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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Mar 2016

    Question Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    So when I was playing D&D a couple of nights ago, when the party was about to enter a mansion that the party's Rogue had already been caught stealing from. Right after we were greeted by one of the manor's servants while we were standing on the doorstep, the same Rogue suddenly realized that it might be a good idea to disguise his appearance, so he asked the GM if he could cast "Disguise Self" covertly. The GM said no, which sounded about right to me, but it got me thinking--can certain spells be casted without anyone besides the caster noticing?

    For example, in a different campaign I was in, the party's Sorcerer was found of casting Suggestion on people. This one time, he "suggested" that a gang leader who was assaulting him "go home and rethink his life." Another time, he suggested that a different gang leader "tell [his] men to throw their weapons into the lake." In both of these instances, the targets failed their wisdom save, and they did what was asked of them, but the gang leaders in question had lackeys that were standing right next to them. Would they really not notice that their leader was affected by a spell? That the guy talking to their leader was holding some material component in his hand the entire time he was talking? I know suggestion doesn't have a somatic component, and the verbal component is probably the suggestion itself, but wouldn't the material component, I don't know, react in some way when he casts the spell? Like, would the component glow or produce some magical force or something?

    The rules in 5e didn't really seem to provide me with a clear answer to this question, so I figured I'd ask here to see if any of you had any insight on this matter. Are magic spells always really obvious, or can certain ones be cast inconspicuously?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Red Fel's Avatar

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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuchADiceGuy View Post
    So when I was playing D&D a couple of nights ago, when the party was about to enter a mansion that the party's Rogue had already been caught stealing from. Right after we were greeted by one of the manor's servants while we were standing on the doorstep, the same Rogue suddenly realized that it might be a good idea to disguise his appearance, so he asked the GM if he could cast "Disguise Self" covertly. The GM said no, which sounded about right to me, but it got me thinking--can certain spells be casted without anyone besides the caster noticing?

    For example, in a different campaign I was in, the party's Sorcerer was found of casting Suggestion on people. This one time, he "suggested" that a gang leader who was assaulting him "go home and rethink his life." Another time, he suggested that a different gang leader "tell [his] men to throw their weapons into the lake." In both of these instances, the targets failed their wisdom save, and they did what was asked of them, but the gang leaders in question had lackeys that were standing right next to them. Would they really not notice that their leader was affected by a spell? That the guy talking to their leader was holding some material component in his hand the entire time he was talking? I know suggestion doesn't have a somatic component, and the verbal component is probably the suggestion itself, but wouldn't the material component, I don't know, react in some way when he casts the spell? Like, would the component glow or produce some magical force or something?

    The rules in 5e didn't really seem to provide me with a clear answer to this question, so I figured I'd ask here to see if any of you had any insight on this matter. Are magic spells always really obvious, or can certain ones be cast inconspicuously?
    Well, I can't speak to 5e, but in 3.0/3.5e, the rules are pretty explicit. Spells may have verbal, somatic, or material components. You can take feats to avoid these components (Silent Spell, Still Spell, Eschew Materials), but unless you employ such feats, or have some other class feature, you must use components.

    Verbal components are noises. And not fun words like "Fireball," or anything like that - they're mystical arglebargle, spoken in a clear, strong voice. People notice if you start chanting. Somatic components are precise hand and arm movements. People notice if you start wiggling your fingers over your head. And material components are objects that must be held in your hands as you cast, or otherwise used (for example, Spider Climb has a live spider, which must be eaten during casting). People tend to notice if you pull out a handful of bat guano in front of them.

    Again, there are feats you can take to bypass these requirements. And, sure, if a spell has no components listed, there's really no way to notice (absent a Spellcraft check) that you're casting. But absent those feats, you must use your components, and that means people will notice you're doing something. They may not know what, but they'll notice.

    And, generally, they get an attack of opportunity for it.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    Generally, yes. Anything that produces an obvious sensory effect is going to be noticed. Your summoning, fireballs, the like.

    More subtle spells generally still have somatic, verbal, and sometimes material components. A material component varies from innocuous to very strange and noticeable. A somatic component is just a hand gesture and would probably go by unnoticed to the untrained eye. A verbal component is an incantation, so likely going to be noticed by even a commoner as strange or likely magic.

    For D&D anyone trained in spellcraft or arcane knowledge is going to know magic when they see it, even if they don't know the exact spell.

    Generally, you need silent/still spells and a way to cast without materials for spells to go by undected, or at least the caster unknown if you have an obvious effect.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    I don't know about in 5e, but I know that it is obvious that you're casting in Pathfinder. Even if Silent/Still, it's obvious that you're casting a spell. (I assume cool special effects. :P)

    There is a feat in a recent Pathfinder book which allow you to make a Bluff check so that people don't realize that you're casting, so I suppose you could house-rule something like that in 5e. (Cunning Caster feat - http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/genera...cunning-caster.)

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuchADiceGuy View Post
    The rules in 5e didn't really seem to provide me with a clear answer to this question, so I figured I'd ask here to see if any of you had any insight on this matter. Are magic spells always really obvious, or can certain ones be cast inconspicuously?
    Short answer: Spellcasting is painfully obvious unless you have something that lets you ignore verbal and somatic components.


    Long answer:
    -Verbal components mean chanting magic words or sounds. That's your "Abrakadabra Alakazam!". Any child can tell when someone is saying magic words.
    -Somatic components are visible gesticulation. That's when a magician waves his magic wand, usually in the direction of his target. Again, that's obvious.
    -Material and focus components are things you hold in your hand while casting. Sorry, but people notice when you start waving around newt eyes, diamond dust, crosses, dead lizards, magic wands, and pieces of bat poo.
    -Any spell that involves those components is going to be obvious to someone who can observe them.
    -Unless your DM decides otherwise, people are going to notice
    -I find that roleplaying spellcasting once in a while is amusing and helps immersion.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2016-06-02 at 02:27 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Is magic in D&D conspicuous?

    In the case of Suggestion spell, yes, the people standing there should have noticed and done something about a sorceror casting a spell on their boss.

    If you want to cast a charm or suggestion or other mind altering spell like that you'd want to get the target alone away from witnesses. Even then, the target will know and remember that you cast the spell on them when it wears off, so hopefully you got what you needed from them and are long gone by that time.

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