Spellcraft ID'ing spellcasting without Somatic / Material / Vocal components


Rules Questions


Jaçinto wrote:
what are the penalties to spot the "casting" of a spell from an item like a sword or whatever since it is a spell like ability, and therefore has no verbal or somatic components? I am guessing -10 for no verbal and -10 for no visual...
well...
Spellcraft 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.

That first bolded part literally says that you must see the spellcasting (or presumably, hear, for normally Verbal-only spells) in order to try to ID it.

Or, also for cases where SOME spell components are 'missing' but you can still Perceive SOME components, the 2nd bolded part applies:
(the distance modifiers for Perception ALWAYS apply to Spellcraft no matter what)

Perception Modifiers wrote:

Distance to the source, object, or creature +1/10 feet

Unfavorable conditions...... +2
Terrible conditions...... +5

If the spellcasting is missing some of it's normal components, I would say that is significantly poor conditions for ID'ing the spell.

(after it's cast, you can use Know(Arcana) to ID the EFFECTS of the spell).

How you want to add that all up is up to you.

Of course, remember that whatever your end ruling is, PCs and NPCs can and should use the same tactic as each other, assuming equivalent skills/feats/abilities. If you are running a home game, you should feel free to rule on it however you want, discussing it openly with your players, and having it work equitably across the board (PCs/NPCs). If a player disagreed with your ruling mid-game, I would hope they have the grace to accept your ruling on the spot and cooperate to resolve it with you later how the issue is ruled generally. Ultimately, it's up to you the GM as to how you will rule, if somebody finds your ruling so offensive that they don't want to play, that is their issue whether they want to or not... Of course, before that point, all sides should be able to be heard, but the GM having their rationale for their ruling discounted by the player seems pretty far-out to me, and imposing on the GM's role. A player who says they are unwilling to accept a house-rule (or what they consider to be one) is basically wanting a robot GM. That doesn't seem like the sort of player any GM would want.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

When you cast a spell, even if it's silenced, stilled and eschewed, there is still something going on, something that can be seen. Maybe the dust swirls around you oddly. Maybe an odd fog issues from your mouth as you speak the words of power (Aná nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha, etc.) Maybe arcane symbols dance in the air. Maybe your eyes look funny. Maybe you shimmer with holy light. If an item is casting the spell, something visible happens. Perhaps the light reflects oddly from the blade or arcane symbols course down its length. It's unspecified, but it's SOME effect that can be detected.


SlimGauge has it mostly right.

Jason Bulmahn on this topic, for more information.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Maybe that will be my entry in the guide ...

Slimgauge: mostly right


Just to add on (I edited my 1st post to be more concise), the issue of ID'ing a spell being cast is distinct from noticing that *A* spell is being cast (or something using Concentration happening, that possibly provokes an AoO). The rules state that ID'ing requires seeing (plausibly, Perceiving) the spell casting. The rules state that spellcasting (usually) includes certain components, which correspond to different senses in terms of Perception. Nothing else in the rules suggests anything about other things that might be Perceivable about spellcasting, much less that those things would be specific enough to each spell so as to enable ID'ing the specific spell being cast.

To rule that there are other unspecified yet noticeable aspects of casting spells which are specific to each spell (to ID it), would require the GM to make their own call as to what exactly these are and what senses are associated with noticing them, in order to adjudicate cases where the relevant senses of the observer may not be functioning to notice those signs, e.g. they are blinded... What if the caster is Invisible even if you've Pin-Pointed their square? We know that the Spellcraft check is subject to Perception modifiers, so therefore it must be using some Sense that Perception covers.

It seems weird to say 'according to RAW, there is SOMETHING going on that RAW doesn't specify'. I mean, in some cases you can conclude that from RAW, but in this case nothing says there is anything else observable about spellcasting besides the Components, and Spellcraft ID'ing depends on a Perception check which needs to Perceive SOMETHING. Whatever else that may be Perceived about Spellcasting (which the rules never suggest, much less state that it is spell-specific), would need some specific form to exist and be Perceivable, and the specific circumstances may work out so that you can't Perceive those things: spinning glyphs? sorry, deeper darkness. Eyes look funny? Sorry, they don't have eyes. Wierd smelling fog coming out of their mouth? Sorry, no mouth, and a wind wall prevents you from smelling the fog anyways. etc.

I *would* rule that invoking Concentration is going to generally be noticeable, at least by the absence of otherwise spending a Standard Action (normally), so outside of combat it may not be as noticeable, and it isn't as noticeable for Swift spells (barring other signs, e.g. components) since characters don't always spend Swift actions every combat round... But that is really observable by inference, certainly not enough to use Spellcraft to ID something, it's just a clue that you could use to decide to take an AoO (or let off a readied Dispel) if they (possibly, barring Combat Casting) provoke by letting their guard and not doing anything else. I would say that others would 'know' what action is being spent (standard, full-round, 1-round, swift) though.

Regardless of whether you want to rule that Spell Casting is positively Perceivable regardless of Spell Components (at least assuming you can Perceive the caster themself more or less normally), nothing in RAW suggests that there is any Spell Specific 'aspects' to casting each spell, apart from the Components, so ruling so is a further expansion on what the RAW actually says.

EDIT: I'm not trying to say anybody is BADWRONG for ruling that there are any such aspects, although if you do, you really should specify what these actually are, and not just rule one way without otherwise 'giving life' to these other non-Component aspects of spell-casting... I'm just saying that these non-Component aspects certainly aren't stated or even intimated by the actual RAW. And that ruling that Components ARE the only identifiable aspects of Spellcasting, or the only spell-specific ones (for ID'ing), is an equally valid manifestation of a 'magical fantasy world'. That happens to require the least improvisation atop of RAW, but certainly in a home-game that isn't that important of a factor.

Even if you like for spell-specific, non-Component aspects of spells to always exist (enabling ID'ing without Components), being tied to Perception (as the Perception Modifiers are tied to Spellcraft, RAW) means that the standard Unfavorable/Terrible Modifiers should plausibly apply to Spellcraft (as well as requiring functioning Perception in the relevant sense) ...Which is pretty close to what Senor Bulmahn seemed to espouse in the end, coming close to matching the Terrible Condition Perception Modifier.


I actually like Quandary's interpretation more than Jason's. one component missing gives -2, two missing gives -5. You can get this from a strict reading of RAW and it has the advantage of using existing rules. It also makes spellcraft checks non-automatic, and makes the Rashaska bloodline arcana useful :)

The Exchange

SlimGauge wrote:
When you cast a spell, even if it's silenced, stilled and eschewed, there is still something going on, something that can be seen. Maybe the dust swirls around you oddly. Maybe an odd fog issues from your mouth as you speak the words of power (Aná nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha, etc.) Maybe arcane symbols dance in the air. Maybe your eyes look funny. Maybe you shimmer with holy light. If an item is casting the spell, something visible happens. Perhaps the light reflects oddly from the blade or arcane symbols course down its length. It's unspecified, but it's SOME effect that can be detected.

You seem to have not forgotten the charm of making.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Spellcraft ID'ing spellcasting without Somatic / Material / Vocal components All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Rules Questions