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In D&D 5e, If one casts detect magic on a glyph of warding with a spell stored in it, does it only reveal Abjuration school, or do you get an undercurrent or hint at the school of the stored spell as well? This makes sense to me, but I'm just wondering if there's a reason that would not be a valid take, or problematic? Does it all come down to how devious I want to be as DM?

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You would be able to detect both the glyph and the stored spell

The text for glyph of warding includes the following:

Spell Glyph. You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area. The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast.

The detect magic spell description states the following:

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 or object in the area that bears magic, and you learn its school of magic, if any.

Nothing in that description says the magic needs to be "active". All the "immediate effect" text in glyph of warding means is that the spell is not going to be immediately active. It is still magic and can be detected as such.

A spell that has been scribed onto a scroll isn't currently active either. But detect magic would identify it as being magical and be able to identify the school that the spell is from.

An item enchanted with glyph of warding would have both the magic of the glyph and the spell it will trigger stored into it so both would be able to be detected.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I agree with this interpretation, but in addition to quoting Detect Magic, you should also quote the relevant text from Glyph of Warding. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 10:50
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By default, you only detect Abjuration

Glyph of warding says:

When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast.

While the glyph says that you cast the spell to store it into the glyph, it also says:

The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way.

So until the glyph has been triggered, the stored spell has not been cast in a way that creates its effect and there is nothing to detect but the glyph's abjuration magic.

How you handle it if you are the DM is up to you. You have the right to overrule the game if it makes more sense to you. DMG, p. 4:

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game.

As a side note, detect magic detects the magic of spell scrolls which contain spells that have not been cast. That is because scrolls are magic items, and magic items are always magical and therefore detectable, as per the criteria in the Sage Advice Compendium, not because they contain a spell. Magic items in 5e do not list a school of magic they detect as, so that is left to the DMs to decide. Many DMs have spell scrolls detect as the school of the inscribed spell, as that seems the most natural choice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, all! I'm torn about it. On the one hand, I don't want to make things too easy for my players — it's good to keep some suspense in the relationship! On the other hand, it makes sense to me conceptually that the magic of the stored spell would be mixed up with the matrix of the glyph(even if it's not been triggered yet), and therefore revealed. Ach. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taliesin
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I'll have them make a DC20 Arcana check for them to make sense of it (assuming they ask, of course). If they roll a 1 (or maybe 15 or less), they guess the wrong school. If they roll a crit, they not only unravel the weave but even know what the spell is. Yeah, I like that. Gives some variability and uncertainty, as magic should. Thanks for helping me think through it! \$\endgroup\$
    – Taliesin
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:08
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The stored spell “has no immediate effect” to detect. You detect abjuration.

While the stored spell is cast as part of casting glyph of warding, glyph of warding states:

The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way.

As the spell has no effect, there is no magical effect for detect magic to detect. Since there is no magical effect of the stored spell to be detected, the only effect detected is the effect of glyph of warding, which gives off an abjuration aura.

That said, this does sound like a cool effect, and I would be inclined to allow the players to detect the stored spell’s school. The important thing here is to have a conversation about it, specifically discussing what is at stake: if you guys [the players] can do it, I [the DM] can do it too. If the players are okay with the DM being able to have NPCs detect the school of their stored spell glyphs, should they use them, this sounds like a neat effect to add on to detect magic.

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