Say a Cleric 3/Wizard 2/ Mystic Theurge 5 with Divine Metamagic and Alternate Spell Source prepares Blessed Aim as a arcane spell. Divine Metamagic states:

As a free action, you can take the energy from turning or rebuking undead and use it to apply a metamagic feat to divine spells that you know. You must spend one turn or rebuke attempt, plus an additional attempt for each level increase in the metamagic feat you're using. - CoD, emphasis mine

And Alternate Spell Source says:

You can choose to prepare any of your divine spells as arcane spells or any of your arcane spells as divine spells.

Can this spell benefit from DMM cost reductions?

Does this effect arcane spells prepared as divine?


1 Answer 1


Who knows?

Arcane spells and divine spells are not strictly defined anywhere in the rules. I mean, we know some things that definitely are arcane—in the core rules, those would be the spells cast by the assassin, bard, sorcerer, or wizard classes—and things that are definitely divine—for core, the spells cast by the blackguard, cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger classes—but we don’t know where the “boundaries” on them are.

One thing seems reasonably clear to me: only one of these should work. That is, it seems as though only one of these two options can be true:

  1. Alternate Source Spell changes the type of spell for the purposes of Divine Metamagic. Thus an arcane spell prepared as divine can be affected by Divine Metamagic, while a divine spell prepared as arcane cannot.

  2. Alternate Source Spell does not change the type of spell for the purposes of Divine Metamagic. Thus a divine spell can be affected by Divine Metamagic even if prepared as arcane, but an arcane spell never can be, even if prepared as divine.

I lean towards the former, but the latter is also plausible. I lean towards the former because Alternate Source Spell says “you can [...] prepare any of your divine spells as arcane spells or any of your arcane spells as divine spells,” and that to me means they have changed and so now whether or not Divine Metamagic applies also changes. Certainly, spells are prepared before they are cast, so by the time you go to cast the spell—and therefore, by the time you go to apply Divine Metamagic—the change has already been applied by Alternate Source Spell.

Now, all that said, I specified that only one of those options should work. I had a college professor who was fond of saying that “should” was the second-most dangerous thing you can hear an engineer say (after “oops”), and so it is here. I say that it should work like that because it makes logical sense to me, but... the rules don’t always make logical sense. We know for a fact that they don’t in any number of cases, even.

So here is the counterargument to what I thought made logical sense: Alternate Source Spell says you prepare a divine spell as arcane, and vice versa. But when you prepare a divine spell as arcane, nothing in the feat says it stops being divine. Nothing in the rules actually says arcane and divine are mutually exclusive. Just about everything in the rules implies it, but nothing says so explicitly—and even if something did, since Alternate Source Spell doesn’t, it could arguably be an exception anyway. Likewise, the word “Alternate” implies mutual exclusivity as well, but well, again, that’s only an implication (according to the rules, things’ names serve as identifiers and nothing more). And since we don’t have hard and fast rules about precisely what it means to be arcane or divine, there is room to argue for definitions of those boundaries that have overlaps.

Ultimately, it may not really matter: divine spells have all the advantages here. There aren’t powerful arcane-only feats analogous to Divine Metamagic. Only arcane spells risk failure due to armor. Divine spellcasters are restricted from casting spells opposing their alignment, but those are part of their class features, not an inherent property of a spell being divine—it wouldn’t apply to arcane spells swapped to divine with Alternate Source Spell. All else being equal, it is near-strictly1 superior for a spell to be divine rather than arcane (this is compensated for—over-compensated for, actually—by having the actual spells on the arcane spell lists generally be better than the spells on the divine spell lists). So if you have Alternate Source Spell, just make everything divine and enjoy all those benefits.

  1. I say “near-strictly” because it’s plausible that there exist some feats or class features that apply only to arcane spells, though for the life of me none are coming to mind at the moment. Certainly none as powerful as Divine Metamagic.
  • \$\begingroup\$ If this is true does that mean that when using a divine spell slot to cast a Arcane spell, RAW, DMM can’t apply because even though it’s prepared as divine it is an arcane spell? I’m aware of the popular consensus, I was more wondering do RAW support this. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 19, 2019 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorClarke I basically gave up on my answer. When Miniman pointed out the opposite exercise, divine to arcane, I realized that I don’t really know—that we, collectively don’t really know—how this works. Instead, now my answer is a discussion of how we have a rules hole and there are a variety of ways you could interpret matters, but none of them is definitively correct so some discussion with the DM is going to be necessary. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 19, 2019 at 2:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the honesty and perhaps that's why no one has tried exploring this interaction from a RAW perspective. You lay out the argument I've been having in my head quite well, and the lack of a clear definition between arcane and divine complicates things. Some spells even show up on both lists, like comprehend languages! \$\endgroup\$ Jun 19, 2019 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Unlike arcane spells, divine spells draw power from a divine source." seems definitive enough to me. Its like the source defines what kind of spell it is. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 19, 2019 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ As I came across in another question here, eternal wand is a reason to want a spell as an arcane spell \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Feb 1, 2023 at 7:16

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