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Nondetection says it hides the target from all divination spells. Invisibility hides you from normal sight. When combining both effects on one target, are they hidden from true seeing?

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9 Answers 9

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Yes

The beneficiary of a nondetection spell:

  1. Can’t be targeted by any divination magic, and
  2. Can't be perceived through magical scrying sensors.

There are only two spells in the PHB that create magical scrying sensors: clairvoyance and scrying. These are obviously covered by Item 2.

It's reasonable to assume that the remaining 28 spells from the divination school in the PHB, including true seeing, are covered by Item 1. They certainly fall into the category "any divination magic," so the question is, what does it mean to be "targeted" by these spells?

Does the spell have to explicitly refer to a "target" in its spell description? That's only two spells: the cantrip true strike and the 1st level ranger spell hunter's mark. This would be a very short list for a 3rd level spell, and neither of these is really a 'detect'-class spell. We need a broader definition for "targeted" than this.

It might be tempting to equate the target of a spell with the range of a spell; however, at least in the case of divination spells, this yields rather absurd results. Out of the 28 spells, 17 have a range of "Self," while another 4 have a range of "Touch" where the spell description specifies a willing creature. Clearly the recipient of these spells is not the one being "targeted" by them. Otherwise this would imply that a caster under the protection of nondetection, for instance, would not be able to cast spells like comprehend languages or speak with animals on themselves for the duration. That is clearly not the intent of the spell. Furthermore, even if a creature thought this was a desirable effect, they could avoid being "targeted" by 3/4ths of all divination spells simply by not casting them or by declaring that they aren't "willing."

In addition, if we assume that the target of a spell with range "Self" is the caster's own self, and not a creature one is trying to detect, then nondetection would provide no protection from detect evil and good or detect thoughts, which would seem to be exactly the kind of thing for which this spell is intended.

There is even a case to be made from RAW that target is not the same as range. Consider detect thoughts. It has a range of "Self," and it allows the caster to detect creatures they can't otherwise see. Yet the rules for Targets say (PHB 204): "Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed." So the range of the spell is the caster's self, but the target of the spell is the creature having its thoughts read.

Since "target equals range" leads us to absurdity, I propose a simpler, alternative reading of the spell: the recipient "can't be detected by any divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors." If they can be detected by other means, fine; but if the only reason they can be detected is because of a divination spell, as is the case with an invisible creature who could be perceived with true seeing but is otherwise hidden, then they remain undetected.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I am fighting a monster immune to attacks from non-magical weapons that cannot be targeted by spells, I cast magic weapon on my sword and then hit the monster, do I deal damage to it? Is the monster now the target of my magic weapon spell? I don't think so, as I can't target the monster with "Magic weapon" nor can I target an (in)visible object with "see invisibility". I do understand the confusion and "Target" does need tighter usage and clarification in general, and spell descriptions could explain that targets become Immune to Divination magic or effects. It's fairly ambiguous as it is. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2022 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "Target" of a true seeing spell is the creature that the caster grants true seeing to. Similarly the target of non detection is the creature/object/effect that the caster wants to go undetected. NOTE: nondetection doesn't work against true sight that is inherent to a creature. This is not considered 'divination magic'. Dragons still see the target. \$\endgroup\$
    – squireson
    Sep 10, 2022 at 19:59
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Yes, Nondetection does block the Trueseeing spell. Jeremy Crawford gave an unofficial ruling in a tweet. It does beat True Seeing:

The nondetection spell hides you from divination magic. True seeing is a divination spell.

— Jeremy Crawford (@JeremyECrawford) October 13, 2016

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No

Nondetection

For the duration, you hide a target that you touch from divination magic. The target can be a willing creature or a place or an object no larger than 10 feet in any dimension. The target can’t be targeted by any divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

True seeing

This spell gives the willing creature you touch the ability to see things as they actually are. For the duration, the creature has truesight, notices secret doors hidden by magic, and can see into the Ethereal Plane, all out to a range o f 120 feet.

RAW about targets

Targets A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell’s magic. A spell's description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point o f origin for an area o f effect (described below). Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it w as targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.

The target of trueseeing is the one that receives it's power, so the first part of nondetection isn't working(can’t be targeted). True seeing is indeed a divination spell, but it grants truesight, that is not a magical scrying sensor. Thus the second part of nondetection doesn't work either.

Truesight

A creature with truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceives the original form o f a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the creature can see into the Ethereal Plane.

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Yes and No

I think the issue here is that people are confusing True Seeing with Truesight. Non-detection absolutely does make a creature immune to the True Seeing divination spell. It does not make it immune to the Truesight inherently part of a creature or [up to the DM] the benefits granted to another creature that has been targeted by a True Seeing spell. While a DM allowing Invisibility and Nondetection to work together like this doesn't break the game at all, the interpretation of the wording as such does have ramifications on other similarly worded spells such as Greater Invisibility.

If all similarly worded spells stacked as some would like, Greater Invisibility and Nondetection (4th and 3rd level spells) would give creatures like Empyrean (MM 130) with CR 23 almost no chance against low level adventures in many combat situations and would break entirely the deadly encounter XP and CR balancing tables of DMG on page 82.

It is important to note even the highest rated answer has now been edited to acknowledge that only Truesight granted by a divination spell such as Trueseeing should be considered to fail. Truesight inherent or granted by any other means (such as an item) still works to detect the invisible creature.

Other examples of circumstantial evidence on related matters:

Mind Blank also grants "one willing creature you touch immunity to.. divination spells..." and like Invisibility and Greater Invisibility does not grant immunity to Truesight. Many similar spells also distinguish this explicitly. Most would also agree that having a blank mind and being invisible, despite identical wording, wouldn't make sense to also all grant immunity to Truesight, but certainly would prevent scrying and other such things that Nondetection prevents.

Clairvoyance (222 PHB) also starts with "You create an invisible sensor"... then explicitly states "A creature that can see the sensor (such as a creature benefiting from see invisibility or Truesight) sees a luminous,.." Non-Detection does not remove Truesight from creatures and so creatures with Truesight can see the sensor, however a creature affected by Nondetection can't be seen by the sensor in return.

As a historical precedence (since most who have been around since 2e recognize the lore (and spell list) of 5e as a direct import from 2e): In second edition "Improved Invisibility" and "Spell Immunity: Divination" was a well know exploit. However, even back in 2e, a different spell called "Non-detection" did not protect against true seeing, as it was designed (and still is designed) to protect against scrying and other divination magic that targets the invisible creature. One can compare the wording to see the differences of the intended functions of these spells in 2e then compare to the modern 5e wording to gain historical insight.

Up to the DM ultimately to be the judge on what breaks the game play or not.

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In terms of the intent of your question: Absolutely not.

Here is the text of the effects of the spell True Seeing:

This spell gives the willing creature you touch the ability to see things as they actually are. For the duration, the creature has truesight, notices secret doors hidden by magic, and can see into the Ethereal Plane, all out to a range of 120 feet.

Player's Handbook, p. 284

Here is the text of the condition called "Truesight":

A monster with Truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the monster can see into the Ethereal Plane within the same limited range.

Monster Manual, p. 9

Simply put, the spells Non-Detection and True Seeing have no interaction whatsoever. A subject who is enchanted by non-detection is not detectable by scrying magic, magical sensors and the like. None of those are components of the condition that is Truesight which is granted to the recipient of the spell called True Seeing. The creature being viewed is simply standing in plain sight, they are not the target of any kind of spell or magical effect whatsoever outside of their own spells.

There is even an argument to be made that it would be disadvantageous to have the spell invisibility on you while in the presence of such a creature as they would "automatically detect visual illusions", which is what invisibility ostensibly is.

Also: a creature who possessed Truesight would still not be able to use divination magic to detect a creature who was under the protection of Non-Detection. For example: Spells such as alarm, clairvoyance, clairaudience, locate person, etc. The constructs and effects created by these spells do not have the condition truesight, and therefore would still not be able to detect the protected individual, so those things in turn would not be able to transmit that information to the creature with truesight regardless of its own condition.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Alarm is of the abjuration school, not divination, so it should still catch creatures that have a Nondetection effect active. Mostly agreed with your other points, though. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2021 at 2:27
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Yes

I just want to add something to the answers that I feel is being missed, and ought to be emphasised more.

The text of the Nondetection spell again, with spacing added:

For the duration, you hide a target that you touch from divination magic.

The target can be a willing creature or a place or an object no larger than 10 feet in any dimension.

The target can't be targeted by any divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

People on both sides seem to focus on the 3rd sentence "you can't be targeted by any divination magic" and then some invoke the rules on what defines a target of a spell, and others say "that can't be all there is to it, because then Nondetection hardly covers anything."

But the 1st sentence is also part of the spell's description. The recipient of the Nondetection spell is hidden from divination magic. Although maybe that's a little harder to interpret in terms of game mechanics because "hidden from (some effect)" is not a clearly defined term, but it is still the intent of the spell, and it is exactly the part of the spell description that Jeremy Crawford quotes in his rulings here and here.

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Nondetection: For the duration, you hide a target that you touch from divination magic. The target can be a willing creature or a place or an object no larger than 10 feet in any dimension. The target can't be targeted by any divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

Let us say a character targets themselves.

If someone else uses any form of "divination magic" that magic will not work on the character protected by the nondetection spell. But, if the divination magic is area effect, that magic will work on other targets, just not on the character protected by the nondetection spell. A magical scrying sensor is of course a form of magical divination magic, so it too will not detect the character protected by the nondetection spell. While the spell also says "the target can't be targeted by any divination magic" many divination spells and scrying are area effect but clearly are meant to be protected against by this spell. For example, a trap that has nondetection cast on it should be protected against the find traps spell which is an area effect divination spell. The nondetection spell cast on the trap would prevent the detection of that trap, but not prevent the detection of other traps within the range of the find traps spell.

If a character or creature or magical creation has a magical ability for magical divination, then that is still magical divination and thus the character protected by the nondetection spell would not be detected.

This is from the wording of the spell "you hide a target that you touch from divination magic", thus clearly not being limited to only divination spells.

If the means of detection is NOT magical divination, for example, blindsight by bats, then the nondetection will not protect from that.

A game master might decide the power source for spells is different between magic power, divine power, demonic power, psychic power, and such; but if the spell is nerfed too much then it makes the spell close to worthless.

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To me this is quite clear and answers its self Truesight

  1. if it's the spell then "yes" Non-detection and Invisibility would work for the following reason, you are invisible and you are using a magically enhanced Deviation sight and Non-detection will prevent location, the act of looking at someone with Non-detection cast on them is targeting them with that sight add to this your eyes have literally become "magical scrying sensors" (hopefully you get what i mean). To be fair if the Invisibility is cast second then the truesight might work (DM's Call).

  2. If its not a spell and truesight is an innate ability, there we are stepping on to dicey ground!!! i for one would say that it is always best to leave it up to the DM. Think of it like this, if the party are not challenged, where is the fun in that. if you party is a bunch of murder hobos, i say take them to the edge, throw in a reason for there to be a magic dead zone or something, push them, make them go home with visions of there hard won victory. if your party is a young party let them revel in there cleverness of there plan. D&D is and will always be a realm of possibilities :)

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Nondetection does not stop True Seeing or Detect Invisibility.

The critical part is "Targeted by". To illustrate, I'll provide some specific cases involving other divination spells.

If a caster is using Detect Thoughts to search the area for minds, they are not targeting anyone in particular, so they will detect the recipient of Nondetection. If they attempt to probe the thoughts of the protectee, then they are targeting the spell on the protectee, and gain no information.

If a caster is using Locate Creature to search for tieflings, a protected tiefling will be detected. If they are searching for Jester Lavore while she is protected, she is not found.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack AutisticSorcerer! Take the tour when you have a moment, and feel free to peruse the help center for more in-depth info about the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Apr 12 at 10:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the first sentence of the spell, "For the duration, you hide a target that you touch from divination magic."? In your detect thoughts and locate creature examples, you seem to be ignoring that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Apr 12 at 10:30

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