27
\$\begingroup\$

An opposing Cleric casts Bless on 3 of its allies who then immediately move around the battlefield to start attacking. Concerned that the buff will create an issue, I cast Dispel Magic on the nearest one.

As the target spell is 3rd level or lower, the dispel succeeds automatically.

My question is, does this end the spell for all 3 of the initial targets, or just the one that I targeted?

\$\endgroup\$
1

4 Answers 4

32
\$\begingroup\$

The spell only ends for the target of the dispel magic spell

This was clarified in the June 2016 Rules Answers article, later included on page 14 of the 2016 Sage Advice Compendium, and can be found here on D&D Beyond:

If dispel magic targets the magical effect from bless cast by a cleric, does it remove the effect on all the targets? Dispel magic ends a spell on one target. It doesn’t end the same spell on other targets.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

An alternative interpretation

The question asks, does casting dispel magic on one creature affected by bless also end the same bless on the other two creatures within range.

The accepted answer to this question, citing Sage Advice, says that the dispel magic only dispels the bless on the targeted creature, not the other creatures affected by the bless.

The accepted answer is significantly upvoted, and accepted, and it's well-reasoned, well-cited, and well-written.

However, there's another way to look at the issue.

The dispel magic spell says:

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends.

The relevant Sage Advice Compendium entry says:

If dispel magic targets the magical effect from bless cast by a cleric, does it remove the effect on all the targets?

Dispel magic ends a spell on one target. It doesn’t end the same spell on other targets.

There is a lack of clarity in Sage Advice on dispel magic and targets. It says "Dispel magic ends a spell on one target. It doesn’t end the same spell on other targets." The word "target" reads as if it means only creatures as targets, invalidating the "magical effect" as a legitimate target, which is what the asker asked. So the way it reads, the implication is that only magical effects on creatures (or objects) are valid targets of the spell, which means you can't target a magical effect separate from the creature affected, but the spell says you can.

However, as shown by the many questions on dispel magic, the debate can be endless. Some readers will agree with my assessment, others disagree. Another way to resolve the issue is to home rule an adjudication process allowing the dispeller to explicitly end a magical effect within the range of dispel magic.

A modest home rule

We resolve this particular issue with dispel magic at our table with the following home rule:

When casting dispel magic and targeting a magical effect, as opposed to a creature or an object, describe the magical effect you want to dispel. If in the DM's judgement you have successfully described the effects of an ongoing spell, it is dispelled according to the rules in the spell.

Example 1: Last turn, an opposing cleric seems to be bless several of their allies. I cast dispel magic on the nearest one. The bless ends on that opponent.

Example 2: Last turn, an opposing cleric seems to be bless several of their allies. I cast dispel magic, saying, "I dispel the spell that guy just cast on those guys". The bless ends on all three opponents.

Is this truly a home rule, or is it simply an interpretation of the rules? Well, calling it a home rule eliminates the arguments about whether it's RAW or not.

We've used this at our table successfully. There's potential to argue about whether the dispeller even knows a magical effect exists, and with identifying it, but that is inherent to dispel magic, and not this home rule, and so far the DM has made a ruling and we've moved on.

Admittedly, for us this situation only comes up rarely, so we have not extensively playtested, but it has worked so far. YMMV.

User volferine brought up a point in the comments. The text of the spell says "Any spell of 3rd level or lower ends." At our table we interpret that to mean "any ONE spell" ends, and we have not really encountered enough edge cases to have to deal with it. But this is a great example of how the existing wording of the spell leaves a great deal of room for interpretation, and just about requires any DM encountering the spell frequently in a campaign to have to deal with many unusual cases.

To the OP

As so many other questions do, this essentially comes down to "ask your GM". But when you ask your GM you can provide a suggested interpretation or home rule, and the great thing about home rules is that if you don't like the one I've presented here, you can suggest a different adjudication.


Some other RPG.SE Questions on dispel magic and "magical effects"

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Dispel Magic description says that "any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends". I think it makes important difference between your examples 1 and 2. While 2 can reasonably be applied to a single spell affecting possibly multiple targets, 1 would end all 3rd-level spells (or better, spell effects) on that target. \$\endgroup\$
    – volferine
    May 5 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm. That is a good point. I will take a closer look. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    May 5 at 13:39
-2
\$\begingroup\$

I would say you have to cancel the blessing on each creature that was affected by the spell.

Dispel Magic states

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range

Bless states

You bless up to three creatures of your choice within range.

With the common word in the effects of each spell being creature(s), It would seem that you would need to Dispel Magic on each individual creature.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The contentious part of the description is “Any spell of 3rd level or lower ends on the target” - does this mean the entire spell ends when you target a creature affected by a spell that is affecting other targets? I don’t see how your answer addresses that at all. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 21:56
-3
\$\begingroup\$

RAW, it ends for everyone affected.

In the description of Dispel Magic, it says:

Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends.

Subject: "any spell"

Qualifier: "of 3rd level or lower on the target"

Predicate: "ends"

Dispel Magic ends the whole spell, not just its effects on the target.

A single spell can affect multiple targets, but it remains one spell. So when Dispel Magic "ends" a spell, it ends it, full stop: all of its duration effects are ended.

Sage Advice conflicts with the written word of the text, and apparently confuses "spell" and "spell effect". A spell effect can end on a single target without impacting other targets, but that's different from the spell itself ending.

For RAW to be compatible with Sage Advice, the spell should be rewritten as

Any spell of 3rd level or lower ends on the target

This changes the predicate from "ends" to "ends on the target": the spell ends only for the target.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Sep 4, 2020 at 5:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @nben Room has been undeleted, caveat emptor :P \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    May 2 at 19:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .