I'm relatively new to D&D. Only been in a group for about 2 months, and still learning stuff every time we meet. But my question is, If a spell/cantrip/class ability does not specify the required casting time (i.e. action, bonus action, reaction), what is the default setting for casting?

I was just wondering if such a thing even exists. Because I was looking at class homebrews for an upcoming campaign, and some of them don't specify how to use the class ability in combat. I could just ask my DM how they would want to go about it, but I was curious whether any such rule exists.

Is there a default casting time for a spell or class ability if none is specified?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give an example of a spell that doesn’t give a casting time? They’re all supposed to, so far as I know, so it might be something special with a particular spell rather than some expected “default.” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 30 '19 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 30 '19 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was just wondering if there was such a thing. Because I was looking at class homebrews for an upcoming campaign, and some of them don't specify how to use the class ability in combat. Though I believe it would have been better to just ask my DM how they would want to go about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Beebok Dec 30 '19 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited that clarification into your comments. By "class ability", are you referring to a class feature that's not a spell? Spells and class features may work very differently. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 30 '19 at 1:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Official material should always specify what kind of action etc is used, unless you can point out any exceptions. Homebrew can vary in quality, so you may be on your own there (or will have to ask the originator). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Dec 30 '19 at 9:13

If no action is specified, then no action is required

A great example of this is the fighter's Action Surge, which states:

Starting at 2nd level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action.

You may only use Action Surge on your turn, but it itself does not require an action, bonus action, reaction, object interaction, etc. There is no blanket "by default everything is an action" in the rules.

However, be sure to check everywhere

If a magic item permits you to cast a spell from it, but does not specify the casting time, then the Activating an Item rules apply:

Some magic items allow the user to cast a spell from the item. The spell is cast at the lowest possible spell level, doesn't expend any of the user's spell slots, and requires no components, unless the item's description says otherwise. The spell uses its normal casting time, range, and duration, and the user of the item must concentrate if the spell requires concentration.

As far as spells themselves, all officially-published spells specify a casting time. The rules do not explicitly forbid "actionless" spells, but I would attribute omission of a homebrew spell's casting time to human error.


So as far as I can find, all 1st-party spells and abilities state what kind of action it takes to activate/use them. You said you were looking at some homebrew content, but it was unclear if it was a full class, or an archetype for a class.

Not having seen the abilities myself, I can't comment on what type of action you should be using, but a general rule of thumb (and an actual rule written in to some RPGs like Pathfinder) is that if it isn't explicitly stated, a spell/ability requires the use of a regular action (not bonus) to activate/cast/trigger/etc. 5e doesn't seem to have that specific rule, but since you're already adding homebrew content, what's one more houserule on top of it?

Realistically, you'll want to go over it with your GM and come to a consensus on how it should work, although if you can get a hold of the person who wrote the homebrew content you could get an actual definitive answer on how it should be working.


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