Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In my current setting, the local temple has a permanent Zone of Truth effect in the main hall. While I intended the effect to be an innate quality of the stone used to build the temple, there is no permanency option noted on the SRD.

In reference to will saves against the emanation, it simply states that

Each potentially affected creature is allowed a save to avoid the effects when the spell is cast or when the creature first enters the emanation area.

This would make sense in regards to a non-permanent spell.

However, if this effect exists essentially forever, does any one creature only ever get a single save against this particular zone of truth, or do they get a save for every exposure to it?

share|improve this question
up vote 19 down vote accepted

An effect like the one you describe (permanent, bound to a structure) is defined in the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, pages 77-78. The component is appropriately named "Hall of Truth".

It enforces a save upon each entry into the chamber. The relevant text is:

[The Zone of Truth] effect only lasts as long as the subject is in the space. If a subject leaves the space and reenters it later, he must make another saving throw

share|improve this answer
+1 Short, sweet, and to the point. We don't yet have that particular book in our collection, but it will be coming soon. Thank you for citing so thoroughly, as I will most certainly amend my DM notes to suit. Thank You ^_^ – Lady DM Jan 9 '14 at 12:32
Just a note: the Stronghold Builder is 3.0 – Zachiel Jan 9 '14 at 19:07

Since you’re doing something the rules don’t cover, there is no rule that tells you one way or the other how it’s “supposed” to go – it’s up to you.

I would recommend not having it be a single save ever, since that would mean someone who makes the save never has to worry about that effect ever again, while someone who does not can never break it.

Personally, I would probably rule it like this:

Each time you attempt to lie within the temple, you must make a Will save. If you fail, you cannot tell that lie, nor any other lie for the next 24 hours. If you succeed, you may tell the lie, but must save again the next time you want to tell a lie.

I’m not sure exactly what I’d call “one lie” – perhaps a lie, once established on a successful save and Bluff check, can be freely spoken, but introducing another false “fact” requires a save. Or perhaps it’s a save per attempted Bluff check, but a single Bluff check may involve several lies. It would depend on how powerful I want the effect to be, and how much I found constant rolling/keeping track of what is a separate lie to be annoying and slowing down the game.

Though, with something like this, I’d also just consider waiving the saving throw altogether. It’s a plot point, after all. I’d allow things like mind blank, and perhaps misdirection or nondetection, foil it, but otherwise I wouldn’t allow a save if the temple really is supposed to be famed for this effect. Otherwise a minimum of 5% of attempted liars would be able to tell at least one lie in the temple.

share|improve this answer
if you are particularly simulationist, you might want to have several difficulties based on the type of lie. Lies of omission being easier than total falsehoods. White lies might be the easiest, leading to instances where players accidentally tell the temple's leader that they think their hat is silly. – DampeS8N Jan 8 '14 at 20:44
If I were going for a neat story effect, I might make the stones each apply a minor "Zone of Truth"-like effect, and the number of stones in range add to the strength. So, big stones near the outside, and tiny pebbles/mosaics near the inner sanctum, where falsehoods are effectively impossible. That also gives players a visible indicator of how difficult lying would be. – Gus Jan 8 '14 at 22:12
+1 You've given me a very creative way in which to tackle this situation, and I thank you for it ^_^ – Lady DM Jan 9 '14 at 12:28
I'd probably go for having to make a Will save to lie within the area of effect, the first time you try it. If you fail the save, you can't lie at all until you're outside the area of effect. In addition, you have to be outside it for some period of time (24 hours or so) in order to reset it and thus get another save (so you can't just step out for a minute or two and try to make the lie save again). There are loads of interesting ways to handle this! – Matthew Walton Jan 14 '14 at 16:05

Each potentially affected creature is allowed a save to avoid the effects when the spell is cast or when the creature first enters the emanation area.

Your quote has the answer! So, when the spell is cast, everyone in range gets a saving throw. Furthermore, whenever someone enters the temple, they get another saving throw since they are at that moment entering the emanation area.

share|improve this answer
DM's discretion because zone of truth isn't on the list of permanency-compatible spells, but I'd let the save only last as long as they're in the zone. – okeefe Jan 9 '14 at 1:40

The hallow spell can create a really long lasting (altough not permanent) zone of truth.
I'm gonna assume this is what your temple is actually using to generate that otherwise mysterious zone of truth effect.

Each potentially affected creature is allowed a save to avoid the effects when the spell is cast or when the creature first enters the emanation area.

As you can see, the wording is the same.
Creatures need to roll the save whenever they enter the area from the first time, which in this case means once a year. Since nobody is warned of creatures resisting the spell or not, this is a pretty weak spell IMHO, but it's probably because of that that things will get interesting.

share|improve this answer

While I don't base this answer on any specific rules, the way I would play it is that a creature only gets a single saving throw (when they first enter the zone). For a PC, I would allow them an additional saving throw the next time they enter the zone after gaining a level (and again for any subsequent levels gained).

share|improve this answer

Saving every time entering zone of truth gives possibility: character enters the area and test if he can lie. Then leaves and re-enters as long as he can lie. I suggest that saving throw last next 24 hrs, at least. Many monster-saves have it that way already.

share|improve this answer

As a DM I have this effect in an interogation room. The 'house rules' are to make the build up of lies harder for the character, unless they are extremely good at lying. If the character saves by 3 or more then the next lie will have the same base save, but if the character saves by only 2 the next lie will have +1 to the DC, and a save of only 1 will add +2 to the DC, making the direct DC save adds a +3 to the next lie's DC. A character that is great at Bluffing gives a +2 synergy bonus to will vs Zone of Truth. Characters who fail the Save DC will find a +5 to DC for each point they failed by.

This might seem overpowered but makes it so that the players really think about the way they roleplay and how spells affect their abilities, and that good skills can still overcome certain spells.

As a final note: always make the player say aloud what they want to say that would be the 'lie' BEFORE they get to roll their save vs Zone of truth. By physically speaking they are accepting that their character is speaking! If they save then they get to tell the lie, if they fail then hopefully the DM or other players know the truth already and can role play as such. But the charcater being questioned in a Zone of Truth has the right to not answer whatsoever. The spell does not compell the character to speak but only to speak truthfully IF they do speak.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.