For a new D&D player or one that has no experience as a spell caster, the concept of spell slots may be concerning and confusing. Understanding what spell slots are and how they work is essential as a player belonging to a spellcasting class. However, it is not something that can be understood to its depth with just a simple glance. It becomes even more confusing when you think about multiclassing.
Therefore, to clear these doubts, here we have a D&D 5e spell slots guide that will help you clear all this out and become an efficient spellcaster.
What Are Spell Slots in DnD 5e?
Conceptually, you could say that spell slots act as fuel to cast spells. They are a measurement of magical strength that can be used in a single day. So, to cast a spell, you require an empty spell slot. Once used, that spell slot becomes unavailable until your DnD character has had a long rest.
Also, the level of spells and spell slots have different characteristics. The level of a spell is based on its strength and effectiveness. While the level of a spell slot is required to cast a spell of the same level or lower. It can even sometimes strengthen lower-level spells; however, that is uncommon and works with only a few spells.
Another confusing aspect for newcomers or inexperienced spellcasters is that a player’s class level and the level of their spells and spell slots are not the same. This confusion can be cleared from the Player’s Handbook that you can find in our list of DnD books.
Now, let us familiarise ourselves with the concept of full casters, half casters, and third casters. Classes like bard, cleric, wizard, sorcerer, and druid are known as full casters and gain spell slots at the 1st level. Next, classes like paladin, ranger, and artificers are referred to as half casters and receive their spell slots at the 2nd level. Finally, classes like the eldritch knight and arcane trickster are called the third caster and receive their spell slots at the 3rd level.
The highest level of spell slots that the full, half and third casters receive differ from one another where full casters gain up to 9th level slots, half casters gain up to 5th level slots, and third caster gain up to 4th level slots. This is enough to understand what D&D 5e spell slots are. However, to answer a few upcoming doubts and queries, continue reading.
How Do D&D Spell Slots Work At Different Levels?
Of course, as your level in your class increases, the level of your spell slots also increases. Now, there are quite a few things to keep in mind when talking about how Spell slots work at different levels, so let’s understand them one by one.
Firstly, to cast a spell of a certain level, you need to have a spell slot of the same level or higher to cast that spell. This means a 3rd level spell can only be cast by a spell slot of level 3 or higher and not by a spell slot of level 1 or 2.
Secondly, some spells get additional bonuses when they are cast by a spell slot that has a higher level than the spell itself. For example, when a 3rd level fireball spell is cast using a level 4 spell slot, the fireball spell deals an extra 1d6 damage. Finally, note that low-level spell slots can be combined to get a greater level spell slot. Like two 2nd level spell slots cannot be combined into one 4th level spell slot.
Do 5e Spell Slots Determine The Number Of Spells A Character Knows?
When anyone hears the term “slots,” they initially think that they store numerous spells. However, in D&D 5e, that is not the case. Here, spell slots determine the power of the spell that can be cast. It also determines the number of times a spell can be cast rather than which spells. To understand this better, let us learn a bit about the spells.
Classes such as sorcerers, warlocks, rangers, arcane tricksters, bards, and eldritch knights, all have a list known as “Spells Known” that hold all the spells that they can cast after you have memorized them. You can only cast spells that are on this list. Now, when I say spell slots determine the power of the spell, I mean how many times it can be cast in a day and what level it will be.
If a sorcerer has 10 spells in the “Spells Known” list and 2 spell slots, then they can cast two spells in one day. Whether the casted spells are different or the same is irrelevant. This means that the same spell can be cast two times in a day, or a total of two different spells can be cast once.
How To Get Your D&D 5e Spell Slots Become Available Again?
In general, used spell slots are regained only after a long rest. However, some classes have some other ways to achieve it, but they do have a few setbacks as well to balance out this benefit. Warlocks, for instance, can get their used spell slots after a short rest.
For Wizards, they can use the Arcane Recovery spell to regain spell slots while sorcerers use sorcery points to create more spell slots. However, as I mentioned, these advantages also have setbacks to make it fair. This setback is that they have only two spell slots until they reach the 11th level.
Can I Use Spells Without Using A Spell Slot?
Although it seems fair to require spell slots to cast spells, there are a few ways that one could cast spells even when their spell slots are exhausted. These spells fall into three categories: Cantrip spells, Ritual Spells, and Trait and Abilities.
1. Cantrip Spells
The Cantrip spells, also known as 0th level spells, are minor magic effects that can be cast without the use of spell slots. However, their use can’t be expected to be as effective as normal spells.
2. Ritual Spells
Ritual spells are normal spells with a disadvantage. This means that any spell of any level can be cast as a ritual spell. This allows the caster to cast the spell without expending a spell slot. However, it would require an extra 10 minutes to cast the spell. This is the disadvantage of casting a spell as a ritual spell.
3. Trait And Abilities
Traits and abilities refer to the casting of specific spells, unique to the class of that player. This means that certain classes have the option to cast specific spells without using a spell slot, but instead, only the material components necessary for it. However, the invocation Fiendish Vigor allows the False Life spell to be cast without any of the two.
How Does Multiclassing Affect Your Spell Slots?
This might be a little complicated, but we have tried our best to make it simple. To understand how spell slots work in 5e when multiclassing, first let us recap what the terms full casting classes, half casting classes, and third casting classes mean.
- Full casting classes refer to classes that acquire spells at 1st level.
- Half casting classes refer to classes that acquire spells at the 2nd level.
- Third casting classes refer to classes that acquire spells at the 3rd level.
For the time being, let us refer to them as FC, HC, and TC respectively. Now, to calculate, keep these in mind:
- For FC classes, take the level they’re at. For example, for a level four sorcerer, note down 4.
- For HC classes, take the level, half it, and then round it down. For example, for a level 5 ranger, note down 2.
- For TC classes take the level, divide it by 3, and then round it down. For example, for a level 5 arcane trickster, note down 1.
Now, when these numbers are added, we get 4+2+1, which is equal to 7. Now once we refer to the Multiclass Spellcaster Table and observe the 7th level, we’ll find that we get four 1st level, three 2nd level, three 3rd level, and one 4th level spell slot.
Therefore, once you have calculated the Multiclass level using the above-mentioned method, you can simply find the number of spell slots you will receive and their levels from the Multiclass Spellcaster Table.
To solve your confusion regarding spell slots, hopefully, this D&D spell slots guide was sufficient. What are spell slots? How do Spell Slots work? How do they work when multiclassing, and even if it is at all possible to cast spells without using spell slots. All these things were successfully covered in this guide.