The Paladin of one of my players is about to encounter a Black Guard during a jousting competition. The Black Guard will probably use smite attacks against him.

Would a creature know it is the victim of a smite attack (whether evil or good)? Is there something special that would happen that would be a clue, other than the damage? I can't find anything in the rule books, so I'm trying to develop a house rule for how to describe it, if at all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Nonetheless, connotatively, I prefer smited. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 31 '15 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I considered that a minute, but then: it might make it a Hot Question title, and for searchability the body still contains "smite", so I went for the amusing title. I would not really object if it were changed though. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '15 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Actually, I believe the "correct" form is smoten. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Aug 31 '15 at 20:07

By RAW: There's nothing suggesting that it would be recognized as the smite has nothing indicating that it gives away the fact that it's a smite. Being a supernatural ability means it doesn't have component costs and thus no check could be made to recognize a smite.

For house rule purposes: Yes, a Paladin should recognize the use of Smite. It's a skill they have, and as such should be able to recognize the ability being used against them. In 5e this isn't a question because Smite adds radiant damage. In 3.5 though it just punishes good/evil, but to such a small extent that it wouldn't be recognizable unless you add some flavour to the smite.

Example: Your smite damage doesn't apply to the physical blow (although that is still required to deliver the punishment), but rather punishes the player for their wicked/good nature. That means in addition to the regular attack, the smite hits for +x levels of paladin/blackguard against the very nature of the person, and thus gives away an indication of supernatural ability use.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer. I think we are thinking along the same lines. I was thinking of describing it as a momentary wave of nausea during the blow. The idea of the encounter is the Paladin needs to figure out that his opponent is a blackguard. I figure if he feels something was wrong with the previous blow he would probably use his detect evil before the next pass. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkisMT Aug 31 '15 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkisMT I'm just surprised you're paladin doesn't automatically detect evil on every NPC they meet... \$\endgroup\$ – Benubird Sep 1 '15 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since it is a spell-like ability (requiring concentration) the player has to tell me he is using the ability. I also make it awkward for the PC to use detect evil on every NPC they meet. According to the Player's Handbook it take three rounds of concentration to determine "the power and location" of an evil aura. I describe that to my players as 18 seconds of staring awkwardly at an NPC. It will negatively affect his diplomacy check. The Paladin does use the ability a lot but I make him work at it. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkisMT Sep 2 '15 at 15:18

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