Quickened in 5e: How It Really Works & When To Use It

What Is Quickened in 5e?

Quickened is a metamagic option that can be placed on spells by characters with sorcery points and some monsters. A quickened spell is one that has a reduced casting time, from 1 action to 1 bonus action.

Quickened Spell from the Player’s Handbook

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.

This is a fairly simple and straightforward mechanic; however, there are often several questions that come up.

Can I Use Quickened Spell To Cast More Than One Spell Per Turn?

If one of those spells is a cantrip, yes. From the Player’s Handbook:

A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift… You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

Since a Quickened spell is cast as a bonus action, the rule above applies to that spell. This means that if you are to cast two spells in a single turn, at least one of them must be a cantrip.

Let’s say, for instance you are playing Sigurd, the divine soul sorcerer/fighter featured at the bottom of this page who has finally caught up to your barbarian friend who, until last turn, was mercilessly pummeling an owlbear.

You are 25 feet away, and it is your turn. The barbarian is gravely wounded. What can you do?

  • If you cast healing word, which is normally a bonus action, you may still cast chill touch to protect your wounded companion since chill touch is a cantrip. However, you may not cast lightning bolt since neither healing word nor lightning bolt are cantrips.
  • If you decide not to heal your friend, you could spend 2 sorcery points and cast a Quickened magic missile as a bonus action, and then use your movement to stand next to your friend and cast the cantrip shocking grasp, dealing even more damage to the unfortunate owlbear. Sadly, you could not cast magic missile twice since magic missile is not a cantrip.
  • If you want to maximize your actions (which we know you do), you could run to your meat shield… I mean… “friend” and cast a mold earth cantrip to excavate a 5-foot cube of dirt, deposit it directly between your “friend” and the owlbear to create cover, then cast a Quickened cure wounds as a bonus action, and finally use your reaction to cast shield when the owlbear attacks you.

Can I Use Quickened Spell To Speed Up a Spell With a Longer Casting Time?

No, not in the rules as written. While it would be nice to speed up a ceremony spell (because we all have places we’d rather be) or a Hero’s Feast (because I’m hungry now), it will take a bit of convincing for your DM to allow it.

However, should your DM allow Quicken to apply to longer spells, here is a good general rule to follow:

With this homebrew rule, there are lots of nasty surprises both players and DMs can spring on each other.

For example, a 1-minute spell to cast animate dead becomes a last-minute zombie shield. It also allows for a trap or environmental hazard to work quickly.

With a Quickened effect like this active on an animate dead spell (that is say, infusing a lich’s sanctum and being cast every round), you no longer have the luxury of waiting one full minute to be healed or revivified after you die. You are immediately raised as a zombie.

It should go without saying that any homebrew rules should be rigorously tested for game balance.

Can I Use Quickened Spell To Cast With 2 Bonus Actions?

No. In D&D 3.5, we could take as many bonus actions as we could argue the DM for. Not so in D&D 5e, and I suppose that makes sense. The Player’s Handbook specifically states you can only take 1 bonus action per turn.

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

– Player’s Handbook

How Do I Break This Mechanic and Make My DM Cry?

We all love doing that, right? Look, keep this quiet, and don’t tell the boss here at Black Citadel that I told you how to cast three spells in a single turn, okay?

To do this, you will need two levels in Fighter to get Action Surge, which will allow you to take an extra action.

From there, you will need two levels in Sorcerer to gain the metamagic option and choose Quickened Spell.

At 4th level, you will be able to use your action to cast a spell with 1 action, a Quickened Spell as a bonus action, and then your Action Surge ability will allow you to cast one more spell with 1 action.

The rules as written say that no more than 1 spell per turn can be higher than a cantrip. So, remember that before you try to cast a fog cloud followed by a dimension door.

What Are Some Good Quickened Spell Combinations and Tactical Uses?

Quickened Spell opens some very clever options for your caster. Not only can you hammer the offense with Quickened Spells, but you can also maximize your effectiveness and control the battlefield.

Pay special attention to spells that give your targets a penalty to their saving throws, and then pair them with spells that force those saving throws.

For example, after making your opponents fall prone (and therefore have disadvantage on Dexterity saves) with a Quickened grease spell, cast any of these:

  • Create bonfire
  • Acid Splash
  • Sword Burst
  • Light (although a non-combat spell, any creature that relies on stealth will find it hard to sneak around while glowing like a torch)

Another great spell to Quicken regularly is the cantrip mind sliver. This gives your target a penalty on all saving throws until your next turn.

You could follow this spell with literally any spell of any level, since mind sliver is a cantrip, and force your target to make a save with the associated penalty.

In addition, mold earth and shape water are great ways to grant yourself cover by growing a wall of mud or ice to hide behind or make ranged attacks from.

Minor illusion can work much the same way, allowing to you to make a distracting image or sound before hiding or casting a quick, unexpected spell unnoticed, such as invisibility or a summon spell.

Sample Characters

Below are two sample characters you are more than welcome to use in your campaign who both make use of the Quickened spell mechanic.

Sigurd, Dwarf Fighter (Rune Knight)/Sorcerer (Divine Soul)

Sigurd was found as an infant floating down an underground river deep in the mountain.

Raised by the mining family who found her, Sigurd demonstrated a knack for magic that she often used to help and heal her family instinctively.

Considered blessed by the gods of her people, Sigurd was sent to train with the priests, where she learned the magic of runes and became a protector and champion.

Sigurd likes to wear medium armor and carry a shield. The War Caster feat allows Sigurd to wield her warhammer and shield while casting her spells.

She will often be found in the front lines of battle, where her Quickened cure wounds spells and Cloud Rune abilities make her an ideal companion when the battle gets thick.

Action surge also lets her sneak in an extra attack if necessary.

Kakashi, Human Rogue (Scout) / Sorcerer (Storm Sorcery)

Kakashi was born and raised in a village of mercenaries, trained from childhood to meld magic with combat.

Through a series of personal failures and tragic losses, Kakashi hopes to redeem himself in the eyes of his village by teaching others how to come back from the dark places of the heart.

Kakashi does not wear armor, instead relying on a high dexterity and mage armor.

He is known for his Quickened true strike, which allows him to make his sneak attack while moving and attacking with his thrown weapons.

Kakashi will also use a misty step with a minor illusion spell to seemingly turn into a log.

However, his use of a Quickened dispel magic followed by an evocation spell of his own is what gave him the infamous reputation he holds today.