The Cartomancer feat includes the Hidden Ace feature (The Book of Many Things, p. 49), which lets you imbue a spell into a card and later cast it.

Of course, there’s dissension about whether or not the feat uses the spell slot (and if so, when). But I used it for the first time recently; I imbued the spell Holy Aura in it (I'm playing an 11th-level cleric/5th-level wizard), and the DM had an enemy cast Counterspell.

I didn’t think a card cast from an item could be counterspelled. He over-ruled my objection and we moved on. But now, I'm asking you all.

Can a spell cast using the Cartomancer feat's Hidden Ace feature be counterspelled?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Have a look at the tour and maybe visit the help center for any guidance in posting Q&As. Can you provide the related text of the feat for helping addressing the issue? \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


It can be counterspelled.

The relevant part of the Cartomancer feat's description states (The Book of Many Things, p. 49):

[...] While the card is imbued with the spell, you can use a bonus action to flourish the card and cast the spell within. [...]

Counterspell has a casting time of 1 reaction:

which you take when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell

So yes, a spell cast using Cartomancer's Hidden Ace benefit can be counterspelled, since counterspell requires only that you see the target casting a spell, and the Cartomancer is casting a spell.

There has been some discussion elsewhere about whether or not the cast spell requires its listed V/S/M components when cast via Cartomancer. It should be noted here that it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this question. Casting the spell via Cartomancer is plainly observable, since it requires flourishing the card as part of the casting, de facto (S,M) components.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer can be improved by stating why the casting of the spell through Hidden Ace is indeed perceivable despite possible not having components because the feature text explicitly calls for a "flourish". \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Commented Jan 17 at 9:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pepijn Yeah, I meant to add a note about that. Thanks for the reminder. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 17 at 9:35

It Depends on whether the DM rules that the spell's components are required at the time of casting.

If the DM rules components are required at the time of casting, the spell can be counterspelled for reasons laid out in Thomas Markov's answer. But if the DM rules components are not required at the time of casting, then it would have the same problems being counterspelled as a spell cast using Subtle Spell metamagic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Even if the spell’s written components aren’t required, casting via Cartomancer has de facto S and M components by virtue of requiring that you flourish a card. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, but counterspell requires only that you see a spell being cast (e.g. the card flourish), not that you see the listed VSM components being performed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kerrick Nothing in the rules states that you can only counterspell things with components, so debating whether flourishing the card counts as a component is pointless. The only actual rule is that the counterspeller can see the spell being cast. Even the very sentence you cite from that answer actually says "a strict reading of RAW suggests that casting a spell from an item is imperceptible and therefore cannot be countered (unless the item's description mentions a perceptible requirement for use, such as a command word or hand motion)." (emph mine) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Jan 17 at 2:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ The caster having to perform components is one easy way to conclude that the casting of the spell would be visible; lack of formal components is not a reason to conclude that the casting of the spell cannot be seen regardless of any other information. It takes reasoning about the full context to determine that, it's not just a simple mechanics check whether there are VSM components. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Jan 17 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is right, since you can't counterspell spells cast without using components that means the ability to counterspell depends on how DM rules this class feature. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 17 at 7:33

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