• Is there a logical language that could be used for a machine that can answer yes/no questions only to answer more complex questions? (Or can we create one?)

Note: I'm starting to realize the question is too vague for stackexchange. I originally put this on worldbuilding because it isnt a RPG question. Craft woundrous items works perfectly, and I known the limits of the spells involved. I was more just looking for other people's perspective on how such a logical language would work, rather than a specific question. I shall be more specific in the future.

I'm currently worldbuilding for the next pathfinder game I shall run. Mainly urban, with a focus on social encounters, investigation, pursuit, and problem solving. The setting is a (technologicaly) bronze-age civilisation that has managed to go beyond thanks to extensive use of "magic" (as defined in pathfinder/d&d).

An idea I had early on was for a guild of "Lucremagi": casters who used their magic to make money. It was founded by a group of diviners who used their talents to manipulate the market and make a fortune.

With wizard diviners of great skill, at a certain point automation could make them more efficent; to create a device/system that allowed them to tell the future better than they could, since the system could divine at will (rather than X times per day, as vancian magic dictates). This leads to what I would term a "divination engine".


  • You can use divination to get a yes/no answer (95% reliably, as per most divination spells)

  • Any complicated question could be divided into a series of simpler yes/no questions

  • By chaining these yes/no questions together in the right way, you could answer your more complicated question (with reliability going down as you ask more questions).

We basically have a system that, for a given question, gives a binary answer (thanks to magic). What I am currently trying to create a method to simplify longer questions into yes/no questions, as well as a way to express them to create a sort "divinatory programming language.

A few things are easy;

  • Overall realiability would depend on the number of questions (1 question, 95%, 10 questions, 95%^10). Complicated things would be unreliable, simple things would not.

  • We would need to create variable clauses, as a response (yes/no) might imply different questions as a follow up.


  • I've been talking with some of my mathematician/programmer friends. They suggest I start looking in AI research. I'll have to ask them for more details.

  • I know there are no divination spells that give a direct yes/no answer (the closest is augury, which gives weal, woe, both or neither); I'm seeing yes/no as a simplified version for initial experimentation.

I'm experimenting here (my players will probably never see a divination engine) but its a cool though experiment and I'm curious to see how far I can bring it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Emm wouldn't the answer be Craft Wondrous Item feat? What do you want from us? I feel lost here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 17 '17 at 22:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't appear to be on topic for RPG.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 18 '17 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are covered mechanics-wise, and aren't asking how this would impact other aspects of the game, I would agree with mxyzplk. This would be better served in another stack. \$\endgroup\$ May 18 '17 at 1:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems the question you're asking, "is there a language to build complex questions out of yes/no answers", is trivially answered with 'English', or whatever language your magic box understands. If you meant to ask how you could turn your slightly faulty English-to-boolean machine into a reliable complex responder, there are great answers for that. However, I think that would get bounced back to either Worldbuilding or one of the CS-related sites. \$\endgroup\$ May 18 '17 at 3:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem here is that there are two questions: 1) How to make a method to convert any question to a set of yes/no questions 2) How to describe your item with the rules of Pathfinder. 1) belongs to worldbuilding, 2) belongs here. What I recommend you is to separate this in two question (or just drop the part about this being for a RPG setting as it seems that's not the important part) so that people will have a better idea of what you are looking for. \$\endgroup\$ May 18 '17 at 8:13

Yes, such a language could be created.

As Mołot said in his comment, you can use Craft Wondrous Item to build it (assuming there is a wizard who knows the theory).

The important thing is that you don't have to know the coding language. You just have to know what it is suppose to achieve.

My best guess is that the 5% errors should be cumulative either in big penalties (3 sub-questions = 85% chance of correct answer) or in smaller penalties (3 sub-questions = 85.74% chance of correct answer = .95^[parts]).

The first option is much easier to implement but you could mitigate the uslessness of this item when answering very complex questions buy removing some of the cumulative penalty at higher caster levels.


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