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What would happen if a character were to cast a Mage's/Mordenkainen's Disjunction on an iron golem?

Would it stop functioning because Disjunction has removed its magic? Or would its spell immunity stop Disjunction from affecting it?

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up vote 27 down vote accepted

It’s not absolutely clear, but I’d say disjunction doesn’t work on (non-epic) golems.

Ultimately this is a GM’s call (I’ll explain exactly why later): there is precedent for golems not being affected by disjunction at all, but there is also a counter-argument for them being affected. I’ll go through the factors one by one, because I didn’t reach this conclusion for the reasons I thought I would.

Immunity to Magic doesn't grant immunity to disjunction.

Golems (except for the epic ones) are only immune to magic that can be stopped by spell resistance.

Immunity to Magic (Ex): An iron golem is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below [but none of them is dispel magic or disjunction].

However, mage's disjunction does not allow spell resistance, so immunity to magic won't stop it.

Constructs are immune to many things, but disjunction is not on the list.

Constructs are immune to charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects, as well as poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and necromancy effects, critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or energy drain, and most effects that requires a Fortitude save.

Disjunction is not any of these things, so this doesn't stop it.

Disjunction doesn't target creatures.

All magical effects and magic items within the radius of the spell, except for those that you carry or touch, are disjoined.

Since the golem is a creature--it has all the things a creature wants or needs, mechanically: ability scores, hit points, defenses, attacks, and so forth--it is reasonable to say that disjunction doesn't impact a golem any more than the spell would kill a displacer beast.

But... golems are made with an item creation feat

Disjunction does target magic items. Golems are made using the item creation rules, and you need an item creation feat to make one. By that logic, disjunction would turn a golem into an expensive pile of fancy parts.

So it's a GM's call.

If golems are just creatures, then disjunction won't work on them.

If golems are also magic items, then disjunction can kill them.

But I'd say it doesn't work.

And as precedent, I cite the anti-magic field.

While a magic sword does not function magically within the area, it is still a sword (and a masterwork sword at that). The spell has no effect on golems and other constructs that are imbued with magic during their creation process and are thereafter self-supporting (unless they have been summoned, in which case they are treated like any other summoned creatures).

In an anti-magic field, magic items have their magical functioning suppressed as if dispelled, but golems work fine. I think that provides fine precedent for golems not being magic items, and thus not being affected by disjunction.

If you really want to keep some of the power of disjunction in this situation, I’d take the spell’s percent chance to unmake artifacts and make it work on golems too.

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Just a detail, in most settings,most golems are created by bounding a elemental into servitude inside a manufactured body, who is the responsible of powering the golem (and of the berserk streaks that happens when the magic that keep it controlled fiddle). If disjunction would work on golems, it would dismantle the manufactured body into its basic components, but there is a chance of a (probably very angry) elemental being released as well. – MACN Oct 4 '13 at 12:25
If I can find it in my files, somewhere around here, I have an old letter from The Sage (Skip Williams, 3.x designer and columnist from the old Dragon magazines), in response to my question, clarifying that constructs, despite being made with item-creation rules, are not magic items once they come on-line. They are creatures, and follow creature rules, not magic item rules. – Matthew Najmon Oct 6 '13 at 20:51
@MatthewNajmon That'd be a real treasure to add to this answer! – BESW Oct 7 '13 at 4:38
Sadly, that was nearly a decade ago, when I lived in a different city, and my filing and organization skills aren't so great. If I do find it, how do I go about adding it? Just edit the answer to quote the letter? – Matthew Najmon Oct 11 '13 at 3:56
@MatthewNajmon That'd do nicely, and thanks for the effort. – BESW Oct 11 '13 at 4:15

Golems aren’t deactivated by antimagic field or Dead Magic Zone. If the complete lack of magic doesn’t stop their animation, it doesn’t seem like a momentary (albeit powerful) disruption should either. Disjunction affects golems the same way it affects any other creature: it kills their spells and magic items. It does not affect the golem itself.

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