Suppose a spellcaster NPC is using a divination spell on the party to either spy on them or locate them such as Locate Creature or Clairvoyance or (especially) the Scrying spell.

Would a player casting Detect Magic make him aware of the spell and spellcaster?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. The secondary question is very different from the first, and should probably be asked separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 8:31
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ alright, I've seperated them :D \$\endgroup\$
    – rtgher
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


The caster of Detect Magic would be aware of a magical effect nearby for Clairvoyance and Scrying, but would be unable to locate it or discover its school of magic. They would be unaware of Locate Creature. In each case they would be unaware of the spellcaster.

The relevant portion of Detect Magic states (emphasis mine):

For the duration, sense the presence of magic within 30 ft of you. If you sense magic in this way, you can use your action to see a faint aura around any visible creature or object [...].

Parsing this, we can see that Detect Magic gives you an additional "magic sense". This sense is unrestricted in terms of visible or invisible creatures/objects.

It also gives you the ability to interrogate the properties of the magic that has been placed on visible creatures or objects. This additional interrogation is specifically limited to those that are visible.

For the specific spells in question we need to look at their text to see how they interact with this new sense you have gained.

Clairvoyance and Scrying both create an:

[...] invisible sensor [...]

which you would be able to sense but not interrogate further (as it is invisible - unless you can see it through Truesight for example).

Locate Creature however does not create anything for you to be able to detect in your vicinity, so your new sense will not make you aware of it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just occurred to me that a strict reading of the spell would not reveal illusions even if it were the illusion of a chair since it would not be an object, it also would not reveal magic on a structure as defined by the DMG. I know most DMs don't run the game that way but it is what it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth the illusion would still be detectable, however it would not be interrogatable (via the action). A clever magic user with detect magic could use their movement to triangulate where the magic they sense is coming from, even though they can't see it. They would then be able to put their hand on it and discover it's an illusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ However...that's not very fun to force your players to do...hence most DMs just ignore that when it comes to illusions \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Magic would be detectable, the illusion would not be revealed was my point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth Agreed. (Though it is up to the interpretation of the DM in what form the special "sense" takes) \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 14:56

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