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Barring Control Weather or other unnaturally weather alteration, how reliable is the weather prediction part of Druidcraft cantrip?

You create a tiny, harmless sensory effect that predicts what the weather will be at your location for the next 24 hours. The effect might manifest as a golden orb for clear skies, a cloud for rain, falling snowflakes for snow, and so on. This effect persists for 1 round.

Someone mentioned that this can be used to predict cloudy night to prepare sneaking into the castle. But can the prediction fail without magical interference?

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4 Answers 4

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It's very reliable. According to the description, it "predicts what the weather will be". No ifs, ands, or buts. This suggests perfect accuracy.

That said, it's not very precise. (Precision is not the same as accuracy.)

The description isn't clear whether it shows a single effect that predicts the weather over 24 hours, or if it changes in appearance over the course of the round (6 seconds) depending on the weather. Either way, if it shows you that you have a cloudy night, that doesn't mean it will be cloudy for the entire night, or at any particular moment. So if you're sneaking into a castle, be prepared for the moon to shine through an inconvenient gap in the clouds.

Similarly, it says it shows the weather "at your location". This is equally imprecise - it could be anything from the exact point you're standing at the time to the entire region you happen to be in. In the first case, unless you snuck into the castle to do your weather prediction for sneaking into the castle, be prepared for the weather to be a little bit different. In the second case, you only have a very vague idea. The city where I live often predicts rain, but I don't often see any - it mostly rains down the south end.

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    \$\begingroup\$ so if it's perfectly accurate then you could combine this with any weather-effecting magic you have a means to send information back in time. say your low level druid friend offers to stay out of the way of the rouge sneaking, and he will cast a spell to make it snow IFF the sneaking succeeds without any undesirable out come. If you don't see snow when you predict the weather then your know that sneaking won't work today and better try tomorrow. \$\endgroup\$
    – dsollen
    Feb 13, 2018 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dsollen I would rule that weather prediction only shows what nature is "intending" to do, not what might change in the future due to divine intervention or arcane power or whatever. So a weather control spell that has already been cast will affect the prediction (because nature has already accepted the change), but a weather control spell that will be cast an hour ago will not show up in the prediction (so a savvy druid will realize that someone is controlling the weather). \$\endgroup\$
    – Brilliand
    Feb 13, 2018 at 22:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm You're technically correct. However, if the spell's predictions aren't at least a little accurate, there's no reason for the spell to exist; druids being able to accurately predict the weather is a good match for their "priest of nature" concept; accurate weather prediction isn't a particularly useful effect, and so wouldn't be too powerful for a cantrip; and if a spell contains a random element, the probability of that random element is usually explained within the spell's description, and no such explanation is present here. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Sep 12, 2021 at 22:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe I agree from a "what's fine for the game" point of view. I don't, however, think the text of the spell "suggests perfect accuracy" as this answer says. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 13, 2021 at 14:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say. It's up to you. The plain English definition of the word carries no connotation either way. Your answer is fine. There is no rule. I mean, you can certainly declare that there is a rule for your game, but you can't declare that there's a "default' for everyone. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 15, 2021 at 3:44
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When a spell has a chance for inaccuracies, it says so. This does not. Therefore, the spell cannot fail without magical interference.

It doesn't say what the weather might be, it says what it will be.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But it says that it predicts what it will be. Predicting the weather is exactly what the weather services today in the real world do, and they're not always right. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 31, 2018 at 4:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ In other words, the plain English word "predicts" allows a chance for inaccuracies. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:03
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It doesn't say. It's up to the DM. The plain English definition of the word "predict" carries no connotation of accuracy.

We say that real-world weather forecasters predict the weather. We grumble when that's not accurate, but I've never heard anyone claim that those predictions aren't predictions because they did not have "perfect accuracy" as other answers suggest.

I'm sorry to all of the angry commenters and downvoters, and for that matter up-voters of the other answers, but this is the plain rules-as-written fact.

From a balance point of view as the game goes, you're probably not going to break the game by ruling either way, but from a story and player expectation point of view, it's probably just wasting everyone's time and fun if you as a DM don't fulfill the prediction as expected unless you have a good reason that leads the players in some interesting direction.

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Like all things divination, it is up to the Dungeon Master to determine the exact results of the spell and the effects of the sensor. Weather is variable, and a six second prediction for what the weather is going to be is far to much control over the worlds weather for a cantrip.

Seriously, just use best judgement, and run it in a way that doesn't hurt the campaign. If you need a stormy night, but previously said the weather was going to be clear from this cantrip, remember it is a cantrip that cannot control what the weather is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whilst the DM has final say on rulings, this does not usually mean that they are entitled to stop spells from doing what they are supposed to do (in this case, providing a reliable prediction of the weather). \$\endgroup\$
    – Lovell
    Sep 12, 2021 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Furthermore, this answer does not answer the question. OP is asking about what the spell should do (according to its description), not how much freedom a DM has to determine whether or not the spell functions as described. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lovell
    Sep 12, 2021 at 22:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lovell Where is the word "reliable" in the spell description? In fact, the very fact that you need to qualify "prediction" with "reliable description" demonstrates that "prediction" alone does not have that connotation. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'Predict' is a poor choice of word for this spell. I think in context the implication is 'accurately predict', because a minimal reading of 'predict' doesn't imply any level of accuracy, which would be useless. But I take your point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lovell
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I'd throw this on the long list of "minor things that could be improved in a D&D 5.5 but aren't worth bothering with errata". \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:31

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