Some of the fantasy magic systems we are/were playing provide spell casters with access to spells that provide the player with information about future events. Now, we know from many movies and stories that any kind of time-travelling or prophesying comes with its own set of problems - so lets for the sake of this answer assume that the divination spells at hand are accurate at least to some degree - as otherwise they wouldn't be very useful1). I.e. the assumption is that the spells provide at least some actionable information about future events.
The current example we're facing is from the Rolemaster Seer list #1402). The spell allows a PC to:
- experience a vision of the future3) of the next couple of minutes,
- telling them what would happen if they were to perform a certain action.
What has been happening so far (and how we've been handling divination spells in our group) is this:
- Players see that some dangerous/critical decision X is at hand that is not immediately time-critical.
- The Seer of the group uses a divination spell on the assumption that they (or some other player) take action X.
- A scene is played out (including some dice rolls) of what would happen, were the players to perform action X.
- The players then take their time deciding if they want to do X after all, having essentially complete information of the immediate effects.
- If they do X, then the before played out scene basically happens as is --> The suspense of the dangerous situation is gone, making the whole process rather tedious.
- If they don't do X we just wasted time on some never-going-to-happen version of the future.
So the players were using these spells as de-facto 'savepoints', to try out something in the game with the possibility of 'rolling back' in case the outcome wasn't to their liking.
How can we handle these situations as game masters and/or players in order to..
- keep the spells interesting and worth casting,
- not holding up the game playing out long hypothetical scenarios,
- prohibit divination spells taking out the suspense (read: risk/danger) of taking critical decisions.
1) What I mean by this is that I'd like to avoid discussing the usual time-traval paradoxa, such as "if we know X we would never have done Y, but then we would never have known X, which means we did do Y, etc. etc.".
2)I can't quote the rules precisely as I don't own them in English. In German the spell is called 'Eingebung' and exists in levels I, III, V and XV, each level providing increased duration of the vision into the future. The English equivalent is Intuitions and it comes from the Future Visions List from the Seer Base Lists.
3) The rules are not exactly clear on how accurate this vision is, however we read 'experiencing it' for some minutes as rather accurate.