Template:Spellcasting 5E

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This spells on this page have been updated to the Player’s Handbook (10th printing) as detailed in Errata: Player’s Handbook (Version 2.0, 2018).

Spell casting

When a character casts any spell, the same basic rules are followed, regardless of the character’s class or the spell’s effects.

Each spell description begins with a block of information, including the spell’s name, level, school of magic, casting time, range, duration, and components. The rest of a spell entry describes the spell’s effect.

Spell slots

Regardless of how many spells a caster knows or prepares, they can cast only a limited number of spells before resting. Manipulating the fabric of magic and channeling its energy into even a simple spell is physically and mentally taxing, and higher-level spells are even more so. Thus, each spellcasting class’s description (except that of the warlock) includes a table showing how many spell slots of each spell level a character can use at each character level. For example, the 3rd-level wizard Umara has four 1st-level spell slots and two 2nd-level slots.

When a character casts a spell, they expend a slot of that spell’s level or higher, effectively “filling” a slot with the spell. You can think of a spell slot as a groove of a certain size—small for a 1st-level slot, larger for a spell of higher level. A 1st-level spell fits into a slot of any size, but a 9th-level spell fits only in a 9th-level slot. So when Umara casts magic missile, a 1st-level spell, she spends one of her four 1st-level slots and has three remaining.

Finishing a long rest restores any expended spell slots.

Some characters and monsters have special abilities that let them cast spells without using spell slots. For example, a monk who follows the Way of the Four Elements, a warlock who chooses certain eldritch invocations, and a pit fiend from the Nine Hells can all cast spells in such a way.

Casting a spell at a higher level

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting. For instance, if Umara casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level, Effectively, the spell expands to fill the slot it is put into.

Some spells, such as magic missile and cure wounds, have more powerful effects when cast at a higher level, as detailed in a spell’s description.

Cantrips

A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, without using a spell slot and without being prepared in advance. Repeated practice has fixed the spell in the caster’s mind and infused the caster with the magic needed to produce the effect over and over. A cantrip’s spell level is 0. Cantrips that cause damage, scale with character level, rather than caster level.

Rituals

Certain spells have a special tag: 🄬 ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. The ritual version of a spell takes 10 minutes longer to cast than normal. It also doesn’t expend a spell slot, which means the ritual version of a spell can’t be cast at a higher level.

To cast a spell as a ritual, a speilcaster must have a feature that grants the ability to do so. The cleric and the druid, for example, have such a feature. The caster must also have the spell prepared or on their list of spells known, unless the character’s ritual Feature specifies otherwise, as the wizard’s does.

Casting time

Most spells require a single action to cast, but some spells require a bonus action, a reaction, or much more time to cast.

Bonus action

A spell east with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

Reactions

Some spells can be cast as reactions. These spells take a fraction of a second to bring about and are cast in response to some event. If a spell can be cast as a reaction, the spell description tells you exactly when you can do so.

Longer casting times

Certain spells (including spells cast as rituals) require more time to cast: minutes or even hours. When you cast a spell with a casting time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn casting the spell, and you must maintain your concentration while you do so. If your concentration is broken, the spell fails, but you don’t expend a spell slot. If you want to try casting the spell again, you must start over.

Range

The target of a spell must be within the spell’s range. For a spell like magic missile, the target is a creature. For a spell like fireball, the target is the point in space where the ball of fire erupts.

Most spells have ranges expressed in feet. Some spells can target only a creature (including you) that you touch. Other spells, such as shield, affect only you. These spells have a range of self.

Spells that create cones or lines of effect that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell’s area of effect must be you.

Once a spell is cast, its effects aren’t limited by its range, unless the spell’s description says otherwise.

Components

A spell’s components are the physical requirements you must meet in order to cast it. Each spell’s description indicates whether it requires verbal (V). somatic (S), or material (M) components. If you can’t provide one or more of a spell’s components, you are unable to cast the spell.

Verbal (V)

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren’t the source of the spell’s power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion. Thus, a character who is gagged or in an area of silence, such as one created by the silence spell, can’t cast a spell with a verbal component.

Somatic (S)

Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

Material (M)

Spellcasting foci
Arcane focus
Crystal 10 gp 1 lb.
Orb 20 gp 3 lb.
Rod 10 gp 2 lb.
Staff 5 gp 4 lb.
Wand 10 gp 1 lb.
Druidic focus
Sprig of mistletoe 1 gp
Totem 1 gp
Wooden staff 5 gp 4 lb.
Yew wand 10 gp 1 lb.
Holy symbol
Amulet 5 gp 1 lb.
Emblem 5 gp
Reliquary 5 gp 2 lb.
Musical instrument
Bagpipes 30 gp 6 lb.
Drum 6 gp 3 lb.
Dulcimer 25 gp 10 lb.
Flute 2 gp 1 lb.
Lute 35 gp 2 lb.
Lyre 30 gp 2 lb.
Horn 3 gp 2 lb.
Pan flute 12 gp 2 lb.
Shawm 2 gp 1 lb.
Viol 30 gp 1 lb.

Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus in place of the components specified for a spell. But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell. If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component For each casting of the spell. A spellcaster must have a hand free to access a spell’s material components—or to hold a spellcasting focus—but it can be the same hand that they use to perform somatic components.

Arcane Focus: An arcane focus is a special item—an orb, a crystal, a rod, a specially constructed staff, a wand-like length of wood, or some similar item—designed to channel the power of arcane spells. A sorcerer, warlock, or wizard can use such an item as a spellcasting focus.

Druidic Focus: A druidic focus might be a sprig of mistletoe or holly, a wand or scepter made of a special wood, a staff drawn whole out of a living tree, or a totem object incorporating feathers, fur, bones, and teeth from sacred animals. Sacred plants include alder, ash, birch, cactus, elder, hazel, holly, juniper, oak, mistletoe, rowan, willow, yew, and yucca. A druid can use such an object as a spellcasting focus.

Holy Symbol: A holy symbol is a representation of a god or pantheon. It might be an amulet depicting a symbol representing a deity, the same symbol carefully engraved or inlaid as an emblem on a shield, or a tiny box holding a fragment of a sacred relic. Appendix B lists the symbols commonly associated with many gods in the multiverse. A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield.

Musical Instrument: Several of the most common types of musical instruments are shown on the table as examples. If you have proficiency with a given musical instrument, you can add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to play music with the instrument. A bard can use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus. Each type musical instrument requires a separate proficiency.

Type Faerûnian examples
keyboard clavichord, harpsichord, pipe organ, piano
percussion chime, bell, drum, gong, tantan, tocken, wargong
string, plucked dulcimer, harp, lyre
string, strummed lute, yarting
string, bowed fiddle, lyra, viol
wind, flute birdpipes, flute, longhorn, pan flute, songhorn, thelarr
wind, horn bugle, glaur, horn, shofar, trumpet
wind, reed bagpipes, gnomish shawm, shawm

Note: in d20, all stringed instruments are in one skill group, as are all wind instruments.

Duration

A spell’s duration is the length of time the spell persists. A duration can be expressed in rounds, minutes, hours, or even years. Some spells specify that their effects last until the spells are dispelled or destroyed.

Instantaneous

Many spells are instantaneous. The spell harms, heals, creates, or alters a creature or an object in a way that can’t be dispelled, because its magic exists only for an instant.

Concentration

Some spells require you to maintain concentration in order to keep their magic active. If you lose concentration, such a spell ends.

If a spell must be maintained with concentration, that fact appears in its Duration entry, and the spell specifies how long you can concentrate on it. You can end concentration at any time (no action required).

Normal activity, such as moving and attacking, doesn’t interfere with concentration. The following factors can break concentration;

  • Casting another spell that requires concentration. You lose concentration on a spell if you cast another spell that requires concentration. You can’t concentrate on two spells at once.
  • Taking damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher. If you take damage from multiple sources, such as an arrow and a dragon’s breath, you make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
  • Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.

The DM might also decide that certain environmental phenomena, such as a wave crashing over you while you’re on a storm-tossed ship, require you to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell.

Targets

A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell’s magic. A spell’s description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below). Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.

A clear path to the target

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can’t be behind total cover.

If you place an area of effect at a point that you can’t see and an obstruction, such as a wall, is between you and that point, the point of origin comes into being on the near side of that obstruction.

Targeting yourself

If a spell targets a creature of your choice, you can choose yourself, unless the creature must be hostile or specifically a creature other than you. If you are in the area of effect of a spell you cast, you can target yourself.

Areas of effect

Spells such as burning hands and cone of cold cover an area, allowing them to affect multiple creatures at once.

A spell’s description specifies its area of effect, which typically has one of five different shapes: cone, cube, cylinder, line, or sphere. Every area of effect has a point of origin, a location from which the spell’s energy erupts. The rules for each shape specify how you position its point of origin. Typically, a point of origin is a point in space, but some spells have an area whose origin is a creature or an object.

A spell’s effect expands in straight lines from the point of origin. If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn’t included in the spell’s area. To block one of these imaginary lines, an obstruction must provide total cover, as explained in chapter 9.

Cone

A cone extends in a direction you choose from its point of origin. A cone’s width at a given point along its length is equal to that point’s distance from the point of origin. A cone’s area of effect specifies its maximum length.

A cone’s point of origin is not included in the cone’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.

Cube

You select a cube’s point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect. The cube’s size is expressed as the length of each side.

A cube’s point of origin is not included in the cube’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.

Cylinder

A cylinder’s point of origin is the center of a circle of a particular radius, as given in the spell description. The circle must either be on the ground or at the height of the spell effect. The energy in a cylinder expands in straight lines from the point of origin to the perimeter of the circle, forming the base of the cylinder. The spell’s effect then shoots up from the base or down from the top, to a distance equal to the height of the cylinder.

A cylinder’s point of origin is included in the cylinder’s area of effect.

Line

A line extends from its point of origin in a straight path up to its length and covers an area defined by its width.

A line’s point of origin is not included in the line’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.

Sphere

You select a sphere’s point of origin, and the sphere extends outward from that point. The sphere’s size is expressed as a radius in feet that extends from the point.

A sphere’s point of origin is included in the sphere’s area of effect.

Saving throws

Many spells specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a spell’s effects. The spell specifies the ability that the target uses for the save and what happens on a success or failure.

The DC to resist one of your spells equals 8 + your spellcasting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus + any special modifiers.

Attack rolls

Some spells require the caster to make an attack roll to determine whether the spell effect hits the intended target. Your attack bonus with a spell attack equals your spellcasting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus.

Most spells that require attack rolls involve ranged attacks. Remember that you have disadvantage on a ranged attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitated.

Combining magical effects

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect—such as the highest bonus—from those castings applies while their durations overlap. Or the most recent effect applies if the castings are equally potent and their durations overlap.

For example, if two clerics cast bless on the same target, that character gains the spell’s benefit only once; he or she doesn’t get to roll two bonus dice.

Technomagic

Main article: D20 Modern (5E)

Some spells have a special tag (🛈) indicating they are technomagic. Such spells are cast normally, but their magic specifically references and interacts with computer systems and electronic devices.

See

Extradimensional spaces
Permanency
spells and magical effects