The 6th level Sorcerer/Wizard spell Guards and Wards features a confusion effect, quoted from the text it states:

Confusion Where there are choices in direction—such as a corridor intersection or side passage—a minor confusion-type effect functions so as to make it 50% probable that intruders believe they are going in the opposite direction from the one they actually chose. This is an enchantment, mind-affecting effect. Saving Throw: None. Spell Resistance: Yes. https://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/guardsAndWards.htm

How is this implemented in the actual sense of players at the game table? Does the GM roll whenever the PCs make a choice at a corridor intersection and if the result is that they are confused, he or she states 'you think you are going in the wrong direction.' This seems odd as all this particular aspect of the spell seems to do is prompt a line of GM dialog whenever he is required to test and rolls 50 or under.

I would have thought it would have at least prompted an effect similar to the actual confusion spell where the test is made and if failed the player characters actually physically go in the wrong direction while still believing they are travelling in the direction they chose. But reading the spell description that isn't what's happening at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ For comparison: "When there are choices in direction… a minor confusion-type spell functions so as to make it 50% probable that intruders believe they are going in the exact opposite direction" (Wizard's Spell Compendium 418). This is close enough to the language from the Player's Handbook for AD&D. In other words, this has been happening this way for over 40 years. I think it'd be great to hear how all kinds of players & DMs dealt with this instead of confining this to just 3.5 experiences. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Realistically, what this spell should do is make them go in the opposite direction while believing they went in the correct direction. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevanantBacon Not If the goal is to prevent further intrusion. As written, if the confusion-type effect is successful, affected creatures will likely return to their starting points. Instead of affected creatures picking one way yet actually traveling another, they pick one way then, once they're traveling, they believe they're now traveling a different way from what they picked! That's some serious gaslighting; Gygax was sometimes quite fiendish. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 19:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan As written, if the players encounter any type of intersection, then there's a 50% chance they will believe they went in the wrong direction, prompting them to turn around and try again, which will result in another 50/50. Eventually, they're going to either wise up (or say "screw it") and ignore the feeling of going in the wrong direction altogether, making that aspect of the spell useless after it triggers only a few times. The odds that it will trigger in such a way as to prevent further intrusion is low. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RevanantBacon I'm not sure that an affected creature can wise up sufficiently to opt out of its own beliefs. I mean, if you believe that you're going in the wrong direction, yet you continue going in that wrong direction anyway, then it seems to me that you don't believe it's the wrong direction anymore. (That might be a good thing for an answer to address.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


How is this implemented in the actual sense of players at the game table?

The Dungeon Master simply described the situation, and since there was no map the players had no idea they were going the wrong way.

The original AD&D didn't require the battle maps that are ubiquitous today. So tricking the players into going the wrong way was easier. When I played 1st edition in the mid 80's to early 90's, we never used a battle mat and we always had a player's who job was mapping what we found. So, if the mapper was doing their job correctly, we would catch instances where the map doesn't make sense.

I've included the section in the DMG on minis and the PHB with a nearly identical description for the spell.

My December 1979 copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide, a section starting on page 10 describe their use:

The special figures cast for ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS add color to play and make refereeing far easier ...
Such distinctively painted figures enable you to immediately recognize each individual involved ...
Furthermore, players are more readily able to visualize their array and plan actions while seeing the reason for your restrictions on their actions.
Monster figures are likewise most helpful, as many things become instantly apparent when a party is arrayed and their monster opponent(s) placed.

My January 1980 copy of the 1st edition of the Players Handbook has rules for the guards and ward spell on page 84:

  1. Where there are choices in direction - such as a cross or side passage - a minor confusion-type spell functions so as to make it 50% probable that intruders will believe they are going in the exact opposite direction.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've marked this answer correct because it seems apparent to me they'll never be an answer that satisfies this question in the context of 3.5 or even in a general direction finding via ongoing mapping sense. For example 'You reach a T junction', mapping player responds 'We go left', 'You think you're going in the wrong direction'. Everyone looks at the DM with blank stares. Perhaps it means to impose in a general role playing sense that the characters believe they are going in the wrong direction therefore act appropriately as your characters would with that knowledge. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2023 at 8:27

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