An enemy casts sending to communicate with a player from far away. In this example, the player character doesn't know anything about the sending spell and he might think he is just hearing voices or going crazy.

Another player casts detect magic to scan the area. Can this player detect the presence of the telepathic message inside the first player's head as an evocation spell via detect magic?

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm having trouble understanding the purpose here. Is it the same player who got a message that is trying to detect it? Don't they already know they got a message because they heard it in their head? \$\endgroup\$
    – Sdjz
    Oct 12, 2020 at 16:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Since users undeleted this and marked the other question as a dupe, I've gone ahead and merged them so the answer is in the right place. In future please don't repost questions to get around closure. Questions will get reopened if edited to be answerable, though it can occasionally take some time. Show a little bit of patience, and you can hop by Role-playing Games Chat if it seems slow or you're unsure. See What does it mean for a question to be closed? for more details on how closures work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 19, 2020 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


No. Detect magic will not indicate presence of a message.

tl;dr The message isn't magic, the method of transmitting/receiving it is. The message itself is not a valid trigger for detect magic. Similarly, the scars from a lightning bolt or witch's bolt aren't magic.

Detect magic will indicate magic is going on for the duration of the communication spell.

Detect magic would glow faintly around the caster and the target while the spell is active. For sending, that duration is 1 round. For telepathy the duration is 24 hours.

E.g. while using detect magic when someone casts sending, the caster would glow of evocation, the target would glow of evocation, and both auras would fade approximately six seconds later.

Detect magic would not distinguish what spell is affecting the characters.

Since detect magic only yields information on the presence of magic and it's school, both sending and telepathy would appear as a faint aura of evocation. The user of detect magic would not know which spell specifically was affecting them.



Detect Magic (PHB p.231):

For the Duration, you sense the presence of magic within 30 feet of you. If you sense magic in this way, you can use your action to see a faint aura around any visible creature [...] in the area that bears magic, and you learn its school of magic, if any. [...]

This questions hinges on the definition of 'bears' here, and whether a creature that is being spoken to with sending bears magic:


  1. (of a person) carry.
  1. support

So is a creature who has had the spell sending cast on them supporting or carrying the spell?

Sending (PHB p.274):

You send a short Message of twenty-five words or less to a creature with you are familiar. The creature hears the Message in its mind, recognizes you as the sender if it knows you, and can answer in a like manner immediately. The spell enables creatures with Intelligence scores of at least 1 to understand the meaning of your Message.

In order for the spell to succeed, the creature targeted must have an intelligence of at least 1, and the creature can respond to the spell immediately. This would imply the creature requires some capacity to support the spell being cast on them, which I believe is enough justification for the creature to 'bear' at least part of the weight of the spell, and be detectable by Detect Magic. In order for the Detect Magic caster to determine the source of the magic and spell school, however, they would need to activate the faint aura within the same time frame that the targeted creature is receiving and responding to the spell.


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