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Some spells require the DM to roll in secret. However, I'm curious why it should be rolled secretly. For augury and divination, I can understand that the dice might told the DM to tell a random outcome, instead of the truth, so it is necessary to make this roll in secret.

The augury spell says:

If you cast the spell two or more times before completing your next long rest, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting after the first that you get a random reading. The DM makes this roll in secret.

The divination spell says:

If you cast the spell two or more times before finishing your next long rest, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting that you get a random reading. The DM makes this roll in secret.

However, commune does not offer no answer as one of the possible outcomes of the first casting, so I'm wondering why it is needed to roll secretly:

If you cast the spell two or more times before finishing your next long rest, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting after the first that you get no answer. The DM makes this roll in secret.

If I rolled this in the open, what will be this any different than rolling in secret?

What I'm worried about is if they gain any metagaming knowledge about the outcome. For instance, if they know I rolled 1 for second cast of Augury, they will not believe the outcome.

I don't see that will happen with commune, but I'm not sure if I miss anything exploitable by my players, if I do roll openly.

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By RAW nothing breaks, but story demands may necessitate secrecy

Commune might be the victim of copy pasting on the part of the editor for the PHB, but in general nothing breaks from a strict balance perspective if you roll that one in the open.

However, depending upon your story, the deities themselves may be subject to things that might impair their ability to respond or they might opt to not respond to a diviner that has displeased them. Both of these potential story elements are within the realm of the DM to determine if they're even applicable, but if so, the roll should be made secretly.

As such, I suspect the designers kept the secrecy clause in Commune the same as all other divination spells because the nature of these spells subject them to always consider the needs of the story.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So basically, the roll is made in secret just in case the DM decides that the spell could give "no answer" for a different reason? \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Sep 13 '18 at 14:36
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I would think that the makers (and you) would want to keep the game/story/lore as airtight as they could. Rolling it in the open would let your players know whether or not they made contact, and which number they needed to "pass". But next time, it'd be harder, and then there'd be frustration.
For throwing, I think it would be:

Set for d4:
0%: First throw (all win)

25%: Second throw (1 loses)

50%: Third throw (1, 2, loses)

75%: Fourth throw (1, 2, 3, loses)

100%: Fifth+ throw (all loses)

Each percentage would be whether or not if the player contacted their deity. I'd suggest having the d4 (if you are the DM) handy if the Cleric - since that seems to be the only class that can use it - is going to use the Commune spell. Anyway, I'd still suggest rolling the die/dice, to still give the player a sense of hope.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The chance increases with the casting of the spell. Not with whether they make contact. I don't think I understand your first section about knowing the number needed to pass. Every player can read the spell description to know that there is a 25% chance of success for the second casting, a 50% chance for third and so on \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Sep 12 '18 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, now that I read it over, I don't think I was quite clear. It is true that the players can see the spell, but you, as the DM, control the entire universe, and you have to decide whether the player is just attempting a contact, attempting a contact with advantage, or attempting with disadvantage. If you do that in the open, and you roll a high number for them, but they have disadvantage, they're gonna call cheats. \$\endgroup\$ – Dragonman0007 Sep 12 '18 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very different than advantage and disadvantage. While as a GM you can certainly influence the chances with that system but the same could be said for any roll that may or may not have advantage. The chances for the spell's success are outlined in the description. Anything beyond that is a house rule. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Sep 12 '18 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. I see what you mean. I don't use Commune myself, so I'm just going off of how it reads to me and how I think personally it plays in the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Dragonman0007 Sep 12 '18 at 19:23

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