Some creatures have Magic Resistance:

The [...] has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

We know from this answer that this works against Turn Undead, but does it work against Stunning Strike, Death Strike, Fey Presence, etc?
How do we decide?


2 Answers 2


The official rules answer in the Sage Advice Compendium provides guidance:

Is the breath weapon of a dragon magical?


Our game makes a distinction between two types of magic:

  1. The background magic that is part of the D&D multiverse’s physics and the physiology of many D&D creatures
  2. The concentrated magical energy that is contained in a magic item or channeled to create a spell or other focused magical effect

In D&D, the first type of magic is part of nature. It is no more dispellable than the wind. A monster like a dragon exists because of that magic-enhanced nature. The second type of magic is what the rules are concerned about. When a rule refers to something being magical, it’s referring to that second type. Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward. Ask yourself these questions about the feature:

  • Is it a magic item?

  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?

  • Is it a spell attack?

  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?

  • Does its description say it’s magical?

If your answer to any of those questions is yes, the feature is magical.

Let’s look at a white dragon’s Cold Breath and ask ourselves those questions. First, Cold Breath isn’t a magic item. Second, its description mentions no spell. Third, it’s not a spell attack. Fourth, the word “magical” appears nowhere in its description. Our conclusion: Cold Breath is not considered a magical game effect, even though we know that dragons are amazing, supernatural beings.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Its interesting when you think of the mechanic. If you use magic to create a being, attacks by that being may not be magical. To take your example further, a dragon stomping on you is clearly not magical. However, the question is how to interpret individual rules. For physical attacks (such as stunning strike), you could struggle to argue that it's a 'magical internal effort to perform that attack' - I think we can cross that out, but fey presence does seem to be on that borderline of magical in basis. It doesnt say it is a spell BUT it's used on your spell save, and is by a warlock iirc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jmons
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 9:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Following that logic, wouldn't all Monks ki-related abilities be considered magical features? The section describing "The Magic of the Ki" says : "Monks harness this power within themselves to create magical effects and exceed their bodies' physical capabilities" (PHB, p. 76). Seems like it would fall under the fourth condition given in the WotC's clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – Meta4ic
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 11:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jmons To be clear, that isn't my example. That's a direct quote from WoTC. But yeah, I'm sure lots of groups will have a different view and implement different house rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Seamus
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 13:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I apologise. I think the rules could be inteprted (for fey) that its a spell as it uses the spell save. @meta4ic: Indeed, but then is the effect magical - if a monk makes themselves stronger through magic, then punches a wall, the punch is a physical attack, not a magical one. If an area of antimagic was in effect, the monk would not be strong, but if the monk punched an magic-resistant creature, the magic resistance would have no effect as no magic was cast upon the creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jmons
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 13:27

Does it fail inside an area of Antimagic? It's magical

An alternative heuristic to the excellent one presented by Seamus is this: does it fail to work in a zone of Antimagic? If it does, then it is magical.

This is much more easily and intuitively understood. It's easier to imagine when something fails to work than when something has Advantage on a save. And those things that fail to work in a zone of Antimagic must be magical.

But here's a list of magical things that work in an AMZ

There is a small list of magical things that can operate in an AMZ. The list is tiny enough to enumerate.

  • Artifacts

  • Deities, and magic directly created by deities

  • Things made immune to AMZ (such as by the Wish spell)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this works. Antimagic follows its own rules — it doesn't seem to me that it follows that, because it makes exceptions for certain kinds of magic, those kinds aren't magic. As I understand it, the point is that those kinds of magic are magic, but are simply too powerful for Antimagic to end or suppress, making it a poor test for “is this magic?” \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I may need to clarify. My intent was to say "these things work in an AMZ, but they are still magical; they are exceptions and we can list them down." That's why I said "here's a list of magical things that work in an AMZ" \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps more crucially, Antimagic Field suppresses spells and "other magical effects" - the latter is exactly what the question is trying to find a definition for. So your definition essentially boils down to "it's a magical effect if it doesn't work in an Antimagic Field because it's a magical effect". Not exactly useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 14:36

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