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I am playing a Cleric in 3.5e who's neutral good, plant/good domain, and going up to level 6 next session.

To be effective in combat, I rely on my spells. However, before I join combat, I'd prefer to cast two spells on myself — preferably a third. Obviously, three rounds preparing to go into combat, while some of the spells are wearing off, is a non-optimal situation, so I'd like to be able to cast more than one buff in a round so I can join combat in the second round.

The metamagic feat 'Quicken spell' lets one cast certain spells as a free action, but that has an added spell level component that's too high for me at the moment.

Not being well-versed in the magic item department, I was hoping you all could help me by explaining or pointing out my options.

I want to improve my AC, damage output, and attack bonus before I go into combat, so I am looking at Barkskin (domain) or Shield of Faith, plus either or both of Bull's Strength and Divine Favor.

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Quicken Spell is handy but yes, the four spell level bump is a big bite. There is Sudden Quicken from Complete Arcane, which has prereqs out the yinyang but you can quicken one spell a day for free. Delay Spell can get this effect if you have preplanning rounds by casting delayed spells, though it is almost as expensive in spell levels (three) as Quicken Spell. Quicken metamagic items help, like metamagic rods.

You do have options to reduce metamagic costs, however. Easy Metamagic (Dragon #325) and Divine Metamagic (Complete Divine) reduce the level cost of metamagic feats on divine spells. Metamagic School Focus and Arcane Thesis are usable only for arcane spells, but if you head down the Mystic Theurge path they could be in play eventually.

Also, there are some spells (see the Spell Compendium) that are swift actions to cast, often with the price of them being not as spiffy as their full-action counterparts.

Or you can have a bunch of spell storing shuriken that you throw at a buddy, they get buffed at the cost of a little damage. (Warning: sane DMs will punish you for even trying this)

Do note that Quicken Spell can't be applied to a spontaneously cast spell, like if you are converting spells to heals or whatnot.

If the spells you need to get off have effects reproducible by inexpensive magic items, then give that a try instead. Any kind of stacked casting is deliberately made very difficult and expensive by the rules for balance purposes, so in the end will always be for high level characters and/or those with tens of thousands of gp in their pocket.

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Quicken Spell Rod - It's expensive, but it will give you what you want 3x per day:

So that will help you get your spells off.

Alternatively if you have something you cast every combat you might consider getting it enchanted into a continuous magic item (which is also expensive), but then you don't have to cast the spell at all.

Note that Use-based magic items won't help too much, since they're a standard action to activate.

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Unless you create a use-based item that triggers two or three spells at once, but again: cost. – SevenSidedDie Apr 29 '11 at 16:14
Excellent point. Hard to tell without more spell context up above, but it's likely cost-prohibitive. – Cthos Apr 29 '11 at 16:17

The Divine Metamagic feat from Complete Divine allows you to burn turning attempts in order to add metamagic feats to your spells. If you take Divine Metamagic: Quicken Spell, you can use 5 turning attempts to quicken a spell without increasing its level. (The Extra Turning feat may also come in handy....)

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+1 for Divine metamagic, the feat of cheesy choice since Vow of Poverty :) (snark aside, it's the answer I'd have given.) – Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 5 '11 at 10:01
Also good with Persist Spell. – Zachiel Oct 10 '12 at 20:30
Wait, you have to mention Night Sticks to go with that cheesewiz. Although, really, no DM should allow Night Sticks for anything but actually turning undead. – Epiphanis Jan 7 '14 at 0:22

Another item that may be of use is the Circlet of Rapid Casting from the Magic Item Compendium p86. It allows you to cast one spell as part of the same swift action it takes to activate the item, leaving you free to cast the other spell. Once again it's only maximum 3x per day and quite expensive (15000gp book price).

There is no really cheap option as what you want to do is quite an advantage, so carries a high cost.

However, if it is always those spells above you want to have in combo maybe just buying a Amulet of Natural Armor +2 or Ring of Protection +2 (instead of Barskin/Shield of Faith) might give you enough of the effect all the time for half the price until you can afford the more expensive options.

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How many combats are you getting into before running out of spells? Is it worth the effort to kick off buffs every time? And why is your rogue failing the party by not detecting encounters early enough to allow you a few rounds to buff?

Metagame talk aside, @mxyzplk covered Contingency and Extend/Persistent Spell. Given the costs invovled with both of those options, I agree with @jsecker that magic items would be far cheaper.

If you really want to stick with a buff spell, why not research a new spell combining what you want out of the lesser buffs? Spell research will be expensive in both materials and game time, but I think we've established there's no easy solution to the problem. Once you research Aspect of the Oak (or whatever you want to call it) you'll have Barkskin and Bull's Strength as a single spell (probably 3rd level) to use and sell on scrolls to recoup your initial investment. All of this depends on GM approval, but most GMs I know would encourage this kind of creative initiative.

And having a new spell for just the members of your cleric's faith will pay handsome in-game dividends: prestige and new plotlines.

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Belt of Battle from Magic Item Compendium (I forget the page) is 12,000gp and gives you an extra action at the cost of charges which reset each day. If you blow all 3 of them at once, you get a full-round action. It's not as effective as the options others have given, but it's also much cheaper. And there's no reason you can't just buy more than one.

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A Clr6 has few options for casting spells faster. With only 3rd-level spells available, many metamagic feats are unavailable or will use the highest level spells. A 6th-level PCs wealth by level (DMG 135) is 13,000 gp, making high-priced items like metamagic rods equally unavailable--level 6 is right on the cusp, however, of deliberately going broke for one really good item: monsters can still be killed with mostly mundane gear, and challenges often don't assume a wide variety of options are available yet to PCs.

In Order of Likelihood of DM Approval

  • The general feat Delay Potion (CM 41) grants the possessor the ability to delay the activation of a consumed potion, instead activating it a swift action up to an hour after consuming it.
  • The general feat Double Wand Wielder (CAr 77) grants the creature the ability to activate 2 wands sequentially as a full-round action; this expends 2 charges from the off-hand wand. Note: The price of fully-charged wands at this level is prohibitive, but the time savings may be worth it. Talk to the DM and see if Used Wands (MIC 227) are available. Also, a wand chamber (Du 34) (100 gp) in both weapon and shield becomes useful.
  • The metamagic feat Ocular Spell (LoM 181) increases the level of the slot needed to cast the spell by 2 to enable a spell which must be a ray or have a target besides personal to be cast up to 8 hours later as a full-round action as a ray with a range of 60 ft. later. Using 1 full-round action 2 spells can be cast simultaneously at the same or different targets if 2 spells are modified by the feat. This will use probably all your higher-level spells in one engagement, but the ability to cast two spells a round might be worth the investment. Also, the DM might look askance at zapping oneself with one's eye beams.
  • The ready-drink helm (Dragon #294 80-1) (150 gp; 2 lbs.) holds 6 potions in pairs, 1 or both potions in a pair can be drunk as a free action, and taking a move action changes to a different pair of potions. If the DM balks at the party wearing what are essentially fantasy versions of beer hats, advice is given in the article for reskinning them as dwarven injectors.
  • Using the feat Craft Wondrous Item (PH 92) to make magical traps (DMG 74), a caster can create boon traps (Du 135). Although Dungeonscape recommends using an arcane mark to differentiate between targets, when the creator has the boon trap installed on his belt pouch this is largely unnecessary. An automatically resetting bull's strength boon trap is 3,000 gp. Talk to the DM first; the long-term campaign impact of boon traps is severe.
  • The general feat Leadership (PH 96, DMG 106)--depending on the cohort provided by the DM--could let the cohort could cast all the spells listed (except the spell divine favor [evoc] (PH 224)) instead of doing it alone, freeing up actions.
  • The waist slot magic item belt of battle (MIC 73) (12,000 gp; 0 lbs.) grants the wearer the ability to take a swift action and expend 1, 2, or 3 charges to take a move, standard, or full-round action, respectively. The 12,000 gp price means mortgaging almost everything for one, and that +1 morningstar's still pretty useful.

The party wizard should try to acquire the spell quick potion [trans] (SpC 164)--probably via a used wand--if the feat Delay Potion or the dwarven injector is in use.

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