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Never had an issue with spellcaster scaling until today. A player in the group claims he can cast Eldrich Blast twice on his turn. Once as an action, and a second time as a bonus action since it is a cantrip. Allowing him to shoot 4 beams for a d10 each (he's 5th level so 2 beams per cast). This seems vastly stronger than anyone else's max 2 attacks. After the session which ended early with many players angry this player ruined all encounters, there was much talk of re-rolling into all caster party. One wanting to do the same with a wizards Firebolt spell as a bonus every turn, others still browsing.

So, is it possible for a caster to cast multiple spells in 1 turn? From what I was quoted from the PHB, it's possible to cast any spell as an action, then cast a second spell; as long as the bonus action spell was a cantrip with a cast time of 1 action? So 99% of all cantrips? Please tell me this is wrong, because I feel that if anyone else does this our melee characters will never see a fight again before the casters nuke them down.

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level 5, what class, by the way? – nitsua60 Feb 1 at 2:36
    
Eldritch Blast is only on the warlock cantrip list, so the character must have been a warlock. – Mark Cogan Feb 1 at 11:39
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@MarkCogan Not necessarily - they could have taken the spell sniper or magic initiate feats, or multi-classed. This is slightly important, as a sorcerer could cast eldritch blast as an action and a bonus action if they spent sorcery points to apply 'quickened spell'. – Dovetailed Feb 1 at 13:05

You were quoted the rules incorrectly.

First, Eldritch Blast has a casting time of 1 action (PHB p.237). You've only got one action on your turn, so you can only cast Eldritch Blast once. ("Off the shelf," that is. There are features, like the Sorceror's Quickened Spell, that might change this.)

It is possible for a caster to cast multiple spells in one turn, and the conditions are described exactly on PHB p.202:

  • one spell has casting time of 1 bonus action,
  • you've not used a bonus action for anything else this turn (because you can only take one bonus action per turn),
  • the other spell is a cantrip,
  • the other spell has a casting time of 1 action.

But that's understandable.

D&D is a great game in many ways. It has never, in my experience, been presented in its published materials in a way that makes sense to someone who doesn't already know the game. One player misunderstood something, and no other players nor the GM knew the rule well enough to course-correct mid-session.

That's fine. You now know. Alert your group as soon as possible and be ready for a group conversation about whether this should now be a table-rule, or will this just have been one shining moment in 'Lock's career. "Hey, guys, remember that one day when I was in beast-mode? My patron must have been having me on!"

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Just to make things crystal clear, am I right in reading this as "You can't cast Eldritch Blast twice because of the 4 conditions for casting two spells on one turn, you only fulfil 3 of them"? – Quentin Feb 1 at 15:15
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@Quentin I think that's right. Specifically: assume you casts Eldritch Blast with your action. That satisfies bullets 3 & 4. Assume you haven't used a bonus action for anything else yet: check for bullet 2. But bullet 1 fails, because Eldritch Blast has a casting time of 1 action, not 1 bonus action. (With Sorcerous Metamagic: Quickened Spell you could change the casting time of a second EB, at the cost of sorcery points. But not all day....) – nitsua60 Feb 1 at 15:20
    
@Quentin Yes. Swift spells (1 bonus-action) and normal cantrips (1-action cantrips) are fast in two mutually exclusive ways. Story-wise I like to think that the cantrips require no technical skill but you have to attend to the magical power flux that you're creating, whereas swift spells require a prepared bit of skill but the magic just contains itself. So I might GM-improvise on the spot something like, "sure, you can Eldritch Blast twice -- but the second blasts will be in random directions, are you sure you want to do that while you're standing next to your fellow party members?" – CR Drost Feb 2 at 17:05

It appears the player has garbled the rules on Bonus Action casting time spells (PHB p.203):

Bonus Action A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

The spell cast using the Bonus Action must have a casting time of 1 Bonus Action. There are very few of these and Eldrich Blast is not one of them.

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No. You can only cast a spell as a bonus action if the casting time in the spell description says "1 bonus action." Eldritch blast does not. If you cast a bonus action spell, the only other spell you can cast that turn is a cantrip. So, if he casts Hex, he can still cast Eldritch Blast that same turn, but not another leveled spell. This is the rule to which your player was referring (and misinterpreted).

There are features of other classes that can affect casting times, but not in the warlock class.

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Let's start with the Phb definition of a bonus action.

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action. Phb, pg 189

So you can only use a bonus action when something says that is a bonus action.

Let's have a look at the bonus action description under casting time:

A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn. You can't cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

So only spells with a casting time of "bonus actions" can be used as a bonus action (healing word, sanctuary and spiritual weapon are examples of this). But if you cast one of this spells, you can only cast a cantrip with your standar action.

So you can't cast a spell with a casting time of "1 action" as a bonus action, unless special circumstances reduces the casting time to a "bonus action", like the sorcerer quickened spell feature.

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I believe you are misreading what the rules say about casting spells with a bonus action. From the SRD:

A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

It do not say that you can cast a cantrip with a bonus action on your turn. It says that if you cast a spell that has a cast time of a bonus action (eg, Healing Word), you can only cast another spell with your action if it is a cantrip.

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