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Looking through the spell list in the D&D Next playtest, it seems like spells don't call out whether or not they can be dismissed before their duration has expired, like they would in 3.X. I also can't find anything in the general magic rules that says whether or not spells can be dismissed. Clearly, Concentration spells can be dismissed simply by no longer concentrating on them, but what about other spells? Is there a way to end a spell early if it doesn't have a duration of Concentration?

This came up in a recent session where I cast Spike Growth during combat, and we couldn't figure out if I could dismiss the spell once the fight was over.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Spike Growth is concentration in 5e. dnd-spells.com/spell/spike-growth. I left a suggested edit on the answer to replace some of the examples, but the question could use an edit, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Nov 9 '18 at 5:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes The question is about the playtest version before 5e was released. Many spells were different then. I’ve updated the tags. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 9 '18 at 7:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: After leaving my suggested edit, I wondered if that was where the "wrong" info was coming from, didn't know the site had a tag for that. Thanks for reverting my edit along with the retag so it all makes sense now. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Nov 9 '18 at 7:14
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As with many things in D&D, this answer comes in two flavors.

Rules-as-Written

In terms of rules-as-written, some of the non-instantaneous, non-concentration spells do indeed point out that they can be dismissed. I believe the NDA is still in place, but in your packet you can see that these spells include Disguise Self, Light, Mage Armor, Minor Illusion, and Thaumaturgy. There are other non-instantaneous and non-concentration spells that have no explicit dismissal mentioned, such as Pass without Trace, Speak with Animals, or, as you mentioned, Spike Growth. I was also unable to find any reference in the magic rules to dismissing spells, outside of individual spell descriptions, so I would say that, by RAW, unless otherwise stated, non-concentration spells cannot be dismissed early.

Rules-as-Intended

This is where it gets trickier, and I've either found or imagined bits of evidence in favor of both sides. It seems that most of the spells with explicit mentions of dismissal are first-level or cantrips, implying that, if the writers of the playtest started from the lower levels, they might have forgotten that they needed to explicitly state that the spells could be dismissed. However, there are also spells such as Passwall, where it's actually explicitly stated that the spell lasts for the duration. This seems to be an intentional choice to limit the spell's utility. If you can't end it early, you can't use it to open a passage in front of you and close it behind you to escape an enemy. That the writers felt obligated to point out that the spell lasts for the duration seems, to me, to imply that other non-concentration spells without this clause can be dismissed at will. There doesn't seem to be a clear rules-as-intended ruling on this issue, at least not from the packet exclusively.

What should the ruling be?

Ultimately, it's up to your group, or the DM of your group, depending on your social dynamics. Due to the unclear intent, I might personally adjudicate that there is some kind of cost to dismiss the spell. Perhaps it takes an action, as Disguise Self does, to be dismissed. Perhaps to end the spell early, you need to cast it again, in sort of a counterspelling situation. Maybe you need to roll a magic ability check to determine if the spell can be dispelled that round.

Hopefully, we can see this issue be cleared up when fifth edition is officially released. I'm sorry that I couldn't provide a definite answer, but I hope that this gives you something to work with in terms of creating a solution for your group.

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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.

Copied from the wizards website

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