My Queen walks into a room full of bodies. One survivor, a small noble she's never met before, tells her a story about what happened to the prisoners she expected to find here. Fortunately, she's a skilled Diviner. Is there a spell other than Speak with Dead she could use to figure out what happened in this room in the last, say, 10 minutes?

If not, the correct answer is obviously "no", but if you happen to be aware of a feature - for player characters or monsters - that does something comparable, please let me know.

In this case I'm the DM and the Queen is a DMPC. I am aware that I could easily make something up myself, so only answers on official, published content please.


3 Answers 3


Partial success can be had with spells

If you just want to find out what happened, you might be able to obtain that information through some 5th-level spells: commune or contact other plane. Both ask otherworldly entities and receive short answers (yes/no or one word, respectively). If you have suspicions, you might be able to confirm them ('Did this noble take part in killing any of these people?') and possibly even get a clear idea of what happened. With nothing to go on, these will be less useful.

Exact match

The 17th-level Knowledge Domain cleric feature Visions of the Past (PHB 60), particularly its Area Reading option, provides this exact ability; in fact, it is more powerful than what you need here. It says, in part:

As you meditate, you see visions of recent events in your immediate vicinity (a room, street, tunnel, clearing, or the like, up to a 50-foot cube), going back a number of days equal to your Wisdom score.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Cool, that's it. I thought I remembered reading something like that, but couln't find it anymore. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – ammut
    Mar 18, 2020 at 12:54

Aside from the Knowledge Domain feature for clerics discussed in Szega’s answer, the simplest and lowest level solution might be just to prevent the noble from lying by casting zone of truth (though this would require some assistance if she’s a specialist Diviner, since it’s not on the Wizard spell list).

If you, the Queen character and your players are okay with psychic magic, she could also look into the noble’s memories using detect thoughts (if you can trick them into thinking about it).

A possible higher level solution is modify memory (level 5), which can:

allow the target to recall the event with perfect clarity and exacting detail

It’s not entirely clear if the target is forced to reveal the memory being so modified, but it seems so.

The main downside to all of these methods is that they afford the target a saving throw.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have taken a broad definition of “divine what happened here”, but detect thoughts is indeed a divination spell so hopefully fits the bill if the other solutions are too left of field. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20, 2020 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've come to the conclusion that Zone of truth is best used as a tool to ensure you can trust people, rather than to extract the truth from unwilling creatures. But seeing as the noble in this situation is probably interested in earning her trust, that could work. But in the case of Modify Memory, I would probably rule that you don't magically get to see the memory you want to enhance. Anyway, thanks. +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – ammut
    Mar 21, 2020 at 9:20

Pathfinder has the spell Blood Biography which is a 2nd or third level spell depending on your class. The spell is cast on blood of someone living or dead and answers:

  • Who are you? (The name by which the creature is most commonly known)
  • What are you? (Gender, race, profession/role)
  • How was your blood shed? (Brief outline of the events that caused its wound, to the best of the victim’s knowledge)
  • When was your blood shed?

Using this spell in 5e would probably be preferable to making something up as it is a well play tested spell that is likely to be appropriately leveled and not have unintended consequences. It did completely ruin a murder mystery plot of one of our campaigns where the killer was hiding the murders and removing the bodies. What was supposed to be a multi session mystery was unraveled in seconds.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a cool spell, but probably would have been better as a comment. Sorry about the downvotes :( \$\endgroup\$
    – ammut
    Mar 21, 2020 at 9:06

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