D&D 5E Unfair Scrying

jgsugden

Legend
Think about most magic and you'll realize it is pretty creepy stuff.

Charm person, dominate person, suggestion - you're effectively drugging someone. Scrying is peeking at someone, usually without permission. Spells that frighten a target are emotional trauma. Playing with dead bodies? Misleading people with illusions is bad enough, but how about a Phantasmal Force that convinces a person that the person they love most is killing them.

There are a lot of places in my campaign world where using magic on a citizen of the country without informed consent is a capital crime, whether it is a friends spell, a levitate spell, or a healing word. There are a few places where any magic used by someone not licensed to do so is a capital crime, even if you're casting magic on yourself. [Those areas tend to not be places where I base campaigns, but tend to be places they visit for a short period.] Then there are a lot of places where magic is not regulated, and is used by those with power to get their way.

You've got to figure out these boundaries and set them up in your world, and I suggest being attentive to the view of your players when working it out.
 

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Isn't that why there are defenses against Scrying? Like I still can understand how it can suck, but I thought there are defenses against it.
As a worldbuilding thing, I assume a thin layer of lead stops most divinations - this includes sufficiently leaded paint or glass. Ergo, most nobles have a room in their house, with a rose motif, with leaded paint in the walls and leaded glass in the windows, that is almost completely divination-proof. This is the place for intimate, secret discussions. Where plans can be made, truths told, and honest bonds forged.

I haven't checked all the spells in the game, but if there's a divination spell that can pierce leaded walls I'd probably add that as a limitation unless there was a very good reason to let it through.

Fun fact: I didn't invent the idea of sub rosa rooms; it's been a thing in the real world for a long time: sub rosa
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
To be clear, the "BBEG" in the post was the patron of a rival adventuring party. He was a Cardinal Richelieu type to the party's King's Musketeers, so he'd met the party before. Forced politeness in the throne room and all that.

I mistakenly assumed that "frienemies status" would make unfair magic acceptable. Gauging by my players' reactions, I clearly mishandled it.
 

Consider that views and social mores on privacy and nudity are not universal to the human condition. Depending upon the setting, and your player's willingness to play in such a setting, things like scrying on a bathing person could hold no interest or titillations to those involved.

Or you can do as I do, don't worry about the "creepy" parts, worry about the "plot" and "fun" parts.
 

HammerMan

Legend
As a worldbuilding thing, I assume a thin layer of lead stops most divinations - this includes sufficiently leaded paint or glass. Ergo, most nobles have a room in their house, with a rose motif, with leaded paint in the walls and leaded glass in the windows, that is almost completely divination-proof. This is the place for intimate, secret discussions. Where plans can be made, truths told, and honest bonds forged.

I haven't checked all the spells in the game, but if there's a divination spell that can pierce leaded walls I'd probably add that as a limitation unless there was a very good reason to let it through.

Fun fact: I didn't invent the idea of sub rosa rooms; it's been a thing in the real world for a long time: sub rosa
I thought there were spell defenses... but I totally agree with hand wave lead is a great answer
Consider that views and social mores on privacy and nudity are not universal to the human condition. Depending upon the setting, and your player's willingness to play in such a setting, things like scrying on a bathing person could hold no interest or titillations to those involved.

Or you can do as I do, don't worry about the "creepy" parts, worry about the "plot" and "fun" parts.
no matter how much 'in character' you are things creep into out of character thoughts

there are plenty of horror stories of woman being subjected to vile things at the table 'in character only' and some have even been driven from the hobby by it...

I can't imagine someone scrying me showering EVER not feeling like an invasion. Even in a world that I would go to a nude beach (trust me you don't want that I stay clothed as a public service) that is my Choice to be seen... having NO choice, or the agency taken changes that... even in a society that nudity's is more casual.
(Example: I am friends with strippers. I can, at any time go to a club they are working and see them naked. I could most likely just ASK to see them naked. However I can't imagine any of them would be cool with me using a peep hole or camera to watch them shower.)
 

there are plenty of horror stories of woman being subjected to vile things at the table 'in character only' and some have even been driven from the hobby by it...
Absolutely, and there is no excuse for such.

I'm not talking about or justifying that. I'm saying their are cultures where it would not be creepy etc. It would just be odd, because what's the point. And it's not about how you or I would feel in the shower etc. Because not every culture has those same feeling as you or I do. If that's the setting everyone wants to play in, who am I to worry about it?

As for my games, we use scrying, and we don't get into the possible creepy aspects of it. Sure, if it was a possible trigger for someone at out table ten we would deal with it. But its not, so we don't worry about it and we don't use scrying in a creepy way.

Just like the charm & illusion & alter self spells have the same potential, it doesn't interest us, so we don't play it that way and we don't worry about it.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Absolutely, and there is no excuse for such.

I'm not talking about or justifying that. I'm saying their are cultures where it would not be creepy etc. It would just be odd, because what's the point. And it's not about how you or I would feel in the shower etc. Because not every culture has those same feeling as you or I do. If that's the setting everyone wants to play in, who am I to worry about it?
you in 1 sentence do not excuse using creppy in game behavior... then in the next explain away "But IN THE GAME it isn't creepy" right but we live in this culture, and OUR shared experience makes it creepy OUT of game. And again it isn't just nudity (see strippers not wanting to be victims of peeping toms) it is the loss of privacy/agency.
As for my games, we use scrying, and we don't get into the possible creepy aspects of it. Sure, if it was a possible trigger for someone at out table ten we would deal with it. But its not, so we don't worry about it and we don't use scrying in a creepy way.
I don't know you, or your group... I am just talking on the internet about food for thought
Just like the charm & illusion & alter self spells have the same potential, it doesn't interest us, so we don't play it that way and we don't worry about it.
Yeah... I started a 50-70page thread on charm spells and what it would mean... not to ban charm spells but as food for thought.
 

you in 1 sentence do not excuse using creppy in game behavior... then in the next explain away "But IN THE GAME it isn't creepy" right but we live in this culture, and OUR shared experience makes it creepy OUT of game. And again it isn't just nudity (see strippers not wanting to be victims of peeping toms) it is the loss of privacy/agency.
Depending up who is sitting at the table, some aspects may or may not be creepy to those around the table.

You go on discussing possibilities at length. There is probably value in it for the community. But not to me or my table today. Happy gaming.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Depending up who is sitting at the table, some aspects may or may not be creepy to those around the table.
yes everything depends on who is playing/running... again you don't hear stories of guys being run away (although I am sure they exist) from tables because a DM forces there character to be naked or almost naked... so maybe at 1 table it's fine, at another it would break the group up.
You go on discussing possibilities at lenghth. There is probably value in it for the community. But not to me or my table today. Happy gaming.
have fun
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
So, there's a problem in the premise of the thread.

The thread OP presents the problem in an abstract manner: an arbitrary BBEG vs an arbitrary party. People then consider issues such as typical defenses against scrying (eg: non-detection), and expect that those would come into play in such a scenario.

However the OP is just a snippet from the full article in the referenced comic, and in the full article we learn of one additional limitation: That the party in question were all martials (probably all fighters, or fighters and rogues). There are no casters to enact those countermeasures because the GM specifically set up the story with the recommendation that the players all play Three Musketeers-like characters.

Now, there's no problem with that setup; I've played in those types of games before, and they're lots of fun. The problem is that in doing so, the GM set up the implicit assumption that the challenges the players would face would be along the lines of what a martial character could deal with. When the GM then starts throwing stuff at the players that is in the realm of "only casters need apply", the players become frustrated and angry.
“What did you expect us to do about the scrying?”

“Was there even a way to win?”

“Why do all of your villains have teleportation powers?”

This is compounded by not only scrying, but scrying constantly.
It was no trouble to swat the sensor with a dispelling attack, but that was an impermanent solution. The sensor returned again and again, targeting low-Perception members of the party and continuing to gather intel over the next few days.

So it's effectively a harassment campaign by the GM, using tactics that the players are poorly equipped to handled solely due to the fact that the GM encouraged them to play a certain way for the theme of the campaign.


As people in the thread have already responded, there are a variety of ways to cope with the scrying or teleporting issue. Most of the time it would not be considered "unfair". However the OP presents a scenario where the unfairness can be clearly traced right back to how the GM ran the game — an OOC unfairness, not an IC unfairness.
 


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