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View Full Version : Detect Magic question (My players: please stay out)



Eldan
2009-09-13, 08:15 AM
Warning once again: Noble Savant, loser0ll, Gorgondantess and potatocubed stay out please.



Okay. So, in a game yesterday the following situation came up: an NPC has been bitten by a creature that carries a supernatural disease and was infected. The question is: can detect magic detect that supernatural disease? I counted it as a yes, and let it show up as a faint necromantic effect (the disease can turn people undead) but I'm not sure if it was actually the way it was intended in the rules. I mean, I won't change it now, but actual information would be nice.
What do people say?

Kurald Galain
2009-09-13, 08:25 AM
can detect magic detect that supernatural disease?
Frankly that depends on the disease, but it doesn't sound at all unreasonable.

(Detect Magic detects auras; it's unspecified whether a magical disease generates an aura, but paragnostics would say that yes, it does).

Bayar
2009-09-13, 08:27 AM
Detect disease exists ?

Or you could use a heal check to detect a disease....

only1doug
2009-09-13, 08:37 AM
Warning once again: Noble Savant, loser0ll, Gorgondantess and potatocubed stay out please.



Okay. So, in a game yesterday the following situation came up: an NPC has been bitten by a creature that carries a supernatural disease and was infected. The question is: can detect magic detect that supernatural disease? I counted it as a yes, and let it show up as a faint necromantic effect (the disease can turn people undead) but I'm not sure if it was actually the way it was intended in the rules. I mean, I won't change it now, but actual information would be nice.
What do people say?

I'd say yes, it is detectable by detect magic:
it is a supernatural effect that turns living creatures into undead. that sounds like an ongoing magical effect to me.

Eldan
2009-09-13, 08:39 AM
Perhaps I should mention what it was. No idea why I actually forgot it.

Specifically, it was Ghoul Fever:

Ghoul Fever (Su)

Diseaseóbite, Fortitude DC 12, incubation period 1 day, damage 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex. The save DC is Charisma-based.

An afflicted humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast, not a ghoul.

Saph
2009-09-13, 08:41 AM
The rules on how Detect Magic interacts with (Su) abilities are vague.

The spell name is "Detect Magic", so you'd think it would pick up anything magical, but it doesn't give any rules for detecting anything apart from spell effects.

Your solution sounds like a good one to me; pick a school that's sort of appropriate, and have it register as that. You might decide to let the player know more with some research and good Spellcraft/Knowledge (Arcana) checks.

ericgrau
2009-09-13, 11:47 AM
Supernatural effects are magical. Sure, ad hoc it just like you did.

cfalcon
2009-09-13, 02:14 PM
Yea, I would do what you did.

jiriku
2009-09-14, 11:02 AM
By itself, your ruling was fine, but you may be setting a precedent that your players can exploit.

If a player extrapolates the impact of your ruling, he'd also expect to be able to use Detect Magic to find the auras of any other supernatural disease, like mummy rot. And logically, if you could detect the magical disease in a character infected with ghoul fever, shouldn't you also be able to detect it in the ghoul or mummy itself? Detect Magic therefore absorbs many of the functions of the detect undead spell. And by extension, shouldn't it be able to detect other creatures with supernatural attack forms. For example, with this ruling it reasonably ought to detect negative levels, supernatural poisons and curses, or other ongoing supernatural attacks. Even a character who has dust in his eyes from a dust mephit's breath weapon is suffering from an ongoing supernatural effect, and would register as such with a Detect Magic spell using this precedent. This begins to usurp the role of other spells like Detect Poison and Arcane Sight.

Detect Magic detects ongoing magical effects. Ghoul fever can't be dispelled, so it's not an ongoing magical effect. Plus, an easy Heal check can identify a disease.

Going forward, it might be wise to rule conservatively to prevent your players from using Detect Magic as an all-purpose find-what's-hidden spell.