A paladin's 5th level Spell like ability Divine bond allows them to give their divine bonded weapon a level based enhancement bonus or an equivalent special property picked from axiomatic, brilliant energy, defending, disruption, flaming, flaming burst, holy, keen, merciful, and speed. I'd like to know how a player character might identify the property picked when facing a paladin.

Normally, per this stackexchange, when identifying the properties of a magic item that isn't a potion or a scroll, you esentially have to use a magic spell. Either detect magic, identify, or analyze-dweomer.

But divine bond is a spell like ability and a "spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name". Spell effects in place can be identified with a DC20+spell level Knowledge arcana check. If a character class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability’s effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast, and is cast at the class level the ability is gained, which makes, I believe, this a DC between 21 and 24.

On top of that, a knowledge religion check of 10+ class level when the feature is granted can identify a class feature from a class that grants divine spells, which for a paladin would be a DC 15 knowledge religion check. Would this identify the choices the paladin has made, or just the options they have available to them?

Would a knowledge arcana check identify the bonus granted (and the level the spell was cast at) by the spell Magic Weapon, Greater, or just that it was cast? Would that sort of granularity apply to a clas feature/spell like ability?

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    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ As this question's been open for a while, if you're satisfied with my answer, you can accept it to indicate the question has been answered successfully. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


Neither detect magic nor identify will work, unless the paladin is willing to hand you the weapon and let you examine it for three rounds. Note that the effects don't function while the paladin isn't holding the weapon, but the spell-like ability doesn't end, so you can examine and identify the effect this way. Analyze dweomer will work, identifying the spell as divine bond, its effect as "granting [whichever] property[ies]", and its caster level as 5th. Realistically, though...

If the weapon suddenly bursts into flame, they probably granted it the flaming property (but possibly flaming burst - you'll find out which if they land a critical hit). If, when it hits your chaotic rogue, the DM says "you take 17 slashing... and 9 lawful, which bypasses DR." it's likely axiomatic. If they're dealing nonlethal damage with every hit, it's probably merciful.

Knowledge(arcana) should work, since it identifies the actual effects, although as a GM I'd probably require you to be able to examine the item, not just look at it - maybe after identifying the aura with detect magic, which is three rounds of concentration. Expect table variation on this one.

Knowledge(religion) would tell you that the paladin just used their divine bond, but not what choices they made (unless those are obvious per my last paragraph). Note that this only works if at least one obvious quality is granted or you're running an ability that lets you see the paladin just used an SLA - otherwise you're not aware the divine bond happened in the first place to attempt to identify it.

Anything that works for divine bond would work for greater magic weapon, except that identifying it as it's being cast would be Spellcraft instead of Knowledge(religion) (and not require a special feature to notice it being cast, since it's a spell rather than an SLA).

Based on the comments, it seems important to you that the players be able to tell the paladin has added disruption to his weapon, because they're undead. In this case, you could consider that a paladin is not typically very secretive, and while he's certainly not required to, he could simply say something like "Great One Above, grant my blade your power to unmake these abominations!" when activating his divine bond.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I apologize if this answer seems sarcastic. I tried to tone that down as much as possible, but it still feels like it's going to read that way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't read as sarcastic. Are there any other ways of figuring out what property has been granted, ideally before being hit by it? \$\endgroup\$
    – AlGrythim
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Analyze dweomer is basically it for identifying properties of a magic item (which is basically what you're doing, although it's roundabout) without having it to handle, that I'm aware of. Of course, PF1 has a ton of splat books, I don't claim to be aware of every option. Maybe scrying on the paladin's other fights to learn what they consider their standard loadout? Even better, maybe try to fake them into putting the wrong thing? A mostly neutral party might bring some low-level undead, disguise as vampires, get them to waste the bond on holy and disrupting? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe... could they fake being something else until he's chosen his bond? If there are any necromancers in the party, and they have the time to prepare for the fight, can they create enough powerful enough undead to make him spend his bond in one-minute increments before they face him? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or consider having the paladin say "Pelor, grant my blade your power to unmake these abominations" when he uses the bond? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 22:00

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