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Magic is a strange force infused into the entire multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons. It is power and energy found in everything. Ordinary creatures can't directly manipulate this raw magic, but they have learned to create a fabric of magic called the Weave that allows them to channel it. They are called spellcasters.[1][2]

There are two types of spellcasters: arcane and divine. Those that use arcane magic rely on study of the Weave to be able to manipulate it. These are bards, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards. Those that use divine magic call upon gods and other powerful entities for assistance. These are clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers.[2]

Regardless of the source of their abilities, all are able to cast spells: manipulations of the Weave that produce a variety of effects. There's little limit on what spells can do. While spells are most known for dealing or mitigating damage and other such harmful effects, they can also restore life and vigor, help with mundane activities, make shelter, and many more capabilities.[3]

Spells

Level

All spells have a level within the range of 0 to 9. A level 0 spell is called a cantrip. Generally, the higher-level a spell is, the more power its effects have. Higher-level spells often have more damage dice, can affect larger area or more creatures, or have more extensive manipulation.[1]

The higher the level of a spell, the higher the level of a character must be to cast it. There is no direct correspondence between the spell's level and the caster's level.[1] For example, the earliest any creature can cast third-level spells is at level 5.[4][5][6] Some gain access at even later levels.[7][8][9][10] Regardless of when it can be accessed, the higher level a spell is, the higher level the caster must be to be able to use it.

Cantrips

Spells of level 0, more commonly called cantrips, are simple spells fixated in a caster's mind.[11] They can't be unlearned, but are always available for a caster to use and absorb no spell slots.[1][12]

Ritual

A spell marked as a ritual has the option of following a special rule when cast: the caster can choose to cast it as a ritual. Doing so will increase the casting time by 10 minutes and the spell can only be cast at its lowest possible level. However, a ritual-cast spell will not expend a spell slot.[1]

Not everyone is capable of casting a ritual spell. By default, only bards, clerics, druids, and wizards are able.[13][14][15][6] The spell must also be prepared, or known in the case of bards, who have no prepared spells.[14][15][13] Only wizards are able of casting unprepared spells as rituals.[6] A character with the Ritual Caster feat can also cast ritual spells of the class they choose when they take the feat.[16] Additionally, warlocks with the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation are capable of ritual casting spells they find and add to their Book of Shadows, obtained from the Pact of the Tome boon.[5]

Spell Slots

Casting a spell is a taxing ordeal and can only be done a certain number of times before the spellcaster must take a long rest. These numbers are represented in spell slots. When all spell slots of a level are depleted, no spells can be cast at that level. They can, however, be upcasted (See "Higher Casting").[17]

The higher level a character is, the more experience they have in spellcasting, so they're able to cast more spells between breaks and spells of higher levels.

Higher Casting

All spells below level 9 can be cast using a spell slot higher than their base one. This consumes the higher-leveled spell slot used instead of a spell slot from the base level. The only requirement is that you have the spell slot you intend to use available.[17] Casting a spell with a higher-leveled slot is called upcasting. Cantrips can never be upcasted.[12]

Certain spells when upcasted will yield benefits. This can vary by spell. The most common effects are an increase to damage, the area of effect, the duration, and the number of creatures that can be targeted.[18][19][20] Spells that have benefits when upcasted will have said benefits described. If nothing is described, then the spell does the exact same thing it would if cast at its base level.[17]

Full-caster

Full-casters are powerful magic users who dedicate themselves to the study of magic. They have access to numerous spells and cantrips that give them a strong variety of options to deal with foes and issues that may come up.[13][14][15] In exchange, however, full-casters tend to be less hardy.[4][6]

Bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards are full-casters.[13][14][15][4][6] By technicality, warlocks are as well, but they have special rules due to the nature of their magic.[5]

There is no consistent number of cantrips that full-casters know. Bards and druids start with 2, clerics and wizards start with 3, and sorcerers start with 4. However, all gain an additional one at levels 4 and 10. Similarly, there is no consistent number of spells that full-casters know, though all gain access to higher levels of spells as shown in the table below.[13][14][15][4][5][6]

Spell Slots per Spell Level
Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 2
2nd 3
3rd 4 2
4th 4 3
5th 4 3 2
6th 4 3 3
7th 4 3 3 1
8th 4 3 3 2
9th 4 3 3 3 1
10th 4 3 3 3 2
11th 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Half-caster

Half-casters are spellcasters that learn spells at half the rate of full-casters. While they hold reliable magical capability, their spells are geared toward improving their martial prowess and other class features. They also know no cantrips and only begin to have access to spells at level 2.[8][9]

Paladins and rangers are half-casters.[8][9] However, where rangers know a limited number of spells, paladins don't adhere to the "Spells Known" column and know all of their class' spells, much like a cleric or druid. They in turn have a limited number of spells they can prepare per long rest (See "Prepared Spells").[8]

Spell Slots per Spell Level
Level Spells Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2nd 2 2
3rd 3 3
5th 4 4 2
7th 5 4 3
9th 6 4 3 2
11th 7 4 3 3
13th 8 4 3 3 1
15th 9 4 3 3 2
17th 10 4 3 3 2 1
19th 11 4 3 3 2 2

Third-caster

Third-casters are spellcasters who learn spells at a third of the rate of full-casters. They are also typically limited in what schools they can select spells from. Though limited in this way, they specialize themselves to enhance their primary capabilities, giving an edge others of the class don't have.[7][10]

Artificers1, the rogue's Arcane Trickster2 subclass, and the fighter's Eldritch Knight subclass are third-casters.[21][7][10]

Spell Slots per Spell Level
Level Cantrips Spells Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
3rd 2 3 2
4th 2 4 3
7th 2 5 4 2
8th 2 6 4 2
10th 3 7 4 3
11th 3 8 4 3
13th 3 9 4 3 2
14th 3 10 4 3 2
16th 3 11 4 3 3
19th 3 12 4 3 3 1
20th 3 13 4 3 3 1

1: Artificers do not get cantrips.

2: The Arcane Trickster subclass starts with one additional cantrip, Mage Hand. For the purposes of this table, it is not counted.

Known Spells

Every spellcaster has a certain number of spells they know. This is separate from their spell slots. Spell slots mark how many times spells can be used. Known spells are what spells can be chosen from to cast.[1] Spellcasters know many more spells than they have spell slots.[6] For example, clerics, druids, and paladins know all of their class' spells.[14][15][8]

Artificers, bards, rangers, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards have a limited number of spells they know. They choose which spells from their class' spell list they want to be able to cast instead of having every spell available. From their list of known spells, they decide which to expend a spell slot for and cast.[21][13][9][4][5][6]

The number of spells a spellcaster knows at a given level is in their class description. When the number increases, they can learn a new spell.[17] Any spell on their class' spell list is available, so long as its level isn't higher than their highest spell slot level.[13][9][4][5][6]

Additionally, whenever a spellcaster gains a level in their class, they can unlearn a spell they previously knew and replace it with a new one.[13][4][6] The level of the new spell does not have to be the same as the level of the old one. Replacing a spell doesn't add to the number of spells known since a spell is being lost in the process of gaining one.

Prepared Spells

Clerics, druids, paladins, and wizards know a wide variety of spells. For all but wizards, they have their entire class' list available.[14][15][8] Due to the sheer volume, it's impossible for anyone to remember how to cast every spell at a given time. As a result, characters of these classes choose a list of prepared spells at the end of each long rest. These spells are ones that the character has committed to their memory.[22]

Until the end of their next long rest, they are able to cast these prepared spells, but no others. The unprepared spells may be on their spell list, but they don't have them at immediate recollection.[1] Prepared spells may only be changed at the end of a long rest, as the character will have had time over the rest to study, meditate, or pray to memorize new spells.[6][14][8][15]

The maximum number of spells that can be prepared at a time is equal to the character's spellcasting ability modifier plus their level in that class.[6][14][15] The only exception to this is paladins, who only get prepared spells equal to their spellcasting ability modifier plus half of their paladin levels.[8]

Casting a Spell

The casting of a spell takes several components, including the action time, range, components, and damage it may deal.[23] An important note to be made is that you cannot cast a spell while wearing armor you're not proficient in due to the distraction the unfamiliar gear causes.[1]

Casting Time

The casting time determines what part of a round can be used for casting a particular spell. The three main types are action, bonus action, and reaction. Some spells can take minutes or hours and must be cast outside of combat.[24]

Duration

The duration specifies how long a spell lasts. For the most part, the duration is instantaneous. The spell goes into immediate effect and resolves itself shortly. Longer durations extend the effects. The time varies greatly, from one round to several hours. Often times, these longer durations require concentration, or focus on the spell. Only one spell can be concentrated on at a single time. Casting another concentration spell will automatically end the first one.[25][26]

Range

The range of a spell determines how far away from the caster the spell's effect can take place. If the range is self, it only effects the caster and will list further range in its description. In the case of the range being touch, the caster must touch whichever creature it wants to cast a spell on. Otherwise, a distance is listed.[27]

In the case of combat spells, the range usually means the distance the target is from the caster.[28] For spells with an area of effect, it can determine the point of origin for the area.[29]

Area of Effect

Area of effect refers to the shape a spell takes in space. The shape can be in 2-dimensions or 3-dimensions, and usually has a point of origin determined by the location or choice of the creature that cast the spell. The areas are line, cone, cube, sphere, and cylinder.[27][28][29]

A line is the only two-dimensional area of effect. The description of the spell indicates the width and length of it. Normally, the point of origin isn't included in the effect unless the spellcaster indicates that it is.[29]

A cone extends in any direction from the point of origin, growing larger in a circle shape until it reaches the length indicated in the spell's description. Like most others, the spellcaster can decide if the point of origin is included in the effect.[29]

The point of origin on a cube lies on what would be the surface of it. The spellcaster can choose any point on the cube in this way. The size of a cube indicated in the spell description is the size of each face, and the point of origin is not included unless the spellcaster says that it is.[29]

A sphere extends in all directions from the point of origin. This is the only shape in which the point of origin must be included in the effect. The size indicated in the spell direction refers to the radius of the sphere.[29]

The space a cylinder takes is determined by its height, radius, and point of origin. The cylinder begins on the ground and extends upwards to the height indicated in the spell description. However, the point of origin isn't included in the effect unless the spellcaster says it is.[29]

Components

Three parts make up spell components: verbal, somatic, and material. Verbal refers to words spoken, somatic refers to arcane gestures made with the hands and body, and material refers to objects whose presence is required for casting. If a class says a creature is capable, material components can be replaced with an arcane focus if the material doesn't have a specific gold price labeled and if it isn't consumed during the casting. Classes that can't use an arcane focus may instead use a component pouch to hold their materials.[30]

If a creature is through some matter silenced, it can't cast spells that require a verbal component.[31] Similarly, if it's restrained by any means, it can't perform somatic components and can't cast spells that have a somatic requirement. If the creature doesn't have an arcane focus or the material listed in their possession, they can't cast spells that need a material component. Missing any of these makes a creature ineligible to cast a spell that needs it, even if they meet the other component requirements.[30]

Damage

Main article: Damage Type
Several spells deal damage of different types. Typically, it's only one damage type, but exceptions such as Flame Strike and Ice Knife have known to exist. However, determining the impact of the spell can vary from regular weapons. While many spells use attack rolls, some require saving throws or auto-hit their target.[23]

An attack roll is handled the same way as any other roll. You roll a 20-sided dice, add your proficiency bonus, and add your spellcasting ability modifier. If the total number is greater than or equal to the target's AC, the spell hits and deals damage.[32]

A saving throw is another way to determine impact. Any creature targeted by the spell must roll the saving throw specified in the spell's description. The number they must roll higher than is determined by adding your proficiency bonus, your spellcasting ability modifier, and the number 8. This number is called your spell save difficulty class, or spell DC. If a creature rolls lower than it, then they take the spell's full effect. If they meet or roll higher than it, the effect of the spell varies but is less than what would happen if they failed the save.[33]

Occasionally, spells will require both. Ray of Sickness requires an attack roll to see if the spell hits. It deals damage, then requires the target to make a saving throw to avoid being poisoned.[34] In rare cases, spells may use neither and always deal damage. The most famous of these is Magic Missile, though it can be countered by the Shield spell.[18][35]

Spellcasting Ability Modifier

A creature's spellcasting ability modifier, or SAM, is the ability score whose modifier they use when calculating attack rolls and spell DCs for their spells. The ability score used is typically determined by class. Bards, sorcerers, warlocks, and paladins use Charisma,[13][4][5][8] wizards use Intelligence,[6] and clerics, druids, and rangers use Wisdom.[14][15][9] Some creatures are capable of innate spellcasting, however, and use what ability score is specified by their race.[36][37][38] Most adhere to Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom, but some races have been known to use others, such as genasi using Constitution.[39]

Schools of Magic

Every spell is part of a school of magic. These schools organize spells by the process of casting and the effect of spells. As such, each school is a brief summation of what a spell does.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "What Is A Spell?." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 201-202.
  2. ^ a b "The Weave of Magic." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 205.
  3. ^ a b "The Schools of Magic." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 203.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Sorcerer." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 99-104
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Warlock." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 105-111
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Wizard." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 112-119.
  7. ^ a b c "Eldritch Knight." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 75
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Paladin." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 82-88
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Ranger." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 89-93
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  11. ^ "Your Spellbook." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 114
  12. ^ a b "Cantrips." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 201
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bard." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 51-55
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cleric." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 56-63
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  20. ^ a b "Darkness." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 230
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  24. ^ "Casting Time." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 202.
  25. ^ "Duration." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 203.
  26. ^ "Concentration." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 203.
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  35. ^ a b "Shield." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 275.
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  50. ^ "Tongues." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 283.
  51. ^ "Command." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 223.
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  53. ^ "Otto's Irresistible Dance." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 264.
  54. ^ "Vicious Mockery." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 285.
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  56. ^ "Healing Word." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 250.
  57. ^ "Sending." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 274.
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  65. ^ "Revivify." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 272.
  66. ^ "Skill Empowerment." Xanathar's Guide to Everything, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 165.
  67. ^ "Feather Fall." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 239.
  68. ^ "Heat Metal." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 250.
  69. ^ "Polymorph." Player's Handbook, by Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014, p. 266.