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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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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
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.

So much can happen behind the scenes in a game in or out of combat (like in the example above, it may not be need to known to the players until combat, but as the DM I would want to know ahead of combat breaking out how prepared or not the ambushers might be, if a scout spotted the party and hurried ahead to warn the ambushers, etc. . . but I respect the game philosophy, even though it doesn't jib with my DMing style. As a player for a short time with a DM that rolled in I simply never looked at his rolls and waited til he narrated the result!

I had a friend who used to roll out a list of d20 rolls ahead of time and then use them for "secret rolls" so he could show the players the list if there was every any question. Otherwise he did all other rolls openly.

Okay and now I am done with the topic. Onward!
 

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Dausuul

Legend
Right. I can see no upside to Jeremy's ruling.
I can. Consider the scenario described in the OP: A target of charm person recognizing the spell and pretending to be charmed. That could lead to all kinds of exciting results, especially if the spellcaster is an NPC and the target is a PC. And it's only possible if you can fake a failed save against a charm effect.

Now, this is a rare case, and it's a hassle to hide this information from the players. On balance, I think it's better--from a purely practical "keep the damn game moving" standpoint--to let the caster know if a save is made or failed. But you do lose out on some interesting possibilities.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I can. Consider the scenario described in the OP: A target of charm person recognizing the spell and pretending to be charmed. That could lead to all kinds of exciting results, especially if the spellcaster is an NPC and the target is a PC. And it's only possible if you can fake a failed save against a charm effect.

Now, this is a rare case, and it's a hassle to hide this information from the players. On balance, I think it's better--from a purely practical "keep the damn game moving" standpoint--to let the caster know if a save is made or failed. But you do lose out on some interesting possibilities.
Not interesting enough in my view.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I never tell them whether a save was made or not, until-unless the effects (or lack of) become obvious and-or the PCs do some work to find out, for a few reasons:

First, if the target is somehow immune to the effect I want to be able to go through the motions anyway even if the roll is meaningless: e.g. casting a fear effect on someone who is for whatever reason fearless - did the target resist that? Better try another one. The PCs won't and can't know the difference in this case between an immune target and a lucky one. On a broader scale, I-as-DM reserve the right to make meaningless or fake rolls at any time.

Second, it allows for trickery with charm etc. as described upthread.

Third, in general it keeps them guessing just that little bit longer. In a game last night, for example, I fireballed a group of dire wolves at a distance - I thought I got them all (perfect aim roll) but didn't, as there was at least one I hadn't seen; and though most of them got to us looking a bit singed we had no way of knowing how much any one of them had been softened up. In the same battle some of the wolves were Slow-ed; we've put a save on Slow, and as the wolves were already engaged they weren't moving much, meaning we had no real way of knowing which had been affected until the next round, when some didn't get all their attacks.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
It's interesting that Jeremy Crawford's ruling appears to disagree with the rule in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
He probably doesn't even remember what was written in Xanathar's because he knows the whole point of all of this stuff in 5E is to make a ruling at the time of the question rather than waste time flip through book after book trying to find what had been written down previously. :)
 



jgsugden

Legend
The way I see it (and as far as I know this contradicts no rules - except the one house rule I specifically call out):

1.) Bob casts a spell. If Bob wishes to do so subtly, he may roll a stealth check to try to do it on the QT. However, this is usually done at disadvantage (DM ruling on how hard it is). If there is something that needs to happen during casting, such as wording a suggestion during the casting of the suggestion spell
2.) DM determines whether anyone can see or hear the spell being cast. Maybe even smell if it has stinky components. :) This may involve perception check. This only determines that a spell is being cast, not what the spell is. If the spell has a target,and the spellcaster is seen casting, I will hint at the target.
3.) If someone observes the spell being cast,and they have the capability, they can cast a counterspell. Alternatively, they can use their reaction to identify the spell. (As a house rule, if the spell is known to you, or available to be prepared by you, you do not require a reaction and can identify it for free - this requires the DM to know the spells that each PC has - knowing the cleric spell lists, the druid lists, the spells known of a sorcerer, the wizard's spellbook, etc...).
4.) Check the spell description for indications of obvious effects at casting. If so, describe them to those that observe it,
5.) If observed, they can use their reaction to identify the spell. It is too late to counterspell.
6.) Determine if the spell takes effect. This may involve saving throws or attack rolls.
7.) Check the spell description and determine if there is an obvious effect based upon whether the spell took effect. If so, describe them to those that observe it. On Strength and Dexterity saves, as well as many attack rolls, this also involves actions that go with the saving throw.
8.) If observed, they can use their reaction to identify the spell. It is still too late to counterpsell.

For spell-like abilities, such as the School of Enchantment Hypnotic Gaze, there is no spellcasting, but might be obvious activities that take place when spellcasting would normally take place.
 
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Voadam

Legend
Check the last part of the section on Invalid Spell Targets.

Page 85-86 of XGtE. Its a bit oddly worded.
INVALID SPELL TARGETS
A spell specifies what a caster can target with it: any type of creature, a creature of a certain type (humanoid or beast, for instance), an object, an area, the caster, or something else. But what happens if a spell targets something that isn't a valid target? For example someone might cast charm person on a creature believed to be a humanoid, not knowing that the target is in fact a vampire. If this issue comes up, handle it using the following rule.
If you cast a spell on someone or something that can't be affected by the spell, nothing happens to that target, but if you used a spell slot to cast the spell, the slot is still expended. If the spell normally has no effect on a target that succeeds on a saving throw, the invalid target appears to have succeeded on its saving throw, even though it didn't attempt one (giving no hint that the creature is in fact an invalid target). Otherwise, you perceive that the spell did nothing to the target.

So you perceive that spells on invalid targets have no effect on the target, and this appears the same as when spells that are negated on a successful save are successfully saved against. This seems to indicate that casters generally do not know whether someone saved other than from the effects of the save.

This rule would be consistent though with the position that casters have a mystic connection to their cast spells and can generally tell that they are succesfully saved against or not and it is only when the target is invalid that the situation feels the same as a saved against spell, but that would seem an odd set up.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Page 85-86 of XGtE. Its a bit oddly worded.


So you perceive that spells on invalid targets have no effect on the target, and this appears the same as when spells that are negated on a successful save are successfully saved against. This seems to indicate that casters generally do not know whether someone saved other than from the effects of the save.

This rule would be consistent though with the position that casters have a mystic connection to their cast spells and can generally tell that they are succesfully saved against or not and it is only when the target is invalid that the situation feels the same as a saved against spell, but that would seem an odd set up.
In principle, I suppose you're right, but you're marking which entities are charmed or held (like on a battlemat), and you skip one that looks like a valid target but isn't, there's no way for the players to know the difference. All they know is that one isn't affected by the spell.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Considering some of Crawford's terrible rulings, I don't think he's the best person to ask for advice. According to him up to an hour of combat and spellcasting will not interrupt a long rest. So...you know, not a great source.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Considering some of Crawford's terrible rulings, I don't think he's the best person to ask for advice. According to him up to an hour of combat and spellcasting will not interrupt a long rest. So...you know, not a great source.
That's in the PHB:
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps for at least 6 hours and performs no more than 2 hours of light activity, such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch. If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity — at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity — the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.
So, as bad as some of the Sage Advice stuff is, that's not an example of it.
 

jgsugden

Legend
If the spell normally has no effect on a target that succeeds on a saving throw, the invalid target appears to have succeeded on its saving throw, even though it didn't attempt one (giving no hint that the creature is in fact an invalid target). Otherwise, you perceive that the spell did nothing to the target.
I'm not sure this is a conflict.

If the spell is one that has no effect if the save is made, it appears to have succeeded on the save when there is an invalid target. As a caster, we know that some creatures resist our spells at time. If we cast a spell and it doesn't work, they appear to have saved, but we do not know (unless the DM decides to tell us or there is an obvious detectable impact). I think the use of the word appears here is intentional.

If the spell is not negated by a save, then it seems like the spell does nothing to the invalid target. That tells us nothing about the behavior of a valid target.

As far as I can tell, there is no conflict between what Jeremy and the PHB says (that you only know what is obvious from the effects of the spell that are detectable with your senses or explicitly spelled out in the spell).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
That's in the PHB:

So, as bad as some of the Sage Advice stuff is, that's not an example of it.
It can be read differently. I read it as the one hour applies only to walking. Any fighting, any casting spells, or similar adventuring activity will interrupt the long rest. To say that combat only becomes strenuous after 60 minutes is to fail to understand what combat is.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
It can be read differently. I read it as the one hour applies only to walking. Any fighting, any casting spells, or similar adventuring activity will interrupt the long rest. To say that combat only becomes strenuous after 60 minutes is to fail to understand what combat is.
I don't disagree that it's a bad rule, but if the one hour only applied to walking I'd expect the sentence/s to be structured differently--I don't think it's a misreading of the rules as they're written to say that you need to be fighting for an hour to disrupt a long rest.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't disagree that it's a bad rule, but if the one hour only applied to walking I'd expect the sentence/s to be structured differently--I don't think it's a misreading of the rules as they're written to say that you need to be fighting for an hour to disrupt a long rest.
Likewise if the one hour were meant to apply to all the listed activities it would have been written differently.

"one hour of: walking, fighting, spellcasting..."

As written it can go either way. Because the outcome is so dumb otherwise, I read it as one hour of walking, any fighting, any spellcasting.

How can combat not be strenuous until it reaches 60 minutes? You're under attack. There's a real possibility of death. Quite literally there are things trying to murder you. That is inherently stressful and trying to not die while trying to murder someone else is inherently strenuous.

Besides. Rulings not rules. I don't care what the RAW says when it says dumb stuff.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Likewise if the one hour were meant to apply to all the listed activities it would have been written differently.

"one hour of: walking, fighting, spellcasting..."

As written it can go either way. Because the outcome is so dumb otherwise, I read it as one hour of walking, any fighting, any spellcasting.

How can combat not be strenuous until it reaches 60 minutes?

Besides. Rulings not rules. I don't care what the RAW says when it says dumb stuff.
As I said, I don't disagree that it's a bad, silly rule (though I haven't houseruled it at all in the games I'm DMing, because I don't care all that much). I just think don't think the meaning is as in-doubt as you do.

If it meant what you think it means, I'd expect it to read something more like:
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps for at least 6 hours and performs no more than 2 hours of light activity, such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch. If the rest is interrupted by strenuous activity — fighting, casting spells, or at least 1 hour of walking or similar adventuring activity — the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.
I mean, I was surprised to find out there was a Sage Advice ruling on this, because the text seems to me to so obviously mean what the ruling says it means. Obviously YMMV and all-a-that.
 

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