Dispel Magic 5e D&D Guide [2021]

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Second only slightly to Counterspell, Dispel Magic can be the bane of any mage. It offers a variety of situational uses and is a must-have for anyone planning to engage in a potentially magic-heavy conflict.

The rules for Dispel Magic can be found in the Players Handbook on page 234.

Dispel Magic 5e

Abjuration 3rd Level

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: 120 Feet

Components: V, S

Duration: Instantaneous

Choose one 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.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you automatically end the effects of a spell on the target if the spell’s level is equal to or less than the level of the spell slot you used.

The rules for Dispel Magic show that a casting of this spell can target a creature, object, or magical effect. The ability to target a creatureis often overlooked, and that is a big mistake. If the casting is effective, the spell ends. This has huge opportunities both in and out of combat scenarios.

Is Dispel Magic Useful?

Dispel Magic focuses on removing magic spell effects. It has one function that it does incredibly well. If you are in a situation where you need to reduce or remove magic, it is the right choice. It is important to remember that the spell does not identify good and bad magic.

The spell can be used to remove spells affecting companions negatively. It can also be used to remove unwanted spell-based magical effects on objects. Additionally, it can remove magical effects, such as illusions, altogether.

Hot Tip
Arcane Lock is a favorite spell for evil baddies to lock up their treasure. A clever wizard with Dispel Magic can make short work of a potentially impossible task. Since Arcane Lock is an ongoing magical spell-based effect, it can be targeted by Dispel Magic.

How does Dispel Magic Work?

The spell Dispel Magic works differently compared to most spells in the game. Its purpose is to remove magical effects on a creature, object, or area. To determine if it is successful when cast, the caster makes a contested roll versus the spell to be removed. The caster adds their spellcasting ability modifier to the roll, and the difficulty class (DC) is determined by the level of the spell to be removed.

Example 1:

  • A wizard’s ally has been affected by a Charm Person The wizard attempts to remove the magic effect by casting Dispel Magic at 3rd level (base). Charm Person is a level one spell, and per the rules, Dispel Magic automatically ends a magic effect cast at 3rd level or lower.

Example 2:

  • A wizard’s five allies have been affected by a Charm Person spell. The wizard can attempt to remove the magic effect on one of those allies using Dispel Magic at 3rd level (base). For Charm Person to be used in this manner, it would be cast as a 5th level spell. This means a contested roll is required. The wizard rolls 1d20 + their spell casting modifier against a DC of 10+ the level of the spell.

Dispel Magic Roll 1d20 + 5 (Intelligence Modifier) vs DC 15 (10+ 5 (Level of the Spell Cast))

If the wizard rolls an11 or higher, the spell effect is removed.

Dispel Magic Result of 16 (11 + 5) vs DC 15 (10 +5)

Example 3:

  • A wizard’s five allies have been affected by a Charm Person Spell. The wizard knows the Charm Person Spell and makes a successful Arcana check to identify the level at which it was cast. The wizard then casts Dispel Magic at 5th level on one of his allies. Since he has cast at an equal to or greater level than the target spell, it is an automatic success.

Dispel Magic is highly effective and powerful. It has the opportunity to remove the most powerful magic in the game. That does not mean it is without risk. A failed attempt spends a 3rd level spell slot and does nothing at the base level.

Upcasting the spell improves the chance for automatic success but does not help if the casting is not at a high enough level for an auto success.

Can Dispel Magic be used to Remove a Curse?

In short, no, Dispel Magic cannot be used to remove a curse. The purpose of Dispel Magic and Counterspell is to negate spells only; Counterspell to negate a spell before it takes effect, and Dispel Magic to remove the effect after it has been initiated.

Dispel Magic only removes magical effects that are the result of an ongoing spell. Sleep, Charm Person, Blindness/Deafness, and illusions are all examples of ongoing spells that can be dispelled.

Hot Tip
The typical use of Dispel Magic is to remove negative effects from allies. This is not always the best use of the spell, though. If an enemy is receiving a spell-based buff like Invulnerability, it might be worthwhile to remove that from the enemy. Canceling out a spell that is high-powered can significantly change a fight.

Final Thoughts

Dispel Magic can be an ace in the hole for an adventuring group. It offers a multitude of uses in various scenarios. It does have significant risks, though. If the spell is a failure, it still expends a spell slot.

At 3rd level, this may not be a game-changer, but a swing and a miss with a 6th level spell is usually a big deal. If the time is available, try to get as good of a read on the DC as possible before casting this spell.

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