I Hate Dispel Rules with a Burning Passion


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Grand Lodge

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Let me tell you about a time I had in the sixth chapter of DDD. I will try to be as spoiler free as I can, sorry about that.

While investigating we found out that there would be a spell preventing a certain kind of behavior. Well, good thing we found out about it, right? I can simply burn all my 4-5 spells on Spell Immunity and that would protect us - there is a dispel check, but I like my chances and it doesn't hurt to have a back up plan, right? And in case I do fail the check, I will prepare some Dispel Magic to give me a few more checks, I can't possibly fail them all, right? Wrong.

Dispelling works like this: you automatically remove a spell of equal or lower level, and attempt a check to remove a spell of a higher level (+5 to DC per level difference).

When the need did arrive, I found out that the spell in place was impossible to dispel with the spells I prepared, and when our sorcerer with spontaneously heightened Dispel Magic tried, well - for him it was merely unlikely, since he only needed a nat 19. OH WELL.

We went ahead and some stuff happened and we were away from the social part of the adventure and cast our buffs - See Invisibility for me, True Seeing for the sorcerer. Well, when the need did arrive we again noticed that True Seeing wasn't. See Invisibility, a 2nd level spell, is somehow way more useful than a 6th level spell because dispelling. GM ruled that you can roll a check every round, but no dice.

We discussed it later with our GM, and found out that both spells were only 8th level vs our 4-7th spells. They were almost impossible to dispel (I think we attempted about ten checks) with our best spells! Without that blasted +5/level I would need to roll 15+, which would be fair, with it - 30+ (well, 20, I guess).

I actually really like that spells like True Seeing now require a check, but it's difficulty means that I would be way better off simply preparing Heals and Flame Strikes in all those wasted 4-6 slots - and not for the lack of recon and preparation! I mean, the enemy spellcaster could be ONE LEVEL HIGHER than you for his spells to be undispellable.

I hate how in 2e a few levels can be so significant, especially since PCs are unlikely to be on the higher side.

Now I am reluctant to prepare anything but damaging spells, and it sucks - I have no polite words to describe how much.

Get rid of that +5 to DC.


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Actually, it's automatic if the spell is lower level, you make a check on equal level spells, and higher level spells add the +5.

So yeah, Dispel Magic is not that great anymore. Then again, negating high level spell slots with low(er) level ones was a broken and unfun tactic, so there's that to keep in mind.

Same applies for Remove Disease/Paralysis and stuff. Makes the spellcasters have to burn their strongest spells just to remove conditions. Oof!


Yup, this heavily needs a rework. I know I have posted about it a few times.


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But the casters who cast those spells also had to expend higher level slots to prevent you from dispelling them.

If the spell is 1 higher than your dispel you should have about a 25% chance 15+ to dispel it assuming casters of equivalent levels. For each level the spellcaster is higher than you that chance does decrease since their spell DC increases but the opposite is true the other direction as well.

Now for the adventure it would be nearly impossible to dispel the "warning" spell because of who the caster of that spell was and also to point out to the players that maybe casting spells in the middle of a party without permission is probably a stupid idea.

For see invisibility and true seeing it makes sense again why they function the way they are. See invisibility is a very specific function it sees invisible things. True seeing would let you see vs any illusion or transmutation but they put a roll requirement on it to prevent it from just always working. So if you wanted it to basically always work you prep it at a higher spell slot.

Spells are no longer learn and forget. You have to think about what you want to learn, what to prep, and what level slots you want those spells to take.

Grand Lodge

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Then again, negating high level spell slots with low(er) level ones was a broken and unfun tactic, so there's that to keep in mind.

Except now there is less use for low level slots, AND if you recall, we, as a group, failed to dispel a level 8 spell with level 7 spells. It's utterly broken! Also, without the possibility to use a specific spell for a specific purpose there is no reason to prepare for anything. Just take every blast in the book (those are universal!) and kill the bad guy.

PsychicPixel wrote:
But the casters who cast those spells also had to expend higher level slots to prevent you from dispelling them.

Nope, the first caster probably wasn't there at all, and the second one still had more 8th level spells than our entire party (one, maybe two, but still).

PsychicPixel wrote:
If the spell is 1 higher than your dispel you should have about a 25% chance 15+ to dispel it assuming casters of equivalent levels. For each level the spellcaster is higher than you that chance does decrease since their spell DC increases but the opposite is true the other direction as well.

PCs encounter higher level spellcasters more often than lower levels, and that guy was higher. I like my chances.

PsychicPixel wrote:
Now for the adventure it would be nearly impossible to dispel the "warning" spell because of who the caster of that spell was and also to point out to the players that maybe casting spells in the middle of a party without permission is probably a stupid idea.

So you're familiar with the adventure. And you know that at some point the sorcerer goes invisible, right? Well, I cast See Invisibility, then lied my ass off to get out of any ramifications (which mostly worked). That was a move that paid off and didn't cost much, but I'm still salty.

PsychicPixel wrote:
For see invisibility and true seeing it makes sense again why they function the way they are. See invisibility is a very specific function it sees invisible things. True seeing would let you see vs any illusion or transmutation but they put a roll requirement on it to prevent it from just always working. So if you wanted it to basically always work you prep it at a higher spell slot.

Which I wouldn't have, because, really, how often do you meet a boss spellcaster that is lower level?

PsychicPixel wrote:
Spells are no longer learn and forget. You have to think about what you want to learn, what to prep, and what level slots you want those spells to take.

They are "learn and forget" in the sense that the moment I learn a spell involves dispelling, I will forget it exists.


You don't have to use the spell if you don't like it or can't understand it. But from a game balance perspective it's fine.


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Baprr wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Then again, negating high level spell slots with low(er) level ones was a broken and unfun tactic, so there's that to keep in mind.
Except now there is less use for low level slots, AND if you recall, we, as a group, failed to dispel a level 8 spell with level 7 spells. It's utterly broken! Also, without the possibility to use a specific spell for a specific purpose there is no reason to prepare for anything. Just take every blast in the book (those are universal!) and kill the bad guy.

I can agree that the math is utterly bad, but I highly dislike my strongest spells being negated by a lower level spell just because it can. Remember that even bad guys can do this tactic, so a high level spellcasting PC going to nuke the BBEG being negated by a low level minion using Dispel Magic (or whatever) can happen as well if we just go the other way, and I can assure you that I've had upset players on both sides of the spectrum.

On top of that, the paradigm of "just kill it" hasn't changed from PF1. Turtling isn't valid in this game just like PF1. Boom-boom spells aren't necessarily the best, but compared to other spell types, they are more consistent and successful in combat.


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For me, the problem isn't so much dispel magic spell itself, its the entire entire counteract set of spells. IE neutralize poison, remove disease/curse/ paralysis/fear/etc. These spells remove only one specific type of effect but use the exact same mechanics as dispel magic, meaning like dispel magic they need to be memorized at the highest level to have any real chance to remove an effect.

Even dispel magic ought to have a better chance of working. Should a lvl 3 spell have a chance to remove a lvl 8? Probably no, but it should have about a 50% chance to remove a 5th since it generates no effect other then removing magic. And the spells which are more specific counters ought to be better.

As it stands even removing an effect one level higher then the spell your using pretty much means needing to roll a 15 to succeed. Two levels higher, your probably looking at a nat 20. That is just a bit much.


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Joey, kind of tapped on what I was going to say, namely that the one change I want from the current counteract rules is for specific purpose spells like Remove Paralysis to have a Counteract level 1 level higher than their spell level.

So then if these spells are used to dispel an effect of the same level they automatically succeed, which I think is appropriate for a spell with one singular application. And for an effect 1 level higher they get an even shot (With level disparity if applicable), which I think is also appropriate.

I wouldn't be averse to seeing the penalty for level gap taken down a point or two though, as it compounds rapidly when dealing with a caster who is both higher level than you and has higher level spells than you. So even highest vs. highest, you are suffering that DC boost PLUS the difference from them being higher level.

I don't think dropping the per-level boost to +3 or +4 would make lower-level dispels too strong against equal foes either, considering two equal casters clashing equal spell levels has about 50% success, I don't thing 35% for 1 level down, 20% for 2, 5% for 3 or more is unfair, I actually like it better than 50% for equal, 25% for 1 below, 5% for 2 or more.

It helps keep dispels against higher level foes from becoming Nat-20-only so quick either, while keeping them unlikely, which is appropriate.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

So yeah, Dispel Magic is not that great anymore. Then again, negating high level spell slots with low(er) level ones was a broken and unfun tactic, so there's that to keep in mind.

Same applies for Remove Disease/Paralysis and stuff. Makes the spellcasters have to burn their strongest spells just to remove conditions. Oof!

"Broken and unfun"? The thing with dispelling is that it's Reactive. Even if you manage to pull it off, you've already been affected by the spell once. (Readying a dispel is impractical due to the two-action cast time).

And ultimately, your chance of success (even without the 'counteract level adjustments') is going to be at best 50%, so it's by no means guaranteed.


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Edge93 wrote:

Joey, kind of tapped on what I was going to say, namely that the one change I want from the current counteract rules is for specific purpose spells like Remove Paralysis to have a Counteract level 1 level higher than their spell level.

So then if these spells are used to dispel an effect of the same level they automatically succeed, which I think is appropriate for a spell with one singular application. And for an effect 1 level higher they get an even shot (With level disparity if applicable), which I think is also appropriate.

I wouldn't be averse to seeing the penalty for level gap taken down a point or two though, as it compounds rapidly when dealing with a caster who is both higher level than you and has higher level spells than you. So even highest vs. highest, you are suffering that DC boost PLUS the difference from them being higher level.

I don't think dropping the per-level boost to +3 or +4 would make lower-level dispels too strong against equal foes either, considering two equal casters clashing equal spell levels has about 50% success, I don't thing 35% for 1 level down, 20% for 2, 5% for 3 or more is unfair, I actually like it better than 50% for equal, 25% for 1 below, 5% for 2 or more.

It helps keep dispels against higher level foes from becoming Nat-20-only so quick either, while keeping them unlikely, which is appropriate.

Those sound pretty reasonable. Another idea is making dispel have a failure condition where it suppresses an affect for a round or two. Could make it so that you are less likely to completely waste your spell, at least in combat situations.

Personally my biggest problem is I still find the counteract table confusing, which makes it hard to have a strong opinion on the math.

Liberty's Edge

Something like -

C-Success: You dispel the Magic, ending its duration or suppressing the effects for 24 hours in the case of Permanent Magic Items.
Success: You Dampen the Magic, negating its use for 1d4+1 Rounds.
Fail: You dampen the Magic, negating its use until the beginning of your next round
C-Failure: Your attempt fails completely, no Magical effects are suppressed.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

Something like -

C-Success: You dispel the Magic, ending its duration or suppressing the effects for 24 hours in the case of Permanent Magic Items.
Success: You Dampen the Magic, negating its use for 1d4+1 Rounds.
Fail: You dampen the Magic, negating its use until the beginning of your next round
C-Failure: Your attempt fails completely, no Magical effects are suppressed.

Honestly, I'd probably remove the critical success condition there because I think the goal is to make Dispel Magic run off the same dispel/counteract rules as everything else. If I need a critical success to get rid of permanent blindness that suuuuucks.

Otherwise, I'd maybe change the failure condition to "end of your next turn." That way you can try and get a spell off to capitalize on the window you opened.


idk, I think failure doing nothing more than opening a window for your party to exploit is still pretty generous.

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