19
\$\begingroup\$

This question was originally part of How does Augury work exactly?, but moved here to clean up.


The Augury spell says:

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.

What does the "30 minutes" exactly apply to?

  • Initiating the course of action;
  • Completing the course of action;
  • The result.

Examples

Imagine the party are about to sign a contract which gives them an immediate advantage.

NPC: "Yes, of course you can have this artifact! Since the Great Wizard passed away, the Staff of the Magi has just been sitting here. None of us known how to handle it. Better you put it to good use. Just sign here, and it's yours to keep."

The offer sounds too good to be true. What's the catch? To find out if there is any, the Cleric casts Augury with the stated course of action to sign the contract on the spot.

  1. If they'd sign the contract and immediately get the staff, and there would be no negative effects, then the answer would abviously be "Weal".
  2. What if the contract needs to be signed in blood by means of some magical ritual that takes longer than 30 minutes? The course of action is started immediately but not completed in time. Would the answer be "Weal" or "Nothing"?
  3. Assuming the contract is signed immediately - what if the staff is locked up in a safe place, and it will take until the next morning before it can be delivered? The good result will not be there until after the 30 minute limit. Would the answer be "Weal" or "Nothing"?
  4. Let's say there is some fine print in the contract, stating the signatories sell their soul into slavery of Asmodeus after death. Assuming the staff is given within 30 minutes, the good stuff happens within the time limit, the bad stuff does not. Would the answer be "Weal" or "Weal and woe"?

In our group, we've ruled that the 30 minutes only applies to initiating the course of action, no matter when the results come. I would give "Weal and woe" in that last case, the Augury would provide protection against the fine print.

In answers I am looking for your experience how to best handle this spell in practice.

\$\endgroup\$
18
\$\begingroup\$

The rules state "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.".

'Taking' a course of action is not necessarily 'completing' a course of action, so the 'results' could be well beyond the 30 minute limit. Augury would certainly be worthwhile for say, contracts that last beyond 30 minutes (most do).

In regard to your examples:

  1. Correct
  2. Weal (since your decision to sign the contract will be made within 30 minutes)
  3. Weal (same reason)
  4. Weal and Woe (same reason)

fwiw: players should really only expect a reasonable response from the DM (based on his knowledge and expectations). It doesn't have to be spot on: just a best guess. But limiting it to repercussions that are only 30 minutes away could cause your players to think that you tricked them.

In practice, my players have mostly used this when presented with a 'fork in the road' situation (and the 'road' has almost always been longer than 30 minutes). They usually just want to keep the adventure on track and not be tricked. As a DM I am typically grateful for the opportunity it affords me to keep the fun flowing.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

It seems like the timing refers to the course of action.

The omen depends on the results:

...you receive an omen from an otherworldly entity about the results...

But the action is limited to something you will do in the next 30 minutes:

...of a specific course of action that you plan to take within the next 30 minutes.

So, in your example, signing the contract in the next 30 minutes would be the course of action you take. The omen would then tell you about the result of that course of action.

The description of the spell does not distinguish between immediate results, and eventual results.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

Rules As Written, the spell is ambiguous and there is no correct answer.

The dependant clause "within the next 30 minutes" might apply to initiating the action or to the result of the action. There's no way to tell.

If you allow the spell to return results outside the 30 minute window, you can break the spell.

Instead of "...what if I do X thing tomorrow?" you could instead ask the spell "...what if right now I sign a contract binding myself to do X thing tomorrow?". At that point the 30 minute restriction is irrelevant and you have rules-lawyered your way to a much more powerful spell than was probably intended.

Of course this leads to more confusion: if someone signs their soul away with a contract, is that a bad thing that happens now or a bad thing that happens later? In my games, I resolve the issue like this: I interpret augury as asking, "...if I do X thing, then thirty minutes from now, will I be happy or sad that I did X thing?" In other words, only consequences that the character finds out about within 30 minutes can count as weal or woe. That seems to work pretty well.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The version of Augury from 3.5 explicitly states "The augury can see into the future only about half an hour, so anything that might happen after that does not affect the result. Thus, the result might not take into account the long-term consequences of a contemplated action." Of course, this could either be taken as evidence that the intended effect has a 30 minute limit, or argued that the removal of the explicit clarification between versions indicates the restriction is no longer in effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Jun 8 '17 at 22:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.