Spells like Forbiddance or Mordekainen's Private Sanctum cannot be seen once cast. (Not just because they are invisible, but because there is nothing at all to indicate their presence excepting a few non-visible effects)

They have continuing effects, such as warding against teleportation and planar travel.

Can Dispel Magic be used to end such spells?

A few possible scenarios - in which, if any, is the Forbiddance dispelled?

  1. A clueless PC casts Dispel Magic at a rock in the radius of a Forbiddance spell.

  2. A PC knows there is some magic that's prevented them from teleporting into this area, but not what spell it is. They try to target a Dispel Magic at the magical effect that caused this.

  3. A PC knows there is a Forbiddance spell active in the area. They try to target the spell with a Dispel Magic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint The answers to that question seemed to focus on invisible creatures that still have a physical presence rather than invisible effects with no physical presence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    Apr 18, 2018 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, the question is kinda confusing since in the question itself you want it to be not perceived (as the duplicate I marked), but in your examples (specifically 2 and 3) the magic is clearly perceived (thus "seen", by your definition). \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Apr 18, 2018 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


Only if you know where it is.

The Dispel Magic description states

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a successful check, the spell ends.

The "Choose one" is similar to Targetting. For you to be able to target something, you need to know where it is.

In the Forbiddance scenario, as long as they know the area of the magical effect, yes, they can target the magical effect in that area. See Can dispel magic end a darkness spell?, which is similar. Again: Perceiving something is not a requirement to target, knowing where it is is, as you can target something invisible even if it is not moving or giving any physical evidence. Therefore the lack of physical evidence doesn't matter, as long as they still know it is there.

In your scenario, all of them are targeting something they know where it is. Now the question is "does it dispel it?", and the answer was already given by Gandalfmeansme, but for this to be self-contained:

Cases 2 and 3 are Targetting a perceived magical effect within range, so yes, it would be dispelled. Case 1 is targetting an object within range, but the spell itself is not "on the target" (unless it was used as the Ward for the Forbiddance), so it shouldn't dispel.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer. An important question neither of us have answered is whether or not you'd need to know where the "ward" is to dispel Forbiddance. I suspect not, but find that question very significant, since the range of Dispel Magic is considerably smaller than the potential radius of Forbiddance. This question is significant to determine whether or not, for example, a Lich could dispel Forbiddance from outside its area. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme I agree with the "I suspect not" - as you can target the Magical Effect instead of the Object, and the magical effect should be dispelled. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Apr 18, 2018 at 16:48


In fact, there is text within the Forbiddance spell that indicates that:

If you cast forbiddance every day for 30 days in the same location, the spell lasts until it is dispelled...[PHB, p. 243, bold added]

But this text is not necessary to indicate that Dispel Magic would work. Dispel Magic will work on any spell with an ongoing duration, regardless of that spell's particular effects (with some specific exceptions, such as the spell Antimagic Field which cannot be dispelled [see PHB, p. 214]). If Dispel Magic only worked upon spells or effects which were visible, Dispel Magic's description would say so. Although there are general rules about casting spells that imply visibility is a factor (see PHB, p. 203), these rules prevent spells from being cast a targets behind total cover. A target which cannot be seen (eg: if the caster is blinded) are still valid targets, unless the spell's description says otherwise.

As to the specifics scenarios you suggested:

1.) When Dispel Magic is successfully cast upon an object "Any spell ... on the target ends" (PHB, p. 234). Unless the random rock happened to be the object touched by the caster of Forbiddance (which has a range of "touch"), and the "ward" that Forbiddance created is upon that rock, it's debatable whether a spell is "on" that particular rock. A particular DM would have to decide. Also, note that the spell Forbiddance might end only on that particular rock: Jeremy Crawford has indicated as much, although RAW on Dispel Magic implies that the spell would simply end. Again, a particular DM may need to decide.

2.) This would work, since Dispel Magic can target "a magical effect". You don't necessarily need to know what that effect is (eg: you could target a visible wall of flame without knowing it is an illusion, or an unseen effect preventing teleportation without knowing it is Forbiddance).

3.) This would definitely work, so long as the caster of Dispel Magic rolled high enough or used a high enough spell slot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I understand, if it is RAW, it can't "imply" anything, so RAW implies is awkward. RAW, the spell ends specifically "on that target", so I don't see how it contradicts RAI as stated by Crawford. Oh, I see, you are reading it as Any spell (on the target) ends, instead of (Any spell on the target) ends. In this case, it's ambiguous at best, still can't claim that RAW it would end the spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Apr 18, 2018 at 16:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I said "implies" because you can read the precise text "any spell... on the target ends" as "any spell that is on the target ends, and thus will also not effect other targets" or "any spell that is on the target ends for that target only, though continues for other targets". By way of example, the implication would be different if the text said "any spell ends... on that target". But I agree, there is definitely no contradiction. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 16:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Check out the Sage Advice Compendium. I believe it has some rulings that directly say how dispelling a spell effect works that you will find useful. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Sage Advice Compendium has a lot to say about dispelling effects that apply to several specific targets (eg: you cannot dispel the "effect" of Bless for more than one person at a time), but it says little about an "effect" which is in place on an area (and not just particular creatures or objects within the area). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 17:39

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