Nystul's Magic Aura can make it so that magic and spells treat a creature as though it were another creature type. However the extent of this effect is ambiguous.

At first, it says the following, which specifically mentions spells which "detect creature types". One could argue that this means it only affects information gathering spells.

You change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects that detect creature types, such as a paladin's Divine Sense or the trigger of a symbol spell.

Then it goes on to give a far more general rule:

You choose a creature type and other spells and magical effects treat the target as if it were a creature of that type or of that alignment.

One could use this to change one's effective creature type to something like Dragon or Celestial. This would seem to make you immune to spells that require a humanoid target, such as Dominate Person, as well as magical monster abilities which require a humanoid target, such as the Vampire's Charm ability.

One could argue that Nystul's Magic Aura is intended to only fool spells which gather information, but one could also argue that any spell which only works on a specific creature type is one which gathers information, even if that is not its primary purpose.

Which is right? Would Nystul's Magic Aura make you immune to Dominate Person?


No, it would not.

The first part of the description clearly says "so that divination spells reveal false information about it." This then applies to both of the more specific uses (false aura and mask). Of course, a symbol spell is not a divination, but as you point out it still fits the "passive detection" pattern. This is indeed a RAW loophole that requires DM judgement to fill, the inclusion of the symbol example makes the exact scope not tightly defined.

In any event, allowing a second level spell to really change your type as far as spells are concerned is super powerful and abusable. "I'm type construct now, does cloudkill not work on me?" Therefore I think it's better kept tightly construed - you could fool a caster into not hitting you with the dominate person, but the dominate would work if they did.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 24 '17 at 11:48

This is an odd case of specific beats general within the same spell itself, along with a varied interpretation of the word other.

The first part specifically states:

You change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects that detect creature types, such as a paladin's Divine Sense or the trigger of a symbol spell.

The more general part:

You choose a creature type and other spells and magical effects treat the target as if it were a creature of that type or of that alignment.

The spell specifically states the spell changes the way the target appears to detection type magic and effects. Therefore any spell that works or activates by detecting the presence of something or by determining the nature of a person will be masked.

Now does other refer to other detection type spells and effects beyond the two mentioned or does it refer to all other spells besides detection spells. This is rather ambiguous.

If all other spells treat you as that creature type, are you also then vulnerable to effects that would affect that creature type. If you made yourself undead are you now vulnerable to turning? If celestial or any other extra planar creature, where do you get banished to?

RAW: Is there an irrefutable RAW answer? I don't think so. The spell is worded in a way that makes it rather unclear. In trying to answer this I've bounced back and forth between both sides. The closet to RAW is the first part specifically stating it affects detection spells and effects, overriding the very next paragraph's rather general statement.

RAI: Considering that there are higher level spells designed to protect you from things such as dominate person, I don't believe the intention was for a level 2 spell to be able to grant such, considering that it can be made permanent by repeated casting. The intention is that all spells that have a form of detection as part of their function will return you as that type, or trigger based on that type.

If a person detects you as a non-humanoid species, they may not try to cast dominate person because they do not believe you are one, but if they try you would still be affected by it as you are humanoid -- the spell does not change your actual classification. To the same effect, if you masked yourself as undead someone may attempt to turn you, believing that you are undead, but it will have no effect since you are not.

Ultimately it's the DM's call but keep in mind if ruled that it will protect you from effects that would normally affect you, you are equally open to being affected by effects that affect the race you choose.


Nystul's Magic Aura only affects spells and magic effects that detect creature types or alignments. Therefore, spells such as Dominate Person or effects such as Turn Undead are unaffected by Magic Aura.

In 5th edition, specific always beats general, even if the specific exception exists in the same spell as the general wording. In the description for Nystul's Magic Aura, it specifically states:

You place an illusion on a creature or an object you touch so that divination spells reveal false information about it.

(Emphasis mine). Therefore, because of the specificity of the wording, only divination spells would treat the subject differently. Dominate Person is not a divination spell, and would work normally, but a spell or ability that allows one to detect humanoids wouldn't work properly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You are adding words that are not there. It does not say that it ONLY applies to divination spell. The fact that it affects other spells (symbol - abjuration is mentioned as an example by name) does not contradict the fact that it also affect divination. So your specific vs. general has no bearing. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Hass Apr 21 '17 at 18:39

Nystul's would have the person/object show up as a viable target for the spell, but it would be affected as normal. Creatures with truesight will see through the illusion

If you masked yourself to appear undead, you should be able to properly use magical items that only work for undead. A paladin will sense you as undead, and should it attempt to smite you, they would be surprised to find that you do not suffer as much from their radiant damage as they would think. This would obviously confuse them and likely prompt an investigation, if they cared to find out why you seem to be able to stand against their righteous wrath.

There are objects that have their true enchantments masked by nystul's, and appear as a type/ alignment of creature, in order to fool adventurers into engaging potentially deadly traps.

You could mask yourself to have the demon creature type, and not have to worry when you summon demons, unless greater demons are angry that a lesser demon summoned them


I see the previous answers are honing in on the 'divination' part of the description, but the spell says it applies to the 'Symbol' spell which is from the abjuration school of magic. This discrepancy implies that the description regarding divination magic is perhaps unreliable. It's common for spells to begin with a brief statement of what the spell will do. I'm more interested in the Mask part of the spell when it says,

"You choose a creature type and other spells and magical effects treat the target as if it were a creature of that type or of that alignment."

I could answer 'yes' (hesitantly). The spell specifically says magical effects treat the target as if it is something that it is not. If you make a humanoid magically classified to be a giant or an aberration, the Dominate Person spell would not work on the humanoid as long as Nystul's Magic Aura is affecting it. I hesitate because it does seem like the intent of the spell is based around detection, so "magical effects" may be limited to that aspect of a spell. The Symbol spell is abjuration, but it must seemingly have a degree of divination involved to detect creature types and alignments. If we're being true to the intent of the spell, it's probably best to answer 'no'. It would get tedious for this spell to be able to make a spellcaster immune to humanoid targeting since many low-level spells can only target humanoids. This spell should probably remain as a more situational spell.

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"change the way the target appears," it's appearance changes, not it. "as if it were" does not equate to "is," the target is still of the original creature type.


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