Recovering Unused Held Spells

MechaPilot

Explorer
While running my usual weekly game last week, one of my players asked about holding an action to cast a spell. I told him the rules, and he inquired if he could recover the cast spell if it wasn't used. I told him about the way the rules handle it (the spell is spent regardless of using it) and I gave it a moment of thought. I decided on the following temporary house rule:

A caster who holds a spell and doesn't use it can, as a bonus action, attempt to recover the spell energy by making an arcana or religion check (whichever is appropriate). The DC of the check is 15 + the spell's level.

What do you think?
 

S'mon

Legend
Seems reasonable, but I would just make it a casting check - Prof + casting stat bonus, same as for spell attack rolls. Unless you want to penalise all the CHA casters.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
It seems unnecessarily complicated. It would be much easier to just say that the spell energy is not expended in the first place, if you don't actually cast the spell. The action economy should be enough to make sure that nobody abuses it.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I would suggest making it a spellcasting ability check instead, similarly to how dispel magic and counterspell work against higher level spells. The DC is 10 + the spell's level. That way it functions identically across all spellcasters, as it could be a bit wierd for a ranger or bard to make an Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) check.
 

the Jester

Legend
For the first couple of years of 5e, I didn't realize that readying a spell cost a slot or concentration. It didn't come up much, but when it did, things worked out fine. I have since house ruled away the "spend the slot even if you don't cast the spell" part of the rules, and haven't found it to be a problem.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
I didn't have a problem with RAW, or your proposal, and was just about to go to another thread when the thought hit me; why are spell casters penalized more than martials with a readied action? It not like an archer loses his arrow, why should a caster lose their spell energy?

Not sure what I think on all this yet, but I'm leaning to houserule no spell slot cost/loss.
 

tglassy

Explorer
Spells are much more effective, or at least potentially effective, than simply attacking with weapons. Weapon damage will damage HP, but spells can damage HP, remove them temporarily from the battlefield, make them switch sides, or any number of things. it is more effective in a fight to make one of the three Orcs attack his friend, rather than just damaging them, unless you can reduce their HP to 0 with that damage. If you don't reduce them to 0, then an enemy with 1 hp has the same CR as the same enemy with 100 HP once it's their turn. But if you incapacitate them, their CR is 0 regardless of how much HP they have.

So it makes sense for Spellcasters to get more penalized for using their abilities.
 

the Jester

Legend
I didn't have a problem with RAW, or your proposal, and was just about to go to another thread when the thought hit me; why are spell casters penalized more than martials with a readied action? It not like an archer loses his arrow, why should a caster lose their spell energy?
They do lose their attack, though, and merely readying in the first place loses you any extra attacks. Using a readied action also precludes using an opportunity attack. So there's definitely an opportunity cost there.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I do not have a big deal with just letting casters keep their spell, but your idea works fine and has the potential to penalize. The only thing I see to think about is that the DC of the save being level of the spell seems to go up the same as the PCs get higher themselves in terms of modifier check and magic and such. Not that this is a problem .
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
What I prefer to do instead is require the slot to be spent, but allow them to keep the spell readied from round to round until they release it, rather than saying that you lose the spell if you don't cast it before the start of your next turn.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I ignore the entire last paragraph under Ready; if you want to cast a spell as your reaction, you can just do that, just like taking any other action. The extra complication of "holding" the spell with concentration is not worth the supposed benefit, not even close.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I ignore the entire last paragraph under Ready; if you want to cast a spell as your reaction, you can just do that, just like taking any other action. The extra complication of "holding" the spell with concentration is not worth the supposed benefit, not even close.
Although, if the intent of that paragraph was to make it so no one ever actually Readies spells, it's working quite well.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
It seems unnecessarily complicated. It would be much easier to just say that the spell energy is not expended in the first place, if you don't actually cast the spell. The action economy should be enough to make sure that nobody abuses it.
I think this is a good balance. I wouldn't bother with the check, after all you didn't have to make a check to cast the spell. Simply giving it a cost in the action economy (bonus action, or even a reaction) works well enough IMO.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
It seems unnecessarily complicated. It would be much easier to just say that the spell energy is not expended in the first place, if you don't actually cast the spell. The action economy should be enough to make sure that nobody abuses it.
Are you are also doing away with the fact that it takes Concentration, since that's part of the holding spells?

If you are going to make a major change like that, don't hide it. If you aren't going to make a change like that, then the spell obviously was cast and the rational for the proposal doesn't hold up.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
What I prefer to do instead is require the slot to be spent, but allow them to keep the spell readied from round to round until they release it, rather than saying that you lose the spell if you don't cast it before the start of your next turn.
If you can hold it, does this mean you can pre-cast out-of-combat and hold it until a combat starts?

This gets you things like if you are expecting a combat casting a spell with the trigger "if I see a foe", and getting a reaction at the very top of initiative when they burst open a door (or whatever).

It could also lead to things like pre-casting a longer-than-one-round spell that you wouldn't be able to cast in combat and carrying it readied until a combat starts.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Are you are also doing away with the fact that it takes Concentration, since that's part of the holding spells?

If you are going to make a major change like that, don't hide it. If you aren't going to make a change like that, then the spell obviously was cast and the rationale for the proposal doesn't hold up.
Sure, why not? From a narrative standpoint, it makes sense that you didn't actually cast a spell yet, so there's nothing for you to be concentrating on.

I'd also be down for expanding the concentration system to cover any activity that requires your focused attention, so you couldn't concentrate on a spell while picking a lock (for example), and I'd also be fine with expanding that definition out to include readying actions in general. The game isn't so finely balanced that this change would ruin anything, regardless of how you rule it.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Sure, why not? From a narrative standpoint, it makes sense that you didn't actually cast a spell yet, so there's nothing for you to be concentrating on.

I'd also be down for expanding the concentration system to cover any activity that requires your focused attention, so you couldn't concentrate on a spell while picking a lock (for example), and I'd also be fine with expanding that definition out to include readying actions in general. The game isn't so finely balanced that this change would ruin anything, regardless of how you rule it.
I'm good with this - as long as it's consistant. Actually, I'm more than good with extending out Concentration. I used Concentration for non-casting some back in 3.0 and 3.5, but with the granularity of skill ranks really the only ones who bothered to be good at it were casters so things like keeping up a counter-chant the PCs had been taught to an evil ritual while fighting had mechanical issues.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I'm considering changing Ready so that a) you don't have to specify a trigger and b) you don't have to specify an action. In other words, when you Ready, you can later use your reaction to take an action. But you can't interrupt another creature's turn.

This would make Ready work a bit more like Delay from 3.5. The goal would be giving players more freedom to do nothing on their turn, either because they aren't sure what to do, or because there's nothing useful to do. I think this would speed the game up considerably.

Can anyone think of a way this could be abused?
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
If you can hold it, does this mean you can pre-cast out-of-combat and hold it until a combat starts?

This gets you things like if you are expecting a combat casting a spell with the trigger "if I see a foe", and getting a reaction at the very top of initiative when they burst open a door (or whatever).

It could also lead to things like pre-casting a longer-than-one-round spell that you wouldn't be able to cast in combat and carrying it readied until a combat starts.
That is something to think about, but it isn't much more of an issue than trying to do the same thing with other actions--something that isn't allowed, but often you have to come up with some way to handle it when people want to do it in the fiction. I'd probably just make them roll initiative normally and not be able to release the spell until their turn comes up. If they were expecting a battle, I might give them advantage (as well as to anyone in that boat).

The goal isn't to provide a way to cheat the system between combats, but to not be overly harsh inside combat. Another thing that would make sense out of combat would be to require Constitution checks (or Constitution saves) to keep holding the spell for longer periods of time, since it strikes me that this is a bigger deal (you're kind of stuck mid-cast) than the normal "Concentration" mechanic, which doesn't mean you're actually concentrating at all (more like you've got a magical effect taking up a certain amount of your magical capacity in a barely conscious way).
 

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