Legend told that Hsin Fu Chan discerned the trigrams from patterns in the back of a great lizard as it slept. After this inauspicious start, the trigrams were developed over time into a more sophisticated, less lizard-based method.
Use of the Book of Change was common to all levels of Shou Lung society. However, using it was seen as a weakness in the Mandarinate, and mandarins would be embarrassed to reveal they did anything more than play with it.
It was also an important aspect of the magic wielded by priests of the Way. It functioned rather like the spell fate known to shukenja, but could be used by anyone without magic, though perhaps less reliably.
By 1357 DR, it was common for one to toss a handful of broken and whole chopsticks into a circle, and choose six from the top, producing a pattern of broken and unbroken lines. The user then consulted the Book of Change, finding two out of six possible trigrams that best matched the pattern. Each of the eleven possible combinations corresponded to a symbol and an explanation or recommendation for the future; those in the middle were more common than those at the extremes.
|2||Destruction||"Forces are at hand to unmake your fortunes. Use great care."|
|3||Fellowship||"You will meet or find allies in your cause."|
|4||Simplicity||"The best course is that which does the least."|
|5||Discipline||"You must resist the impulse to give up. Strive harder to succeed."|
|6||Patience||"Do not begin unprepared. Wait for the right time."|
|7||Love||"Strong passions call you. Turn to one who shares your feelings."|
|8||Mountain||"Stand fast in your principles. Do not yield at this time."|
|9||Sea||"Always shifting. Be untouchable, make your position flexible, adaptable."|
|10||Anger||"The Fire leaps within you. Use this force to your purpose, but do not let it destroy your judgement. Do not be consumed by hate."|
|11||Fear||"Indecision tears at you. Turn away or stand and face the fear."|
|12||Creation||"Great forces may be used to your benefit."|
A set of trigram sticks would typically be kept in a jar, from which they could be spilled to produce the patterns. This was kept alongside a copy of the Book of Changes. An expensive set comprised rosewood sticks in a jade jar, together with a hand-scribed book.
Ju-Hai Chou, Minister of State, was a firm believer in the trigrams. In 1359 DR, Minister of State Security Ting Mei Wan spilled his sticks and he read the Sea trigram, describing that she was always shifting and unpredictable, making her a dangerous friend and a powerful enemy.
The Book of Change is based on the I Ching, called Changes, which presents a similar system of divination using a system of hexagrams.