Spell Casting During Melee


Magical Device Attacks
Effect Of Cover 
On Spells and Spell-like Powers
Monster Charm Power

[Also see MELEE, Meleeing An Opponent Spell Caster]

These functions are fully detailed in the PH.
Their commencement is dictated by initiative determination as with other attack forms,
but their culmination is subject to the stated casting time.
Both commencement and/or completion can occur simultaneously with missile discharge, magical device attacks,
and/or turning undead.
Being struck by something during casting will spoil the spell.

Spell-casters will always insist that they are able to use their powers during combat melee.
The DM must adjudicate the success of such use.
Consider this:
The somatic (movement) portions of a spell must be begun and completed without interruption in a clean, smooth motion.
The spell as a whole must be continuous ond uninterrupted from beginning to end.
Once interrupted, for any reason whatsoever, the spell is spoiled and lost (lost as if used).
Spells cannot be cast while violently moving -- such as running, dodging a blow, or even walking normally.
They are interrupted by a successful hit - be it blow, missile, or appropriate spell
(not saved against or saveable against).

casting a spell requires that a figure be relatively motionless and concentrating on the effort during the entire course of uninterrupted casting.
For example, a magic-user casting a fireball must be in sight of the intended AREA of effect during the course of the spell
(although an associate could be there to open a door intervening between caster and target area at an appropriate time - provided the timing was correct, of course).
The caster cannot begin a spell, interrupt it just prior to completion,
run to a different area, and then complete the spell;
interruption instantly cancels it.
Unless a spell has no somatic components, the caster cannot be crouching, let alone prone, during casting. <can you cast spells while walking? cf. contrarian>

It can thus be understood that spell casting during a melee can be a tricky business,
for a mere shove at any time can spoil the dweomer!
Any spell can be attempted, but success is likely to be uncertain.
Use the following procedure for spells cast during melee:

1. Spell casters must note what spell they intend to CAST at the beginning
of each round prior to any knowledge of which side has initiative.

[aka 'Attacks of Opportunity / Any Weapon vs. Spell Caster]
[aka 'Attacks of Opportunity / Melee Weapon vs. Spell Caster / Option 1: Simple Version'] [also see Option 2: Complex Version]
Attacks directed at spell casters will come on that segment of the round
shown on the opponent's or on their own side's initiative die, whichever is applicable.
(If the spell caster's side won the initiative with a roll of 5, the attack must come then,
not on the opponent's losing roll of 4 or less.)
Thus, all such attacks will occur on the 1st-6th segments of the round.

3. Intelligent monsters able to recognize the danger of spells will direct attacks against spell casters if not engaged by other opponents so as to be prevented from so doing.

4. The spell caster cannot use his or her DEX bonus to avoid being hit
during spell casting; doing so interrupts the spell.

5. Any successful attack, or non-saved-against attack upon the spell caster interrupts the spell.
Because spell casting will be so difficult, most magic-users and clerics will opt to use magical devices whenever possible in melee, if they are wise.

4. The spell caster cannot use his or her DEX bonus to avoid being hit during spell casting; doing so interrupts the spell.

5. Any successful attack, or non-saved-against attack upon the spell caster interrupts the spell.

Because spell casting will be so difficult, most magic-users and clerics will
opt to use magical devices whenever possible in melee, if they are wise.

Q: Does a spell-caster have to remain
motionless for an entire round
when he casts a spell? If not, what
else can he do?
A: The rules seem to imply, but don?t actually
say, that a full round of motionlessness
is required to cast a spell. Several
Lake Geneva campaigns rule that a magicuser
must remain stationary only as long
as the casting time of the spell. After casting
a spell, the magic-user can move during
the remainder of the round, but he
cannot attack or cast another spell. For
example, a fireball takes 3 segments, so
the magic-user casting it could have 7
segments worth of movement after casting
the spell: See page 102 of the Players
Handbook for per-segment movement
rates. These campaigns also allow fighters
to attack, then move. If your campaign
does not allow fighting ?on the run,? make
magic-users stay put when casting spells.
If you can?t fight on the run, you can?t cast
a spell on the run, either.

Q: Can magic-users move during a
round when they cast spells?
A: A magic-user must remain stationary
only as long as the casting time of the
spell. After casting a spell, the mage can
move during the remainder of the round.
For example, a fireball takes three segments;
therefore, the mage casting it could
have seven segments worth of movement
after casting the spell. See page 102 of the
Players Handbook for per-segment movement

ska wrote:

When your gaming group played OAD&D as long as a magician "won" initiative (assuming the 1d6 dice being used to determine initiative) could any spell be gotten off prior to attack as long as the spell did not take more than a round to cast?


Just so!

That encouraged spell-casters to stay in the rear of the party too...


ScottyG wrote:
Gary, there is one line in the DMG that has caused more debate than any other I'm ware of. In reference to spell casting: "Their commencement is dictated by initiative determination as with other attack forms, but their culmination is subject to the stated casting time." One view is that the line means that casting begins on the segment indicated by the initiative result, and the casting time is added to it to determine when the spell will be cast. For example, a m-u with an initiative result of 4 is casting a magic missile (casting time: 1 segment). The spell would occur on the 5th segment.
My opinion is that the first half of the quote simply means that initiative determines who starts acting first, and has nothing to do with the segment the casting begins. Longer spells will still take longer, but if the casting time is the same, the caster that began casting his spell a moment sooner than the other will get his spell off first.

A 1 segment casting time duration means that the spell is cast in the initiative segment indicated by the die roll. In your example of a 4, that's when the spell is cast. Each casting-time segment above 1 is added to the 4 to find the segment of casting, so a spell with a casting time of 3 segments would be cast in the 6th segment. all action begins at the start of a segment and just before the next spells being cast are active.

Does that clear it up?


ScottyG wrote:
It does. So that means that a high initiative result, and a high casting time could result in a spell not being cast until the next round? A 6 segment spell being added to an initiative result of 6.

Yes, a long spell can stretch into the next round. however, a 6-segment casting time would add 5 to the number of the initiative segment that casting began, as it covers 1 segment. in your example, the spell would be case in segment 1 of the folowing round (6 + 5 = 11, so that's the 1st segment of the next round.) If the caster isn't disturbed, that's often a good thing...


ScottyG wrote:
Wow, I must have misunderstood you the last time this came up. That's how I originally used to do it, but I changed my method because I thought you stated that all actions begin at the beginning of the round. Always learning new things around here.

The action of casting a spell, or doing anything else, begins in the segment of the round indicated by initiative score, at the start of that segment.


ScottyG wrote:
In a situation like this, does the spell caster have to wait for the following (the 3rd round in this case) to begin casting another spell, or can he take some action in the 2nd round after the spell is cast on the 1st segment?

No. Spellcasting takes up the entrie round in which it was actually activated, so there is no chance to cast twice in a round or even begn a new spell in the same round that one was successfully or unsuccessfully cast.


DMPrata wrote:
Gary, please forgive me if I belabour this issue, but 24 hours ago I thought I understood initiative. This is a new concept for me, and it effectively invalidates the 20-page initiative explanation I posted yesterday, so I want to be sure I have it right before I go back to the drawing board.

A fighter attacks a magic-user. The fighter rolls a 3, and the MU rolls a 6. If I understand you, the MU's spell will begin in segment 3, and take effect (casting time minus one) segments later. The fighter's attack will come in segment 6.

No, each individual's action begins in the segment indicated. the fighter will attack in segment 3, the M-U begin the spell in segment 6.

I think that's straightforward.

Multiple attacks will be in following successive segments, or delayed as the character wished.


-A spell caster does not loose their spell if hit before they cast within that round. (ex. a MU intends on casting MM but is hit on seg 2 before he can begin casting his spell on segment 3.)

A spell-caster struck and losing HPs thereby before completion of spell casting does indeed have the casting interrupted, the spell fails and is lost.
If the spell isn't begiun, then the hit does not affect his intent unless he wishes to alter it.

-To loose a spell the MU would have already had to started casting (ex. MU starts casting Fire ball on seg. 1 but is hit on seg 2 before the spell goes off).


-A MU does not loose his dex. bonus to AC until after he begins casting, and regains his AC after his spell has been cast.
(ex. MU intends on casting web, but can't act until seg 3.
From seg 1-2 he gets his AC bonus of -2 so his AC is 8.
On seg 3 he must stop all positioning and begin casting eff. loosing his dex bonus.
Thus from seg 3 to seg 5 his AC is a 10.
The spell goes off on seg 5, and the MU gets his AC dex bonus back on seg 6. [/quote]
correct, and I generally allow a spell-caster to retain his dexterity bonus to AC even when he is casting.

- bold, size added

Anonymous wrote:
Gary, if a spell caster stated they intended to cast a fire ball spell before initiative is rolled, they loose initiative (and the enemy attacks) can they then choose to cast a different spell (since they have not yet begun casting the spell). (ex. a magic user runs into a monster. Before initiative is roled the MU states he will cast a fire ball spell. The MU looses initiative and is attacked but the creature misses. Can the magic user at that point choose to cast a different spell other then fire ball? Say, opt to cast a magic missile spell realizing this particular creature would not be effected by fire.

A change of spell means that that the spall-caster's action for the round was doing just that, changing his mind.

Getting actions for PCs before the round commences fixes the action, and changing it is possible but limited to not so acting, not to doing something different, just doing nothing because the PC is "dithering."

If the MU wins initiative must he cast the spell he stated he would cast before initiative was roled? For instance if the Monster will go on segment 6 and the MU can start casting on seg. 3, can he choose to change the spell he chose to cast (with the idea that for 2 segments before he can go he has a moment to change his mind), or is he committed to that spell.

Once again Gary, thanks for your close association with your fans. 

This is the same situation as n oted above. The planned spell must be cast or nothing can be done as the realization that it would be a waste comes, and a new spell is planned for. So again the PC would do nothing that round.


Anonymous wrote:
Scotty, do the rules actually say that a spell caster looses their spell if they are hit before thier action segment? I'm just not sure where your getting this from (besides "thats how everyone plays it").

Just because a player states that at somepoint in the next round they will perform a certain action, does not mean they are saying there going to start immediatly. Any inteligent MU is going to get behind some cover before they start casting. Your example of "At the start of each round, the DM says something like, "the human in robes begins casting a spell".
is not correct IMO. The DM should say something like, "there is a guy in robes that looks like they are about to start casting a spell". Just as you would say "you see a fighter preparing to hit you with a sword".

As far as I recall, I do believe that I write a stipoulaion in the rules that a spell-caster struck in process of casting lost the spell then and there.

Statement of intended action means thatis what the PC is contemplating and meaning to do.
Arguing against making a player stick to such a statement is weaseling 


Anonymous wrote:

-EGG "correct, and I generally allow a spell-caster to retain his dexterity bonus to AC even when he is casting."

This makes as much sense to me as anything else I've read.

And thanks again EGG, I didn't mean to pull at so many teeth. 

Gary, thanks again!

As the rules are for a RPG not a cmbat simulation, you bet it makes sense!
the would-be spell-casted doesn't suddenly become immobile, go blind and deaf when in the act of casting a spell 


- bold, size added

CapN wrote:
What if the enemy spellcaster suddenly cast hold person, cause blindness[i] and [i]cause deafness at you? 

That would be some combination casting, easily observed and ducked in the overly complex warmup obviously required for it 


Originally Posted by ScottGLXIX
Greetings Colonel, I have a follow up to the spell casting and initiative question you answered above.
When attacking a spell caster, the DMG gives two methods for determing if the attack or the spell occur first,
either the segment indicated by the initiative roll,
or a method based on speed factor.
What about in situations where the attacker has multiple attack routines, like an archer, or a fighter with two attacks?
Will the first attack occur first regardless of casting time, or does the spell caster have the normal chance of getting his spell off before the first attack occurs?

Hi Scott 

A spell-casted loosing a one-segment spell such as magic missile is pretty hard to stop.
All of my mage PCs have spells of one segment casting time for tight situations,

The physical attack must occur on the segment before a spell is cast to disrupt it--unless concentration is required to keep the spell going.
Multiple attacks don't matter, as the first happens on the segment of the round indicated, then another follows thereafter.
So if the first of multiple attacks occurs before the spell is cast, and it hits, that's the one that matters most.
Of course the second attack might be even more important, such as one that kills the spell-caster...


Magical Device Attacks:
These attacks are the spell-like discharge functions of rods, staves, wands and any similar items.
These attacks can occur simultaneously with the discharge of missiles, spell casting, and/or turning undead.
The time of such discharge by any magical device is subject to initiative determination.
(See also Combat Procedure, below.)

Effect Of Cover On Spells and Spell-like Powers:
Hard cover will increase chances for saving throws as noted.
Cover equal to 90% (or better) will also give the target creatures the benefit of no damage whatsoever if the appropriate saving throw is successful.

Monster Charm Power:
The magical charming power of creatures such as nixies && vampires is much more powerful than that of the simple charm person spell.
While it will eventually wear off, until it does, the charmee is subject to mental commands by the charmer, unlike either the charm person or charm monster spell.
This means that a monster-charmed character does not need to speak the creature's language to understand commands from the
monster which charmed it, although only basic emotions or simple commands can be mentally communicated to the charmee unless some mutual language is common to both the charmer and the charmee.
While the charmed character is not an automaton, he || she will certainly hasten to carry out whatever instructions or commands are received from the charmer, except those which are obviously self-destructive.
This relatively complete control of the charmee's mind enables the charmer to make the victim almost totally subject to its will, including giving up personal possessions, betraying associates, and so forth.
Mental communication between charmer and charmee extends only to sight range or up to a 60' radius if not in sight range.
Magic circles of protection (spells or specially drawn) will break the communication link and seemingly cause the charm to be broken, but unless magically dispelled, or until the power of the magic wears off, the effect is again evident when the charmee is outside such protection.