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The Antimagic Ray is a spell originally from Draconomicon, updated in the Spell Compendium. Here's all the extracts from the text we need to analyze the case, or so I believe.

The target functions as if it were inside an antimagic field (PH 200).
If this spell is used against a creature, the subject can’t cast spells or use supernatural or spell-like abilities, nor do such abilities have any effect on the creature. However, the creature can still use spell completion items or spell trigger items, even though it can’t cast the spells required.
The spell doesn’t affect any objects other than the subject itself, even if those objects are worn, carried by, or in contact with the subject. For instance, if a creature is the target, its equipment remains unaffected.

The problem is, what happens when a +2, flaming longsword is used against the target of such a spell? I'll list each possibility my group came up with, along with with the reasons that make each valid.

  1. the weapon works normally.

    • the weapon is not in an AMF itself, nor its wielder is is.
    • the weapon enchantments are neither spells, nor spell-like effects, nor supernatural effects, which the recipient is explicitly immune to.
  2. the weapon behaves like a masterwork longsword.

    • The target, if struck, functions as if it were inside an antimagic field can be read as "imagine an AMF around the target. When something tries to do something to him (like the sword attacking him) consider him to be in the radius of an AMF spell", so if the weapon is used to attack him, it's treated as if it was in the AMF. Would this be some sort of physical area attack, every other target would be hit by the fully magical weapon.
  3. the weapon is magical as long as it's still hitting.

    • A weapon hitting the target is not just "in contact" with it. Be it a piercing, slashing or bashing weapon, it's getting in the personal space of the target, that's considered a person-shaped AMF zone. So its +2 to hit still works (it's aiming at the spot, which happens before the weapon gets in touch) but no bonus damage is dealt.
  4. all the enchantments that modify the effectiveness of the weapon still work, those who deal damage to the target don't.

    • the weapon is still a powered up weapon that helps the wielder get a better swing, including +2 to hit and +2 to damage. But the flames, those are magic flames that don't even harm the wielder so they're clearly magical and won't work on the target when he gets hit.

So, is there a correct interpretation?
If not, is there a commonly recognized take on this issue?

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2  
As rules-lawyering is a subset of problem-players, I believe its an inappropriate tag for this situation, since the problem isn't a player, and the asker just wanted to get rules-abiding answers. –  kravaros Jul 11 '13 at 20:45
    
I think this spell was clarified in the Spell Compendium. I don't have it handy to check, but it might be worth looking there for your answer. –  GMJoe Jul 12 '13 at 5:40
    
@GMJoe The version I'm referencing is the Spell Compendium one. –  Zachiel Jul 12 '13 at 10:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The fact that the spell doesn’t even affect the target’s own equipment leads me to believe it doesn’t affect the equipment of other people, either. Attacks with magic weapons work as normal for someone unaffected by antimagic ray.

Basically, antimagic ray affects only spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities that are used by or on the target: these don’t work.

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I believe you're correct. I think it is significant that the rules state the target functions as if it were in an AMF. That is, anything else that enters the area of the target is not affected. –  called2voyage Jul 11 '13 at 20:43
    
So if the guy protected with antimagic ray enters in another AMF, what would happen? He would not be the target of it, I suppose the outer AMF would stop the ray workings...? –  RMalke Jul 12 '13 at 14:39
    
@RenanMalkeStigliani Yeah, antimagic field should suppress antimagic ray, though the difference is largely academic at that point. –  KRyan Jul 12 '13 at 15:03

The spell's text states "The spell doesn’t affect any objects other than the subject itself, even if those objects are worn, carried by, or in contact with the subject." There's really no ambiguity here: the +2 flaming longsword would work normally. The "he has a personal AMF" argument would work if the text didn't read "The target functions as if it were inside an antimagic field". He isn't inside a skintight antimagic field, magic's just been disrupted for him. The weapon wouldn't lose its effect upon contacting or slicing through him, either, as the weapon is not a spell, a supernatural ability, or a spell-like ability. It's just a magic weapon.

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He is also immune to the effects of negative effects of spells, spell-like abilities and whatnot that are detrimental to him, mind you. It's not just his magic being disrupted. And even if it was, the question is, why the magic from the sword is affecting him? –  Zachiel Jul 12 '13 at 15:22
    
Edited my answer to address this, the text states it only prevents spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. The weapon has no abilities (unless you've made it a creature with the ability to turn its enchantments on and off), it just is. –  GnoveltyGnome Jul 12 '13 at 16:30

Page 50 of the v.3.5 Main D&D FAQ:

If I attack from inside an antimagic field (PH 200) using a magic weapon, do I gain the benefit of the weapon if the target is outside the antimagic field? What about if I attack from outside against a target inside?

In neither case does the weapon’s benefit apply. Both the attacker and the target must be outside the antimagic field for any magic of the weapon (or other effects) to apply. (If you made a ranged attack across an antimagic field—that is, from outside the area, across some part of the spell’s area, against another target outside the area—the attack would resolve normally.)

While I understand that argument about the physics of an unaffected weapon penetrating the skin of the affected target, I think this pretty strongly points to option #2: the weapon behaves like a masterwork longsword.

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I guess the FAQ was written with ranged or very long weapons in mind. The spell specifically rules out other items, meaning an AM ray target wielding a sword would be able to get all the effects despite "the attacker being inside the AMF". Now, we're talking about the mirrored effect... –  Zachiel Jul 12 '13 at 19:29
    
What about an arrow fired from a +1 Flaming Longbow? The arrow's bonus and fire damage don't apply to the target in an antimagic field, even though it was the the bow that was magic. –  Dane Jul 12 '13 at 20:09
    
In a "normal" AMF, the arrow enters the AMF before hitting. Here it does not ever enter the AMF. I suppose the "The spell doesn’t affect any objects other than the subject itself" clause overrides the FAQ. Can you update your answer to take this into account? –  Zachiel Jul 13 '13 at 10:11

I like and agree with the answers provided by both KRyan and GnoveltyGnome.

but, I have some additions I would like to add.

Attacking,damage, & HP are abstract concepts in D&D

Instead of picturing the attack as 'I hit you and cut you, causing damage', think of the attack as 'I attack you and my offense is stronger than your defense, so you lose some of your ability to continue the fight'.

The second way of thinking about combat leads to the idea that attacking with a magical weapon may not pierce the skin of the defender. A strong weapon attack hitting the armor of a character under the affects of an antimagic ray, could therefore never enter the personal antimagic field but would still deal damage. It should not lose any attack or damage bonuses. This rules out options 2 (treated as masterwork) and 3(lose magic damage bonus only).

Now to rule out option 4. Again imagine the flaming sword striking an opponent, not piercing his skin. If the defender were not under the affects of the antimagic field the magic fire damage would deal damage heating up the armor of the defender and then burning the defender through it. Now if you apply the antimagic field to the defender this would still happen.

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Doing the devil's lawyer here: poison rules suggest every hit that goes in is a wound. –  Zachiel Jul 12 '13 at 19:24
    
@Zachiel Some areas of the rules are less abstract. RAW, you can also use injury poisons on weapons that deal bludgeoning dmg... –  Colin D Jul 12 '13 at 20:06
    
I assure you maces wound you quite a lot. ^_° –  Zachiel Jul 13 '13 at 10:02
1  
@Zachiel, Maces do wounds, but are meant to break bones, not skin. –  Colin D Jul 13 '13 at 13:16

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