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How to identify a spell being cast? discusses how to identify a spell.

This question seeks to discover whether there are steps a spellcaster could take during casting to make this identification more difficult. The question is not about hiding the casting (such as casting the spell round a corner, then releasing it with a reaction) - the person trying to identify the spell has full view of the spellcaster casting it.

Such steps might include:

  • Putting some irrelevant words around the actual mystic words of the verbal component
  • Waving your hands as if performing a somatic component, despite the spell not having one

Is this sort of thing possible while casting a spell (to be clear, without any special capability such as the Sorcerer's Subtle Spell), and if so what effects does doing so have on spell identification?

Assume for the purpose of the question that the rules from Xanathar's Guide on spell identification are in use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If they can, why not assume they already do that every time they cast a spell? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 21 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar to NautArch's question, what purposes are you hoping to serve for the caster or observer from these checks? Answers may vary if the situation is intended to be something like deciding whether or not to cast Counterspell as opposed to spying on a PC or NPC to determine whether or not another character might be charmed or under some other magical effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case May 21 at 19:08
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RAW, no.

For a caster who is required to use all components to a spell (Somatic, Verbal, or Material), there is no written mechanic to attempt to hide what is being cast.
In Xanathar's Guide to Everything p.85, rules for identifying a spell say "If a character can perceive the casting, the spells effect, or both, the character can make an Intelligence (Arcana) check with [their] reaction or action. The DC equals 15 + the spell's level." This should apply as a PC watching an NPC cast a spell, or as an NPC watching a PC cast a spell.

Rules designer Jeremy Crawford states on his twitter:

In Xanathar's, Identifying a spell requires an action or a reaction because it involves focused deduction; it's not automatic. Moreover, I didn't want combat to devolve into people identifying every spell.

By what he has written, a spell is already hard to identify, but a DM may homebrew this rule to instead mean a creature must spend a reaction or action to identify a spell due to all casters attempting to hide the spell being cast through some form of obfuscation, as you've mentioned.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To me it is not clear what you want to say in the last paragraph. Are you suggesting asking for a check only if measures are taken to obfuscate the casting (ie. identification is automatic otherwise)? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega May 22 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @szega I've expanded on what was previously said, as well as included Jeremy Crawford's take on the matter. does this clarify things? \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Aristotle May 22 at 3:29

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