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Lets say a wizard casts a compulsion spell on someone. Is that person aware that a spell was cast on him? Is he aware of where the spell came from?

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Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/21310/4089 –  LitheOhm Apr 22 '13 at 3:13

2 Answers 2

up vote 25 down vote accepted

A creature knows when it makes a successful saving throw against a spell.

A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack.

(Source)

In addition, a creature can identify a spell after having rolled a saving throw against a spell by making a relatively difficult Spellcraft check.

DC 25 + spell level | After rolling a saving throw against a spell targeted on you, determine what that spell was. No action required. No retry.

(Source)

That is, as far as I know, all we have on gaining information about spells that are cast on you, just by virtue of the spell being cast. You could, of course, notice that a spellcaster is providing verbal, somatic or material components, or directly observe the effects of the spell.

To answer your specific questions, I think we can infer:

  • Should the character succeed on a saving throw against the enchantment, it knows that a spell has been cast. A character skilled in Spellcraft can recognize the effects regardless of the outcome of the saving throw.
  • No, not unless the character noticed the spellcaster casting the spell or the spell has definite, observable qualities (most Enchantments don't).
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+1 for a superior answer, but I would comment that I still believe my comment about the target's prior experience or knowledge about magic would modify their perception of "what is going on". –  Cat Apr 20 '13 at 16:02
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@Cat Strictly speaking, prior experience or knowledge about magic should fall under Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana), respectively. Kind of problematic, though, when the Fighter doesn't recognize the spell the Wizard's been casting several times per day for years, though. –  KRyan Apr 20 '13 at 16:12
    
Isn't there a very nice ring in CMage that allows you to recognize when spells are being cast around you? Might be worth mentioning. –  KRyan Apr 20 '13 at 16:13
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@KRyan Yeah, I was forgetting about the PCs in that sense, and thinking about NPCs. But, as your fighter example demonstrates, there has to be some common sense applied eg, for people who are habitual magic bystanders but choose not to take ranks in spellcraft/arcana. –  Cat Apr 20 '13 at 16:16
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@KRyan - Cat's right; skill ranks are a blunt instrument when it comes to telling what a character knows. –  tex Apr 20 '13 at 16:35

I would say that the answer to this question depends on at least two things:

1) The target's previous experience with magic: If the target has no knowledge of or experience with magic, they are unlikely to look for a source for their current predicament. They are more likely to attribute the event to more "natural" causes like drunkeness, insanity, their OCD, etc. Even things external to them like a floating tea cup are more likely to be interpretted as indicating the presence of an invisible creature than a "mage's hand"

2) The necessary components (Verbal, Material, Somatic) for the spell employed: If the target suspects magic and the spell being used requires line of sight as well as incantation and a lot of arm waving being done by the only other sentient being in the room, they are likely to know who is casting. However, a wizard who has taken meta magic feats to cast without these components located in a crowd may be harder to identify.

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