
STORYTELLER: Um, he's going to get gout and lose one leg. I don't know. I didn't expect you'd Transcendent Hatchet him.
SIDEREAL: *displays palm* ACRISIUS! This is your doom! You shall get gout!
You instead have the Sidereal going, all groovy,
ACRISIUS: Ha! I laugh at all the gods!
SIDEREAL: *shows palm*
SIDEREAL: Hear me, Acrisius! You say that your house can rival the gods? It cannot even stand on its foundations. Your daughter's belly swells with the child Perseus; and he shall murder you in twenty years' time.
It's 5am. It's not great art. But it's still better than the Greek tragedy about gout.
If you can't use the Charm without forcing the Storyteller to veto you constantly because you're using the player-determined special effects as the Charm's primary combat effect, don't take that Charm! It's no more or less problematic than declaring HGD no matter what happens to you, such as, "The merchant is charging you a full talent for the shipment. You think it might be a bit overpri-"
"No, that's not how you use-"
"HGD! I won't hear your lies, Storyteller! They can't penetrate my HEAVENLY GUARDIAN DEFENSE!"
I recognize that in some games it's really hard to separate IC and OOC motives, because the ideas that will *occur* to you for great fates are always going to be "this will be great for the PCs" or "this will suck for us, but it's cool." And that's okay. I mean, specifically okay. But … honestly, one reason fate is cool because of the fate ninjas who show up and tell people like Acrisius just *why* he is doomed, and even if the characters don't get to control that coolness, the players should.
There are, incidentally, cases where 'the fate I show you is you dying from a heart attack because I showed you the fate of you dying with a heart attack and the shock was too much' is perfectly dramatically appropriate.
For, you know, the kind of person for whom it's perfectly reasonable that that's preordained, barring someone stopping it. You know. Valor 1 Essence 1 mortals. Extras. And such.
I mean, sure, pulling a fast one with this Charm on a newbie, tired, inattentive, or trusting Storyteller is easier than for HGD. Unintentional misuse is also easy. If that is the substance of your complaint, I would accept its merit.
Chosen of Luna: But, my problem is the part of the charm that says that nothing the victim does can change their fate. That unless the bureau changes its plans or creatures outside of fate interfere, it will come to pass, no matter what. This is the part of the charm that bothers me the most. It just doesn't fit with what the rest of the book tells us about fate.
Yes, Chosen of Luna, it is much more strongly worded than any other fate effect in the book.
There's a couple of reasons for that, but mostly it's that "this is your inevitable fate, unless you use Essence or a stunt sometime before it comes to pass" felt impossibly lame. ^_^
It's still set up on the knowledge that "some god, creature outside of fate, or Loom issue deriving from the use of Essence somehow affects you" is all but a given-that, in practice, any time the dice and game events diverge from prophecy, it's because someone did something somewhere, and when they don't, things happen because the Sidereals knew they would all along.
In short, that it only actually comes true if the group as a whole thinks it should, with some rare exceptions both ways.
But, yah, even though it has the exact same game effect as "it's just a fate, changeable as any other," it's terrifyingly powerful in its implications, and I am mildly guilty about that side of things. ^_^
Don't panic. ^_^
Fate is just causality. It's just the rules Creation has for determining what happens next.
There's no river. There's no force. There's just a bunch of gods saying, "If this happens, do this. If that happens, do that to keep it on course. If *that* happens, do *that* to keep it on course."
And the spiders set target numbers or adjust dice pools by a little bit. Because they can.
The purpose of all this? To keep *two different things from happening next*.
To make sure that you don't swing your sword at someone and both hit and not hit them. With consequences for each.
That's pretty much it. If something is fated to happen, it means that looking at how you act (generally) in your life, you're going to wind up there.
Normally, if the farmer is going to move, then that's his fate. If he's not going to move, then *not* moving is his fate. If a Sidereal tries to push him into staying, and he moves anyway, that's pretty much his fate. The pattern spiders know how stubborn the farmer is. If they didn't, then when he breaks with his fate and moves, the pattern spiders won't know, and they'll keep on weaving him in the old place. Everyone will interact with him in the old village while *he* goes off somewhere else, and then fate's screwed up, because the pattern spiders aren't strong enough to *stop* him from interacting with people elsewhere.
This doesn't mean that the Sidereal predictions are always right. On the other hand, please remember that the pattern spiders being pretty good judges of character is why the world doesn't explode.
If your fate is to meet your doom in Gem, then part of what that means is that you're going to go there voluntarily. Not because you're forced to by the power of fate. But because, when the pattern spiders look at the Storyteller's notes and your known character motivation, it seems pretty likely that that's where you're going to end up.
And if you don't, well, enh. "Departmental vision changes and meddling of creatures outside of fate."
Thinking of fate as something you fight is silly. You can't fight it because that doesn't make sense. You change your fate the same way you do anything else in the game-by taking action to ensure that the things you want to have happen happen, and that the things you don't want to have happen, don't.
Transcendent Hatchet of Fate-and astrology that changes target numbers, and talking to the gods in the Department, and all of these things-are just actions that the Sidereals can take.
Transcendent Hatchet of Fate shows the target a destiny more difficult to evade than a typical fate-specifically, a destiny that doesn't change just because the target knows about it now. That's because it's a Charm, and Charms break the normal rules. Solars' Charms do too. ^_^
In short: planning fate is not so much steering the world around like a bunch of puppets, as herding cats through an obstacle course inside a freight train with no brakes. With a supercomputer and a bunch of muppets giving you helpful advice.
If the spiders know before hand whether you hit or miss (and if they are the ones who determine that)
The spiders determine whether you hit or miss in the same way that the rules of Exalted do. That is, you roll 10 successes, the defender rolls 3, the spiders determine that you hit.
You're thinking that the spiders determine what you roll. But they don't.
Look on your character sheet. You'll see a set of Traits. Those are part of your Essence pattern. That's all stuff the spiders have to deal with. They can't overrule it. And because the rules define what those Traits mean in terms of a series of dice rolls, those dice rolls are also part of your Essence pattern-they're not things the spiders control.
What the spiders control is a bunch of little stuff. They make things a bit easier or a bit harder. Astrological effects are pretty much the limit of what they do-
And if there is no astrological effect active, and no spider is acting as a major NPC, then you should bear in mind that the dice rolls *already include that subtle influence*. Because the rules of the game don't change just because the book gives an IC explanation for them.
Fate isn't a *new* causality. Fate is *the causality you're already used to*.
When I drink my tea, it winds up in my stomach. *That* is fate.
If fate is, as you describe, always an element of absolute certainty (if x happens, y is the result), then how is it that there is probability in every outcome? How can anything be "likely" to occur?
The Bureau of Destiny has finite intellectual resources, and complex processes are difficult to model.
I'm not sure what you're getting at. Have you ever predicted before running a game where it might be at the end of the session? Did your players spit on you and run off, declaring that you'd destroyed their free will? Would they have done so if you were better at predicting what they were going to do?
In short, yes, the Bureau of Destiny only nudges. But it doesn't nudge the way you think. It's a lot tinier and more pervasive. You're imagining grand gestures to keep people in line, but that's not what it does-it just grinds the wheels of the world a little tiny bit in every way that the world doesn't fit the vision, and oils them in every way that does. And it works because when they start out, instead of starting with "where do we want this farmer to be," fate starts with "we have this farmer, who thinks like this. What happens?"
Fate doesn't railroad. It asks what the players are interested in and figures out what kind of game suits that.
I think …
I think we are having trouble communicating. The reason is that you think that predestination is inherently in conflict with free will, and I don't. ^_^
Hence: suppose that I have just returned from the future with a copy of your autobiography, which is reasonably honest due to the future's rigorous cadre of Truth Enforcers.
Question: do you still have free will?
I have just read your next post, incidentally, preserved in your autobiography, so I know what you will say. Use Essence if you like; it won't change it!
P.S. This is not an analogy for pattern spiders. It's just trying to convey a concept that I'm apparently having trouble conveying-the idea that free will has nothing to do with surprising the spiders. They're not perfect at prediction, but that's not the point.
The point is that your free will is simply this: even if the spiders don't *want* you to knock on a door, you do it, because that's who you are. This has nothing to do with whether they know you're going to or not.
(I should note: I was bad there in not strictly separating pattern spiders, who mostly make things that are, and the Bureau, which tries to shape what will be. It's really late. I'm sorry.)
Let me confuse you by trying again from another angle. ^_^
I think that each person is a pattern of Essence. I think that that pattern makes its own decisions and (effectively) its own die rolls.
I think that when your free will says, "I wake up around dawn," that there's at least a millisecond of wiggle room. Your life, and who you are, doesn't really specify that closely—-you just wake up *around* dawn.
When your free will lets you stab a Sidereal somewhere in a quarter-inch circle of torso that includes both their heart and a ring of their chain swathing, it's fair game for fate to say, "Nope, you hit the chain." It's also fair game for fate to say, "Oh, that Sidereal's been bad, let's have it tickle the heart."
You're not really any better or worse a combatant. Your will isn't changed. Just …
Someone has to decide whether you hit the chain or the heart. Otherwise, the Sidereal is both dead and alive.
That's fate. Things are dead, or alive. Not both at once. (Er, excepting exceptions.)
That, and the laws of physics.