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If a character casts Obscure Object on a box, would someone still be able to cast Scrying on an object inside the box?

Alternatively, if that character casts Obscure Object on boat, would it still be possible to cast Scrying on people on the boat? What if the people are in a cabin on the boat?

I think it's possible, but in that case what would the person casting Scrying see, as they cannot perceive the object through the spell?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! The 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell scrying [div] (Player's Handbook 274–5) can only target a creature; it can't target an object. Can you edit the question with that in mind? Thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:03

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There's nothing to suggest that obscure object would have an effect on anything within the object, and several things to suggest it would not. Given that, if a wizard cast scrying to locate a person aboard a ship under the effects of obscure object, that wizard would (presuming the subject failed their Will save) see the person simply floating above the waves, alongside assorted hammocks, ropes, and other objects not under the effects of obscure object. That would probably clue in the wizard that there was a ship they simply couldn't see. If they were to scry an object within a box under the effects of obscure object (perhaps with some sort of custom scry object spell), the wizard would see the object in question and it's surroundings except for the box. Depending on how thick the obscured box is, the wizard would perhaps notice the object floating a bit off the ground or resting at an impossible angle, thanks to the imperceptible box.

This interpretation is fairly grounded in the rules. A literal reading of obscure object can tell us that it doesn't affect anything inside the object—if it did, the spell would say so—but a quick glance at other anti-divination spells supports this reading, too. Obscure object is a Bard 1, Sor/Wiz 2, or Cleric 3 spell. Giving multiple people complete protection against scrying doesn't come until 5th level spells, with Mordenkainen's private sanctum. While 3.5e has some somewhat sketchy balance at times, allowing obscure object, a 1st-level Bard spell, to mimic the effects of Mordenkainen's private sanctum, a 5th-level Wizard spell, is probably out of line.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest that inability to percieve something doesn't necessary make it invisible to whoever is using scrying spells on nearby areas. More likely it prevents caster from paying attention to it. 'Obscured' box would seem just generic box with no distinctive features worthy of remembering or paying attention to, so upon ending his scrying caster would be barely able to remember that there was a box and won't think about it. It's like walking in a forest - there are trees, but you don't remember every single of them individually. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sarge
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's worth noting that the rules do not define the term "object". The spell Obscure Object could target just the box, but it could also target the box including its content... \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook The game does (MM 312–13), but do you mean discrete objects (e.g. is a full coin purse one object or several?) or more precisely object in the context of spell targeting? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sarge That's an cool interpretation, and increases the utility of obscure object a fair bit if it also obscures traces of the object. If you use it in your campaigns, though, I'd warn that obscure object isn't mind-effecting: it can't alter what someone does or does not pay attention to. Even an undead scryer or some construct with perfect recall will fail to perceive an obscured object via scrying: it's invisible, inaudible, scentless, and so forth. Obscure object interferes with the information a scrying spell relates back to its caster, not how the caster processes that information. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yes, "object in the context of spell targeting". I mean, objects very often are composed of or contain other objects. It can sometimes be hard to decide where things begin and where they end. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 23:51

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