I have a player with a Divination School Wizard. He has used his Portent ability upon the Big Bad several times to great effect. My Big Bad is a smart person however, and is seeking to hire a rival diviner to account for this monkey wrench in his plans.

I'm not sure of the proper way to adjudicate dueling Portents. Does the first Diviner state their intent, followed by the second diviner, with the second diviner trumping the first? (my first instinct). Should their be a skill challenge of some sort? Higher level diviner? The first diviner cannot expend his second Portent die to trump the trumper, since the ability specifies only one usage per turn.

The difficulty here is that it's a very meta ability as written. There's no action economy other than once per turn, no range, no requirement to see or even be aware of the target or its intent. As far as I can tell, a diviner can even use the ability when surprised.

I don't think there's a RAW answer to this, but something supported by or induced from RAW would be be appreciated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure if this helps, but have you checked to see if any of the MM/PHB/SRD/Volo's NPC spellcasters is pre loaded with that ability? I suspect that if none is then this might be a reason why. AFB. Good question! \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Diviner from Volo's has this ability with pretty much the same description, but it recharges after he/she casts a divination spell of 1st level or higher. Yikes! I don't think I would use that against a character who was a diviner. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Not sure if you want to add that to the question, but at least it shows that such an ability was added to a basic NPC) Seems strong. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since the only difference is recharge, and nothing addresses timing or supremacy, I think it would more muddy than clarify.Thanks, though. It's a cool monster to use against other parties without a diviner. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 19:12

2 Answers 2


Comes down to when the Wizards chose to use their Portent

The main concern here is going to be Metagaming. The Diviner chooses to use their portent before the roll as shown here (emphasis mine):

You can replace any attack roll, saving throw, or ability check made by you or a creature that you can see with one of these foretelling rolls. You must choose to do so before the roll, and you can replace a roll in this way only once per turn.

There is no visual or auditory clue that this is happening in game. Just that the Divination Wizard has predetermined the outcome.

NPC Foil

Given that you are creating the NPC as a foil to the PC and that PC is choosing when to exercise their Portent, you will need to have done the same with your NPC. Waiting until after the PC does it is metagaming and would be frustrating for the player and remove their agency.

However, if you choose to use portent prior to the roll and before the PC has decided to use theirs, then I see no concerns and you are using it in the way prescribed.

Simultaneous Effects can be determined by Creature Turn

Per Jeremy Crawford, it is possible for two portents to be used on a single roll:

Different wizards can use Portent (a School of Divination feature) on the same roll. See Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 77) for guidance on how to adjudicate simultaneous effects like that.

Xanathar's suggests:

Most effects in the game happen in succession, following an order set by the rules or the DM. In rare cases, effects can happen at the same time, especially at the start or end of a creature’s turn. If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster’s turn, the person at the game table — whether player or DM — who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character’s turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first.

If you have chosen to use the NPC portent simultaneously with the PC Portent, the order of Portents will be determined by whomever's turn it currently is.

If it is an NPC turn(Portent on the Bad Guy), the DM chooses the order , but if it's a player's turn(Portent on an ally), then the player will choose.

Please see my warning above about metagaming with regard to player agency, though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It could be used on a turn other than either of those two. Also, it seems like once you replace a roll with your portent, it wouldn't be a roll any more (so a 2nd portent could not be used). It seems to make it a case of first portent declared wins. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    May 16, 2018 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown It's not the turn of the person using portent, it's whoever's turn it is when someone uses Portent. I also don't disagree with your interpretation, i just cited Crawford's ruling on it. The sections in my answer prior to that can still apply. But if you'd like to make answer about not being a roll, go for it (just beware of the Crawford ruling :) ) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 16, 2018 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PerrinTealeaf That is one way you could do it if you didn't want to use Xanathar's suggested rule on simultaneous effects. But again, it's not about happening on the Diviner's turn: It's about whose turn it is when the Diviner uses their portent. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 16, 2018 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good find. I would think that if a diviner is using the ability on himself on his own turn (ex. attack roll), he could not be "countered". If he was using it against an enemy diviner on the diviner's turn, he could not "win the contest". But if both diviners were using it on the Big Bad's turn it would be problematic. I can't see the Big Bad getting to decide. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ In this particular case, I'm not too worried about player agency. The player in question is very creative and strategic, and would be more likely to find it a challenge. He (might) lose the first portent, but he'd be sure of finding a way to use the second, and probably to good effect. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2018 at 19:01

First, Portent has a range insofar as you have to see the creature.

Second, I doubt you can see something that surprises you, so you can't use it on a surprise round.

Lastly, while one might think dueling portents are simultaneous, they are quite unlikely to be so. Ultimately, whichever character, PC or NPC, finally decided it was the right time to use their limited portent ability on a roll first, wins – the second diviner can no longer affect that roll since the portent result is NOT a roll.

An NPC diviner brought in by the Big Bad to counter a PC diviner is unrealistic. Diviners are relatively rare as it is, and having the right rolls to do that when they need them is unlikely.

A diviner is not immune to another diviner, so whichever one used their portent first wins, even if it was on one of the diviner's own rolls.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Can you support your answer by citing evidence from the rules or designer statements? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 26, 2019 at 7:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Portent numbers are rolls and, far as I can tell, still count as “rolls” when used as replacement rolls, so are still replaceable in turn: “You can replace any attack roll, saving throw, or ability check made by you or a creature that you can see with one of these foretelling rolls.” (PHB116). Also I’m dubious that surprise inflicts Blindness. It seems more with the Surprise rules and fiction that most circumstances just involve shocked delay. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2019 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ A roll is a random determination. Once replaced with the portent ability, it is no longer a roll or random. One can't replace non random events not described, like a portent. True, portents are randomly determined by rolls, but are not rolls anymore. The surprise rule doesn't blind, but since you have to see the intended target, I don't think a diviner could use portent while surprised. In fact, if surprise one is precluded from taking an action or making even a reaction (which is almost meta game fast at times, like with the shield spell). 1 DM might rule it's OK, but I wouldn't. IMO. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2019 at 1:41

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