One of the most common devices/characters/whatever in fantasy is the fortune teller/seer/oracle. It happens all the time where a character either seeks out or stumbles upon a strange person who can hint about the future. One great use for these characters is to pick out the readers that hate this device. Seriously, it’s fun to see people roll their eyes at this one because it’s usually such a minor character with a vague revelation. Aside from being a cliche that people pounce on like free pizza, there is some fun with these types of characters. It’s all about the variation:
- Old Man Seer of the King– This guy is who the king calls on to make any decision. From royal affairs to the day’s pair of socks, the cards are needed for everything. This guy may also betray the kingdom, which nobody will realize because it isn’t like he’s going to reveal that part of the future.
- Sexy Female Seer of the King– Scantily clad and the sexiest creature in the castle, it’s also important that she stay a virgin. Sex means she loses her powers and will be seen as worthless to the, typically cruel, king. Many times this is a lie to avoid being bedded by anyone other than the protagonist. After all, you know she’s going to be bedded by the protagonist either by the end or soon after the credits.
- Random Fortune Teller– This is a character that appears in the middle of a city, a festival, or a tent in the center of the wilderness. Her appearance is sudden and there is a sense of mystery around her. Incense and strange lights are necessary here. The point of such a character that never appears again? Foreshadowing and to freak the character out.
- Gypsy Matron– For some reason, there is always an old or middle-aged woman (black-haired, of course) has the power to tell the future. This is where bones, cards, and crystal balls seem to come into play. The crystal ball is the most popular because an author doesn’t have to design a system or do research to say how they work. Stare into the ball, see fog, and mumble about the future.
- The Oracle– Straight out of mythology, this is the woman (note a theme?) who is sought for her power. Sometimes she’s a priestess with the blessing of the gods and other times she’s nothing more than a girl born with the power. Either way, the heroes will search her out as part of their adventure. She typically appears at the beginning to set them on their path, but you can also place her in the middle if they get lost.
- Fortune Telling Thief– It happens sometimes and usually as a scam. The thief in the group has the equipment and makes extra money making fake fortunes. Of course, they have a habit of getting arrested or run out of town until they stick with the hero and behave. It’s not uncommon for them to stumble onto a real vision too, which tends to freak everyone out during a climactic scene. It also tends to result in the thief dying soon after.