The idea of forcing people to tell the truth, whether friend or foe, is appealing. The sad truth of the zone of truth spell: it just isn’t worth it. We’ll show you why below.
What is Zone of Truth Spell?
The spell’s text from the Basic Rules reads: “You create a magical zone that guards against deception in a 15-foot-radius sphere centered on a point of your choice within range. Until the spell ends, a creature that enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there must make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, a creature can’t speak a deliberate lie while in the radius. You know whether each creature succeeds or fails on its saving throw.
An affected creature is aware of the spell and can thus avoid answering questions to which it would normally respond with a lie. Such a creature can be evasive in its answers as long as it remains within the boundaries of the truth.”
Zone of Truth 5e Stats
|Casting Time||1 Action|
|Range/Area||60 ft (15-ft radius sphere)|
|Classes||Bard, Cleric, Paladin|
How Does Zone of Truth Work?
Anyone within the spell’s radius cannot consciously tell a lie. That’s all there is to it. The spell states that you know who is under the spell’s effects, so people can’t trick you into thinking they’re telling the truth while lying, but everyone is aware of the enchantment.
Is Zone of Truth a Good Spell?
In the simplest terms, no. Even at first glance, you can see that this is a gimmicky spell that will be situational and not see much use. However, the spell is much worse than it might appear on the surface for several reasons, beginning with the fact that it’s a 2nd level spell. Even at higher levels, there are rarely times that you want to waste 2nd level spell slots.
For one thing, the spell has a small radius; all someone needs to do is exit that radius to be free of the spell’s effects. But, let’s say you’ve tied someone up and are looking to interrogate them. The fact that targets are aware that they are under the spell’s influence already nerfs it quite a bit.
The real issue with Zone of Truth 5e lies in the second paragraph: allowing creatures to be evasive or simply not respond. Why would anyone ever choose to open their mouths if they know they don’t have to?