Can you detected a spell being cast when there is nothing to see, nothing to hear, no components, and you aren't being targetted?


Rules Questions

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To throw some chum in the water.

From 3.5 SRD
"15 + spell level Identify a spell being cast. (You must see or hear the spell’s verbal or somatic components.) No action required. No retry."

It was very clear in 3.5 that still + silent spell could not be identified via spell craft.

Pathfinder is very vague in this respect.
"Identify Spell Being Cast: Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors."

"Other factors" is a DM fudge parameter that basically lets the DM make the call.

There is no reason that the PF rules have to work any different than the 3.5 rules in this area. When in doubt, I tend to side with making things work the way they always have.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LilithsThrall wrote:


We agree that, by your interpretation, illusions are largely useless. The example you gave is a good example of why. The guard following you knows you cast a spell (which made you look like you went down the wrong hall, because, by your argument, even a still, silenced spell can be seen being cast).

Yes it can, because a still silent spell is not the same as a quickened spell. I generally however would add a 10 to the DC on this case, 5 each for the two missing components, possibly adding 5 or 10 more for a quickened spell.


LazarX wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:


We agree that, by your interpretation, illusions are largely useless. The example you gave is a good example of why. The guard following you knows you cast a spell (which made you look like you went down the wrong hall, because, by your argument, even a still, silenced spell can be seen being cast).
Yes it can, because a still silent spell is not the same as a quickened spell. I generally however would add a 10 to the DC on this case, 5 each for the two missing components, possibly adding 5 or 10 more for a quickened spell.

I'm interested in an official ruling - that's why I asked Paizo directly at the beginning of this thread, not a house rule.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You also need to add in variables for the environment.

In combat, seeing someone intently staring pretty well tells you that they are using magic of some kind.

In town, seeing someone intently staring as the local Lord rides by is quite different and would likely add in a significant modifier, specially as likely there will be several people string at that Lord.


Pathfinder uses the d20 rules set down by WotC and expands, changes, or creates what it needs to.

WotC 3.5 rules are illustrated clearest in Complete Scoundrel under skill tricks. Specifically False Theurgy. To paraphrase, you cast a spell using the verbal or somatic or both components of another spell of the same level. This in turn then makes the spell unidentifiable by the normal means of using spellcraft as well as making it uncounterable by normal means(only dispel magic and its spinoffs can be used).

Since Paizo has never published anything to the contrary of this above example, it stands as the precident. If you cannot identify the verbal or somatic, you cannot identify the spell. If you Still+Silent+Eschew a spell, it is identical to the function of a Spell-like ability. Though it still provokes for you needing to focus on the casting, you cannot identify an SLA being used, so the same again applies.

Bottom line is a spell with no components is essentially a spell-like ability and should thus be treated as such: subject to saves/sr, provokes for needing concentration/focus, cannot be identified until it takes effect, only difference is if you know its coming and have a ready action you could coubterspell it with a dispel magic.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

JimmyNids wrote:

Pathfinder uses the d20 rules set down by WotC and expands, changes, or creates what it needs to.

WotC 3.5 rules are illustrated clearest in Complete Scoundrel under skill tricks. Specifically False Theurgy. To paraphrase, you cast a spell using the verbal or somatic or both components of another spell of the same level. This in turn then makes the spell unidentifiable by the normal means of using spellcraft as well as making it uncounterable by normal means(only dispel magic and its spinoffs can be used).

Fautly Premise.

1) Pathfinder is based on the d20 SRD. Complete Scoundrel is closed content and thus not part of the SRD*.

2) Pathfinder is a completely different game, from a completely different company. You'd not use a rule in the GameMasters Guide to settle an issue in a Mutants and Masterminds game and expect anyone to listen. The same thing here. WotC 3.x splatbooks are not valid rulings for Pathfinder, anymore than they would be for Rifts.

3) Even though Pathfinder is based on the SRD, it doesn't automatically make the SRD 'king' After all, the SRD grapple rules can't be cited in an argument about Pathfinder.

*

Spoiler:
Psionics are OGL, and part of the SRD. So that's why I cite them. When Psifinder rules come down, their changes would superceed the SRD for these discussions as well.


LilithsThrall wrote:


We've been discussing still, silent spell castings. Why are you bringing up casting illusions with all the usual VSM components?

Because your conclusion and arguments would apply to normal illusions without any metamagics backing them up.

The question was 'do all illusions need to be stilled and silent?' or something to that effect.

Your argument that if one could simply spellcraft an illusion spell as it's being cast then the spell is useless.

Well are you arguing that a caster out in the open and heard by all that casts an illusion spell disallows spellcraft checks to id the spell?

That was what you were and are failing to understand. Your argument is flawed here.

Now there are non-core feats and abilities to mask spellcasting, they are as I recall 3.5 material.. but they do exist. Disguise spell was a feat for bards to do so as I recall. It required a spot check to even know there was casting, but even then disallowed a spellcraft to know what the casting was.

As to others that wish to house rule a higher DC: Is it harder to spellcraft a dimension door spell than say a black tentacles spell? Both unmodified by metamagics.

-James


LilithsThrall wrote:

I've got a question I'm wondering if any Paizo employees can make a ruling on.

With regards to using illusions and charms, the question has come up

Can a person who can't see a spell being cast, can't hear the spell being cast, can't sense any material components, and isn't being targetted by the spell, nevertheless sense that the spell is being cast?

In other words, if a caster is standing next to a person and casts a still, silent spell with eschewed materials and that spell isn't targetting the person, can the person sense that the spell is being cast?

Charender wrote:

Identifying a spell by observing its effects is a function of Knowledge(Arcana)

Identifying a spell by observing the spellcasting is a function of Spellcraft.

So if see a green ray flying at me, I dodge it, and the wall behind me dissappears, it is a Knowledge(arcana) check to recognize a disintegrate spell.

If I see a guy in robes muttering something about "pyro" while pulling out a pinch of something that looks like bat droppings, it is a spellcraft check to recognize the common components of a fireball spell.

This is important. Spellcraft is the only way to identify a spell before it is cast.

Hum... Charender got a good point. As a DM, here what i would do...

While the spell is being cast, I would make the caster make a bluff opposed bluff check to the perception of the target. If he succeed, no spellcraft. If he fail, i would give a spellcraft check (with a penalty like -10 [-3 eschewed material, -3 silent spell and -4 still spell]). Success mean the caster is identified as the caster of a that spell. At -5, he would sense that this caster is casting and at +0, he would sense that a spell is being cast without knowing which one or by who.

After the spell is cast, i would give a arcana knowledge check if the see the result as a spell. In other word, if you see an illusion of a wall appear, you get a knowledge check but if you do not spell the result happening, no knowledge check. So someone can cast a illusion to make a wall appear that isn't in the target LOS, then no knowledge check.

I would also make it harder if this was part of a prepared plan (with a NPC or a PC). This is because, in my opinion, illusion need to be prepared carefully for full effect.

This should not make it impossible to cast illusion in combat but very hard.
Of course, this is my point of view only.


LilithsThrall wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:
If they have Spellcraft, according to RAW, they can. They can't necessarily tell who cast it, but they can see the spell itself and recognize it as a spell effect.

Spellcraft states, "you must be able to clearly see the spell as it is being cast", not "you must be able to clearly see the spell caster as the spell is being cast".

This raises the question, can a spell which has nothing to see (is stilled), nothing to hear (is silent), and no spell components (eschewed) be seen.

Not in my campaigns, no. If a character invests three feats into making a school viable, I'm not going to nerf it. Otherwise, why'd he take those feats? And if spellcraft gives you a chance to recognize an illusion, it's like getting a second save against the illusion. You tell me what happens when you fail the save but make the skill check against Major image.

My advice to DMs: Just roll with it, dude.


roguerouge wrote:
And if spellcraft gives you a chance to recognize an illusion, it's like getting a second save against the illusion. You tell me what happens when you fail the save but make the skill check against Major image.

You know what he's cast but currently don't see through it.

This issue has nothing to do with still and silent metamagic feats, but simply with spellcrafting casting. If you know what the guy is doing then you're not completely duped by him. Well that's the bonus of knowing how spells work and studying them.

And again to those that would alter the DC for a spell that's been stilled, made silent or eschewed of material needs.. are the DCs of unmodified spells without some of those components higher than those with them? No? Then why should one that normally has all of those requirements become higher to ID when they are brought down to the same number?

-James


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
james maissen wrote:


And again to those that would alter the DC for a spell that's been stilled, made silent or eschewed of material needs.. are the DCs of unmodified spells without some of those components higher than those with them? No? Then why should one that normally has all of those requirements become higher to ID when they are brought down to the same number?

-James

I don't think I saw anyone say it was going to raise the DC of the spell.

What I saw was that they would raise the DC to tell what the spell was. If you can't see how it would be harder to spellcraft a casting of fireball (mage waves his hands, mutters arcane words and tosses bat guano in the air) vs a stilled/silent/eschewed fireball (guy glances in your direction) then I don't think I understand your point of view.


The problem is that there is a preconceived notion that they are supposed to combine to do more than what they do. You get what each feat gives you individually, and that is about it.


mdt wrote:
james maissen wrote:


And again to those that would alter the DC for a spell that's been stilled, made silent or eschewed of material needs.. are the DCs of unmodified spells without some of those components higher than those with them? No? Then why should one that normally has all of those requirements become higher to ID when they are brought down to the same number?

-James

I don't think I saw anyone say it was going to raise the DC of the spell.

What I saw was that they would raise the DC to tell what the spell was. If you can't see how it would be harder to spellcraft a casting of fireball (mage waves his hands, mutters arcane words and tosses bat guano in the air) vs a stilled/silent/eschewed fireball (guy glances in your direction) then I don't think I understand your point of view.

Er I think the point is that houseruling in a modifier based on removal components leaves the question is it harder to identify say dimension door versus greater invisibility since one is missing a component. If it is not then does applying the still spell feat to greater invisibility give a benefit since it leaves both with only a verbal component. These are important questions to consider when making houserules.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

WWWW wrote:


Er I think the point is that houseruling in a modifier based on removal components leaves the question is it harder to identify say dimension door versus greater invisibility since one is missing a component. If it is not then does applying the still spell feat to greater invisibility give a benefit since it leaves both with only a verbal component. These are important questions to consider when making houserules.

I think the idea is, Spellcraft works somewhat similar to taxonomic identification. You start with general details to narrow the field, (does it have a somatic component? If so, you know it's not charm monster, dimension door, or displacement), then use more specific details to determine the exact spell (was that sand he was holding? Did he use the sylvan word for "growth"? How many syllables were in that incantation?).

So a spell naturally lacking a somatic or verbal component wouldn't be any more difficult to identify, indeed noting the lack of components would be part of identifying it. A spell missing a component that it should have, however, might be misidentified as something else. Pure fluff, not supported in the rules, I know, but thats how I picture it.

Furthermore, if Spellcraft suffers the same penalties as Perception, that implies it's based off your 5 basic senses (sight, hearing, etc.). If you deprive the senses of information by silencing and stilling a spell, it should be very difficult (if not impossible) to identify that spell, just like it becomes more difficult to identify that spell in the dark, or from great distance. This may not be what the rules outright state, but it seems to me to be what the rules imply.

Illusion sidenote:

Spoiler:
I'd allow a character to make a spellcraft check on an illusion being cast, but if they succeed, I'd only give them a chance to save (disbelief) with the +4 bonus. They think it's an illusion, but they don't have proof yet, because you don't necessarily know if you passed that spellcraft check or not.

If they stumble across an already cast illusion (say, an illusory door), I'd make them save before making a Knowledge (arcana) check. If they fail, they believe they're looking a door, not a spell, and Knowledge (arcana) doesn't really help you identify doors in most cases.

But that's just how I'd run things


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
WWWW wrote:


Er I think the point is that houseruling in a modifier based on removal components leaves the question is it harder to identify say dimension door versus greater invisibility since one is missing a component. If it is not then does applying the still spell feat to greater invisibility give a benefit since it leaves both with only a verbal component. These are important questions to consider when making houserules.

I think the idea is, Spellcraft works somewhat similar to taxonomic identification. You start with general details to narrow the field, (does it have a somatic component? If so, you know it's not charm monster, dimension door, or displacement), then use more specific details to determine the exact spell (was that sand he was holding? Did he use the sylvan word for "growth"? How many syllables were in that incantation?).

So a spell naturally lacking a somatic or verbal component wouldn't be any more difficult to identify, indeed noting the lack of components would be part of identifying it. A spell missing a component that it should have, however, might be misidentified as something else. Pure fluff, not supported in the rules, I know, but thats how I picture it.

Furthermore, if Spellcraft suffers the same penalties as Perception, that implies it's based off your 5 basic senses (sight, hearing, etc.). If you deprive the senses of information by silencing and stilling a spell, it should be very difficult (if not impossible) to identify that spell, just like it becomes more difficult to identify that spell in the dark, or from great distance. This may not be what the rules outright state, but it seems to me to be what the rules imply.

Illusion sidenote: ** spoiler omitted **...

Starting with types of components will then always give a failure should a component be changed so clearly this can not be the case.

Also if spellcraft suffers the penalties for perception not having a component for one reason would lead to a lack of just as much information as for another.

I mean I could make the case that should one choose to houserule any missing component should increase the DC since given the short time frame one has to identify the spell identifying is based on whether some component triggers the specific memory of having heard about the spell. Thus more components gives more triggers. Additionally it would be reasonable to modify the DC based on casting time since the longer cast times gives more chances to recognize the spell.

On the other hand I could probably make up some fluff that would support any houserule I choose and that is because all in all houserules are arbitrary and so are not the sort of thing one can easily convince others of.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

WWWW wrote:


Starting with types of components will then always give a failure should a component be changed so clearly this can not be the case.

Only if you approach the situation like a mindless robot*. But a highly trained spell-specialist should be able to spot the incongruence (either by recognizing that their initial result is false, or perhaps noting subtle variations in the remaining observable components) and postulate the presence of a suppressed component. From there it's possible, albeit difficult, to arrive at the correct identification. Hence, penalty.

Like I said, I aint tryin' to sell you on it, I'm just saying it's possible to contrive a consistent explanation as to why suppressed components add to DC, while naturally absent components don't.

Personally, I'm for adding for upping the DC for any metamagic modified spell, since it seems intuitive to me that the less like itself a spell is, the harder it would be to identify it.

*EDIT: Not saying you're a mindless robot! Just wanted an example of the kind of person that would be unable to avoid the trap you described, what with robots stereotypically being portrayed as 'slaves to logic'. Re-reading my post, I was worried that might come off as insulting, didn't mean it that way.


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
WWWW wrote:


Starting with types of components will then always give a failure should a component be changed so clearly this can not be the case.

Only if you approach the situation like a mindless robot*. But a highly trained spell-specialist should be able to spot the incongruence (either by recognizing that their initial result is false, or perhaps noting subtle variations in the remaining observable components) and postulate the presence of a suppressed component. From there it's possible, albeit difficult, to arrive at the correct identification. Hence, penalty.

Like I said, I aint tryin' to sell you on it, I'm just saying it's possible to contrive a consistent explanation as to why suppressed components add to DC, while naturally absent components don't.

Personally, I'm for adding for upping the DC for any metamagic modified spell, since it seems intuitive to me that the less like itself a spell is, the harder it would be to identify it.

*EDIT: Not saying you're a mindless robot! Just wanted an example of the kind of person that would be unable to avoid the trap you described, what with robots stereotypically being portrayed as 'slaves to logic'. Re-reading my post, I was worried that might come off as insulting, didn't mean it that way.

Well I suppose then that being a discussion about making things up without a sell I have nothing more to say.

So back to the original subject then.


james maissen wrote:

You know what he's cast but currently don't see through it.

This issue has nothing to do with still and silent metamagic feats, but simply with spellcrafting casting.

So, in short, you'd tell your player that due to your ruling he's invested in a school of magic you've made mechanically inferior to other schools of magic. Identifying an evocation spell doesn't change its mechanics: you still take damage from the wall of fire spell and it still does battlefield control. Identifying an illusion, however, changes the mechanics of it profoundly.

I don't find that to be a fair ruling at a table, nor do I find the idea that suddenly this one skill gives a defacto second save for illusions to be a compelling interpretation of RAW, and I think the 3e precedent is relevant to understanding RAI.

I agree with the OP. This requires an editor's ruling.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

roguerouge wrote:
james maissen wrote:

You know what he's cast but currently don't see through it.

This issue has nothing to do with still and silent metamagic feats, but simply with spellcrafting casting.

So, in short, you'd tell your player that due to your ruling he's invested in a school of magic you've made mechanically inferior to other schools of magic. Identifying an evocation spell doesn't change its mechanics: you still take damage from the wall of fire spell and it still does battlefield control. Identifying an illusion, however, changes the mechanics of it profoundly.

I don't find that to be a fair ruling at a table, nor do I find the idea that suddenly this one skill gives a defacto second save for illusions to be a compelling interpretation of RAW, and I think the 3e precedent is relevant to understanding RAI.

I agree with the OP. This requires an editor's ruling.

If you 'just' give the guy who sank spell points into identifying the spell, then it doesn't change the mechanics at all.

If you use Charm X in combat, it's a +5 to the save.

If you cast an Illusion where someone can see you cast it and identify the spell they get a save.

Pathfinder RPG, pg 211 wrote:
"Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion."

Identifying the casting is interaction in my book. It's not 'proof' since he still could blow the spellcheck roll, and it shouldn't generate a +4 bonus, since it has yet to be successfully disbelieved.

As to detecting a spell being cast when there's nothing to see, since the precident is that SLAs (Yes, and psionics) can be readied against, then it makes sense you can detect the spell, if you're observing the character. Someone pings you with detect thoughts in a crowded tavern? Likely not since you weren't watching mage X in the corner, or on the landing, or wherever he is. In combat, if you're watching the mage, especially with a Readied action, then certainly. Now what you do with that information is up to you.

"I'm readying an action to counterspell the mage."
"Ok, he's casting-" *Player grabs die* "-stilled and silent, so you don't know what he's throwing. What counterspell are you using?"
This again points out why counterspell (except with dispels) is a sucky option.

Much better is the "I'm tossing out X if he casts."

Spoiler:
I was playing my abjurant cheesewhore against a party including a cleric. Since my familiar could act, I was holding an Orb of Force as a readied action if he cast. DM forgot about it, so the combat went like this (3.x game)

DM: Ok, the cleric drops a flame strike on you save or take- *DM grabs handfull of dice*
Me: Wait, I've Orb of Force readied, it goes off first. *Roll to hit, roll damage* Take 40 points of damage!
DM: Ok, he takes the damage. He's not happy, he can take it though. What's the DC on the concerntration check?
Me: *double checking the book* DC 10 plus damage delt.
DM: *choking noise* DC 50 concentration check?
Me: Yup.
Next round he goes to heal himself, my next readied action goes off, this time it's 70 points of damage, (critting with orbs is fun!)
DM: Ok, he might be able to make the DC 80 concentration check, had your orb not caved in his rib cage. He's dead, damnit.


roguerouge wrote:
james maissen wrote:

You know what he's cast but currently don't see through it.

This issue has nothing to do with still and silent metamagic feats, but simply with spellcrafting casting.

So, in short, you'd tell your player that due to your ruling he's invested in a school of magic you've made mechanically inferior to other schools of magic. Identifying an evocation spell doesn't change its mechanics: you still take damage from the wall of fire spell and it still does battlefield control. Identifying an illusion, however, changes the mechanics of it profoundly.

I don't find that to be a fair ruling at a table, nor do I find the idea that suddenly this one skill gives a defacto second save for illusions to be a compelling interpretation of RAW, and I think the 3e precedent is relevant to understanding RAI.

I agree with the OP. This requires an editor's ruling.

What's the alternative? Why would Spellcraft be unable to recognize an illusion casting only?


Matthew Morris wrote:

[

Pathfinder RPG, pg 211 wrote:
"Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion."

Identifying the casting is interaction in my book. It's not 'proof' since he still could blow the spellcheck roll, and it shouldn't generate a +4 bonus, since it has yet to be successfully disbelieved.

So, in short, not only does a skill check give you a defacto extra save, it also automatically grants you a save against illusions? That's another example of my point about a huge nerf to illusionists.

And, for the record, I don't buy the analysis of the RAW that they can identify the casting of a spell despite having no indications of the spell being cast. You're turning spellcraft into an always-on detect magic by having them be able to detect magical auras with a skill check. Detect magic allows you to detect magical auras, not spellcraft. Spellcraft allows you to deduce the spell based on the visual cues of the casting. If three feats remove all the visual cues of the casting, you do not get to make a Spellcraft check.


Carpy DM wrote:


What's the alternative? Why would Spellcraft be unable to recognize an illusion casting only?

If a Silent, Stilled, Eschewed Materials Spell is cast, you are not able to recognize it sufficiently to label it using spellcraft. Doesn't matter what the spell is, nor what school it was. You cannot tell whether it is a Conjuration school (monster summoning I) or an illusion spell masquerading as a conjuration spell. You can't tell if it was a Fireball or a Shadow Evocation. It could be a Wall of Fire, or it could be an evoker's special ability. You can see that it's wall-shaped and firey, though.


roguerouge wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:


What's the alternative? Why would Spellcraft be unable to recognize an illusion casting only?
If a Silent, Stilled, Eschewed Materials Spell is cast, you are not able to recognize it sufficiently to label it using spellcraft. Doesn't matter what the spell is, nor what school it was. You cannot tell whether it is a Conjuration school (monster summoning I) or an illusion spell masquerading as a conjuration spell. You can't tell if it was a Fireball or a Shadow Evocation. It could be a Wall of Fire, or it could be an evoker's special ability. You can see that it's wall-shaped and firey, though.

So... it takes three feats to make the illusion school not "mechanically inferior?"

No one can ever use Spellcraft to recognize spell-like abilities?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

roguerouge wrote:


So, in short, not only does a skill check give you a defacto extra save, it also automatically grants you a save against illusions? That's another example of my point about a huge nerf to illusionists.

You misunderstand me, Roguerouge.

If the casting wizard can be seen, and if the caster makes a spellcraft check, then they get their standard save, under interaction, right off the bat. They don't get a 'second save' and I don't see where I implied otherwise.

If you get into combat, expect your charm spells to fail more often. If you're casting illusions against a wizard armed with spellcraft, then prepare to see them fizzle more often too.

Pathfinder RPG, pg 106 wrote:

Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as

it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.

If the spell is stilled, you can't 'clearly see it' being cast. Heck, one could argue that if the caster is blurred, you can't clearly see it. I even gave the example of knowing the spell is being cast (since SLAs and Psionics can be readied against) but not being able to tell what it is, since you have no clues.

So please point out to me where I am turning "spellcraft into an always-on detect magic by having them be able to detect magical auras with a skill check".


Matthew Morris wrote:
Pathfinder RPG, pg 106 wrote:

Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as

it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.
If the spell is stilled, you can't 'clearly see it' being cast. Heck, one could argue that if the caster is blurred, you can't clearly see it.

A key point: caster =/= spell. (At least arguably.)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Carpy DM wrote:

So... it takes three feats to make the illusion school not "mechanically inferior?"

No one can ever use Spellcraft to recognize spell-like abilities?

Actually, SLAs are in Knowlege (Arcana) or Knowlege (Planes) to know what they have or what they just did.

And Illusion is not 'Mechanically Inferior' it's situationally limited. Just like using Necromancy against Undead, or Evocation against SR, or Charms in combat. Can it work? Yes. Is it hampered? Yes.

EDIT: didn't mean to imply Carpy was arguing it was inferior.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Carpy DM wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
Pathfinder RPG, pg 106 wrote:

Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as

it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.
If the spell is stilled, you can't 'clearly see it' being cast. Heck, one could argue that if the caster is blurred, you can't clearly see it.
A key point: caster =/= spell. (At least arguably.)

Right, but Caster = caster casting a spell, where you use spell craft.

Think of Spellcraft vs Knowlege as Witness vs Forensics.

Witness: Sees the person pull out the gun(spell), recognizes it's a revolver(fireball), and can ID the gun as it's being used.

Forensics: Takes samples of the shooting scene(spell effect) compares them to known effects (spells) and gets the make, caliber, position of the shooter, etc (spell, where it hit, and can likely extrapolate where it emenated from).


Matthew Morris wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:

So... it takes three feats to make the illusion school not "mechanically inferior?"

No one can ever use Spellcraft to recognize spell-like abilities?

Actually, SLAs are in Knowlege (Arcana) or Knowlege (Planes) to know what they have or what they just did.

And Illusion is not 'Mechanically Inferior' it's situationally limited. Just like using Necromancy against Undead, or Evocation against SR, or Charms in combat. Can it work? Yes. Is it hampered? Yes.

That was roguerouge's phrase, not mine.


Matthew Morris wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
Pathfinder RPG, pg 106 wrote:

Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as

it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.
If the spell is stilled, you can't 'clearly see it' being cast. Heck, one could argue that if the caster is blurred, you can't clearly see it.
A key point: caster =/= spell. (At least arguably.)

Right, but Caster = caster casting a spell, where you use spell craft.

Think of Spellcraft vs Knowlege as Witness vs Forensics.

Witness: Sees the person pull out the gun(spell), recognizes it's a revolver(fireball), and can ID the gun as it's being used.

Forensics: Takes samples of the shooting scene(spell effect) compares them to known effects (spells) and gets the make, caliber, position of the shooter, etc (spell, where it hit, and can likely extrapolate where it emenated from).

Trouble is, "Caster = caster casting a spell, where you use spell craft" isn't actually in the rules. That's my point. If it were to say, "you must be able to clearly see the caster as the spell is being cast," it would be a different story, but it doesn't. It says you have to be able to see the spell, that's all. So visibility effects on the caster are irrelevant.


Carpy DM wrote:


What's the alternative? Why would Spellcraft be unable to recognize an illusion casting only?

Even this isn't an alternative.

Wizard sees an enemy cast a spell with VSM components, rolls a 40 spellcraft.

DM: You don't ID the spell.

Wizard: I must be an illusion then.

Mind you there is no caveat in the spellcraft check for illusions, so this is a house rule.. and as you see not a very useful one.

Perhaps you wish to house rule that spellcraft doesn't exist as a skill in the first place?

-James


Carpy DM wrote:


Trouble is, "Caster = caster casting a spell, where you use spell craft" isn't actually in the rules. That's my point. If it were to say, "you must be able to clearly see the caster as the spell is being cast," it would be a different story, but it doesn't. It says you have to be able to see the spell, that's all. So visibility effects on the caster are irrelevant.

Right, so as say a mage armor spell is not visible to the naked eye.. we then conclude that one cannot spellcraft a mage armor spell. As the only thing other than the caster could be the effect of the spell.

Mind you this also doesn't work as spellcraft would determine the spell before the effect occurred.

Thus it really has to mean 'perceive the caster' (as hearing a caster casting seems sufficient for iding a spell).

-James


If the person did not use any Somatic or Verbal components you can not tell what spell he cast.

Now he did leave himself open to attack, and concentrated to cast it so you may know he cast a spell.

Now did he create an Illusionary wall? Or did he dispel the illusion that hid the wall that was there?


james maissen wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:


Trouble is, "Caster = caster casting a spell, where you use spell craft" isn't actually in the rules. That's my point. If it were to say, "you must be able to clearly see the caster as the spell is being cast," it would be a different story, but it doesn't. It says you have to be able to see the spell, that's all. So visibility effects on the caster are irrelevant.
Right, so as say a mage armor spell is not visible to the naked eye.. we then conclude that one cannot spellcraft a mage armor spell. As the only thing other than the caster could be the effect of the spell.

The force effect that is produced by a mage armor spell is invisible. That is a different thing than saying that the spell itself is.

james maissen wrote:
Mind you this also doesn't work as spellcraft would determine the spell before the effect occurred.

No, it would determine it as it was occuring, which is the only way it could work if you want readied attacks or counterspells to be possible.

james maissen wrote:

Thus it really has to mean 'perceive the caster' (as hearing a caster casting seems sufficient for iding a spell).

-James

Still no.

Have you never seen a movie or TV show where a magician of some kind cast a spell that had some weird special effect that really didn't have anything to do with the actual end result of the spell? A swirl of color that resulted in a conjured frog, or a strange buzzing sound that petrified someone? That's what we're talking about here: not the caster, and not the frog, but the swirl of color in the middle.


Carpy DM wrote:

That is a different thing than saying that the spell itself is.

...

That's what we're talking about here: not the caster, and not the frog, but the swirl of color in the middle.

I didn't know that 'spells' were visible things, perhaps that is the intent of the spellcraft skill entry on identifying them.

If that's the case then the fact that it's stilled and/or silent and even materials eschewed would be moot. You'd see that 'swirl of color' regardless of spellcraft skill and know that a spell was being cast. With spellcraft you could identify the spell in question.

-James

The Exchange

LilithsThrall wrote:
Can a person who can't see a spell being cast, can't hear the spell being cast, can't sense any material components, and isn't being targetted by the spell, nevertheless sense that the spell is being cast?

You're the DM, make the call. Don't slow a game down by trying to do something precisely as somebody else (whom you've never met) decided it should be (which includes me, btw).

I'd allow a roll if reasonable and then move on. From p. 9 of the PF Core Rulebook, "Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs."

If it helps the plot that a person be able to sense the spell, then they can feel the winds of magic swirling about them by the taste of the energy alone. If it helps the plot that a person not be able to sense it, then adjust a DC check due to the lack of clues and let them roll.(*)

i.e. a character can't see the caster and there are normally somantic components, +2, can't hear the caster and there are normally verbal components, +2, the character isn't being targeted, +2, it's a form of magic that none of the characters have any reason to have ever heard of and no experience with (like Mwangi ruin magic, or Arcadian shaman rituals, for instance), +5, so that's an easy +11 to the DC check. Boom. Done. And the game moves forward. (I just made up those numbers, btw.)

The one thing you should never do is simply state, "This is an undetectable spell." It's cheesy and annoys the players. If they have some reason why they might detect it, and perchance they roll a 20 or hit the high DC, you've got to give them something. Perhaps they can't identify the exact spell, because the way it is cast is so foreign, but they now know the feel of the unusual magic of the caster and will recognize that person as the caster the next time they experience a spell from him. Again, feed the plot. (And if the players try to rules-lawyer you, flex your DM muscles and make them spontaneously lose hit points until they stop! >;-) )

My two cents. Good luck!

(*) This presumes that the character has some reason to know that magic is being used. Would a character be able to detect a spell cast in the room next door? Again, if it helps the plot that a fighter's hair stands up on the back of their neck and they recognize the feeling, or that a mage feels a disturbance in the ether, then why not? If there is no reason at all that they would have a clue, then no dice. I'd personally rule that the more powerful the spell, and the higher the level of the character, the more likely that a sensitive (wizard, etc.) would feel that something's awry, even if they can't necessarly identify what precisely it was.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Carpy,

We're reading the English differently, I think.

I read "be able to clearly see the spell as
it is being cast" as you must see the act of being cast. The spell doesn't cast itself, the caster does. So to see it "as it is being cast" you have to see the caster.

If I understand your interpretation correctly, the spell itself has a (forgive the comparison) Street Fighter II power up effect as it's being cast. So if Ken Cleric is casting a fireball from the Fire domain, he poses, energy building around his hands, and with the verbal component of 'Sho-Ryu-Ken!' the fireball erupts from his hands. Meanwhile, Ryu the Wizard casts his stilled/silent/eschewed fireball sitting in his chair, hands behind his head, but the same corona of energy manifests around his hands and errupts. (amazingly not taking he head off)

Please tell me if I'm wrong.


By the RAW....
A silent image is DC 16. A silent image heightened to level 9 is DC 24.

Applying heighten spell increases the DC, but you have a problem with silent or still spell increasing the DC?


Really, this discussion is all neat and stuff, but I started this thread with the goal of getting a ruling by Paizo.
I know Paizo reads these threads, but all I've seen, so far, is a couple of different house rules.

How does one go about getting a rule clarification from Paizo?


LilithsThrall wrote:


How does one go about getting a rule clarification from Paizo?

Hope and Pray :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Charender wrote:

By the RAW....

A silent image is DC 16. A silent image heightened to level 9 is DC 24.

Applying heighten spell increases the DC, but you have a problem with silent or still spell increasing the DC?

Pathfinder RPG, Pg 113 wrote:
"Spells modified by a metamagic feat use a spell slot higher than normal. This does not change the level of the spell, so the DC for saving throws against it does not go up.

[Emphasis mine]

So while several people may not, the rules do. ;-)

IMC, yes if you silent/still cast a spell, it can't be identified, but an action can be readied against it just like with SLAs (and psionics).


james maissen wrote:

I didn't know that 'spells' were visible things, perhaps that is the intent of the spellcraft skill entry on identifying them.

If that's the case then the fact that it's stilled and/or silent and even materials eschewed would be moot. You'd see that 'swirl of color' regardless of spellcraft skill and know that a spell was being cast. With spellcraft you could identify the spell in question.

-James

That's exactly my argument, and why I answered the OP the way I did at first - you can recognize the fact of a spell regardless of what metamagic is modifying it, but you can't necessarily identify its source. I just can't read the RAW any other way.

Matthew Morris wrote:

Carpy,

We're reading the English differently, I think.

I read "be able to clearly see the spell as
it is being cast" as you must see the act of being cast. The spell doesn't cast itself, the caster does. So to see it "as it is being cast" you have to see the caster.

If I understand your interpretation correctly, the spell itself has a (forgive the comparison) Street Fighter II power up effect as it's being cast. So if Ken Cleric is casting a fireball from the Fire domain, he poses, energy building around his hands, and with the verbal component of 'Sho-Ryu-Ken!' the fireball erupts from his hands. Meanwhile, Ryu the Wizard casts his stilled/silent/eschewed fireball sitting in his chair, hands behind his head, but the same corona of energy manifests around his hands and errupts. (amazingly not taking he head off)

Please tell me if I'm wrong.

It's not the image I would have used, but something like that, yeah. ;) Fireball is actually a tricky one to use Still Spell on anyway conceptually, since the spell flatly requires you to throw the "bead of flame" at the target, even if you get rid of the somatic component. I suppose it might just manifest right in front of you...? Regardless, you're not going to hide who cast it with any amount of Still, Silent, Eschewed, Tricky or Marmalade feats.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Thank you, it's easier to communicate when there is understanding. :-)

Your theory reminds me of displays from psionics.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think people are getting all confused on caster vs spell vs noticing.

So, here is an example or two.

Example 1 :
Wizard Will is in a bar with 30 people. So is Sorcerer Sam. Wizard Will is using prestidigitation to entertain people and earn some money. He makes small flames bounce from hand to hand, float around his head, etc.

Sorcerer Sam, who hates Wizard Will, has Silent Spell and Still Spell feats. As a sorcerer, he also has Eschew Materials. He also knows Flaming Sphere. So, standing on the edge of the crowd, he narrows his eyes and causes a flaming sphere to appear in front of Wizard Will. Then he wills it to move into the crowd (away from him obviously), timing it so that it appears as Will casts another prestidigitation.

Now, several checks are going to go on here. First, noticing who is casting spells. Will is not hiding it, so that's pretty much a 'don't roll a one' to notice he's casting a spell. Then there's noticing that Sam is casting a spell.

Beyond that, there is the 'figuring out what spell is being cast'. If Cleric Clara is in the crowd and watching Will, she would get a spellcraft check to figure out that the spell manifesting in front of him is a flaming sphere, not a prestidigitation. She would not be able to spellcraft his prestidigitation since the flaming sphere is a 5ft area and between her and his square, where the prestidigitation is manfiesting (that whole 'you must clearly see the spell' requirement).

Druid Diana walks into the bar just as the sphere rolls forward into Clara. She can't make a spellcraft check, she didn't see the flaming sphere manifest, she only saw it roll into Clara. She can make a Knowledge(Arcana) check if she wants to identify that that is a wizard/sorcerer spell named flaming sphere if she wants.

So, everyone got a chance to see the spell, and even identify it. The big thing is, nobody had a good chance to realize that Sam is the jerk that cast it to frame Will. If you were looking at him (since Will might have, he was distracted casting though), he might get a perception check vs Sam's bluff check to not be noticed as the caster. Sam would get a huge bonus to his bluff check because of his feats (I would allow +5 per feat, making it a +15). Assuming Sam has a 5 for his bluff and rolls a 10, he's got a 30 on his bluff. Will, on the other hand, would have penalties (-2 for perception while casting is what I'd give, it's only a 0 level spell, -5 for a crowded room). Assuming Will has a 5 perception, then he has no chance of making it (20 + 5 < 30).

Roger the Rogue with his 18 perception might notice (18-5(crowded room)= 13, he'd need an 18 or higher to beat Sam's bluff check), but it's possible.

Nobody said the spellcraft of identifying the spell would be higher, only of identifying who cast the spell. And yes, I know flaming sphere says once it's manifest it rolls in the direction you point. If you've got a still spell feat, and used it, as a GM, I'd say you don't have to point, just look where you want it to go.

Example 2 :

Wizard Will, having been framed by Sam, is being chased by half the town for his unprovoked attack. He has Silent Spell and Still Spell and Eschew Material as well. Guardsman Greg catches him in an alley and tells him to freeze. Greg prepares an action to stab Will with his pike if Will tries to cast a spell.

Will needs to cast ghost sound to confuse Greg. Fortunately, he happens to have memorized it Silent/Still this morning. Now he makes a bluff check to fool Greg. Will has a bluff of 4, but gets the usual +15 for his bluff for having a silent/still/eschewed spell. Greg has a perception of 10 (he's a city guard after all). Will rolls a 16, maybe it is his lucky day, so he has a 35. Greg rolls a 20 (it is his lucky day), but even a 30 isn't enough to overcome the 35 Will has. So, Greg hears the ghost sound behind him. If he had spellcraft, he could even make a roll to identify it as a spell, and the type, but he would not believe Will had cast it since he failed his perception check. Greg now makes a will save (no pun intended), if he succeeds, he doesn't turn to look for the sound. If he fails, he turns to look for the sound, negating his held action and Will can run again.


Matthew Morris wrote:
And Illusion is not 'Mechanically Inferior' it's situationally limited. Just like using Necromancy against Undead, or Evocation against SR, or Charms in combat. Can it work? Yes. Is it hampered? Yes.

Those examples are all written into the spell descriptions themselves, not inferred based on a single line of a skill.


Matthew Morris wrote:


Identifying the casting is interaction in my book.

Since spellcraft to identify a spell being cast is a free action, at a gaming table ruling in that manner means that illusion spells will often grant a saving throw where they ought not to get one. Skills do not give you another chance to save where previously you didn't get one unless it is so described in the spell itself or the magic chapter in general.

The first shot at a save is the skill check, which is a free action. The second shot at a save is a later interaction with the illusion. Without your ruling, the only chance to save is when you spend an action to interact with the illusion.

Matthew Morris wrote:


If the casting wizard can be seen, and if the caster makes a spellcraft check, then they get their standard save, under interaction, right off the bat.
Matthew Morris wrote:
If the spell is stilled, you can't 'clearly see it' being cast.
Matthew Morris wrote:
IMC, yes if you silent/still cast a spell, it can't be identified

So we agree: there's nothing to see in this particular case. Therefor, you get no spellcraft check.

Matthew Morris wrote:


If you cast an Illusion where someone can see you cast it and identify the spell they get a save. ...

Basically, given the context of this thread, I had assumed that you were a part of the crew arguing that if you can see the caster, you can use spellcraft to identify the spell. I drew that inference based on the assumption that you were skipping the part of the still/silent/eschew as there's no point in talking about whether you can ID spells with VSM components in this context. If I was mistaken in that, I apologize.

As for psionics, the same rules apply and "Almost every power has a display" according to the SRD. I'll want to see a citation on Spell-like abilities and readied actions, before I accept that as RAW. I don't see it explicitly under the SRD for either ready an action or SLA.

I hope that clarifies my point.


james maissen wrote:
Carpy DM wrote:


What's the alternative? Why would Spellcraft be unable to recognize an illusion casting only?

Even this isn't an alternative.

Wizard sees an enemy cast a spell with VSM components, rolls a 40 spellcraft.

This is irrelevant for this thread: the spells being discussed have no VSM components.


mdt wrote:

I think people are getting all confused on caster vs spell vs noticing.

So, here is an example or two.

Example 1 :
Wizard Will is in a bar with 30 people. So is Sorcerer Sam. Wizard Will is using prestidigitation to entertain people and earn some money. He makes small flames bounce from hand to hand, float around his head, etc.

Sorcerer Sam, who hates Wizard Will, has Silent Spell and Still Spell feats. As a sorcerer, he also has Eschew Materials. He also knows Flaming Sphere. So, standing on the edge of the crowd, he narrows his eyes and causes a flaming sphere to appear in front of Wizard Will. Then he wills it to move into the crowd (away from him obviously), timing it so that it appears as Will casts another prestidigitation.

Now, several checks are going to go on here. First, noticing who is casting spells. Will is not hiding it, so that's pretty much a 'don't roll a one' to notice he's casting a spell. Then there's noticing that Sam is casting a spell.

Beyond that, there is the 'figuring out what spell is being cast'. If Cleric Clara is in the crowd and watching Will, she would get a spellcraft check to figure out that the spell manifesting in front of him is a flaming sphere, not a prestidigitation. She would not be able to spellcraft his prestidigitation since the flaming sphere is a 5ft area and between her and his square, where the prestidigitation is manfiesting (that whole 'you must clearly see the spell' requirement).

I believe this would be a Knowledge(Arcana) check. Yes, she was present when the spell was cast, but she is IDing the spell by its effect not by its casting.

Quote:


Druid Diana walks into the bar just as the sphere rolls forward into Clara. She can't make a spellcraft check, she didn't see the flaming sphere manifest, she only saw it roll into Clara. She can make a Knowledge(Arcana) check if she wants to identify that that is a wizard/sorcerer spell named flaming sphere if she wants.

So, everyone got a chance to see the spell, and even identify it. The big thing is, nobody had a good chance to realize that Sam is the jerk that cast it to frame Will. If you were looking at him (since Will might have, he was distracted casting though), he might get a perception check vs Sam's bluff check to not be noticed as the caster. Sam would get a huge bonus to his bluff check because of his feats (I would allow +5 per feat, making it a +15). Assuming Sam has a 5 for his bluff and rolls a 10, he's got a 30 on his bluff. Will, on the other hand, would have penalties (-2 for perception while casting is what I'd give, it's only a 0 level spell, -5 for a crowded room). Assuming Will has a 5 perception, then he has no chance of making it (20 + 5 < 30).

Roger the Rogue with his 18 perception might notice (18-5(crowded room)= 13, he'd need an 18 or higher to beat Sam's bluff check), but it's possible.

Nobody said the spellcraft of identifying the spell would be higher, only of identifying who cast the spell. And yes, I know flaming sphere says once it's manifest it rolls in the direction you point. If you've got a still spell feat, and used it, as a GM, I'd say you don't have to point, just look where you want it to go.

Example 2 :

Wizard Will, having been framed by Sam, is being chased by half the town for his unprovoked attack. He has Silent Spell and Still Spell and Eschew Material as well. Guardsman Greg catches him in an alley and tells him to freeze. Greg prepares an action to stab Will with his pike if Will tries to cast a spell.

Will needs to cast ghost sound to confuse Greg. Fortunately, he happens to have memorized it Silent/Still this morning. Now he makes a bluff check to fool Greg. Will has a bluff of 4, but gets the usual +15 for his bluff for having a silent/still/eschewed spell. Greg has a perception of 10 (he's a city guard after all). Will rolls a 16, maybe it is his lucky day, so he has a 35. Greg rolls a 20 (it is his lucky day), but even a 30 isn't enough to overcome the 35 Will has. So, Greg hears the ghost sound behind him. If he had spellcraft, he could even make a roll to identify it as a spell, and the type, but he would not believe Will had cast it since he failed his perception check. Greg now makes a will save (no pun intended), if he succeeds, he doesn't turn to look for the sound. If he fails, he turns to look for the sound, negating his held action and Will can run again.

Seeing or hearing an illusion does not automatically grant a will save. Observing =/= Interacting. Greg will hear a sound behind him no matter what.


mdt wrote:
Will needs to cast ghost sound to confuse Greg. Fortunately, he happens to have memorized it Silent/Still this morning. Now he makes a bluff check to fool Greg. Will has a bluff of 4, but gets the usual +15 for his bluff for having a silent/still/eschewed spell. Greg has a perception of 10 (he's a city guard after all). Will rolls a 16, maybe it is his lucky day, so he has a 35. Greg rolls a 20 (it is his lucky day), but even a 30 isn't enough to overcome the 35 Will has. So, Greg hears the ghost sound behind him. If he had spellcraft, he could even make a roll to identify it as a spell, and the type, but he would not believe Will had cast it since he failed his perception check. Greg now makes a will save (no pun intended), if he succeeds, he doesn't turn to look for the sound. If he fails, he turns to look for the sound, negating his held action and Will can run again.

So far as I can determine, this is a house rule. There's nothing in the feat or Bluff skill descriptions requiring Will to make a bluff check to use his feats. And he would have to use Knowledge Arcana to identify the ghost sound, as spellcraft only allows you to ID a spell AS it is being cast. Identifying an ongoing spell effect after it's been cast is Knowledge: Arcana. (Why they didn't combine these two skills, I'll never know.)

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