properly running a scrying NPC


I want to set up a situation in which the party is being watched over a period of time via scryig. I am less concerned with the fact that players will occasionally notice the scry sensor as I am with the will save cancellation. I want to make sure I understand scry correctly and get advice on how best to use it within the rules.

I am also considering house ruling scry to be harder to automatically avoid.

this is both a rules and advice question but I am placing it here because I am also looking for oppinons.

mostly i want to understand if the NPC uses scry on a party member... does every one get a will save or just the target. if just the target the NPC can then see any one around the target also correct?

can the NPC scry an item in the Players possesion (like a give given for the purpose or a known piece of loot taken from an underling) and if so will the NPC holding it get a save?

how would you run saves and perception checks for extended scrying? 1 per spell, one per time frame (for example once per hour)

should a player get both perception AND will in order to defend from a scrying?

is there a valid way of setting up a long term scry that players may not legally detect?

If I were to house rule it I would restrict the knowledge/connection requirements but eliminate the will save all together. I would allow the players to see it using perception and if they fail but are close (say within 10) I would allow them to have an uneasy feeling of being watched but not really know why. lastly I would allow the players to attack and disable the sensors when they notice them in order to temporarily stop the scrying and possibly allow them to gain backlash information on the caster.

what say you all?

You can't scry an item. You can only scry a creature. And no, you only get a will save in order to defend from scrying.

There is no way to scry for a long period of time, however if you give the big bad a bit of hair from the players, the player gets a -10 on the will save, which can make it almost impossible to fail(except on a 20)

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Doesn't really need to be hair either. It's easy enough to have the PC's jumped by some goons who seem "overwhelmed" and scatter in all directions. In a relatively short encounter goons can get blood/skin/hair and then run as soon as the players start dropping them.

Any NPC with the resources to scry and marshal underlings against the party should be able to use more mundane means of learning about the party as well. In this way you can justify targeting the characters likely to fail their save and engineer some situations where your attempts are less likely to be noticed. Maybe some goons accost the party in the market at a time they know the boss will be watching, just a way of keeping the groups attention away from the real action.

I guess this really depends on your end-game.

If the intent here is for the group to have a very hard time with a well prepared boss, and later to find "Oh! No wonder he seemed to know everything about us". Then you want to make as much go in your favor as possible, just be wary of players who will complain that the never got a opportunity to prevent this. I don't know your group, so this may not be an issue, but a well prepared villain like this will probably have plenty of notes and plans around after he is defeated to illustrate the lengths he went to to keep his actions hidden.

On the other hand, if the intent is for the group to be lead towards this opponent because they catch on that he is watching them, then it's an entirely different matter. Opportunities to catch on should be many, and easy enough that a string of bad saves will not delay the story for long. This is a nice opportunity to build some tension. If you just come out and say, "yep, you're being scryed.", you're giving in too easily and cheapening the victory. Cultivate the feeling that they are being watched, have low level underlings who seem to know way more about the PC's than they should, give them reason to be concerned, make their enemies foreknowledge a growing inconvenience for them. Just like a villain should be using mundane means to make his scrying attempts as ideal as possible, PC suspicion should start with the mundane too. As they become more aware of how their situation is being manipulated, detecting the scrying should be easier

fair points. I want the BBEG to be able to scry them enough to know they are coming and have a general idea of their abilities (this guy is good with a bow, that's the healer, keep an eye out for the sneaky guy) but not enough to counter all of their spells or abilities.

I also want the players to be able to know they are being watched but not immediately fully grasp the mechanism or be able to automatically counter it so that while they are being watched they may be able to misdirect the enemy or even lead the enemy into a trap by faking weakness.

I was complimented on how I described scrying to my players. A (very) long read over several sessions starts at the bottom of this post, but in general the way I described it was:
(1) The party member feels a buzzing 'otherness' in their head.
(2) The party member makes a Will save.
(3) Success = The party member feels he/she successfully pushed out the intruder.
(4) Fail = The intruding presence grows to be all-encompassing, then... vanishes!

At that point, the party member is being scried, and everything he/she sees or hears is seen or heard by the scryer.

The problem is, it only works once per group of gamers, and then they catch on and say, "Aha! That's how scrying works in your universe," but I made up this mechanism for my new group, and they were awesomely paranoid! "Something's going on with my head and someone's after me, but I don't know what they're doing or why!"

Great fun over several sessions for me!

I was looking through rings earlier and saw something interesting called a Dungeon Ring; perhaps have an effect like that hidden on an otherwise powerful ring that one of the party members would want to keep on them at all times. It could be planted by agents of the one trying to keep tabs on them, and hell, while those agents were at it, they could have stealthily taken a lock of hair (for a grand total of -15 to their will save to resist the scry). Fun times would be had at a later time when they realize how their enemy had tabs on them at all times.

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