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Suppose I cast Zone of Truth on Bob and he fails his saving throw. I tell Bob to tell me "I will spend my entire life moving to the closest rock, picking it up, throwing it, and repeating the sequence of events that I just mentioned in this sentence. I will not do anything other than the things I have mentioned while being under the influence of this current zone of truth". Suppose Bob fulfills my request. Would he be forced to become an endless rock-throwing machine?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is not clear to me why this should happen... \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jan 25 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since he truthfully said under the zone of truth that he would do this(that is the assumption here) and that has therefore become the truth. If he were not to throw rocks anymore, his original quote would be false and couldn't have been said under the zone of truth. Therefore breaking logic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ralph
    Jan 25 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not how it works. That's not how any of that works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 25 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a really odd reading of 'truth' \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 25 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even assuming the spell worked this way (which I don't believe it does) why would anyone comply with this request? Is this the actual problem you're trying to solve, asking someone to throw rocks until they die of thirst a few days later? \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Jan 25 at 22:38

3 Answers 3

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Unless Bob already intends to do what you say, zone of truth prevents him from saying it.

Zone of Truth states:

a creature can't speak a deliberate lie while in the radius.

So unless Bob intends to do the thing you told him to say, zone of truth actually prevents him from saying it at all, because doing so would be lying.

The idea here is that zone of truth does nothing but prevent Bob from lying. It doesn’t change how he thinks or feels, or his disposition toward you. It doesn’t force compliance with anything you say. It just makes it so that a lie cannot come out of his mouth.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This to me seems to be implying that if he did say it (under the zone of truth), he would be beholden to his statement. So he would become an endless rock throwing machine. Did I understand that right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ralph
    Jan 25 at 21:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ralph No, the zone would prohibit it unless he had planned it before you cast the spell or even met him \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 25 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ralph Even if he did say it while in the Zone of Truth, that would only confirm that at that time he intends to become an endless rock throwing machine. Nothing prevents him from changing his mind later. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 25 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am also not sure that repeating a statement can be a lie, you are just following an instruction with no intent of truth or otherwise. This spell is about asking questions and getting answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 26 at 7:37
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No, for several reasons

First, Zone of Truth does not compel any action. It simply prohibits lying. If Bob didn't intend think he would do that, he wouldn't be able to say it.

Second, even if he did think he would do that an therefore be able to say it, he isn't compeled to answer. He could simply not say anything

Third, Even if he did believe it, and did say it, the spell doesn't prevent the answer from changing. He might fully intend to do exactly that when answering, but after a couple throws, he might realize he's definitely not going to do that.

Fourth, Spells only do what they say they do. This spell doesn't say it works as infinite duration Suggestion.

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It does not work at all.

Zone of truth denies the targets that failed the saving throw to tell lies.

Even if you manage to make a target say what you wrote, there are two cases:

  • the target is not wanting to do what you make them say: as this answer points out, they cannot say a deliberate lie.

  • the target knows how Zone of Truth works: he tells the phrase requested, emphatizing while being under the influence of this current Zone of Truth and truly intending to do so. You know they are telling the truth. Then, they walk towards the closest rock, out of the AoE of the spell, and then do whatever they want, since outside the spell's AoE any effect is no more active.

Nothing in the spell forces the targets to adopt a particular course of action, apart denying to tell a lie while in the radius.

If you want to compel a creature in performing a particular task, there are dedicated spells, such as Suggestion, Geas and the like.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The while being under the influence of this current Zone of Truth was supposed to remove ambiguity by making clearer about which events he had to reproduce. I slightly changed the wording to better represent my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ralph
    Jan 25 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ralph Zone of Truth prevents people from telling you things they know to be untrue. If you put a single blue rock in a sack behind your back, tell Bob the sack contains a single red rock, and ask him what color rock it contains, Bob can tell you it contains a red rock. If you then show him the blue rock in the sack, he can tell you it contains a blue rock but not that it contains a red rock. Bob can truthfully tell you he will be an endless rock-throwing machine and then instantly change his mind and truthfully tell you he will not be an endless rock-throwing machine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 25 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ralph I rolled back to the previous version, since changing the body of the phrase does not even solves what you desire to do. Nonetheless, there is no ambiguity: as soon as the target exits the AoE, whatever spell effect vanishes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jan 25 at 21:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ralph The spell is not an Oath Rod. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Jan 25 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ralph The spell does not force you to do what you said while you were in the AoE, is not a compelling spell. If I say "I will throw a rock for 10 times after exiting this Zone of Truth" and I truly want to do so, but as soon as I step away from the AoE I change my mind then Zone of Truth does not force me to keep my word. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jan 26 at 7:00

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