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Some spells only require line of sight for targeting. Can you use a mirror to look around a corner and target your foe?

For example, Magic Missile:

The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat or has less than total cover or total concealment.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 13 down vote accepted

According to d20srd:

Line of Effect A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.

All of the other entries just say "line of sight" without referencing calculations. The term "straight, unblocked path" suggests that a mirror would not provide a straight path. However, this is sufficiently murky that beyond this citation there is nothing suggesting anything either way and should be referred to the GM.

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Given that the rules are unclear on the subject, a good GM call might be to say "if the spell effect could be reasonably considered to bounce off of mirrors then yes, otherwise no".

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Your link is broken! –  SevenSidedDie Oct 25 '10 at 22:17
No it isn't. It's pointing to Brian's answer where he quotes the rules that are unclear. –  JUST MY correct OPINION Oct 26 '10 at 1:57
While a Magic Missile might not bounce off a mirror, it would easily be expected to make a 180 degree turn around a barrier. –  Bill K Oct 27 '10 at 23:41
I would counter that a Magic Missle could not move around a barrier with a 180 degree turn. If it could, it would be able to bypass a mage's shield spell or a wall of force, which it cannot. A magic missle cannot strike anything with total cover, even if you can see it. It must have line of effect. –  BBlake Oct 30 '10 at 21:51

I would say no, Line of Sight is really just a shortcut for saying "an unobstructed clear path between you and the target". That said, the target might be in the line of sight, but have cover. Anyway, around corners ... nope, certainly not the same thing, IMHO.

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I would say that there should be a concealment miss chance, similar to trying to avert ones gaze against a gaze attack. So there is a 20% miss chance. If used, say, against a medusa, then there would be a 50% chance to avoid staring at her, and thus having to avoid making a Fortitude save.

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Mirrors do not provide an exception to the need to have a clear Line of Sight.

Nor would any other form of magic allow you to get around it. (Yes, Mirrors are magic, didn't you know that? :))

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Poor Perseus, he hasn't got a chance then… –  SevenSidedDie Oct 25 '10 at 22:31
@SevenSidedDie - I expect he'll do fine, using the mirror should break LOS and keep him safe. If it doesn't, he should've known to get a pre-ruling from his DM in writing. –  Pat Ludwig Oct 26 '10 at 3:05

It's not RAW, but I will note that a 1 foot square hole in a wall gives spells line of effect.

"An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell's line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell's line of effect."

So you could rule that a mirror of at least 1 foot square could give you line of sight. That's a good compromise - no peeking through keyholes or using reflections of buttons or shiny silver pieces weaseled around a wall.

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Nice, every mages home should have dress mirrors at each corner. –  David Allan Finch Oct 28 '10 at 8:38
I had a summoner who would summon varoot nerras (Fiend Folio) that can teleport from one mirror to another, so each PC had a mirror they kept in their belt... –  mxyzplk Oct 28 '10 at 11:55

I believe the use of a mirror should allow for establishing line of sight. However, line of effect is more the issue here. Most any attacking power requires line of effect to the target, or (for burst/blast effects) requires line of effect to an origin square from which there is line of effect to the target.

Especially, consider the verbiage noted in Magic Missile as you've cited:

The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat or has less than total cover or total concealment.

(Emphasis mine.)

In most cases where you would want a mirror to establish line of sight, the target you're working against would have total cover from you. Since the mirror only helps you get around concealment, the total cover would render Magic Missile unusable.

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True. I have always imagined that Magic Missiles weave towards there target. May be this is where I am going wrong. –  David Allan Finch Oct 28 '10 at 8:39
That is the common vision. I imagine them the same way. But they still have to "weave" along a straight line of effect. –  BBlake Oct 30 '10 at 21:53

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