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Old 06-17-2019, 05:17 AM   #1
coronatiger
 
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Default Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

Lottery in a world where divination is common is doomed to fail, as anyone can pay a mage to provide the lucky numbers in advance. Or is it?

What if the numbers are generated based on whether or not a ceremonial casting succeeds? A crude example would be a mage casting Seek Earth to detect a gem hidden under one of two cups. If he finds it, "1" is generated, otherwise "0". Various mechanisms may be applied to equalize the probabilities of each outcome.

This all hinges on the rule that magic can't affect or predict the outcome of ceremonial casting.

Is this setup feasible? Are there ways of cheating for an outsider? (Assume all officials involved are honest and incorruptible.)
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Old 06-17-2019, 06:57 AM   #2
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

The obvious thing is to return to physical cheating, relying on the idea that magical cheating is now "impossible" and allowing people to think that this means all cheating is impossible. That's a very easy mistake to make.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

I'm not sure I understand your idea. It sounds a bit like you're talking about the lottery numbers being generated using magic, but I'm not sure how that prevents magic that can see the future from finding the results. Like I said, I'm not sure I understand your idea.

In a setting where magic to see the future exists and there are prize lotteries, I think I'd do two things...

1) Defensive Magic
If there's magic to see the future, why not magic to obscure the future? One of the people working for the lottery commission is a spell caster who is pretty focused on the ability to cast that spell to make it hard for divination magic to see that bit. Since most mages you can hire aren't supposed to be super powerful mages, just say no one is skilled enough to overcome that defensive spell. Maybe a player-character will invest enough effort to learn the divination spell well enough to overcome the protection, but most people can't do that.

2) Distance Problems
If you want to see the future for about an hour from now, the prediction is more likely to be accurate than if you try to see a week in advance. The further forward you try to look, the more likely you'll be wrong. When they cast the spell, you can come up with some probabilities to use, and if they are looking for an event that day, they might have a high chance of success, and then the chance of reliably predicting the future goes down each day forward they look. Something like a week is super low.

Then because the commission knows about this magic and is already defending against it, they say if you want to buy in to the lottery, you have to buy your tickets at least two weeks in advance of the drawing, and no additional buy-ins are possible after that. So, the defensive spell is already making things difficult, and then the distance into the future also makes predictions less likely to be accurate.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
I'm not sure I understand your idea. It sounds a bit like you're talking about the lottery numbers being generated using magic, but I'm not sure how that prevents magic that can see the future from finding the results.
Background: Ceremonial Magic cannot be affected or influenced by Wishes, Luck*, and Blessing magic or spells.

coronatiger is extending this notion to the idea that Divination magic cannot even predict the outcome of a Ceremonial casting.

If this were true, then one could set up a lottery system based on the outcomes of Ceremonial Magic castings and thus this lottery would also impervious to Divination magic.



* Indeed not even regular old mundane Luck can affect a Ceremonial casting.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:25 AM   #5
DemiBenson
 
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

For my games, magic only tells you what is most probable, not what WILL happen, since magic can’t determine which future path reality will go down.
So for the lottery, divination just tells you that you’ll lose (since that’s most likely); for lottery numbers selected truly randomly, it gives either equal probability of all numbers, or when forced to return an answer, it picks some numbers randomly.

That still lets you have seers predicting the outcome of a battle (because magic can look at many futures and average them together).
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Background: Ceremonial Magic cannot be affected or influenced by Wishes, Luck*, and Blessing magic or spells.

coronatiger is extending this notion to the idea that Divination magic cannot even predict the outcome of a Ceremonial casting.

If this were true, then one could set up a lottery system based on the outcomes of Ceremonial Magic castings and thus this lottery would also impervious to Divination magic.

* Indeed not even regular old mundane Luck can affect a Ceremonial casting.
Ah. My apologies for not being familiar and still speaking up. Though that seems like an overly complicated way to pick numbers for the lottery...
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Old 06-17-2019, 10:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

This seems to be a variant on the Halting Problem addressed in Turing's most famous paper.
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Old 06-17-2019, 10:34 AM   #8
ericthered
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

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Originally Posted by DemiBenson View Post
That still lets you have seers predicting the outcome of a battle (because magic can look at many futures and average them together).
So the king has a room full of diviners who constantly bicker about their different visions of the future? That's a nice bit of color for a fantasy setting.
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Old 06-26-2019, 08:00 AM   #9
DemiBenson
 
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

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Originally Posted by DemiBenson View Post
For my games, magic only tells you what is most probable, not what WILL happen, since magic canít determine which future path reality will go down.
So for the lottery, divination just tells you that youíll lose (since thatís most likely); for lottery numbers selected truly randomly, it gives either equal probability of all numbers, or when forced to return an answer, it picks some numbers randomly.

That still lets you have seers predicting the outcome of a battle (because magic can look at many futures and average them together).
I thought of one even better - you test the randomness of the lottery by using multiple diviners, and they must come up with different answers or all come up with no answer; otherwise, the randomness is suspect.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:08 AM   #10
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Default Re: Unpredictable Random Number Generator: Ceremonial Magic

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Originally Posted by DemiBenson View Post
I thought of one even better - you test the randomness of the lottery by using multiple diviners, and they must come up with different answers or all come up with no answer; otherwise, the randomness is suspect.
I love this.

If someone wants to sabotage a lottery, they need to bribe/threaten two diviners, or steal the prediction made by one diviner and bribe/threaten another to give the same prediction. Switching predictions in transit or introducing fake diviners might also work. I see a heist.
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