Dispelling & Counterspelling Compilation

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Dispelling & Counterspelling Compilation


Disclaimer: much of the credit goes to the CO board for accumulating the knowledge contained therein, and to the respective authors of the builds.

This handbook is centered on the usage of dispel checks : Improved Counterspell and its ilk are mentioned, but they are not the optimized way of counterspelling. Hindering casters with direct damage - and hence impossible Concentration DCs - is also outside the scope of this guide.

The goal of an optimized counterspeller is to prevent foes from casting with a flick of hand, i.e. as an immediate action. You deny casters their actions, and you keep yours to play God/Batman. You rule over God the wizard... does that make you an overdeity ?

Generic ways to improve one's caster level will not be mentioned here : they are very much relevant, but they are already tracked here.

The compilation is broken up in various categories:
Recommended classes


  • Archivist: see Cleric. You need to get Turn Undead separately (via Cloistered Cleric or Sacred Exorcist), and dip Church Inquisitor for the Inquisition Domain, which restricts your alignment to LG. (In a planar campaign, you could use a Touchstone instead.) If a Divine Magician can get the good arcane spells on her list... so can you!

  •  Cleric: you have access to the basic spells (Dispel, Greater Dispel) and you can get all of the important ones via the Divine Magician ACF. You get Turn undead from the start to power Divine Defiance, the Inquisition Domain from level 1 or via a PrC. You don't need to lose a spellcasting level to be good at it, but you'll always be missing out on a few options.

  • Shadowcasters: if you find a way to cancel the penalty to dispel spells with your mysteries, you can become really good at Counterspelling with Warp Spell. Perhaps a homebrew feat ? The excellent Tome of Shadow homebrew material offers an ACF that does just that.

  • Sorcerer: with your limited spells known, you risk becoming too specialized if you take most of the important ones. Still, spontaneous dispels could be worth it.

  • Warlock: on its own, the Warlock does not stand out but does not suck, thanks to at-will spontaneous dispels. With the advent of the Complete Mage dual PrCs, you can combine them with the cleric or wizard goodies.

  • Wizard: As often, the king of the roost. Getting Divine Defiance will force you to lose a caster level, but Master Abjurer flows naturally into Io7V and Archmage - you end up with incredible synergies!

  • Others: Bards can make decent counterspellers if they go into Sublime Chord, but they generally have better uses for their feats. Beguilers and Favored Souls are slightly inferior to sorcerers. Wu Jens are inferior to wizards (it's the universal complaint: they don't get enough support...). Other classes are out.



Spells / SLAs / Powers / Mysteries / Utterances
The relevant spells are pretty much all Abjurations ; one of them (Slashing Dispel) has Evocation as a dual school.
Active spells :


1. Dispel WardSC: meh, too situational. (Cleric 1)
2. Arcane TurmoilCM: first offensive dispel! Nice against enemy spellcasters.
2. Dispelling TouchPHB2: decent. You don't want to go close enough to other beings to be able to touch them - the solitary life of a mage - so use it against objects.
3. Dispel MagicPHB: very good. Good enough to be prepared on a regular basis/to be taken as a spell known. (Bard 3, Cleric 3, Trapsmith 1)
3. Tenacious DispellingCM: Dispel Magic is broader, and so more compelling. This is most interesting if you did not invest too much into dispelling (otherwise, you got Arcane Mastery and your bonuses are probably enough to provide reliable dispelling).
4. Slashing DispelPHB2: decent at higher levels when you always succeed at dispelling an enemy's spells.
5. Dispelling BreathSC: very good for Dragonborns, not so for others.
5. SpelltheftCS: now we're talking! You deprive them of their buffs and take them for yourself. (Bard 4)
6. Greater Dispel MagicPHB: a staple. (Bard 5, Cleric 6, Trapsmith 3)
8. Chain DispelPHB2: good - note the maximum CL of 25 - but less flexible than a Chained Greater Dispel. (Cleric 8)
9. Reaving DispelSC: Spelltheft on steroids. Do whatever you want with your opponent's spells. Try to obtain a cap of CL 25 - the original version in CA had it, and an 8th level has it.
9. Khelben's DweomerdoomWaterdeep: this is an odd spell. With a dispel check, you delete one of the highest level prepared spells / one of the highest-level slots / 1 use of one the highest-level SLAs from the target. Even with its swift action casting time, it's not worth a 9th level slot.


Passive Spells :

4./7. Dispelling Screen/Dispelling Screen, GreaterSC: Decent as a passive dispel (but all passive dispels are situational). Its secondary effect is more interesting: it interrupts line of effect for all spells! If you set it up right, your party will be protected from the BBEG's spells while they pepper him with arrows.
5./8. Wall of Dispel Magic/Wall of Greater Dispel MagicSC: inferior to the above in all ways except that it is hard to detect. Very situational. (Cleric 5./8.)


Dispelling Screen illustration
Dispelling Screen
Pretty much like that.
Other spells

3. Battlemagic PerceptionHoB: Absolutely fabulous. It has a fairly long duration, it lets you detect spellcasting automatically within 100' (whether still and silent, concealed with Sleight of Hand...). RAW, it would even be a free rather than immediate action to counterspell (I personally recommend the latter interpretation). If you can't get access to Divine Defiance, it's the spell you want to spam. (Cleric 3)
3. Spellcaster's BaneCM: +2 insight to dispels - it stacks with practically everything. Cast as a swift action. You recognize spells automatically if you have line of sight (it complements BmP which works off of line of effect). And you learn the caster level of your opponents' spells. That way you can know exactly what dispels to use against them.
5. DuelwardSC: Inferior to BmP in all ways. Only get it if you don't have access to Heroes of Battle.
7. Kiss of Draconic DefianceDM: once during the duration of this spell, automatically counterspell a spell of 5th level or lower as an immediate action, no questions asked. Unfortunately it is Duration: Concentration (this, in turn, is not a problem if you use Sonorous Hum (SC), Extraordinary Concentration (CAdv), ...).
9. Shrinshee's Spell ShiftLEoF: LEoF is an endless trove of powerful material. For 1 round/level, you can partially redirect the effect of a spell you counterspell ! It gives you Mastery of Counterspelling and then some more. Reaving Dispel is still better in some ways - compare the two closely. A good choice for Divine Magician since it can be persisted. (thanks TheCobra)


Invocations

Lesser. Relentless DispellingCM: repeated dispel at will. Stupendous.
Lesser. Voracious DispellingCA: dispel at will is nice. The damage isn't great however, so in general you are better off with Relentless Dispelling instead.
Greater. Devour MagicCA: touch range? Targeted only? Yuck.
Dark. Caster's LamentCM: counterspelling at will, nice. Only counterspelling for a Dark Invocation? Pass.


Mysteries
ToM
4. Shadow Fades: Dispel Magic, one level too high.
4. Warp Spell: immediate action counterspell? Yes! Casting a mystery of your own for free? Wow!!
6. Shadow Fades, Greater: Dispel Magic, Greater.

Do note that you suffer a -4 penalty to dispel spells with all the above mysteries.

Power

Dispel PsionicsXPH: Dispel Magic, with no counterspell option. The RAW version is badly written : if augmenting it grants you a bonus on your check instead of raising the maximum ML, it's probably too good.

Also be careful whether you're using full transparency (the default) or partial transparency (with a -4 penalty for spell-power interactions like dispel checks).

Utterance

Spell RebirthToM: The reverse utterance dispels one spell automatically. The utterance can restore a dispelled spell. A unique effect: watch out, dispellers!

Skill
This part's easy: Spellcraft is the one and only skill you need. Read it and understand it. Note in particular how you can identify spells with visible effects even if you didn't see them cast.
PrC abilities



  • Dispelling Strike [Suel Arcamanach]CA: decent because it doesn't take an action

  • Divine Counterspell [Cleric ACF]CM: giving up Turn Undead is never a good idea. As worded, it limits your bonus to +10. And it doesn't progress with PrCs...

  • Divine Magician [Cleric ACF]CM: this allows you to get many nice arcane spells on your list - see snizor's build. 

  • Inquisition Domain [Cleric][Church Inquisitor]CD: +4 to dispel checks is hard to beat. This can also be obtained via the Domain Granted PowerCC Wizard ACF, PrCs that grant domains (ContemplativeCD) or a feat (see below).

  • Innate Counterspell [Noctumancer]ToM: good, but 1 to 3 times per day is too little. 

  • Karsus' Touch [Binder]ToM: meh. Mentioned for completeness, and because it's the only dispelling option for Binders. It is obtained by binding Karsus.

  • Mastery of Counterspelling [Archmage]DMG: more pain visited on enemy spellcasters, as the spells now rebound when dispelled.

  • Minor School Esoterica [Master Abjurer]CM: great bonus. And let's not forget that MS also increases your CL for abjurations.

  • Penetrating Insight [Paragnostic Apostle]CC: small bonus, but the class is easy to qualify for. 

  • Swift Abjuration [Abjurant Champion]CM: with 5 levels of AC, you can automatically quicken Dispel Magic. It requires a lot of investment, but the return is nice. See ShakaUVM's build for an example of how to exploit the synergies. 

  • Unanswerable Strike, Kaleidoscopic Doom [Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil]CA: US is nothing to write home about ; but Kaleoscopic Doom is very nice.

  • Unmaking Magic [Cold Iron Warrior]: add your Wis as a bonus to dispel checks. In itself this is absolutely stellar, but the PrC sucks otherwise, hence the low rating.


Feats



  • Arcane MasteryCA: More reliability is exactly what you want. Also useful for SR checks. Tip for divine spellcasters: if you dip Hierophant after getting 9th level spells to obtain a SLA, it lets you qualify you for this feat.

  • Divine CountermagicFoE: expend 1+spell level turn attempts to automatically counter a spell. You must still ready an action to do so (unless you have Divine Defiance). This is much too costly. 

  • Divine DefianceFC2: THE counterspelling feat. With only a few turn attempts, possibly a Nightsticks, make other spellcasters cry. RAW, this feat allows you to counterspell SLAs. Now you just need to come up with a way to detect when they are used: ask your DM if BmP (a spell - see below) works. Note: according to the FAQ, you need 3 actual levels to qualify for it - no using Practiced Spellcaster for that. I say: ask your DM. 

  • Elven Spell LorePHB2: small but nice bonus. A filler feat. Note that the bonus applies only with (Greater) Dispel Magic. I find that fairly non-sensical, so I'd ask for a houserule. 

  • Improved CounterspellPHB: the old way of counterspelling, when paired with Heighten + a way of using metamagic without increasing casting time. Outdated. 

  • Metamagic Feats: Empower or Maximize let you disable items for longer (meh), Chain allows you to hit lots of items at once. Consider Arcane Thesis (Greater Dispel) in combination with them. 

  • Planar TouchstonePlH: the Catalogues of Enlightenment touchstone grants a domain power. Choose Inquisition for +4 to dispel checks.

  • Reactive CounterspellPGtF: losing your turn sucks.

  • Reserves of StrengthDLCS: it increases your CL and allows you to go above the usual CL cap of a spell (by up to 3). Either you get stunned when using it, which restricts it to out-of-combat use, or you're immune to stunning (there are Transmutations for that: Elemental Body (SC) is a good one) and you take some damage. This can be useful at high levels (not before level 12, IMO).

  • Soultouched SpellcastingMoI: +1 or more to dispel checks. Good for Soulcasters. [Help me rate it]



  • Epic Counterspell PGtF: unlimited counterspells without spending an action ? This suddenly gives us a reason to take Reactive Counterspell - very nice! Still, if you don't start in epic try to homebrew an Epic Divine Defiance instead if you can.


Items


Items


  • Dispelling CordMIC: +2 competence to dispel checks 5/day (it doesn't stack with the Master Specialist bonus). Cheap, on a not-so-used body slot - definitely get one, even if you're not a dedicated dispeller: it'll give you a little extra oomph to dispel traps, disenchant allies...

  • Ring of Spell-BattleMIC: the automatic detection of spellcasting within 60' makes it an excellent replacement for BmP (the 40' extra range keeps BmP worthwhile). Dispelling with dispel magic is limited (CL cap), but changing the target is fantastic ! It's one of very few ways to turn a Disjunction against its caster. Of course, it hurts when used against you.


Note: the power of some of the rings may prompt you to disable your opponent's rings with Chained Dispels if your DM likes to interfere with your god-like power.

Weapon Enchantment

Dispelling+Greater DispellingMIC: while it can be useful for warrior-types, the fixed caster level makes them obsolete after a few levels.


Tactics
As usual, the only way to really understand the tactics is to experiment with them - improve on the good and learn from the bad. Here are a few ideas.

Knowledge is Power
You will always fare better if you know more about your enemies : use Detect Magic, Arcane Sight (strongly consider getting it Permanenci-ed on you) and Greater Arcane Sight to identify spells already in place. This includes scrying : use spells or devices that also allow you to detect magic if you suspect your foe is a spellcaster. But don't forget that they can be fooled or blocked by Magic Aura, Misdirection, Nondetection or Mindblank, or by lead or lack of LoE.

Arcane Casters : use your Familiar !
What is the most previous resource in D&D ? You know it: actions. Your Familiar is a whole set of bonus actions each round. At low-level this carries little interest for a counterspeller, but everything changes from when you get 6th level spells on.

Imbue Familiar with Spell AbilitySC should quickly become a spell you use every day. Of course you will want to imbue your familiar with some Dispels. Note that it is limited to 5th level spells - still more than enough to get excellent mileage out of it. Then it can ready an action to counterspell and you can share Battlemagic Perception/Duelward with him, for one non-readied counterspell !

Note that the dispels cast by your familiar may not benefit from all your bonuses - check with your DM. Don't forget to provide some protection for it (Familiar PocketSC is cheap and good).

High levels
At high levels, it may seem that Counterspellers are not able to keep up with spellcasters putting out 2 spells per round. There is some truth in that : not all your spells prepared will be dispels, and you can lose the action race (if you do not ready an action, you're down to 1 immediate action per round to counterspell). The first part of the answer is to make your familiar contribute (see above), if an arcane caster. The second is simply common sense : exercise judgement when you decide whether to counterspell or not. For instance, if the spell is a buff, you can catch it during your next round with a dispel - which can also take other spells out as well.

Farther afield, Dr Rocktopus' Black Tactica Handbook for War Weavers has interesting thoughts: it's well worth a read.

PC Builds



  • [thread=941388]Count Dis'Shatterloc & Supreme Counter/Dispellers[/thread]: Warlock builds by LiamDeclan, Incarnum build by JanusJones. Note that IMO Legacy Champion does not work that way.



  • [thread=984214]ShakaUVM's dispelling gish[/thread]: search for "Sir Guide of Gishborn" (first bolded line). Despite my firm belief that most arcane gish should be transmuters (and the rest conjurers), I really like this build. The synergy between swift dispels and the Master Specialist's Evasion+Mettle ability (Moderate Esoterica) is great. I generally feel that gish have better things to do than dispelling, but if you want to combine the two this is the build to use.




  • Archivist 3/Church Inquisitor 1/Arc +3/Sacred Exorcist 1/Arc +5/X 4/Hierophant 1/Y 2
    Details
    1 Extend Spell
    3 Persist Spell
    6 free
    9 Divine Defiance
    12 DMM (Persist)
    15 Elven Spell Lore
    18 Arcane Mastery
    This one is meant for people starting at high levels - see below if you want it to bloom earlier (sacrifice 1 CL to get Turn Undead, the Inquisition Domain and Knowledge Devotion via Cloistered Cleric). Get a Miracle SLA via Hierophant - it qualifies you for Arcane Mastery. Persist BmP, Spellcaster's Bane and Shrinshee's Spell Shift and have fun. You can naturally trade some Archivist levels for some PrC levels, but I find Dread Secret really yummy.



  • OoP's Ultimate ;) Counterspeller: Cloistered Cleric 1/Wizard Abjurer 3/Master Specialist 6/IoSV 7/Archmage 1/MS +2


Details
Let's go with Human for the extra feat :
H Practiced Spellcaster (Cleric) - ouch, burning a feat just to qualify for Divine Defiance hurts.
1 Arcane Mastery
3 Spell Focus (Abjuration)
6 Divine Defiance
9 Elven Spell Lore
12 free
15 Spell Focus (Transmutation)
18 free

Domains: Inquisition, Undeath, Knowledge (get Knowledge DevotionCC instead of the domain power)
Archmage: get Mastery of Counterspelling.
Gear:1 NightstickLM, the Reliquary Holy SymbolMIC, a Ring of Spell-BattleMIC.
 
Results


  • at level 10, when casting Dispel Magic, your check is: 10 Mastery + 10 CL + 4 Inquisition + 2 Spell Lore + 3 Esoterica = 29. When casting Spelltheft, it's 27 (due to the absence of Elven Spell Lore). The build is already in full bloom.

  • at level 20, when casting Dispel Magic, it's 30 (add +1 from the Esoterica). When casting Greater Dispel Magic, it's 40. Let's just say that even if they use an Ioun Stone, a Ring of Enduring Arcana and a Karma Bead, you can still strip the buffs of a persisting Cleric.


All those bonuses are permanent. You'll generally cast Spellcaster's Bane for another +2 when facing spellcasters.

Closing remark
In case you were wondering, I'm not advocating this build for normal games. Unless the campaign world is filled with murderous spellcasters, or you wish to overthrow a magocracy, you are probably spending too many resources (1 spellcasting level lost, feats) on dispelling/counterspelling. Adapt it by dropping parts (start with Elven Spell Lore) until you're satisfied with it.

Variants



  • You can play around with the levels : drop 2 levels of Io7V for 2 of Master Specialist (to cast AMF on the party Barbarian), get one more level of Archmage for Arcane Reach, etc... Alternate builds - using BmP instead of Divine Defiance : Abjurer 3/Master Specialist 6/IoSV 7/Archmage 1/MS +3 Abjurer 3/Master Specialist 6/IoSV 7/MS +4



  • To reach the actual maximum dispel check, one would go CC 1/Wiz 3/MS 6/Io7V 5/MS +4/Paragnostic Apostle 1 but you don't get Mastery of Counterspelling nor the final veils. You've already sacrificed some playability to become a master counterspeller - no need to push it. With a Ring & a Robe of Arcane Might, an Ioun Stone and Practiced Spellcaster (Wizard), after having cast Spellcaster's Bane, the final check with Chain Dispel is 49 (25 CL + 10 Arcane Mastery + 5 Esoterica + 4 Inquisition + 2 Spell Lore + 2 Sp's Bane + 1 Paragnostic) !

  • Potential abuse: see if you can qualify for Divine Defiance with Ioun Stone and other items increasing your caster level. Then you can retrain Practiced Spellcaster (Cleric).

  • Illumian with the Krau Sigil is a very decent alternative: you don't need Practiced Spellcaster, and you increase your Wizard caster level by 1 (thanks Phoenix00).





  • Chameleon build: Cloistered Cleric 1/X 4/Chameleon 10/Y 5
    The X stuff has to allow you to qualify for Chameleon (Rogue or Factotum are usually a good choice).
    thugsb proposed Beguiler 1/Cleric 1 (Inquis and undeath)/Human Paragon 3/Chameleon 10/Y 5 in this thread.
    The main interest is that the Chameleon:
    1) can pick the DM and GDM spells up as a 1st and 3rd level spell respectively, thanks to the Trapsmith spell list. That leads to early access to GDM, and much easier metamagicking of those spells (Chain, ...).
    2) has a fast CL progression (CL 2 at level 6, 8 at level 9, 14 at level 12, 20 at level 15) which overtakes a full caster's progression at level 11.



Possible combo
Incandescent Champion : see post #24 for awaken_D_M_golem's idea. It does not seem very playable to me, but it could well lead to a higher record.

Important remark
To reiterate the closing remark in the "Ultimate" build, here's a fundamental principle of CharOp: invest the minimum of resources for the maximum of return.
And pay attention to playability at all levels, rather than the level 20 returns ([rant]this one gets ignored way too often ![/rant]).

With just Battlemagic Perception and, say, Elven Spell Lore you have a small edge in counterspelling. Add a Dispelling Cord and you become a fairly good dispeller. You can still take whatever PrC you want with that.
True story: I'm the author of this guide, so I should know better. But I once built a Wizard with 4 levels of Master Abjurer for an online (read: slow-leveling) game. Months later, we hadn't leveled and I realized I'd been dumb. I should've simply picked a Dispelling Cord for 83% of the power and a few more levels to play with. :embarrass

And now the other side of the coin: how to resist dispels.
Resisting dispels
Class abilities


  • Moderate School Esoterica [Master Conjurer]CM: very nice bonus. It's not permanent but it should last long enough.

  • Rune of Extension [Spellcarved Soldier]RoE: not bad but it can only be tied to 1 spell.

  • Tenacious Spells [Suel Arcamanach]CA: very much needed given the low CL of the Suel's spells.

  • Unimpeachable Abjuration [Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil]CA: behold ! Your dispels/counterspells are harder to counterspell...


Spell


  • Spell TurningPHB: protects against counterspelling and targeted dispels, the most dangerous ones anyway (area dispels are weak). Beware the resonance if the opponent has it too.



Powers & Utterance


  • Dispelling BufferXPH: amazing defense and well-thought mechanic

  • Ecto ProtectionXPH: very situational. But it provides the basis of the good eponymous ability of the Constructor PrC.



  • Spell RebirthToM: this utterance can restore a dispelled spell.



Feats


  • Disguise SpellCAdv: on a successful Perform vs Spot check, this feat prevents the identification of the spellcaster (yourself). Even on a failed check, the spell can't be identified ! It can still be countered (with BmP, at least I think so - I could see a DM interpreting it the other way). This feat has few mechanical advantages in most campaigns, but it is very flavorful and it is good for intrigue or social encounters.

  • Grellcraft AlchemyLoM: makes it harder to identify and dispel your spell. Good at what it does, but not worth it for players. It becomes blue for NPCs, since it makes the players' lives more complicated.

  • Mysterious MagicSoX: see Grellcraft Alchemy above - it's similar.

  • Spell ThematicsPGtF: the spells chosen are harder to identify (but the penalty soon becomes meaningless) and the +1 CL makes them harder to dispel.

  • Shadow Weave feat linePGtF: Insidious Magic makes your spells harder to detect by non-Shadow Weave divinations (Arcane Sight, Battlemagic Perception). Tenacious Magic makes your spells from most schools harder to dispel. Both can be obtained for the low cost of one feat (Shadow Weave Magic) and one level (of Shadow Adept).



Skill Tricks


  • Conceal SpellcastingCS: very good for all mages who can afford the skill requirements, it is however defeated by Battlemagic Perception or a Ring of Spell-Battle

  • False TheurgyCS: excellent way to fool a counterspeller... except that he's likely to counterspell every one of your spells just in case. Note that it doesn't prevent detection of the act of casting, and that you can only imitate a spell of the same level.



Items


  • Ring of Enduring ArcanaCM: cheap and very efficient. Stack it on another appropriate ring (of Counterspells, for instance.)

  • Ring of CounterspellDMG/Greater CounterspellsMIC: The RoC is a staple of anybody who likes to keep their buffs: store Dispel Magic or the Greater version in it. A dispeller can bypass it by using other spells (see above), which makes its value go down as more splatbooks get added. It's not clear whether the GRoC lets you add your other bonuses to the counterspell check : if so, bump it to blue - it's worth getting.

  • Rod of ReversalMIC - relic: the basic power is mediocre. The relic power is excellent, granting you a feat and 3/day a maximized Spell Turning with unlimited duration. If you dabble in abjuration, chances are you worship a deity of magic anyway.

  • SpellbladePGtF: cheap and very useful, this weapon enchantment is better than a Ring of Counterspells in most ways. It's common to apply it (Greater) Dispel Magic, but depending on your campaign other spells may be worth it.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Changelog
  • 28/05/09: added picture for the Dispelling Screen
  • 21/05/09: added Mysterious Magic to Resisting Dispels
  • 15/05/09: removed wrong assertion about Choose Destiny. Added remark/warning about builds, and anecdote.
  • 11/05/09: added Shadow Weave feats. Reorganized Resisting Dispels.
  • 02/05/09: long overdue update. Added Devour Magic (baaad), Kiss of Draconic Defiance (ok), Caster's Lament (meh). Added small corrections/precisions here and there, including a note about the possible illegality of using Practiced Spellcaster to qualify for Divine Defiance. Added Out of Scope section. Changed layout: added sblocks.
  • 14/04/08: initial version

Q&A


Q: What about Counterspelling in a Core game ?
A: Don't do it. If you're going to ready an action, it is much more efficient to blast the spellcaster to force an impossible Concentration DC. Or have an archer ready an action to Manyshot her.
Q: Can I use Empower or Maximize to increase my dispel checks through the roof ?
A: No, you can't. This is addressed in the FAQ, p. 144 (thanks Phoenix00 for the reference).
Q: Do Empower Spell and Maximize Spell affect d20 rolls made as part of a spell’s effect (such as an attack roll or dispel check)?
A: No. Any attack roll, saving throw, skill check, dispel check, or any other d20 roll required to adjudicate a spell’s success or failure is not considered a “variable, numeric effect” of the spell and thus is unaffected by feats such as Empower Spell or Maximize Spell.

Q: TL;DR version ?
A: You're killing me! Ok, I know: get a Dispelling CordMIC ASAP if you can cast Dispel Magic. It's a cheap investment with a good return.

Out of Scope


Other ways to hinder casting... This part mostly repeats suggestions made elsewhere in the thread but is not meant to be exhaustive. This could be the topic of a whole new guide (any volunteer ?).


  • Dampen Spell PHB2: a crappy feat.

  • Mage's DisjunctionPHB: this is the equivalent of a nuke. It dispels everything without a check, risks destroying magic items, ... Be sure to talk with your DM before you start slugging this around. (Sorc/Wiz 9, Magic 9)

  • Dweomer VortexAnauroch: this odd spell does not require a dispel check and can eliminate up to 6 levels of spell, either passively or actively! The sourcebook is not mainstream unfortunately. (Sorc/Wiz 3)

  • Mage SlayerCA: a nice feat for martial mage-hunters. See aelrynth's Lockdown build for an example of a Fighter capable of taking down unwary mages. It opens up Pierce Magical Protection CA, which is very good at what it does. But have the DM clarify what spells it affects - some spells only add an AC bonus as a side-effect (Protection vs Evil, Alter Self...). Also see Pierce Magical Concealment in the same book.

  • Stifle Spell PHB2: a nice spell, if only useful for a window of a few levels after you get it. Only prep it when you're reasonably certain you'll face casters.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
For the Resisting Dispels section:

Master Specialist 7 (Moderate school esoterica - Conjuration): Attempts to dispel your Conjuration spells treat your CL as 5 higher than normal.

For Class Features that affect dispel magic:

Five levels of Abjurant Champion mean that you can cast Dispel Magic as a Swift Action.

Cheers,

Pryor
please list the level of spells and what classes get them. It makes it a lot simpler for readers to plan in their hand without consorting 10 books first.
As a note to your section on Metamagic Feats, the dispel check (d20+Caster Level) is a variable, numeric effect, and thus a maximized Greater Dispel Magic will be a 20+Caster Level, etc etc. So not only will it mean you take their item out for longer, but it means that unless they're a much higher caster than you, you're going to beat them.
For resisting dispels, there is also the Conceal Spellcasting skill trick in Complete Scoundrel.
As a note to your section on Metamagic Feats, the dispel check (d20+Caster Level) is a variable, numeric effect, and thus a maximized Greater Dispel Magic will be a 20+Caster Level, etc etc. So not only will it mean you take their item out for longer, but it means that unless they're a much higher caster than you, you're going to beat them.

how about no.

Reread dispel magic and similar spells, it says make a caster level check against the spell.

Reread Maximize spell, one thing that it says it doesn't maximize is opposed checks for a spell.
how about no.

Reread dispel magic and similar spells, it says make a caster level check against the spell.

Reread Maximize spell, one thing that it says it doesn't maximize is opposed checks for a spell.

Targeted Dispel
One object, creature, or spell is the target of the dispel magic spell. You make a dispel check (1d20 + your caster level, maximum +10) against the spell or against each ongoing spell currently in effect on the object or creature. The DC for this dispel check is 11 + the spell’s caster level. If you succeed on a particular check, that spell is dispelled; if you fail, that spell remains in effect.

That's not an opposed check, as it's a set target. If they were rolling a dice, it'd be opposed. The enemy isn't making a check, so it's not opposed.

Opposed Checks
An opposed check is a check whose success or failure is determined by comparing the check result to another character’s check result. In an opposed check, the higher result succeeds, while the lower result fails. In case of a tie, the higher skill modifier wins. If these scores are the same, roll again to break the tie.

That's not an opposed check, as it's a set target. If they were rolling a dice, it'd be opposed. The enemy isn't making a check, so it's not opposed.

you are right, my logic was incorrect.

regardless though you are still wrong in your result for your logic is also off

Q)Do Empower Spell and Maximize Spell affect d20 rolls
made as part of a spell’s effect (such as an attack roll or
dispel check)?

A)No. Any attack roll, saving throw, skill check, dispel check,
or any other d20 roll required to adjudicate a spell’s success or
failure is not considered a “variable, numeric effect” of the
spell and thus is unaffected by feats such as Empower Spell or
Maximize Spell.

regardless though you are still wrong in your result for your logic is also off

Well, that certainly clarifies it. Pity.
You haven't mentioned it yet but I'm sure you'll get to it: IoSV has Kalidoscopic doom too which dispells and visits prismatic effects too. 1/day IIRC but it can be a nice way to wreck havoc with a caster.

Dampen spell might deserve a mention too, not the world's best but sometimes all you need is to kill the DC for a save or suck spell.
@Pryor: thanks for the additions.

please list the level of spells and what classes get them. It makes it a lot simpler for readers to plan in their hand without consorting 10 books first.

The level is already there ? (it's the first thing on each line) I'll think about adding the classes.

The Dampen Spell I remember sucks, but I'll take another look. It kicks in when you fail to dispel IIRC: well, that should never happen. :P
Kaleiscopic Doom is there already.

If you could empower Dispels, this handbook would probably not exist - dispelling would be too easy. Still, I'll add a note about that.

I'll mention Conceal Spellcasting (and False Theurgy) - good point - but Battlemagic Perception bypasses it. Editing is pretty boring so I may not work any longer on it today.

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Dampen spell as I have it costs a spell slot and lowers the DC of the save by the level of the spell slot given up. Doesn't even have to match schoolwise. It's useful if you need to save and works well for sorcerers and such that need something to throw in the way of powerful magic. Is it worth the two feats required (improved counter spell and then Dampen spell)? As in all things, depends .
I re-read it : I misremembered it, except for the part where it sucks. If you're going to throw away a spell slot, you might as well cast Celerity and use the extra action to blast the other spellcaster to death, or break line of effect (Wings of Cover or Celerity+Wall of Force)... or you could follow the guide, not take those 2 feats and dispel the spell. I won't include it since it's not related to counterspelling but it would get a bad rating anyway.

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yes yes yes omen of peace it's not the greatest, but if you render a spell useless you have countered it as it has no real effect. Yes you could go celerity and waste a spell and be dazed until the end of your next turn. Your option. Or you could blow a low level spell that drops the DC into range for everyone around to make their save. Drop a third level spell kill the DC and not be dazed and used two spells for counterspelling one, or immediately drop a low level spell to render the save low enough the target can pass it and not be affected. Pointing out that if you are Dazed you can't take actions. Celerity does that to you until the end of your next turn.

In Summation:

Lose a round and spend 2 spells (1 4th level and whatever your other is) to counter 1 spell (there by taking yourself out of the fight for a round and making sure that next spell has less to worry about)

OR

Spend 1 spell and render that save or suck spell's DC down to where everyone can make it. (getting rid of a spell you might not have needed anyways especially if you play wizard and had a just in case spell you won't need, and still being able to act on your next action.)

Yup I have to say that sucks loads. I mean I can do with any 1 spell what you spend 2 spells and an extra action doing.
yes yes yes omen of peace it's not the greatest, but if you render a spell useless you have countered it as it has no real effect. Yes you could go celerity and waste a spell and be dazed until the end of your next turn. Your option. Or you could blow a low level spell that drops the DC into range for everyone around to make their save. Drop a third level spell kill the DC and not be dazed and used two spells for counterspelling one, or immediately drop a low level spell to render the save low enough the target can pass it and not be affected. Pointing out that if you are Dazed you can't take actions. Celerity does that to you until the end of your next turn.

In Summation:

Lose a round and spend 2 spells (1 4th level and whatever your other is) to counter 1 spell (there by taking yourself out of the fight for a round and making sure that next spell has less to worry about)

OR

Spend 1 spell and render that save or suck spell's DC down to where everyone can make it. (getting rid of a spell you might not have needed anyways especially if you play wizard and had a just in case spell you won't need, and still being able to act on your next action.)

Yup I have to say that sucks loads. I mean I can do with any 1 spell what you spend 2 spells and an extra action doing.

'cept that it's not guaranteed that everyone will save. I mean, a level n spell for an effective +n to saves? That's pathetic. Why not just cast Superior Resistance every morning and have a +6 to saves all day long and not just vs a single spell?
yes yes yes omen of peace it's not the greatest, but if you render a spell useless you have countered it as it has no real effect. Yes you could go celerity and waste a spell and be dazed until the end of your next turn. Your option. Or you could blow a low level spell that drops the DC into range for everyone around to make their save. Drop a third level spell kill the DC and not be dazed and used two spells for counterspelling one, or immediately drop a low level spell to render the save low enough the target can pass it and not be affected. Pointing out that if you are Dazed you can't take actions. Celerity does that to you until the end of your next turn.

In Summation:

Lose a round and spend 2 spells (1 4th level and whatever your other is) to counter 1 spell (there by taking yourself out of the fight for a round and making sure that next spell has less to worry about)

OR

Spend 1 spell and render that save or suck spell's DC down to where everyone can make it. (getting rid of a spell you might not have needed anyways especially if you play wizard and had a just in case spell you won't need, and still being able to act on your next action.)

Yup I have to say that sucks loads. I mean I can do with any 1 spell what you spend 2 spells and an extra action doing.

I know. You should nova if you're going to use Celerity, so you shouldn't use it if you're not confident that you'll incapacitate the enemy.

If your allies are close and you're dragonblooded, Wings of Cover (2nd level) protects them completely from one spell. Which would you rather invest : 2 feats or 1 spell known ? (The spell also works against weapon attacks)

I thought we were talking about a sorcerer, who has a small chance of finding Improved Counterspell useful. It's even more of a waste on a wizard.

Now, what this whole handbook is about: consider a Cloistered Cleric 1/Wizard X with the Inquisition and Undeath domains. Assuming a Cha of 8, she gets 6 turn attempts per day (she can get a Nightstick at higher levels for 4 more) : 6/day she can counterspell as an immediate action. Instead of your 2 feats, she takes Divine Defiance and Arcane Mastery. Without even going into Master Specialist or Io7V, she gets 24 (at CL 11) with Dispel Magic : perhaps not enough for the BBEG, but definitely enough for all the other spellcasters she'll encounter. If she specializes a bit more, she'll roll over spellcasters of a much higher level.

Plus, what CubeKnight said. Please don't mistake my bluntness for rudeness/a complex of superiority/... : this feat really isn't the optimized choice. If you find it fun, more power to you.

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Ah, internet context noted sorry for that. I agree not everyone will save however it can be a help, usually I don't mess or run out of feats ,that much in my playing groups but we tend not to go all out on things. I do feel it deserved mention becuase it does offer another option. I agree that the cloistered wizard is nasty but not everyone is going to take that. I also agree it is more optimized.

I thought the book was about all counterspelling/dispel/spell killer methods. However having re-read the disclaimer I see it's more about narrow focus (albeit with wonderful results) instead of a more through broader essay on the different forms of killing spells, which certainly makes your points much clearer to me.
No problem. Discussions like that are helpful : they let me shape the contour of the handbook, and force me to be more explicit about my gut feelings.

I wrote a class section, plus the boosting spells and the items. I added the spell levels for Clerics - it's definitely a good idea. I'd like some help to evaluate Warlocks as dispellers/counterspellers, as well as the Soultouched Spellcasting feat from MoI - they are outside my area of interest/expertise.
Also, if you find a good picture to put at the top of the page, you'll get a cookie.

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@Omen_of_Peace: I'm afraid the build that you posted (using a single level of Cloistered Cleric) does not qualify for the Divine Defiance feat. DD requires a Divine Caster Level of 3+. However, were you to take Practiced Spellcaster (Cleric), you could get around that limitation.

Cheers,

Pryor
Thanks. I was aware of that, but I had just pasted preliminary notes in the OP. The details of the build are up by the way.

With a slightly different build (better for dispels, worse otherwise), I reach a dispel check of 50 with Chain Dispel - I don't think I can go higher, but feel free to point me to other tricks. (I hear there's a +2 bonus somewhere in the Dragonlance books but I don't have them)

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i would probably prefer to use illuminan as a race and use the sigils to boost your caster level two higher thus allowing divine censure and keeping your arcane caster level at your cl.
Excellent point ! My DM has an irrational (ok, not completely irrational) dislike of Illumians, so I've never played one and I always forget about the b*ggers. I will definitely add them as alternate race.

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Incarnum provides a combo.

Incandescant Champion 4, with Psycarnum Infusion, gets CHA mod to whatever feat you can find, like ...
Soultouched Spellcasting feat, which gives invested essentia # as a bonus to SR piercing and dispelling checks.
Stick the two together and +CHA mod to SR and Dispel checks.
This is no where near as powerful as Psycarnum + Metamagic, which got it's own super thread back in the day.

Bloodline 3 would get a second IncChamp + PI check, so you could do both, concentrating on Dispelling.
You'd be losing 9th levels spells, regardless of which way you do this.
Psycarnum Metamagic Mega Dispeller - without 9th level spells seems a reasonable trade off.

Get 1 level of Tattooed Monk, otherwise useless, and the mod # can go to (1.5*CHA mod).

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Thanks for the tip.
Do you have any build that would use this trick and be playable ? It needs a PP reserve for the focus (psionic race ?), a Cha emphasis to make the trick interesting... Since you mention an associated metamagic trick, I imagine Sorcerer would be decent. But you need BAB +6 for Incandescent Champion.
Bloodlines are pretty bad for casters in general.

Dromite Paladin 2/Sorcerer 4/Spellsword 1/AbjCh 5/IncChampion 4/X 4 seems weak for a 1/day crazy dispelling.

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[*] Wizard: As often, the king of the roost. Getting turn undead early will force you to lose a caster level, but Master Abjurer flows naturally into Io7V and Archmage - you end up with incredible synergies !

Not sure what you define as "early" but Wizard's can qualify for Sacred Exorcist at level 7. That means turn undead at level 8 with no lost caster levels.

Very easy qualifier too - no feats, needs only 1 spell in spellbook and 2 knowledges which are both class skills.
Ah, very confusing phrasing on my part. You want Turn Undead only to power Divine Defiance (which requires divine caster level 3), so Sacred Exorcist unfortunately doesn't help. I edited it.

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Spellcarved Soldier (Races of Eberron) gains a resistance to dispels.
In my sig, check my guide to divine power gishes for a *gish* build that tosses out +17 dispel magics every round as a swift action. It's a great dispeller, but can also deal normal gish melee damage, and effectively has evasion and mettle to boot.
@Pryor: thanks for the additions.

I'll mention Conceal Spellcasting (and False Theurgy) - good point - but Battlemagic Perception bypasses it. Editing is pretty boring so I may not work any longer on it today.

The description of Battlemagic Perception states, regarding sensing a spell, states:

"With a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) you can even ascertain the spell being cast."

The description of False Theurgy states:

"Any creature using Spellcraft or any other means to identify the spell you're casting believes it to be the other spell instead.

Therefore, Battlemagic Perception does not beat False Theurgy.
Thanks for the correction: it's good to have people keep me in line. I would have double-checked before posting it in the guide itself, since I'm aware that my memory is fallible (as you just proved).

Though not all mages will have that skill trick (it's perfect for Beguilers), it does mean a counterspeller should not always trust the spell identification. Disguise Spell is even worse in that regard since it can be used repeatedly.

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Dispelling & Counterspelling Compilation


I'll pony up that Pierce Magical Protection is probably one of the best buff dispelling tools in the game, since it's auto success, ignores the AC benefit of those buffs, and works against any spell that grants an AC benefit.

However, the -8 caster level from this and Mage Slayer probably means you won't be using it in a dispel build.

====Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
As alternative to archmage, I suggest Srinshee's spell shift from Lost Empires of Faerun. Yes, it's a 9th-level spell, but it's better than the class's ability. A cleric could get it by using Divine Magician. For maximum effect, use Divine Metamagic to make the spell last all day.
Great suggestion ! The redirecting ability is not as good as the one granted by Reaving Dispel, but it has a duration so that you can use it with several lower-level dispels.

@aelrynth: I had initially decided not to mention PMP because it requires a completely different focus, but I guess it can't hurt.

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The redirecting ability is not as good as the one granted by Reaving Dispel, but it has a duration so that you can use it with several lower-level dispels.

The spell should also work with Divine Defiance, which may not even require spelling spell slots. Between that and battlemagic perception, I could see it being worth using a standard action to cast.
Divine Defiance does require slots, simply because any other interpretation is ridiculous. ;) More constructively, there is another feat in FoE - which I now realize I didn't add - that allows you to spend several turn attempts to counter someone's spell, but still requires you to ready an action.
And the text of Divine Defiance does say "Jozan can [...] counter [...] if he had prepared the spell." 'If', not 'as if'.

Now, don't worry about Spell Shift: I just gave it a raving review. It's great and yet it does not obsolete Reaving Dispel (think about a buffed BBEG wading into melee...) - a Divine Magician cleric will have to choose one (an Archivist will have both !).

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Yeah, that's a good point about the feat's text. Does that mean a roll would be required as normal if using dispel magic or a similar spell?
It allows you to counterspell without readying an action, as an immediate action : that's it. As per the counterspelling rules, you still need to use Dispel Magic (& Co.) and succeed on the dispel check or identify the spell and counter it with itself or another appropriate spell (Slow vs Haste).

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Sounds a lot more balanced than other interpretations I've seen. Good.

As a side note, I don't think the ring of spell-battle from the MIC allows you redirect disjunction. It's not a targeted spell.
Yeah, that came up elsewhere too. The old version in CA allowed it and I mixed them up.

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Excellent point ! My DM has an irrational (ok, not completely irrational) dislike of Illumians, so I've never played one and I always forget about the b*ggers. I will definitely add them as alternate race.

There is a little snatch with the Practised Spellcaster and the illumian trick.

Does a 1st-level wizard/4th-level rogue with Practiced
Spellcaster qualify for a prestige class that requires
“Spellcaster level 5th”?

No. This prestige class requirement doesn’t refer to your
caster level (a value which can be modified by many feats,
class features, and even temporary effects) but to your actual
level in a spellcasting class. (If it helps, you can think of this
requirement as “Spellcaster, 5th level.”)
The same applies for characters whose caster level is less
than their class level. A 5th-level paladin meets the “Spellcaster
level 5th) requirement, even though her actual caster level is
only 2nd.