Detect Magic 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Unveil hidden enchantments with the Detect Magic 5E spell in DnD. Perceive the mystical auras that permeate your world.

Detect Magic 5E: Wizard sitting at the library studying magic books
© Dice Cove

What is Detect Magic 5E?

Detect Magic 5E (PHB, p. 231) is a 1st level divination spell, which is available natively to Artificers, Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers, Sorcerers, and Wizards. It requires a vocal and somatic component and takes an action to cast. When cast it allows you to sense magic within 30 feet of you for up to 10 minutes or until you drop concentration on the spell. If you sense magic you can use an action to learn which school of magic it belongs to, if any apply.

You can’t sense magic this way if you are separated from it by a thin sheet of lead, 1 inch of common metal, 1 foot of stone, or 3 feet of dirt or wood. The spell penetrates most other barriers.

This spell can be cast ritually, by adding ten minutes to the casting time you can cast Detect Magic without requiring a spell slot as long as you have the Ritual Casting feature or another feature that allows you to ritual cast spells.

Is Detect Magic 5E a good spell?

It is a decent utility spell to have on hand, though its usefulness is very much dependent on the campaign you’re playing in. For example, a world where magic is extremely rare will see Detect Magic be used infrequently or often wasted, but the times that it pays off will be worth it. Generally speaking, it’s well advised for at least one party member to have access to this spell, but ideally they would have the ability to ritual cast it. The situations where you might need Detect Magic are often out of combat, so the added time of ritual casting can be worth it to save a 1st level spell slot.

How can you get Detect Magic 5E?

If you like the sound of becoming a walking magic radar, fear not! Here is a list of how you can grab this spell:

  • Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, and Wizard – All of these classes, which is almost every spellcasting class, get Detect Magic on their spell list.
  • Arcana Domain (Cleric Subclass) – These arcane-centric Clerics get this spell as an always-prepared spell thanks to their Domain Spells feature.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This Rogue can choose spells from the Wizard spell list, and can choose this spell as one of their unrestricted choices.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter subclass can choose spells from the Wizard list and can choose this spell as one of their unrestricted choices.
  • Oath of the Watchers (Paladin Subclass) – These vigilant Paladins get it always-prepared from 3rd level thanks to their Oath Spells feature.
  • Book of Ancient Secrets (Eldritch Invocation) – Exclusive to Pact of the Tome Warlocks, this invocation gives them a ritual spell book, allowing them to choose Detect Magic as one of two 1st level ritual spells they initially get. They can also add more rituals to their book that they may find in the form of scrolls of spellbooks.
  • Eldritch Sight (Eldritch Invocation) – This invocation allows you to cast Detect magic at will.
  • Aberrant Dragonmark (Feat) – This half-feat allows you to bump your Constitution by +1, grab Detect Magic, and a cantrip of your choice from the Sorcerer spell list. Just be careful casting Detect Magic in case you accidentally hurt your allies if you choose to empower it with a Hit Die.
  • Artificer Initiate (Feat) – Aspiring Artificers can choose one cantrip and 1st level spell from the Artificer list with this feat, allowing them to cast the latter once per day without needing a spell slot. Intelligence is the casting stat for the spells gained from this feat. You also gain proficiency in one type of artisan’s tools of your choice, which you can then use as a focus for the spells gained here.
  • Divinely Favored (Feat) – Characters of Good or Neutral alignment can get Detect Magic with a free cast once per day with this feat, as well as learning Augury and gaining one Cleric cantrip of their choice. When you choose this feat you choose the casting stat for the spells from Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma.
  • Drow High Magic (Feat) – Exclusive to only Drow, this feat allows you to cast Detect Magic at will, along with being able to cast Levitate and Dispel Magic oncer per long rest each. Charisma is the casting stat for these spells.
  • Fey Touched (Feat) – Detect Magic being a divination spell means that you can choose it with this feat, allowing you to cast it and Misty Step once per long rest without a spell slot. You can still cast it with any spell slots you may have from your class and you can even boost a mental stat of your choice by +1 too.
  • Magic Initiate (Feat) – By choosing any of the fullcaster classes that get Detect Magic  you can get the spell and two cantrips, however, you can only cast it once per long rest unless you have at least one level in the class you chose.
  • Ritual Caster (Feat) – This feat will let you choose Detect Magic and one other 1st level ritual spell, getting the spell this way means that you can only cast it ritually, but you can also learn new rituals from scrolls and spellbooks.
  • Strixhaven Initiate (Feat) – Choosing any college with this feat will give you the opportunity to grab Detect Magic, with two cantrips from a limited list to go along with your once-per-long rest casting.
  • Firbolg (Race) – Both the VGtM and MotM versions of this race can cast Detect Magic once per long as part of their Firbolg Magic feature, along with a special version of Disguise Self.
  • Mark of Detection (Race Variant) – This Eberron-based half-elf variant can cast Detect Magic, amongst other spells, as part of their Magical Detection feature.

How to roleplay the Detect Magic 5E spell

Need some help roleplaying the Detect Magic spell? Here are some examples to help you out:

  • Amidst the forgotten relics in the dragon’s hoard, the Wizard feels a pull towards the arcane. Closing his eyes, he utters the incantation for the Detect Magic spell, his senses expanding to perceive the unseen currents of magic around him. A golden chalice among the treasure shines brightly with enchantment to his magical sight, revealing its true value beyond mere gold.
  • As the adventurers enter a suspiciously quiet room in the goblin-infested dungeon, the Sorcerer opts for caution. She casts a spell, her eyes taking on an otherworldly glow. The outline of a previously unseen glyph lights up on the floor in response to her spell, a magical trap now laid bare for all to see.
  • The group stands before an ancient stone door in the forgotten temple, the key to their quest hidden beyond. The Artificer dons a pair of peculiar spectacles, looking for any arcane signatures. His gaze is drawn to the door’s intricate carvings, which shimmer with a subtle aura of conjuration magic, hinting at a teleportation spell that might take them to their desired destination.

Hopefully, this article has been enlightening, unraveling the mysteries of magic for you. If you’re intrigued by this spell for your upcoming Paladin build, be sure to dive into our Paladin 5E guide. And for those eager to explore more spells, our DnD 5E spells section is a treasure trove of knowledge. Good luck out there, adventurers! Until next time, remember to keep an eye on the walls, for they hold secrets untold!

Expert Editor-in-Chief