Social Impact (In Game) of Public Spell Casting


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Turambar wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
The whole interaction takes two minutes and the city is behind you...

I guess I just like my roleplaying games to have a little, you know, roleplaying.

And absolutely I like roleplaying a crowded marketplace. I always think it's strange when a GM offers a single Magic Big Box with every conceivable item for book cost.

Well said. It's a great way to introduce some flavor and amusing NPCs that could be contacts or friends, to say nothing of larceny the PCs could witness or be victims of (or, if that's your style of game, perpetrate).

Dark Archive

Zhayne wrote:
l of which can be assumed is useful for killing and plundering.

Now, to be fair, a lot of this has to do with the setting. In my game, it's entirely possible for a typical person to go their entire lives and never once see a spell cast, or anything that most people would call 'a monster', or a magic item. There's not magic academies in every major city. The local priests aren't spellcasters, just devoted religious people.

So, yes, the dire wolf stays out of city limits, you check your dangerous gear at the city gates, and if you don't like it, you can turn around and go somewhere else.

See to me it is a setting like this that is prime to have fun with public casting. These people don't have magic happening around them. At best they have heard tales of them from long in the past. Maybe your mage is in the middle of the square making fireworks, ala Gandalf, or maybe he is of using his spells for subterfuge. Sure in your meeting with the king of whatever-land he might have his court wizard near by and casting a spell very easily could be interpreted as hostile.

Example, say you're a wizard and your meeting a potential ally from the thieves guild. You meet her at a small bar, with few patrons and sit in the back. Now if you just started casting a spell on her and she attacks you. She doesn't know what you were going to do, schroedingers spell and all. Now say you tell her, "I am casting zone of truth, I will know if you resist. Let us be honest with each other." Say she agrees, a patron noticing this spell casting, comes and asks if the lady is all right. Now you get to have fun with zone of truth and a vague question. Maybe everything isn't all right at home, maybe she really needs to pee. Certainly you would be noticed for casting a spell and you wouldn't really be discreet about it, but certainly, I feel that telling a caster, "hey you know all those cool social based spells, yah you can never use them because I hate magic."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
ohako wrote:
1st-level magic can be used to perform assault, arson, and seduction. Cast anything, anything at all out in the open, and it should be well and rightly assumed that you're trying to do one of those three things. There's three ways around this problem:

Yeah, I still don't understand that level of paranoia. People keep using the spells as weapon analogy, but that isn't right. Spells are tools, some of which happen to be weapons. Magic is stupidly common on Golarion. Seeing a random stranger cast a spell on a crowded street (one whose body language isn't screaming "I'm about to rob you") and there is no reason to assume it is hostile.

Sure in some backwoods rural village with only 100 citizens the peasants will probably be surprised, but I don't see why the first reaction wouldn't be curiosity over fear. In large cities such as Absolom, I would assume your typical peasant would see several spells being cast every single day, none of which would be offensive in nature.

Dark Archive

Saleem Halabi wrote:
ohako wrote:
1st-level magic can be used to perform assault, arson, and seduction. Cast anything, anything at all out in the open, and it should be well and rightly assumed that you're trying to do one of those three things. There's three ways around this problem:

Yeah, I still don't understand that level of paranoia. People keep using the spells as weapon analogy, but that isn't right. Spells are tools, some of which happen to be weapons. Magic is stupidly common on Golarion. Seeing a random stranger cast a spell on a crowded street (one whose body language isn't screaming "I'm about to rob you") and there is no reason to assume it is hostile.

Sure in some backwoods rural village with only 100 citizens the peasants will probably be surprised, but I don't see why the first reaction wouldn't be curiosity over fear. In large cities such as Absolom, I would assume your typical peasant would see several spells being cast every single day, none of which would be offensive in nature.

I think it really is hard to make apt comparisons. If I had to do it I really wouldn't compare them to weapons. I'd say spells are like shoes, but some shoes are just shoes and some shoes shoot hell rays that banish your soul and others summon literal gods to destroy everything.

I think the rule of fun has to be at the forefront as I can understand both viewpoints.


I feel part of the problem with all of this? Magic isn't actually that hard to learn in Pathfinder. Literally half of the entire human population of Golarion is fully capable of learning magic, and even some of the smallest hamlets and thorps with maybe 50 people likely has at least one Adept who provides simple spellcasting, along with an apprentice or two for the future. Remember, you only need 11 in a casting stat to cast Level 1 Spells.


VoodistMonk wrote:
Magic is insanely complex and powerful and what civilization would ever allow its use inside its walls unchecked?

Automatic guns are insanely powerful and what civilization would ever allow them to be carried around inside its cities unchecked?

Liberty's Edge

Derklord wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
Magic is insanely complex and powerful and what civilization would ever allow its use inside its walls unchecked?
Automatic guns are insanely powerful and what civilization would ever allow them to be carried around inside its cities unchecked?

Bad analogy, they don't. Pretty much the only places you see automatic weapons on a regular basis are the Middle East and Africa and that's only by people associated with the controlling faction or actively fighting them. And that's enough of a thread divergence.


Saleem Halabi wrote:
Yeah, I still don't understand that level of paranoia. People keep using the spells as weapon analogy, but that isn't right. Spells are tools, some of which happen to be weapons. Magic is stupidly common on Golarion. Seeing a random stranger cast a spell on a crowded street (one whose body language isn't screaming "I'm about to rob you") and there is no reason to assume it is hostile.

Knives are tools. If someone pulls a knife on you unexpectedly, you're probably not going to take it well.

How about this as an analogy: Spells are like drugs. If you inject yourself with something in public, people will be curious or suspicious. If you spray an unknown substance in someone's face, they'll be hostile. Where the magic is directed is very important.


Espy Lacopa wrote:
I feel part of the problem with all of this? Magic isn't actually that hard to learn in Pathfinder. Literally half of the entire human population of Golarion is fully capable of learning magic, and even some of the smallest hamlets and thorps with maybe 50 people likely has at least one Adept who provides simple spellcasting, along with an apprentice or two for the future. Remember, you only need 11 in a casting stat to cast Level 1 Spells.

Bombs are unsettlingly easy to build, but people still freak out and call the police if they see a suspicious box or a Lite-Brite in public where they wouldn't normally expect one.

From the perspective of a player or GM, sure, magic is bloody everywhere. For Ven Vinder, it's the odd charm that passes in and out of his shop and the occasional ritual during one of Father Zantus's services. It isn't common at all, and someone you don't know facing you and casting a spell without explaining themselves first ought to be very alarming.

Keep in mind that most people don't know whether you're targeting yourself, them, or whatever unless the spell's effect makes it obvious. That spell Bob witnessed could have been guidance on the caster, or it could have been memory lapse on Bob.


I ran a home brew campaign where in the setting, only certain schools (or sub-schools) were illegal. To support this, I created an additional mechanic of Spellcraft, where you could identify the school of a spell being cast at a lower DC than identifying the specific spell.

As far as a more default setting goes, I imagine identifying spells goes kind of similarly to the above, where someone who doesn't know how to tell the casting of Fireball apart from Cure Light Wounds would just be really uncomfortable around anyone casting, and if they had any pull or authority within the situation, might chastise the caster, ask them to leave, or even attack them. If the observer IS able to identify spells, they'll probably react based on the specific spell, or even the spell's school. Casting False Life (a Necromancy spell) at a fancy dinner might be considered disturbing, for example.


Identifying Fireball isn't really the problem because even if you don't know the spell, you'll see the fireball. Using Charm Person to try to con or seduce people would seem like a more common threat.

And it might depend on the level of social trust in the area. In a bad neighborhood, if you see someone walking around with a machete, you run away. In a better neighborhood, you might think, "Oh, he must be planning to cut up a melon or something."


Everyone talks about identifying the spell being cast, and how that would determine the appropriate reaction. This is naive.

Eshew Materials, Still Spell, and Silent Spell exist. Casting as part of a performance exists.

Nobody with a +1,000,000 enchanted Greatsword can make you kill your friends.

Spellcasters have the ability to conceal their intentions with ease. No martial character has the ability to remove the main components necessary for them to be effective. Even a rogue has to physically be the to spy on you.

This isn't a check your guns at the door thing, this isn't a register at your convenience thing, in my opinion.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Identifying Fireball isn't really the problem because even if you don't know the spell, you'll see the fireball. Using Charm Person to try to con or seduce people would seem like a more common threat.

The specific spells I listed weren't really important to the point I was making, but fair enough, I guess.

VoodistMonk wrote:

Everyone talks about identifying the spell being cast, and how that would determine the appropriate reaction. This is naive.

Eshew Materials, Still Spell, and Silent Spell exist. Casting as part of a performance exists.

Even with removing Material, Verbal and Somatic components, spellcastign is still an obvious act with obtuse, tell-tale giveaways that allow anyone paying even a little attention to the situation to easily observe that a spell is being cast. Paizo has said this. As for the small remaining abilities that actually do allow someone to hide their spellcasting - great, no one knows that they're casting a spell. This still leaves a strong majority of spellcasters that can't hide their casting.

As for checking your guns at the door, this can be as easy as handing over your material component pouch or divine focus. Yes, this still leaves plenty of casters with the ability to cast, but so too would you have anyone practiced at Sleight of Hand, Bluff, or Diplomacy, and maybe a bribe to still have their guns. Martials can easily conceal their weapons, and many don't NEED weapons (i.e. Monks, Brawlers, etc.)


Nobody cares about monks and brawlers because they do not have the capacity of mass suggestion, or destruction on a large scale with the flick of their wrist. It is not comparable.

Magic isn't comparable to anything else.

It literally cannot be stopped by the current gaming mechanics, as stated no kingdom in the game settings could afford the antimagic field to protect itself constantly. So it's up to the GM, obviously, as most things are.

However, I'd say you have an equal chance of encountering a dragon in a cave as a berserk wizard in the market... And I've found a few dragons before, but nobody should have a berserk wizard in the market because it breaks the game. The king is dead, the quest is forfeit, because random magic user used gate to bring two balors to the royal wedding.

Or, just say no magic in the city.


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VoodistMonk wrote:

Nobody cares about monks and brawlers because they do not have the capacity of mass suggestion, or destruction on a large scale with the flick of their wrist. It is not comparable.

Magic isn't comparable to anything else.

It literally cannot be stopped by the current gaming mechanics, as stated no kingdom in the game settings could afford the antimagic field to protect itself constantly. So it's up to the GM, obviously, as most things are.

However, I'd say you have an equal chance of encountering a dragon in a cave as a berserk wizard in the market... And I've found a few dragons before, but nobody should have a berserk wizard in the market because it breaks the game. The king is dead, the quest is forfeit, because random magic user used gate to bring two balors to the royal wedding.

Or, just say no magic in the city.

The number of wizards on a given continent That could manage such a feat of magic could be counted on the fingers of once hand.

Most of them will either have no interest in using their magic to influence politics or will already rule, either directly or through proxy.

Likewise, an equally high level fighter could readily slaughter the entire royal guard, claiming the crown through personal might.

This is very close to how Ulfen kings are chosen, where all that is required to claim the title of King is to defeat a linnorm in single combat and carry its head through the city gates. Lets face it. If you can kill a linnorm with your sword, nobody is going to argue your right to be King.


You're telling me that there are only a handful of level ~18 wizards on any given continent when as stated half the humanoid creatures have access to magic? You could have three such people in one party, each a different class...

20,000gp to gate two balors into a royal wedding seems like a cheap price to topple a kingdom with exactly no actual work involved or threat to the wizard. Fly over there, teleport inside, gate two balors, teleport away, rule the kingdom come tomorrow.


Anywho this is fun and all.

Back to the OP. The issue is actually not even the noble woman being okay with 2 spells being cast. It's everyone else too. Public meal, let's say 30 people? All just gonna shrug?

I wouldn't be cool with it.


VoodistMonk wrote:

You're telling me that there are only a handful of level ~18 wizards on any given continent when as stated half the humanoid creatures have access to magic? You could have three such people in one party, each a different class...

20,000gp to gate two balors into a royal wedding seems like a cheap price to topple a kingdom with exactly no actual work involved or threat to the wizard. Fly over there, teleport inside, gate two balors, teleport away, rule the kingdom come tomorrow.

Going by comments made by James Jacobs in the past - yes?

PCs are meant to be exceptions to the rule, not examples of it.


VoodistMonk wrote:

You're telling me that there are only a handful of level ~18 wizards on any given continent when as stated half the humanoid creatures have access to magic? You could have three such people in one party, each a different class...

20,000gp to gate two balors into a royal wedding seems like a cheap price to topple a kingdom with exactly no actual work involved or threat to the wizard. Fly over there, teleport inside, gate two balors, teleport away, rule the kingdom come tomorrow.

In golarion lore, yes. There are only a handful of casters high enough level to cast Gate.

Most of those are Kings/Queens. Razmir, Geb, Arazni, Elvanna

Queen Agrogail Thrune II has 16 levels in sorcerer.
Queen Ileosa Arabasti has 16 levels of bard.

The Runelords, Tar-Baphon, Nex, and Old Man Jatembe are bound, deceased, or no longer choose to participate in mortal affairs.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you check the inner cover of Inner Sea Magic, they have a who's who of Inner Sea casters. 16 are high enough level to access Gate magic. Of these, 5 are missing or presumed deceased, one is the former herald of Aroden, a number of others are imprisoned or rulers, and one is Baba Yaga herself.


Gate was an extreme example. But everyone and their brother can summon beasts. Nice pleasant afternoon going to the market was ruined by some kid summoning a [insert aggressive beast here] again... Just another Saturday in the city, though. Sure glad we moved out of the countryside where it wasn't safe...


...Seriously, the monster showed up for like 24 seconds but then luckily it just vanished. Mostly, it was just inconvenient. We thought we were safe, but then a huge Barbarian dude showed up and started dropping heads. He...didn't disappear.

But seriously. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Someone firing off spells like a rootin-tootin cowboy would be addressed no less seriously than a throat-cutting murderer. That's not even what this thread is supposed to be about - it's about the social implications of people who can't use/identify magic living along-side people who can.


VoodistMonk wrote:
Gate was an extreme example. But everyone and their brother can summon beasts. Nice pleasant afternoon going to the market was ruined by some crazy barbarian going on a rampage... Just another Saturday in the city, though. Sure glad we moved out of the countryside where it wasn't safe...

This is an equally valid scenario.

Are you also going to have all weapons checked at the city gate?


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Depends on the city.


No. Because martial weapons generally cannot kill an entire crowd all at once. Martial weapons do not generally take over your mind and make you kill your friends. Martial weapons are not even comparable to magic, or what magic is capable of. It's like comparing a wind up rubber band airplane to a rocket ship... Sure they both fly to some capacity but one is sold at the dollar store and the other one is a freaking rocket ship!!!


because being a spellcaster is going to turn you into a mass murderer? I've played enough casters, many an evil one, but I did not kill indiscriminately


How much magic do you need to use in the city?

Given that plenty of people, PC and NPC alike, get by just fine without magic. You do some shopping. Talk to people at the bar. Find new information on you current quest, or your next one. None of this requires the use of magic.

Skill checks, maybe/probably, but no solve this mystery for me spells are ever needed inside the city. If you don't catch being lied to, maybe your sense motive should had been higher. Thief stole your stuff? Find him the old fashioned way, since role playing was brought up earlier.

My answer for these things, including going into the city in real life, is get in, get it done, get out.

At some Lord's table, he has but a small village of farmers for his vineyards and has invited your party to dinner, if you use magic without being asked, he has every right to be furious. Jail, fines, maybe a swift death depending on who you insulted or what you cast.

Real places have been known to cut off your hand if they catch you stealing, so punishment may vary...


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
Gate was an extreme example. But everyone and their brother can summon beasts. Nice pleasant afternoon going to the market was ruined by some crazy barbarian going on a rampage... Just another Saturday in the city, though. Sure glad we moved out of the countryside where it wasn't safe...

This is an equally valid scenario.

Are you also going to have all weapons checked at the city gate?

Generally, yes. Or peacebonded/tied up/something to render them ineffective.

I'm considering inventing a magic-suppressing material that could be crafted into bracers or neckbands or something to prevent spellcasters from casting. Kind of like Kryptonite for mana.

One country already deals with illegal spellcasting with hand and tongue removal, but that's an outlier/extreme kind of country.


I think this really depends on the place. In Irrisen they probably assume any unfamiliar magic is some evil curse.

In Kyonin though, it's about as innocuous as trimming your hedge or something like that.


Zhayne wrote:

I'm considering inventing a magic-suppressing material that could be crafted into bracers or neckbands or something to prevent spellcasters from casting. Kind of like Kryptonite for mana.

One country already deals with illegal spellcasting with hand and tongue removal, but that's an outlier/extreme kind of country.

Taking it to that level runs a strong risk of derailing your campaign, unless you intended for it to be the focus of the game from its inception.

That or your players are already buying into the stories you all want to play in such that these measures are unnecessary and your time would be better spent elsewhere


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There's plenty of magic that you'd expect to be used in the city. Mending for a start, purify food and drink, guidance, crafter's fortune, remove disease, read weather, ceremony, maybe comprehend languages or tongues... do I need to go on?

Sure, your city could manage without these to some degree or another (missing out on purify food and drink would cost a lot of lives), but the extra wealth and sheer convenience of the magic weighs against that. Not everyone should be fanatically set against magic IMO.

Oh, and when it comes to slaughtering crowds of low-level NPCs, non-magical characters can do that just fine.


VoodistMonk wrote:
Gate was an extreme example. But everyone and their brother can summon beasts. Nice pleasant afternoon going to the market was ruined by some kid summoning a [insert aggressive beast here] again... Just another Saturday in the city, though. Sure glad we moved out of the countryside where it wasn't safe...

First thing: NPC casters are only going to do what the campaign calls for. If that means a battle in the middle of a busy market, it should be an intense battle with lots of innocents at stake. Probably a few deaths too.

Second thing: If the players want to cause trouble the best way to reign that in is to get the other players to do it. It might mean some people have to make a new character. One that happens to fit with the campaign. That is just a learning experience and something that is better done sooner than later.

If one or a few player continue doing this sort of thing that disrupts the game, give them a warning and if it continues kick them from the game. You shouldn't have to discourage people from role playing, but a few players ruining a game because they get a kick out of being the bad guy shouldn't be tolerated. This is a shared experience that is suppose to be entertaining for all the players and the GM. If someone isn't mature enough to be considerate of others they don't belong at your table.

Sczarni

"Don't shake your voodoo sticks at me! Get the (*&^ out of my house!" Seems an appropriate response from anyone. Is she DOING EVIL? Or are you just casting it on her to figure out that she does evil in her spare time? So do many people. What's the point of doing this? You are not catching her "red handed" doing something against the law. Are you just looking for people to murder? That seems sort of evil. Maybe SHE should report you to the authorities!

Sczarni

VoodistMonk wrote:


It literally cannot be stopped by the current gaming mechanics, as stated no kingdom in the game settings could afford the antimagic field to protect itself constantly. So it's up to the GM, obviously, as most things are.

Shhhhh... don't tell the Mana Wasters or Southern Numerians (who don't like magic or tech).


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maouse wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:


It literally cannot be stopped by the current gaming mechanics, as stated no kingdom in the game settings could afford the antimagic field to protect itself constantly. So it's up to the GM, obviously, as most things are.
Shhhhh... don't tell the Mana Wasters or Southern Numerians (who don't like magic or tech).

It's not like the Mana Wastes were intentionally created or are controllable.

Dark Archive

@OP

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/stylized-spontaneity/

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/metamagic-feats/stylized-spell-metamagic/

Summary:
+1 level effective level increase gets you:
a)+10 to the DC to id your spell;
b)adding -5 penalty on top of that suppresses
i)visual manifestations of the spell; or
ii)auditory manifestations.

So we have +1 spell level, +10 to DC to id, -10 to DC id = effective 0 change to DC to id spell BUT: spell is now invisible and makes no sound.

Basically, a psychic can detect thoughts as a 2nd level spell instead of 1st level spell, and others don't know the psychic is doing that unless they make a Perception check with DC10+spellcraftranks+intmod.

Hmmm.... I guess it's not bad if you're at a range of 60 feet as Perception checks are modified by distance (+1/10ft) so the DC to spot detect thoughts at 60 feat would go up by 6... still a bit easy to make at higher levels but it's not completely useless... something to consider...


VoodistMonk wrote:
...but nobody should have a berserk wizard in the market because it breaks the game.

See, now I'm going to and it's all your fault. I love this idea and I'll point my players your way afterwards for giving me the suggestion.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So many great thoughts, suggestions, and ideas to work thru. One of my PCs wants to be a summoner and asked about summoning and I happened to mention it might not go too well in a municipality (Magnimar) depending on circumstances.

I would think any caster in a city would be held accountable by investigation if anyone claimed to be victimized by a caster. There could be a whole investigative specialty in the city guard for this type of thin.

Dark Archive

Don't forget bards and the Spellsong feat... I find this feat almost absolutely necessary as they can disguise their spellcasting as part of their performance!

Another element to consider as part of this thread: what about those classes and creatures who have 'constant' magic effects? one of my WftC players runs an elf occultist with constant detect magic vision... I mean, if magic is always frowned upon, he'd be in trouble. We've ruled that only the act of spellcasting has visual and auditory elements, and that ongoing spells don't unless the spell says so (like Arcane Sight, which specifically says that your eyes glow when the spell is active)


Overlap Pete wrote:
Another element to consider as part of this thread: what about those classes and creatures who have 'constant' magic effects? one of my WftC players runs an elf occultist with constant detect magic vision... I mean, if magic is always frowned upon, he'd be in trouble.

The good news is that most spells that would create problems are spells that need to be cast in the current moment. Long term buff spells, even visible ones like Arcane Sight or Mage Armor, are less of an issue because they tend to have less potential for criminal use. I agree that the game is more interesting and feels better if longer term spells are either not visible or less alarming to citizens.

This can also create and incentivise careful use of spells, as for the OP, before the party meets with the noble the cleric could cast detect evil. The spell lasts 10 minutes per level as long as the cleric concentrates, allowing them to meet and gauge the noblewoman only IF they thought about it well before hand. Meanwhile, Discern Lies and detect thoughts are 1/round and 1/minute respectively. The cleric could potentially slip into the bathroom and prep detect thoughts, but can't set it up in advance without giving away their position. Discern lies requires line of sight and effect, so its pretty much a no-go in a social setting.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

From what I'm gleaning from the entirety of this thread:

1. A special arcane investigative 'squad' of the local city law enforcement specializing in dealing with magical crimes, whether they are assaultive, invasive, manipulative, or what not.

2. Casting in public would be circumstance specific: a priest at worship might be expected to cast some sort of divine blessing at the ceremony. A magical street duel would be highly frowned upon as innocents nearby could be hurt. Invasive magic, like detect lies, alignment, etc, would be frowned upon as rude unless consent is given and could result in even a small fine.. A thrift shop may have 'mending' used all the time.

3. Penalties for destructive magic use would probably be severe and swiftly enacted.

4. Spell casters could be required to register themselves in the city. Or, have a 'license'.

5. Counter measures would be in place. Chimes or alarms to alert others magic is being used nearby. Ant-magic shells used to help apprehend casters.

6. Some of this would also apply to magic items, not just casting. A fighter with a helm of blasting may have it confiscating pending trial when he attempted to blast a thief and missed and killed a merchant's prize mule.

7. This concepts could be region specific. What is law in Magnimar may be tolerated in Kaer Maga.


8. Don't go overboard. Seriously, think twice before adding bureaucracy to your games.


For one I suspect shooting a fireball into a crowd of innocent people might not be socially acceptable.


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It's all how the GM wants to run it. Town A may have peace bonded swords and licensed spell casters while his next city, Town B, may not give a hoot who comes through the gate as long as they pay the local tariffs. My thoughts run along the lines of closer to Town B, until the person(s) break the local law. Magnimar may be closer to Town B, while Korvosa may be closer to Town A (it is described as a very law oriented town with a lot of regulations).

How many game scenarios have a city encounter? A lot. It'll make for great gaming and role play if the PCs are being considerate of the surroundings, both property and persons, during a street market, back alley, or manor house fight. And if they unintentionally break the local law using a spell or magical effect on someone, it'll be great role-play dealing with the resulting complaint and investigation. It would be no different if they were trying to hit someone with an arrow and hit a bystander instead. While they could run and hide and attempt to evade an official inquiry, one could also see the a PC stand firm and hold himself accountable for his actions (this would be very alignment specific I bet. paladins/rogues).

One would need to make sure it doesn't slow the game down enough to be distracting from the original plot line.


An observation.

There's a distinct, if light, bias against arcane magic running through the thread. Divine casting/spells seem to hold a slightly different position in our collective minds from arcane. While I'm fairly certain no one thinks dropping Flame Strikes and Unholy Blight would be okay in circumstances where Fireball and Disintegrate would be highly problematic most/many of the spells and classes mentioned as examples, are arcane in typical usage.

And thinking about two published campaign worlds where magic is highly controlled it is the arcane side of spells that bears the brunt of prejudice and law enforcement. Namely the worlds of Athas (Dark Sun) and Midnight. What is it about arcane magic that brings this out? Perhaps divine magic is seen as coming from a higher authority (the deities) while arcane is not.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Casting a spell like Detect Evil should be no more of a problem in and of itself than a spell like See Invisibility. In both cases, the target of the spell is the caster. The caster could cast the spell while out of sight and then move into the area where he wants to use that ability. Only someone who is casting Detect Magic would know that he has an active spell on himself.

Where a caster of Detect Evil might get into trouble is in what he does when somebody pings as evil.


On the arcane vs. divine magic, RAW there isn't a way to tell if it's not divine only (and even then, there's enough ways to give divine spells as arcane ones that's still not total proof).

Dark Archive

I think the reaction to spellcasting is sometimes overblown but that's a GMing or player metagaming issue, not a game or setting issue.

If someone casts a detection spell that A) doesn't harm anyone or B) doesn't seem to have any annoying or visible effect after the casting is over, then you're going overboard if you make that NPC react the same way he/she would by seeing someone pull a knife or a crossbow.

The GM should have the NPC question the PC, i.e. "Hey pal, what are you doing?" but to go to violence immediately is a metagaming reaction.

PCs must also behave more realistically in many situations. For example, the PC should herald his spellcasting to any NPC by asking permission or at the very least, asking for forgiveness after the fact. Make good use of that 'talking is a free action' feature of the Pathfinder game.... it can prevent fights or death in many situations! :)


Kayerloth wrote:

An observation.

There's a distinct, if light, bias against arcane magic running through the thread. Divine casting/spells seem to hold a slightly different position in our collective minds from arcane. While I'm fairly certain no one thinks dropping Flame Strikes and Unholy Blight would be okay in circumstances where Fireball and Disintegrate would be highly problematic most/many of the spells and classes mentioned as examples, are arcane in typical usage.

And thinking about two published campaign worlds where magic is highly controlled it is the arcane side of spells that bears the brunt of prejudice and law enforcement. Namely the worlds of Athas (Dark Sun) and Midnight. What is it about arcane magic that brings this out? Perhaps divine magic is seen as coming from a higher authority (the deities) while arcane is not.

Honestly, it's a double dose of cultural stereotypes for me. In the real world, priests are meant to be trusted. Magicians are meant to trick you (in a good way). Some of the specialities are just synonyms (Conjurer, Illusionist), others are frequently associated with fraud (Diviner, Transmuter).

In games if you tell me Wizard I expect elemental blasting and debuffs (black magic). If you tell me Cleric I expect buffing and healing (white magic). Pathfinder magic is a lot broader than that but still generally follows it. So the Wizard casting a spell means an attack, the Cleric casting a spell means a buff/heal.

Then there's the branding. Knowledge (Arcana) will never tell you someone is a Wizard. There's no special equipment or gear they have that will let you know who they are. Knowledge (Religion) on the other hand lets you identify a Cleric with a DC low enough that anybody can attempt it. Seriously, "Recognize a common deity’s symbol or clergy". So if a Cleric starts casting a spell (especially one using a divine focus) there's a chance the people around can identify which god they worship and react accordingly. A Cleric of Sarenrae in most towns, probably fine. A Cleric of Urgathoa, on the other hand, run for your life. Or vice-versa in Geb. Clerics have rules, basically, and Wizards do not. And out of game we know that. In game they know that. So between the person who can randomly just starting throwing fire into the crowd and the person who will lose their ability to throw fire if they start throwing it into the crowd, is it any wonder we worry more about the first one?

The Exchange

I have done a bad thing and skimmed most of this thread - but the overall feel from most of the posters is "Magic is RADIOACTIVE!" instead of "magic is magical"...

Ok, if magic is common then it should excite almost no notice. In Pathfinder, it seems to me that magic is about as common as Electronics are in the real world...

So, when a group of adventurers walk down the street, what to the townsfolk notice?

PC 1: A Tiefling rogue dressed in eastern armor with light weapons.

PC 2: A Gnome Druid, in armor of hides, riding a Tiger.

PC 3: A human Wizard, in robes - with an Ioun stone circling his head.

PC 4: A Dwarven Fighter, in shiny full plate with a glave in hand and a crossbow on his back.

PC 5: A Half-Elven Bard, in flashy clothing and carrying a lute.

NOW... one of these persons stops in the middle of the street, raises his right hand, waves it around and says something in an unknown language...

What kind of a reaction does he get? it kind of depends on the person running the game... and right now has much less to do with the campaign, the setting, or even (it seems to me) the PC. Some judges have the townsfolk flee, returning with torches and pitchforks to punish the PC... screaming something about "burn the witch!"

Why? Why such a reaction to the use of spells in public?

AND NO REACTION to the Tiefling, the Tiger, or the Weapons (& Armor) carried in public?

here's an older thread on much the same subject...
Go to [https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2qek8?Socially-acceptable-use-of-magic-in-PFS]Socially-acceptable-use-of-magic[/url].

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