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Our group had some confusion about preparing spells for a Wizard and Cleric. The rules say that you prepare a number of spells from your list and that you tick off spell slots when you cast a spell. In D&D 3.x, if you wanted to cast a spell multiple times, but we couldn't figure out from the rules whether or not this was the case in D&D 5e.

So can a spell be prepared once and then cast multiple times?

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possible duplicate of How does wizard & cleric spell preparation work? –  doppelgreener Jul 20 '14 at 23:01
@JonathanHobbs, that question seems to be about spell slots and whether or not you have to plan which spells to cast ahead of time. The accepted answer does have a sentence stating that prepared spells can be cast again, but since it's not what the question was asking, I think this one should be kept open. –  Thunderforge Jul 21 '14 at 4:19
It doesn't have an accepted answer - just a higher voted one which is... problematic enough that question and its original answer prompted a meta topic on the quality of D&D 5e q's and a's here. However in my own answer on that question I went into detail explaining the relationship between spell slots and spell casting, i.e. this. If this is closed as a duplicate, a message will say "this question already has an answer here", which is the case, I think. –  doppelgreener Jul 21 '14 at 4:21
@JonathanHobbs My mistake about accepted vs highest voted answer. That said, the other question is pretty broad (I can see why it got a meta topic), but I read it as "Do you pick ahead of time which spells you will put in your spell slots", which is not the question someone would be asking if they knew that spell slots were filled at the time of casting, but didn't know if prepared spells could be cast twice. For that reason, I think it should stay open, but I suppose it's up to vote. –  Thunderforge Jul 21 '14 at 4:39
@JonathanHobbs I don't know that making an already broad question even more inclusive is the right way to go. If anything, I'd say that the question should be more specific. For instance, the question title could be changed from "how does spellcasting and preparation work" to "do you pick ahead of time which spells will fill you spell slots" or something. That might also help address the concerns raised by the meta topic. –  Thunderforge Jul 21 '14 at 5:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted


From the D&D Basic Rules:

Casting the spell doesn't remove it from your list of prepared spells.

Basically, 5e Wizards (and Clerics) are 3.5e Sorcerers who can swap out their "known spells" based on their spellbook (or godly mandate). I can't speak to the exact reason behind the design decision, but I assume they wanted to enable a level of flexibility for both classes that was often lacking in previous editions.

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Wow, such a short sentence that this whole thing hinges on. No wonder we missed it! Now that I see it, I think that we would have still been a bit confused even if we did see it. I think it would have been better if they had said something more direct and to the point, like "A prepared spell can be cast as many times as you have spell slots" or something. –  Thunderforge Jul 20 '14 at 20:50
@Thunderforge Maybe. You're not the first person it's tripped up; but I think its mostly an issue of preconceptions. Honestly, the whole "spell list" thing has always been my least favorite aspect of D&D so I'm glad to see they're at least taking some steps away from Vancian magic. –  Wesley Obenshain Jul 20 '14 at 20:58
@Thunderforge "A prepared spell can be cast as many times as you have spell slots of the appropriate level or higher." –  GMJoe Jul 21 '14 at 4:11
@WesleyObenshain Did I miss 4E being declared non-canon? Because it eschewed Vancian mechanics, I'm certain. This is a step back. –  Iron Heart Jul 21 '14 at 5:29
@Metool 4e was an entirely different sort of game from the other editions. I won't get into an argument about it but in some senses it was actually worse than Vancian. –  Wesley Obenshain Jul 21 '14 at 11:23

Yes, both the Cleric and the Wizard can use a prepared spell multiple times as long as she or he has expendable spell slots for it.

Both classes' "Preparing and Casting Spells" section explicitly states that casting a spell does not remove it from your character's list of prepared spells.

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Yes. Preparation doesn't mean the same as it does in 3.x; this is a case where knowledge of prior editions is an impediment to understanding D&D Next.

Preparation in D&D Next is a separate pool of capability from casting capability, and is not undone by casting the spell.

Page 78 of D&D Next Basic Rules (Bolding mine for emphasis):

Known and Prepared Spells

Before a spellcaster can use a spell, he or she must have the spell firmly fixed in mind, or must have access to the spell in a magic item. Members of a few classes have a limited list of spells they know that are always fixed in mind. The same thing is true of many magicusing monsters. Other spellcasters, such as clerics and wizards, undergo a process of preparing spells. This process varies for different classes, as detailed in their descriptions.

In every case, the number of spells a caster can have fixed in mind at any given time depends on the character’s level.

Spell Slots

Regardless of how many spells a caster knows or prepares, he or she can cast only a limited number of spells before resting. Manipulating the fabric of magic and channeling its energy into even a simple spell is physically and mentally taxing, and higher level spells are even more so. Thus, each spellcasting class’s description includes a table showing how many spell slots of each spell level a character can use at each character level. For example, the 3rd-level wizard Umara has four 1st-level spell slots and two 2nd-level slots.

When a character casts a spell, he or she expends a slot of that spell’s level or higher, effectively “filling” a slot with the spell. You can think of a spell slot as a groove of a certain size—small for a 1st-level slot, larger for a spell of higher level. A 1st-level spell fits into a slot of any size, but a 9th-level spell fits only in a 9th-level slot. So when Umara casts magic missile, a 1st-level spell, she spends one of her four 1st-level slots and has three remaining.

Finishing a long rest restores any expended spell slots (see chapter 8 for the rules on resting).

Some characters and monsters have special abilities that let them cast spells without using spell slots.

The header levels for both chunks are the same - so it's implied strongly to be two separate rules.

So, we have a mention that each class has a rule limiting prepared spells. The actual limit is mentioned in each class's special rules. Level plus attribute modifier is the limit for both Cleric and Wizard. (See pp. 22 & 30.)

Note that it's possible for a 1st level wizard to cast 2 spells per day of level 1 (see pp. 29); if he's Int 18, he can have up to 5 prepared (Att 18 is a +4 modifier, and so level + Int Mod is 5). Likewise, a wizard of IQ 9 or lower can prepare no spells at 1st level; he can only use his cantrips. So his slots will be unused. (An IQ 8-9 Wizard can prepare a single spell at 2nd level; an IQ 6-7 has to hit 3rd level to prepare one spell, but it can be cast at 1st or 2nd spell level.

Also note that ritual use requires neither preparation nor a spell slot, so the idea of a low-Int Wizard isn't the non-sequitur it may at first seem, and it illustrates clearly the separation under the D&D Next rules.

Prior Editions

Note that prior editions all clearly stated that casting erased the prepared spell from the caster's mind or that the spell had to be prepared multiple times to use it with multiple spots.

Note that the D&D Next Wizard (and Cleric) are actually closer in mode to the 3.X Sorcerer, than the 3.X Wizard.

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