Dungeons & Dragons: Preparing Spells, Explained

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  • What Is Spell Preparation?
  • How Many Spells Can Your Prepare?
  • Which Classes Can Prepare Spells?

The presence of magic and spellcasters is among the most iconic elements of Dungeons & Dragons. Of the thirteen playable classes in D&D, nine classes are capable of casting spells by default while the remaining four classes have access to subclasses that can potentially allow a character to wield even a small amount of magic.

However, the manner in which different spellcasters can access their magic varies. While some spellcasters learn new spells over the course of their travels, others prepare which spells they'll have readied every day. As this can be complicated for newcomers to spellcasting, we're going to explain everything you need to know about preparing spells in D&D's fifth edition!

What Is Spell Preparation?

Learning spells in D&D is rather straightforward. Once a character learns a new spell, it is added to their available spell list. However, characters capable of preparing spells have access to an additional layer of flexibility with their magic. Rather than needing to commit to which spells a character knows, a character capable of preparing spells is essentially capable of casting any spell on their class's spell list as long as they have available spell slots of the given level. However, a character must prepare which of these available spells they can cast on a given day.

Whenever a character capable of preparing spells finishes a long rest, they prepare a list of spells that they are capable of casting that day from their class's spell list. This flexibility allows a player with the foresight of upcoming obstacles and potential battles to ready the spells that will be the most helpful to help their party, allowing them to easily adapt to a myriad of scenarios.

In addition to spell preparation being completed as part of a long rest, characters must spend at least one minute per spell level for each spell on their list when preparing spells.

How Many Spells Can Your Prepare?

The number of spells a character is capable of preparing is determined by two factors: the character's level and their spellcasting ability score modifier. For example, a level five Druid with a Wisdom ability score of 18 would have access to nine prepared spells.

When preparing spells, a character isn't required to have a certain number of their prepared spells be those of a certain spell level. For example, As a level five Druid would have access to third-level spells, any number of their prepared spells could be first-level, second-level, or third-level in any combination. Hypothetically, such a character could choose to have each of their prepared spells be first-level options. It's entirely up to which spells a player is interested in using.

While a character can have any number of their prepared spells be of any spell levels of which that character's choice, it's important to be conscious of how many spell slots a character has access to. Though a character's most potent spells may be higher level, by only preparing high-level spells, a character won't be able to make the most out of their lower-level spell slots.

Which Classes Can Prepare Spells?

As mentioned previously, as some classes learn their spells as they gain levels, not all characters are capable of preparing spells. As spell preparation is commonly done through the act of meditation, classes such as Clerics are capable of preparing spells. The following classes prepare their spells rather than learn their spells:

  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Paladin
  • Wizard

Unlike Clerics, Druids, and Paladins, it's important to note that rather than being able to prepare any spells from their class's spell list, Wizards instead prepare spells available from within their spellbooks.

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