As there is no mentioning of it in the rules I'm wondering:

Does it make a difference if detect magic is cast from an arcane or divine caster? Thus does detect magic always detect BOTH types of magic or only the same type as the spell is (thus only arcane or divine)

The same question also for identify magic.

Or summarized: Is there any difference between divine / arcane magic in terms of detecting / identifying it (aside from the appropriate knowledge skill)


1 Answer 1


No, there's no difference. Detect magic would say if there was. Both types can detect the other's magic equally well.

Technically, not the even the different Knowledge skills apply to detecting magic itself. They apply to identifying the results of the two different kinds of magic, though, based on which one creates them most commonly - undead fall into Religion while constructs fall into Arcana. Note that this part isn't straightforward either; both kinds can summon outsiders (Know: Planes) and animals/magical beasts (Nature; which is associated with divine casters specifically through the Druid and Ranger).

For identifying actual spells, either as they are cast or by studying their ongoing effects with detect magic (and identifying magic items with either detect magic or identify), you use the Spellcraft skill. This doesn't change regardless of your or the other caster's traditions. Note that many spells that at first glance clearly belong on one side or the other quickly get mixed up when classes besides wizard and cleric get added to the mix.

Bards' spell lists read more like a cleric's with access to a few good wizard buffs. Cure spells, party buffs, and sonic damage like soundburst....

Domains, familiars, mysteries, and to a lesser extent bloodlines love to grant spells from the "other side". A Fire/Magic cleric has access to common wizard spells, for just a quick example.

  • \$\begingroup\$ for the knowledge: yepp although do the identify magic spells also not differ between both types? \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas E.
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasE. Updated to including identifying spells, ongoing magical effects, and magic items. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok so an arcane identify can help identifying a divine item \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas E.
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:22
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasE. the only items that are naturally arcane or divine are spell completion items (scrolls), because they're actually just copies of the spell on them ready to be cast. Even wands aren't either divine or arcane - a bard (arcane) can use a cleric's (divine) wand of cure light wounds just fine. The only requirement is that the bard be able to cast the spell in the wand, not cast the divine or the arcane form of the spell. They have different sources, but they're functionally identical. The lists are just different in theme, which is why divine casters don't normally have fireball. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pedantry!: I have no idea why, but Pathfinder eliminated from the skill Spellcraft the D&D 3.5 ability of the skill Spellcraft to identify a spell in place; that's now a Knowledge (arcana) skill check. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 13:23

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