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The Trouble with Divinations

amnuxoll

First Post
I've heard complaints in the past that the D&D 3.5 divination spells can ruin a campaign (or at least an adventure). While I certainly agree that detect evil and detect magic can spoil surprises are there other instances where a divination spell other than those two has harmed the story...or at least harms the fun for someone? And if so, how do you avoid it in the future?

:AMN:
 

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Starbuck_II

First Post
I've heard complaints in the past that the D&D 3.5 divination spells can ruin a campaign (or at least an adventure). While I certainly agree that detect evil and detect magic can spoil surprises are there other instances where a divination spell other than those two has harmed the story...or at least harms the fun for someone? And if so, how do you avoid it in the future?

:AMN:
Speak with Dead ruins a "Who Done it" Mystery. Heck Bards have a spell that acts like Speak with Dead but the spirit tells you who killed them in a splatbook (I think Spell Compendruim).

Augury means a DM will have to plan ahead (will I reveal bad stuff or is good stuff happening?). The party will get actual answer eventually (unless DM fudges percentile which is nerfing spell)
 

Vaslov

Explorer
In my experience I would not say they have ruined any games or adventures, but they can keep a DM on their toes. If the adventure I have planned is "find the mcguffin" and instead of a bunch of Q&A with some NPCs the mage busts out a locate object spell and leads the party to the object in no time flat I'm in for some fun. Now all my prep work on the NPCs and how they would answer questions is for not and I have players ready for the next challenge, what ever it might be.

As the divinations get more powerful (Divination, Scry, Contact Other Plan, Legend Lore, Discern Location, etc) it can be more challenging to plan out which way a game might go. As a DM I try to keep an idea of what divinations the characters might have available to them and be sure I am somewhat familiar with how they work. For some I might even keep a handy list of some thoughts on various topics just in case it comes up.

Overall I have found divinations great fun and often leads the game in new directions I never considered before. I love it when a party uses Contact Other Plan one too many times and some other intelligence picks up the call, twisting the answers to their own agenda.

One final thought to add I think the classic use & abuse divination spell is the with the scry/buff/teleport ambush strategy. There are plenty of threads on 3.x forums about how to address this so I won't repeat them here.
 


Asha'man

First Post
Personally I think player access to divinations is incredibly useful to the DM. It is almost always worse for the game if the players know too little than if they know too much, and divinations help reveal background information, points baffled PCs in the right direction, and gives you an out to reveal clues they might have missed in conventional investigation. The only trouble I sometimes have is to create "cryptic rhymes or verses" that don't sound like they were written by the Superfriends version of the Riddler, especially since it must usually be done on the spot. Sometimes, it's also hard to decide how to answer vague or far-reaching questions, but I think that's usually more fun than frustrating.

Edit: One thing is annoying, though: spellcasters with permanent arcane sight. Not because it spoils anything, much, but because they must be constantly updated on everything magical that enters their field of vision, which can be quite a hassle at high levels.
 
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the Jester

Legend
Divinations don't ruin games ime, they simply change the types of adventures that the dm can run. A good murder mystery is hard to pull off when the cleric can commune and say, "Whodunnit?" Even so, it's possible- the answer might lead to the murderer, but not who hired him. Layers upon layers... One key to being a good dm when it comes to these things is to design situations where the pcs need divinations (or flying, or teleportation, or whatever other game-changing power you're talking about) to get through. A high-level mystery might have no clues to begin with; the pcs must ferret them out with divinations of whatever sort (ah, thought capture, I miss you). In a good high or epic-level 3e adventure, the pcs should face challenges that they have to fly to deal with, teleport or plane shift to get to or away from, discover information with no ordinary source, etc.
 

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