I'm DMing an upcoming court battle in a city where magic is commonplace. How would the presence of magic change the court battle system in a fantasy setting? Here's what I've come up with so far:

  1. A "Zone of truth" spell that's placed on the pedestal.

  2. A spell that could potentially project the scene from the crime like a pensive from the Harry Potter series.

Any ideas on how I could make this more interesting?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells that's right, the legal system is pretty much the same as we have in the US, except there's no jury and the judge is replaced by a council of 7 (like the supreme court). There's representation on both sides, and witnesses etc. would be called on a pedestal for questioning and cross questioning and the likes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of narrowing the scope of the question, are you trying to ensure a fair trial, or leave room for shenanigans? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Pyroscepter, and welcome! The reason we're pretty strict about the kind of questions we do in this format here is pretty detailed, but basically boils down to: One question, One best answer. As it's currently worded, this seems to be a bit of a discussion question which you could ask in chat or on a forum, but it would have heaps of great answers, and one answer with all the best material would be nigh impossible to craft. You could maybe ask two (separate) questions along the lines of: \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 23:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's right - we try not to do "list" questions, where there's a very large set of single "try this" answers instead of a best match. Try focusing down on your specific problem. "Spells our 14th level cleric can use to detect deception?" Even "spells a village with only low level casters can use to compel witnesses to testify?" I'm afraid this question is more of a brainstorming exercise and probably isn't a fit for the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 1:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just realised that none of us have said this yet - You might be able to get this question re-opened if you can put it in a format that matches what this site is for. Have a look at our how to ask guide, and then consider editing your question to be in line with that (there are a few suggestions above). You also might be able to find the answer you're looking for by asking this exact question in chat (when you have >=20 reputation) or on a forum. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 4:55

2 Answers 2


Lots of options, one of which is "none"

There are a lot of spells which could be relevant in a courtroom. Spells could compel the truth (Zone of Truth), or read the mind of a suspect (Detect Thoughts), or even ask for guidance from a higher power (Contact Other Plane, or Commune).

The problem with any and all of these options is that most of them can be fabricated or countered. The spell Glibness, for example, will permit someone to appear to be telling the truth, even to divination magic. And the spell Mind Blank will make your thoughts unreadable, even to a wish spell. And any number of illusion spells could make it appear that a deity provided certain misleading guidance.

As such, it's possible that magic in your world would be viewed similarly to hearsay in ours: it's so easy to fabricate, that it's inadmissible as evidence except in very rare cases (like in our current justice system, where hearsay is admissible if you're speaking on behalf of a deceased person, who clearly can't speak for themselves).

In that case, by far the most useful spell to the judicial system would be Antimagic Field. A courtroom might be kept perpetually under the effect of one while in session, to ensure that no one attempts to magically manipulate the evidence or outcome of the trial.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Although a very useful suggestion, I would say there's a few drawbacks to taking the "none" route. Although familiar with magic, the society certainly doesn't see 15th level spellcasters often who can cast "glibness" or "mindblank" to completely fool the courts. So in the interest of letting it feel special and different, allowing magical manipulation of evidence (like overwriting memories) becomes a fun challenge to try and fool the courts, wouldn't you say? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ If Antimagic field is too high-level, the court might instead use Detect magic and Identify to scan for magical interference, if not prevent it outright. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ And since Detect Magic is a ritual, you could have two low level wizards or clerics cast it perpetually (staggered) throughout the trial (staggered slightly, and with a 6 second "gap" in the two spells, unless they added a third person). Of course this may be vulnerable to Nystul's Magical Aura... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 22:06

Hallow cast on the courtroom with a Tongues effect would eliminate any language barriers, permitting everyone present to understand all testimony introduced.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Lovely. Having a common ground would be a prerequisite for the court in order to prevent any problems with translation of testimony. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:19

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