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I'm in a game where we have an NPC who is a budding Sorcerer, and since my character is a Sorcerer, I plan to teach him how to master the use of his innate arcane ability.

The GM and the party all know this side plot is happening, but the student appears to have ADHD. Last session, despite being told to stay within sight, he wandered off into the jungle as we battled several goblins. I predict him using his level 1 Unseen Servant spell to cause trouble during future encounters, so I was wondering if See Invisibility would work to be able to spot an Unseen Servant, or is there a way to see one?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think something is missing from your second sentence, second paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 12 '14 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie that was embarrassing...I got interrupted mid-sentence and had finished the thought....I have ADHD too :P \$\endgroup\$ – David Wilkins Dec 12 '14 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ These things happen. That's why there are many eyes to make such things shallow problems. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 12 '14 at 20:35
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See Invisibility works on any being that is invisible, not just creatures. It does, however, reveal things as translucent shapes which might get you into trouble with a mean DM (since the servant is shapeless). Nonetheless it works RAW and is allowed in Pathfinder Society play (I have seen this come up twice. Both times it was allowed). Nonetheless, you should not do this

Use detect magic instead. You should have it up all the time anyways in Pathfinder (ESPECIALLY as a sorcerer), and this will save you a second level casting. Unseen Servants detect as faint conjuration, but it should be pretty obvious when he's pulling hijinks with detect magic up even if you fail your DC 16 spellcraft check to identify the effect.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Detect Magic does make way more sense \$\endgroup\$ – David Wilkins Dec 14 '14 at 13:56
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"An unseen servant is an invisible, mindless, shapeless force" - as taken from your reference link. In this sense, as a GM myself, I would say that using See Invisibility wouldn't really allow you to see the Unseen Servant because it is a shapeless force. A force doesn't necessarily need to be visible in any fashion but may appear as a blob of some sort, however because this servant is shapeless, it would not appear as a visible outline of any sort. This is my interpretation at least. I've actually had this question posed by a player before and I answered the same way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! This answer does seem to conform to guidelines well, but be sure to check out the help center if you haven't already anyways. In particular, it's good that you cited experience you actually had as a GM. The question also asks about how he might be able to detect an Unseen Servant as a sorcerer, perhaps you could edit your answer to include some info about that? All in all, though, you are off to a good start :) \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 12 '14 at 23:18
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From the pfsrd:

An unseen servant is an invisible, mindless, shapeless force that performs simple tasks at your command.

"Force" being the operative word here, as well as "shapeless." It seems at first blush that Unseen Servant is a magical force with enough programming to be able to do what you tell it to. In other words, think of it like telekinesis except you have to tell it what to do.

I suppose with an extremely literal interpretation it is possible to see the Unseen Servant as... perhaps, a body of colored gas? The word "shapeless" seems definitive to me as "something you simply cannot see as it does not exist materially," but I suppose that's open for interpretation.

So in other words, you could almost make a case either way to your DM. The most RAW, literal version would say that because the servant can take damage, has 6 hit points, has a speed, able to make checks etc. it is a creature (if it walks, talks and looks like a duck...). And, being just an invisible creature on the same plane as you, there is no explicit reason why you shouldn't be able to see it using See Invisibility.

If you switch to an RAI angle, however, it seems evident from the lack of description regarding the servant's true appearance and its description as a "shapeless force" that the servant is akin to, say, an independent Mage Hand. This doesn't have any real evidence backing it, but it is more convenient in most situations since nobody knows what the Unseen Servant is supposed to look like, if it even has an appearance. Since it seems like you're trying to keep tabs on your mischievous apprentice, however, it may not be convenient for you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoever downvoted, please give a reason so the answerer has a chance to improve or address your concern. \$\endgroup\$ – David Wilkins Dec 13 '14 at 3:32
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Based purely on those two descriptions, I would say that you could not see it.

See Invisibility specifies that you can see any objects or beings that are invisible or ethereal. But the description for Unseen Servant states that it is a "mindless, shapeless force." It is neither a being nor an object, but almost - if I can cross systems here - similar to the Force in Star Wars. What would you reveal if you could see it? It doesn't have any shape.

If you really wanted it to be noticeable, I'd say that at the very least it would require a hefty perception check.

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