Scry with a baby?


Rules Questions


Yeah, I'm asking it. Can you scry a person using their offspring? Like, let's say you're trying to prove someone is the father of a given child. Can you use that child as the "connection" to scry the father? (My party is tracking a rapist. I'm trying to be creative here.)


Be a little clearer with your title...

That is clearly a GM question and circumstance bonuses will vary as well as spell targets.

Philosophically humans are individuals and the rule of sympathy which creates a circumstance bonus applies to personal items of the spell target. A baby/child/relative is not a personal item.
It does have a connection but it is likely that your scrying will target the baby. Not a big deal as Dad is bound to show up sometime... just keep listening on your magical baby monitor...
is a dirty diaper the item?? PeeeeYew lol... you must be desperate


These are the possible modifiers in scrying:

Likeness or picture -2
Possession or garment -4
Body part, lock of hair, bit of nail, etc. -10

Blood relatives aren't listed as an option. However, there's a decent case to be made that a close relative is a stronger connection than a mere possession or garment, so I'd be willing to grant an ad-hoc bonus to the check. Wouldn't be as good as having a piece of the actual person's body, though.

Liberty's Edge

A rapist's victim might still have his body fluids on their body or their clothes. Using those should work even if those fluids are old

Credit to the latest OotS strips BTW :-)


9+ months is probably past the expiration date of contact fluids...


One might argue that offspring equals a "likeness".
And of course there's the Detect Relations spell.


Is this an attempt to divine the identity of someone via scrying? That's a bit hinky. Like saying "I cast scrying specifying the person who murdered Bob Johnson"--it's slipping an extra divination in for free. The spell wouldn't work that way--you need a specific, definite creature in mind to use scrying. If you had a specific suspect, though, you could spy on them to gather intelligence.

If you already have someone in mind, though, sure, you could try to use the baby as an aid. Technically, though, there's no modifier for "baby". If the GM adjudicates that paternity constitutes a modifier, the GM would take that into account--if the subject actually is the child's father, then the subject would get the associated saving throw penalty.


I don't know. This may go to mindset, defining the word "possession". If a target of a scrying owns slaves, are the slaves a possession for the spell? If the target thinks of the baby as HIS baby, he might be possessive. In legal terms (in the real world), minors are considered "chattel" to the parents and the actions of the minor are thus the responsibility of the parent concerning liability damage - so you can make a really technical argument that children are possessions. But if you start taking "object of affection" as literally an object - that's beyond just sketchy. Maybe give a -1 if the father is very possessive of the child, otherwise I would say no.


I'll take a shot and say that trying to use another person - no matter how close - won't work. This is all based on my personal interpretation on WHY having a possession/garment of the target provides a bonus:

When constantly interacting with our surroundings, we leave psychic imprints of our actions, thoughts, and emotions. This is evident in several spells introduced in Occult Adventures, such as Retrocognition. Most imprints we leave are insubstantial to all but the most niche Divinations (like Retrocognition), but on people and objects we interact with on a regular basis, these imprints are much more apparent and defined. It's this relation between the Transmuter and his favorite Griffon-feather quill that gives a spell like Scrying a boost in viewing him - psychic imprints of the Transmuter's unique personality, quirks, and tendencies act as a sort of focus in the same way that the caster knowing the Transmuter's likeness enhances the spell effects (though a mental image isn't nearly as personal as the spiritual connection psychic imprints leave).

With this argument, I must have made a typo when I said it wouldn't work - combining the psychic imprints the Transmuter left on his beloved son COMBINED with his son's familiarity to, and biological connection with the same person should certainly work just as well - if not better - than the Transmuter's quill, right? No. Scrying may be able to pick up on established psychic impressions, but only as a means to a completely different end. If you try to use a person as the focus - no matter how spiritually or biologically close to the target - the spell isn't designed to sift through psychic imprints and auras of multiple creatures. Any metaphysical echos the Transmuter may have left on his son would be vastly overpowered by the active aura of the son himself. Same goes for if the son were to die - psychic imprints would still be present, but the metaphysical scarring from the son's soul leaving his body would be too strong for a spell like Scrying to pick up on the much fainter traces of the father.


blahpers wrote:
Is this an attempt to divine the identity of someone via scrying? That's a bit hinky. Like saying "I cast scrying specifying the person who murdered Bob Johnson"--it's slipping an extra divination in for free. The spell wouldn't work that way--you need a specific, definite creature in mind to use scrying. If you had a specific suspect, though, you could spy on them to gather intelligence.

That's already covered in the rules: having "none" knowledge of the subject (which is suitable description if you want to find killer and you don't know who the killer is) gives +10 bonus to the saving throw involved AND requires some sort of physical connection to the subject to be at hand for the spell to work at all.


Drejk wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Is this an attempt to divine the identity of someone via scrying? That's a bit hinky. Like saying "I cast scrying specifying the person who murdered Bob Johnson"--it's slipping an extra divination in for free. The spell wouldn't work that way--you need a specific, definite creature in mind to use scrying. If you had a specific suspect, though, you could spy on them to gather intelligence.
That's already covered in the rules: having "none" knowledge of the subject (which is suitable description if you want to find killer and you don't know who the killer is) gives +10 bonus to the saving throw involved AND requires some sort of physical connection to the subject to be at hand for the spell to work at all.

Hmm. I never really interpreted it that way; I assumed "none" would be "scry on Bob Johnson" when you had never heard of Bob Johnson, not "scry on the secret mastermind behind the Xerxes Affair" when you had no idea who that was.


Another good question to tack on this, Slaves are possessions, could you use someones slave as a focus? I mean. I'd probably say no and limit possessions to actual objects. I'd probably say that a baby/kid of a person bears likeness but nothing more.


Kind of sounds like your restricting scrying to "people who's name you know", blahpers. If not, what other way to unambiguously define a target than "this kid's father" would you think is acceptable.

I don't think the intent was to have you pick up an item and rumplestiltskin a previous owners name by brute force guessing.

I think I'd allow it, but with no bonus.


toastedamphibian wrote:

Kind of sounds like your restricting scrying to "people who's name you know", blahpers. If not, what other way to unambiguously define a target than "this kid's father" would you think is acceptable.

I don't think the intent was to have you pick up an item and rumplestiltskin a previous owners name by brute force guessing.

I think I'd allow it, but with no bonus.

The name was just an example. Using the other interpretation, you can answer literally any question whose answer is a particular creature simply by casting scrying and getting past the Will save, which seems out of the scope of the spell. Maybe I've just been running the spell as weaker than intended. *shrug* Considering how many folks wail about the OP nature of scrying, I can live with that.


Speaking of objects, 'possession' seems to me to mean 'recently within the aura and intent of the person'. So if you hang a 'kick me' sign on a nerd, and it falls off before the nerd knows about it, it was never the nerd's possession. You can't use the Trump Tower as a possession to scry a dude, even if he did own it personally, outright, for twenty years.

So now to the baby, if the target's just a sperm donor, there may never have been any instant of 'possession'. A rapist has more intent, but there's months of fade on whatever that signature trackable quintessence might be...

As a player, I'd assume the GM had an intent to use the plot thread he showed us, or at least an intent to let use pull at it, and I'd guess at 'part of in possession' bonus to apply, along with all the other negatives.

As a GM, the infant wouldn't be the only clue I gave you. There'd be other information that would point to the target, but hopefully not put together until the party is equal to the traditional battle.


I would say "Body part, lock of hair, bit of nail, etc." should be bigger than 1 cell (or half even, since its gamete).


On a separate note, this is the least offensive "can I use a baby for X" thread I've ever seen. Well done, folks!


With the 'none' you have to have a connection. So if you want to "scry on the secret mastermind behind the Xerxes Affair" you probably can, if you have his picture, or his underwear or his toenail clippings. Probably a fairly rare circumstance. And what you are really doing is "scrying on the person that it is a picture of, owns the underwear, or has the toenails". So unless you are already positive of the connection between the two, it wouldn't be any sort of proof of identity.

Which gets us to the problem of the baby. A baby isn't unambiguously connected to one single person. It has connections to multiple people (at least two if we are considering parentage, possibly more if other relations would qualify, and if an emotional link, regardless of blood relation would qualify even more are possible.) Because of this, it seems to me that a baby would be entirely unsuitable as a scrying connection. This is probably a good reason that people in general, even if a 'possession' as in the case of slavery, wouldn't be suitable.

I would imagine that other 'connections' that are unambiguously connected to a single person would work (recording of a voice being like a picture for example).


I would say no to the scry but if you manage to narrow don the suspects the Detect Relations spell would likely be useful.


I think Bowie does it to scry on Sarah in Labyrinth.

You remind me of the babe
What babe? babe with the power
What power? power of voodoo
Who do? you do
Do what? remind me of the babe


If it's good enough for the Goblin King it's good enough for me!


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I'm pretty sure Bowie qualifies as a deity, and special rules apply to them.


Dave Justus wrote:
With the 'none' you have to have a connection. So if you want to "scry on the secret mastermind behind the Xerxes Affair" you probably can, if you have his picture, or his underwear or his toenail clippings. Probably a fairly rare circumstance. And what you are really doing is "scrying on the person that it is a picture of, owns the underwear, or has the toenails". So unless you are already positive of the connection between the two, it wouldn't be any sort of proof of identity.

Good point--I forgot about the asterisk. That makes things more manageable.


blahpers wrote:
Drejk wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Is this an attempt to divine the identity of someone via scrying? That's a bit hinky. Like saying "I cast scrying specifying the person who murdered Bob Johnson"--it's slipping an extra divination in for free. The spell wouldn't work that way--you need a specific, definite creature in mind to use scrying. If you had a specific suspect, though, you could spy on them to gather intelligence.
That's already covered in the rules: having "none" knowledge of the subject (which is suitable description if you want to find killer and you don't know who the killer is) gives +10 bonus to the saving throw involved AND requires some sort of physical connection to the subject to be at hand for the spell to work at all.
Hmm. I never really interpreted it that way; I assumed "none" would be "scry on Bob Johnson" when you had never heard of Bob Johnson, not "scry on the secret mastermind behind the Xerxes Affair" when you had no idea who that was.

Both fit: you can'ty scry on either unless you have a connection at hand, and even then they get +10 bonus to Will save.

Note that in a setting where names are unique for each individual, knowing the name would already be a degree of second hand knowledge of the person (read/heard of the subject).

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