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The rule text of Dispel Magic says for the targeted dispel:

Targeted Dispel: One object, creature, or spell is the target of the dispel magic spell. You make one dispel check (1d20 + your caster level) and compare that to the spell with highest caster level (DC = 11 + the spell's caster level). If successful, that spell ends. If not, compare the same result to the spell with the next highest caster level. Repeat this process until you have dispelled one spell affecting the target, or you have failed to dispel every spell.

and then it makes a practical example:

For example, a 7th-level caster casts dispel magic, targeting a creature affected by stoneskin (caster level 12th) and fly (caster level 6th). The caster level check results in a 19. This check is not high enough to end the stoneskin (which would have required a 23 or higher), but it is high enough to end the fly (which only required a 17). Had the dispel check resulted in a 23 or higher, the stoneskin would have been dispelled, leaving the fly intact. Had the dispel check been a 16 or less, no spells would have been affected.

This is what I find really confusing: why would the same target have effects which have different DC?

Do I need to compare to the actual caster level, or to the lowest level required to cast some spell?

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The same target might have effects with different caster levels because...

  • somoene else with a different caster level buffed them too;
  • they used a scroll with a different caster level to buff theirselves;
  • one of the buff comes from a magic item (and they have their own caster level);
  • one of their buffs comes from a racial spell-like ability, or some other class feature that mimics a spell of a different caster level;
  • they are a multiclass spellcaster;
  • some of their buffs were cast while they were under the effect of a spell or magic item that increases caster level for a short time, others were not.

The list probably goes on and is not meant to be exhaustive.

Anyway, dispel magic really checks against the caster level, as the spell text says.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I thought that ... the example should clarify that part, perhaps, but seems clearer now. \$\endgroup\$ – Matteo Tassinari Nov 24 '16 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ My favourite scenario is when you created an item potion/scroll/wand and then leveled up. \$\endgroup\$ – Cyberspark Nov 25 '16 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cyberspark and also when you store a spell in a weapon! \$\endgroup\$ – Matteo Tassinari Jan 19 '17 at 8:03

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