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When I say 'Spellcasting Action Economy' I mean the rules that state when you cast a spell (Cantrip or otherwise) as a bonus action during your turn, the only other spell you can cast that same turn is a Cantrip that must have a casting time of 1 action.

There are two classes in the campaign I take part in that utilize Meta Magic with Sorcery Points. Quicken Spell does not give any exception to the spellcasting economy rules outlined above, but allows you to turn a spell with a casting time of 1 action into a casting time of 1 bonus action.

Our DM would like to offer some uniqueness to Quicken Spell, and interpret it as an exception to the rule: allowing those with Quicken Spell to cast their altered spell with a bonus action and then cast a 1 action spell that doesn't have to be a cantrip if they so wish. (Or vice versa: 1 Action spell then Quicken Spell Bonus Action.) While I do not disagree with this addition to Quicken Spell on a RP / Class level, I am curious about its balance.

My question is: What are the possibilities for abuse, or general consequences, of house-ruling only Quicken Spell usage to break the spellcasting action economy instead of using it as written?

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Here is a list:

  • At level 3, your Sorcerer can cast chromatic orb, then chromatic orb. He has dealt 6d8 damage, or 27 on average, to one target. That is the equivalent of one fireball for that target. This is also around the HP of most CR1 monsters.
  • At level 3, the same Sorcerer can cast scorching ray, then scorching ray. He has dealt 12d6 damage, averaging 42 damage. Counting that you have 6 chances to crit, this can be far more. You can drop almost any one creature you will face at this level single-handed, if not this round then on the next.
  • At level 5, the same Sorcerer can cast fireball, then fireball. He has dealt 16d6 AoE damage, or 56 damage on average. Your tank and glass cannons feel utterly useless.
  • At level 5, the same Sorcerer can cast lightning bolt, then lightning bolt. He has dealt 16d6 AoE damage in a line. Same issues as above.
  • At level 8, the same Sorcerer can cast blight, then blight. He has dealt 16d8 damage to a single target, averaging 72 damage. Your villain will be really messed up after this one turn.
  • At level 10, the same Sorcerer can cast cone of cold, then cone of cold. He has dealt 16d8 damage in a 60 foot cone.
  • At level 10, the same Sorcerer can do everything above.
  • At level 13, the same Sorcerer can cast disintegrate, then finger of death. He has dealt 136.5 damage (on average) to a single target, assuming they fail both saves.
  • The Sorcerer can do any combination of the above at any level where such a combination is possible (eg., fireball and cone of cold, blight and lightning bolt, etc).

I was about to post a related question to this. My suggestion to balance it out is to somehow allow a mechanic whereby, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the level of the spell you want to cast. I'm not exactly sure on the balance there, either.


A related but tangential concern is raised by @Alexis Wilke, asking "what's the big deal?" That is, what's the difference between one Wizard casting two fireballs and two Wizards casting one fireball each?

The answer is: a huge difference. If one caster casting two fireball spells is acceptable, then two casters casting one fireball each is suboptimal. Between the two of them, they should cast four fireball spells. You're using a single person's resources in the first case, which is more efficient/powerful than using two people's resources to achieve the same effect.


@Gus raises another good point about the spell slots being limited, which acts as a natural stopper for this. This is true, and it seems to be what is preventing the querent's party mates from spamming all their spells this way.

For small fights, it's no issue; and by "small" I mean fights that the DM meant to be easily winnable. But for boss fights, this becomes problematic. You can bet your players will want to be well-rested before they run into the BBEG's secret lair, and showering them with two high damage spells per caster per round may make that encounter trivial and anti-climactic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I may ask, what difference would there be here between one caster being able to cast two spells such as Fireball and two casters both having Fireball and casting them on the same turn? \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Mar 26 '16 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlexisWilke Well, if one caster casting two fireball spells is acceptable, then two casters casting one fireball each is suboptimal. Between the two of them, they should cast four fireball spells. In other words, huge difference -- you're using a single person's resources in the first case, which is more efficient/powerful than using two people's resources to achieve the same effect. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Mar 26 '16 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't the fact that they have a max # of spells before they rest again mitigate this somewhat? Motivation to conserve spells could mitigate abuse of this, while still leaving it as an option, but only if the DM's not granting long rests after every fight. \$\endgroup\$ – Gus Jun 8 '16 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gus For small fights, it's no issue. For boss fights, this becomes problematic. You can bet your players will want to be well-rested before they run into the BBEG's secret lair. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Mar 4 '17 at 3:55
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Two Fireballs is a heckuva way to say hello. A high initiative and/or damage roll could end the fight before it begins. I'd consider that to be fairly unbalancing and not much fun, so I wouldn't do it. The rule you're considering ignoring limits arcane casters:

  • If you do want a two-fireball opener before the fight gets going, you'll need two casters to participate, to be in the right location, and to roll high initiatives, statistically much less likely than one. Also, if you still pull it off, at least two people participated in the fight, not just one.
  • If the DM throws something at you with spell resistance, thinking it'll change the tone of the fight, you can't respond by sticking to the same tactics and just doubling the speed at which you cast spells.
  • More generally, if you want to be able to hurl spells quickly, you'll need 2+ arcane casters in the party both dedicated to being boomsticks, which limits your options and versatility somewhat.

So if you proceed with this plan, you'll have the inverse - one person able to handle most or all of the rapid-destruction needs, letting the others focus on other things (or have 3 or 4 arcane spells per turn, if there are 2 of you). If you're determined, I would (have your DM) take one or more of these steps to adjust the balance:

  1. Make Quickened Spell cost more.
  2. Make it clear that there are going to be multiple encounters per day, so you have to be stingy with your spells except in dire emergencies (when casting 2 spells/turn might be kind of cool, and more dramatic instead of less).
  3. Crank up the usual situational methods of preventing arcane casters from pwning with long-distance spells: ambush, cover, surrounded, ghosts floating through walls, Outsiders appearing suddenly in your midst...

I would be sure to discuss #2 and #3 as a group before implementing them, since those could change the overall feel of the game (though in ways I personally enjoy).

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