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Bit of context: we're looking for the ruins of a long-lost fortress and have explored a few ideas, to speed up the research. One thing leading to another, we deduced the place had to have some strong defensive enchantments in the past.

Instantly, I sighed of relief, as we have quite a few followers and characters capable of detecting magic, which would speed the research by a lot and remove the need for difficult, repeated Perception checks.

However, the GM mooted the idea, saying the enchantment might have dissipated over time. I'm a bit skeptical on this one, since the ruins of Kho, from the Shory Empire (~ -2000 AR) are still highly magical. The city we're looking for is "only" 3000 years old (so around 1700 AR).

Some other novels, such as Liar's Blade and its sequel also introduce Hrym, a sentient sword potentially even older (age unknown — apparently not related to the Shory), since it remembers the Starfall, an event the Shory also witnessed.

The novel Firesoul does introduce the case of a lost city with magical wards, meant to keep an angry spirit inside, degrading over time under the influence of said spirit.

I looked into the rules, but it seems there is no mention of a "duration" for magical items, since no character is likely to live a few milleniums.

I'm looking for any information, in Golarion's lore, regarding if the magic in items/constructions fades over time and under which circumstances (does divine/profane magic differs, what, how, is there any lore at all on the matter?)

PS: I'm fully aware of how rule 0 applies in my case, just want to learn more.

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They degrade at the speed of plot.

There's no "rule" on this. As you spelunk Golarion's various ancient ruins, you'll find that their magical properties have decayed to one degree or another, based on age, how magicky they were in the first place, and so on.

For example, the fallen Shory city of Ulduvai in Crucible of Chaos certainly can't fly any more and its defenses aren't per se operable, but there's plenty of stuff still merrily giving off sparks or gas or whatnot. So it's not like the defenses are working in general (though specific ones inside some more intact locations are), but it's still "magical" to a degree.

Azlant era ruins, like in From Shore To Sea, still have plenty of magical stuff going on - in that case ripped-off tops of towers swooshing around in the air and intelligent will-o-the-wisp powered floating streetlights. Or the city of Saventh-Yi, from the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path. But not every place the Azlanti built a fort is still alive and zapping today or else there's be more than a fistful of them in the Inner Sea region, yeah?

But there's also plenty of places that are just ruins that don't still have lots of magical effects about them. It's like if you asked "how much are physical ruins still there over time?" Well, Roman ruins, some are still there today, most places after the fall of the Roman empire for centuries are nothing more than stains on the ground. Different technologies, different values, different circumstances. Note that everything built in the Age of Enthronement is objectively crappy compared to the works of those ancient ages; you're talking 2000 years as being about when Taldor took over the frontier and called it Cheliax.

I'm addressing magical fortifications not magical items because they're basically completely different in the rules and fortifications is your problem at hand (not that there are rules for magic item degradation either, but in published adventures you find ones that are super old and then you can also find degraded and broken ones.)

And it's not super relevant to finding them anyway.

The Real Flaw In Your Plan

All those really magical locations above are still hard to find. Why? Because they're up in mountains or out in jungles or underground or whatnot. If your plan to find them is "detect magic," you really need to go read the spell description again. "60 foot range, blocked by 3 feet of dirt or 1 foot of stone" is what I see.
You pretty much need to have found the fortress to be able to use detect magic on it!

And even if they had magical defenses it doesn't mean every bit of the ruin is magical. If they had magical cannons, the towers they were in were just stone. If they were "magically hardened stone" - there's no rule saying how long that lasts and how long it still detects as magic. Lore has a lot of variation.

Don't Be That Guy

OK, so you had a good idea but it didn't pan out. Trying to get "the Internet to prove your GM wrong" on things like this is poorly conceived and destructive to the campaign, as you're clearly not working with him or her in good faith. So they didn't use Shory levels of magic in it, so the defenses wore down after 1000 years of shooting at wandering monsters, whatever. (Or, its magic is in an illusory or even weirder defense, as with Xin-Shalast from Rise of the Runelords.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 13 at 1:39
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According to Paizo AP's, magic items aren't necessarily diffused unless something specifically does so.

Ref. the Ruins of Azlant campaign; at various points throughout the game you find Azlanti magical items that have existed since before Earthfall (5293 pre-AR) and are therefore ~10,000 years old.

Even this doesn't explicitly say that the items are not weaker than they once were, however. That +1 Longsword may have originally been created as a +5 Vorpal Longsword, and 'degraded' to a simple +1.


Plenty of things could cause magical items to malfunction. For instance, crumbling walls could give an object the Broken condition, preventing their magic from functioning (and therefore allowing age to take its natural toll).

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