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The rule on bonus-action spells states:

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.

I'm wondering what the effect of removing this rule would be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe this is a duplicate of the linked question. That question was about combining bonus action cantrips with action leveled spells. This question could be about combining two non cantrip spells, one of which takes a bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Oct 25 '18 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch it looks pretty clear to me. It's stated in both the title and the body. They're asking about striking the prohibition entirely, which would inherently include the case of casting two noncantrip spells. Given that they straight-up say "multiple non-cantrip spells" in the title, I'm not sure where the confusion comes from. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Oct 25 '18 at 16:42
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Sorcerers would become overpowered

Most spells that take a bonus action to cast are relatively minor, like misty step or healing word. They are often utility spells, or spells that enhance a physical attack (like a paladin's smite spells). Most of them wouldn't unbalance play if they were permitted during the same round as another leveled spell.

But whether or not unbalancing bonus action spells exist by default, a sorcerer's Quickened Spell metamagic is highly dependent on the current rules on bonus action spells. Sorcerers can cast Action spells using bonus actions for the cost of 2 sorcery points, which is far more powerful if they could then cast another leveled spell again with their action. This is particularly problematic if you consider the Sorcerer/Warlock multiclass, which can use Warlock spell slots to regain Sorcery points as a short rest resource.

The ability to cast two fireball spells in a single turn multiple times per combat at low levels is game-changingly problematic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically, with this change, a sorcerer could be throwing two fireballs in one turn at 5th level - the first level you're able to throw fireballs. Higher-level spellcasters can pull off more threatening feats, but they're higher-level. The increase in spike damage is potentially encounter-breaking. It also encourages a playstyle where the sorcerer burns through their available resources very quickly, and ricochets between utterly dominating encounters and feeling ineffectual. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Oct 25 '18 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ For that matter, a 13th level eldritch knight could double-fireball using action surge. You could get the action surge fireball earlier with multiclassing, but that's a costly build choice. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Oct 25 '18 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Action Surge does allow you to cast fireball twice under the established rules: a second action is different from a bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Oct 25 '18 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ But you're right: it would either involve waiting until a much higher level, or some difficult and costly multiclassing. And in the latter case, double casting fireball could be done very infrequently. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Oct 25 '18 at 16:37
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Spellcasters with misty step would become even more slippery

If a spellcaster ends up in melee range, misty step is a cheap, guaranteed option to get out without getting slapped by an attack of opportunity. It's basically a Dash and Disengage in one bonus action (and more, depending on what the teleportation lets you bypass). The only downsides are using a bonus action (if you even have any use for it), the spell slot (2nd level, pretty cheap), and the bonus-action spellcasting restriction.

With the restriction, a spellcaster has many options for what to do about an attacker in melee range, but they all have consequences. Disable/push them with a spell? Might come at a cost of using another spell on another target, and could fail if they make their save. Using misty step is a great option, but again may come at the cost of using an important spell. With the way it is, even a melee attacker that hasn't gotten a chance to attack the spellcaster yet (they dashed up or something) can have a significant impact.

Without the restriction, you could try to disable/push them with a leveled spell, fail, and then misty step away once you see it didn't work. Or you could go ahead and cast your more important spell on your more important target and still avoid taking any damage from the melee attacker.

It basically adds this layer of safety that changes the counterplay between spell casters and melee attackers, and reduces the impact of a melee attacker getting into range of a spellcaster.

Counterspell becomes less effective at stopping a spellcaster

Let's say you have an enemy spellcaster who has a spell you cannot afford to let them cast, and you have counterspell. In many scenarios, getting within 30 feet and not using your Reaction on anything else is all you need to do. As long as the enemy can't get out of sight and doesn't have more then 30 speed (more if you're closer), then they can't cast their spell without risking your counterspell.

However, without the bonus-action spellcasting restriction, suddenly that changes. Even if the enemy has 30 speed and is 5 feet away from you, they can just misty step for 30 feet, then move 30 more, and they're 65 feet away now, out of range of counterspell. You can counterspell the misty step, but then you've used your Reaction and can't counterspell the spell they wanted to use.

It destroys counterplay against spellcasters with devastating spells.

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All-out elimination of the limit would be OP, but you don't have to go that far

Other answers illustrate how certain players, e.g. those with misty step and sorcerers that can quicken spells, would be over-powered.

However, one could readily fashion a more moderate table-rule that avoids these drastic consequences. Consider limiting one or both of the spells cast on the turn to 1st level spells, or non-damaging-spells, or spells with the Ritual tag, and/or spells of just one particular school (e.g. Illusion). You should be able to loosen up the RAW without destroying play balance.

In a somewhat similar case, at my table, it has never destroyed play balance to let players take a feat allowing them to use a bonus action to cast any non-damaging cantrip that only creates a sensory effect. While that's not exactly the same option you are proposing, it does suggest that one can grant a bit more freedom in casting without unbalancing the game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not really proposing to do it, I just want to know what would happen if it was done. \$\endgroup\$ – Stackstuck Oct 25 '18 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I haven't actually watched much Critical Role, but I believe they do (or did, at least) allow this as a house rule, eventually requiring a feat for it. See the "Spelldriver" feat I quote from the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting in this answer: "Through intense focus, training, and dedication, you’ve harnessed the techniques of rapid spellcasting. You are no longer limited to only one non-cantrip spell per turn. However, should you cast two or more spells in a single turn, only one of them can be of 3rd level or higher." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 25 '18 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Spelldriver feat -- excellent, and appropriately requires 8th level PC as a prerequisite. Has this proved a popular feat with your casters, I wonder? \$\endgroup\$ – Valley Lad Oct 26 '18 at 0:12

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