Here is the scenario:

A warlock casts darkness (level 2) on himself, then a cleric casts dispel magic, targetting the "magical effect".

Since dispel magic reads: "Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends", the target is valid. The problem is that dispel magic doesn't specify the area of effect. Doesn't the target of the dispel magic spell have to be the creature on which the darkness spell is cast? or can it be dispelled like an AoE dispel effect?


The area of effect of dispel magic is already describe in the quote you used there: “one creature, object, or magical effect…”.

The point of confusion appears to be the idea that an AoE magical effect “must” need an AoE dispel magic to be properly targetted. But that's not the case: AoE magical effects are still singular magical effects and can be dispelled by a single-target dispel magic.

(Dispel magic would only need an “area” target description if dispel magic could affect multiple creatures, objects, and magical effects in a single casting, but it can't, so it doesn't.)

So if darkness was cast on a spot, it is an independent magical effect which you can target and dispel magic will affect the darkness spell itself. If darkness was cast on a creature, then you could target your dispel magic on the creature or the visible magical effect, but in practice you would always target the magical effect due to the difficulty of even knowing whether there’s a creature there to validly target.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "If darkness was cast on a creature, then you would target your dispel magic on the creature." Then what if the caster of the dispel magic spell can't see the creature? (Which is the main problem) The caster only sees a sphere of darkness and attempt to dispel it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Destardo
    Nov 7 '16 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Destardo That wasn't quite clear from the wording of the question. I've updated the answer. How does that look? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7 '16 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ SevenSidedDie & @J. A. Streich First of all, thank you both for the fast response. Now... So... What I understand is that regardless the "Dispel magic" spell description does not indicate the area of effect (f.e. 10 ft. radius) it can be cast in an area targetting a magical effect such darkness, whatever the area of the magical effect is. So, bottom line, Dispel Magic DOES dispel darkness. \$\endgroup\$
    – Destardo
    Nov 7 '16 at 17:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is worth noting that darkness cannot actually be cast on a creature as far as I can tell. It can be cast on an object or a point in space. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Mar 15 '18 at 2:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Small question though: you mention "line of sight restrictions." Although there is a restriction in spellcasting that a target must not be behind total cover (with respect to the spellcaster or point of origin of the spell), I don't think there is a restriction that you must be able to see the target, unless the spell you're casting specifies you need to (like disintegrate does). Dispel magic states you target "one creature, object, or magical effect within range," so it doesn't seems to me that a creature or object in the darkness radius would be valid. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29 '18 at 18:35

Darkness cast either on person or a point in space is dispellable by dispel magic. The darkness itself is a magical effect.

It says so in the spell itself:

Choose any 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.

The target here is any of the following:

  1. Creature
  2. Object
  3. Magical Effect

In this case, the target would be that nebulous last one. You can see the edge of the magical darkness from outside it, and if you're inside it, it is all you can see. So you have line of sight to target it. Thus targeting it isn't an issue. In this case, you are targeting the darkness effect directly, and not the person/object it is cast on.

And fits with darkness dispelling lower-level light spells:

If any of this spell’s area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled.

Dispel magic works on area effects that aren't instantaneous. Instantaneous spells must be countered rather than dispelled.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I completely understand the way darkness interacts with light spells, the thing that is confusing to me is the Dispel Magic spell itself. How does it work? Does it have to target the creature/object in which darkness is cast on? How does the spellcaster casts dispell if he doesnt see the creature/object becasue of the very self darkness spell? Help please :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Destardo
    Nov 7 '16 at 16:49

The specifics of the question are not valid, RAW. Note that the Darkness spell's description does not say it can be cast on yourself, or any other creature. You choose a location, and if that location is on a carried object, or an object not being worn or held by anyone, it moves with the object. In any other case, the point is stationary. So you cannot cast it on a creature, or on an object that is being worn or carried, and have it move with the creature/object.

Magical darkness spreads from a point you choose within range to fill a 15-foot-radius sphere for the duration. The darkness spreads around corners. A creature with darkvision can't see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can't illuminate it.

If the point you choose is on an object you are holding or one that isn't being worn or carried, the darkness emanates from the object and moves with it. Completely covering the source of the darkness with an opaque object, such as a bowl or a helm, blocks the darkness.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't appear to answer the question, not even mentioning dispel magic. \$\endgroup\$ May 22 '17 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a sense in which my response answers the question, in that it shows that the scenario posited in the question is not valid under the RAW. \$\endgroup\$ May 22 '17 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ If that's the sense, you need to edit to say so rather than leaving it to the reader to figure out how the post relates to the question. \$\endgroup\$ May 22 '17 at 16:46

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