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My players recently decided that they would like to cast the scrying spell on a creature that has the Legendary Resistance trait.

Does the Legendary Resistance trait function outside of combat?

My major concern is that the creature wouldn't necessarily know it was being scryed on in order to use the resistance to avoid it. In combat, a creature could see a (for example) fireball coming and decide to avoid it, but with no indicator at all that a spell was targeting the creature, it is less clear to me.

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Legendary Resistance can be used against any saving throw, at the DM's discretion.

RAW, there is nothing to prevent the creature, such as an adult red dragon (MM, pg. 98), from using legendary resistance against a scrying spell. Everything we need to know about legendary resistance is contained in its description:

Legendary Resistance (3/day). If the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

The only condition for using it is stated: "if the dragon fails a saving throw". Since scrying triggers a saving throw, the dragon first can make the saving throw; on a failure, the dragon can use legendary resistance.

This answer gives a good perspective on legendary resistance that may help realign your perspective of the feature:

Legendary Resistance is a DM tool, not an ability that a monster chooses to use.

I think it's best to treat Legendary Resistance as a game-mechanical way for the DM to make a climactic battle entertaining. A monster with Legendary Resistance doesn't choose whether to use it or not; the DM chooses whether having the monster make a saving throw will make the battle more entertaining or not. It's (presumably) available so that epic monsters that are typically fought solo aren't quickly overcome by a couple of effects that require saving throws.

Ultimately, it is up to the DM to use it or not, but the DM would be entirely within RAW to use it against scrying. Personally, the party scrying on a big bad is a treasure trove of plot development material, so I would be inclined to allow it to push the plot forward.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Personally, the party scrying on a big bad is a treasure trove of plot development material, so I would be inclined to allow it to push the plot forward." Though sometimes difficulty with the scrying can result in in plot hooks too, if it causes the party to seek out how to overcome whatever is foiling their attempts. See Vaarsuvius’s story in the Don’t Split the Party arc of Order of the Stick for a particularly frightening example. \$\endgroup\$ – shhalahr Sep 22 at 14:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer - I'll accept it unless something else amazing comes in. In my case, I was looking to see if I had handled a situation that happened last weekend correctly. I chose to let them successfully scry - and discovering that their foe was an elder brain was certainly the correct plot-development choice, if on shaky grounds, mechanically. \$\endgroup\$ – Tal Sep 22 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tal I'd like to note that legendary resistance says the dragon can choose to succeed, but doesn't have to, so you're ruling was 100% consistent with RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 22 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Though sometimes difficulty with the scrying can result in in plot hooks too" - Or can be a good pre-fight strategy for the party, if they're inclined to metagame. Burn their three legendary resistances from safely afar, then move in for the kill. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Sep 23 at 6:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ As described in my answer, I called it a perspective. Not rules, just a perspective. My answer is backed up by experience - experience that seems to have been quite well received, both on this answer and the one I quote. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 23 at 9:46

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