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When casting a touch spell, I can leave the spell on my hand and deliver strategically. What happens when that same touch attack is enhanced with Reach metamagic? Lets say I cast Invisibility on an ally 30 feet away.

Did it leave a 'glamer sparks' along its path? Did it become an energetic projectile with explosions, or does it still behave like the original touch (except for the fact that it is now moving along a vector).

Assume that myself and my ally are concealed and hidden to the public (assume all my verbal and semantic components were executed unnoticed, so they didn't notice a creature lurking in the bushes), but my ray had to pass across a wide open roadway. Did the approaching carvan even have a chance to see anything? Do they get a spot check (to notice dancing lights or something like that)? (in my mind i am comparing to an Orb of Fire, where a bright flash of fire is likely to turn some heads).

The main idea is that I am well hidden in some bushes, and do not want to divulge my location, yet I want to deliver certain buffs to my rogue across the street.

My real confusion is regarding the "sparks and crackles" produced from this ranged-touch spell. Does the Invisibility happen silently, like it normally would as a touch, or is it preceded with a loud zap and bursting streak of light (like most rays do)? Is the caravan alerted to our presence, even if they can't find us; or do they have no clue about the suspicious happenings in the bushes just ahead.

Reach Spell: [...] The spell effectively becomes a ray, [...]

Effectively? I assume they were implying that mechanically it is a ray. But then how come they didn't simply say "spell becomes a ray". If the "Reach-spell" is effectively a ray, what exclusion is preventing it from being specifically a ray.

P.S. If Invisibility is not a good example of a touch spell turned range (for whatever reason), then how about the same scenario with Eyes of the Avoral. Or rather, a spell that wasn't "flashly" in its touch form (it does not give off any normal illumination, even in a completely dark room).

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One thing to note with your stealth spellcasting: a verbal component must be spoken with "a strong voice". That'll allow a Listen check at DC 0, which is the DC to hear people talking, to allow people to hear that you've cast a spell. –  DuckTapeAl Jun 24 '14 at 14:49
@DuckTapeAI, assume the actual cast was concealed somehow (Silent spell or silence or whatever) –  user2097818 Jun 24 '14 at 14:58
This issue precisely is why I wish spell blocks had an "Obtrusiveness" property... –  Ernir Jun 24 '14 at 16:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As I see it, there are two basic parts to this question: can you hold the charge on a Reach spell, and is the 'ray' made by a Reach spell visible?

To the first question: You cannot hold the charge on a Reach spell. A Reach spell is a ranged touch attack, and the rules for holding the charge specifically call out touch attacks, which are different. The relevant rules are:

Touch Spells and Holding the Charge:

In most cases, if you don’t discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.

Since that passage only mentions touch spells, and not ranged touch spells, you cannot hold the charge on a Reach spell.

To the second question: Whether or not you can stealthily cast a Reach spell is pretty much entirely up to your GM. The description of Reach Spell says that the affected spell "effectively becomes a ray", which says to me that for all intents and purposes, you treat the spell like a ray.

The fact that it says "effectively becomes a ray" and not "becomes a ray" is a semantic difference that has no real meaning. There are no exclusions listed for why it says one and not the other, so it's likely that whatever designer wrote this feat liked the sound of "effectively" more than not, and his/her editor agreed. Since the feat doesn't list any ways that the spell doesn't work like a ray, it's a reasonable assumption that it always works like a ray.

If your GM says that Reach Spell rays are visible, then they are. The rules aren't terribly clear on whether rays in general are visible, but clues from flavour text and descriptions strongly imply that ray spells are visible to normal vision, and thus can be seen by anyone who is looking.

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I was being a bit literal with the touch-spell flavor, and how to turn that into a ray. Most rays seem violent or highly energetic by flavor, whereas many/most touch spells are not (by flavor text at least). Effectively the two flavors don't typically match, so pretend like the publishers updated all 10,000 touch spells, and made them specifically match the existing Ray themes. –  user2097818 Jun 24 '14 at 16:22
@user2097818 Actually, most touch spells at least make your hands glow. Look at Chilling Touch and similar stuff. Touch spells also have sparkles and stuff, as far as I see the rules at least. Also, you can use your familiar to deliver touch spells, too, if you have one. –  Thales Sarczuk Jun 26 '14 at 13:58

The ability to hold the charge is a property unique to spells with the Range: Touch property; when you apply a metamagic effect, properties of the spell change, so that, for example, reach invisibility has Range: 30 feet (and Effect: Ray). Since it no longer has Range: Touch, you cannot hold its charge.

In effect, instead of your hand having a charge of energy on it, that charge is projected outward from your hand in a ray: literally a laser beam of magic with which you must strike your target. Your arm is most definitely not “miraculously extended” as you suggest; the feat specifically states that it becomes a ray. Even if it didn’t, non-ray ranged-touch-attack spells exist, that (probably) still don’t involve your arm extending, though they aren’t explicit in what they do entail. They don’t allow holding a charge, either.

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If you were my DM, would that caravan get to roll a spot check in response to the ray? Can rays be invisible laser beams (infra red)? Do material spell compnents have anything to say about this? (a focus seems passive, but materials (especially regarding a touch) almost seem to imply "spell substance". –  user2097818 Jun 24 '14 at 14:55

In general all magic in D&D is assumed to be completely obtrusive unless the spell specifically says differently. And so distinct that someone with Spellcraft just looking at you can identify the exact spell.

Unless you take specific feats to mask it (Still Spell, etc.) this applies. The question then is whether Extend Touch counts - I would say not, as it doesn't change the visuals at all and it already has a bonus effect for the feat spend. You could try to come up with a homebrew "Invisible Ray" feat to try to add stealth in addition. You can't just "make a ray invisible" just like you can't just "cast a spell without gesturing," these require a feat to do.

Of course if your GM is agreeable you can come up with a more Stealth/Bluff/etc. based "conceal a spell" ruleset, but that's outside the rules as written.

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Doesn't that feat exist already? Invisible Spell from Cityscape? Then again, now that I write this, I remember the weirdness that comes (thanks to bad design and RAW) with things like Invisible Invisibility... Wait, could masking spell effects actually be the intended use for that feat? I mean, it makes sense, and would totally explain the +0 (iirc) better than invisible black tentacles and whatever shenanigans... –  MrLemon Jun 24 '14 at 17:27
Do you have a reference for your first paragraph? –  GMJoe Dec 24 '14 at 0:40
Because looking at someone casting lets you ID the spell, QED. –  mxyzplk Dec 24 '14 at 0:55
@mxyzplk I always assumed that was because you could hear and see the specific magic words and gestures they used and match them to your internal database of spellcasting gestures and vocalisations. I guess it might be possible to identify a spell based on the pattern of scintillating lights it produces, but then why would you need to be able to see the caster to ID the spell? –  GMJoe Feb 4 at 6:50

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