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This question came about in response to a debate relating to this answer, wherein I stipulated that the effects of the Warp Mind spell are not immediately obvious to your allies.

The reasoning I had for this was as follows:

  • The spell doesn't inflict any damage.
  • The spell's effect isn't immediately obvious (at least to me). The reasoning for this is that prior to an ally's turn, they're just subject to the Confused condition. I'd argue that another ally isn't necessarily going to recognize that their friend is afflicted by that effect without taking the Sense Motive action.
  • Recognizing spells and their effects in PF2e is actually pretty thoroughly spelled out via the Identifying Spells action and requires some investment to be able to do it reliably.

The spellcasting rules state that when you are casting a spell, there's a visible manifestation of energy, but I've taken this to mean the manifestation occurs at the caster, not necessarily at their target (unless the spell says otherwise).

So my question is as follows:

  1. When casting a spell, is the visible manifestation localized just to the caster or is it also visible at the target?
  2. Are spells that result in non-damaging effects obvious to others in a combat situation? (i.e. do allies of someone subjected to Warp Mind know that their friend is now confused?)
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No to first part

Spellcasting rules that you've mention state that...

your spellcasting creates obvious visual manifestations of the gathering magic

...and that there are feats, like Conceal Spell that hide spellcasting, but not effect of the spell. And it would be hard to hide the fact that there is a vortex of magical energy gathering over someone else with your own stealth check.

Which leads to conclusion that spellcasting and spell effects are separate entities and during spellcasting nothing points to target.

And it's up to GM regarding the second part

There are no rules that I can find saying that there must be visual effects of the spell, if those effects are not in their description (and even those are often vague and it can be a source for another question - for example - whether bolts of magical force from magic missile spell are visible or if a 'wand of magic missiles' is a fantasy variant of a silenced gun). Neither there are any rules stating opposite.

So, in the end it all comes to GM to visualize spells and effects from spells in a way they'd like. Maybe it's all good and all that characters can see is that their enemy cast some spell they didn't recognize... until at the begining of their turn GM states that one of them starts laughing maniacally and swinging their sword left and right. Or they may see some purple smoke that darts from caster to their friend and hits their head, leaving them looking around confusedly, as if they've seen everyone for the first time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to parse the first half of your answer. Are you saying that all spells have a visible manifestation at both the caster and the target, and it's only possible to obscure the manifestation at the caster using the Conceal Spell feat? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2023 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical - no, rules say that there are obvious manifestations of magic, when someone is casting spell. Rules don't say clearly - on whom those manifestations are focused and how they look, except that they are obviously magical. But feats like Conceal Spell allow to hide those manifestations with a Stealth check. Stealth is something that doesn't involve other characters. It's about how good character, who does it, can hide something. Thus, I come to conclusion that if conceal spell allows to hide those manifestations during spellcasting, they must be centered on the caster. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sarge
    Sep 26, 2023 at 6:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Silent Spell notes "However, the spell still has visual manifestations, so this doesn’t make the spell any less obvious to someone who sees you casting it." Melodious Spell is basically the same as Conceal spell but makes it sound more like the manifestations are around you. Cryptic Spell, on the other hand, is like Conceal but sounds like the manifestations are further reaching. So yeah, mostly around the caster but up to GM interpretation \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Sep 29, 2023 at 3:41

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