Identifying Spells and Focus Spells


Rules Discussion


So I pulled a dumb and forgot that casters can automatically recognize a spell being cast so long as they have it prepared or in their repertoire. So to avoid this in the future, I requested that each of my players playing a caster provide me with a list of their spell repertoires and prepared spells. This led to an interesting question posed by my parties Monk: He has Ki Strike, does that count as a spell for the purposes of instantly identifying a spell?

CRB Page 305: Identifying Spells wrote:

Identifying Spells

Sometimes you need to identify a spell, especially if its
effects are not obvious right away. If you notice a spell
being cast, and you have prepared that spell or have it
in your repertoire, you automatically know what the
spell is, including the level to which it is heightened.

If you want to identify a spell but don’t have it
prepared or in your repertoire, you must spend an
action on your turn to attempt to identify it using
Recall Knowledge. You typically notice a spell being
cast by seeing its visual manifestations or hearing its
verbal casting components. Identifying long-lasting
spells that are already in place requires using Identify
Magic instead of Recall Knowledge because you don’t
have the advantage of watching the spell being cast.

The immediate problem I see is that neither the Monk or Champion prepare their Focus Spells nor are they called out as having a "spell repertoire". They simply have access to these spells so long as they have the feat in question. So the question is can a Monk or Champion identify one of their known Focus spells (Ki spells or devotion spells respectively) instantly using the Identifying Spells rule, or would they be forced to make a Recall Knowledge check?

Additional question: What skill would you use to identify a Monk Ki Spell? Champion seems pretty obviously Religion based, but with Monk spells you could make a reasonable argument that several different skills could be viable choices. Or would you need knowledge of a Monastic order to identify said spell?


If would rule that having a spell as innate or focus spell also counts as having it in your repertior. Otherwise it gets strange with focus powers. A fire domain cleric watching another fire domain cleric and not regonizing the casting of Flame Ray instantly?

For that additional question: If you want to identify the Heal spell, you can use Nature or Religion, since it is on the primal and divine spell list. So for monk powers, I think you can use Religion or Occultism regardless of the tradition of the particular monk you are watching.


RAW no, they are not prepared or on the spell repertoire.

That said, this is one element of the game I wish they hadn't included. It is just so damn fiddly in play. I would rather have had a DC bonus if you shared the tradition if they had to have something.


So at my table I have decided to allow any Focus Spell to be identified immediately so long as you have access to the spell. So far as what tradition is used for each one if there is no clear tradition outlined, I have decided to allow my players to choose one and convince me of their reasoning.

It would be nice for some clarification on this issue though. Fingers crossed for Errata part 2: Electric Boogaloo.

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