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Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

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garhkal
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Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#1 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:17 pm

When a priest (or paladin, once he gets to cast spells), casts a speak with dead spell, Is there anything REQUIRING the spirit being compelled to answer the question, forcing it to tell the truth?? Can the spirit flat out lie? Could it just be evasive (IE answer in a riddle)?

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Lyrwik
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#2 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:16 pm

There's a couple of relevant sentences in the 2nd ed spell description:

"the priest is able to ask several questions of a dead creature in a set period of time and receive answers according to the knowledge of that creature" - this suggests the creature is compelled to answer.

"Even if the casting is successful, such creatures are as evasive as possible when questioned. The dead tend to give extremely brief and limited answers, often cryptic, and to take questions literally." - this suggests they may not tell the whole truth, or could be cagey about it.

I would say that no, it cannot outright lie, but its answers may not be in exactly the form the necromancer wants. Since the creature is dead (and the spell isn't really restoring life, merely causing some functions to occur), I would say it essentially has no intelligence and therefore couldn't make the decision to lie. The answers may be short, literal, or sometimes cryptic more as a result of inherent limitations of the spell; differences in each creature's mind causing them to not all work in the same way; or maybe decay makes it harder for the memories to be fully intact (thus more likely to be cryptic).

I also like the idea that it compels answering (mostly honestly), as it allows the necromancer the threat of "tell me what I want to know, or I'll just kill you and ask your corpse"

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garhkal
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#3 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:47 am

True, but as someone over on DF said, it makes for an easy get-around', of having to use the Identify spell, sages etc.. Just kill the one holding the magic items, then us SWD to question him.. That should not only get you what items are magical, but command words etc....

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Lyrwik
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#4 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:42 pm

That's true, but is it really a big issue? All it's really doing is avoiding the cost of the identify spell. Speak with Dead is a 3rd level spell, and if say 5th level party is willing to have one of the priest's precious 3rd level slots dedicated to that, then I'm okay with that. Alternatively, if they decide to drag the body around so the priest can memorise it the next day, there could be consequences for that. Also, killing the holder may not always be an option (except the obvious situation where they take the item of a killed foe).

If it becomes an issue, you could always rule (for complex magic items) that knowing its features isn't enough, or that the identify spell grants the caster with a deeper knowledge of its functioning that can't be explained by a corpse in a couple of minutes.

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JadedDM
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#5 » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:32 pm

I agree with Lyrwik. The dead person is compelled to answer truthfully, but they can be evasive, vague, cryptic and give lots of 'technical' truths if they so choose. After all, each question that is wasted is one less question that can be asked. Such as, "Where is the orc army?" And the answer: "To the north." Now you have to waste another question to ask how far north, etc.

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Lukafio
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#6 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:28 am

IMO, the alignment of the dead will influence if they tell the truth, lie, or something in between. The spell itself is just to make them speak.
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RPG Dinosaur
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Re: Speak with dead, Compels the truth or not (1e or 2e focused)

Post#7 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:45 pm

Lyrwik wrote:Since the creature is dead (and the spell isn't really restoring life, merely causing some functions to occur), I would say it essentially has no intelligence and therefore couldn't make the decision to lie.

I was agreeing with you about this until reading the complete text for the spell for myself. One things for sure, this spell leaves some open interpretation for the DM to rule on. Here's another paragraph from the 2E spell description that makes me believe that there is some at least moderate intelligence function happening with the contacted spirit: "A dead creature of different alignment or higher level or Hit Dice than the caster's level receives a saving throw vs. spell. A dead creature that successfully saves can refuse to answer questions, ending the spell.At the DM's option,the casting of this spell on a given creature might be restricted to once per week.
The fact that the spirit can potentially make the decision to refuse to answer questions means that it has intelligence functions during the spell, in my opinion. If it does make the save it then has to make a DECISION, to answer the questions or not. To be able to make a decision the spirit must be imbued with or have it's intelligence temporarily restored from the spell. Consider this potential scenario: A good cleric casts the spell toward the spirit of another good cleric who is of a higher level. The spirit cleric makes the save successfully and uses judgement to decide whether to answer the questions. The spirit cleric uses judgement to decide that the spell casters motives for the questions are just, and decides to answer them. Also, it isn't like a Magic Mouth that's just repeating programmed words, the spirit is forming coherent thoughts to be expressed with every different question.
Despite this decision making possibly coming into play, to preserve the power of the spell as an option in the game, I would rule that a spirit that makes the save can't decide to outright lie. It either decides to answer the questions or it doesn't and ends the communication.
When, if at all, would you all use the option that a given creature can only contacted once per week? I'm thinking that if a creature made the save and refused to answer questions on the first attempt, it gets a one week period of not being bothered before the caster can again try to force them.
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