Permanent Magic Spells

While on a long drive yesterday, my son and I spent some time discussing counterspells, which I plan to include in our homebrew game Magic & Monsters. During the explanations, examples, and answering of questions, the subject of permanent magic came up.

Permanent magic spells are something that I’ve always had trouble getting. Not the idea that effects are permanent, of course, but the exact nature of a permanent spell versus one that is instantaneous. In short, I think that most spells that are listed as “permanent” should, in fact, be “instant.” At least as I’m understanding it. Which might be completely wrong.

Here is how I see it:

  • Permanent spells create an enchantment that persists, well, permanently. Continual light creates an enchantment which produces light, and the enchantment does not expire. Similarly, Arcane (Wizard) Lock, Feeblemind, and Polymorph Other create a sorcery on something or someone that continues to effect them and does not run out.
  • Instant spells are enchantments which do something that has a permanent effect but are not perpetual magic. Fireball creates a huge ball of fire which wreaks all sorts of havoc, but then it’s gone. The fires it started burn on normally, but there is no magic left other than maybe a few residual traces. In the same vein, teleport, push, and cone of cold do something magical and then are gone.

My issue, though, is with the majority of spells normally listed as “permanent” which have permanent effects but are not, in my opinion, actually permanent spells. Cure light wounds, for instance, heals someone and the healing is real and permanent. But is the subject still under the effects of a spell? I say not. A detect magic on the subject or wound would not return a positive result, would it? A dispel magic would not undo the healing, would it? A typical high level adventurer is not walking around with dozens or hundreds of healing spells on him forever, is he?

I think that most “permanent” spells would be more accurately classified as “instant.” The enchantment of permanent spells goes on indefinitely and can be detected and or dispelled. Instant spells can not.

Does this make sense? Am I missing something?

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