We have a few questions about dispel magic that arise as a consequence of dispel magic dispelling every effect on a creature. Although situational (>1 negative effect, at least 1 positive effect)1, sometimes you want to "intentionally fail rolls" (Can I choose to fail the ability check for Dispel Magic?), sometimes you would like a specific effect to be targeted first so it has a higher chance to fail (Who decides which spell gets dispelled first?), etc.

My point is: this seems to overcomplicate things.

If instead the DM chooses to let dispel magic select which effects will be dispelled, will there be any game-breaking or even considerably unbalancing mechanical consequences? Will it allow some Pun-Pun level of cheese? Will I have to throw a Tarrasque into my players so I can fix my own mistake?

1 It also might work as an enemy spellcaster dispelling buffs without dispelling the curses, which would be >1 positive effect, at least 1 negative effect.


2 Answers 2


The main consequence of this rule is that the DM would have to list all the spells affecting the target of the Dispel Magic so the caster can chose which one(s) to dispel.

While this isn't much of a problem if the target is one of the PCs or one of their allies, it's much more problematic if the target is not. It means you'd be giving a lot of information to the PC that their characters would have no way to know, which feels pretty game-breaking.

Imagine having to list all the spells active on the Evil Sorcerer or the McGuffin, most of those quite above the player's level and even some being closely guarded secrets for whatever reason, just because a lvl3 spellcaster used Dispel Magic on them? Dispel would become quite an information-gathering spell instead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The OP doesn't have to be interpreted as requiring the DM to divulge this, it could just be addressing effects the PC is aware of who wants to cast dispel magic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Valley Lad
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 5:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This could also be easily solved by the caster being able to create a list of exceptions (i.e. effects that will not be dispelled). He can't put effects he doesn't know in the exceptions - which also makes sense in game. He's casting it while taking care of not dispelling X and Y, but he can't be careful around an effect he is not aware of. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 19:20

For balance, players should have a higher cost for this

I think players (the kind I have anyway) would make hay while the sun shines with this.

  • "I'm baned and entangled but also stoneskinned; I'm gonna dispel all but stoneskin."
  • "That guy is levitating and blessed and was placed under hunter's mark; I am gonna dispel all but hunter's mark"
  • "I'm disguise-self'ed and hexed and baned, I'm just gonna dispel the hex and bane"

And so on and so forth.

It doesn't mean it's a bad idea, just that it could be pretty powerful. If my players wanted it real bad, I'd add a higher-level spell -- call it something like "Improved Dispel Magic" -- to our campaign setting, so they'd have to eat a higher spell slot (5th?) to get the added finesse.


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