Pathfinder makes it very clear that

Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.

Is this the same for D&D 5th Edition? In the PHB, no such statement is made.

Situations that come to mind:

  • Someone uses Suggestion to suggest a course of action. Can they tell whether or not the target actually resisted its save unless they watch them fulfill the suggestion (or not)?
  • Someone casts Cone of Cold. Can they tell the difference between the monsters resisting cold, the monsters making their save, or both applying?

2 Answers 2


RAW, no. It's not quite true to just say it's up to DM discretion - everything is, of course, but since the rules don't say that you get spell-save ESP, then by default you don't.

Also, by historical analogy to the earlier games 5e is more like (especially AD&D 1e/2e), no. The approach to spells in those was very cut and dried, they do what they do and no more, so no extraneous "tingles" or meta-knowledge or whatever. This was part of the default "Combat As War" metaphor that has largely shifted to "Combat As Sport" in later editions.

As a result doing things like faking being affected by a spell etc. were definitely a thing in AD&D and can add some entertainment and tactics besides "make your roll" to your 5e game as well.

Of course, a GM can decide that magic works however they want in their world, and take the more 3.X'ey tack that "you just know."

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford confirms this answer here on Twitter: "A spellcaster doesn't automatically know whether a spell's target succeeded on a saving throw against the spell, but with most spells, the effects are perceivable on the target." But adds: "If you're concentrating on a spell, you know when that spell ends, whether you end your concentration willingly, your concentration is broken, or the spell ends in some other way." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 21:33

This is left completely to DM discretion.

The rules do not define when or if a creature in the fiction knows whether or not a save was succeeded. As such, it is up to the DM to determine whether a creature knows when it's relevant.

Normally it's pretty obvious whether or not a spell worked, but when it's not (say a mind control spell where the creature might have reason to pretend to be compliant), it's up to the DM to determine whether or not the creature knows if their spell failed or worked.

The caveat here is that if the spell explicitly specifies that you know the result of the save then it's known. Zone of Truth is one such spell.


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