How does casting a cantrip work? Is it different than casting a regular spell?

  • I am a new DM. I do not understand how casting cantrips is supposed to work. For example: is a wizard able to cast Firebolt as an action and then, because Firebolt is a cantrip, cast it again as a bonus action?

    Can you clarify a point: What is granting the Wizard the ability to cast Fire Bolt as a bonus Action?

    Am i not understanding the cantrips? I thought all cantrips could be cast as a bonus action?

    I noticed that you accepted my answer. While I'm glad you found it useful, it's usually a good practice to wait a day or so to allow multiple answers to be posted. I encourage you to check back later, and feel free to accept another answer if you decide it's of higher quality than mine

  • lithas

    lithas Correct answer

    5 years ago


    Cantrips are spells, just like any other spell. There are 2 differences between a Cantrip and any other spell that has a level of 1 or higher:

    • Cantrips do not use up a spell slot
    • Cantrips can be cast on the same turn that a spell is cast using a bonus action

    Cantrips still have casting times denoted just like other spells. For Firebolt


    Evocation cantrip
    Casting Time: 1 action
    Range: 120 feet
    Components: V,S
    Duration: Instantaneous
    You hurl a mote of fire at a creature or object within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 fire damage. A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn't being worn or carried.
    This spell's damage increases by 1d10 when you reach 5th level (2d10), 11th level (3d10), and 17th level (4d10).

    You'll notice that it still has a casting time of 1 action.

    There do exist ways to change the casting time of spells. For example, the sorcerer's Quickened Spell would allow you to cast two Firebolts on one turn: One as a Quickened spell, and the other as a normal spell.

    Quickened Spell
    When you cast a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, you can spend 2 sorcery points to change the casting time to 1 bonus action for this casting

    There is a complication to this issue, as pointed out to me by Drunk Cynic:

    Bonus Action
    A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

    A careful reading of this section reveals that you can only use a bonus action to cast bonus action spells, and you cannot trade standard actions for bonus actions in 5e as demonstrated in this question:

    So, unless the cantrip has the the Casting time of "1 bonus action" in can not be used twice. So, can a spell like misty step be cast twice...once as an action then again as a bonus action?

    @TXChag No, You can't cast the spell with a casting time "Bonus Action" using the "Cast a Spell" standard action.

    Thank you all for your replies...I am gonna have some upset casters. I have been doing it wrong.

    @DrunkCynic thanks for the link. I'll update my answer to reflect this fact, as it seems relevant

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM