In Pathfinder there are a few spells that are effectively polar opposites, and as such have the text “counters and dispels [opposite]”. The rules for counterspelling are spelled out fairly well, but I'm not sure about the dispelling. If I use an opposed spell that would normally allow a saving throw and spell resistance to dispel its opposite, does that require a spell penetration check, allow a saving throw, or simply happen?

For example, the party is fighting a Wizard with Slow on his list. The party casts Haste. The next round the Wizard casts Slow on the party to dispel Haste. What rolls, if any, are required for the dispel to be successful?


3 Answers 3


In your case, Slow dispels Haste when the wizard casts it. No check is required.

Normally, only certain spells, like dispel magic can be used to get rid of an effect after casting. If you ready an action to counterspell, you can automatically cancel an enemy spell, with no check required, by using your readied action, and expending the same spell as the one being cast (or another same-or-higher-level spell of the same school, with the Improved Counterspelling feat). When counterspelling this way, a Spellcraft (DC 15+spell level) is first required to identify the spell being cast. Dispel magic and similar spells can also be used to counterspell, requiring a caster level check as listed in the spell's description.

Some spells have a specific notation in their descriptions that an opposite spell counters and dispels it. In those specific cases, the opposite spell can be used after the fact, and no check is required. Casting the opposite spell will negate the effect of the original.


Darkness can be used to counter or dispel any light spell of equal or lower level.

(PF264; emphasis mine).

Edit: Updated the counterspelling description to mention the Spellcraft check, etc.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Is there any specific description as to how dispelling works other than the description of dispel magic? \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ You'd still need to make the Spellcraft check to identify the spell being cast. All that line means is that you can use it to counter the opposite in addition to using it to counter itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobson
    Mar 29, 2012 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe: Not as far as I know. I just noted that it says counter "or dispel" in the spell description. Since a check isn't required when using an opposite spell to counterspell, I inferred that it's not required when using an opposite spell to dispel. \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Mar 29, 2012 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bobson: You're correct. The question though is about whether he can dispel a continuous effect after the fact by casting the opposite spell, and what that entails. \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Mar 29, 2012 at 22:01
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe: I sent an e-mail to Tim Shadow, the maintainer of the Pathfinder SRD FAQ, with the OP's question and a link to this post. Hopefully we can get an official ruling. \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Mar 30, 2012 at 21:15

Tim Shadow replied to my e-mail with a third interpretation:

First I am happy help but not sure how "official" the answer is and two a GM could interpret the answer differently.

Going with your example at the end with the Wizard. So the party has Haste and the Wizard casts Slow on the party so each PC has to make a Save vs the Slow. If they fail the save they the Slow removes/dispels the haste with no other effect. If the player makes his save he is not affected by Slow and there for gets to keep his Haste spell.

Basically it works this way as your not actually affected by Slow until you have failed your Save. Or if you had Spell Resistance Slow would have to overcome the SR and then fail your save before it would remove the Haste.

Hope that helps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. If a spell states in its description that it "counters and dispels" an opposing spell, then casting the former spell on subjects affected by the latter should result in the two automatically canceling each other. In this specific example, when someone is under the effects of haste and you cast slow on them, you're using it to dispel the effect -- no saves, no checks, just a net effect of zero. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30, 2015 at 6:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this interpretation far more. The Dispelling property requires the spell to affect you, and normally you get to roll a Saving throw before it affects you. This explanation would be the behavior I'd expect and use if I had to rule in a hurry instead of looking it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Oct 23, 2021 at 21:07

In general, you can't dispel with an opposing spell. The opposing spell is only relevant if you are counterspelling, which negates the target spell as it is being cast.

You can dispel an already-cast, active spell by using the targeted dispel form of dispel magic, which requires a dispel check.

However, slow specifically states that it counters and dispels haste. Treat it as a multiple targeted (as per slow), targeted form of dispel magic. Possible rolls would be: Spell resistance of each of the slow's targets, then a single dispel check (1d20 + the wizard's caster level) versus the DC of the haste (11 + the caster's spell level).

  • \$\begingroup\$ So then what happens if you cast slow on a hasted target? Does it completely overwrite the haste? \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Mar 20, 2012 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, slow specifically mentions that it dispels haste. Let me update my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with this answer. No check is required to dispel an opposite spell. Only spells like dispel magic require a caster level check, and SR is not mentioned in the dispelling or counterspelling rules. (Likewise, the dispel magic spell does not allow SR.) \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any rules basis for your specific example? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:22
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's too late to counter if the haste is already up. You have to dispel to get rid of the effect, and the only rules I know for that are under dispel magic. Slow is acting like dispel magic specifically for haste. If there are general dispelling rules, I'd love to see them. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:46

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