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D&D 5E Can a caster tell if someone saved or not against their spell?

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Is there a definitive rule if a caster knows if a target succeeded on a save or not?

The example that came up is someone (a bard) cast Charm Person, which has no visible effect when cast. The target (an enchanter wizard who also has the spell) identified the spell as it was being cast, saved, and acted friendly.

Outside of other checks (deception vs. insight, etc.) is there any inherent knowledge by the caster if the spell save was successful or not in the rules? There was in some earlier editions, but 5e is it's own definition.

Another example could be several targets in fireball, and one takes half damage thanks to fire resistance, not a successful save. Outside other checks, would the caster inherently know that target had failed their save?
 

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jgsugden

Legend
Something does not happen under the RAW unless the RAW says it does.

From the PHB - you do not know that a spellwas cast upon you unless there is a perceivable effect:
Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature's thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.

As saving throws are involuntary, not perceptible saving throws, such as charms, may go undetected. Verbal or somatic components might be noticed, of course.

Also, the Spellcaster does not know if the target saved or not, unless there is a perceptible ramification:
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. #DnD

To specifically address your fireball example - usually players ask which monsters look most wounded. That will often indirectly indicate which ones saved.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
@jgsugden has the principle correct--and I agree with it--but at least sometimes there are practical reasons the people around the table know which enemies have saved and which haven't. I mark them on the battlemat (soda bottle rings work well for this).
 


Mort

Legend
Is there a definitive rule if a caster knows if a target succeeded on a save or not?

The example that came up is someone (a bard) cast Charm Person, which has no visible effect when cast. The target (an enchanter wizard who also has the spell) identified the spell as it was being cast, saved, and acted friendly.

Outside of other checks (deception vs. insight, etc.) is there any inherent knowledge by the caster if the spell save was successful or not in the rules? There was in some earlier editions, but 5e is it's own definition.

Another example could be several targets in fireball, and one takes half damage thanks to fire resistance, not a successful save. Outside other checks, would the caster inherently know that target had failed their save?
Unless the spell expressly says so (e.g. Zone of Truth), then no, not definitively. But a DM should definitely give an indication depending on circumstances (fireball to the face vs. rolling mostly out of the way, for example).

Charm effects are interesting, the target may or may not know they were targeted, but if they do (say they understood the somatic components) and made their save, they could certainly act charmed (possibly triggering an opposed deception-insight check), the caster doesn't necessarily know the spell was successful.
 



Mort

Legend
Right. I can see no upside to Jeremy's ruling.
Well it can lead to some interesting stations.

Players are trying to break someone out of jail. They charm the guard into showing them where the prisoner is located and then to help letting him out.

Guard makes his save vs charm person - but thinks quickly. He leads them to a door, opens it and goes "through there!" Players go through the (cell) door and guard promptly locks them in. I've seen this scenario play out - you'd think the players would ask some questions, be a lot more suspicious - but often, nope.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I can imagine scenarios involving charms outside of combat, but they're rather specific.
Well it can lead to some interesting stations.

Players are trying to break someone out of jail. They charm the guard into showing them where the prisoner is located and then to help letting him out.

Guard makes his save vs charm person - but thinks quickly. He leads them to a door, opens it and goes "through there!" Players go through the (cell) door and guard promptly locks them in. I've seen this scenario play out - you'd think the players would ask some questions, be a lot more suspicious - but often, nope.
I don't think the off chance of this situation arising is worth hiding saves behind a screen. I roll in the open.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
One of my favorite gaming memories relied on people not knowing when a spell is cast on them. The wizard in the group told the shifty rogue in the group that he was <waves hands> now invisible (and had convinced the rest of the party to go along with it) and then sent him into a room full of bugbears by himself.

Rogue: I can still see myself.
Wizard: Invisible people can always see themselves or else it would be hard to get around and do stuff.
Rogue creeps into room. . . suddenly there is yelling! (except out in the hall, where everyone was laughing. The rogue's player laughed too - since he knew he deserved it).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Charm Person has a 30 ft range and requires both verbal and somatic components. If someone is standing in front of you uttering gibberish and waving their arms about...there’s a good chance you know they’re casting a spell. Unless they have metamagic and cast it as a Subtle Spell. Maybe an arcana check to know if it’s real magic or they’re just goofing around. But yeah, if you can see and/or hear the caster, you’d know they’re casting. You wouldn't know who the target is necessarily and you wouldn't know the spell...unless you made an arcana check.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I don't think the off chance of this situation arising is worth hiding saves behind a screen. I roll in the open.

I swear I am not trying to start another "roll in the open" vs. "behind a screen" debate - but am curious how you handle other rolls that may require secrecy. For example, the PCs are pretty sure an ambush lies ahead of them, so they try to approach stealthily. They might not know if they were heard until the attack comes (or something else). Do you try to keep the players from knowing or do you count on them to play their characters as if ignorant one way or another or something else?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I swear I am not trying to start another "roll in the open" vs. "behind a screen" debate - but am curious how you handle other rolls that may require secrecy. For example, the PCs are pretty sure an ambush lies ahead of them, so they try to approach stealthily. They might not know if they were heard until the attack comes (or something else). Do you try to keep the players from knowing or do you count on them to play their characters as if ignorant one way or another or something else?
You make the roll when you would otherwise need to reveal the outcome. You don’t need to resolve the “were they quiet” question until the first round of combat, generally.

In the old days it was “roll in the middle”, meaning roll when the thief is halfway up the wall or halfway through the tower.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I swear I am not trying to start another "roll in the open" vs. "behind a screen" debate - but am curious how you handle other rolls that may require secrecy. For example, the PCs are pretty sure an ambush lies ahead of them, so they try to approach stealthily. They might not know if they were heard until the attack comes (or something else). Do you try to keep the players from knowing or do you count on them to play their characters as if ignorant one way or another or something else?
What @overgeeked said. Also, for rolls where the result on the die may be contrary to the DM's narration, the DM can just narrate progress combined with a setback rather than outright failure on the task. I don't make any "secret" rolls.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I swear I am not trying to start another "roll in the open" vs. "behind a screen" debate - but am curious how you handle other rolls that may require secrecy. For example, the PCs are pretty sure an ambush lies ahead of them, so they try to approach stealthily. They might not know if they were heard until the attack comes (or something else). Do you try to keep the players from knowing or do you count on them to play their characters as if ignorant one way or another or something else?
Amusingly enough, I do roll in the open. But that doesn't mean that the players know the save modifier. Especially if the caster does not realize the target is proficient in WIS saves.

Idle question: I tried to word it ambiguously in regards to which was the PC, but all the discussion about rolls in the open assume correctly that the caster is the PC. Was it just that you wouldn't have an NPC cast Charm Person on a PC, or was there other clues I left in? Or just happenstance?
 

aco175

Legend
I would tend to allow having the charmed person in the OP be able to bluff the caster into thinking he is charmed. The problem at my table is that I allow the players to roll the save of the bad guys. They then know who saves a charm or fireball and I tend to just tell them that this one looks like he was hardly affected by the fire. Another problem may be with allowing an insight check to know if they saved or not. This would tip the player off already and then he knows, or makes spell have more than one check which penalizes certain PCs.

Illusion and charm magic is tricky in these situations where there is more than save or damage.
 

I swear I am not trying to start another "roll in the open" vs. "behind a screen" debate - but am curious how you handle other rolls that may require secrecy. For example, the PCs are pretty sure an ambush lies ahead of them, so they try to approach stealthily. They might not know if they were heard until the attack comes (or something else). Do you try to keep the players from knowing or do you count on them to play their characters as if ignorant one way or another or something else?
For myself: I count on the players staying in-character. This almost always works.
 

Mort

Legend
I would tend to allow having the charmed person in the OP be able to bluff the caster into thinking he is charmed. The problem at my table is that I allow the players to roll the save of the bad guys. They then know who saves a charm or fireball and I tend to just tell them that this one looks like he was hardly affected by the fire. Another problem may be with allowing an insight check to know if they saved or not. This would tip the player off already and then he knows, or makes spell have more than one check which penalizes certain PCs.

Illusion and charm magic is tricky in these situations where there is more than save or damage.
This doesn't come up all that often - and there are plenty of ways to determine if someone is charmed without necessitating a check (make the target do something not in the least harmful but embarrassing for example) and it could flow the other way too. PCs think a charmed target resisted and waste valuable time verifying etc.

As to penalizing certain PCs, well sort of. Charm magic can be pretty powerful and can greatly affect gameplay, it's worth jumping through a few hoops sometimes.
 

This came up in a conversation I had here about stunning strike, where knowing the outcome is extremely important since succeeding determines whether you attempt more stunning strikes that turn. I think at the time I was in favor of strictly enforcing that you don't intrinsically know whether the enemy succeeded or not, as the most RAW way to limit an overpowered ability, but in retrospect it's also the most unfun, frustrating, and acrimonious way to limit the ability.

I think there are definitely limited occasions when not revealing whether the enemy saved or not could make for more compelling gameplay, but as a general rule it is just a bummer and a cumbersome way to limit PC power by making it harder to capitalize on their successful actions and good fortune.
 

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