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If the answers to this question are anything to go by, time stop seems to be a surprisingly nuanced spell, but one basic disagreement that's appeared in the comments has been that one camp thinks time stop applies an effect only on the caster, whereas the other thinks it also applies a magical effect to everyone else, too.

Granted, time stop applies a magical effect on the caster - of that, I have no question. But does it also apply a magical effect on everyone else in the multiverse as well?

Why does time stop NOT apply a magical effect on other creatures

Here are the points I've understood for the side that thinks time stop applies only to the caster:

  1. It has a range of Self, meaning that it only applies a magical effect on the caster.

  2. There is no spell in D&D that applies an effect to every single creature in the multiverse, except maybe for wish.

Why DOES time stop apply a magical effect on other creatures

Here are the points from the side that thinks time stop applies a magical effect to everyone as well (I'm a member of this camp):

  1. Spells with a range of Self can still apply magical effects to other creatures, such as detect thoughts, dream, magic jar, and spirit guardians.

  2. The spell's first sentence says: "You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself," and that wording seems to directly state that everyone but the caster experiences a magical effect where the flow of time stops for them.

Consequences, implications

There are consequences for choosing one side over the other, which is the motivation for asking this question.

Consequences: Time stop does NOT apply a magical effect to other creatures

Going with the first camp, you can side step the confusion that comes with zones of antimagic and time stop. But, it doesn't strictly follow the wording of the spell by ignoring the sentence "You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself."

In addition, by claiming that spells with a range of Self do not impose a magical effect on other creatures, that same logic can be applied to, say, magic jar, where a humanoid inside a zone of antimagic can still be possessed because the spell has a range of Self, so it affects only the caster, and therefore the possession of other creatures is not a magical effect of the spell. The same logic can be applied to many other spells with a range of Self, some of which are listed above.

Consequences: Time stop DOES apply a magical effect to other creatures

Going with the second camp, yes, you can more closely follow the spell's text as written. However, you also open the doors to the aforementioned confusion between zones of antimagic and time stop.

If time stop creates a magical effect on every other creature in the multiverse, across planes of existence (which seems to be the valid interpretation of "everyone but yourself" - and take note, this is a 9th level spell on par with wish), then being immune to it in any way (whether you're inside a zone of antimagic, you are immune via the wish spell, or you're one of the gods of the multiverse) will allow you to observe as everyone suddenly freezes in time whenever someone casts time stop.

It also fails to offer a resolution to the linked question, where initiative order between someone inside an antimagic field and a caster of time stop is not well defined.

The Question

With all the above in context, the question is as the title says: does Time Stop apply a magical effect on only the caster, or does it affect everyone else too?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm unsure how particularly different your two questions are and whether the linked question is not just a duplicate. Any answer to that question will have to answer this one \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Mar 25 at 2:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I can see where you're coming from, and I might possibly agree. If they are duplicates, then so be it. But going by the length of the comments in the linked question, this is looking to me like it's an unspoken assumption people are coming into the linked question with, and it needs its own avenue of discussion rather than just in the comments. \$\endgroup\$ – user62688 Mar 25 at 2:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells I asked that linked question, so it doesn't. If this question is closed as a duplicate though, that's fine by me. However, this one seems to have been very poorly received anyway. Please VTC as you see necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – user62688 Mar 25 at 4:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately, these questions are identical. Both of them are fundamentally asking if creatures outside of the caster are affected by the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 25 at 12:59
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Here's an incredibly well upvoted answer to the question "Can a creature take turns as normal if they are inside an Antimagic Field while another creature casts Time Stop?":

[...] The key here is that time stop has

Range: self

Which means that the one under a spell here is the caster, not everyone else. [...]

To make sense of this, you could look at it this way: time stop does not, in fact, stop time in the whole of the multiverse, but places the caster outside of the flow of normal time. [...]

To reiterate: time stop affects nobody but the caster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question here was asked to try to clear up the controversy around that one. That's why I wanted this one closed, as it gives everyone the chance to repeat themselves, but doesn't add anything new. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Mar 25 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ That said, since we're all repeating ourselves, time stop explicitly says it affects everyone but the caster. Can you address why it means the exact opposite of what it says? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Mar 25 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells I agree, and was saddened to see it reopened. But I guess it is what it is. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 25 at 17:23
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Time Stop does what it says it does

“You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself”

No time passes for other creatures, while you take 1d4+1 turns in a row

There is some guidance in the players handbook regarding spells, they create discrete magical effects.

What is a Spell? A spell is a discrete magical effect, a single shaping of the magical energies that suffuse the multiverse into a specific, limited expression. PHB 201

In the case of this spell, it's discrete magical effect is to "stop the flow of time for everyone" this explicitly affects "everyone".

If it were to only affect the caster, it could have been written very differently. The spell description could have been "You are very fast, in a flash you take 1d4+1 turns".

However, that is not how the spell is described, instead the authors specifically mention exactly how the spell is to be handled, that the flow of time is stopped for everyone.

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Time Stop does what it says it does

“You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself” can only be interpreted if you know what “the flow of time” is. Fortunately, we are told:

No time passes for other creatures, while you take 1d4+1 turns in a row

So, “the flow of time” is defined in terms of you and other creatures. You get extra turns while “no time” passes for other creatures. This is the only practical effect for D&D's purposes.

While it is certainly not true that spells with a range of “self” can only affect the caster, this particular spell has no suggestion that it affects anyone but the caster and their relationship with (all) other creatures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's unclear how you are reconciling these statements - "Time Stop does what it says it does... You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone" ... "this particular spell has no suggestion that it affects anyone but the caster". These statements seem to completely contradict each other. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Mar 25 at 3:00