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Playing Curse of Strahd, we've found that Lord Von Zarovich seems to be able to cast Alarm (or something like it) that operates from hundreds of miles away.

It seems like a good strategy for our party might be to use Detect Magic extensively. The spell should be able to detect the presence of a magical trap, giving us more of a fighting chance. But Barovia is a pretty big place and the spell only lasts for 10 minutes at a time.

Is there an item (amulet, ring, circlet, etc.) that would confer Detect Magic to the wearer/user, to avoid us wasting hundreds of spell slots or hours on ritual time?

Assuming there is no such item, or it would be unavailable to us (due to cost or access), what other ways can we access Detect Magic without expending spell slots or performing rituals?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you specifically asking about whether such an item exists in Curse of Strahd as written? Or just whether any such item exists in general? Also, your secondary question about "what other strategies could we employ" is an entirely different one from your question about "what items let us cast Detect Magic at will", and should probably be edited out and asked separately. Also, to confirm, you are asking about casting it at will, right? Since you want something that lets you repeatedly cast it over an extended duration without ritual-casting. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 21 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ You completely change my question and then ask what I was asking? \$\endgroup\$ – oliver-clare Feb 21 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't "completely change" your question, only the title... And I merely edited the title to match what you already ask in the body. (I briefly mentioned "at will" in the title but rephrased that to match the post body within minutes of my edit, i.e. before the grace period ended.) Your original post title didn't mention CoS either. Hence my question: are you asking about CoS specifically or about whether such a magic item exists in general? If it is about CoS specifically, that would invalidate most current answers; if it's general, you should probably remove the [curse-of-strahd] tag. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 21 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I have tidied up the last paragraph to focus on Detect Magic and removed the CoS tag because although the question is related to CoS, it’s not specific to it. I assume there is some rule against concise titles, so I have left your title edit. Feel free to do with the remainder as you see fit. \$\endgroup\$ – oliver-clare Feb 21 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no rule against concise titles - I just felt that the ability to cast the detect magic spell (or otherwise create the spell's effect) repeatedly/continuously was a central portion of your question. (For instance, there might be an item that lets you cast detect magic once or twice a day, but that wouldn't really solve your issue.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 22 at 0:38
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There are several magic items that let the user cast detect magic.

There are several such magic items; unfortunately, as far as I know, none of them are explicitly available in CoS.

The items are:

Obviously, the Staff and the Orb are extremely powerful and most likely not an option for a low-level party.

There are alternatives to gain access to detect magic.

  • If feats and XGE are allowed for your game, Xanathar's Guide to Everything allows Drow to take the Drow High Magic racial feat (p. 74), which lets them learn the detect magic spell and cast it at will (among other benefits).
  • Warlocks can choose the Eldritch Sight invocation, which lets them cast detect magic at will (i.e. without expending a spell slot).

Other things to consider

If you feel that the ability to detect magical alarms is the problem for the party success, you can:

  • Look for and utilize alternative and creative ways to enter into or access spaces. Not every possible entrance might be warded; the more creative you get, the better your chance of success.
  • Rely on your detect magic, but use it well and only when you have a reason. Your DM is likely utilizing the alarm because they consider it an interesting challenge to overcome. If you start abusing permanent detect magic, they might just stop and do something else instead. However, if you first set yourself up to success in a different way (see the previous point) and then just use 1 spell slot to cast detect magic when it matters, you both engage with what the DM presented to you and don't have to slow down the pacing of the session by casting a spell over and over again.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Holy-moly, the Staff of Magi sounds awesome! \$\endgroup\$ – oliver-clare Feb 21 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @oliver-clare Yes, it is incredibly powerful and awesome! However, I think CoS is designed for characters up to level 10 so I would expect it is above the power level of standard CoS campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – Deeps Feb 21 at 12:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it worth adding a warning about Nystul's Magic Aura? Detect Magic is not reliable in the face of a sufficiently prepared caster. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Feb 21 at 12:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty no, let's not mention that, in case my DM reads this! XD \$\endgroup\$ – oliver-clare Feb 21 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Deeps thanks for your well-rounded response, especially the other things to consider section. \$\endgroup\$ – oliver-clare Feb 21 at 15:16
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You've some options

In terms of magic items, your best chance is to craft or find a wand of magic detection, an uncommon wand that has 3 charges. You can spend a charge to cast detect magic, and it regains 1d3 charges daily at dawn.

There are some other items that grant the ability to cast detect magic, such as the Orb of Dragonkind, rod of alertness, and staff of the magi from the Dungeon Master's Guide, but they are quite powerful (the orb is an artifact!), and you probably won't be able to get your hands in one of those very soon. There's also Hazirawn, a legendary weapon from the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, but it is very unlikely that you would get a chance to acquire it.

If you have a Drow in your party, you can ask them to get the Drow High Magic feat from Xanathar's Guide to Everything, which allows a drow character to cast detect magic at will.

Finally, if one character of your party is a Warlock, they could pick the Eldritch Sight invocation, that also allows them to cast detect magic at will.

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Eldritch Sight

When you cannot get your hands on a magic item, the most powerful ability to detect magical effects is the Eldritch Sight invocation for Warlocks. That gives you Detect Magic at will. It requires 2 levels in the Warlock class.

Even if you can get your hands on a magic item, this invocation is totally bad-ass, especially in a campaign where hidden magical effects are a common occurence.

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