The description of the Paper Bird in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure (p. 191-192) says:

After you write a message of fifty words or fewer on this magic sheet of parchment and speak a creature’s name, the parchment magically folds into a Tiny paper bird and flies to the recipient whose name you uttered. The recipient must be on the same plane of existence as you, otherwise the bird turns into ash as it takes flight.

The bird is an object that has 1 hit point, an Armor Class of 13, a flying speed of 60 feet, a Dexterity of 16 (+3), and a score of 1 (−5) in all other abilities, and it is immune to poison and psychic damage.

It travels to within 5 feet of its intended recipient by the most direct route, whereupon it turns into a nonmagical and inanimate sheet of parchment that can be unfolded only by the intended recipient. If the bird’s hit points or speed is reduced to 0 or if it is otherwise immobilized, it turns into ash.

There are a couple of things bothering me here. Once it arrives at the intended recipient, the bird becomes "non-magical" but can only be opened by that recipient... If it is no longer magical, then by what force is the bird sealed?

If it is just poorly written and is, in fact, magic that is keeping it sealed, then would a dispel magic spell unseal the bird for anybody, or would it turn the bird to ash? Or would something else happen?


2 Answers 2


Dispel Magic will not affect the Paper Bird.

But maybe not for the reason you're thinking. The text of Dispel Magic states:

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a successful check, the spell ends.

Emphasis mine. Based on RAW, Dispel Magic is a spell for ending spells, and it has no effect on magic items or any magic effects that are not caused by a spell. A DM could rule that Dispel Magic can be used on magic items or other non-spell magical effects, but this would be a ruling private to your table.

But what about an Antimagic Field?

Your question is more applicable to an Antimagic Field, which explicitly states:

The properties and powers of magic items are suppressed in the sphere.

Now it becomes relevant whether or not the "nonmagical and inanimate sheet of parchment" is being held shut by a magical effect or something else. I would rule that, though the parchment is nonmagical, the fact that it cannot be opened by anyone but the intended recipient is a "property" of the Paper Bird magic item. Because "the properties and powers of magic items are suppressed in the sphere", the parchment could be opened by anyone if it was held within an antimagic field.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Additional weight for this can be seen starting on page 14. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    May 28, 2019 at 21:45

Non-magical objects can still be affected by magical effects

While the item itself is no longer magical, that doesn't mean it can't be under a magical effect. Consider that plants affected by Plant Growth don't become magical plants, and yet clearly have a magical effect about them. In the same way, while the paper crane was once simply an aspect of magic within the paper, it becomes a real, mundane piece of paper afterwards, albeit still protected by the magical effects pertaining to who can open it.

As user48255 says in their answer, Dispel Magic would not work, as Paper Bird is not a spell.


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