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It seems obvious to me that Epic Feats are imbalanced - that is to say, that there is a great disparity in the relative power of feats with comparable requirements - but a lot of this is made hard to quantify because feats that appear to be the most broken cannot easily be taken at level 21. After realising that, I turned my attention to the Epic Feats that obviously can be taken at level 21. Among these, Multispell drew my attention. It reads:

Multispell [Epic]
Prerequisites
Quicken Spell, ability to cast 9th-level arcane or divine spells.
Benefit
You may cast one additional quickened spell in a round.
Special
You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects stack.

This seems easy to obtain at level 21 and obviously game-destroying, particularly when compared to other Epic Feats like Polyglot (there's a spell for that, and I think that you need to be past level 21 for this anyway?), Armor Skin (oh wow, +1 AC!), and Storm Of Throws (I don't even know why you'd want this). Am I correct in my assessment, or is there some balancing factor somewhere that makes this feat not as broken as it appears when compared to the other Epic Feats that can easily be taken at level 21?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Speculation: It's the features that reduce the cost of quickening the spells that you want to cast that are OP, this is just gravy \$\endgroup\$ – Caleth Apr 12 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Caleth Maybe, but the Epic Feats that do that are not easily available at level 21. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Apr 12 at 12:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are better ways of getting cheaper metamagic than epic feats \$\endgroup\$ – Caleth Apr 12 at 12:18
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Yes, Multispell is preposterously powerful.¹ Between all the pre-epic options for making metamagic cheaper, and the new epic options like Improved Spell Capacity, there is no real reason not to just cast all the spells you need every turn. Well before epic levels, the most important constraint on a character’s ability to accomplish their goals is not spell slots, but actions—Multispell effectively ends that. It’s effectively a free time stop every turn but without time stop’s limitations.

And yes, Armor Skin, Polyglot, and Storm of Throws are basically worthless. Armor Skin and Polyglot could easily be non-epic feats with no prerequisites and they still would almost never get taken, optimally. Storm of Throws is a more justifiable feat choice than Whirlwind Attack (much larger range than most creature’s reach, prerequisites are actually feats you’d want to take anyway), but that’s not saying much (both feats require you to get into and stay in a dangerous position, and spread damage around so you’re not eliminating threats, so it’s rare you would want to use either—too rare to be worth a feat). Of the three, Polyglot is probably the best, but it’d be a rare character who should want any of them even pre-epic.

But the real issue here is that talking about “balance” in epic is meaningless—it’s simply not balanced. Not even remotely. Epic Spellcasting can, with proper cheese, become the ability to snap your fingers and cast “solve the problem,” whatever the problem is. Even if you ban that—and you must, anyone with Epic Spellcasting is literally playing a different game from everyone without it—the epic options are just wildly out of sync with one another. Powerful metamagic effects, Multispell, Improved Spell Capacity—all these options are absurd. And on the martial side, you get crap like Epic Weapon Focus.

Pulling the lens even further back, though, talking about Epic Spellcasting is still perhaps missing the point—because high-level D&D 3.5e isn’t remotely balanced either. It’s not as though you reach 21st and the game breaks—it had already been broken for several levels before you reach that point. So of course anything building off of that foundation is just going to get worse and worse. Warriors at those levels can basically guarantee one-turn kills against anything they can reach—and they’re weak at those levels. Spellcasters are changing reality left and right, and are effectively (if not literally) untouchable because of all the layers of magical defenses they can have. It’s nearly impossible to overstate how powerful gate and shapechange are.

So yes, Multispell is ridiculous—but that’s par for the course. The simple fact is that the epic rules do not work. They aren’t balanced. The only way people can play at those levels is by effectively making up their own rules to replace the official ones. And that can work—after all, completely freeform games can work if you have a group that knows each other well and is mature enough to limit themselves appropriately—but the Epic Level Handbook isn’t helpful in achieving it.

  1. Various supplements—first Miniatures Handbook and since then several others, including Rules Compendium—state that Quicken Spell uses a swift action. The Player’s Handbook, of course, does not say that, because swift actions don’t exist in the Player’s Handbook, and this has never been errata’d. See this Q&A for more details on the problems with that. The Epic Level Handbook, like the Player’s Handbook, also pre-dates Miniatures Handbook and so doesn’t use swift actions, which means Multispell fails to explicitly remove the swift action requirement on Quicken Spell—as far as its concerned, Quicken Spell doesn’t have any such thing, it just has a 1/round limitation, which Multispell does remove. RAW, this would be a problem, except that RAW, the swift-action casting time of quickened spells is, itself, a problem. So there isn’t really a lot of merit to worrying about this technicality—either you incorporate swift actions into the rules for pre-Miniatures Handbook publications, or you don’t. (You should.) If you do, you have to update Epic Level Handbook too (at least, if you’re using it at all, which I’d argue you should not); if you don’t, there’s no problem. But you can’t go halfway, or rather, if you do, any nonsense that results is on you; that’s not RAW.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the framing of this answer goes in the wrong direction after the second paragraph. The Epic rules are indeed broken in general, but what is being asked for - e.g. why Multispell is powerful, particularly relative to other feats like Epic Weapon Focus - should be the majority of this answer. If you want the focus to be on the martial/caster disparity at Epic level, then a little bit more time needs to be spent explaining the disparity in the power of their feat choices. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Apr 12 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini I find your comment confusing—what could I possibly add? Are you asking for the designers’ intent here? Because I don’t know it, and neither does anyone else, which is why such questions are off-topic. The answer to the question “why is Multispell powerful, particularly relative to other feats like Epic Weapon Focus” is because the epic rules are broken. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 12 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini you compared magic feat to two martial feats. If you didn't want comparison between magic and martial classes, then you should have stick to one type of feats, or find examples from both konds that fits "powerful" and "useless" descriptors. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 12 at 12:52
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KRyan's answer is correct, but if you accept the Rules Compendium at it's word as a primary source of rules, Multispell does nothing by RAW.

A quickened spell has a casting time of a swift action, and a character has one swift action on their turn, and multi-spell does not add to this.

However, when the Epic rules were published, swift actions didn't exist, and quickened spells were free actions with a "one per round" limit, so it seems reasonable to houserule that Multispell does what it used to do.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By really strict RAW, a quickened spell is still a free action, 1/round, which means Multispell does exactly what it’s supposed to. Miniatures Handbook, Complete Arcane, and others, even Rules Compendium, are all not Player’s Handbook errata. The actual Player’s Handbook errata has not used swift actions. So strictest-ly speaking, they don’t get to change Quicken Spell like that. If you’re going to incorporate such changes—and you should—you have to truly incorporate them, i.e. also update Epic Level Handbook’s materials accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 12 at 13:16
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From the quicken spell description:

A quickened spell uses up a spell slot four levels higher than the spell’s actual level.

And while you have a lot of spell slots available at level 21, if you just go around blasting and blasting you'll burn through them very quickly anyway. And you won't even achieve that much since you're effectively underselling all these spell slots by a huge factor (for real, four levels is an insane drop in power).

And while indeed some other Epic Feats are useless, the Armor skin for example is costless, and +1 AC (on top of everything else) is always nice to have.

The Multispell's value depends on how often you will actually want to make use of it, so it's heavily dependent on all the small things that get you your spell slots back which may or may not be that abundant in your specific campaign. Because 4 of every level seems like a lot of spell slots, but a) you can only use those starting at lvl4 for this feat and b) with a couple of encounters between resting these run out very very quickly.

Tl:dr: yes, the feat CAN be very very strong in specific circumstances, but the high cost of quickening spells makes these moments rare enough for it to be balanced.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Where did "4 of every level" come from? As for running out of slots, I'm going to need to see some mathematics. A 21st level character who is in any place to consider this feat will have a lot of spell slots, no? \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Apr 12 at 12:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Armor Skin is not “costless,” it costs a feat, which is one of the most valuable and important resources in the game. Also, “AC [...] is always nice to have” isn’t really true—armored AC is the worst defense in the game, and most characters should optimally just ignore it beyond the mandatory +1 chain shirt. Beyond that, there are many, many ways to make Quicken Spell free by 21st level. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 12 at 12:07

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