Spells

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Spells are magical effects that are created by creatures via spellcasting.[note 1] Spells are frequently cast to deal damage and provide healing, or to inflict conditions on the targets.

All classes are capable of casting spells with the help of scrolls and magic items, and classes with the Spellcasting or Pact Magic features – called spellcasters – have spell slots they can expend to cast spells they know, without the need for scrolls.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Spells are created from the Weave, the magical energies of the multiverse. They are conjured through experience, knowledge, or innate ability, or via the use of scrolls and magical items.

Spell levels[edit | edit source]

All spells have a level – a measure of its power and difficulty to cast. To cast a spell, the caster must usually expend a spell slot of sufficient level. Spells cast from scrolls do not consume spell slots when cast, nor do most spells granted by magic items.

Level 0 spells are called cantrips, and can always be cast at will, without expending a spell slot.

Spellcasting ability[edit | edit source]

Every class – including those without the Spellcasting feature – has a designated ability known as their spellcasting ability, which represents their capacity to cast spells.[note 2]

Spells learned from taking levels in a class will use that class' spellcasting ability modifier. Spells learned from scribing a scroll into your Spellbook count as Wizard spells (since learning from scrolls is a Wizard feature) and thus use Intelligence.

Spells from other sources (including items, Illithid Powers that require a saving throw, and using scrolls directly from inventory) use the spellcasting ability of the class the creature most recently took a first level in.[note 3]

Spell properties[edit | edit source]

Each spell belongs to a school which defines its general purpose, and all spells have a range at which they can be cast, and a specified target or area of effect. A spell may have an instantaneous effect when cast (for example a magical attack), or a spell may have an effect which persists for a specified duration (measured in turns).

Most spells can be interrupted by Counterspell Counterspell before they are cast, and most spells cannot be cast by Silenced Silenced creatures.

Schools of magic[edit | edit source]

Not to be confused with the Wizard School class feature.

Every spell belongs to one of eight schools of magic: abjuration, conjuration, divination, enchantment, evocation, illusion, necromancy, or transmutation. Some class features only benefit spells of a specific school.

Casting time[edit | edit source]

All spells have a casting time that determines whether it requires the caster to take an Action, a Bonus action, or a Reaction. Most spells require the caster to take an action.

Spell saves[edit | edit source]

Harmful spells which don't require an attack roll, such spells that target an area or a specific point in space – or that affect a target directly – often allow targeted creatures to attempt a save against the spell, potentially ignoring or reducing the spell's effect.

The Difficulty Class (DC) of these saves – called the spell save DC – is generally based on the caster's spellcasting DC:

8 + proficiency bonus + spellcasting ability modifier
Examples of spells that require saves

Certain equipment worn by the caster can also affect their Spell DCs.

Spell attack rolls[edit | edit source]

Some harmful spells – typically those cast in the form of rays or as projectiles – require the caster to make an attack roll against the target's AC in order to determine if their spell attack is a hit or a miss.

The caster adds their spellcasting ability modifier, as well as their proficiency bonus, to the results of the attack roll:

D20.png d20 + proficiency bonus + spellcasting ability modifier
Examples of spells that require spell attacks

Concentration[edit | edit source]

Main article: Concentration

Most spells with a duration require Concentration Icons.png Concentration to maintain them. A caster may only maintain the effect of one concentration spell at a time. If concentration on a spell is broken, the spell's effects are ended immediately.

Ending concentration[edit | edit source]

Concentration icon in the hotbar. Clicking "X" will end concentration.

Although concentration normally lasts for a spell's full duration, or until another concentration spell is cast, there are multiple ways for concentration to break:

Manually
Concentration can be ended by the player at any time via the “X” on the current concentration spell's icon, displayed next to the caster's main portrait.
Taking damage
Any time a creature concentrating on a spell takes damage, they make a Constitution save against a DC equal to half the damage taken, or 10, whichever is higher.[note 4] If the save fails, concentration ends.
Conditions
Some conditions – such as Downed Downed or Sleeping Sleeping – also end concentration, without allowing a save.
Long rests
Taking a long rest ends concentration.
Dismissing companion
Sending a companion to camp or otherwise removing them from the active party ends their concentration.

Spellcasters[edit | edit source]

Spellcasters can either be full casters – meaning they can learn up to 6th level spells, half casters – meaning they can learn up to 3rd level spells, or one-third casters – meaning they can learn up to 2nd level spells. Non spellcasters do not gain or add spell slots.

Full casters:

Half casters:

One-third casters:

Non spellcasters:

Known spells[edit | edit source]

Known spells are spells generally learned from taking levels in a class with the Spellcasting or Pact Magic features. Each caster class has access to its own list of spells, though there is significant overlap between classes.

The following classes must learn spells through leveling up:

These classes, with the exception of wizard, also have access to the Replacement Spell feature, which allows them to swap a known spell each time a new level is taken in them. Wizards can instead learn new spells from scrolls, without needing to give up an already known spell.

The following classes automatically learn all their available spells when a level is taken in them:

Prepared spells[edit | edit source]

Prepared Spells Icon.webp Some casters – known as prepared spellcasters to set them apart from spontaneous spellcasters – must prepare a smaller selection of their known spells to cast them. Spells can be prepared at any time except during combat.

Prepared spellcasters include:

The number of prepared spells each class can have at a time is equal to spellcasting ability modifier + class level (minimum of 1).

Additionally, spells granted by racial features or by certain class features (such as by cleric Domains) are considered inherent and are always prepared.

Some spells with ongoing effects that do not require concentration, like Speak with Animals Speak with Animals or Aid Aid, must remain in the caster's prepared spells list after being cast, or their effects will end.

Spell slots[edit | edit source]

All spellcasters have spell slots, which they expend to cast their known spells. Cantrips Cantrips Icon.png do not expend spell slots and can be cast at will. Depleted spell slots are generally replenished by taking a Long Rest (Short Rest for Warlocks), though there are methods of creating additional slots, or replenishing expended ones.

A spell of a given level requires a spell slot of the same level or higher to be expended to cast it. Many spells will be Upcast Icon.png upcast when cast with a higher spell slot, making them more powerful. Even if it gains no other benefit, a spell always counts as a spell of the level of the slot used to cast it.

Spellcasting[edit | edit source]

Spell Slots per Spell Level
ESL Ico knownSpells lvl 01.png Ico knownSpells lvl 02.png Ico knownSpells lvl 03.png Ico knownSpells lvl 04.png Ico knownSpells lvl 05.png Ico knownSpells lvl 06.png
1 2 - - - - -
2 3 - - - - -
3 4 2 - - - -
4 4 3 - - - -
5 4 3 2 - - -
6 4 3 3 - - -
7 4 3 3 1 - -
8 4 3 3 2 - -
9 4 3 3 3 1 -
10 4 3 3 3 2 -
11 4 3 3 3 2 1
12 4 3 3 3 2 1

A caster's available Spellcasting spell slots are determined by the caster's effective spellcaster level (ESL). A full caster's ESL is exactly their class level, whereas the ESL of half-casters and one-third casters is equal to half and one third their level, respectively, rounded up.

When multiple classes with the Spellcasting feature are chosen for a character, the creature's total ESL is instead the summed ESL of every individual spellcasting class they have taken a level in, each rounded down.

Pact Magic[edit | edit source]

Warlocks do not cast spells through the Spellcasting feature, but through their unique Pact Magic feature. Spell slots granted by Pact Magic are always of the highest level the Warlock can cast, and are replenished on a short rest. Spells cast using Pact Magic are always upcast at the highest possible level.

To distinguish them from Spellcasting spell slots, Pact Magic spell slots have a unique colour: 2 Level 1 Warlock Spell Slots.png

Spell slots gained from Pact Magic are calculated differently than those gained from Spellcasting. As such, levels taken in warlock are ignored when calculating ESL.

Other uses of spell slots[edit | edit source]

Some Wizard subclass features (such as Arcane Ward and Grim Harvest) and the Paladin's Divine Smite ability have varying effects depending on level of the spell or spell slot used to power them.

Ritual spells[edit | edit source]

When a Ritual Spell Icon.png ritual spell is cast outside of combat/turn-based mode, it does not consume spell slots and is effectively free to cast. Ritual spells consume spell slots as normal in combat/turn-based mode.

Scrolls[edit | edit source]

Spells can be cast from scrolls that are bought, found or looted. Spells cast from scrolls cannot be upcast (cast with a higher level spell slot for additional benefits e.g. to affect more targets) or benefit from metamagic. Scrolls cannot be created (scribed from a wizard's spellbook). Wizards can learn spells from scrolls (scribe the spell from a scroll into their spellbook). See Wizard/Spell scribing.

See also[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. The term spellcasting refers both to the act of casting spells, as well as the Spellcasting class feature. The latter is always capitalised, whereas the former is generally not.
  2. Some spells designate a specific spellcasting ability regardless of the class casting them. This is most commonly a result of spells obtained via racial features. Arcane Trickster Rogues and Eldritch Knight Fighters gain the Spellcasting feature as part of the subclass selected at Level 3.
  3. A character who starts with 5 levels in Sorcerer will use Charisma for all of their sorcerer spells, as well as spells granted by equipment (e.g. the Firebolt cantrip granted by the Gold Wyrmling Staff) and spell scrolls. If this character at level 6 takes their first level in Wizard then their Wizard spells (including spell scrolls scribed into their Spellbook) will use Intelligence, their Sorcerer spells will continue to use Charisma, but spells granted from equipment and spell scrolls cast directly from inventory will now use Intelligence. If the character at level 7 takes their sixth level in Sorcerer then nothing changes, because Sorcerer is not a "new" class on this character. However if the character at level 8 now takes their first level in Druid then their Sorcerer spells continue to use Charisma, their Wizard spells (including scrolls scribed into their Spellbook) continue to use Intelligence, their Druid spells now use Wisdom, and spells granted by equipment and scrolls cast directly from inventory now use Wisdom since Druid is a "new" class on this character.
  4. Constitution saves are sometimes erroneously referred to as a Constitution checks.
  5. Warlocks have the Pact Magic feature, which functions similarly to Spellcasting.

External links[edit | edit source]

Spell on the Forgotten Realms Wiki