What does Detect [Alignment] reveal about a creature that is possessed? Does it reveal the presence of the base creature's alignment, the possessing creature's alignment, or both?


2 Answers 2


I think the answer would depend on the alignment of the creature being possessed and the alignment of the possessing creature. Looking at the spell Detect Evil from the PHB:

You can sense the presence of evil. The amount of information revealed depends on how long you study a particular area or subject.

1st Round
Presence or absence of evil.

2nd Round
Number of evil auras (creatures, objects, or spells) in the area and the power of the most potent evil aura present.

3rd Round
The power and location of each aura. If an aura is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.

So if an evil creature is being possessed by another evil creature, the caster would be able to detect that there are 2 evil aura's on the creature. Note that the caster doesn't know the source of the aura; hence they couldn't tell if it is possession, an evil magical item, or an evil spell on the creature.

If a good creature is being possessed by an evil creature, the caster would be able to detect that there is 1 evil aura on the creature. Again, since the source of the evil is not known there is no way to tell if it's a possession, an evil magical item, an evil spell, or if the creature actually is evil... though most players jump to the conclusion that it's an evil creature, which can make a great adventure hook.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This actually burned my paladin once. A good NPC was being possessed and controlled by a mind flayer. So my paladin sensed evil, believed he was evil, and killed him. As a result, he faced torment and punishments of slaying a good aligned creature and had to set out to redeem himself. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBlake
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 16:16

Possession is usually described in fiction as someone's mind (or a piece of it) entering one's body and taking control over it from the rightful owner; contrast with domination and other forms of mind control, where the controller's mind stays where it is but sends instructions.

Detect Evil in the PHB says that you can "sense the presence of evil", and the other parts of the description all refer to evil auras (basically to detect strength and number of evil presences). So I'd think that if one creature possessed another, then both of them would show up for Detect [Alignment] (subject to their actual alignments) since both of them are present in some form.


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