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D&D 5E No Equivalent of Detect/Discern Lies in 5E?


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Reynard

Legend
Sure. But having magic that utterly trivialises common problems is unfun. Magical lie detector simply makes huge amount of potentially interesting things impossible.
See my above post. Knowing someone lied doesn't actually tell you that much, especially if you already suspect them of, you know, lying.
 

I have a player in my campaign that's been running since 2006 who has never believed a single word an NPC has ever said. Depending on the system, he's used Detect Evil, Wisdom checks or Insight rolls constantly.

Discern Lies is a bad spell, IMO. It basically works as a cheat code for the players without offering anything meaningful to the rest of the game.

In contrast, Zone of Truth is interesting. There's a physical space it takes place in. The person it's cast on knows it's been cast on them and can adjust accordingly. The spell can serve a variety of roles in the game, including for ceremonies, trials, interrogations, etc.

A trickster NPC can still get away with some things, by technically giving truthful answers, but avoiding discussing things that would get them in real trouble. At that point, the ball is back in the players' court and outwitting them involves things other than a single saving throw roll one time.

It's a lot more interesting to have Zone of Truth in the game, rather than the very bland "just give me the answers" Discern Lies.
 
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See my above post. Knowing someone lied doesn't actually tell you that much, especially if you already suspect them of, you know, lying.
I mean you literally just solved the murder in boring and anticlimactic manner. Couple of more questions and you can probably figure out why, not that it matters as in world where such magic is known to exist this would be probably enough. Granted, that they're a queen might protect them from prosecution, but if that's the case, then I'm sure why the characters were bothering to begin with. Also do you realise that you just had to make your murder suspect a royal to give the characters any sort of an obstacle?
 

I was surprised this morning when I was writing up the description of a magical that was going to have the ability to discern lies at will (with some major drawbacks for the wearer - like they too can't lie while attuned, even if they take off the ring - disadvantage on stealth, etc) and was surprised that aside from zone of truth there is no equivalent spell in the 5E PHB and google did not help me find a version in any other printed source. I am not worried about it, because I can make the magical item do whatever I want - I just wanted to compare to the spell in the book, only to find there isn't one.
I'm actually working on developing a similar ring. It's going to give advantage on Insight rolls and disadvantage on Deception rolls and be an attuned and cursed item that they cannot just rip off willy-nilly.
 

Reynard

Legend
I mean you literally just solved the murder in boring and anticlimactic manner. Couple of more questions and you can probably figure out why, not that it matters as in world where such magic is known to exist this would be probably enough. Granted, that they're a queen might protect them from prosecution, but if that's the case, then I'm sure why the characters were bothering to begin with. Also do you realise that you just had to make your murder suspect a royal to give the characters any sort of an obstacle?
I think you're overstating it. My point is knowing someone lied doesn't automatically solve the actual problem. It doesn't tell you what the truth is. Let's say the murderer is a low level street thug. So what? You know they did it. Hurrah. The person is still dead and you still don't have any motive or evidence. Now what?
 

I think you're overstating it. My point is knowing someone lied doesn't automatically solve the actual problem. It doesn't tell you what the truth is. Let's say the murderer is a low level street thug. So what? You know they did it. Hurrah. The person is still dead and you still don't have any motive or evidence. Now what?
The case is closed. And if for some reason knowledge gained via magic isn't admissible evidence, (but why wouldn't it) it still isn't terribly difficult to figure out the rest if you're a walking lie detector. This just doesn't sound fun to me, does it sound fun to you?
 

Reynard

Legend
The case is closed. And if for some reason knowledge gained via magic isn't admissible evidence, (but why wouldn't it) it still isn't terribly difficult to figure out the rest if you're a walking lie detector. This just doesn't sound fun to me, does it sound fun to you?
"Did you kill the victim?"
"No." dings as a lie
"We know you are lying."
"Okay, fine."
"Tell us why."
"Piss off." dings as true
What now? The adventure continues.
 

"Did you kill the victim?"
"No." dings as a lie
"We know you are lying."
"Okay, fine."
"Tell us why."
"Piss off." dings as true
What now? The adventure continues.
That's a rally bad set of question, you presumably had some reason to suspect the guy in the first place, so you could have easily asked something based on that. Not that it matters. At this point you can take them to the authorities and even if they for some reason wouldn't be aware of such magic, it would be trivially easy to demonstrate to them that you indeed possess such power. Lying under this power about not doing it is in effect a confession.

Seriously, think basically any detective story and assume that the detective has this ability. Pretty much none of them would work. Now would it be possible to carefully design a scenario circumventing this power? Yes. Would it be awkward, terribly difficult and would repeating it become super implausible really fast? Also yes.

I'm pretty sure that WotC agrees with me that this is an unfun ability and that's why it's not in the game. A lot of such unfun problem-trivialising spells were nerfed or removed in the 5th edition.
 

Reynard

Legend
That's a rally bad set of question, you presumably had some reason to suspect the guy in the first place, so you could have easily asked something based on that. Not that it matters. At this point you can take them to the authorities and even if they for some reason wouldn't be aware of such magic, it would be trivially easy to demonstrate to them that you indeed possess such power. Lying under this power about not doing it is in effect a confession.

Seriously, think basically any detective story and assume that the detective has this ability. Pretty much none of them would work. Now would it be possible to carefully design a scenario circumventing this power? Yes. Would it be awkward, terribly difficult and would repeating it become super implausible really fast? Also yes.

I'm pretty sure that WotC agrees with me that this is an unfun ability and that's why it's not in the game. A lot of such unfun problem-trivialising spells were nerfed or removed in the 5th edition.
I mean, sure, if you aren't interested in making any particular thing in D&D work, you can totally do that. I just don't understand why you would actively choose to eliminate your own fun rather than use the thing as a tool to make the adventure more fun.

How many thrillers have been built around knowing the who dunnit but hinging on the why, or the who next, or the what now? You interpretation seems to be bent entirely toward not wanting to engage in such an adventure. More power to you. Not everyone likes mysteries or thrillers.
 


Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
It's a spell that bypasses whole categories of encounter design with no player skill involved. Even if a clever DM can write their way around it, it's going to produce less compelling results than if the players had to solve the problem themselves.

Frankly, the Insight and Investigation skills are already bad enough. If you want to run mysteries in D&D, you should probably start with a system that's designed for it... and then work backwards.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
good d&d players should be surprising DM’s by bypassing encounters and even having easy encounters that were meant to be hard. And this will keep happening until the DM learns to create challenges appropriate to the level. And that’s good. If they get one encounter done too fast or bypass an encounter there is always another. Find out one truth. Then get someone to believe it. And there are always many unexpected things because the players ask the wrong question. Let it play out.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This spell has never been a problem for me. It’s more like once the players get the info what do they do with it.
Yes, this.

It's just one more bit of evidence to use to make decisions. "Knowing the NPC is lying about X, what do you do now?"

The game moves forward when the players have information. It stalls when they do not. So to my mind, more information is never a bad thing. Even better when they have to spend resources (e.g. a spell slot) to get it.
 

I think you're overstating it. My point is knowing someone lied doesn't automatically solve the actual problem. It doesn't tell you what the truth is. Let's say the murderer is a low level street thug. So what? You know they did it. Hurrah. The person is still dead and you still don't have any motive or evidence. Now what?
"Who hired you?"

In earlier editions, pretty much any significant NPC came with an amulet of immunity to Detect Lies and Detect Alignment. One has to conclude that such amulets are common, rendering the spell useless, so no one bothers with it any more.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It's a spell that bypasses whole categories of encounter design with no player skill involved. Even if a clever DM can write their way around it, it's going to produce less compelling results than if the players had to solve the problem themselves.

Frankly, the Insight and Investigation skills are already bad enough. If you want to run mysteries in D&D, you should probably start with a system that's designed for it... and then work backwards.

Relatedly, I prefer the design of new school D&D where skills replace what used to be spells: such as the History skill making the Legend Lore spell less significant.

Even when using the Insight skill (whose empathy I feel should be a Charisma social skill relating to emotional intelligence), the DM has a say on how skills work. I prefer narrative adjudication. The player has to do something specific, before rolling a skill check to determine if the action is successful. Someone else described this narrative approach as making the skill check a kind of "saving throw" against failure.

With regard to the Insight skill, it cant reveal what the truth is, but it can convey if there is some vague feeling of need or of deception. For example, a player character can try to discern if an NPC is hostile or not, or if there seems to be an unsaid agenda underneath a truthful statement. But the DM decides how much information to reveal, if anything. Likewise, the DM can decide that this kind of empathy might require spending some time with the NPC, and only attempting such discernment once per Short Rest, or once per Long Rest.

Also a situation might be complex, such as an NPC who is friendly but working for (or coerced by) someone else who is hostile.
 
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I mean, sure, if you aren't interested in making any particular thing in D&D work, you can totally do that. I just don't understand why you would actively choose to eliminate your own fun rather than use the thing as a tool to make the adventure more fun.

How many thrillers have been built around knowing the who dunnit but hinging on the why, or the who next, or the what now? You interpretation seems to be bent entirely toward not wanting to engage in such an adventure. More power to you. Not everyone likes mysteries or thrillers.
I like mysteries so I don't want to have abilities that trivialises them.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I like mysteries so I don't want to have abilities that trivialises them.
For D&D, I want to see an item called "Salt of Protection". Compare Holy Water as an easily purchased magical item.

The player pours the salt in a continuous line, and no divination nor planar travel can enter its wall or circle.

The Salt of Protection makes it routinely easy for DMs to keep certain rooms or containers mysterious.

Likewise, the flavor makes much more sense than the "lead" metal lining caveat that awkwardly interrupts various spells.

If the DM needs the salt, it is there, and players will be familiar with what it is because they can buy it themselves.
 

I mean, sure, if you aren't interested in making any particular thing in D&D work, you can totally do that. I just don't understand why you would actively choose to eliminate your own fun rather than use the thing as a tool to make the adventure more fun.
Trivialising detective stories by casting "Solve Plot" is actively choosing to eliminate our own fun. I just don't understand why you would actively add back things to eliminate your own fun.
How many thrillers have been built around knowing the who dunnit but hinging on the why, or the who next, or the what now?
And with "Discern Lies" you can then just ask them as long as you have any way to get them to talk.
You interpretation seems to be bent entirely toward not wanting to engage in such an adventure. More power to you. Not everyone likes mysteries or thrillers.
On the contrary. Your interpretation seems to be bent entirely towards having to rewrite any such adventure to make it fit D&D. More power to you. Many people like mysteries or thrillers, and you yourself seem to admit that the spell messes up two entire genres.

I'd rather not have a single spell in the game than make an entire genre very very difficult to run - or to turn the game into a magical arms race.
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Relatedly, I prefer the design of new school D&D where skills replace what used to be spells: such as the History skill making the Legend Lore spell less significant.

Yeah, for sure. One thing I really like about Pathfinder is the stealth nerf to spells like knock and remove disease that suddenly make "mundane skills" very important. And Skill Unlocks from Pathfinder Unchained. Way, way too much of the interaction/exploration pillars of modern D&D is relegated to "magic", the sole province of magic classes, and way, way too much of "magic" is just spells.

It would require revisiting the last forty years of the game's evolution to fix. I like skill systems, but a lot of the grogs more hardcore than myself think it's the Thief class that was the beginning of the end, running around farting on everything instead of paying attention to his surroundings.
 

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