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A wizard wants to sneak an apparatus of kwalish past a bunch of guards, and comes up with an ingenious plan - he wants to use polymorph any object to turn the apparatus into a small acorn. However, polymorph any object can only be cast on non-magical items, so the wizard uses a targeted dispel magic to make the apparatus non-magical for 4 rounds.

What happens when those 4 rounds expire, and the item is no longer non-magical? Does the polymorph spell end just because its target has now become an illegal target?

To me, it makes sense that the item is still an acorn. However, I'm looking for a specific rules citation - whether or not it disproves my gut feeling. A secondary source like FAQ/Sage or a developer's forum post would be okay too, but things from books are preferable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As an aside: I am reminded that, originally, the Magic: The Gathering card White Ward removed itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 27 '16 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ First question that popped into my mind was... If you cast polymorph on the apparatus, does it really stop being a magical item? \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Apr 27 '16 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Roflo Same here, but I consulted the text of the spell and they included a line that makes it seem clear cut to me: "A suppressed item becomes nonmagical for the duration of the effect." \$\endgroup\$ – Eikre Apr 27 '16 at 22:00
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Hi there is a quote on a recent question that seems to answer this question as well, although the wording of the question is different/opposite the wording of the answer is clear for this question:

If, while under the effect of a spell that depends on type (such as hold person), my character is transformed into a different creature type by polymorph, does the spell’s effect remain?

Yes. A spell only checks to see if you are a legal target when it is cast. If you become an illegal target later (such as via the polymorph spell), the spell remains in effect.

This is a quote from the Main FAQ.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you happen to have a link handy? \$\endgroup\$ – minnmass Jul 21 '16 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ There we go I figured out how to add the download link. \$\endgroup\$ – Aruthawolf Jul 22 '16 at 9:17
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Going exactly using RAW then it might be allowed, but there is some concerns I have that it should not be. Here are some notes from the PHB (page 171-172) that may help to clarify the situation.

Same Effect with Differing Results: The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. For example, a series of polymorph spells might turn a creature into a mouse, a lion, and then a snail. In this case, the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.

One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant: Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant. For example, if a wizard is using a shapechange spell to take the shape of an eagle, a polymorph spell could change her into a goldfish. The shapechange spell is not negated, however, and since the polymorph spell has no effect on the recipient’s special abilities, the wizard could use the shapechange effect to take any form the spell allows whenever she desires. If a creature using a shapechange effect becomes petrified by a flesh to stone spell, however, it turns into a mindless, inert statue, and the shapechange effect cannot help it escape

Taking a basis from these two excerpts in the PHB, it seems a previous spell is still present on an object (In your situation, the polymorph is still present) but may have been rendered irrelevant by the ending of the second spell (dispel). I expect using this if you cast dispel again on the object it would revert back to the polymorphed shape.

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Chronological Approach:

Apparatus: CL 19th; animate objects & continual flame

dispel magic + PaO

  1. So you dispel magic targeting the apparatus (DC 11+19= 30), lasting for 1d4 rounds.

  2. According to RAW, the apparatus is now (momentarily) non-magical, which at this point is nothing more than an oversized 500lbs. trashcan with a hidden lid (Search DC 20). PaO can now be successfully cast on the apparatus. The trashcan is changed in a non-magical, 90.000gp acorn (fine object) for 1 hour (+2 factor for Int).

  3. At a certain point in time, the dispel magic -effect ends. PHB-172:

    One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant: Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant. For example, if a wizard is using a shapechange spell to take the shape of an eagle, a polymorph spell could change her into a goldfish. The shapechange spell is not negated, however, and since the polymorph spell has no effect on the recipient’s special abilities, the wizard could use the shapechange effect to take any form the spell allows whenever she desires. If a creature using a shapechange effect becomes petrified by a flesh to stone spell, however, it turns into a mindless, inert statue, and the shapechange effect cannot help it escape.

    • Now it becomes interesting; why not another spell AND what is the later spell exactly? The dispel magic -effect ending, thus the activation (casting) of animate objects & continual flame OR the PaO?

    • I perceive PaO as the later spell, mainly because dispel magic has a duration (1d4 rounds in this case). If this is actually the case, the result would be that the PaO -effect is dispelled (for the preq's are no longer valid), returning the acorn into a (fully functioning) Apparatus after 1d4 rounds.

Option 1

If the ending of dispel magic (thus the casting of animate object + cont. flame) is treated as the later spell(-effect), the acorn would become an animated, 90.000 gp acorn that glows the same way a torch would, for 1 hour. After 1 hour, the acorn would turn into a animated 500 lbs. trashcan that glows like a torch and has pincers. Note: this acorn/Apparatus is (ONLY!) under control of the one casting animate object, which is the creator of the Apparatus. As a DM, I find this option rather amusing.

Option 2:

PaO is the later spell. After the dispel magic-effects expires (1d4 rounds), the acorn would instantly return to a fully functioning Apparatus. I think this is RAW. If the acorn is actually carried (within a pocket or an already well-fill BoH for example), this option can have rather unexpected results as well.

Conclusion

It mostly depends on how one interprets that specific sentence about the "recovery" of dispelled magic items, IMHO.

However, because -AFAIK- there's no related errata on the subject for PaO or dispel magic or the PHB-magic section.., I'm sticking to the basics (inherent magic item dispels later PoA-effect) here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The end of the dispel does not render the Polymorph irrelevant so the quote you provided does not support your interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Jul 21 '16 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Spavel: PaO: "Magic items are not affected by this spell." <- This renders PaO totally irrelevant, IMHO. (PaO has a duration.) \$\endgroup\$ – agodwithoutananswer Jul 22 '16 at 6:34

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