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Today as a DM I ran into my first player casting the augury spell.

By casting gem-inlaid sticks, rolling dragon bones, laying out ornate cards, or employing some other divining tool, you receive an omen from an otherworldly entity about the results of a specific course of action that you plan to take within the next 30 minutes. The DM chooses from the following possible omens:

  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

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.

The player asked if the best course of action was to camp in a proposed location, as opposed to pushing on for a few hours. Camping would allow them a safe night, the road would have led to a semi-dangerous encounter.

Normally that would be weal, because avoiding the encounter is good!

However, in avoiding that encounter, they missed the opportunity to rescue a group of people, and since I had written the outcome of that encounter to depend on the party, those people died off camera.

I haven't had time yet to get to know the character and their motivations, but they are neutral good, so I assumed that having people die through inaction would be a bad result for them. I therefore went for option 3: Weal and woe.

Question: Does the spell take this kind of thing into account? Is maybe feeling bad a negative result?

If it helps: I plan to show this to the party because they will pass the scene, so the player will hopefully understand why I said what I did.

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Augury accounts for things that are “good” and “bad”

From the PC’s point of view, of course. The PC being eaten by a dragon is bad for the PC but presumably good for the dragon.

It s also in the context of taking the particular course of action. In a sense therefore, “good” actually means “better” for taking the action and “bad” means “worse”.

So, by taking the action they avoid a dangerous encounter and get to rest - that’s good.

They also lose the opportunity to save some people. That’s ... well, it depends on the PC’s attitude. If the PC would want to save them then not being able to is bad. If they would want them to die then them dying is good. If they don’t care then it’s neither.

The default assumption of D&D is that the PCs are heroes not villains so, in most circumstances, the people dying would be bad. For a neutral good cleric, even without any further information, I’d be willing to guess that they would want to save the people if they could.

Weal and woe is the right call.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Weal and woe seems like the right choice – at least if they will probably succeed in the encounter. Also, I don't remember who and where, but someone interpreted the spell as a tool of comunication between the players (specifically not the PCs) and the DM. Basically players ask "Hey, does this make sense? Is this a good idea?" and the DM answers "Yup/Hell no/Well, depends/Meh". \$\endgroup\$ – J.E Jun 4 at 5:29

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