Detect Magic Vs. Invisibility—NOT a Rules Thread


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


This is not a discussion on rules. This is a discussion on rulings. We are running this thread with the assumption that the common ruling on Detect Magic (that it can expose invisible creatures) is correct.

I don't really like that Detect Magic can be so effective against invisibility. It seems a bit overly easy—Detect Magic is already an insanely good spell. Here is how I would like to rule it:

Detect Magic cannot give you the exact location, as the auras are "invisible" along with the target. It can, however, alert you to the presence of invisible creatures, and perhaps the general direction. Basically, it can expose invisible creatures, but it's not an auto-pinpoint.

Seem reasonable? Or do you think the RAW Detect Magic is plenty fair as-is?


Auto-pin-point is maybe over stating the case. It takes 3 rounds of the target standing still and skill check. If the target moves that 3 rounds is reset.

That said, detect magic auto-fails vs glammers and figments in my home game.


You may be playing Detect Magic wrong. Detect Magic only detects magic in a 60 ft cone, not a burst, not in a whole room, or anything like that.

So, first you must actually match the cone over the invisible creature. Then the creature has to sit there for 3 full rounds in order for you to pinpoint it. Then you have to be able to communicate an exact 'square' to your compatriots, which many DMs will rule is difficult because metagame. Then the creature has to remain there for you to do anything actionable to it. It sounds broken, but it really ought to be very difficult to locate an Invisible creature using Detect Magic.


Yeah, I don't really like that detect magic is a cantrip which reveals all magical auras (disguises, fake walls, magical traps etc.) That said, invisibility isn't the one I really worry about. Unless an invisible creature stupidly stands in your cone for a full 18 seconds, you won't be able to verify the spell or pinpoin it's exact location. If you know it's an invisible creature, you MAY be able to determine which of 3 hallways it moved down, but maintaining concentration on Detect Magic each round requires spending a standard action, so unless the creature is moving slowly (and why would he - the jig is up from detect magic), you won't be able to keep up with him.

Houserule:
I like a bit of an older school feel to dungeon crawls, so I've made Detect Magic a touch range spell.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

First, let's discuss how Detect Magic actually works. First round is presence or absence of magic in the cone. Second round is number of detected auras and the strength of the most powerful one. Third round finally reveals the location of all the auras within the cone, and lets you try to figure out the school of magic with a Knowledge (Arcana). You only get to know a specifics if you're examining a magic item, not a spell effect.

So if the invisible person is standing in the 60' cone for three straight rounds, you can potentially figure out you're looking at some form of Illusion magic, which could be a heck of a lot of things. I have no problem with Detect Magic doing this.


Jeff Merola wrote:

First, let's discuss how Detect Magic actually works. First round is presence or absence of magic in the cone. Second round is number of detected auras and the strength of the most powerful one. Third round finally reveals the location of all the auras within the cone, and lets you try to figure out the school of magic with a Knowledge (Arcana). You only get to know a specifics if you're examining a magic item, not a spell effect.

So if the invisible person is standing in the 60' cone for three straight rounds, you can potentially figure out you're looking at some form of Illusion magic, which could be a heck of a lot of things. I have no problem with Detect Magic doing this.

Upon closer reading, the spell says that you must have line of sight on the creature to get the school. Invisibility will certainly prevent you having line of sight. So the most that could be learned is strength (and only if it's the strongest aura) and location, not even school.


Jeff and BigDT have basically already stated everything I was going to say, so I'll just say:

Brotato 2014 wrote:
Brotato 2013 wrote:
DM is not a great counter to Invis. Let's stop pretending like it is.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

As everyone else noted, if actually played properly detect magic is an ATROCIOUS counter to invisibility. Like, not even worth mentioning. Truly awful. Now, Disguise Self? Yeah, great counter to that. And permanent image. And lots of illusions, really. Just not invisibility.

That said, in my home games I rule that all illusion spells also have their aura masked and it requires a will save against the spell's normal DC to pierce that effect. However, if you pass the save, the aura is considered proof that the effect is an illusion and you auto-pass the disbelief portion.


Guyyyys stop bringing rules stuff in this thread

Thanks, everyone, for the clarification. Stabbitty, I like that house rule. Good for keeping detect magic relevant (ha!) and still letting certain illusions have some fun in its presence.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Here is how I would like to rule it: <snip> Seem reasonable? Or do you think the RAW Detect Magic is plenty fair as-is?
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Guyyyys stop bringing rules stuff in this thread

Kobold Cleavvvvver, if we can't talk about rules, we can't reply to you. The basis the thread is the actual rules vs how you'd like to rule them. You can't ask if we "think the RAW Detect Magic is plenty fair as-is?" and not expect some talk about Detect Magic. ;)

Myself, it's cool as/is. If you want something hidden, just use magic aura or make a higher level version of that spell with a greater weight limit.


graystone wrote:
Kobold Cleavvvvver, if we can't talk about rules, we can't reply to you. The basis the thread is the actual rules vs how you'd like to rule them. You can't ask if we "think the RAW Detect Magic is plenty fair as-is?" and not expect some talk about Detect Magic. ;)

Sorry, I was kidding. If I get obvious factors wrong, people are of course free to correct me. :P


Kobold Cleaver wrote:

This is not a discussion on rules. This is a discussion on rulings. We are running this thread with the assumption that the common ruling on Detect Magic (that it can expose invisible creatures) is correct.

I don't really like that Detect Magic can be so effective against invisibility. It seems a bit overly easy—Detect Magic is already an insanely good spell. Here is how I would like to rule it:

Detect Magic cannot give you the exact location, as the auras are "invisible" along with the target. It can, however, alert you to the presence of invisible creatures, and perhaps the general direction. Basically, it can expose invisible creatures, but it's not an auto-pinpoint.

Seem reasonable? Or do you think the RAW Detect Magic is plenty fair as-is?

RAW detect magic does not expose invisible creatures. It shows you that an aura of the illusion school is around, but that could mean the floor is an illusion, the wall is an illusion or someone was just standing there that cast a spell, and then moved on.

Now if you are using the "assumption" as presented above in your games I would first suggest you use the actual rules, but if you are well past that point then I would suggest that the illusion school as a whole get some boost.

1a. Detect magic only lets you know that an illusion spell was cast within the 60 foot cone via the rules of round 1 of detect magic.

OR

1b. You need a DC 25 knowledge arcana check to pick up illusion auras, not just a 15.

Another rule you might like:

1a. Spellcraft also shutdowns some illusion spells since it can count as proof that the spell is an illusion so make the spellcraft to identify the illusion spell +5 higher or maybe even 10. If the observing caster fails then a similar(up to the GM) spell is assumed to be cast instead.

I think the RAW(which is not what your assumption supports) version is fine.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Guyyyys stop bringing rules stuff in this thread

Thanks, everyone, for the clarification. Stabbitty, I like that house rule. Good for keeping detect magic relevant (ha!) and still letting certain illusions have some fun in its presence.

You brought up RAW in your first thread. So course people will have to bring up rules to discuss RAW.

If you did not want them to discuss the actual rule in the book you should have said, "based on how my group plays the game do you think DM is fine" or "based on how my group runs this spell do you think DM is fine".

However if you mention RAW(the words in the book), that is what people will refer to. <---Just trying to help.


Think you got ninja'd there, wraithstrike.


Stay invisible behind a plank of wood (fliped table) and the detect magic can't bypass it.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Think you got ninja'd there, wraithstrike.

Ah, that Graystone fella got the jump on me.

<shakes fist in anger>


wraithstrike wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Think you got ninja'd there, wraithstrike.

Ah, that Graystone fella got the jump on me.

<shakes fist in anger>

You forgot to detect magic. ;)

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Detect Magic Vs. Invisibility—NOT a Rules Thread All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.