How Characters Cast Spells
In Part I, I discussed the types of spellcasters and how they interacted with magic in the fantasy realm. It’s time to look at the mechanics of spellcasting. How does it work in practice?
Here are the basics…
- Prepared spells: Some spellcasters need to prepare spell for the day from a greater resource they have access to.
- Known spells: Some spellcasters learn spells until they know them, meaning they do not need to prepare them in advance.
- Spell Slots: Most spellcasters have Spell Slots (Monks are the exception), which represent their capacity to cast spells before their magic is used up and they need to replenish their energy.
- Spell Modifier: All spellcasters use a modifier to work out how effective their spells are. This affects their Spell Attack rolls and rolls for the Spell’s Difficulty Class for opponents to try and match or get a higher result when they roll a saving throw.
Each character class or sub class is a little different, so let’s compare…
Bards don’t study magic, they take what they know and perform. For that reason, bards have known spells and a charisma modifier.
Clerics are conduits for divine power. They use Wisdom as a modifier. They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared. This is their Wisdom modifier + Cleric Level.
Druids draw on nature, as clerics draw on the divine. They use Wisdom as a modifier. They can cast any druid spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared. This is their Wisdom modifier + Druid Level.
Eldritch Knight is a subclass of the Fighter. Like Bards, they have known spells they learn as they improve and apply to their fighting style. They draw from the wizarding spells and their modifier is Intelligence.
Monks learn to use magical energy called Ki. They channel this energy in their martial art practices uses Ki Points. The subclass Way of the Four Elements can cast elemental spells using Ki points. Like Bards and Eldritch Knights, these become Known but are referred to as Elemental Disciplines and not spells. They use a Wisdom modifier to determine out how effective their spells are.
Paladins learn to draw on divine magic as clerics do. They use Charisma as a modifier. They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared. This is their Charisma modifier + half the Paladin’s Level.
Rangers learn to draw on nature as Druids do. But they behave far more like Bards and Eldritch Knights, applying what they have learned and using their Known Spell, learning more as they level up. They use a Wisdom modifier.
Arcane Trickster is a subclass of the Rogue. Like Bards and Rangers, they don’t study magic, they take what they learn and apply it. For that reason, these Rogues have known spells . They use an Intelligence modifier.
Sorcerers have no need to study as magic is in their veins. Very much like Bards, they perform what they know. Because of this, Sorcerers have known spells and a charisma modifier. They also have Sorcerer Points, which can be used to enhance their spells in some way.
Warlocks are peculiar because although they have spell slots, all of these slots are the same level as their current spell level. They can still cast lower level spells but they will be using a higher level spell slot to do it. They perform the gifts of their patron, so like Bards, they have known spells and a charisma modifier.
Wizards are the students of magic and draw from a spellbook to prepare spells (They should also use physical components as part of the spells’ preparations but not all roleplays apply this). Because of this their known spells are whatever spells are in their spellbook, so researching and finding spell scrolls can be exciting! They use the Intelligence modifier. The number of spells they can prepare is their Intelligence modifier + Wizard Level.