Detect Magic: how do you prevent a cantrip from trumping an entire school?


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Dark Archive

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I always figured that Detect Magic counts as interacting with the illusion, granting a save against it. If the person fails their save, then they sense no magical aura. If the person makes their save, they realize there is an illusion and can see through it. Seems reasonable, right?


Illusions, like most other spells, and like traps, aren't meant to be used on their own. What would you say if a GM came onto these forums and said that fireball was no threat to their PCs because could just spam their wand of CLW? The issue in that circumstance is not that a fireball is not a threat, but that a fireball by itself is not a threat. The PCs can't stop and burn a bunch of charges from a wand of CLW if they are in the middle of combat!

The same goes for pit traps. If the PCs encounter a pit trap on its own, they either avoid it, or fall in, take negligible damage, and climb right back out. Either way, there wasn't any threat. But if there is a monster (or another trap) at the bottom or top of the pit, then anyone who falls in will be especially vulnerable while escaping, since

climb skill wrote:
While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You also can't use a shield while climbing. Anytime you take damage while climbing, make a Climb check against the DC of the slope or wall. Failure means you fall from your current height and sustain the appropriate falling damage.

Also, climbing out uses up actions, which are extremely valuable in combat. The point is that a pit trap is a negligible threat on its own, but extremely dangerous as part of an encounter.

The same goes for spells. Using detect magic to find an illusion takes three rounds, during which nearby monsters can attack (and disrupt the casting). Falling for an illusion can lead the PCs in to the middle of a horde of enemies waiting to AoO the PCs.

What you cannot do is have an entire encounter consisting of someone who uses one scroll and immediately runs away. That won't be any challenge to the PCs, whether the spell is an illusion or a meteor swarm.


Artanthos wrote:

There are, literally, a thousand ways around this. Everything from my previously posted suggestion of giving false auras to mundane traps to using illusion magic to change the appearance of an item that is latter placed in the appropriate spot. (a small, low value item, given appropriate enchantments and affixed to an appropriate location.)

I would also point you towards magical traps. Obviously they do not require enchanting the entire dungeon.

Oh, agreed.

Ace of the Flesh Puppets wrote:
I always figured that Detect Magic counts as interacting with the illusion, granting a save against it. If the person fails their save, then they sense no magical aura. If the person makes their save, they realize there is an illusion and can see through it. Seems reasonable, right?

...and that's exactly how I'd handle it. ;)


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Draco18s wrote:
The Morphling wrote:
Also, yes, a length of wall is an item. What the hell else would it be?

OH MAN, I get to quote Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

Quote:
A glance showed the walls to be solid stone. So was the floor. So was the ceiling. You couldn't separately Transfigure a part of something that was a solid whole; Harry would have needed to try Transfiguring the whole wall, which would have taken hours or maybe days of continuous effort, if he could have done it at all, and if the wall wasn't contiguous with the rest of the whole castle...

(He actually overcomes that problem later)

Basically, the illusion would have to be cast on the whole dungeon. ;D

If the dungeon is one big tunnel carved out of solid rock, yes. I would not expect that to be true in most cases, however. It would be far easier, for example, to excavate a dungeon in dirt and then construct brick or stone or even wooden walls to shore everything up. In that case, each individual brick, stone block, or timber is an item. And even if the dungeon is carved from stone, there would very often need to be timbers or something every few feet to keep the whole thing from caving in. Look at real world mines for an example.

That type of construction also has the advantage of making it a lot more believable to have parts of the dungeon on the verge of collapsing on the party's heads (or at least looking like they are) so the players have to really think before using many area effect spells.

Scarab Sages

Take two traps, both guarding the same door.

The first: an easily located mundane trap, given a magic aura to radiate illusion.

The second: a better concealed, magical trap on the door, with magic aura concealing the magic.

A good perception check would find both. A good rogue can disable both. An overconfident party relying on Detect Magic will disbelieve the mundane trap and fail to notice the magical trap, likely setting both off.

Not all magical obsticals need deal damage. Magic Mouth, an illusion spell, can alert nearby enemies and no amount of disbelieving will shut it up. An Alarm spell has a similar affect.

Scarab Sages

I think it's wrong to punish careful characters. Search for trap, search for illusions, diviniations, all this are there to be use to overcome challenges that otherwise will just dmg them.

Even after detect magic, the challenge could be still there. Could you imagine a situation where discover an illusion is bad for the players?

Illusion school is based on misinformation, misdirection. A good illusionist play with ilusions and could enjoy do ti against a cleaver anti-illusionist.

If player's behavior were foresseable, it's easy to counter that with another type of illusion. Magic Aura is one of them. Another school of magic is another. If you want to fool your players in the ways of magic, you should play the Game of Magic. But don't do this often, don't punish them for being careful.


Fake Healer wrote:

Honestly if you as GM have made it so that a player feels he needs to detect magic every 30' in a dungeon, or check for traps every 30', or cast detect secret doors every 30'....then you as a GM made the PCs react that way by horribly overusing a certain "thing" that is supposed to be used somewhat sparingly and in ways that make sense.

having a dungeon that is steeped in illusions is cool sometimes as a change from the norm...if it became the norm and the pcs were getting screwed over a bunch because of it then the GM has trained the PCs to try to figure out how to overcome those challenges.

The way that you as GM keep the illusion school usable and not allow a cantrip to overcome it all the time is by using it sparingly and logically. If you were tossing in nothing but swarms and the party started finding the cheapest, easiest way to overcome swarms would you come to the boards looking for how to nerf Alchemist's Fire and Burning Hands? This is the same thing.

This is a huge jump to conclusions. This was the party's reaction after the very first illusion they encountered.

Please don't assume that I was "horribly overusing" illusions. It would be nice to know I have a way to, you know, use illusions at some other point in the campaign without getting countered by cantrip spamming.

Scarab Sages

Kemedo wrote:
Illusion school is based on misinformation, misdirection. A good illusionist play with ilusions and could enjoy do ti against a cleaver anti-illusionist.

An illusionists misinformation toolbox includes tricking Detect Magic and similar spells.

I agree, not every illusion should have a secondary illusion changing or concealing its aura. You don't need to conceal the aura of every illusion, just a few should do the trick. The first time the caster relying on Detect Magic walks into a pit concealed by an illusion that failed to register will put the party back to making perception checks.


Here is how i play detect magic:

You dont detect stuff unless you can see through it already. You cant detect someone invisible with it without true seeing, you cant detect an invisible wall without blindsense or have passed the will save to disbelief, and you cant see an illusionary creature unless you disbelieve it either. You cant detect things inside darkness unless you have darkvision, and you cant detect things when blind at all.

The spell detects things you can see clearly and have line of sight of it.


I do appreciate everyone's ideas. I do NOT appreciate the assumptions that I have been overusing illusions. This was the first illusion the party has encountered, and now the wizard has declared he is going to spam-scan the entire dungeon.

It is interesting to note a certain amount of bias in the assumption that because I am a DM, I must have been abusing the poor players.

Scarab Sages

Artanthos wrote:
Kemedo wrote:
Illusion school is based on misinformation, misdirection. A good illusionist play with ilusions and could enjoy do ti against a cleaver anti-illusionist.

An illusionists misinformation toolbox includes tricking Detect Magic and similar spells.

I agree, not every illusion should have a secondary illusion changing or concealing its aura. You don't need to conceal the aura of every illusion, just a few should do the trick. The first time the caster relying on Detect Magic walks into a pit concealed by an illusion that failed to register will put the party back to making perception checks.

Off Topic:
On the topic of overly paranoid parties: 500 gallons of napalm and Spark. Clear the dungeon without ever setting foot inside.

Quote:
now the wizard has declared he is going to spam-scan the entire dungeon.

I have a bard player that does the same thing, he had a few disapointments already.


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I wonder how differently things would have panned out if the thread was "Help, the DM is countering my illusionist wizard with a cantrip!"


@Kryptik:

Du you know the addage: perception shapes reality?

By the rules there is no auto-disbelieving an illusion unless someone helps you with it. So, when someone uses a divination spell to sniff out an illusion, the caster still has to make his save to disblieve the illusion himself, stuff like detect magic do _not_ help here because, coming back to that addage, what the players know and how the characters perceive the reality around themselves are two completelly different things.
In other words: the detect spell must be wrong, there´s a wall there.

Just for a laugh, take a look at ultimate magic, there´s a bard masterpiece that let´s the bard create illusionary buldings, bridges and so on with nice consequences for people who start to disbelieve them.

Dark Archive

Start throwing in lots of magic auras in ways that obscure the real trap. Such as there are 5 magic auras 3 illusion, 1 evocation and 1 conjuration. But all the auras cover the whole way ahead and over lap. So say that one illusion is a wall on top of a wall then the other is another wall with a torch on it that "provides" light in a normally dark corridor. The final illusion could be under one of the other illusions hiding a whole for a monster lair and then the evocation and conjuration could be forms of traps and alarms. Like the conjuration could summon a guardian and the evocation could be a fireball that alerts the monster in the lair.

Shadow Lodge

LuxuriantOak wrote:

using mundane traps is also an option.

player: i cast detect magic, is there anything magic.
gm: no, just a corridor.
player(s) advance down the corridor.
gm: roll reflex, bolts shoot from hidden spots along the walls.

This. People get so g#&@@&n hung up on MAGIC >>>> EVERYTHING ELSE...when in fact, in many instances, mundane ways of doing something are better than the magical ways. Especially if you have some jerk who can't move three feet without casting Detect Magic and concentrating for 3 rounds.

Get the Grimtooth books. Lots of lovely and lethal traps, and the majority of them non-magical.


Kryptik wrote:
I wonder how differently things would have panned out if the thread was "Help, the DM is countering my illusionist wizard with a cantrip!"

It would be something like

The forum wrote:
You are a whining self-entitled player who expects your munchkin character to be effective in every possible situation. Ratchet down the entitlement. Either play how your DM wants you to, or find a different game.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The villain should behave as they want. The pcs can behave how they want.

You only need to step in if he pcs are not having fun, perhaps they find out exactly where the traps are so they don't wast time. The traps still exist but their Npc interaction or research found them all.

Or perhaps the villain has a creature controlling or moving the traps as an active defense, so they are wasted less...unless found and dealt with before moving on. A familiar like an imp is ideal here. Just having levers that open a door can make the pcs think there is a puzzle if an invisible Imp is around.


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Kryptik wrote:


It is interesting to note a certain amount of bias in the assumption that because I am a DM, I must have been abusing the poor players.

Kryptik, if you hang around tabletop gaming forums for a while you'll find that this is always the case. I don't mean that most people will draw this conclusion! Most will not. But there will always be a small but energetic minority who will respond WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING THE PLAYERS!?

Has one player come up with a clever build that's mowing down your monsters, and you're posting to ask for a way to respond? Nine out of ten posters will respond helpfully and constructively, but one guy will assume right away that YOU WANT TO PUNISH YOUR PLAYERS. Is one player doing something that's incredibly annoying and disrupting the game? Nine posters will offer helpful suggestions, but the tenth guy (it's always a guy) will want to know WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING HIM FOR HAVING FUN? Have your players developed a tactic that's going to ruin the awesome boss fight you have planned, and you want advice on how to fix the boss so she doesn't go down like a chump in Round One? YOU ARE PUNISHING YOUR PLAYERS FOR BEING CLEVER.

I don't know why this happens, but it does. It's not unique to Paizo -- I've seen it happen on Usenet and several other forums. There's no point in getting angry about it.

Doug M.


Still waiting for a cite or official ruling on whether Detect Magic will auto-detect illusions. Anyone?

Doug M.

The Exchange

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It could be that you will wait a long time.

I would have appreciated it if spells like major image added "divination magic" to the senses that are fooled by it, making an exception for true seeing, but within rules-as-written it seems as if all or none are the options we've got.

I still figure any illusion with the (Mind-Affecting) descriptor is going to make detect magic useless, since your perceptions are already being altered by the spell. (Making the Will save secretly for the player will avoid metagaming.) Spells that actually are changing the lighting, smell, sound etc. rather than being "all in the head" are much more vulnerable, although the advice about taking expectations into account is pretty good.

Wizard: I walk through the illusionary wall!
GM: You step forward, moving through the wall, and find that you're stuck to something nasty. The ceiling above you seems to be an iron grillwork and you've walked right into the hunting ground of a cave fisher.
Paladin: I rush to the wizard's aid!
GM: You enter a square littered with poisoned caltrops.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of my favorite tricks as Gm is to make a silent image that covers the entire room and looks exactly like the room, except for one object it is hiding.

Also cast silent illusion on a 30' section of corridor. they detect magic the entire corridor glows. They can't pinpoint it.


Thanks Douglas. I will try to take that to heart.

Regarding detect magic, if the aura is in line of sight you can make a knowledge arcana check to ID the school, and the DC is trivial (15+spell level) to anyone with that knowledge (which is basically anyone but the most recreational of casters.)

I thank everyone who has contributed. I am going to adopt the ruling that if you cast DM on an area that contains an illusion, it counts as interaction and you make a will save to disbelieve. If you fail, you do not detect the illusion.

And if that gets metagamed, I will roll the will save for them in secret.


Cardinal Chunder wrote:
Wouldn't using a detect magic to spot an illusion just give you a +4 to the Will save to disbelieve?

By the rules yes, once you interacted with it. I don't think detect magic is the problem though. I think the school should have more built in protection against this spell. Maybe an opposed caster level check rolled in secret by the GM.


OilHorse wrote:
Doug OBrien wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:
Honestly if you as GM have made it so that a player feels he needs to detect magic every 30' in a dungeon, or check for traps every 30', or cast detect secret doors every 30'....then you as a GM made the PCs react that way by horribly overusing a certain "thing" that is supposed to be used somewhat sparingly and in ways that make sense.
Watch you don't fall down a hole jumping to those conclusions.

So you think it is more likely that a player just casts DM every 30' in every adventure?

To me there must be more going on than what we have been told. It is a reasonable guess that the DM overuses illusions and that his players are adapting.

My players are constantly doing it, and I do it also when I play. It is not different than moving at half speed and unless we are in a hurry there is no reason to rush while in an area.

Move 30 feet, perception check, and detect magic. <----I don't see a problem with this.

Now, I am not saying this is done during the entire session, but if we are in a place where enemies are then it is not a bad idea.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Does anyone have a cite for the statement that Detect Magic detects illusions? Because the OP has a point -- if that's how things work, then a cantrip can shut down a whole category of spells. That just seems weird and wrong. Nobody's going to the trouble to cast a Major Image and burn a Permanence on it if some first level mook can see through it with a 0 level spell. Hallucinatory Terrain, 4th level spell? Don't bother. And so forth.

If that's how it works, that's how it works, but I'd like to see a cite to that effect.

Doug M.

It does not detect illusions, but magical auras and identifies schools of magic. So you would need a rule listing the illusion school as an exception.


@wraithstrike:

Get back to re-reading the Discriptors used in Illusion spells. Especially, check Patterns and the Mind-Affecting effect that comes along with every Pattern.

"Nothing to see here, no danger, no magic, no auras no nothing". When the mind-affecting component of this kicks in, your charakter thinks this is right and proper and there is "Nothing to see here, no danger, no magic, no auras no nothing". That also means your charakter doesn´t fully register what detect magic tells him because he is already affected by the illusion.

That´s also why in most cases with the better illusions, the target/victim of the illusion has to make a save against the mind-affecting effect or simply fall for the illusion full force until later real interaction.

No need to protect that school of magic even further, just rethink on how best to use the lower-level (mostly figment) stuff.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


Kryptik, if you hang around tabletop gaming forums for a while you'll find that this is always the case. I don't mean that most people will draw this conclusion! Most will not. But there will always be a small but energetic minority who will respond WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING THE PLAYERS!?

Has one player come up with a clever build that's mowing down your monsters, and you're posting to ask for a way to respond? Nine out of ten posters will respond helpfully and constructively, but one guy will assume right away that YOU WANT TO PUNISH YOUR PLAYERS. Is one player doing something that's incredibly annoying and disrupting the game? Nine posters will offer helpful suggestions, but the tenth guy (it's always a guy) will want to know WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING HIM FOR HAVING FUN? Have your players developed a tactic that's going to ruin the awesome boss fight you have planned, and you want advice on how to fix the boss so she doesn't go down like a chump in Round One? YOU ARE PUNISHING YOUR PLAYERS FOR BEING CLEVER.

I don't know why this happens, but it does. It's not unique to Paizo -- I've seen it happen on Usenet and several other forums. There's no point in getting angry about it.

Doug M.

There is, BTW, a very good way to deal with exactly this situation:

1) Let the party get away with using their new tactic a few times. That way they're rewarded for taking the time to come up with in. Make sure, however, that at least somebody on the other side is able to run away. This still counts as defeated for experience purposes, so there aren't likely to be many complaints.

2) Have the party treated like (minor) local heroes as word circulates through the taverns of their devastating new tactic. Other adventurers can even buy them drinks and press them to tell the story of how they defeated whatever the latest big bad was.

3) Come up with a partial - and only partial - counter. Have opponents use that two or three times.

4) Have the bad guys start using the PCs own tactic against them. It's not unfair to hit the PCs with a devastating tactic, combination, or build that they themselves have been using successfully, and now the players themselves will do the hard work of figuring out how to counter it.

5) Let the party use their new counter a couple of times to stop the formerly devastating tactic, and after that the opponents have learned the counter as well, and the sides are even again.

6) From that point on the new tactic will occasionally give one side or the other an advantage, but won't be game breaking.

You're not picking on or abusing the PCs: they got the benefit for the work they put into the game, and their contribution has now become a permanent part of the world. And precisely because it has become a part of the world, it makes perfect sense that their opponents will be thinking about that tactic in their own planning.


Kryptik wrote:
6) most missions aren't time sensitive. And if I did start making everything time sensitive then they will start to resent me baca use they say I am punishing them for using detect magic.

See, there's a difference between time-sensitive and reasonable.

Wizard casts detect magic and keeps it up for a few minutes. He is now reduced to half his normal movement rate. Worse, every time he checks an area, the odds are very good that the answer is "yes" as to if there is magic present. Why? Because his divination cone very likely includes his own magic items and those of his friends, and everything they do. Is anyone using light in the dungeon? (Note: this is being mean, but you're combating an antisocial behaviour, so it's not unreasonable.) So he's almost always got to resort to round 2, to enumerate the number of auras. Only... well, is it picking up his boots or not this time? How far forward IS that pesky foot? So he's now got to resort to round 3 to determine the position, school, and relative strengths.

For every 180 seconds that goes by, he's effectively got to stand still for 120 seconds of that (half of round 1, all of round 2, and the first half of round 3).

This wizard is asking the party to stand around two thirds of the time, twiddling their thumbs, in the name of safety.

That's when the barbarian says "screw it", and strides down the hallway.

It's one thing when you're in a dungeon situation and the rogue says "I'll take 10 on Perception checks to check for traps, except at doors and other notable features I name, when I'll either roll or take 20. I'll let you know". It's entirely another to do what your caster is doing.

Real people adventuring in a real-world minefield would do this, yes. But if those real people had a bunch of spells to protect them and heal them instantly, those people would catch on that they could be making more productive use of their time.

My recommendation is talk to your players out-of-game and explain that if the rogue takes 20 on every square and the wizard detects magic on every round and the cleric uses detect poison on every drink or food, there really is no adventure, and that you'd appreciate it if this paranoia were throttled back a bit.

Dark Archive

Like many have said - I don't think you need to counter detect magic (although coming up with a few tricks for some occasions wouldn't hurt) - what you need to do is train the players to not rely on a 0 level spell to do all their work for them.

Example 1 - 10 ft wide corridor with ornate and ominous double doors at the end with a large open faced gargoyle head on the archway leering down at the players. Detect magic detects an illusion, say on the wall to left of the doors if you are standing in front of them. Illusion is of a flagstone in the wall covering a lever. Pull the lever and the floor drops away from the players throwing anyone standing there into a pit. The Door isn't trapped but is locked.

Now yes, this is kind of nuts and little stupid - what you have done is basically taken their powers and assumptions and turned them on their head a little. In my example using detect magic covered up a threat that they wouldn't have otherwise known about - but the people who built the place know who would be coming (it is after all, an idiotic spammable 0-level spell).

You can use it for red herrings, creating delays (and then random encounters) or even use detect magic to lead them right into a trap. Traps that are designed in a world where people have detect magic.

Example 2 - After negotiating into a cavernous area they party sees a small altar with bones and weapons strewn about - there are small animal skeletons also in this chamber - from the earliest vantage point to cast detect magic is a patch of green slime (or some magic sensing hazard) on the cavern ceiling that normally takes a few rounds before it drops. Of course if someone is standing under it for a couple of rounds that's a different story...
Oh yeah, the altar can have multiple magic’s cast on it (Abjuration, Necromantic) just to keep the players in place. Not trapped.

Example 1 address the over reliance on the spell while Example 2 address the delays in using the spell.

Don't punish them for using it but don't make it easy or a crutch. Let them use their tools but it's nice to have set ups that mess with their head or force them out of their safety zone. This spell should still find some use as they level up but by then things should be on a timer or their adventure sites so dangerous that they will have to decide on: taking the time to use it (and get attacked) or just going with faster methods to deal with potential threats.

Trust me on this - I run sci-fi games where characters have multiple ongoing detection systems (motion, IR, enhanced audio, etc) and I've had to be creative to just get encounters close enough to attack them, let alone hiding an encounter from them.

Sovereign Court

You could also have fun with one illusion covering another illusion, but the second illusion is also concealed with Magic Aura. People who penetrate the first illusion will be convinced that now they're watching Reality(tm).


It could be even weirder.
Remember: One of the basics of this kind of divination spells is that stronger auras overlap weaker ones, right?

Casting a Guards and Wards Spell on a Dungeon actually gives quite a bit of background "noise" (the constant aura) for other spells´ auras to "hide behinde".

Sovereign Court

@Taube: good catch!

I think in general illusionist wizards play very different from "standard" wizards. Illusionists are more like real-world illusionists; more than half of what they do is psychology and sleight of hand, not magical power. They aim to "win" arms races of magical power by getting their enemies to make mistakes, to focus on the wrong things, wasting power and time.

It's kinda like playing a rogue that plays it safe by taking out enemies one by one by sniping and hit and run tactics. It takes ten times as long as normal combat but if you're good at it, it can really work.

However, your party also includes a barbarian PC with limited rounds of rage and a paladin with so much ACP that he couldn't roll a stealth roll if his life depended on it, and those players get huffy if combat takes more than ten rounds (they expect it to take three). So while it works in theory, it doesn't work so well in practice.


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So, you're saying that the party's marching order in dungeons puts the wizard in the front line...


I would say that a cantrip (and one that you might as well just assume PCs have up at any given time considering how common "I Detect Magic" is every time they walk into any room) that can defeat much higher level spells from a school that is based around confusing your senses is just stupid to the point where Illusion majors get laughed out of the Wizard's college.

It's like if light dispelled Deeper Darkness. It's like if Ray of Frost did a d6 per level. It's like if Prestiditation DID allow you to duplicate other spell effects. Each of those would be fine actually, but only if they were appropriately leveled.

As for the "it's all casters can do at low levels!" argument, meh. Everything sucks at low levels for everyone, whether in casters only being able to carry a couple spells, the archer crying when you approach an enemy, or the fighter feeling like the man until he runs out of his 12 hit points; if you stretch it out you're just being mean as a DM.

That said, I still think giving a will save to disbelief on a scan is the best way to handle this.

Sovereign Court

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If the rogue checks for traps every 30ft in a dungeon that might have dangerous traps, is that bad play, lame, or unfair? Would you complain that the rogue is "spamming Perception" to find traps, as if it was something he shouldn't be doing?

And if he's finding them, do you complain that "perception defeats the whole point of traps"? What else was the rogue supposed to do? Not look for traps, and just take the damage like a man?

If a wizard us using Detect Magic to look for Glyphs of Warding or Symbols, is that bad? I'd say that's just being a smart and cautious wizard.

Illusions are like traps. Not the literal CR/Disable Device kind (usually), but they're definitely traps. An illusion might lure you into danger, hide a dangerous monster until you're within it's reach, might lure you onto a trap door. Might scare you away from the safe route into a more dangerous route. Those sound like traps to me.

And another big use of illusions: to hide secret objects or passages. This is just like mundanely hiding an object or secret door. You don't complain that rogues look for secret doors, do you?


@Ascalaphus

I would say that the perception-traps to Detect Magic-illusion comparison breaks down when you consider that one involves an actual roll for success and one is always an automatic success. If having perception as a class skill made it so that you automatically knew if there was a trap within 30 feet of you with no error, then yeah, that would pretty much make traps pointless.

Grand Lodge

chaoseffect wrote:

@Ascalaphus

I would say that the perception-traps to Detect Magic-illusion comparison breaks down when you consider that one involves an actual roll for success and one is always an automatic success. If having perception as a class skill made it so that you automatically knew if there was a trap within 30 feet of you with no error, then yeah, that would pretty much make traps pointless.

Just make a significantly larger amount of time versus a roll a reasonable tradeoff to make and you have no problems. But Detect Magic does what it does for a reason.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Draco18s wrote:
The Morphling wrote:
Also, yes, a length of wall is an item. What the hell else would it be?
OH MAN, I get to quote Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

I didn't know Harry Potter books applied to the Pathfinder Role Playing Game as legal rules sources.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you think Detect Magic is bad, wait till you read the spellcraft skill. Evil illusionist casts a spell and anyone who makes their spellcraft check knows it's an illusion. Should we ban spellcraft? :)


While in theory a problem, this has just not been an issue in my campaigns. A few observations:

1. Detect magic has a standard action casting time and requires concentration. It is not practical to use this spell constantly. Maybe in an abandoned tomb, but not in a normal "dungeon." Especially, all that chanting and pointing is going to get tiresome.
2. Just because something is at-will does not mean a PC is a tireless, precise automaton. Perception checks may come into play, and I don't assigning a fatigued condition after an hour or so of this is unreasonable.
3. Figments and phantasms become translucent when disbelieved, but in other cases, you will know there is an illusion but not what is actually there.
4. Range of detect magic is 60 ft. That's sometimes far too late, especially if you have to wait for the third round.
5. If used to conceal something with a more powerful aura, the illusion might be difficult, even impossible, to detect.
6. Emanations are simple to defeat. A simple "trench" of anti-magic will completely foil detect magic without revealing anything is amiss.
7. Magic trap, suggestion, "That pit is an illusion, just walk right over it."
8. One of the most effective illusions is invisibility. If they can pinpoint the square, they are no better off than they would be poking everything with sticks. Invisibility is usually a glamer.

The Exchange

That's another area where the PCs are allowed to feel good for investing in skills. (Although for the record, an invisible illusionist using Silent Spell really jacks that Spellcraft DC up!) Whereas the PC illusionist can bluff pretty confidently with his illusions in any fight that doesn't involve an enemy with Spellcraft.


I didn't read the whole board, but why not put an illusion of say, a statue, over an identical item underneath? A wizard would reasonably do something like this to slow other casters invading their lair, while well hidden scrying sensors etc. alert the troops. Or for that matter, illusory bricks in spaces in the wall, anything of the like


Gjorbjond wrote:
If you think Detect Magic is bad, wait till you read the spellcraft skill. Evil illusionist casts a spell and anyone who makes their spellcraft check knows it's an illusion. Should we ban spellcraft? :)

Spellcraft only works in the specific case where you observing the caster; most illusions a typical party encounters were placed before they arrive.

I like the idea that Detecting Magic on an illusion counts as interacting with it. That allows the spell to still be useful against them, but keeps it from being a sure thing.


Even if you count it as an interaction it does not stop you from knowing or at least thinking you detected an illusion aura and relaying it to the party not that I agree that counts as interaction.


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I don't know how plentiful lead is in real life, but given that a villain that can cast permanency has access to 4th level spells, I'm guessing it's not hard to come by.

1. villain casts their illusion on a pebble that projects said illusion

2. the pebble is encased in a larger sphere, like a bullet

3. the bullet is placed in a niche in the wall

Congratulations! You've just Lex Luthor'ed your players!

I mean seriously; how tough is it to defeat Detect Magic?

Scarab Sages

The lead would block the illusion. No line of effect.


wraithstrike wrote:
Even if you count it as an interaction it does not stop you from knowing or at least thinking you detected an illusion aura and relaying it to the party not that I agree that counts as interaction.

Counting it as an interaction means the caster has a chance to disbelieve. If they fail, they don't detect the illusion aura at all. If they succeed, they did and can communicate that to the party, just as if they'd tried to touch an illusion and successfully disbelieved.


JoeJ wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Even if you count it as an interaction it does not stop you from knowing or at least thinking you detected an illusion aura and relaying it to the party not that I agree that counts as interaction.

Counting it as an interaction means the caster has a chance to disbelieve. If they fail, they don't detect the illusion aura at all. If they succeed, they did and can communicate that to the party, just as if they'd tried to touch an illusion and successfully disbelieved.

That is.not.how the rules work. Even if I fail the sail I will know there is an an aura because the spell says so. Basically all you are doing is granting a free will save.

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