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The last section of the divination spell reads:

If you cast the spell two or more times before finishing your next long rest, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting after the first that you get a random reading. The GM makes this roll in secret.

I'm uncertain what this means, specifically what the random reading part means.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 7 at 23:42
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It's a DM call, but Augury can serve as an example

The Augury spell contains the same "random reading" text:

If you cast the spell two or more times before completing your next long rest, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting after the first that you get a random reading. The DM makes this roll in secret.

In Augury's case, the intent seems more clear-cut: there are four possible results, so if a random reading occurs, a DM will likely roll randomly for one of the four options:

  1. Weal, for good results
  2. Woe, for bad results
  3. Weal and woe, for both good and bad results
  4. Nothing, for results that aren't especially good or bad

However, Divination (despite using the same text) does not have a finite list of results. As a DM, I personally might still use Augury's results as an example (and roll a d4, describing results similar to the above). Or I might roll a d20 and make up results: higher=better for PC's, lower=worse for PC's (I use this method for a lot of things). Or you could just use whatever short phrase, cryptic rhyme, or omen comes to mind (making this even easier to DM than a normal Divination result).

For completeness (i.e. you didn't ask for it, but others might like to know), "cumulative 25 percent chance for each casting after the first" means:

  1. First casting: 0% chance of random reading
  2. Second casting: 25% chance of random reading
  3. Third casting: 50% chance of random reading
  4. Fourth casting: 75% chance of random reading
  5. Fifth+ casting: 100% chance of random reading
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Since OP's question is specifically about what "random reading" means in the spell (not the percentage thereof necessarily), I'd suggest emphasizing that portion of your answer, and pointing to the part of the spell the "random reading" references: "You ask a single question concerning a specific goal, event, or activity to occur within 7 days. The GM offers a truthful reply. The reply might be a short phrase, a cryptic rhyme, or an omen." In short, it's a "random" response to the question, presumably in the same format as a regular/real response to the question (short phrase, rhyme, or omen). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 8 at 6:31
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It means that the first time I cast the spell I get a correct reading pertaining to the question I asked.

However if I cast it again there is now a %25 chance (Usually determined by rolling a d4) that the answer I get has nothing to do with the question I asked, could be something partially related or completed unrelated.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to also give an example for casting a second time, to better cover the "culmulative chance" which may easily confuse readers (not necessarily the asker, but future readers) (here's a Q&A on that). \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 7 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, Welcome to RPG.SE to you too! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 7 at 23:44

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