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If you had a Druid/Barbarian multiclass would you be able to cast a spell such as Call Lightning that requires concentration, Wild Shape, and then rage without breaking concentration on the spell?

From the PHB "You can't cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. Transforming doesn't break your concentration on a spell you've already cast, however, or prevent you from taking actions that are part of a spell, such as Call Lightning, that you've already cast."

So casting Call Lightning, and then Wild Shaping is fine. We are still concentrating on the spell even though we cannot cast spells.

PHB "You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so..."

So going into rage while Wild Shaped is fine. Rage does many things but the one prevalent to this question is,

"If you are able to cast spells, you can't cast them or concentrate on them while raging."

Since Wild Shape prevents us from being able to cast spells "You can't cast spells,..." does this Rage clause apply? Since we do not meet the precondition of being able to cast spells, would we then be able to maintain concentration on Call Lightning since rage never prevented us from being able to concentrate on it?

I know this is clearly not RAI but strictly RAW is this a legitimate interpretation of these rules?

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Yes, it would break concentration.

Your character is able to cast spells, they just can't cast any at that moment. The same applies to a paladin out of spell slots, a wizard who only prepared verbal spells in an area of silence, etc. The character is, overall, still able to cast spells, they just can't cast them at that specific moment.

That reading (which we agree is clearly not RAI) relies on "able" being the same as "can," which would make the rage restriction "if you can cast spells, you can't cast spells" which doesn't make sense. If you can cast spells you can't cast spells, so now that you can't cast spells it doesn't apply, so now you can cast spells again...if you try to treat the rage restriction as strictly for a point in time, it's just contradictory. Since that reading doesn't make sense, the rule as written is clear: you cannot maintain concentration on a spell you cast pre-rage, as your casting of the spell means you are able to cast spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The reason I asked was because it felt like it should not be possible, but I couldn't figure out how to logically argue it. The point on conflating "can" and "able" is exactly what I was missing, thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – XenLight
    Oct 28, 2023 at 1:22
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The whole "If you are able to cast spells," qualifier isn't intended that way, as other answers explain. The best way to avoid this misinterpretation would be to simply write "You can't cast spells or concentrate on them while raging."

The phrasing the PHB uses is the same form as "If you don't know me, my name is Kelsey." Of course they're still Kelsey to people who do already know, it's just a way of softening the redundancy and welcoming new viewers (of the 74gear youtube channel). Human language isn't always precise.

Or for barbarians, bridging the incongruity that the barbarians class doesn't grant the ability to cast spells in the first place. It might be surprising to some readers for the barbarian rules to talk about spells as if that was a concern for all barbarians.

This is the justification for ignoring that part of the sentence and reducing it to its intended meaning,
"You can't cast spells or concentrate on them while raging." (ever, no qualifiers.)

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Yes

By my count, the PHB uses the phrase "if you are able" all of twice. Once is in the Blindsense class ability of Rogues:

...if you are able to hear, you are aware of the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of you.

In this instance, "if you are able" literally means 'if you currently have the ability'.

However, the same phrase cannot mean this when it comes to Rage. As Shivers points out, "if you are able to cast spells, you can't cast [spells]" does not make literal sense. "If you are able" cannot in this case simply mean 'if you are currently able'.

The RAI here seems to be something like "If you normally can cast spells because of your class" or "If your class gives you the ability to cast spells". It turns out that is difficult to express succinctly. You could say "If you have the Spellcasting class feature", but Warlocks don't - they can cast because they have Pact Magic. My initial answer tried to use a construction with "otherwise", saying that if you normally cast spells but you can't because of rage, but @Shadowranger pointed out that Wildshaping would remove the ability to cast spells, which is what OP was arguing all along. Wearing armor with which you are not proficient, and other situational effects would also make you unable to cast.

What we are left with is something like 'If one of your classes gives you the ability to cast spells, and you are currently able to do so except for the fact that you are enraged, then you can't cast spells or concentrate on them while raging. But also, if something other than raging is currently removing your general ability to cast spells, raging is then another thing that also removes your ability to cast spells and concentrate on them.'

While grammatically tight, such a formation is clearly unwieldy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If one of your classes gives you the ability to cast spells, ... or you have a feat like Magic Initiate, or a racial feature like Tiefling Hellish Rebuke, or are using an item that lets you cast a spell... There are lots of ways characters in D&D can get a temporary or permanent ability to cast a spell, and Rage has to block all of them, so it's just a bad idea to try to enumerate them. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2023 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Lol, I hadn't even considered those. "If some game feature or features give(s) you the ability to cast spells, and some other features or feature other than rage is not currently blocking that ability to cast spells, then rage blocks that ability to cast spells." \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 29, 2023 at 0:05

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