In Pathfinder 2, the cantrip Detect Magic states that:

You send out a pulse that registers the presence of magic. You receive no information beyond the presence or absence of magic. You can choose to ignore magic you're fully aware of, such as the magic items and ongoing spells of you and your allies.

What exactly does count as "presence of magic"?

From this context, it seems like magic items and ongoing spells do count, but what about magical creatures? Magical hazards? Other "magical" things?


1 Answer 1


Anything with the Magical, Arcane, Occult, Divine or Primal traits will be detected.

The way that Pathfinder 2e indicates something is magical is with these five traits. The Magical trait covers anything with no specific tradition, like a +1 Potency rune, while the other four traits cover their respective traditions.

All magic items have this trait, and ongoing spell effects will have the trait that corresponds with the tradition they were cast with, so they're detected. For example, a wizard's Wall of Force would register because it'd have the Arcane trait. (See this link for the reference on adding your tradition's trait to the spells you cast.)

In short, Detect Magic will register the presence of:

  • Magic items
  • The ongoing effects of spells
  • The presence of a curse, like the Curse of Nightmares, even if it isn't a spell per se
  • Relatively weak magical hazards without a proficiency rank, like a Mirror Door. A magical hazard that requires a proficiency rank to detect, such as a summoning rune, must be found with the right skill check. They can't be detected with this spell alone.
  • Very occasionally, magical creatures like the Roiling Incant, but most creatures lack the requisite traits to be detected. Even creatures that seem magical, like the elemental Ember Fox, aren't detected by it.

Edit: Notably, the effect of a spell that did something instantaneously doesn't read as magical if it isn't part of the spell's duration even if it persists afterwards. For example, a Wall of Stone creates a wall that persists after the spell is finished casting, but the stone wall isn't inherently magical.


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