I'm searching for RAW which states whether a user of supernatural abilities (SU) knows that her abilities are taking effect. Since SU are not spells and therefore no spell resistance applies, I'm not sure whether the rules for spells apply.

In our case the DM demanded that a witch didn't know whether her Evil Eyes applies to a target. This is interesting for cases where the target is immune to mind-affecting or made a successful saving throw against the hex. To plan her next turn it is important that the witch knows if the target is affected, but Evil Eyes doesn't state it. In contrast, in the Ward spell it is stated that the witch knows the effects.

So, what does the RAW say?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems your DM clearly fiated an interpretation of the rules. In no case you should rule-lawyer it with some arcane RAW interpretation if you want to be a nice guy. (that may not be your intention, but it looks a bit like so) \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Sep 5 '16 at 15:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme we discussed it yesterday and decided to ask here to clarify it :) so everything is fine \$\endgroup\$ – merando Sep 5 '16 at 16:19

Unless the supernatural ability in question has a visible effect, such as causing claws to grow, breathing fire, creating an area of magical darkness or making the target larger. or turning him into a frog...

There is no visible or easy way to tell if your Evil Eye succeded

Supernatural abilities are very similar to spells, in that they are magical in nature, but they are not spells. So mundane methods to identify spells will not work against Su abilities.

For spells we got these rules that are clear:

Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.

But we got two paragraphs explaining how Supernatural Abilities work and are different from spells:

Supernatural Abilities (Su)

Supernatural abilities are magical attacks, defenses, and qualities. These abilities can be always active or they can require a specific action to utilize. The supernatural ability's description includes information on how it is used and its effects.

Supernatural Abilities (Su)

These can't be disrupted in combat and generally don't provoke attacks of opportunity. They aren't subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or dispel magic, and don't function in antimagic areas.

That meaning, the only visible way to tell if the target is being subject to a supernatural ability, is detecting their magical aura. But you would have to cast detect magic, use your evil eye, then see if their aura changed. Otherwise, the hex has no visible manifestation and is impossible to identify.

You can, however, identify that a witch has used her Evil Eye on someone (or on yourself), using a Knowledge(Arcana) check. The Spymaster Handbook Player Companion added some guidelines on how to identify class features being used.

This ruling is also supported by this answer.

Supernatural abilities can only be guessed by their effects, like the examples earlier, but what exactly they do should be unclear unless you somehow identified what causes the effect.

Such as when you see a person sucking the blood out of a villager, your first guess would be "a vampire!", but there are quite a few types of creatures that can do that, it could even be somebody with a weird taste of blood, and they all look humanoid and have similar abilities. In this case, you need to identify other abilities or features of those creatures (pointy ears? ugly face? aura of fear?).

Knowing the differences between Zombies and Ghouls can save your group from a total party kill.

For Evil Eye, there is no such visible effect. The description of the ability says:

The witch can cause doubt to creep into the mind of a foe within 30 feet that she can see.

So, there is nothing visible going on, the target simply has doubt on his mind and will suffer the penalties for your hex. The only thing you could do that will clearly tell you that he has doubt is to attempt to read his aura, using the Perception skill unlock from Occult Adventures.

You can also attempt to detect the thoughts of your target and see if he has doubt about the situation.

But do note that there is nothing that says detect doubt, so you will have to check with your GM before investing on it.

On the other hand, being so difficult to identify means you have the upper hand when attempting to remain undercover, the target will have doubts, but will not know exactly why. Meaning that you can apply Evil Eye on pretty much anyone that they will not know what you are doing (sans the knowledge check i mentioned before), as your Hex has no visible effects.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That last line is pretty much "gm fiat", and not rules as written. This question was about Evil Eye, the other question i quoted was about Hexes in general. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 5 '16 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Please don't extend my hostile tingle house rules in that answer to a creature knowing that the subject of a targeted spell failed the spell's saving throw! During play, I think it's far more important that a creature to know its been attacked than it is for the creature to know that its attack succeeded! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 5 '16 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan i see that in the title, he asks about supernatural abilities, though his actual question is wether or not the witch should know if her evil eye succeeds. Should the answers be about supernatural abilities or his actual question in the description? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 5 '16 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Were it my answer, I would address supernatural abilities broadly then specifically the evil eye hex, but an answer can be successful and not mine. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 5 '16 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme I think the link was to demonstrate (correctly) that there's no visible effect that the evil eye was successful. That is, the witch doesn't make the target's eyes bug out or surround the target with a crackling energy field. Neither when the eye's used nor when the eye's effect has been resolved is there any indication that it worked. Whether or not (and, without a house rule, it's not) the target feels a hostile tingle is really beside the point for this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 5 '16 at 16:09

Concerning witch hexes, there is this feat:

When you target a creature with a hex that cannot target the same creature more than once per day, and that creature succeeds at its saving throw against the hex’s effect, you can target the creature with the same hex a second time before the end of your next turn. (...)

It's not clearly stated how it works, but it suggests the witch is able to tell whether the creature succeeded at it's saving throw or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks! but unfortunately this is not enough RAW for my DM. :/ \$\endgroup\$ – merando Sep 5 '16 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's the best I found, I don't think (but I may have missed it) there is really a precise rule clearly stated about that. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Sep 5 '16 at 9:16

Rules as written, I would say no.

Supernatural abilities are magical but not spell-like. Supernatural abilities are not subject to spell resistance and do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). A supernatural ability's effect cannot be dispelled and is not subject to counterspells. Link

Supernatural abilities are a bit weird, they are fundamentally magical in nature but they are not spells and don't function like them unless specifically stated. The only thing they share with Spells by default is that they are shut off by antimagic fields.

Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells. Link

Looking at the 'magic' section of the rules we can see that this text would cover your requirements but unfortunately it comes under the heading of Spell Descriptions, which doesn't apply to Supernatural Abilities by default - just as they don't have to belong to a School.


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