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We ran into an issue during our recent session.

One of our players used the illusory script spell on a magical item (a scroll that was ciphered). The DM claimed, however, that the item had a "tracking/anti-tampering" type of spell on it that allowed for an NPC investigator to check what had happened to the item or anything that had been done to it magically.

I am wondering what you could use to perform such an investigation or tracking to such detail.

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    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 7:43

2 Answers 2

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Object reading

I don't think there are any published spells which explicitly function in the manner described, so your GM has probably invented this anti-tampering spell as a plot device.

However, one character option that does let you find out about the history of an object is the Knowledge Domain cleric's Object Reading ability, gained as part their Visions of the Past feature at 17th level:

After meditating for 1 minute, you learn how the owner acquired and lost the object, as well as the most recent significant event involving the object and that owner.

Of course, it's up to the DM's reckoning as to what constitutes a significant event for the scroll. I would judge it has to actually involve the scroll directly in some way - the object simply being present while something else important happens doesn't count. However, casting a spell on the scroll for some reason should almost certainly qualify as a significant event, and if it's the most recent thing of note that they did with the scroll, the meditating cleric will learn about it.

This does require a 17th level cleric to be doing the investigating and it's still very limited in what it can uncover if an object has a particularly interesting history. However, it does work without needing any sort of pre-preparation of the item to be investigated.

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There's a few Divination spells that can do similar things.

The 1st-level spell Identify states, among other effects:

You choose one object ... You learn whether any spells are affecting the item and what they are.

You'd have to cast it on the scroll after the fact (while holding it), but if an NPC is able to acquire the scroll, an Identify will reveal your Illusory Script. As another option, Detect Magic would reveal that the scroll has illusion magic cast on it, though it would not reveal which spell it is. Additionally, if the NPC could get their hands on truesight, that will allow them to see through the Illusory Script.

However, the spell your DM describes sounds like a continuous effect on the scroll, not something cast after the fact. Spells like Clairvoyance and Arcane Eye can simulate an effect like this with constant scrutiny of the scroll, but Clairvoyance would have to be recast very often, and Arcane Eye has such a short range as to make this impractical.

My suspicion is that your DM has created a homebrewed effect as a plot device - most likely to keep the PCs in conflict. By putting a "tracking/anti-tampering" spell on this scroll, your DM has ensured that the owners of the scroll will be able to find it, and - by extension - you. In this way, they can keep the game tense and exciting.

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