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I'm considering having a bad guy use magic jar to infiltrate an area by possessing someone who has access to that area.

What are the obvious or likely ways that this can be detected? For example the spell is not clear as to whether detect magic would reveal it since the magic jar itself is the thing created by the spell that is magical. It just says that your life force is possessing the body.

Obviously the impostor could fail a bluff check and their alignment would change (unless undetectable alignment was used). What other likely mechanisms though are there to be found out? I'm not looking for an exhaustive list, just to cover the range of most likely candidates that I should have considered ahead of time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How suspicious is the security force, and how thick with magicians is the security force? That is, what level of spells can the security force afford to cast on all incoming visitors? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 17 '17 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan In this specific case - very suspicious (but with no reason to suspect the victim of the magic jar who's known and trusted). It's entirely possible that the PCs will be getting personally involved in security (level 11, multiple different casters) and at least one high level (10+) oracle NPC \$\endgroup\$ – Tim B Apr 17 '17 at 16:00
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As the target of an ongoing magic spell (note that Magic Jar's target is "one creature", not the caster, nor the receptacle used) a possessed subject would be giving off a moderate magical aura to someone using Detect Magic to survey subjects. Of course, you have to follow that up with a DC20 Spellcraft check to identify it's a necromantic aura, and even then that doesn't tell you what the spell is; but someone wandering around with an aura of necromancy on them would be suspect.

As you've mentioned, the infiltrator needs to be able to convincingly pretend to be the possessed subject for this to work, so will be making bluff against sense motive checks and could conceivably give themselves away by saying the wrong thing to someone familiar with the subject. More strictly, if this is a high security area that's being infiltrated and security is worried about people in disguise, there may be a password system in use to verify identity; the infiltrator might not know the password, or know an old password, or could even have been given an incorrect password that's actually a secret warning to the guards.

Zone of Truth is a low-level cleric/paladin spell which might be used to interrogate people entering a high security area to make sure all is as it seems. However, passing the will save on that would probably not be very hard for anyone who has the ability to cast Magic Jar.

Protection from Evil is another low-level spell which could expose possession by Magic Jar, assuming your bad guy is capital E Evil. If the subject is affected by Protection from Evil, they would get to make an immediate second saving throw (with a +2 bonus) against the effect. If successful, the possessor is not expelled, but does temporarily lose control of the subject:

This spell does not expel a controlling life force (such as a ghost or spellcaster using magic jar), but it does prevent them from controlling the target.

It seems to be your discretion whether that means the original subject actually gets control of their body back for the few minutes the spell lasts, or the subject just does nothing because nobody's at the wheel now.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That line about protection from evil is very interesting. I'd missed that. By my reading the subject would just do nothing since the original life force is stored in the jar (especially if the jar is out of range this must be the case). \$\endgroup\$ – Tim B Apr 17 '17 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm really happy with protection from evil doing something. That seems like a level of pro-active precaution that should be repaid. Detect magic seems a bit too easy so I think I might have to add a casting of Greater Magic Aura into the mix to mask that. Passwords if they set those up - that's great. I'm happy with that working. I want it to be fair but still challenging. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim B Apr 17 '17 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ahha, the protection from evil spell describes that, not magic jar. That's why I couldn't find it! \$\endgroup\$ – Tim B Apr 17 '17 at 16:19

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