D&D 5E Dispelling Area Spells. How Does Targeting work?

This almost never comes up, but how do you target a spell effect with dispel?

Some are easy: A light spell on a rock has a specific point of origin. Haste is that dude running super-fast etc...

Some are trickier: Stinking cloud has a 30 foot radius. Can I target any part of the radius or does it have to be the point of origin? Given stinking cloud wraps around corners, the point of origin could be around the corner.

Private Sanctum: Covers a huge area. Do I need to just target any room in the building or is there a place I need to find to dispel it? It has no visible effect, do I need Detect Magic to see it?

Guards & Wards: Specifically says that targeting an effect (such as webs or stinking cloud) only dispels the effect. But, why not just target the 'area' root spell and dispel everything permanently?

Being able to just dispel these huge effects seems kind of boring to me and I feel like you need to find the 'origin' of the spell. Otherwise, you can just walk into a wizard's entranceway and dispel his most powerful defenses. But...I don't know, really.

If you only need to hit any part of the area, could you, then, target a light spell by targeting any place the light shines rather than target the source of the light? (which admittedly feel like pushing things a bit too far)

Your thoughts?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Quickleaf

Legend
I think there's room for healthy interpretation as befits the specific scene, but here are my answers...

Light: You need to cast dispel on the stone.

Private Sanctum: You need to cast dispel either on the entry/egress door (so you need to know which is the entry door) or on the material component (which I've interpreted as a stained glass with significant theme to the caster somewhere in the sanctum).

Guards & Wards: I've ruled some NPC-cast versions of this spell have a "nucleus" which is tied to the history of the place, the type of monster blood component used, and other factors. If you dispel one effect, then the nucleus gets additional protection. So it's a tradeoff of risk vs. reward. Do we dispel bit by bit? Or do we think we know where/what the nucleus is and go straight for that?

Another thing I sometimes incorporate judiciously is the fallout of casting dispel magic. Simple example would be a magical lodestone repelling anyone wearing armor but also keeping metal joists or catwalk aloft. Dispel the magic and you can pass, but then the joists/catwalk come crashing down (unless you've prepared for that). A classic example would be medusa in a room shrouded by magical darkness.

The idea behind most of this is "Yes, but" improving – where I'm trying to encourage a next level of creative thinking beyond "I cast dispel", and give the players some meaningful or at least interesting decisions in the process.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
For Guards and Wards (any edition) I'd posit that one of the side benefits of the spell is that each different aspect has to be dispelled separately - the "bit by bit" approach - and that there's no way a simple Dispel Magic can deal with the whole thing at once.
 

Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
It allows you to target a "magical effect", so I'd say any point in the range would work out. It does make stuff like Control Weather kinda lame, but it's probably better than assigning any random point to be the turn off button.
 

For Guards and Wards (any edition) I'd posit that one of the side benefits of the spell is that each different aspect has to be dispelled separately - the "bit by bit" approach - and that there's no way a simple Dispel Magic can deal with the whole thing at once.
The interesting thing about Guards and Wards is effects reset themselves after 10 minutes...so you'd have a time limit if you were doing it bit by bit

Edit: after re-reading, only the webs come back after 10 minutes.
 
Last edited:

I think there's room for healthy interpretation as befits the specific scene, but here are my answers...

Light: You need to cast dispel on the stone.

Private Sanctum: You need to cast dispel either on the entry/egress door (so you need to know which is the entry door) or on the material component (which I've interpreted as a stained glass with significant theme to the caster somewhere in the sanctum).

Guards & Wards: I've ruled some NPC-cast versions of this spell have a "nucleus" which is tied to the history of the place, the type of monster blood component used, and other factors. If you dispel one effect, then the nucleus gets additional protection. So it's a tradeoff of risk vs. reward. Do we dispel bit by bit? Or do we think we know where/what the nucleus is and go straight for that?

Another thing I sometimes incorporate judiciously is the fallout of casting dispel magic. Simple example would be a magical lodestone repelling anyone wearing armor but also keeping metal joists or catwalk aloft. Dispel the magic and you can pass, but then the joists/catwalk come crashing down (unless you've prepared for that). A classic example would be medusa in a room shrouded by magical darkness.

The idea behind most of this is "Yes, but" improving – where I'm trying to encourage a next level of creative thinking beyond "I cast dispel", and give the players some meaningful or at least interesting decisions in the process.
This was my general thinking. I like it a lot. Having it on a threshold is interesting. Having the spell components of private sanctum as a focus holding it all together works well too.
 

It allows you to target a "magical effect", so I'd say any point in the range would work out. It does make stuff like Control Weather kinda lame, but it's probably better than assigning any random point to be the turn off button.
I try to avoid stuff that's lame. It seems weird to target 'the weather'. I mean, it originates from the sky...would it be within range of dispel magic? It also says the range is 'self', so wouldn't you have to target the caster?
 

MarkB

Legend
I try to avoid stuff that's lame. It seems weird to target 'the weather'. I mean, it originates from the sky...would it be within range of dispel magic? It also says the range is 'self', so wouldn't you have to target the caster?
Having it target "the weather" could be potentially awesome. Want to dispel that seemingly-unnatural storm that just blew in? You'll have to fly up through the rain, wind and lightning and get within 120 feet of the clouds to do it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I try to avoid stuff that's lame. It seems weird to target 'the weather'. I mean, it originates from the sky...would it be within range of dispel magic? It also says the range is 'self', so wouldn't you have to target the caster?
Range has no meaning here. If I've cast a spell on someone else then (after the spell has resolved, of course) targeting me-the-caster with Dispel Magic ain't gonna help very much; you have to target the recipient.

If the area of effect was "self" then sure, targeting the caster would work.

Spells with huge a-of-e's such as weather-affecting spells I would rule are simply beyond the ability of Dispel Magic to affect.
 

Range has no meaning here. If I've cast a spell on someone else then (after the spell has resolved, of course) targeting me-the-caster with Dispel Magic ain't gonna help very much; you have to target the recipient.

If the area of effect was "self" then sure, targeting the caster would work.

Spells with huge a-of-e's such as weather-affecting spells I would rule are simply beyond the ability of Dispel Magic to affect.
It says 'target: self; (5 mile radius)'

My interpretation isn't that the weather effect is magical...my interpretation is that it give the caster the ability to change the weather within 5 miles. Which is why it takes so long to affect changes (according to the tables in the spell). It says 'the weather gradually changes back" when the spell ends. So, casting dispel magic on the weather won't do anything. Casting it on the caster breaks his influence on the weather, allowing it to gradually change back to its natural setting(maybe that thunderstorm they caused blows itself out before returning to normal).

Anyways, that's how I see it.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top