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DnD Detect Magic 5e spell guide

Detect Magic 5e is one of the more useful DnD spells a Wizard can learn at first level. Here’s how it works, and how you can use it.

DnD detect magic 5e - A man with white hair, white glowing eyes and a third eye on his forehead

In DnD 5e, magic isn’t all about chucking fireballs and firing off eldritch blasts, fun though that is. Utility spells like Detect Magic are also a great reason to play a Wizard or other spellcasting D&D class. Are you seeing objects float around, unaccountably giving off a weird eldritch glow? Convinced there’s a magical hidden door lying about? Got a funny feeling about the friendly traveller you met on the road? Sounds like you’re in need of Detect Magic.

Detect Magic 5e does pretty much what you’d expect from the name. It lets you spot things wot are magical, as long as they’re not invisible. Whether it’s ensorcelled equipment carried by a friend or foe, an illusion disguising something or someone, or a magic item you might have otherwise missed, Detect Magic will spot it for you. Simply cast this spell on yourself, and you’ll see magic up to 30 feet away, and even through walls – though a foot of stone, three feet of wood or soil, or an inch of metal will block your sight.

Detect Magic won’t tell you the precise nature of the sorcery you’re detecting, but it does give a clue. You’ll see a faint aura around any magic object or creature in the area and be able to learn what school of magic it comes from. This can give a valuable hint – you’ll know, for instance, whether a magical trap is more likely to zap you (evocation) or turn you into something awful (transmutation). Your Rogue, disarming the trap, will no doubt be grateful for the handy advice on what will happen to them should they mess up.

Detect Magic 5e properties

Level 1st
Duration 10 minutes (requires concentration)
Casting time One action
School Divination
Range/Area 30ft

DnD detect magic 5e - a wizard with orbs of light around them.

Who can cast Detect Magic 5e?

You probably want someone in your party who can cast Detect Magic, so it’s good news that pretty much every class that wouldn’t look utterly ridiculous twirling a wand has access to this spell from first level. Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers, Sorcerers, and Wizards all have access to Detect Magic. Warlocks can use the spell at-will from second level, thanks to the Eldritch Sight invocation.

Further studies: The most useful DnD 5e spells

In DnD 5e, Detect Magic is a ritual, like Find Familiar, Identify, and a whole host of spells that can’t obviously be used in combat (you’re probably not trying hard enough, though). That means you can cast Detect Magic without using up a spell slot, as long as you can spare an extra 10 minutes of concentration.