Q: Dear Sage,
If my character casts a silent and stilled spell of any sort that affects the target’s behavior (charm person, suggestion, etc.) and the target makes the saving throw, would they know they were being cast upon and who cast the spell? What would a typical NPC reaction be to this scenario?
A: The target of a spell or effect is always aware that he’s rolled a saving throw, though the caster of the spell isn’t revealed.
There’s no guideline for how the average NPC would react to a spell being cast upon him, but the Sage certainly believes that he’d be concerned about it. Being the target of a spell can’t be an everyday occurrence for normal folks (even in the world of D&D); one imagines that it’s a little like seeing the red dot of a laser sight appear on your sleeve before disappearing.
The nature of the effect might influence the target’s reaction, but this is firmly in the camp of DM determination. Some DMs inform the target of a spell of its effect as part of asking for the save, while others keep such information secret. (It’s almost impossible to keep it entirely secret from a player, since the player has to know what kind of save he’s making.)
Personally, the Sage recommends using as much transparency as you feel comfortable, particularly if characters have the ability to adjust their save result on the fly (such as with action points). It hardly seems cricket to drain away a paranoid player’s action points with bane spells just because he’s worried that one of those Will saves might be for dominate person.
About the Author
The Sage is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. Debate continues as to whether he is truly a bear or more related to the raccoon rather than the bear, or perhaps in a family of his own. When not eating bamboo and answering rules questions, he works under the nom de plume of Andy Collins as an RPG developer in Wizards of the Coast R&D, where his development credits include Complete Mage, Dragon Magic, and the Player's Handbook v.3.5. He can be easily recognized by his large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears and on his rotund body.