I'm trying to figure out an appropriate word to describe a magical effect of unknown origin in a D&D game. I can't call it a spell or spell effect since it's not known whether the effect is caused by a spell or some other kind of magic. The most obvious term that comes to mind is "enchantment", but in the context of D&D, this term is reserved specifically for magic that affects the minds of others, so it is not suitable as a general term for any magical effect. So what would an appropriate term be for a persistent magical effect?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ryan, are you talking about a specific edition of D&D, or are you looking for a term that spans multiple/all editions? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 10 '18 at 5:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I happen to be playing 5th edition, but the question seemed general enough to me that it hadn't occurred to me that the answer might depend on the edition. I suppose, if your answer is limited to a specific edition, just indicate that in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson May 10 '18 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question about terminology may be generic enough but it is a slippery slope as 3.X/PF and 5E treat how dispel magic affect them. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth May 18 '18 at 19:47

Unless you're explicitly searching for a synonym/alternative, I think 'magical effect' itself is appropriate- it covers both spell and non-spell cases. In addition, several game elements (in 5e, at least) refer to them as such:

Dispel Magic:

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. [...]

Antimagic Field:

Spells and other magical effects, except those created by an artifact or a deity, are suppressed in the sphere.


Spells and other magical effects, such as magic missile and charm person, that target a creature or an object in the sphere have no effect on that target.

Nystul's/Arcanist's Magic Aura:

You change the way the target appears to spells and magical effects [...]

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, "magical effect" is indeed the general D&D (5e) term for effects caused by magic (whether or not the source is a spell). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 10 '18 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, it looks like this is indeed the term used in official materials. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson May 10 '18 at 8:15

Permanent Enchantment

Enchantment has two meanings in D&D.

The narrow one is a mind affecting spell.

The more common meaning is magic imbued in an object or creature. A magic sword has an enchantment on it. You could even say that the narrow meaning is just a specific case of the broader meaning because the mind affecting spell is a spell that imbues a creature with an effect for a specific amount of time.

For the other part of your question, "permanent" is the term for a spell that does not have an end point to its duration but is ongoing. This is different from an Instant spell that makes a change to an object where the change is then permanent (the damage from a fireball persists after the spell and cannot be dispelled).


I would refer to it based on how the effect manifests itself. For example you could call it a dome, cloud, haze, mist, field, emanation, or any other more specific or appropriate adjective.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The querent is not looking for ways to describe magical effects, but ways to refer to magical effects with no need for context. \$\endgroup\$ – royalmurder May 10 '18 at 7:15

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