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Say that an NPC capable of casting the Divination spell has a hostage, and has promised to execute said hostage unless the PCs complete a specific task for them. Would it be valid for the NPC to cast the Divination spell at the end of each day in order to check that the PCs are still planning to uphold their end of the bargain?

I'd word the Divination question as follows:

"Do {the PCs} still plan to uphold our bargain, without attempting some kind of treachery or rescue of their friend?"

Here's the spell wording for reference:

Your magic and an offering put you in contact with a god or a god's servants. You ask a single question concerning a specific goal, event or activity to occur within 7 days. The DM offers a truthful reply. The reply might be a short phrase, a cryptic rhyme, or an omen.

The spell doesn't take into account any possible circumstances that might change the outcome, such as the casting of additional spells or the loss or gain of a companion.

Would the spell have the desired effect?

Thoughts:

  • It seems that the 'planning to uphold the bargain' could fit the bill of 'a specific goal, event or activity', but it's not clear cut.
  • It's unclear whether 'within 7 days' means 'the next 7 days' or whether it applies to the past 7 days as well.
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If the NPC phrases the question right, this should work. It requires that the players are honest with you when you ask them what they are planning. But if the players lie about these things to the GM, that's a problem that goes beyond the game rules.

As by the rules, this would be a valid question for an NPC to ask and he would get a proper answer to that. It's the same way as it would be if the players cast divination and ask if the NPC plans to betray them.

Regarding duration, it says "to occur within 7 days", which I think clearly references to the future and not the past.

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