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I have seen it rated gold in many guides, but no reasoning was provided.

Sure, you can cast Invisibility or Glitterdust now, but it is once per day, using a 3rd level slot, and you need to have access to the spell in written form.
This does seem nice, but too little to matter.

Is there something I am missing? Can a Cleric activate a wand if the spell is in his head with Anyspell for example?

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    \$\begingroup\$ So that there's context for the question and so that answers can address others' points directly, can this answer link to a few of the guides that suggest the spell's awesome or—even better—quote the portion of the guides that recommend the spell? (Folks say it's awesome. Is it? is valid, but These folks say it's awesome because X. Are they right? makes for better answers.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 3 at 11:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan My problem is exactly that everyone accepts it to be awesome, without any explanation. Probably it is obvious for everyone except me. \$\endgroup\$ – András Feb 3 at 11:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ In that case, simple links to a few guides are fine. It's valuable that askers show they've done some research—otherwise, readers may assume that the asker's assuming! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 3 at 12:19
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The relative value of flexibility and 3rd-level spell slots

Flexibility is extremely valuable, and a 3rd-level spell slot isn’t really. That’s basically what it comes down to—once per day, you can cast any spell of 2nd-level or lower. You don’t need to know what spell that will be, it can just be whatever spell turns out to be important. And all you need to dedicate to it is a 3rd-level spell slot.

Maybe at 5th or 6th level, when your 3rd-level spells are your highest-level spell slots, anyspell would not be your top choice. Maybe you would prefer to prepare whatever your other domain is offering at that level. But when you get to 7th level—and 4th-level spells—a slot of your second-highest spell level is vastly less valuable. And it just keeps going down in relative value, making it so much easier to spend that spell slot on the massive flexibility that anyspell offers. And even if you end up trading your other domain for a devotion feat per Complete Champion, yeah maybe that’s a small drawback at 5th and 6th but it’s far from the end of the world, and by 7th you’re better off.

The “once per day” restriction

As for the 1/day restriction, it doesn’t really matter—all prepared spells are each once per day. You are giving up a 1/day of some other 3rd-level spell for getting this 1/day. And while flexibility is massively valuable, you ultimately want to have most of your spells be your workhorse spells—the reduction in spell level is a big deal, too. You wouldn’t want to fill too many slots with anyspell. When you’re high enough level, yeah, maybe you’d want to use more, even all 3rd-level slots for anyspell, but that’s by no means guaranteed. You have a pretty good chance of having a good reason to pull a rabbit out of your hat once a day, but a second time, or a third? If you’re wanting anyspell that much, you might want to reconsider the other spells you’re preparing. Anyway, the horribly-broken (but for different reasons) Initiate of Mystra spell could get around this, as could various options for using domain spells more (domain spontaneity, domain staffs, a domain icon, etc.), if you really wanted to.

But the big caveat—you need a library to pull your spell from

Now, this presumes that anyspell requires that you be able to cast any spell, which requires access to the spell in written form. It is probable that recommendations for the spell are overlooking this limitation—because it is a dire one. That said, if the party has the right allies—a wizard, most likely—or the right enemies—again, mostly wizards—spellbooks full of spells may well be available. It is no great difficulty for a friendly wizard to study their books, and then hand them to the cleric for safekeeping/anyspell use. And if spellbooks are captured, those can also be kept by the cleric for anyspell use.

Nonetheless, these assumptions do not necessarily hold—and for a cleric to go out of their way to get copies of spellbooks may well be a poor use of their resources, making anyspell fairly useless (though it may well be worthwhile; the effect still is really good—but certainly non-trivial preparation if you’re going for it). Being once a day matters more here, too, since the effort of preparing for casting anyspell is the same no matter how many times you cast it (but this only matters so much, since the first cast per day is by far the most valuable one).

The need to heavily prepare for anyspell use is a therefore a massive caveat on the spell that by rights should be mentioned whenever it is recommended. The fact that it hasn’t been suggests that people are overlooking the limitation, presumably because they assume they know how anyspell works and don’t need to (re)read the details. In some games, it won’t be a big deal, and in others it might still be worth it, but it’s absolutely a non-trivial consideration that recommendations should be bringing to your attention.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: the (broken) Initiate of Mystra feat from PGtF granted the Anyspell and Anyspell, Greater spells whilst lifting the spell slot limitation. Even if your DM rules out the "I cast in Antimagic Field" part, it's an excellent way to obtain those two spells... though you lose out on Limited Wish. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Feb 3 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ but you need a scroll (or book) of that any spell, that limits your choices significantly \$\endgroup\$ – András Feb 3 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András Vancian spell preparation constraints is what makes this spell valuable. KRyan, I think just a little more treatment of why, in the Vancian system in 3.x, this is valuable in terms of opportunity costs and spells prepared decisions. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 3 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not archivist - anyspell is arcane-only. Also, this doesn't include the fact that there are sources of arcane spells that are out-of-level... like the trapsmith's haste. You may need to jump through a few extra hoops to get it in written format, but after that.... \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Feb 4 at 16:01
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In short: versatility.


Versatility?

The reason that prepared spellcasters such as the Cleric or the Wizard are generally seen as Tier 1 is because of the sheer versatility of the spells they can cast: no matter the situation, they have a spell that's tailor-made for it.

No all spellcasters have the exact right spell, though, and therefore part of the optimization game for a spellcaster is finding ways to access spells that they would not normally have access to; such as spells from another spell list:

  • either to obtain superb/broken spells from another list,
  • or to obtain spells that cover blind spots in one's list.

A caster's power is pretty much tied to the variety of spells it can tap into, so anything expanding this spell list is worth a look.


So, Anyspell?

Anyspell, and Anyspell, Greater, give access to spells from another spell list. There is indeed a limitation of 1/day each, and a written copy of the spell is necessary1, however in exchange...

When many class features allow you to pick one spell off another spell list when leveling up, or give you (gasp) access to one domain, Anyspell has no such limitation: every use allows you to pick a new spell. Late choice means choosing when you have information to inform the choice, rather than picking a spell or domain several levels before and hope they prove useful.

Furthermore, Anyspell gives access to the most versatile spell list in the game. For comparison, checking a database:

  • Level 1: Cleric 149 spells, Wizard 297 spells (+99%)
  • Level 2: Cleric 211 spells, Wizard 434 spells (+106%)

And Anyspell, Greater only builds on this to give access to 3rd, 4th and 5th level spells -- 399, 355 and 313 spells respectively.

So, Anyspell gives you, within 15 minutes, access to any one of 731 spells and Anyspell, Greater gives you, within 15 minutes, access to any one of 1067 spells.

1 A Cleric intent on using Anyspell should find ways to procure a spellbook, with the right spells. Luckily, low-level spells are commensurately cheap; regardless of their utility.


But once per day?

Yes, once per day is quite a limitation. It's a limitation for any prepared spellcaster, though, and therefore there are often ways to work around it both in official and 3rd party material.

For example, a Pearl of Power of 3rd level (9,000 gp) and 6th level (36,000 gp) will allow to recall the spell (1/day) if necessary. I would expect prepared spellcasters to have such pearls at hand, as they are so useful.

Another example would be Miser with Magic (Kingdoms of Kalamar's Player's Guide, p. 88), which allows getting up to Int1 spell levels/day back with a simple Spellcraft DC.

However, keep reading, there's better ways for Anyspell...

1 If you use this Adaptation PDF, then the feat requires an Arcane Caster Level 7, and uses the spellcasting attribute rather than Int.


But it means taking the Spell domain!

Well, the Spell domain is a hardly a slouch: Anyspell (3), Break Enchantment (5), Anyspell, Greater (6), Limited Wish (7), Antimagic Field (8) and Mordenkainen's Disjunction (9). That's a very solid combination.

And... as usual for D&D, there are other ways to access the spell. The very broken Initiate of Mystra feat (Player's Guide to Faerun) also grants access to the spell...


Initiate of Mystra

There are only 2 requirements for this feat: Cleric level 3rd, and patron deity Mystra. Easy, peasy, for any Cleric of Mystra.

The basic effect of the feat is to give the Cleric of Mystra access to 6 new spells: Spell Shield (2), Anyspell (3), Spell Phylactery (5), Anyspell, Greater (6), Spellmantle (6) and Holy Star (7).

In doing so, it also lifts the domain slot restriction of Anyspell and Anyspell, Greater, allowing them to be cast as regular Cleric spells: that is, from any spell slot of appropriate level.

And of course, the most broken aspect of the feat, is that it allows a Cleric to cast in a Dead Magic zone or an Antimagic Field, with a relatively simple Caster Level check.


Conclusion

I concur, those spells are broken good. Especially when their only limitation (1/day) can relatively easily be worked around.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the pearl of power catch. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Feb 4 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: Thanks edited, with both remarks. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Feb 4 at 17:27

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