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Nystul's Magic Aura (PHB p.263) lets you

[...] change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects, such as detect magic, that detect magical auras. You can make a nonmagical object appear magical [...]

And with Identify (PHB p.252) you can (emphasis mine)

[...] choose one object that you must touch throughout the casting of the spell. If it is a magic item or some other magic-imbued object, you learn its properties and how to use them, whether it requires attunement to use, and how many charges it has, if any. You learn whether any spells are affecting the item and what they are. If the item was created by a spell, you learn which spell created it.

My question is, whether Identify counts as spell "that detect[s] magical auras". If it does what would it show to the caster when it is affected by Nystul's Magic Aura. Can the caster of Nystul's Magic Aura choose the effect Identify shows?

Also, what are other spells or effects than detect magic that "detect magical auras". Do they have to explicitly mention that they work by detecting magical auras?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact that there is no other spell using magical auras in PHB does not block new spells from being developed that do. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jul 12 '17 at 21:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Historical Note: In 3.xrd edition and some earlier editions, Nystul's magic aura explicitly did fool identify spells. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe May 26 '18 at 1:35
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Interpreting the language of descriptions is left to the DM. To me it is clear that the intention was to hinder any divination spell that reveals information about magical properties, but this is my interpretation, so check with your DM.

Due to the magic aura, identify will show obfuscated or false information, but it will also detect that the item is under the magic aura spell. While you know that the information might be falsified, you cannot identify its true properties until you get rid of the aura (with dispel magic or letting its duration end).

The spell explicitly states that you can change whether the item appeares magical or not. Beyond that you can make it show that the magic belongs to a specific school of magic. This is mainly designed to fool detect magic. Because identify reveals the magic aura spell anyway, showing a specific ability or effect would be pointless.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your second paragraph strikes me as the core of the right answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 13 '17 at 2:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct. According to Jeremy Crawford, Identify can reveal whether an object is under the effect of Nystul's Magic Aura: "The identify spell can tell if an object is under the effect of Nystul's magic aura. You often won't know to cast identify on the item, though, if Nystul's magic aura has made the item appear to be nonmagical." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 26 '18 at 7:21
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Per Nystul's Magic Aura (PHB page 263), emphasis mine,

You place an illusion on a creature or an object you touch so that divination spells reveal false information about it. ... You can ... change the object’s magical aura so that it appears to belong to a specific school of magic that you choose.

Per Identify (PHB page 252), emphasis mine,

1st-level divination (ritual) ... If it is a magic item or some other magic-imbued object, you learn its properties and how to use them, whether it requires attunement to use, and how many charges it has, if any. You learn whether any spells are affecting the item and what they are.

The caster of Identify would see the false information that the caster of Nystul's Magic Aura placed on the object. The caster of Identify would also know that Nystul's Magic Aura was cast on the object, and would be skeptical of any other information learned from casting Identify.

In addition, Nystul's Magic Aura cannot prevent Identify from detecting that an object is currently affected by Nystul's Magic Aura. Identify specifically lets its caster know if the target is affected by a spell. Nystul's Magic Aura does not specifically give the ability to bypass this ability of Identify. The closest one could get is making the object seem non-magical in hopes that the caster of Identify never thinks to cast Identify in the first place

Per your second question and my italicized emphasis of Nystul's Magic Aura, any divination spell that can detect a spell's school of magic would fit the criteria, as this spell seems to imply that the school of magic causes the magical aura to appear or behave a certain way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why can't Nystul's magic aura hide its own presence from identify? \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Jul 12 '17 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Nystul's Magic Aura does not specifically give the ability to bypass this ability of Identify." It does: "divination spells reveal false information". Identify revealing to the caster that the item is not affected by Nystul's Magic Aura reveals false information, so it qualifies. What am I missing? \$\endgroup\$ – nwp Jul 12 '17 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ 1) specifically states "false information" for divination spells. 2) Identify is a divination spell. You can even make it seem non-magical (supress all auras). Of course this includes the aura from this spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jul 12 '17 at 21:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ “The caster of Identify would also know that Nystul’s Magic Aura was cast on the object, and would be skeptical of any other information learned from casting Identify.” This would seem to rather defeat the point of Nystul’s Magic Aura. I am skeptical that this is what the PHB intends, and I would definitely never employ the spell this way in a game. \$\endgroup\$ – Obie 2.0 Jul 12 '17 at 23:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin The first sentence of Magic Aura doesn't give you carte blanche to fool divination spells any way you want. It's a general description of what the spell does, with no rules attached to it (yet). The rest of the text goes on to describe the two ways it fools divination spells, and neither effect fools the part of Identify that lists which spells are affecting an object. Identify doesn't detect magical auras or creature types. The first sentence isn't even comprehensive, since Divine Sense isn't a divination spell, and yet the Magic Aura works on it. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Jul 13 '17 at 2:03
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Nystul's Magic Aura has no effect on Identify

I don't agree with the other answers. My reading of the two spells is that Nystul's Magic Aura has no interaction with Identify at all. Magic Aura allows the caster to choose one or both of two effects. The first possible effect, False Aura, can "change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects ... that detect magical auras". The second possible effect, Mask, can "change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects that detect creature types". The Identify spell does not detect magical auras or creature types, so as far as I can tell, neither of the effects produced by Nystul's Magic Aura changes what information Identify reveals about a target. Hence, Identify works completely unimpeded by Nystul's Magic Aura.

I don't believe this makes the Magic Aura spell useless, however. One does not typically waste time casting Identify on an object unless one already suspects that object has some sort of magic on it, which is often determined by scanning a room with Detect Magic and grabbing every item with a visible magic aura. In this case, hiding the object's magic aura will indirectly defeat the Identify spell by ensuring that Identify is never cast on the object in the first place.

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If it was my decision as a dm, I would make the caster of identify roll an arcana check against the arcana check of the original spell. The winner would prevail. Sounds fair?

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