The 5th level spell Scrying allows you to attempt to magically spy on a creature. The caster doesn't even need to have met the creature to attempt this.

What happens when the target the caster has in mind could be multiple creatures?

As an example, a PC attempts to Scry a vigilante they have heard tales of. Unknown to them, this vigilante is actually 3 different people alternating shifts as the vigilante. Who does the spell end up targeting? Any of the people are a valid target for the spell, but which one attempts the saving throw to resist?


3 Answers 3


It is up to the DM.

The ultimate answer here is "it's up to you," but let's explore it a bit since this could go a number of ways.

The description for Scrying includes (emphasis mine):

You can see and hear a particular creature you choose...

As a DM, I would interpret this as particular = specific, so in this case your NPC/persona wouldn't be a valid target. Xanathar's Guide to Everything offers an optional rule for spells with invalid targets as the following:

If you cast a spell on someone or something that can’t be affected by the spell, nothing happens to that target, but if you used a spell slot to cast the spell, the slot is still expended. If the spell normally has no effect on a target that succeeds on a saving throw, the invalid target appears to have succeeded on its saving throw, even though it didn’t attempt one (giving no hint that the creature is in fact an invalid target). Otherwise, you perceive that the spell did nothing to the target.

If we choose to use this rule, the straightforward "answer" in this case is that the spell simply fails since there isn't a single valid target.

However, as a DM, I might interpret this situation a number of other ways:

I might choose whomever is on duty as that particular person for that day, or a random member of this group.

Or, as PJRZ mentioned below, the PC might have to describe how they know of this vigilante (since scrying allows for a target "you have heard of"), and whichever person did what the PC describes is the target of the spell.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I like this because there is no 'RAW' answer to this that I can find, and it spells out the GM's interpretations nicely. \$\endgroup\$
    – user47897
    Jan 24, 2019 at 17:00
  • 19
    \$\begingroup\$ The scrying spell allows targeting a creature "you have heard of", so another option is to ask the player to describe how they heard of them. The first thing they say ("that vigilante who beat up the corrupt mayor last night")...that's the guy they get. If they cast scrying again using a different description, they could end up with a different person (a clue that the vigilante is not one person!) \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Jan 24, 2019 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @MarkTO on the reasons this is a good answer - I think the first option is arguably indeed the RAW meaning, but the other options are sensible alternatives in the event it's not. Personally I think I will use that first option of requiring sufficient identifying specification before allowing the spell to work. I don't want to make Scrying a "work out whether this thing is more than one person" spell, so I think I will simply allow an insufficiently specific spell to fail as if the creature was warded or had made a save, without cluing the PCs in to any special circumstance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    Jan 25, 2019 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I'd show them whoever is dressed as the vigilante at that moment, and the spell fails if no one is "on duty." Let then guess where they've gone when they can't be found by scrying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Jul 27, 2021 at 17:26

Invalid Target (group instead of individual)

The DM could rule that the vigilante is actually a group of people and is not a valid target. In this case caster is unwittingly trying to targeting a group of individuals. A group is not a valid target for scrying. In this case, the guidance in Xanathar's is that nothing happens to the target and the spell slot is expended. From the caster's point of view, it appears as though the target saved.

Valid Target (shared single identity)

If the DM has reason to rule that the vigilante is a valid target, e.g. because it is a single identity, then there are a few options they might go with.

The current user of the identity

If one of the persons behind the mask is currently using that identity as their own, then scrying should target them. They are currently the vigilante.

Particular Tales

If the caster is basing their target from a particular tale or set of tales, the target would be the person behind the mask in those stories.

Equal Number of Tales

If the caster is basing their target from tales that are equally distributed between the persons behind the mask, randomly select from one.


Who is targeted?

The spell has a target of "Self" so you are targeted.

Who is seen and heard?

You can see and hear a particular creature you choose ...

Particular means "of, relating to, or being a single person or thing". In order to do this you must have enough information to unambiguously identify that "single person or thing"; until you can do that then the spell doesn't allow you to see and hear them.

As a DM you can handle this by asking follow-up questions about precisely who they are thinking of - "The magic is having trouble locking on to a particular individual from your vague description - can you be more specific?" "The one who did [X]." Bingo!

Of course, if [X] never happened (stories are not always factual) you might have to keep drilling down.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I will quibble that a spell's range (in this case, Self) is not always the same as a spell's target(s). See rpg.stackexchange.com/a/72006/42959 and rpg.stackexchange.com/a/81025/42959. I think this is otherwise a good answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    Jan 25, 2019 at 11:32
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The spell explicitly mentions "The target must make a Wisdom saving throw" and goes on to refer to the "target" multiple times. The caster is not the target of the spell, the "particular creature" is the target. \$\endgroup\$
    – G. Moylan
    Jan 25, 2019 at 14:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .