Scrying is an effective 5th-level tracking spell falling under the Bard, Cleric, Druid, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists.
Players wanting a more supportive or bounty-hunting playstyle will find great value in this spell. Tracking potential party targets, enemies, and village bounties is a great way to use this spell effectively.
The Player’s Handbook specifics are as follows:
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Components: V, S, M (a focus worth at least 1,000G, a crystal ball, silver mirror, or font filled with holy water is needed)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
You can see and hear a distinct creature you choose residing on the same plane of existence as you.
Your target must make a Wisdom saving roll, modified by the specific knowledge of the target and the strength of the physical connection you have to it.
If the target knows you are casting the spell and wishes to be observed, it can voluntarily fail the saving roll.
Save roll modifiers below:
|Secondhand (you have heard of the target)||+5|
|Firsthand (you have met the target)||+0|
|Familiar (you know the target well)||-5|
|Likeness of picture||-2|
|Possession or garment||-4|
|Body part, lock of hair, bit of nail, or the like||-10|
If the target’s saving roll is successful, the target unaffected, and you are unable to cast this spell against the target for 24 hours.
If the saving roll fails, an invisible sensor is created within 10 feet of the target. You can see and hear through this sensor as if you were there.
The sensor moves with the target, staying within 10 feet of it for the duration. If a creature can see invisible objects, the sensor will be seen as a luminous orb about the size of your fist.
Instead of targeting a creature, a location you have seen before can also be chosen. When done, the sensor appears at the site and doesn’t move.
Is Scrying Effective in 5e?
D&D has an endless expanse of possibilities with massive worlds and unique creatures. A small party in search of an NPC, rare monster, bounty-hunting target, or long-lost relative is extremely difficult. However, with scrying, tracking your target can become significantly easier.
Remember that scrying is more effective depending on your knowledge and connection with the target.
Specifically, targets you have never personally met are challenging to track successfully. Primarily due to the save modifier (+5), they get for your lack of knowledge.
Getting the most out of scrying requires players to find an essential item connected to the target.
Village bounties usually have pictures of the target, while players might find better connections after conversing with the local villagers. Maybe the beast or outlaw left behind a possession, piece of clothing, or strand of hair.
It gets easier if you know the target well (-5 modifier). However, if you have met the target once before, their save modifier of +5 changes to +0, further increasing your chance of scrying being more effective.
Make an effort to always find out the most you can about the target before scrying.
Difficulties of Scrying,
On the other hand, enemies can easily lead your party into a trap as a target can also deliberately fail a saving roll. Intelligent creatures who detect scrying might lead your party to a near-death situation. Be careful who you choose to scry!
In most cases where scrying is relevant, it is advantageous. However, players should take caution in those rare circumstances where their target is intelligent.
Dangers of Scrying
Targets who know you are casting this spell can deliberately fail their saving roll if they want you to observe them.
Unfortunately, with this knowledge, they can expect your party to show up at any time. It not only puts your entire party at a disadvantage but also makes it possible for your target to set a trap for you.
Attacking this target will only result in your party being put in a position where they might lose their lives.
Make sure you choose your targets wisely and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Can You Scry an Object?
Objects can be scried.
Scrying cannot be cast a second time while active, meaning players should choose wisely before scrying a target or location.
Note: Your party should not forget rare items and interesting sites.
If you ever want to return to the area or retrieve a rare object, you can scry them to find its state or location. Doing this can prepare your party for what comes next.
Can Scrying be Detected?
Enemies can indeed detect scrying.
Targets who can use detect magic can notice your scrying sensor following them around. However, they usually only attempt to see it if someone gives them a reason to use their detect magic or if they think they are being watched.
Creatures that can see invisible objects will see the scrying sensor as a luminous orb hovering above them. Take note of a creature’s abilities, as casting scry on a target able to detect it will only put your party in danger.
How Do I Stop Someone From Casting Scry on Me?
Players can make a Spellcraft check (DC 30) to break the scrying if they suspect someone has cast scry on them. A successful Spellcraft check ends the scrying and prevents the target from casting scry and other similar spells on you for at least 24 hours.
Not only is scrying exceptionally helpful it also adds a great side story or additional quest to a campaign.
Players can spend hours investigating a location to find a small piece left behind by a target. Using scry effectively deepens your story and tells the story of your target.
It ultimately makes your campaign feel extremely real and immersive.
A good DM can skillfully turn one small scrying session into a great mini-story within a massive campaign.