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The illusory script spell allows one to hide a secret written message that either appears unintelligible or appears to be an unrelated message to anyone other than the intended recipient(s). The spell explains clearly what happens if the spell is dispelled:

Should the spell be dispelled, the original script and the illusion both disappear.

This is certainly a handy security feature: dispelling the illusion won't reveal your secret message to snooping spellcaster. However, the spell is less clear about what happens at the end of the 10-day duration. A spell that ends due to reaching its duration is not "dispelled", so the above clause would not apply directly. The only reference to the spell's duration is in the first sentence:

You write on parchment, paper, or some other suitable writing material and imbue it with a potent illusion that lasts for the duration.

So, what happens when the duration of illusory script elapses? Do the illusory script and the real message both disappear, as when the spell is dispelled, thus ensuring that no one other than the intended recipient(s) can ever read the message (without truesight)? Or does the illusion disappear, leaving the real message plainly readable by anyone?

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Both interpretations are feasible

The key is within this sentence:

You write on parchment, paper, or some other suitable writing material and imbue it with a potent illusion that lasts for the duration.

What does the duration of "10 days" refer to? The illusion covering the writing.

The problem is, it is unclear whether the writing itself is included in the 10-day duration.

Interpretation 1: Both original script and illusion disappear

This interpretation is supported by the fact that dispelling the spell removes the original script. The original script is not real and when the spell ends, the original script also disappear.

Interpretation 2: Original script remains

The argument for this interpretation is that the writing is mundane, but covered by an illusion from the spell. When the illusion expires, the original script remains.


Both interpretations have equally strong arguments supporting them, so you can pick whichever. I myself favor the latter interpretation.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements, not voicing “I disagree” — leave your own answer if you disagree. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 20 at 16:57
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Dispel Magic ends a spell, Both scripts disappear

The description of Dispel Magic states (PHB 234):

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends.

This is the entire description of what Dispel Magic does. Everything else in the description of this spell only describes the mechanics of dice rolls and spell slots.

Since Dispel Magic causes a spell to end, the results of ending the spell and dispelling the spell would be the same unless stated otherwise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "This is the entire description of what Dispel Magic does." no it is not. Specific beats general, so specific description of what dispel magic do to illusory script changes / adds to dispel magic mechanics. And because rules only do what they say they do, it applies only to dispel magic. Maybe results of spell aging out are like you wrote, but it would be a coincidence. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Mar 20 at 8:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @molot The phrasing in the description is inclusive of both casting dispel magic and ending the spell. You're making it far more complicated than it is. There's nothing that indicates that dispelling and ending the spell are different. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 20 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ "There's nothing that indicates that dispelling and ending the spell are different." - I never argued there is. I'm just saying there is nothing that proves or even indicates it is the same, either. And I guess that's not only me, given that I wasn't only one, or even first one to downvote. I believed you deserve an explanation of my vote. I won't engage in further discussion. We're not on the message boards or forum, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Mar 20 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @molot The description of dispel magic states they are the same. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 20 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ The description of dispel magic does not state that dispelling and ending a spell are the same. It states that it ends the spell. If there was no difference, then illusory script would say "when the spell ends", similar to other spells like haste that produce effects at the end of the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Mar 20 at 15:02

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