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I was looking over wizard subclasses for a new character, when I read a Reddit comment that says if a War Magic wizard casts dispel magic on an object affected by multiple spells, they get a Power Surge for each spell that is dispelled.

The War Magic wizard's Power Surge feature (XGtE, p. 60) says:

Whenever you successfully end a spell with dispel magic or counterspell, you gain one power surge, as you steal magic from the spell you foiled.

RAW:
I believe the commenter is correct, and one cast of dispel magic can get you more than one power surge. It says "Whenever you end a spell" which I take as having no limit per casting, as it would say "Once per casting of the spell, when you end a spell" instead if that were the case.

RAI:
Seeing as how you can cast prestidigitation 3 times and have 3 ongoing effects on one object, and dispel it to immediately get 3 power surges for only losing one 3rd level spell slot, I can't believe it's intended.

Based on RAW alone, can a War Magic wizard cast dispel magic once and gain multiple power surges?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "What is actually supposed to happen?" - Are you asking how if your interpretation of RAW is correct (i.e. even if it might seem absurd, can one casting of dispel magic give you multiple power surges?), or are you asking how the spell is intended to work? If it's the latter, the [rules-as-written] tag is inappropriate; that tag is specifically for questions asking about the rules exactly as written even if it leads to absurd interpretations. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 18 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I meant the former. \$\endgroup\$ – RallozarX Jan 18 at 2:07
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Yes, you can get multiple power surges with one dispel magic

Your interpretation of RAW is correct, if you end a spell you gain a power surge. Dispel magic states:

Choose one object, creature, or magic effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level of lower on the target ends. If the spell is 4th level of higher, make a check using your spellcasting ability. The DC is 10 + the spell's level. On a success, the spell ends.

When you target something with multiple spells affecting it, you end all of them (if you make the check for >=4th level) and gain a power surge for each.

However your exploit to gain 3 charges through prestidigitation might not work. Power Surge contains the text:

... as you steal magic from the spell you foiled.

I interpret this to mean you must end spells either cast by another creature or a spell that you can't dismiss. Spells that you can choose to dismiss and are removing by choice don't exactly seem "foiled". I believe that RAI is for this not to work. If another caster was using prestidigitation this way it would probably work.

This Sage Advice discusses which spells require dispel magic to be dismissed.

Can a Spellcaster Dismiss a Spell After Casting It?

You can’t normally dismiss a spell that you cast unless (a) its description says you can or (b) it requires concentration and you decide to end your concentration on it. Otherwise, a spell’s magic is unleashed on the environment, and if you want to end it, you need to cast dispel magic on it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I realize that now. After looking at every 5e cantrip, magic stone would be the only one that you could cast yourself and then dispel it without either ending concentration or dismissing as an action, and even then it can only be active once at a time. \$\endgroup\$ – RallozarX Jan 18 at 2:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RallozarX I'm actually surprised the ability doesn't specifically mention a requirement to be a non-cantrip spell that you aren't concentrating on. To me that would make more sense. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 18 at 2:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your idea that it should not work on spells that can be dismissed or are yours is completely unsupported. What you cite is only flavor text. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jan 18 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega Flavor text are rules in 5e \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 18 at 10:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega I also said RAI not RAW. I agree that it isn't entirely supported, hence why I said "might" and "I believe" \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 18 at 10:14

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