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A 15th level cleric has Divine Metamagic and can cast spells of 8th level, but not of 9th level. Can he spend two turn/rebuke undead attempts to heighten an 8th level spell to 9th level?

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Yes, he can.

Compare the wording of Divine Metamagic:

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.

to the wording of Metamagic Song:

When you spontaneously cast an arcane spell that is enhanced by a metamagic feat, you can spend a number of uses of your bardic music ability equal to the number of extra levels that the metamagic feat imposes on the spell rather than raising the spell's effective level. Applying metamagic spontaneously using this method increases the casting time of the spell normally. You cannot use the Metamagic Song feat to add metamagic feats that would make the spell's effective level higher than the highest level of spell that you can cast normally.

Metamagic Song has the magic words that prevent this; Divine Metamagic does not. Likely, by the time they wrote Metamagic Song for Races of Stone, they had learned from their mistakes with Divine Metamagic in Complete Divine, since Divine Metamagic is one of the most powerful feats in the game (almost as instant-pick for clerics as Natural Spell is for druids). However, that’s purely speculative on my part, and for what it’s worth, they never issued an errata for Complete Divine saying that. Maybe they only put that limitation on Metamagic Song because Metamagic Song works on any metamagic you want to use, rather than working only on one particular thing you chose when taking Divine Metamagic.

Note that you can get around the limitation on Metamagic Song with Talfirian Song from Races of Faerûn, because of course you can.

Oh, and also, metamagic effects don’t “heighten” spells per se, unless you’re talking about Heighten Spell specifically. The word “heighten” refers to causing a spell to actually count as higher level, for the sake of things like DC, overcoming globe of invulnerability, and so on. Aside from Heighten Spell, metamagic effects don’t do that—they increase the spell slot used by the spell without actually changing the spell’s actual level for those purposes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for this extremely fast and perfect answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Oct 2, 2019 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there potentially any issue with the Heighten Spell side of the equation? That is, the feat Heighten Spell says, "The heightened spell is as difficult to prepare and cast as a spell of its effective level." \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2020 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I see no reason why that should be different from other metamagic feats claiming the spell is \$x\$ spell levels higher—that’s precisely the bit that Divine Metamagic changes. So Divine Metamagic (Heighten) lets you use a \$x\$th-level spell slot to cast a spell at \$y\$th spell level (for \$x < y \leq 9\$) by expending \$(y-x)\$ turn undead uses. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ So that Heighten Spell feat's line is just covering identical ground to An extended spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell’s actual level, yes? (Also, while the answer's comparison is to the feat Metamagic Song is useful, it might also be useful to quote the Divine Metamagic feat itself: "Because you’re using positive or negative energy to augment your spells, the spell slot for the spell doesn’t change.") \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2020 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, I read that Heighten Spell line as serving the same function as that Extend Spell line, and both are adjusted by Divine Metamagic in the same way. And I don’t see the positive or negative energy thing as really being evidence one way or the other on this: we know using DMM(Extend) on summon swarm allows us to cast extended summon swarm as a 2nd-level spell due to the positive or negative energy replacing the spell energy used by Extend Spell. What is in question here, though, is whether or not you need to have the ability to cast a 3rd-level spell in order to do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:41
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No you can’t. The divine Metamagic assumes you must be able to cast the appropriate level of spell. The true advantage of divine Metamagic is the fact you are using your channel/turn attempts instead of burning a higher level spell slot.

In other words let’s say normally your Metamagic feat would use up a 6th level slot, this feat allows you to keep that slot for some other spell while using your channel/turn attempts instead to bolster a lower level spell.

You still have to be able to cast that bolstered spell at the improved level normally. A 6th level divine spell caster should not be able to quicken 2 -3rd level spells that would normally require a 13th level caster to be able to cast his first one

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Other feats (e.g. Metamagic Song) have explicit statements saying that you must have been able to cast the metamagic’d spell normally—Divine Metamagic does not. What, then, do you base your assertion on that it implicitly has this requirement? That certainly does not match the general consensus online. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 1, 2020 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. I am quite comfortable with an answer that contradicts the Main FAQ, but it's probably worth mentioning in this answer that this answer does, in fact, contradict it (see page 40) and also the Dragon #324 Sage Advice column in which that FAQ entry originally appeared (see page 103). Thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2020 at 15:57

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