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Some things affect only 'mundane' or 'nonmagical' items. For example, the spell Quench automatically puts out nonmagical fires, but it requires a dedicated casting to put out a magical fire that isn't a spell effect (and then just for 1d4 hours). Similarly, Shrink Item affects only nonmagical objects and Shatter can be used as an AoE attack v.s. stacks of nonmagical porcelain but magic porcelain dolls require a casting each for their destruction.

The issue here is that I'm unsure what counts as 'nonmagical'. It's clear, for example, that bonafide Magic Items from the Magic Items sections of the various rulebooks don't work, and that the stuff you make with minor creation does. I'm not sure, however, if the subject of a light spell, or a Melf's Acid Arrow spell, or a shrink item spell, or continual flame, etc counts as not nonmagical while an ongoing spell persists. I've always played that merely being the target of a spell did not make something not nonmagical, but upon consideration, I'm not sure if that should definitely be the case or if that's just the interpretation of the rules that was most natural to us.

When an otherwise unattended, nonmagical object is subject to a spell with a duration, is it still an unattended, nonmagical object? What do the rules say on this matter?

Note that I'm specifically talking about things being or not being nonmagical; do not take for granted that something that is magical is not nonmagical or vice versa. That may be the case, but if so you need to support that assertion in your answer with rules-text; frequently terms like that in 3.5 don't work quite the way we'd expect them to in terms of opposites.

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The rules don't explicitly define "nonmagical item", which strictly speaking means the term may be interpreted by each DM as they see fit. However, certain rules suggest that "nonmagical item" specifically means "not a magic item", thus classifying a mundane item under the effect of a spell as a nonmagical item.

The spell sequester makes a specific reference to "magical" objects:

The Will save prevents an attended or magical object from being sequestered.

This references the rule on item saving throws, which discriminates between magic items and nonmagical items:

Nonmagical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they always are affected by spells. [...] Magic items always get saving throws.

"Magical object" in the sequester spell description is clearly synonymous with "magic item", meaning that an item is "magical" only if it is a magic item, not if it is simply a mundane item under the effect of a spell.

Many rules specifically discriminate only between magic items and nonmagical items (including the spell description for wish, the rules on item saving throws, the rules on magic armor, and others). The marked omission of a third category covering "mundane items currently under the effect of a spell", even after the v3.5 revision, further supports the idea that all items not considered magic items are automatically nonmagical items.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think sequester is a particularly good example, though you could maybe build it out a bit more, because by using 'attended or magical' as a clear antonym of 'unattended, nonmagical' it clearly solves the question of whether these things are true opposites under the rules or not in favor of a simple resolution. That means in order to say a nonmagical object under a spell effect were magical, we'd need to also accept that it gets saving throws based off its (not its spell's) caster level, which is absurd. We can't even make an exception for it, because "The only exceptions to this are..." \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Dec 14 '17 at 7:37
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Magic items are divided into categories: armor, weapons, potions, rings, rods, scrolls, staffs, wands, and wondrous items. In addition, some magic items are cursed or intelligent. Finally, a few magic items are of such rarity and power that they are considered to belong to a category of their own: artifacts.

Given the way "non-" works in English, non-magic items are items that are not magical. Items that are not magic items which happen to be under a magical effect remain non-magic items. Even a spell such as Magic Weapon doesn't turn it into a magic item: it just adds an enhancement bonus to a non-magic item.

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