How does the See Magic exploit work?


Rules Questions


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Quote:
See Magic (Su): The arcanist can see magical auras. If she expends 1 point from her arcane reservoir, for 1 minute she instantly recognizes magic item auras and spell effects (as detect magic). During this time, she is treated as if she had studied each aura for 3 rounds and she treats her Knowledge (arcana) skill check as if she had rolled a 15 on the d20. In addition, if she touches a magic item during this time, she can immediately identify its properties using Spellcraft without needing to spend 3 rounds examining the object. If an enemy possesses the object, the arcanist must first succeed at a melee touch attack to identify the item.

I can see two ways of reading this.

The first is that the arcanist can always see magical auras (but does not reveal info about said auras), and spending a point allows him to instantly study them to determine the properties.

Alternatively, it could be that the first sentence is just making a statement about the existence of the ability, followed by a description of how it works. So the arcanist doesn't get magic vision unless he spends the point.

So which interpretation is the correct one?

...

On the one hand, I want the first interpretation to be right. It may be a bit much given the massive implications, but it makes it worth spending the exploit. Detect magic is a cantrip after all and one that gets a lot of use, hardly worth spending an exploit and reservoir points just to free up a 0 level spell slot, especially when quick study will accomplish the same thing and a lot more.

On the other hand, if it were meant to give you permanent aura-vision, I would expect additional clarification. I am leaning towards the second interpretation being RAI, even if the first one is RAW. This is sad, because I can't imagine using this ability instead of just spamming detect magic.

Really, this is a paragraph that would have benefited greatly from an "in addition," or "in order to use this ability" to make things perfectly clear.


The first sentence is a leading statement: you could replace the full stop at the end of the first sentence with a colon. Thus, your latter interpretation is the correct one: there is no 'always on' aura ability - you must expend points from your arcane reservoir for it to function.

If the former was correct, the first sentence would become a fragment with no lead-on and the ability would thus not provide enough information to function correctly (What kind of auras? At what range? With what qualifiers etc etc...)

Yes, it is a terrible exploit. It is also pretty badly worded, I agree.

Liberty's Edge

The thing is, in the playtest doc, it's "as per Detect Magic". It may have gotten cut due to wordcount reasons, or it may have gotten cut for balance reasons. I don't really see how it'd be overpowered to have Makeitstop's first interpretation, and I don't see the point of ever taking the exploit using the second interpretation.

Playtest wrote:
See Magic (Su): The arcanist can see magical auras as if under the effects of detect magic. If she expends on point from her arcane reservoir, for 1 minute she instantly recognizes magic item auras and spell effects. During this time, she is treated as if she had studied each aura for 3 rounds and she treats her Knowledge (arcana) skill


DrSwordopolis wrote:

The thing is, in the playtest doc, it's "as per Detect Magic". It may have gotten cut due to wordcount reasons, or it may have gotten cut for balance reasons....

Playtest wrote:
See Magic (Su): The arcanist can see magical auras as if under the effects of detect magic. If she expends on point from her arcane reservoir, for 1 minute she instantly recognizes magic item auras and spell effects. During this time, she is treated as if she had studied each aura for 3 rounds and she treats her Knowledge (arcana) skill

Yeah, moving "as detect magic" from the first sentence to the second doesn't seem to accomplish anything. It went from unclear, to unclear.

Quote:
...I don't really see how it'd be overpowered to have Makeitstop's first interpretation, and I don't see the point of ever taking the exploit using the second interpretation.

I could see the case for it being overpowered. Without explaining how it works, the literal interpretation is that you can see auras, meaning their locations are instantly known to you. Unless you rule that invisible creatures have no aura, you can locate invisible creatures with ease. Suddenly, invisible creatures really need the Magic Aura spell. I'd still allow it, but that's the thing that makes it more powerful than detect magic.

But then, if it can't beat the cantrip why bother?

I'd houserule it as such:
You can see the locations of magic auras within a range of 60 feet. You cannot glean information about the strength or type of aura, only the presence or absence of magical auras. Multiple magic auras in one 5ft square blend together, preventing the arcanist from identifying multiple auras on a single creature. Spending a point from the arcane pool allows not only instant identification of auras, but also the ability to distinguish between overlapping auras with ease.

This seems like a reasonable way to handle it to me. It remains useful, but it still has limits. You won't be able to locate that creature hiding in a deeper darkness spell without dipping into your reservoir for example.

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