I (a player) want to put illusory walls into a dungeon, but do not want them to appear to detect magic and possibly detect secret doors. The issue is that illusory wall does not "create" anything as its just an illusion.

Illusion [figment]

Because figments and glamors are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can.

However, in the glossary of terms there is no definition of what an object is.

So, by my logic, spells like magic aura are able to target and affect things that are not real but could still be considered an object, because it is the spell which is the object and not nothing.


3 Answers 3


Pathfinder doesn't say if magical effects count as objects

Pathfinder, so far as I'm aware, didn't carry over from the System Reference Document for its antecedent D&D 3.5 the section on nonabilities that would (sort of!) clear up whether or not magical effects count as objects. That is, Pathfinder's forebear D&D 3.5 creates a dichotomy between creatures and objects: "Anything with no Wisdom score is an object, not a creature" (Monster Manual 312). While some readers disagree, this sweeping definition should encompass even magically created effects, including, for example, magical effects that have no hp (like the effect created instantaneously by an acid arrow or waves of blood spell) and magical effects that can be interacted with only on their own terms (like the effect created by an illusory wall or wall of force spell).

Nonetheless, buried in Pathfinder's description of Ability Scores are hints of this dichotomy's possible continued existence: for example, on Wisdom says, "Every creature has a Wisdom score," and on Charisma says, "Every creature has a Charisma score." Thus, although it's never stated outright, these vague pronouncements imply that, as in its predecessor, stuff in Pathfinder that lacks those scores are not creatures, but, absent its predecessor's line saying such things are objects, the Pathfinder GM must make a choice: Are things that lack Wisdom scores or Charisma scores, in fact, objects like in Pathfinder's predecessor, or is this a conscious update the designers made to the rules on which Pathfinder is based so that the GM now decides, case by case, whether a thing that lacks a Wisdom score or a Charisma scores is an object or, instead, a noncreature, nonobject for which the game has no definition?

This Pathfinder reader goes with the former but totally understands and respects if other readers go with the latter.

What it means when this GM says Yes, but some restrictions apply

When this reader is the GM, he prefers consistency, so his house rules clarify that If it ain't a creature, it's an object. And, as strange as it may seem initially, this makes even magical effects objects, too.

And, to be clear, in this GM's campaigns, this has not been a big deal.

See, it doesn't matter if the vast majority of magical effects are objects: most magical effects can't be seen (even if their auras can be), and even fewer magical effects can be touched. This makes most magical effects impossible to interact with except on their own terms—that is, in the way that the spell or ability created them says they can be interacted with. (For those who already think this is too far, keep in mind that objects that've been somehow rendered incorporeal still have hp even if they can't normally be touched and that the ability to see invisible objects doesn't usually cause the viewer see air.)

That makes this a really narrow ruling that's nonetheless sometimes vitally important. It answers questions like Can I recover the effect created by an acid arrow spell if it missed? and Can I cast hardening on a flaming sphere effect? and the very question that raised this issue: Can I cast magic aura on an illusory wall effect?

With this ruling in mind, in this GM's campaigns those answers are, respectively,…

  • While some creation subschool spells have entries of Duration: Instantaneous, some effects have no hp. Those effects are ruined (as if their hp had been reduced to 0) immediately after the spell's resolution when the magic holding together such effects ends.
  • An effect that has no hp or hardness score can't have its hp or hardness score increased. Something can't be added to nothing.
  • If an effect can be touched, it can be targeted by spells and abilities that require touching the effect. If an effect can be seen, it can be targeted by spells and abilities that require line of sight.

Thus, for example, in this GM's campaigns, the magic aura spell can't be cast upon an illusory wall effect because the magic aura spell has an entry of Range: Touch and the illusory wall spell description actually straight-up says that its effect can't be touched. However, the spell greater magic aura has an entry of Range: Close, therefore only requiring line of sight to its subject, and the illusory wall effect can be seen; so—once more, in this GM's campaigns (and by no means necessarily yours!)—the illusory wall effect can be the subject of a greater magic aura spell.

Note: I've used this house rule in my D&D 3.5 campaigns for years, ever since posing questions here and here, and I've not needed it since the end of the campaign that had the PC who could cast spells that created weapons and who could also cast the spell greater magic weapon. Undoubtedly ways exist to exploit this house rule, but my players—and I love 'em, but they are loophole addicts—haven't done so. However, I honestly don't know whether this is because of the house rule's integrity or our fairly strong gentlemen's agreement. Really, I think it's great if the most mischievous way PCs can use this house rule is to cast greater magic aura on an illusory wall effect!



The first sentence of Magic Aura explains why this doesn't work:

You alter an item’s aura so that it registers to detect spells (and spells with similar capabilities) as though it were non-magical...

(Emphasis mine) This is why it doesn't work on an Illusion, because, while an Illusion may or may not be an "object", it is most certainly not an "Item", since Items are physical objects and can be bought, sold, and used.

However, there's a better way to do this: DM Powers

Instead of having Illusory Walls, as DM, you can homebrew two Artifacts: One which radiates a permanent Antimagic Field, and one that creates Illusory Walls. This works because AMF doesn't affect Artifacts:

Artifacts and deities are unaffected by mortal magic such as this.

They will detect the Antimagic Field if they see it from far-enough away, but they can't see anything inside it as per this accepted answer. And, depending on what you decide, you can tell them that they are looking at an Antimagic Field (meaning no illusory walls).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Both would be very expensive and well beyond most groups resources. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 24, 2018 at 19:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Wait, did you want the Group to have these? I thought you wanted them to be in a Dungeon that wasn't created by the Group? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2018 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ its for players not DM. If it was DM then Id just create new spells and whatnot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 24, 2018 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ooooooh.. Oops. I had assumed that you were the DM trying to avoid the Party figuring out your tricks. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2018 at 22:02

You've got two problems. Per the spell's description:

If the targeted item’s own aura is exceptionally powerful (if it is an artifact, for instance), magic aura doesn’t work.

You are trying to alter the aura of a spell. Of something that is itself, magic - not just magical, but comprised completely of magic. In my mind that would be a "no".

Note: A magic weapon, shield, or suit of armor must be a masterwork item, so a sword of average make, for example, looks suspicious if it has a magical aura.

From the notes of the spell's description, it appears clear the intent was that the effect only applies to physical objects.

Having said that, you might be over-thinking this. Surrounded by multiple illusory surfaces, I'd think the Wizard would detect that "the entire area radiates magic, making it difficult to pin down the source". If the Wizard thinks to continue concentrating, telling him the nature of the magic is illusionary doesn't specifically let him know what the illusion is. He can try to disbelieve the entire dungeon, but this is where you can use specificity to your advantage. The dungeon is real, only the walls in this area are an illusion...

  • \$\begingroup\$ The point is to get them to lower their defenses by thinking there is no magic. If the entire floor shows as magic, then they will use 10 foot poles to test everywhere. Or that wall right there is magic, might be a hidden door... \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 24, 2018 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could have made your point in the original post. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2018 at 21:17

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