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(Int; ACP: No; Untrained: No)


Use this skill to identify spells as they are cast or spell effects already in place, and to activate wands and other magic devices that you could not otherwise activate.


The Spellcraft skill allows you to do a number of things that require understanding of, and proficiency with, magic. The table below lists the various things you can do.

Task Spellcraft DC Action Try Again
Identify a spell being cast. (You must see or hear the spell's verbal or somatic components. 1) 15 + spell level None No
When casting detect magic, determine the school of magic involved in the aura of a single item or creature you can see. (If the aura is not from a spell effect, uses one-half caster level as the "spell level".) 15 + spell level None No
Identify a spell that's already in place and in effect. You must be able to see or detect the effects of the spell (merely perceiving the spell effect's aura with detect magic does not suffice). 20 + spell level None No
Identify materials created or shaped by magic, such as noting that an iron wall is the result of a wall of iron spell. 20 + spell level Usually requires a careful examination of the materials for at least a full round No
Identify the properties of a magic item using the identify spell 10 + item caster level (see identify spell description for details) 8 hours Yes (requires casting the spell again)
Understand a strange or unique magical effect 30 or higher Varies No
After rolling a saving throw against a spell targeted on you, determine what that spell was 2 25 + spell level None No
Activate device Activation DC given in item's description None
(check is made as part of the action (if any) required to activate a magic item; see the descriptions for each kind of magic item, linked from the Magic Items page, for details on how to use the item)

1 This incurs the same penalties as a Spot check (if the spell has somatic or material components) or a Listen? check (if the spell has verbal components) due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors. If the spell has both kinds of components, any visual and auditory penalties on the Spellcraft check stack with each other.
2 Failing a saving throw against an enchantment spell usually leaves you unaware that you've been affected by magic, and thus does not allow a chance to identify the spell.

Spellcraft vs. Knowledge (arcana)

These two skills might, superficially, seem to overlap in usage. If you come across a strange magical phenomenon in a dungeon, which skill do you roll to see if you can figure out anything about it?

The distinction is simple. To check for knowledge of facts, roll the Knowledge skill. (Some classes also grant a character the ability to speculate, deduce, or synthesize knowledge on certain topics; even so, what you're doing is figuring out some facts about the thing in question: its history, its origin, who put it there, etc.) To analyze what is before you, to examine it and draw conclusions based on your understanding of magic, and thereby determine what actually is going on, roll Spellcraft.

In other words, if the party encounters a floating river in a dungeon:

Player rolls a Knowledge (arcana) check:
DM: Well, you have no knowledge of this exact thing, but you do recall blah from your study of blah, which was somewhat like this; and there, blah blah... also, your knowledge of such matters tells you that things like this are probably made with blah and blah, and have these-and-such properties...


Player rolls a Spellcraft check, perhaps after casting detect magic:
DM: Carefully studying the flowing water, you determine that what's probably going on here is blah... also, by the way those fish in the water are acting, you surmise that there's got to be some blah here as well; and that means that if you did blah, the result would be catastrophically blah...

Note also that the domain of study (i.e. Knowledge skill topic) relevant to any given magical thing might depend on circumstances; it's often Arcana, but it could also be Religion (for divine power, holy sites, etc.), or The Planes (for gates, calling circles, etc.), or something else. But the skill used to analyze magical phenomena is always Spellcraft.

Activate device

You can use this skill to activate a magic item without satisfying the requirements to activate it normally (for example, to activate a wand of lightning without being a 6th-level mage). You make a Use Magic Device check each time you activate a device such as a wand.

If an item can be activated with the Use Magic Device skill, an activation DC is given in the item's description. (This generally includes wands, staves, and other items that must be activated with a command word or some other action, and which are restricted to some classes only.)

If you have some levels in the class or class group to which an item is restricted, but not enough to use the item normally, you add your level in that class or class group to your Use Magic Device check. (For example, a wand of lightning has an item level of 6, and is restricted to mages only, thus requiring a wielder to be a mage of 6th or higher level to activate it normally. For activation with Use Magic Device, the wand has a listed activation DC of 16 for its lightning bolt power. If you were a 2nd-level wizard with a Use Magic Device skill bonus of +9, you would make your Use Magic Device check to throw a lightning bolt from a wand of lightning with a +11 bonus — that is, +9 for your skill bonus, and another +2 because you have two levels in the mage class group.)

Success on your Use Magic Device check indicates that you activate the item, just as if you satisfied the requirements for its use.

If you fail the Use Magic Device check by 9 or less, the item is not activated, and no charges (if it's a charged item) are consumed.

If you fail the Use Magic Device check by 10 or more, a mishap may occur. (If the item is a charged item, the charge(s) for the function you were trying to activate are consumed, just as if you had successfully activated it.) The chance of a mishap is equal to 50%, plus 5% for every point beyond 10 by which you fail the check (to a maximum of 100%).

If a mishap occurs, the exact nature of the mishap depends on the specific item, and the function which you were trying to activate. The DM should determine the nature of the mishap, which may be similar to scroll mishaps. The default mishap is that the item's magic is released in an uncontrolled fashion, dealing 1d6 points of damage to you per level of the effect which would have been generated had you successfully activated the item. (However, the DM is encouraged to invent creative mishaps appropriate to the specific item and power in question.)


Varies; see table, above.

Casting a spell from a scroll takes as long as the spell's casting time. However, casting a spell from a scroll always takes at least a standard action, even if the spell has a shorter casting time (such as a swift action).

Taking 10 & 20

You can take 10 on any Spellcraft check if you're not in combat or otherwise rushed or threatened. (You can't take 10 on Spellcraft checks to identify a spell as it's being cast, or identify a spell targeted on you after rolling a save against it, because in both cases, the check is made as a reaction to a momentary event).

You cannot take 20 on any Spellcraft check.

You can take 10 on a Use Magic Device check to activate a function of a magic item only if you have identified that function, and have successfully activated it at least once. (Even so, you cannot take 10 on the check if you're in combat, or otherwise rushed or threatened.)

You can never take 20 on a Use Magic Device check.


You can't aid another on a Use Magic Device check. Only the user of the item may attempt such a check.

Use Magic Device does not allow you to cast spells from scrolls. See the Arcane Script (to decipher scrolls) and Spellcraft (to activate scrolls) skills for information on using scrolls.

To use items or functions of items that require a command word, you must still know the command word, even with the Use Magic Device skill. Likewise, if the item has some other requirements for its use, such as a particular race or alignment, Use Magic Device does not allow you to bypass those requirements. The only requirements for activating items which the skill allows you to bypass are class and level requirements.

Category: Skills