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I was re-reading the section in the SRD about touch spells in combat, when I came across this little nugget:

SRD says:

"Many spells have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject, either in the same round or any time later. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) the target. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target."

Now this seems, per RAW, to be pretty concrete, but I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around it. You can really cast the spell, move, and then make your touch attack with the spell, all in the same turn? It's not the "cast & touch with one standard action" that bothers me, that part makes sense. It's that you can squeeze a move action in the middle of it that seems so weird to me. Is this really the RAW? Or am I reading it way wrong?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It's really the rules as written. The spell charges your hand with energy, you move, and then release it as an attack.

You can also take a 5' step between iterative attacks, so this isn't some weird isolated thing.

The idea of standard actions, full actions, and the like are abstractions that exist for game balance reasons; they're not supposed to represent fundamental laws of the universe. So there's nothing weird about getting a move action in the "middle" of a standard action when the rules allow.

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What about the 'or any time later' bit? In my next round, I make a touch attack and deliver the spell. What kind of action is that? –  Paul Hutton Sep 24 '13 at 21:16
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You only get the "free" attack the round you cast the spell; the line that gives you this free attack is "In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) the target." The section on holding the charge has more details about your question. –  starwed Sep 25 '13 at 0:04
    
Thanks. Was looking under the Magic rules, but this is under Combat > Cast a Spell > Touch Spells in Combat, in case anyone else is equally lost! –  Paul Hutton Sep 25 '13 at 1:40
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If you think of this in terms of what is happening in 6 seconds, and less about in-game actions it might make a little more sense to you. At the start of the round you begin casting a spell. That as you complete the spell the magic infuses your hands (or whatever instrument you intend to use to deliver the spell) and you move towards your intended victim (as they are close enough this only takes about 3 seconds) . As you reach them you attempt to deliver the spell by touching them.

Now all of that happens fluidly, quickly and within 6 seconds (1 round). There are obviously a lot of combinations available in 6 seconds, so the rules try to define certain combinations to keep things as simple as possible, whilst still giving you the flexibility you need to be able to play effectively with tactics.

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The rules for touch spells say that you can, as part of casting the spell and the standard action involved, touch all those willing and within your touch range. This does not provide an extra attack action or standard action; it is all just part of casting the spell. You may move before and after your action but not during. Thus you cast the spell and touch in the same action.

Source: Players Handbook 3.5, page 175 (Touch). SRD

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+1 This applies to willing targets only, which I've added to the answer for you. Thank you for adding the reference. –  Tridus Sep 29 '13 at 16:46
    
This might be a seperate question, but I've been wondering since I found that rule... what spells would that actually apply to? Most of the major helpful touch spells (cures, stat boosts) have "mass" versions of them, so those aren't covered by that rule, right? –  agradine Sep 30 '13 at 23:57
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