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When casting a spell with a casting time greater than an action, do range and line of sight need to be maintained for the entire time?

For instance, does a cleric casting Prayer of Healing need the targets to be within 30 ft. and in line of sight for just the start of the spell, just the end or for the entire casting time.

Certain spells, such as Identify or Planar Binding, explicitly mention needing to stay within range for the casting time. Other spells like Magic Circle only imply you stay in range since the casting time represent drawing out the circle.

I'm fairly confident that one does indeed, need to stay in range at least. This line suggests that before a spell is cast, it remains limited by its range:

Once a spell is cast, its effects aren't limited by its range, unless the spell's description says otherwise.

I haven't found a rule requiring that one maintains line of sight.

The situation that this question arose from had an uncontrolled celestial being summoned into a magic circle. The wizard began to cast Planar Binding on it and realized that they could simply step into another room while they completed the spell, which seemed to trivialize what might otherwise be a very challenging task.

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Yes, the target probably needs to stay in range.

The spellcasting rules say:

When you cast a spell with a casting time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn casting the spell, and you must maintain your concentration while you do so.

So you are "casting the spell" from the turn you start until the turn you finish.

The target of a spell must be within the spell's range.

Once a spell is cast, its effects aren't limited by its range, unless the spell's description says otherwise.

"Once a spell is cast" rang doesn't matter, so it does matter before that. The only way for it to matter before that is if it matters while you are casting the spell, that is, for the entire time that you are casting it.

A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell's magic.

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover.

Unless the particular spell is atypical, you have to "pick one or more targets" and "have a clear path to it". When? The only sensible answer is while you are casting the spell.

The alternative interpretation is open to abuse

If you adopt the idea that these rules only apply at a given instant (beginning? end? some point in the middle?) then it's possible to set up a situation where you spend 10 minutes or an hour casting a spell and then your colleague Teleports you to the target just before you complete it. I don't think that can be the intended outcome.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would not call that last scenario abuse. It requires quite a bit of set-up, uses up additional spell slot for teleport, and is a good example of player ingenuity. I mean, compare, caster teleports a grester-invisible rogue behind a target, and they get to do full set of sneak attacks with poisoned weapons... Perhaps you could specify an example where this would turn into abuse if applied to slow-cast spell? \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2020 at 8:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The only way for it to matter before that is if it matters while you are casting the spell, that is, for the entire time that you are casting it." I don't think that leap makes sense. There are 3 distinct events a spell goes through in its lifecycle. Casting. Cast. Maintained. The Ready Action shows this, and Sage Advice has said that, for readying an action, the target doesn't have to be within range when the action is readied - and spells are cast to be readied. While that's a ruling specific to Readying a Spell, is an example of this interpretation failing. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 3, 2021 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sage Advice says targeting happens only at the end, when you complete casting a spell. That disagrees with this answer, but agrees with the more highly upvoted answer you posted in 2016 to an earlier question: Do the targets of Prayer of Healing need to be present during the casting time? (which this is a duplicate of and should probably be closed.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 4 at 7:17
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If a spell doesn't specify, targeting happens at the end only

An official Sage Advice ruling is applicable:

You choose the targets of a spell when you complete casting a spell, not when you start.

The context for that ruling was a 1-action cast time which became 2-round, but it's hard to see how one could follow this ruling for Slow but not for spells which naturally have a longer cast time.

If a spellcaster is affected by slow and takes two turns to finish casting a spell, what happens if their target has moved out of range or out of sight?

This agrees with the consensus of voting on earlier answers on Do the targets of Prayer of Healing need to be present during the casting time? from 2016 (where interestingly Dale M posted the opposite answer of his 2020 answer here, agreeing with Sage Advice there, disagreeing here.)

(IDK why this isn't closed as a duplicate, but if we're not treating it as a non-duplicate, I guess the Sage Advice ruling belongs as an answer here, too. Major parts of this answer were copy-pasted from my answer on that question, although I modified the last section.)


Some spells make exceptions to that rule

Some spells do specify that you need to be in contact with the target for the entire cast time, e.g. Identify.

You choose one object that you must touch throughout the casting of the spell...If you instead touch a creature throughout the casting, you learn what spells, if any, are currently affecting it.

Or Teleportation Circle (10 mins, range: 10 feet):

As you cast the spell, you draw a 10-foot-diameter circle on the ground inscribed with sigils that link your location ...

So clearly this isn't one you can cast while fleeing from pursuers, and given the 10 ft range, the circle on the ground is the spell's official "target".


Narrative problems with the other interpretation:

Losing (or abandoning) concentration during the casting of a spell does not cost the spell slot, and has zero effect. (Unlike when you Ready a spell by completing it and holding the energy. Also unlike if you're Counterspelled as you cast it, which raises the question of whether counterspell even works before the end of the cast time.)

This is hard to narratively explain if magic is acting on the target(s) throughout the cast time, for some spells more than others. My answer on the duplicate about Prayer of Healing discusses it, and the possibility of house-ruling specific spells based on how they work / how they narratively seem like they should be cast, e.g. Hallow involving using the oil, incense, and herbs in the area during the 24h. So it doesn't make much sense to have someone Teleport you in the last 6 seconds of the cast time and touch a different area, although RAW nothing is stopping you.

Teleporting or walking out from behind cover to finish casting Tsunami seems fine to me, though.


RAW, it doesn't even consume the material components to interrupt casting, but this is a case of D&D (especially 5e) requiring the DM to figure out what happens in corner cases that rules don't mention. It wouldn't make sense to cast Teleportation Circle for 54 seconds (9 of 10 rounds) in a muddy field, then stop and scrape up all the gem-infused chalk and ink(!) for reuse. On a hard clean surface, maybe some fraction could be recoverable with time. Or incense burned during Find Familiar or Hallow is just gone.

This is not something the rules cover; the idea that the casting process actually involves burning the incense is purely my idea. It's equally compatible with RAW for the components to just sit there in a pristine state and vanish in a poof of magic at the end of the cast time.

(Critical Role's campaign 2 house-ruled that casting of Teleportation Circle could be paused, if the caster didn't do anything else, narratively leaving the final chalk-mark for the end. But that materials were consumed in linear proportion to cast time, so 25gp for half the cast time if you abandon casting there. But this is getting off topic.)

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