The Distant Spell metamagic option's first effect enables a sorcerer to double the range of a range-based spell.

The counterspell spell has a normal range of 60 feet, but has the following casting time:

1 reaction, which you take when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell

If a sorcerer would apply Distant Spell metamagic to a counterspell in order to counter a spell that he sees being cast within more than 60 feet of him (but less or equal to 120), would the counterspell work, considering that the reaction says "within 60 feet" instead of "within range"?

Same goes for the feather fall spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A ruling on this question probably needs to answer whether the 60' specified in the cast time is presumed to merely be a restating of the spell's natural range, or if said number is intended to be its own limitation on the range within which a caster is capable of detecting a cast spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jul 30 '18 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think there have been similar cases with some other spells as well in which they restate the normal range in the description, rather than simply referring to the range. They're not immediately coming to mind, though. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 30 '18 at 21:12

Won't work the way that you think.

Reactions are only granted by very specific things. In this case the spell defines the parameters very explicitly what would trigger that reaction.

The range is essentially only to make sure that the recipient of that reaction can be reached.

So to be very specific your ability to cast the spell can only happen "...when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell" although you could extend the range to 120ft of the spell it is moot because they are within that range already. This should not be conflated with the range of the spell albeit they are the same number.

Metamagic has no effect on the requirement for the reaction only the range of the spell.

Edge Case

Feather Fall: You could game the system by witnessing an enemy falling with 60ft of you to trigger the reaction and then use Distant Spell to reach your ally who is 61 - 120ft (assuming they both fall or are falling at the same time). I can't see a case in which this would really work with Counterspell though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer makes me sad... But it does seem accurate. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jul 30 '18 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ This feels like a development oversight, because if not to increase the range of the "when you see a creature within 60 feet", the "range" of counterspell does nothing and might as well be self or 1 mile, because it doesn't actually matter by this ruling. I think the ruling is correct, but I don't think any reasonable designer would've intentionally done it this way. \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Jul 31 '18 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that this might be RAW, but it probably isn't RAI or RAF. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jul 31 '18 at 14:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I am not so sure, Metamagic can only be used when you cast a spell, and casting times are not affected. They go into some detail on how Reactions work and what grants them... so you can't cast the spell until you meet the first requirement at which point you can now cast the spell. Metamagic isn't supposed to be a panacea. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jul 31 '18 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could game it to layer counterspells similar to feather fall example to ensure a specific spell doesn't get through. Inefficient but potentially game saving. \$\endgroup\$ – Spoo Jul 31 '18 at 14:50

You wouldn't be able to cast counterspell in the first place

As others have pointed out, you can only cast the spell if the condition to trigger the reaction have been met, in this case

When you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell

However the Distant Spell Metamagic description is the following for a spell that has a range that is not touch:

When you cast a spell that has a range of 5 feet or greater, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double the range of the spell.

Meaning that you must already be able to cast the spell to apply the metamagic onto it. Of course, you could then double the range of counterspell to 120ft, but it would still need the trigger of seeing a spell being cast within 60ft to use it.

The same ruling would technically apply to Feather Fall, although your distant spell might allow it to reach creatures up to 120ft away as long as one of the targets for your spell is within the initial range of 60ft.

Homebrew ruling and justification (Personal opinion)

Although this is per RAW, it does seem that per RAI the 60ft requirement is correlated to the range of the spell. In fact, I prefer the D&D 5e wikia version, which seems to state that the trigger is simply seeing a creature cast a spell. In which case, your DM could rule that your ability to use a Distant Spell Metamagic option does extend the range of the trigger as well as the range of the spell itself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The "D&D 5e wikia" version is incorrect, and has numerous inaccuracies (it omits/rewords a lot of things, presumably in a futile attempt to avoid being taken down by WotC - since it contains a lot of non-SRD content). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 31 '18 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast That is true, which is why I included this tidbit into the Homebrew ruling section of my answer, but if it remains unclear I will edit the answer to highlight this discrepancy. Thank you for your feedback, it is always appreciated. \$\endgroup\$ – QuantumDM Jul 31 '18 at 20:37

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