Problems with Spells like suggestion.


Rules Questions


Okay, is there a way to disguise your spellcasting? If not, how are spells like suggestion ever going to work? According to this post below, even a stilled, silent, component-less spell still has some sort of glowy magic stuff involved.

Quote:

Hey there Everybody,

The rules here are certainly not clear, because they generally assume that the act of casting a spell has some noticeable element. Notice I did not say component, because I think the rules are silent on parts of spellcasting that are codified components versus those that occur without any sort of codification, such as the wiggle of a finger, change in breathing and other flavor bits that happen when a spellcaster makes the magic happen, as it were.

Back to the topic at hand, since the rules are silent here, I think it is well within the GMs purview to impose a penalty to the Spellcraft check to identify a spell without components (V, S, M). Since there is no real increase for spells with just one, I would guess that this penalty is not very large, perhaps only as much as -4.

This is, of course, up to your GM to adjudicate.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

The moment you cast suggestion, the target and everyone around them would notice you glowing. The only thing you could suggest at that point would be to not stick you with a pike for casting a spell right in front of them.

Is there any way to cast a spell, like suggestion, without instantly tipping every single person (including the target) off that you're using magic on them? The Secret Signs feat doesn't even work in this case since it doesn't hide the glowy crap. Do you really have to make that -10 to -20 bluff check to cast spells on people?


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The average person does not have the ability to identify spells. Without that, for all they know you cast prestidigitation to clean your boots off.

Also, just because spellcasting is always able to be noticed does not mean that it will be noticed. A failed perception check is a still a failed perception check.

But yeah, it's a lot easier to use tricky spells like that if you can catch everybody involved. Charm person works way better on a single guard than a pair of guards. And frankly if you walk into a crowded room and try to cast charm person on somebody to manipulate them into doing what you want, you should get bonked on the head for stripping away somebody's autonomy.


Do you have to make a perception check to see spell being cast within sight range though? I thought something like that would be a DC 0.

Hmmm, I suppose they wouldn't know what spell you cast. Still seems mighty suspicious though!

How do people react to spells anyway? Is it the equivalent of drawing a weapon basically or are people generally laid back about that sort of thing? Is there an official ruling on that?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The new rules, feats and details about concealing spellcasting from Ultimate Intrigue seem... suboptimal. Hard to do, requiring several feats and skills to get right, and even then offering minimal chances of success against level-appropriate foes.

Some folks think this is as it should be. That spellcasting should be nearly impossible to conceal, if only because spellcasters get so many shiny things, so completely outclass non-spellcasters and so they shouldn't be allowed to even further dominate the game by making it easy to cast spells on the sly.

There's something to be said for that. Magic is powerful. High-level magic is reality-bending. Maybe you shouldn't be able to cast spells incognito.

Still, there are things you can do.
1) put that spell in a magic item. Then all you have to conceal is the command word.
2) cast that spell while the target is distracted by some other loud event. If you cast your spell at the same time as a fireball or alchemist bomb is going off, that ought to provoke some serious negative perception modifiers.
3) don't be visible. Cast from darkness. From around the corner. Be invisible and have some cunning plan to explain your sudden appearance. "Whew! Felt like that teleport spell was going to fail. Wait, where am I?"
4) Be creative and work it into the narrative.
5) Be a bard and hide your spellcasting inside a ballad (seems like there was some special provision for this somewhere)...
6) or use the Ultimate Intrigue stuff, take the right feats, pump the right skills and pray for success. <g>

Dark Archive

I have run into the same issue recently. I am playing a character who has to sometimes resort to enchantments in critical situations. I had two problems to surmount, which really were three:

1.) Prevent anyone from knowing I ever cast a spell.

2.) If they ever realized I was casting, I would need them to not be able to identify what I had cast-preferably to misidentify my spell.

3.) I would need them to fail their saves or otherwise make passing the save irrelevant.

Ultimate intrigue gave me some much needed answers that mechanically did not have enough potency prior to its release.

First, I min-maxed my save dc's. I did not want to have to keep recasting my charms.

Second, I min-maxed my 'you can't tell what I am casting' dc's. This took a lot of work.

Third, I weighed the value of the total three feats that exist for non-bards to hide their spellcasting: Secret Signs, Cunning Caster, Conceal Spell. Conceal Spell is the full on deal. It calls out hiding the extra glowing stuff. But you will never fully outpace anyone trying to catch you casting. In general, assuming you keep the proper skills maxed and they do as well, your opponent will always need a 12-13 on the dice to identify that you are casting. It favors you....but it is not consistent due to the feat using your ranks and not your bonus. DC = 15+ ranks in bluff or disguise and your cha mod. They ultimately have the advantage once magic items come into play. Worse, the feat appears to have a reasonable chance to give two checks to catch you.

I found that secret signs and Cunning Caster were obviously intended to fulfil the same function as Conceal Spell. If they are not hiding the obvious glowing and mystic symbols, then the feats serve no purpose. In each case, they are just different feats that use different techniques to perform the same function.

I hope that I helped.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Spell-like abilities are much less noticeable. If someone goes through the effort and gets Charm Person as an SLA with Minor Spell Expertise or Spell Hex, I'll let them cast it without being noticed.


Really good stuff in here. Thanks!

Quote:
Spell-like abilities are much less noticeable. If someone goes through the effort and gets Charm Person as an SLA with Minor Spell Expertise or Spell Hex, I'll let them cast it without being noticed.

I did not know that SLA's didn't involve all that glow stuff. That's pretty cool.


you could always actually hide when you cast the spell, as far as i know concealment will hide almost everything, add silent spell and you should be fine

the way to be sneaky as a spellcaster is... kind of the same as being sneaky as a mundane, take lessons from the rogue

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Spellcasting has to be noticeable...but do the rules say that it has to be *visible*?

I've always run it as spellcasting causing a ripple in the local mana field, which means that its detection isn't predicated on any of our normal five senses. (But also means that you might be able to disguise the *source* of the spellcasting by other means, even if you can't disguise the *fact* of the spellcasting.)

Is that just totally a house rule, or is it supportable by RAW?


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Mighty suspicious? That sounds like a sense motive check to me!

"Hey, what did you just cast!"
"Oh nothing, just cleaning my boots."

Roll bluff vs sense motive.

That's my take anyways.


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The Guy With A Face wrote:

Really good stuff in here. Thanks!

Quote:
Spell-like abilities are much less noticeable. If someone goes through the effort and gets Charm Person as an SLA with Minor Spell Expertise or Spell Hex, I'll let them cast it without being noticed.
I did not know that SLA's didn't involve all that glow stuff. That's pretty cool.

SLAs in general work like spells except they don't have verbal, somatic or material components. That's it. So they're still just as identifiable as a silent, still, eschew materialed spell.

That said, your original premise is baffling to me. Why would spells become ineffective just because the target knows you're casting a spell?

Person A casts suggestion on Person B. B sees this happening. One of two things happens:
- Person B fails the will save. They get the brilliant idea of following whatever the suggestion was. It doesn't matter that they saw A casting a spell.
- B passes the will save. They get a funny feeling right after noticing A casting a spell. They react accordingly.


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Unless more has been said by Paizo staff, the quoted post doesn't say anything about "glowy" things.

For those spells that don't inherently produce visible effects (like a Wall of Fire or a Phantom Steed), I've always considered flashy effects to be present only if the caster wishes (if the choice has to be made once per casting or just the first moment that spell becomes available, is another matter I won't go into, now).
Rather, for those spells that are spells in a more literal way than others, relying mostly on the sound you produce with your mouth, I consider the way of speaking itself the recognizable element of the spell, and the spell itself being "in that component" (the fact that Bard spells can't be made silent also supports this view, and actually I think it should be extended to all spells that rely on speaking/emitting vocal sounds or spells with just a verbal component, but this too is a different matter). Apart from the fact that "to provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice" (CRB) a pratictioner of magic (or better, anyone with ranks in Spellcraft) can recognize you're casting something from your voice being conveyed in a certain manner (a Suggestion has a different tone than a harsh Dictum).
Now, if a Sorcerer (Eschew Materials) casts a silent Suggestion, I'd personally make it possible but very hard (like DC 10 + CL) to notice the casting at all with Perception, since only some sort of moment of concentration or what could be interpreted as hesitation could be noticed in the spellcaster. And the Spellcraft check at the moment of casting would be outright impossible unless an observer is using some ability or magic item that lets her perceive magic auras or stuff like that. One could still get a check to recognize the spell when the target starts behaving in an unusual way, or in other cases.

That said, if you cast a (normal) Suggestion in the middle of battle on the enemy Fighter, of course the enemy Wizard will be able to recognize it, but if you cast it when no one else around has Spellcraft, there's no problem, even if the target has it himself. provided the spell doesn't fail due to SR or save, Suggestion relies on a reasonable request and compels (= forces) the target to do it, so it's irrelevant if the target is an expert spellcaster who used Suggestion everyday the last twenty years and is normally fully aware of how it works... the moment he fails the save, the words sound reasonable in his head, so, at best, he'll more or less think: "Well, I know it's a Suggestion spell, but what that guy said is actually reasonable, I really have to do it... I would even if he asked me normally, because it's really good/my responsibility/whatever."

So, in short, be sure there are no (other) people with ranks on Spellcraft around (the target doesn't matter), and you're good.


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Astral Wanderer wrote:
Unless more has been said by Paizo staff, the quoted post doesn't say anything about "glowy" things.

Paizo has stated that spell casting is always detectable and to use the illustrations of spells being cast in the Paizo books as examples of the manifestations associated with spell casting.


How i see spellcasting in public in my personal campaings:

- Uneducated Communers/peasants: Have a lingering fear of any spell being cast (even from their regular priest), as they know magic bends the reality but they don´t know how. Even if they pass the saving, they pretend they were affected and even have fear to report the spellcaster to authorities (if not in a witchhunter society). They consider any negative outcome the act of hidden spellcasters, even if it didn´t come from a spell.

- Educated peasants/shamanistict society: People still don´t know how magic work, but trust friendly spellcasters, and are suspicious of unknown spellcasters (more or less like people treat hackers in our society). People judge unknown spell effects case by case, a store clerk is a lot more suspicious of enchantments than a farmer, the queen maid is more suspicious of invisible assassins than the king cook.

- Guards/soldiers/warriors: Just like hacking a bank, social engineering is a lot more effective than directing hacking. People are ware of magic, but they can´t be preparared for it every second of the day. Most guards will report being enchanted (if they remember) and will adopt simple strategies to make spellcaster life more difficult (walking around in pairs), but most know that a determined spellcaster will do nasty things, so they priorize surving to report then overcoming spellcaster preparations.

- Nobles/commanders/magic item store owners: Most will try to have spellcraft or access to someone that have. They are prepared for cheap tricks and know the weak points of magic, but most will not spend more than their expected CR encounters. If any lingering clue of the spellcaster identity remains after the encounter, they might seek revenge.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's a grey area. Do the Paizo illustrations of "glowy" runes and things constitute the RAW?

There will be a lot of table variation on this, even in PFS where such things are supposed to be kept to a bare minimum.

AFAIK, nothing in the RAW state that all spellcasting is accompanied by visible "glowy" bits that everyone can see. Even if we accept the argument that the Paizo illustrations are part of the RAW, there is a lot of lattitude concerning how to adjudicate perception or even spellcraft checks for spells lacking the full panoply of components (V, S, M and F or DF).

Houserules seem to be the order of the day.


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30 years of history, including f%*!ing plenty of paizo-published modules, have characters casting spells like Suggestion stealthily.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Artoo wrote:
SLAs in general work like spells except they don't have verbal, somatic or material components. That's it. So they're still just as identifiable as a silent, still, eschew materialed spell.

If it doesn't have components, what basis do you have to identify the spell? I know that there was a recent FAQ saying that all spells have visible effects that make casting them obvious, but I know I'm not going to follow that in games I run. If that is true, then Invisibility is useless for casters because they'll throw off sparks and rainbows with everything they cast.

For me, if you have to use a component that can be perceived, you can't do it subtly, but if you're invisible and casting a silent-metamagiced spell, you're fine.
You are still going to have to deal with the fact that the target knows when they've succeeded on a save, so if they make their save they're alerted to the fact that something's up.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Also, while most of the question is about disguising spellcasting, the other part "how will spells like suggestion ever work" is excluding lots of good in combat uses for the spell. You can suggest an opponent go guard the doors in case reinforcements come, while you continue to fight his allies away from the doors, or suggest he go get reinforcements himself, possibly taking him out of the fight for hours depending how far they might be. You could suggest they do things that will trigger traps you know exist, but they don't, etc.


Artoo wrote:
The Guy With A Face wrote:

Really good stuff in here. Thanks!

Quote:
Spell-like abilities are much less noticeable. If someone goes through the effort and gets Charm Person as an SLA with Minor Spell Expertise or Spell Hex, I'll let them cast it without being noticed.
I did not know that SLA's didn't involve all that glow stuff. That's pretty cool.

SLAs in general work like spells except they don't have verbal, somatic or material components. That's it. So they're still just as identifiable as a silent, still, eschew materialed spell.

That said, your original premise is baffling to me. Why would spells become ineffective just because the target knows you're casting a spell?

Person A casts suggestion on Person B. B sees this happening. One of two things happens:
- Person B fails the will save. They get the brilliant idea of following whatever the suggestion was. It doesn't matter that they saw A casting a spell.
- B passes the will save. They get a funny feeling right after noticing A casting a spell. They react accordingly.

Got it.

I suppose I wasn't very clear. The problem I was eluding to was that right after the suggestion takes place (and is completed), they remember you casting a spell and that they (possibly) agreed to something that they definitely wouldn't normally do. They add two and two together and instantly report you to the town/city guard. Now you're stuck with them breathing down your neck the whole time. If there was a way to conceal it, it would be easier to get by "that one guard" which is kind of the purpose of the spell. Although yes, after reading this thread its much less of a problem than I originally thought.

EDIT: I guess you can convince him to to some time-consuming shenanigans too. For some reason I had it in my head that suggestion only lasts minutes and not hours.

Quote:
Also, while most of the question is about disguising spellcasting, the other part "how will spells like suggestion ever work" is excluding lots of good in combat uses for the spell. You can suggest an opponent go guard the doors in case reinforcements come, while you continue to fight his allies away from the doors, or suggest he go get reinforcements himself, possibly taking him out of the fight for hours depending how far they might be. You could suggest they do things that will trigger traps you know exist, but they don't, etc.

I thought stuff like that fell under "obviously harmful", but I suppose its only obviously harmful to his allies and not him specifically.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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Just because the spell ends, doesn't mean the example single target affected will report it. First of all, human nature might have them choose to not report it out of embarrassment, or looking like an easily duped fool (and possibly losing their job for doing what they did). It might be easier to just pretend it didn't happen and hop no one noticed.

Second, if they do report it, they don't have any real proof. It becomes a he said/she said situation, and without magical divination to detect lies, it might be a big problem trying to make the accusation stick. Plus whomever just cast suggestion on them obviously has magic resources, so it might be playing against a stacked deck trying to get magic to prove their accusations are true.

As for my suggestions on how to use the spell in combat, not are obviously harmful - not even to their allies, if you word the suggestion right. If you say "go there and do nothing" that's a pretty bad decision and could be argued to be harmful in the middle of a fight. If you say "go guard the doors to intercept reinforcements that could be coming", that's a valid tactic, especially if you don't know whether reinforcements are coming. The spell makes you think it's completely reasonable that there could be some, even while the caster probably knows there are none on the way. Same withe the "trigger the trap" option. The caster knows about the trap, but the target won't - and if you phrase the suggestion correctly, it won't even seem off, such as "run down that hallway to make sure no enemies are laying in wait for an ambush", knowing there's a pit trap in the hallway.


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JoelF847 wrote:

Just because the spell ends, doesn't mean the example single target affected will report it. First of all, human nature might have them choose to not report it out of embarrassment, or looking like an easily duped fool (and possibly losing their job for doing what they did). It might be easier to just pretend it didn't happen and hop no one noticed.

Second, if they do report it, they don't have any real proof. It becomes a he said/she said situation, and without magical divination to detect lies, it might be a big problem trying to make the accusation stick.

Ultimate Intrigue solved this problem, at least. Greater Detect Magic is a 2nd level spell that can spot spell residues for one day per caster level (of the detected spell), and with an opposed Knowledge (Arcana) check you can identify a spell signature and match it up to any magician you Spellcraft observe cast another spell. So with any sort of competent magical police you're likely to get caught if you stick around town.

Dark Archive

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Nevermind that sometimes people do not want to cast these sorts of spells in combat. In social situations a character may also want to swing things in their favor with magic on the sly. Pathfinder makes doing this involve the taking of any of the above feats I mentioned in my first post. Unless, of course, those feats do not all qualify.


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This 'spells are glowy things' bothers me, too.

I want to add my two cents to invisibility: even if the casting all spells are plainly visible, invisibility is hardly 'useless'. So the enemies see you cast invisibility? They don't know in which direction you moved after that. Even if everyone sees from which square your Web or Fireball or what-ever comes from, they don't know to which square you five-foot-stepped. And even if they do, that 50% ain’t nothing.

As for suggestion, charm person and other enchantments, this is tricky. I don't even know how I want it to function. To at least some degree, it makes sense in my mind that spells cast without detectable components and the casters casting them can't be easily detected if the spell don't have obvious magic effects. But I don't know how to define obvious magic effects. A lighting bolt shoots out from your finger tips, that shouldn't be possible to hide at all really. But from where does an Aggressive Thundercloud originate? Does Web shoot out from you, do you shoot a beam of light on the roof affected by Stone Call? Can you trace a summoned monster to its caster via an elaborate light show visible when it appears?


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One thing to remind the "suggestion should be sneaky crowd."

If your characters can cast spells like that without being detected, then your characters' enemies can cast those spells against the party without being detected, too.

If this discussion were taking place in my home game, and the party was OK with the above provision, then I'd have no problem allowing sneaky casting. Woe betide the party member that complained when it happened to him/her, though....


Blymurkla wrote:

This 'spells are glowy things' bothers me, too.

I want to add my two cents to invisibility: even if the casting all spells are plainly visible, invisibility is hardly 'useless'. So the enemies see you cast invisibility? They don't know in which direction you moved after that. Even if everyone sees from which square your Web or Fireball or what-ever comes from, they don't know to which square you five-foot-stepped. And even if they do, that 50% ain’t nothing.

The FAQ didn't require that the observable manifestation be a light show. It could be swirling dark tatoos or runes on your body, or light-reflecting but not glowing stuff in the air around you. It's up the GM.

If you do use light, note that Invisibility specifically notes that light sources on a caster don't show a source. So you might see a small flash of light in the vicinity, but it doesn't have to be enough to pinpoint a square if you don't want it to.


Slithery D wrote:
Blymurkla wrote:

This 'spells are glowy things' bothers me, too.

I want to add my two cents to invisibility: even if the casting all spells are plainly visible, invisibility is hardly 'useless'. So the enemies see you cast invisibility? They don't know in which direction you moved after that. Even if everyone sees from which square your Web or Fireball or what-ever comes from, they don't know to which square you five-foot-stepped. And even if they do, that 50% ain’t nothing.

The FAQ didn't require that the observable manifestation be a light show. It could be swirling dark tatoos or runes on your body, or light-reflecting but not glowing stuff in the air around you. It's up the GM.

If you do use light, note that Invisibility specifically notes that light sources on a caster don't show a source. So you might see a small flash of light in the vicinity, but it doesn't have to be enough to pinpoint a square if you don't want it to.

Very true. The manifestations just have to be enough that if someone could see you, they could tell it was spell casting, and they could use Spellcraft to identify the spell.

Now, even the FAQ doesn't prevent you from hiding and casting a spell. I believe it really only prevents casting spells while standing out in the open and having everyone around just think you're standing there doing nothing.

Dark Archive

Saldiven wrote:

One thing to remind the "suggestion should be sneaky crowd."

If your characters can cast spells like that without being detected, then your characters' enemies can cast those spells against the party without being detected, too.

If this discussion were taking place in my home game, and the party was OK with the above provision, then I'd have no problem allowing sneaky casting. Woe betide the party member that complained when it happened to him/her, though....

Not once in all of my years of role playing do I recall a DM letting me know where a spell originated from without me actively making a perception check unless I was clearly able to see the caster as they were casting.

I am not saying that this was correct, just that it has been my exclusive experience.

OK, make me a reflex save.
19.
You make it and take 22 points of damage as you see the lightning bolt streak toward you.
Where the Hades did that come from?!?!!
I don't know. How about you make me a perception check.

This is not even an exaggeration. Spellcasting on the sly has been a general assumption up until I looked into trying to do it directly in front of an observer who is watching me. I am sure that my games going forward will play......differently now.

If I am going to invest feats and multiple skill ranks, you had best bet I will require my GM to do the same for npc's and monsters.


Hrm. Your GM is playing fast and loose with the rules, then (at least with Pathfinder, and I think 3.0/3.5 rules). Someone casting Lightning Bolt is obviously a combat action.

From the Combat section of the CRB:

"How Combat Works
Combat is cyclical; everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle of rounds. Combat follows this sequence:

1. When combat begins, all combatants roll initiative.

2. Determine which characters are aware of their opponents. These characters can act during a surprise round. If all the characters are aware of their opponents, proceed with normal rounds. See the surprise section for more information.

3. After the surprise round (if any), all combatants are ready to being the first normal round of combat.

4. Combatants act in initiative order (highest to lowest).

5. When everyone has had a turn, the next round begins with the combatant with the highest initiative, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends."

Your GM is giving your opponent what amounts to an automatic surprise round without allowing a perception check to notice that opponent. Now, there might be cases where the perception check would have a DC so astronomical that nobody in the party could make it even on a 20, but those circumstances should be few and far between. I mean, the wizard could be invisible and hiding in a barrel while peering out the bung-hole to target the party, but how often is that going to happen?


My enchanters all go with psychic or bardic casting now so that they can hide their casting easily. Suggestion and other long compulsion spells are fine even if people do know you're casting, though- cast in privacy and let the compulsion work from there.


Paizo has maintained that spellcasting is very obvious, though not necessarily which spell is being cast until it actually happens. Their quote is something to the effect, "so that spellcasters can't just wreck havoc among non-spellcasters".

Check out the FAQ for the exact discussion.

While I agree with this in general, I would play that if you go through the effort of having a silent and stilled spell (maybe even quickened too) that has no material components, then it should be very difficult to know who the spellcaster was, even if it is very obvious a spell was cast. If the caster wants to put ranks into bluff as well, I would allow it to be even harder.

Of course, I haven't seen Ultimate Intrigue to know if there is any spell-hiding stuff in there.


Now lets think about the other side of the question. If this could happen in the real world, police would be overwhelmed with complaints of unlawful spellcasting. Every country without a dedicated spellpolice would be failing a lot.
The same would be in a world with reasonsable magic presence. Lets look over a well detailed city like Korvosa. The book says that students are expected to help the townguard investigating cases involving magic.
So a city of Korvosa size don´t have a spellguard, and need assistence with a magic investigation. Given that adventurers are often hired to deal with those cases, we can deduce that most town don´t have a spellcaster response team (magic SWAT) to deal with rampant spellcasters on a short notice (but they might hire one fast).
So, should there be so many people fake claiming to have been ensorceled, that the guard cound´t investigate every case to cull the truth, that more likelly people would quit trying to do it besides there was so many complaints of the same spellcaster that would force higher authoroties to take a instance.

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