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I'm playing 3.5 as a warlock, he has 3 metamagic spell like abilities, eldritch blast is a spell like ability, looming at rules as written i dont see anything that should stop me from making each casting have all 3 of my metamagic spell like abilities at the same time, warlocks in 3.5 have infinite spell slots effectively so it tracks that they should be able to but my dm is saying its op to do so, i agree but that's why he doesn't do it unless it's super important, my dm wants to equate it to over casting but I don't think that's fair, any thoughts?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what do you mean by your "Metamagic spell like abilities"? Are you referring to the feats out of the monster manual or something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ An example of the metamagic spell like abilities would help us to answer the question. I believe you mean the ones like empower spell-like ability? \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 17:49

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Yes, but...

Yes, you can apply multiple Meta-Spell-Like-Ability feats to a single casting of any spell-like ability, yes invocations are spell-like, and yes, that includes eldritch blast. Yes, this can be quite strong.

However, there are a number of limitations here.

Daily usage limits on the feats themselves

First and foremost, the fact that invocations are usable any number of times per day doesn’t matter much here: the meta-SLA feats themselves have their own daily usage limits, usually 3/day. You can cast eldritch blast as much as you want, but empowered eldritch blast is something you can only do a 3 times per day. Want more uses? Use more feats. Meanwhile, spellcasters get more spell slots automatically.

Each feat applies to only a single SLA

Possibly worse than the need to spend more feats on more uses of these abilities is the fact that you can only apply these each of these feats to a single, fixed spell-like ability, and need to spend more feats to apply it to other SLAs. That is, if you’ve got Quicken Spell-like Ability and chose eldritch blast, but then you want to quicken flee the scene—too bad, take Quicken Spell-like Ability again. Spellcasters can apply their metamagic to any spell they want.

Tricky caster level requirements

Third, many of these feats can only be used on spell-like abilities where your caster level is some minimum amount above the ability’s spell level. For example, Empower Spell-like Ability requires a CL that is twice the spell level + 4. Quicken Spell-like Ability requires twice spell level + 8. This isn’t quite the same as costing a higher slot (since it doesn’t cost you anything but the usage of the feat), but it does prevent you from using these feats on your highest-level abilities.

The limitation requiring CL well above the spell level is so significant that they actually errata’d eldritch blast: originally, it automatically went up in spell level as you got more damage for it, making it impossible to apply meta-SLA feats to it. The errata changed it to just stay at 1st level unless you use a blast shape or eldritch essence. In other words, they specifically made it easier to do what you suggest.

Conflict between meta-SLAs and blast shapes/eldritch essences

However, that does bring us to the fourth limitation: your use of blast shapes and/or eldritch essences is often fighting against your use of meta-SLA feats. You won’t be able to use both at the same time until you’re several levels higher than the minimum for the shapes and essences you want to use.

Overall context

Finally, just keep in mind the context here. They printed very few meta-SLA feats in the first place.¹ They also printed many fewer invocations than spells.² You just have many fewer options than a true spellcaster does. On top of that, because invocations are at will, they are necessarily weaker than true spells—but many of them don’t really benefit much from being at will, because there isn’t really any reason to cast them over and over. A few, definitely, but most no. And in combat, actions are much more limited than spell slots (past early levels). The result is that the warlock can be good, but the wizard or sorcerer can be a lot stronger.

  1. Monster Manual has Empower and Quicken, Complete Arcane has Heighten and Maximize, Book of Vile Darkness has Boost, Corrupt, and Violate, Book of Exalted Deeds has Consecrate and Purify—that’s the complete list for all of 3.5e as far as I know.

  2. Invocations appear primarily in Complete Arcane, Complete Mage, and Dragon Magic. Magic of Incarnum and Drow of the Underdark have literally two (2) invocations each. There might be a few Dragon magazine invocations, not sure. But spells, by contrast, appear in almost every book there is. And even in those books that have invocations, they still have more spells than they have invocations.

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