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If a character wanted to discreetly "record" a conversation as evidence to provide to a judge how could they do this without the other party knowing?

Ideally this would only involve RAW D&D 5th Edition spells/enchantments/feats/skills/ etc...

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    \$\begingroup\$ To keep this question in-scope for the site, I think it would be better to instead limit answers to anything Rules-as-written permitted, with the obvious caveat that "this isn't possible" would ultimately be a valid answer in that context. Opening it up to Homebrew risks turning this into an Overly-Opinion-based question, which tend to attract a lot of low-quality responses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Dec 20, 2019 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does something like a perfect recollection and a zone of truth count for you? I'm asking here since it seems iffy at best \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2019 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The suggestions I've seen so far are good, but all rely on the judge accepting a particular person as being very truthful, reliable, and accurate, and with a person already trusted to that degree additional elements of their recounting don't provide much additional information. When you say "recording", do you just mean accurate, or do you mean an objective record of what was said? \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Dec 20, 2019 at 20:52

3 Answers 3

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A few options, but it would not be as direct as a tape recorder method:

Keen Mind (feat)

You can accurately recall anything you have seen or heard within the past month

The issue with this one, is you still have to convince whoever you're talking to that you can do this. Whether that is persuasion checks or attempting to use a spell like Zone of Truth .

Programmed Illusion (Basic Rules, pg. 269)

6th level illusion

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 120 feet

Components: V S M (A bit of fleece and jade dust worth at least 25 gp)

Duration: Until dispelled

Classes: Bard, Wizard

You create an illusion of an object, a creature, or some other visible phenomenon within range that activates when a specific condition occurs. The illusion is imperceptible until then. It must be no larger than a 30-foot cube, and you decide when you cast the spell how the illusion behaves and what sounds it makes. This scripted performance can last up to 5 minutes.

When the condition you specify occurs, the illusion springs into existence and performs in the manner you described. Once the illusion finishes performing, it disappears and remains dormant for 10 minutes. After this time, the illusion can be activated again. The triggering condition can be as general or as detailed as you like, though it must be based on visual or audible conditions that occur within 30 feet of the area. For example, you could create an illusion of yourself to appear and warn off others who attempt to open a trapped door, or you could set the illusion to trigger only when a creature says the correct word or phrase.

Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it. A creature that uses its action to examine the image can determine that it is an illusion with a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC. If a creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the creature can see through the image, and any noise it makes sounds hollow to the creature.

You could use it to play an illusion of the person with the words they are saying, and use your Keen Mind to perfectly recall exactly what they said. Convincing the listener/judge what you are saying is totally accurate is the biggest issue with this method.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I understand how the programmed illusion can do this. It doesn't seem like it's programmed anymore if it's being updated in realtime. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Dec 20, 2019 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Convincing who you're talking to could be greatly helped by a zone of truth \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2019 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am liking the Keen Mind/Zone of Truth option. RAW and light-weight. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2019 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Updated because there were concerns about being out of scope. @J.Wagner I found it, thanks for the reference \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2019 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ May also be good to highlight that the programmed illusion has a max of 5 minutes. THat may be problematic. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Dec 20, 2019 at 19:50
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In D&D, there's not a great way to record a conversation -- but there doesn't need to be, because there are several excellent ways to detect lies.

Write down the conversation after it happens. Perhaps you can use the Keen Mind feat to make sure you recall it accurately; perhaps you have a servant (a hireling or an unseen servant) listening and transcribing.

When you go to see a judge, the judge will have a zone of truth or detect thoughts spell. Walk into the zone of truth, fail your save, and say: "this transcript of the conversation is completely accurate and leaves nothing out, and this isn't a trick or deception in any way."

If high-level magic is involved, the judge might cast remove curse on you before you do this, to make sure you haven't tampered with your memories using modify memory.

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The Encode Thoughts cantrip.

The Encode Thoughts cantrip from Guildmaser’s Guide to Ravnica allows you to “pull a memory, an idea, or a message from your mind and transform it into a tangible string of glowing energy called a thought strand”. These thought strands last for up to 8 hours, and can have their contents read by others casting the same cantrip or the Detect Thoughts spell on them.

This makes their usage as a recording device fairly straight forward: you simply witness the event in question, then encode the memory on a thought strand immediately afterward. Then, every eight hours, you cast the spell on the strand to refresh your memory of its contents before casting the spell again to create another copy of it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact that you can cast this to store any thought, not just a memory, means that there's nothing stopping you from "faking" a memory of someone saying something they never said, which makes using this as evidence challenging without support from something like Zone of Truth. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2019 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ This also assumes memories are accurate, which is false \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2019 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson I think you'd be able to tell whether it was encoding a thought or memory when you read it, because the two items are listed separately. The memories might or might not be accurate, but I think they'd know that it's a genuine memory you possess. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Dec 21, 2019 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ But this should also work with Keen Mind and Zone of Truth as in the other answer, wouldn't it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Pahlavan
    Dec 21, 2019 at 14:10

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