This afternoon we had our first session of D&D 5e with a group we found on the internet.

After finishing our first encounter, I did the following:

  • Put me next to the Wizard.
  • Cast Guidance on him.
  • Send him to check for traps using Perception (he is proficient).
  • Cast Guidance on him.
  • Send him to check the corpses for items using Investigation (he is also proficient on that).
  • Cast Guidance on him.
  • Send him to check for what is inside the wooden barrels.

But the DM said that Guidance has a cooldown of a minute per cast (which isn't true), and so it will take me at least 3 minutes.

On the corpses, the Wizard found a rusty scimitar. So I cast Guidance on him in order to let him check the price of the item using Investigation.

The value of the item was 0. So, I asked the DM how will I transmute that with Artisan's Blessing (I'm a Forge Cleric) having 0 value and he said I should do an Arcana check. But I said I'm not proficient and I character is not intelligent (INT -2). He answered that I can't if I am not proficient.
After that, I barely convince him to use Religion instead of Arcana since my channeling ability is from my Gods, and I used Guidance to improve the check. The roll was 3 + 1 = 4, and so the item was useless in any sense.

So my question is: Is allowed a GM to make restrictions on the fly?

Guidance has no cooldown time and as far as I know, an item can't have a literally 0 price. I only choose the forge cleric because I thought I would be able to transmute my metallic enemies items into useful ones!

Is there something I can do at respect? I'm not sure how to handle this situation.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How experienced is your DM? Is this the first time they ran 5e? \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Nov 12, 2018 at 1:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ, it seems experienced. I mean, he had the Pro (pay-to-use) account in roll20. You wouldn't spend money on something if you aren't experienced. Also, when I joined its group, I found on the roll20 forum a lot of histories about a world he was running (then he removed the posts) before us, which seemed made by him. So I could say he has experience of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ender Look
    Nov 12, 2018 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ. From Roll20: "Member since 06/20/15 / GM of 12 games / 1118 Hours Played / 251 Forum Posts" \$\endgroup\$
    – Ender Look
    Nov 12, 2018 at 1:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Neither of these ' house rulings' are anything out of the ordinary. If someone would literally cast guidance on everything, it just sets the new standard. If someone is going to be using artisan's blessing on every piece of scrap metal, you're going to be spending weeks in a dungeon. Regardless of whether these rules are official, try to be reasonable when playing with other people. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2018 at 14:08

3 Answers 3


The DM can override the written rules at their table.

D&D 5e has a concept of Rule Zero, which basically means that the DM has final say in any ruling. This means they can impose restrictions outside of the written rules.

Maybe your DM is using a variant ruleset, or maybe they are mixing up the game mechanics with previous editions of D&D, or maybe they simply interpret the written rules differently. It may help to ask why they are using different rules. You may also want to point out the following:

  • Guidance has a 1 minute duration, not a 1 minute cooldown. An affected creature can benefit from Guidance once, up to 1 minute after you cast it, although their skill check activity may also take time to perform. See PHB p203:

A spell's duration is the length of time the spell persists.

  • Characters may roll skill checks without having proficiency in those skills. See PHB p174:

Without proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a normal ability check.

Regarding the 0gp item: The rules do not specify some minimum price for items. It is reasonable that a rusty chunk of metal would have no market value.

Of course, just because the DM can change the rules, does not mean they should. And it sounds like your DM's overriding of the rules is causing frustration at the table. And that's bad.

You and your DM need to come to an agreement about the rules.

You have a certain understanding of the rules and gameplay, and your DM has a different understanding. The two of you are trying to play different games. Unless this gap is addressed, the disagreements will continue.

For example, your DM asks for many skill checks, possibly to have more difficult non-combat challenges. But you want to use at-will Guidance to make those checks easier, for free. The DM's motives are clashing with yours, causing an antagonistic DM-versus-player situation. Both the player and DM are frustrated as a result.

To handle this situation, you and your DM need to resolve your disagreements about the rules, and expected difficulty, and figure out what game you want to play. First, ask your DM why they are using different rules outside of the written ones that you know. Second, consider scheduling a session zero for the DM and players communicate their expectations for the game. Agree to a mutual understanding of the rules before continuing the game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact, his roll20 profile says he enjoys playing D&D 3.5, D&D 5E and Pathfinder. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ender Look
    Nov 12, 2018 at 2:23
  • 19
    \$\begingroup\$ I might mention that although Guidance doesn't have a cool down, the searches do take time. It's not unreasonable for the DM to say that each search takes 1-5 minutes; which is what the DM may have been trying to do. \$\endgroup\$
    – ravery
    Nov 12, 2018 at 2:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It might also be worth mentioning the "potency" rule about overlapping spells from the PHB. It's possible the DM is using some variation of this to justify the "cool down period" \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:29

The GM's role is to keep the game moving, and make sure everyone is having fun, and following the rules.

Of course, in some situations rules can be bent or broken to allow for certain situations, or in preference of a different approach - i.e. homebrew. If you don't agree with these situations, it might be best to talk to the GM to get an understanding of what they want to achieve.

In regards to your Guidance cantrip casting - this seems like something to discuss between the both of you. From the GM's perspective, casting Guidance consistently might seem like overkill, and if you are always casting it, it raises the minimum DC from 10 to 12. Sure, it's not much, but it changes the flow of the game.

In regards to your situation with the Scimitar - well, it's an old rusty Scimitar. Likely worthless, and if you tried to sell it, even that would take a fairly high Diplomacy check to even try to convince anyone it was worthwhile, and as for transmuting it, well, usually anything to do with magical knowledge is an Arcana check. The Artisan's Blessing does not require any skill checks to complete, but the ritual itself is an hour long, and potentially the GM just wanted to keep the game moving, or they did not see any worth in carrying out the ritual on an old rusty scimitar that was effectively just a piece of scrap.

All that being said, the GM is the one running the game. Their goal is to keep things moving, and make sure that everyone is having fun. And remember - the game is meant to be fun for everyone - that includes the GM.

  • 22
    \$\begingroup\$ Also worth mentioning is that this isn't an unreasonable house rule. Spamming guidance for every single action breaks gameplay flow and doesn't seem realistic. "PLEASE TYR, HELP ME OPEN THIS DOOR! PLEASE TYR, HELP THIS GUY CLIMB A PAIR OF STAIRS! PLEASE TYR, HELP ME GET OUT OF BED!" Invoking divine guidance for every little thing breaks the storyflow for lots of people. I also cracked down on it at my table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Nov 12, 2018 at 8:07
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik On the flip-side, if every action is requiring a skill-check that can be helped with guidance, it may also be a sign that the GM is asking for too many dice-rolls when no roll is actually necessary. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bilkokuya
    Nov 12, 2018 at 11:48
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik there are actual earth religions that have their followers doing that for mundane, daily things - so how would it be far fetched that in a fantasy world, someone who has actual proof (been given magical, divine powers, maybe encountered their avatar, etc) of his or her god existing, actually does it? Just saying; gods are more real and zealots are more... zealotous (is that a word?). Have a nice day, Tyr willing. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – DocWeird
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:11

The DM is free to do anything, but this one was not a good idea

I do not see malice here, just inexperience1.

There are three possibilities:

  1. Misinterpreted the rules
  2. Mistakenly thought that Guidance is too strong
  3. Actual malice (hates you or your character)

I think it is 2, because of the word "cooldown", it sounds like a homerule to nerf Guidance specifically.
However, it does not need nerfing, it is already balanced. The Cleric's only real out-of-combat utility cantrip provides a small bonus to ability checks, and requires concentration.

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute. You touch one willing creature. Once before the spell ends, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to one ability check of its choice. It can roll the die before or after making the ability check. The spell then ends.

What you can do

Talk to your DM about this concern.

  1. Ask if he gutted Guidance knowingly. I assume yes, but he might still be convinced.
  2. If not convinced, ask for this cantrip to be replaced2, as it is not the one you picked from the book (that one does not have cooldown).
  3. If he still refuses, then there is some malice, and I would look for another group / DM.

1) An experienced DM would not think Guidance is overpowered. One with some experience might think so, but would announce every house-rule before the characters are chosen.
2) Normally cantrips cannot be replaced, but you would not have picked this one if he had announced his house-rule in time.

  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ Or the more logical option 4: Doesn't feel like spamming guidance constantly is a good roleplaying experience. Some people care more for the story than the rolling aspect, and spamming guidance for every single thing in existence makes your character come across as somebody who can't even tie their shoelaces without divine intervention. This answer seems to hinge entirely on the idea that the DM is wrong, which is silly, because plenty of tables limit guidance spam. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The DM house-ruled, and that should not be done in the middle of a campaign. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:22
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, if the gods could help me do the dishes for free, I would use it. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:23
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik I think that your comment should have stopped at "... good roleplaying experience." The "this is silly" jab at the end is the kind of dismissiveness that is undesirable at RPG.SE (You can disagree with Andras on philosophy without being disagreeable. ) The point you are making is apparently part of a long standing disagreement about this one particular cantrip in this edition (seen pages long threads at GiTP on this ...) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2018 at 19:10

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