3e SRD:Casting Spells

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Casting Spells[edit]

Choosing a Spell[edit]

To cast a spell, the character must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, the character must concentrate to cast a spell. (See below for details.)

If a spell has multiple versions, the character chooses which version to use when the character casts it. The character doesn't have to prepare (or learn, in the case of a bard or sorcerer) a specific version of the spell.

Once the character has cast a prepared spell, the character can't cast it again until it is prepared again. (If the character has prepared multiple copies of a single spell, each copy can be cast only once.) If the character is a bard or sorcerer, casting a spell counts against the character's daily limit for spells of that level, but the character can cast the same spell again if the character hasn't reached his or her limit.

Spell Slots[edit]

The various character class tables show how many spells of each level a character can cast per day. The character always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell.


To cast a spell, the character must concentrate. If something interrupts the character's concentration while the character is casting, the character must make a Concentration check or lose the spell. The more distracting the interruption and the higher the level of the spell the character is trying to cast, the higher the DC is. If the character fails the check, the character loses the spell just as if the character had cast it to no effect.


Getting hurt or being affected by hostile magic while trying to cast a spell can break the character's concentration and ruin a spell. If while trying to cast a spell the character takes damage, fails a saving throw, or are otherwise successfully assaulted, the character must make a Concentration check. The DC is 10 + points of damage taken + the level of the spell the character is casting. If the character fails the check, the character loses the spell without effect. The interrupting event strikes during spellcasting if it comes between when the character starts and completes a spell (for a spell with a casting time of 1 full round or more) or if it comes in response to the character casting the spell (such as an attack of opportunity provoked by the spell or a contingent attack, such as a readied action).

If the character is taking continuous damage, half the damage is considered to take place while the character is casting a spell. the character must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + one-half the damage that the continuous source last dealt + the level of the spell the character is casting). If the last damage dealt was the last damage that the effect could deal, then the damage is over, and it does not distract the character. Repeated damage, does not count as continuous damage.


If the character is affected by a spell while attempting to cast a spell, the character must make a Concentration check or lose the spell being cast. If the spell affecting the character deals damage, the DC of the Concentration check is 10 + points of damage + the level of the spell the character is casting. If the spell interferes with the character or distracts the character in some other way, the DC is the spell's saving throw DC + the level of the spell the character is casting. For spells with no saving throw, it's the DC that the spell's saving throw would have if it did allow a saving throw.

Grappling or Pinned[edit]

The only spells the character can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) the character has in hand. Even so, the character must make a Concentration check (DC 20 + the level of the spell the character is casting) or lose the spell.

Vigorous Motion[edit]

If the character is riding on a moving mount, taking a bouncy ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rough water, belowdecks in a storm-tossed ship, or simply being jostled in a similar fashion, the character must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + the level of the spell the character is casting) or lose the spell.

Violent Motion[edit]

If the character is on a galloping horse, taking a very rough ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rapids or in a storm, on deck in a storm-tossed ship, or being tossed roughly about in a similar fashion, the character must make a Concentration check (DC 15 + the level of the spell the character is casting) or lose the spell.

Violent Weather[edit]

If the character is in a high wind carrying blinding rain or sleet, the DC is 5 + the level of the spell the character is casting. If the character is in wind-driven hail, dust, or debris, the DC is 10 + the level of the spell the character is casting. The character loses the spell if the character fails the Concentration check. If the weather is caused by a spell, use the rules in the Spell subsection above.

Casting Defensively[edit]

If the character wants to cast a spell without provoking any attacks of opportunity, the character needs to dodge and weave. The character must make a Concentration check (DC 15 + the level of the spell the character is casting) to succeed. The character loses the spell if the character fails.


If the character wants to cast a spell while entangled, the character must make a Concentration check (DC 15) to cast the spell. The character loses the spell if the character fails.


It is possible to cast any spell as a counterspell. By doing so, the character is using the spell's energy to disrupt the casting of the same spell by another character. Counterspelling works even if one spell is divine and the other arcane.

How Counterspells Work[edit]

To use a counterspell, the character must select an opponent as the target of the counterspell. The character does this by choosing the ready action. In doing so, the character elects to wait to complete his or her action until the character's opponent tries to cast a spell. (The character may still move at normal speed, since ready is a standard action.)

If the target of the character's counterspell tries to cast a spell, the character makes a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spell's level). This check is a free action. If the check succeeds, the character correctly identifies the opponent's spell and can attempt to counter it. (If the check fails, the character can't do either of these things.)

To complete the action, the character must cast the correct spell. As a general rule, a spell can only counter itself. If the character is able to cast the same spell and has it prepared (if the character prepares spells), the character casts it, altering it slightly to create a counterspell effect. If the target is within range, both spells automatically negate each other with no other results.

Counterspelling Metamagic Spells[edit]

Metamagic feats are not taken into account when determining whether a spell can be countered.

Specific Exceptions[edit]

Some spells specifically counter each other, especially when they have diametrically opposed effects.

Dispel Magic as a Counterspell[edit]

The character can use dispel magic to counterspell another spellcaster, and the character doesn't need to identify the spell he or she is casting. However, dispel magic doesn't always work as a counterspell.

Caster Level[edit]

A spell's power often depends on its caster level, which is generally equal to the character's class level.

The character can cast a spell at a lower caster level than normal, but the caster level must be high enough for the character to cast the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the same caster level.

Spell Failure[edit]

If the character ever tries to cast a spell in conditions where the characteristics of the spell (range, area, etc.) cannot be made to conform, the casting fails and the spell is wasted.

Spells also fail if the character's concentration is broken and might fail if the character is wearing armor while casting a spell with somatic components.

The Spell’s Result[edit]

Once the character knows which creatures (or objects or areas) are affected, and whether those creatures have made successful saving throws (if any), the character can apply whatever results a spell entails.

Many spells affect particular sorts of creatures. These terms, and terms like them, refer to specific creature types that are defined by these rules.

Special Spell Effects[edit]

Many special spell effects are handled according to the school of the spells in question. Certain other special spell features are found across spell schools.


Some spells refer to attacking. All offensive combat actions, even those that don't damage opponents are attacks. Attempts to turn or rebuke undead count as attacks. All spells that opponents resist with saving throws, that deal damage, or that otherwise harm or hamper subjects are attacks.

Bonus Types[edit]

Many spells give their subjects bonuses on ability scores, Armor Class, attacks, and other attributes. Each bonus has a type that indicates how the spell grants the bonus. Two bonuses of the same type don't generally stack. With the exception of dodge bonuses, most circumstance bonuses, and bonuses granted by a suit of armor and a shield used in conjunction by a creature, only the better bonus works. The same principle applies to penalties — a character suffering two or more penalties of the same type applies only the worst one.

Bringing Back the Dead[edit]

Several spells have the power to restore slain characters to life. Divine spells are better at reviving the dead than arcane spells are. Any creature brought back to life usually loses one level of experience. The character's new XP total is midway between the minimum needed for his or her new level and the minimum needed for the next one. If the character was 1st level, he or she loses 1 point of Constitution instead of losing a level. This level loss or Constitution loss cannot be repaired by any mortal spell, even wish or miracle. Still, the revived character can improve his or her Constitution normally and earn experience by further adventuring to regain the lost level.

Preventing Revivification[edit]

Enemies can take steps to make it more difficult for a character to be returned from the dead. Keeping the body prevents others from using raise dead or resurrection to restore the slain character to life. Casting trap the soul prevents any sort of revivification unless the soul is first released.

Revivification Against One’s Will[edit]

A soul cannot be returned to life if it does not wish to be. A soul knows the name, alignment, and patron deity (if any) of the character attempting to revive it and may refuse to return on that basis.

Combining Magical Effects[edit]

Spells or magical effects usually work as described, no matter how many other spells or magical effects happen to be operating in the same area or on the same recipient. Except in special cases, a spell does not affect the way another spell operates. Whenever a spell has a specific effect on other spells, the spell description explains the effect. Several other general rules apply when spells or magical effects operate in the same place:

Stacking Effects[edit]

Spells that give bonuses or penalties to attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes usually do not stack with themselves. More generally, two bonuses of the same type don't stack even if they come from different spells (or from effects other than spells). The character uses whichever bonus gives the character the better score.

Different Bonus Names[edit]

The bonuses or penalties from two different spells do stack, however, if the effects are of different types. A bonus that isn't named (just a "+2 bonus" rather than a "+2 resistance bonus") stacks with any named bonus or any other unnamed one.

Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths[edit]

In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area, but at different strengths, only the best one applies.

Same Effect with Differing Results[edit]

The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.

One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant[edit]

Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant.

Multiple Mental Control Effects[edit]

Sometimes magical effects that establish mental control render each other irrelevant. Mental controls that don't remove the recipient's ability to act usually do not interfere with each other. If a creature is under the mental control of two or more creatures, it tends to obey each to the best of its ability (and to the extent of the control each effect allows). If the controlled creature receives conflicting orders simultaneously, the competing controllers must make opposed Charisma checks to determine which one the creature obeys.

Spells with Opposite Effects[edit]

Spells that have opposite effects apply normally, with all bonuses, penalties, or changes accruing in the order that they apply. Some spells negate or counter each other completely. This is a special effect that is noted in a spell's description.

Instantaneous Effects[edit]

Two or more magical effects with instantaneous durations work cumulatively when they affect the same object, place, or creature.

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