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The D&D 5e spell Commune is a Cleric spell that contacts the Cleric's chosen divine proxy and asks them three 'yes or no' questions. It is a ritual spell, so a Warlock with Book of Shadows or anyone with the Ritual Caster feat really can learn and cast the spell.

Let's say an atheist wizard uses the Ritual Caster feat to learn Commune (gaining Ritual Caster does not require belief in any pantheon) and then casts it (which can be done through an arcane focus). Who would she encounter? (If it helps, the Wizard belongs to the School of Divination.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related (in a way): "Can Clerics have divine power without it being provided by a god?" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Sep 8 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Two questions: 1) In a world where gods exist, the evidence would point that way and it would be difficult to be an atheist. Do you mean someone that doesn't have any place for the god(s) in their life? Or is perhaps antagonistic towards them? 2) Why would an atheist wizard cast Commune? Just to see what would happen? I wouldn't expect an atheist in real life to pray. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Sep 8 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o 1) It's more said character knows that the gods aren't all powerful and thus considers them to be charlatans and fakers, and hates them. 2) Because Commune achieves tangible results \$\endgroup\$ – Halfthawed Sep 8 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Halfthawed Thanks for the replies! If he hates them, why ask them for help? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Sep 9 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o Kind of the point of this question is to see if he can cast this without calling to them for help. \$\endgroup\$ – Halfthawed Sep 9 at 1:10
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Let the GM decide exactly how the message manifests

The commune spell simply states:

You contact your deity or a divine proxy and ask up to three questions that can be answered with a yes or no...

There isn't any further description, so the GM could decide any sort of divine proxy they wanted.
Personally, I would say that whenever the text refers to "your god" or similar, it can simply mean "the thing that gives you magic" for a Warlock this would be their patron, for a Wizard it would be their studies (specifically their school of study).

As user @guildsbounty points out, you could have the spell contact Mystra, the goddess of magic and the Weave (if you're in a Forgotten Realms campaign setting).
Or as user @ZwiQ points out, you could have the spell contact Savras, the deity of divination.
As user @Ryan Thompson points out, you could also have the spell contact whatever deity was worshipped by the person who wrote the scroll originally.

There is also support for "your god" not needing to be an actual god; the section on "Serving a Pantheon, Philosophy, or Force" from Xanathar's Guide to Everything states:

In certain campaigns, a cleric might instead serve a cosmic force, such as life or death, or a philosophy or concept, such as love, peace, or one of the nine alignments...

The cleric's class features often refer to your deity. If you are devoted to a pantheon, cosmic force, or philosophy, your cleric features still work for you as written. Think of the references to a god as references to the divine thing you serve that gives you your magic.

Technically this quote only applies to Clerics, but as far as I can find, it's all we have from the rules for even a similar scenario. Overall, the GM could say the Wizard "worships" knowledge, or magic, or Divination specifically, and could have a god of one of those things contact the Wizard. I would say that since Love and similar things can be contacted through commune, Divination can be contacted as well; how this actually happens is up to the GM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's definitely helpful, but then what would a Divination Wizard encounter? I want it to be something of substance. \$\endgroup\$ – Halfthawed Sep 8 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, the spell says it contacts "your deity or a divine proxy", which already gives the DM a lot of latitude in term of who picks up the phone. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Sep 8 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps it is also worth nothing that "I don't worship any god" is rare in The Realms--and in most other D&D settings. Even Eberron, with the uncertainty of the divine, most people still worship a deity (or pantheon). So "your deity" might simply be taken to mean "the one you worship" rather than "the one that granted you power." In the Realms, which god you worship determines your afterlife...and afterlife is verifiable fact (as is what happens to atheists in The Realms: your soul being fused into the Wall of the Faithless instead of having an actual afterlife.). So...most people pick one. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Sep 8 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wouldn't be so far-fetched to have the School of Divination's "divine proxy" be something like a crystal ball(or similar object) giving the answers as part of a vision... Maybe just make the object part of the casting ritual and have it give answers in the form of images? \$\endgroup\$ – s1ns3nt Sep 9 at 16:11
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Given your comments on what atheism means in this context...

The wizard chooses a deity or proxy when casting the spell, or else it fails.

The entire effect of the spell is to communicate with a deity, and that's what it does. The wizard would either have to decide which deity he hates least at the moment, or is welcome to choose "none," in which case that's who answers, no one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you think the Wizard has the option of choosing at all? I see no sort of choosing aspect in the spell's description \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Sep 8 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Using the default assumptions, "your deity" is a pretty fluid thing for most people all of the time, thus, choice. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Sep 8 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ This would also be a quite cool roleplaying opportunity. "Who do you think you are that you dare to contact me?" :-) \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Sep 9 at 9:18

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