D&D 5E All Spells *At Will*??? (+)


Given some discussions lately, I just had a thought:

What if all spells were at will, but severely curtailed to keep their power level appropriate?

Some spells might have longer casting times, or other restrictions as well, to allow them to be at will. Many spells might just not work, of course, or take some creative "restructuring".

Probably simply a half-baked idea, LOL.

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Resource management (for casters) would be meaningless and action economy would become more important. It also means every encounter would be the same (until the caster changes level), each and every one would be a nova encounter.

I would love to play a game where all casters were balanced like a PF2 kineticist - sure, you can cast burning hands every turn, but you'll only do better than elemental blast if you can catch at least three enemies with it. The trick is to find the right spell for this encounter.

You'd still have the resource of "actions per turn" to manage - which also opens up design space for multi-turn spells that do a lot if you can get to the end of them.


3e Warlocks. And Dragonfire adepts.

They were great except for being way underpowered compared to wizards, druids, and clerics.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm going to assume that the + is not to knock the idea and discuss how we can actually implement this.

We'd have to remove all utility spells in order to keep skills (and non-casters) valid and balanced character options during other pillars of play. Or remove casters from having skills, so casters have their at-will solutions and non-casters have their at-will solutions.

With all spells at-will, and clever players finding loopholes around other restrictions, we would need to carefully balance so that spells can never do more than martials, likely by buffing martials since we can only discuss this positively in a + thread. Right now casters can do more, but only some of the time. Making one side of the equation the same as martials forces the other side of the equation to be the same as martials.

We end up with wonderful character balance - all characters can do the same regardless of casting or not.


I'm going to assume that the + is not to knock the idea and discuss how we can actually implement this.
If people knock it, they knock it, but yeah I'm serious, at least in discussing it. You make some excellent points, @Blue , and I hope others can contribute.

Some spells would likely scale, just like combat cantrips do currently, but the big thing would be nerfing most spells so allowing them to be at-will would not be overpowering.

Changing casting times to be more than 1 action would also making it work for some spells.

To start things off, a spell like cure wounds would either need to take much longer, so we don't have hyper-speed healing, or greatly reduced in power, such as 1 hp instead of 1d8+ hp.

Now, I realize some groups might want to swing things the other way and boost non-casters so spells kept the same wouldn't out-do them, but that route isn't personally what I am going for.


Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Bring back old school turn-count casting.

Whatever the level of the spell, it takes that many of other people's turns before it fires.

Let's say you've got a 4 man band and the 5th level Wizard wants to cast Fireball. The enemy includes 2 bugbears, an ogre, and four goblins.

Initiative comes out:

1) Rogue
2) Wizard
3) Goblins
4) Fighter
6) Cleric
7) Ogre
8) Bugbears

The Wizard starts casting Fireball. It'll go off after Clerics's turn but before the Ogre's turn. If the goblins hit the Wizard before it goes off, Wizard has to make concentration checks or lose the spell.

Slightly different encounter at much higher level. The party are 12th level and are fighting a Red Dragon.

Initiative is:

1) Red Dragon
2) Wizard
3) Fighter
4) Rogue
6) Cleric

Wizard wants to cast Globe of Invulnerability. Spends 6 turns (Including his next turn's action) casting the spell which'll go off between the Fighter's and Rogue's turns.

Low-level spells are super easy to cast in this system and typically go off without a hitch. But anything above 4th level starts becoming more and more of a nightmare, depending on how many enemies and allies are in the fight.

Wolfram stout

I haven't got to test it yet, but Shadowdark looks really good. In short make a spell roll every time you cast a spell...if you make it great it goes off and you can cast it again. Fail and that spell is done for the day.
And/or. Really ramp up the number of Ritual spells. So even if all spells are not at will, you have lots of ritual spells to fall back on.

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