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Can a character, whose enemies have a multitarget buff spell (ie. Haste) cast on them, be able to remove the buff spell from all targets or just one target using Dispel magic? If not, what options are there which do exactly that?

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3 Answers 3

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Pathfinder removed from the standard 3rd-level spell dispel magic the area dispel option of its antecedent, the spell dispel magic from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Thus, in Pathfinder, a typical caster just can't cast a normal dispel magic spell and hope to affect more than one spell on one target.

However, the spell greater dispel magic retains its area dispel capability. With the spell greater dispel magic, the caster can pick either to attempt to dispel the highest-level spell on each creature in the area then the next highest-level spell and so on, in order, until the caster succeeds or runs out of ongoing spells to try to dispel (which may, for instance, catch a haste spell but may instead catch a divine power spell or a divine favor spell), or to attempt to dispel a specific spell on each creature in the area (which may be the haste spell).

So it sounds like you simply want the greater dispel magic spell, but if there's no kill like overkill, the spell mage's disjunction will do the job, too, and if it's really just a multitarget haste spell that needs to be dispelled, pretty much the perfect response is the spell slow (see here).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I just KNEW I was going to be referenced, lol \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Mar 12, 2021 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering I hope it leads to nothing but joy. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2021 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just means I asked a good question \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Mar 12, 2021 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass The only example of how dispelling works that I'm aware of is in the FAQ here and that supports this reading, but an argument can certainly be made that this example doesn't apply to dispel magic. My own reading of dispel magic being able to "end one ongoing spell that has been cast on a creature or object" is that dispel magic ends the spell only on the creature or object targeted by the dispel magic. [1/2] \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2021 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ For instance, I don't think a dispel magic spell cast on one nearby creature affected by a haste spell should also end that same haste spell when one of the affected creatures has used greater teleport to travel halfway around the world, another has used plane shift to go the Abyss, and the rest have become incorporeal, That just seems to big of a reach for a 3rd-level spell. I fully support an answer that takes such a more expansive stance, though. There's some controversy because dispel magic uses spell instead of effect, for instance. [2/2] \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2021 at 23:13
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Dispel Magic affects one target, not "any" one spell

The text of dispel magic specifies

Target or Area one spellcaster, creature, or object

You can use dispel magic to end one ongoing spell that has been cast on a creature or object

Dispel Magic is cast on the single spellcaster, creature, or object, not on the spell effect itself. The text further clarifies that you can also target a specific spell that is not on a creature or object; it also specifies that you are able to specifically dispel Haste (or another spell) from a target by naming it.

Targeted Dispel: One object, creature, or spell is the target of the dispel magic spell. [...] You can also use a targeted dispel to specifically end one spell affecting the target or one spell affecting an area (such as a wall of fire).

Notably, the phrase I emphasize here is 'one spell affecting the target'.


There are limited ways to remove a spell from all affected targets

  • Dispel Magic, Greater allows you to target "everything within a 20-foot-radius burst."
  • Mage's Disjunction removes basically all magic from a significant area.
  • Some multi-target spells, including Haste, have an "opposite" spell which counters and dispels them, in this case Slow.
    • Such spells immediately remove the opposite spell from all affected targets instead of their 'normal' effects.
    • Some other examples are Bless/Bane, Good Hope/Crushing Despair, and many light/darkness spells
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Dispel magic is cast on a single target or area, but it affect a spell, not the target. \$\endgroup\$
    – Balacertar
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like this answer is arguing that Dispel Magic could dispel the Haste effect on a single target but that other creatures benefitting from the same casting of Haste would remain Hasted. But, Dispel will "end one ongoing spell that has been cast on a creature or object" and that "A dispelled spell ends as if its duration had expired". If Haste is dispelled on one of the creatures benefitting from a casting, why wouldn't the Haste spell as a whole expire, removing the benefit from everyone else? \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass what happens to a Haste when a spellcaster affected by it casts Time Stop? Do the rest of the targets also lose 1d4+1 rounds of Haste because the duration is now reduced on the spellcaster? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Apr 16, 2021 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Time stop only gives you apparent time, it does not affect the duration of other spells. Even if there was a different "pool of time" for each target, it would not change the fact that dispelling the haste spell ends the spell itself not one particular effect of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Balacertar
    Apr 16, 2021 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well your argument is that ending the spell effect "as if its duration had ended" ends it for everyone. And rounds absolutely do continue passing for a caster in Time Stop; the description notes that spells with a duration longer than what remains in Time Stop continue happening when it ends. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:04
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Yes, dispel magic can dispel a multi target buff spell.

Note that dispel magic ends the whole spell, even if you are only targeting a specific creature with your dispel casting. The dispel magic spell does not end individual effects, it ends whole spells or spell-like abilities.

According to dispel magic:

A dispelled spell ends as if its duration had expired.

Once the duration of a spell like haste expires, none of the initially hastened creatures can benefit from the spell because the magic that boosted them has expired.

This is similar to when you use dispel magic to dispel a multiple summons spell.

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