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Unearthed Arcana


In this variant, spellcasters donít have a hard limit on spells per day. Instead, it takes time to gather the magical energies required to cast a spell of a particular level, so characters must wait a number of rounds, minutes, or hours before casting such a spell again. Spells with an instantaneous duration or a duration measured in rounds can be cast dozens of times per day. Longer-duration spells cast outside of combat have recharge times measured in minutes or hours.

At its heart, the recharge magic variant is simple: A well-rested spellcaster can cast any spell he knows or has prepared, but then either rolls a die to find out how many rounds must pass before spells of that level become available again (if itís a general recharge spell) or loses access to that spell for a specified time (if itís a specific recharge spell). Spell slots are never expended; they just become temporarily unavailable.

Recharging doesnít require any actions and doesnít provoke attacks of opportunity. As long as a spellcaster is alive, he naturally recharges his energy.

With this variant, all spellcasters effectively become spontaneous casters like sorcerers, choosing a spell each round from a list. For sorcerers and bards, the list is fixed (just as it is for sorcerers and bards who arenít using the variant), but other spellcasters set their available menu of spells when they prepare spells for the day. With the recharge variant, thereís no reason to prepare the same spell in more than one slot. Because sorcerers and bards donít have the flexibility of choosing a new menu of spells each day, their general recharge times are shorter.

Some classes, such as the cleric and the druid, have limited spontaneous spellcasting ability. Such a character can convert any spell on his daily list into the appropriate spell (such as either cure wounds or inflict wounds for a cleric, or summon natureís ally for a druid), but doing so replaces the converted spell on the clericís daily list with the spell cast in its place. This happens only once per spell level, because after that point the relevant cure or inflict spell appears on the spell list as if it had been prepared.

This variant distinguishes two kinds of spells: spells with general recharge time (usually no more than a few rounds) and spells with specific recharge times (which range from minutes to hours).

Recharge Times for Other Spells
Table: Spell Recharge Times includes all standard spells. Each one is indicated as having either a general recharge time, a specific recharge time measured in minutes or hours, or a notation that the spell is prohibited to casters when this variant is used. For spells from other sources that are not mentioned here, use those on the table as a guide, keeping the following in mind.

Combat-oriented and short-duration spells (those lasting up to 1 round per level) typically have a general recharge time. Conversely, spells with longer durations have specific recharge times (the longer the duration, the longer the recharge time). Any spell with an expensive material component or an XP component has a general recharge time.

Enchantments usually have a specific recharge time ranging from 30 minutes to 12 hours. This limitation prevents characters from simply charming everyone in the tavern in the space of a few minutes.

Spells that build things have a specific recharge time measured in hours.

Divinations typically have a specific recharge time, often in the neighborhood of 6 hours, to prevent their abuse in the hands of curious characters.

Powerful illusions and permanent "trap"-type spells have specific recharge times of 12 hours to 1 day, unless theyíre expensive to cast.

Spells that have general recharge times are those cast in combat, those with longer casting times, and those with an experience point or expensive material component. Once a character has cast a general recharge spell, he canít cast another spell of that level until a number of rounds have passed.

Table: General Recharge Times tells how many rounds must pass after the casting of a general recharge spell before another spell of that level becomes available.

Table: General Recharge Times
Spell LevelBard, SorcererCleric, Druid, Paladin,
Ranger, Wizard
Highest possible1d4+1 rounds1d6+1 rounds
Second highest possible1d4+1 rounds1d6+1 rounds
Third highest possible1d4 rounds1d4+1 rounds
Fourth highest possible1d4 rounds1d4+1 rounds
Fifth highest possible1d3 rounds1d4 rounds
Sixth highest possible1d3 rounds1d4 rounds
Seventh highest possible1 round1d3 rounds
Eighth highest possible1 round1d3 rounds
Ninth highest possible01 round
Tenth highest possible01 round

For example, Boredflak is a 4th-level wizard. His 2nd-level spells (the highest possible level he can cast) and 1st-level spells (the second highest possible level he can cast) take 1d6+1 rounds to recharge, and his 0-level spells (the third highest possible level he can cast) take 1d4+1 rounds to recharge. When he attains 5th level, his 3rd-level and 2nd-level spells take 1d6+1 rounds to recharge and his 1st- and 0-level spells take 1d4+1 rounds to recharge. (Specific recharge spells have their own recharge times that donít match these values.)

Another example: Aliester the 10th-level sorcerer casts fireball in the first round of a fight. Once he casts the spell, he rolls 1d4 to determine his recharge time. He rolls a 2, so he must wait 2 rounds before he regains access to 3rd-level spells. In the following round, he casts cloudkill, one of his highest-level spells. Rolling a 4 on 1d4, Aliester is dismayed to learn he must wait 5 (1d4+1) rounds before he can cast cloudkill again. In the next round, he casts magic missile, rolling 1d3 afterward and getting a result of 1 for a 1-round recharge time. In the following round, Aliester regains access to his 3rd-level spells, so he can cast another fireball if he likes, or he can cast magic missile again (because the 1-round recharge time for his 1st-level spells has elapsed).

Metamagic and General Recharge Spells
Spellcasters who prepare spells simply put the metamagic versions of the spells they want in the appropriate spell slots, and theyíre cast at their effective level. For example, casting a quickened magic missile forces a spellcaster to recharge her 5th-level spells, not her 1st-level spells. Sorcerers and bards take a full-round action to add metamagic to any spell they know, and casting that spell forces a recharge of the effective level of the metamagic spell. For example, an extended haste spell cast by a sorcerer would require a recharge roll for a 4th-level spell.
Most long-duration utility spells have specific recharge times so spellcasters canít just cast them on everyone they meet. These might range from a mere 5 minutes (for bullís strength) to 4 hours (for teleport) to a full day, or 24 hours (for wind walk). A specific recharge time is the time that must elapse before a character can cast that particular spell again; he can cast another spell of the same level in the following round if he likes.
Metamagic and Specific Recharge Spells
Not only do specific recharge spells use higher slots if metamagic feats have been applied to them, but each +1 to the effective level of the spell doubles the recharge time. For example, a silent charm person spell takes up a 2nd-level spell slot and has a specific recharge time of 2 hours.
Countering and Dispelling
If a spell with a specific recharge time is used to counter or dispel another spell, the specific recharge time does not apply. Instead, treat the spell as a general recharge spell of that level.

For example, if a 5th-level cleric casts deeper darkness to dispel a daylight spell, he can cast another 3rd-level spell (including deeper darkness) 1d6+1 rounds later. If he instead casts deeper darkness to darken a passageway, he canít use deeper darkness again for 24 hours, but his other 3rd-level spells are available to be cast.

Table: Spell Recharge Times
Spell NameRecharge Time
  1. You canít recast this spell or prepare another spell in that slot until the subject uses the imbued spell.
Acid arrowGeneral
Acid fogGeneral
Acid splashGeneral
Aid5 minutes
Air walk1 hour
Alarm4 hours
Align weapon5 minutes
Alter self4 hours
Analyze dweomerGeneral
Animal growthGeneral
Animal messenger6 hours
Animal shapes24 hours
Animal tranceGeneral
Animate deadGeneral
Animate objectsGeneral
Animate plantsGeneral
Animate ropeGeneral
Antilife shellGeneral
Antimagic fieldGeneral
Antiplant shellGeneral
Arcane eyeGeneral
Arcane lock1 hour
Arcane markGeneral
Arcane sight30 minutes
Arcane sight, greater30 minutes
Astral projectionGeneral
Augury6 hours
Baleful polymorphGeneral
Barkskin1 hour
Bearís endurance5 minutes
Bearís endurance, mass30 minutes
Bestow curseGeneral
Black tentaclesGeneral
Blade barrierGeneral
Bless30 minutes
Bless waterGeneral
Bless weapon5 minutes
Blur5 minutes
Break enchantment1 hour
Bullís strength5 minutes
Bullís strength, mass30 minutes
Burning handsGeneral
Call lightningGeneral
Call lightning stormGeneral
Calm animalsGeneral
Calm emotionsGeneral
Catís grace5 minutes
Catís grace, mass30 minutes
Cause fearGeneral
Chain lightningGeneral
Changestaff6 hours
Chaos hammerGeneral
Charm animal1 hour
Charm monster1 hour
Charm monster, mass1 hour
Charm person1 hour
Chill metalGeneral
Chill touchGeneral
Circle of deathGeneral
Clenched fistGeneral
Cloak of chaosGeneral
Color sprayGeneral
Command plants1 hour
Command undead1 hour
Command, greaterGeneral
Commune6 hours
Commune with nature6 hours
Comprehend languages4 hours
Cone of coldGeneral
Confusion, lesserGeneral
Consecrate30 minutes
Contact other plane6 hours
Continual flameGeneral
Control plants30 minutes
Control undead30 minutes
Control water1 hour
Control weatherGeneral
Control winds4 hours
Create food and water24 hours
Create greater undeadGeneral
Create undeadGeneral
Create water30 minutes
Creeping doomGeneral
Crushing despairGeneral
Crushing handGeneral
Cure critical wound, massGeneral
Cure critical woundsGeneral
Cure light woundsGeneral
Cure light wounds, massGeneral
Cure minor woundsGeneral
Cure moderate woundsGeneral
Cure moderate wounds, massGeneral
Cure serious woundsGeneral
Cure serious wounds, massGeneral
Curse waterGeneral
Dancing lightsGeneral
Darkness4 hours
Darkvision6 hours
Daylight4 hours
Daze monsterGeneral
Death knellGeneral
Death ward5 minutes
Deathwatch4 hours
Deep slumberGeneral
Deeper darkness24 hours
Delay poison6 hours
Delayed blast fireballGeneral
Demand30 minutes
Desecrate30 minutes
Detect animals or plantsGeneral
Detect chaosGeneral
Detect evilGeneral
Detect goodGeneral
Detect lawGeneral
Detect magicGeneral
Detect poison5 minutes
Detect scryingGeneral
Detect secret doorsGeneral
Detect snares and pitsGeneral
Detect thoughtsGeneral
Detect undeadGeneral
Dimension doorGeneral
Dimensional anchorGeneral
Dimensional lock24 hours
Diminish plants4 hours
Discern lies6 hours
Discern location6 hours
Disguise self4 hours
Dispel chaosGeneral
Dispel evilGeneral
Dispel goodGeneral
Dispel lawGeneral
Dispel magicGeneral
Dispel magic, greaterGeneral
Disrupt undeadGeneral
Disrupting weapon5 minutes
Divination6 hours
Divine favor5 minutes
Divine power5 minutes
Dominate animalGeneral
Dominate monster12 hours
Dominate person12 hours
Eagleís splendor5 minutes
Eagleís splendor, mass30 minutes
Earthquake12 hours
Elemental swarm1 hour
Endure elements6 hours
Energy drainGeneral
Enlarge person5 minutes
Enlarge person, mass30 minutes
Entropic shield30 minutes
Ethereal jaunt30 minutes
Etherealness30 minutes
Expeditious retreat30 minutes
Explosive runes24 hours
Fabricate4 hours
Faerie fireGeneral
False life30 minutes
False vision24 hours
Feather fallGeneral
Find the path4 hours
Find traps30 minutes
Finger of deathGeneral
Fire seeds1 hour
Fire shieldGeneral
Fire stormGeneral
Fire trap24 hours
Flame arrowGeneral
Flame bladeGeneral
Flame strikeGeneral
Flaming sphereGeneral
Flesh to stoneGeneral
Floating disk6 hours
Fly5 minutes
Fog cloudGeneral
Forceful handGeneral
Foresight1 hour
Foxís cunning5 minutes
Foxís cunning, mass30 minutes
Freedom of movement1 hour
Freezing sphereGeneral
Gaseous form5 minutes
Geas, lesserGeneral
Gentle reposeGeneral
Ghost soundGeneral
Ghoul touchGeneral
Giant vermin30 minutes
Glibness4 hours
Globe of invulnerabilityGeneral
Globe of invulnerability, lesserGeneral
Glyph of wardingGeneral
Glyph of warding, greaterGeneral
Good hope30 minutes
Goodberry6 hours
Grasping handGeneral
Guards and wards24 hours
Guidance5 minutes
Gust of windGeneral
Hallucinatory terrain6 hours
Halt undeadGeneral
Heal mountGeneral
Heal, massGeneral
Heat metalGeneral
Helping hand6 hours
Heroesí feast24 hours
Heroism1 hour
Heroism, greater30 minutes
Hide from animals4 hours
Hide from undead4 hours
Hideous laughterGeneral
Hold animalGeneral
Hold monsterGeneral
Hold monster, massGeneral
Hold personGeneral
Hold person, massGeneral
Hold portal5 minutes
Holy auraGeneral
Holy smiteGeneral
Holy swordGeneral
Holy wordGeneral
Horrid wiltingGeneral
Hypnotic patternGeneral
Ice stormGeneral
Illusory scriptGeneral
Illusory wall24 hours
Imbue with spell ability1General
Incendiary cloudGeneral
Inflict critical woundsGeneral
Inflict critical wounds, massGeneral
Inflict light woundsGeneral
Inflict light wounds, massGeneral
Inflict minor woundsGeneral
Inflict moderate woundsGeneral
Inflict moderate wounds, massGeneral
Inflict serious woundsGeneral
Inflict serious wounds, massGeneral
Insect plague5 minutes
Instant summonsGeneral
Interposing handGeneral
Invisibility5 minutes
Invisibility purge30 minutes
Invisibility, greaterGeneral
Invisibility, mass30 minutes
Iron body30 minutes
Ironwood12 hours
Irresistible danceGeneral
Jump5 minutes
Keen edge1 hour
Knock5 minutes
Know directionGeneral
Legend loreGeneral
Levitate5 minutes
Light1 hour
Lightning boltGeneral
Limited wishGeneral
Liveoak12 hours
Locate creature4 hours
Locate object30 minutes
Longstrider24 hours
Mage armor6 hours
Mage handGeneral
Mageís disjunctionGeneral
Mageís faithful hound6 hours
Mageís lucubrationSpell is prohibited
Mageís magnificent mansion6 hours
Mageís private sanctum24 hours
Magic aura24 hours
Magic circle against chaos4 hours
Magic circle against evil4 hours
Magic circle against good4 hours
Magic circle against law4 hours
Magic fang5 minutes
Magic fang, greater6 hours
Magic jarGeneral
Magic missileGeneral
Magic mouth24 hours
Magic stone5 minutes
Magic vestment6 hours
Magic weapon5 minutes
Magic weapon, greater6 hours
Major creation12 hours
Major imageGeneral
Make whole6 hours
Mark of justiceGeneral
Meld into stone4 hours
Mending6 hours
Meteor swarmGeneral
Mind blank12 hours
Mind fog6 hours
Minor creation6 hours
Minor imageGeneral
Miracle12 hours
Mirage arcanaGeneral
Mirror image30 minutes
Misdirection6 hours
Mnemonic enhancerSpell is prohibited
Modify memoryGeneral
Moment of prescience6 hours
Mount6 hours
Move earth1 hour
Neutralize poison1 hour
Nondetection6 hours
Obscure object24 hours
Obscuring mistGeneral
Orderís wrathGeneral
Overland flight6 hours
Owlís wisdom5 minutes
Owlís wisdom, mass30 minutes
Pass without trace6 hours
Passwall6 hours
Permanent image24 hours
Persistent image30 minutes
Phantasmal killerGeneral
Phantom steed6 hours
Phantom trap24 hours
Phase door12 hours
Planar ally24 hours
Planar ally, greater24 hours
Planar ally, lesser24 hours
Planar binding24 hours
Planar binding, greater24 hours
Planar binding, lesser24 hours
Plane shiftGeneral
Plant growth24 hours
Polar rayGeneral
Polymorph30 minutes
Polymorph any object12 hours
Power word blindGeneral
Power word killGeneral
Power word stunGeneral
Prayer5 minutes
Prismatic sphereGeneral
Prismatic sprayGeneral
Prismatic wallGeneral
Produce flameGeneral
Programmed image12 hours
Project imageGeneral
Protection from arrows6 hours
Protection from chaos5 minutes
Protection from energy1 hour
Protection from evil5 minutes
Protection from good5 minutes
Protection from law5 minutes
Protection from spells4 hours
Prying eyesGeneral
Prying eyes, greaterGeneral
Purify food and drink5 minutes
Rage5 minutes
Rainbow patternGeneral
Raise deadGeneral
Ray of enfeeblementGeneral
Ray of exhaustionGeneral
Ray of frostGeneral
Read magicGeneral
Reduce animal6 hours
Reduce person30 minutes
Reduce person, mass30 minutes
Remove blindness/deafnessGeneral
Remove curseGeneral
Remove diseaseGeneral
Remove fearGeneral
Remove paralysisGeneral
Repel metal or stoneGeneral
Repel vermin4 hours
Repel woodGeneral
Resilient sphereGeneral
Resist energy1 hour
Resistance5 minutes
Restoration, greaterGeneral
Restoration, lesserGeneral
Reverse gravityGeneral
Righteous might5 minutes
Rope trick6 hours
Rusting grasp5 minutes
Sanctuary5 minutes
Scintillating patternGeneral
Scorching rayGeneral
Screen24 hours
Scrying, greater6 hours
Sculpt sound6 hours
Searing lightGeneral
Secret chestGeneral
Secret page12 hours
Secure shelter12 hours
See invisibility4 hours
Seeming24 hours
Sepia snake sigil24 hours
Sequester24 hours
Shadow conjurationGeneral
Shadow conjuration, greaterGeneral
Shadow evocationGeneral
Shadow evocation, greaterGeneral
Shadow walk24 hours
Shambler24 hours
Shapechange4 hours
Shield30 minutes
Shield of faith30 minutes
Shield of lawGeneral
Shield other24 hours
Shillelagh30 minutes
Shocking graspGeneral
Shout, greaterGeneral
Shrink item24 hours
Silence30 minutes
Silent imageGeneral
Slay livingGeneral
Sleet stormGeneral
Snare12 hours
Soften earth and stone6 hours
Solid fogGeneral
Song of discordGeneral
Soul bindGeneral
Sound burstGeneral
Speak with animals30 minutes
Speak with dead30 minutes
Speak with plants30 minutes
Spectral hand30 minutes
Spell immunity1 hour
Spell immunity, greater1 hour
Spell resistance30 minutes
Spell turning4 hours
Spellstaff24 hours
Spider climb1 hour
Spike growth6 hours
Spike stones6 hours
Spiritual weaponGeneral
Statue6 hours
Status24 hours
Stinking cloudGeneral
Stone shape6 hours
Stone tell30 minutes
Stone to fleshGeneral
Storm of vengeanceGeneral
Suggestion30 minutes
Suggestion, mass30 minutes
Summon instrumentGeneral
Summon monster IGeneral
Summon monster IIGeneral
Summon monster IIIGeneral
Summon monster IVGeneral
Summon monster VGeneral
Summon monster VIGeneral
Summon monster VIIGeneral
Summon monster VIIIGeneral
Summon monster IXGeneral
Summon natureís ally IGeneral
Summon natureís ally IIGeneral
Summon natureís ally IIIGeneral
Summon natureís ally IVGeneral
Summon natureís ally VGeneral
Summon natureís ally VIGeneral
Summon natureís ally VIIGeneral
Summon natureís ally VIIIGeneral
Summon natureís ally IXGeneral
Summon swarmGeneral
Symbol of deathGeneral
Symbol of fearGeneral
Symbol of insanityGeneral
Symbol of painGeneral
Symbol of persuasionGeneral
Symbol of sleepGeneral
Symbol of stunningGeneral
Symbol of weaknessGeneral
Sympathetic vibration12 hours
Telekinetic sphereGeneral
Telepathic bond4 hours
Teleport4 hours
Teleport object4 hours
Teleport, greater4 hours
Teleportation circleGeneral
Temporal stasisGeneral
Time stop4 hours
Tiny hut12 hours
Tongues1 hour
Touch of fatigueGeneral
Touch of idiocyGeneral
Transmute metal to wood6 hours
Transmute mud to rock6 hours
Transmute rock to mud6 hours
Transport via plants4 hours
Trap the soulGeneral
Tree shape24 hours
Tree stride24 hours
True resurrectionGeneral
True seeingGeneral
True strike5 minutes
Undeath to deathGeneral
Undetectable alignment24 hours
Unholy auraGeneral
Unholy blightGeneral
Unseen servant6 hours
Vampiric touchGeneral
Veil12 hours
Ventriloquism5 minutes
Virtue5 minutes
Vision6 hours
Wail of the bansheeGeneral
Wall of fireGeneral
Wall of forceGeneral
Wall of iceGeneral
Wall of iron12 hours
Wall of stone12 hours
Wall of thornsGeneral
Warp wood5 minutes
Water breathing4 hours
Water walk4hours
Waves of exhaustionGeneral
Waves of fatigueGeneral
Web5 minutes
Whispering wind30 minutes
Wind walk24 hours
Wind wallGeneral
Wood shape6 hours
Word of chaosGeneral
Word of recallGeneral
Zone of silence24 hours
Zone of truth30 minutes
This is a high-powered variant, because spellcasters can cast their staple combat and healing spells all day long. This means that the PCs face almost every encounter fully healed, and rarely do spellcasters have their spell lists significantly depleted. Spellcasters may have some specific-recharge utility and protective spells that they wonít be able to cast before every fight, but they always have access to their highest-level combat and healing spells. And itís those spells that largely comprise a spellcasterís contribution toward overcoming a given encounter.

As with most high-powered variants, recharge magic works only if every spellcaster in the campaign is using it, including powerful NPC spellcasters. A recharge-variant lich, for example, is a terror for high-level PCs to behold.

As the GM, you have to plan for a party of PCs that can adventure all day long, beginning every fight in a more or less fully rested state. This prospect can be thrilling for players, who no longer have to face the disappointment of a retreat to town just when theyíre on the cusp of the adventureís climax. But when PCs donít need to retreat to heal and prepare new spells, the GM ends up running more encounters per game session, which means a measure of extra preparation.

As a rule of thumb, a group of four PCs that includes two recharge variant spellcasters can handle encounters of an Encounter Level equal to the charactersí average level +2. The fights will be exciting ones; every room in the dungeon becomes as perilous as a typical adventureís climax. But the PCs face each one with full resources, so the denizens of the dungeon canít defeat them through depletion and attrition. If your group likes knock-down, drag-out, set-piece battles, the recharge magic variant lets you fight more of them.

Characters attain new levels faster in terms of both player time at the gaming table and character time in the game world. You can regard this as an additional benefit, or you can reduce experience point awards across the board to compensate.

The recharge magic variant makes spellcasters stronger overall, and it makes nonspellcasters stronger if you assume theyíre getting fully healed after every encounter. But in some respects it makes them weaker as well. Even the most powerful wizard canít cast two fireball spells in consecutive rounds with this variant. The teleport spell has a specific recharge time of 4 hours, so a character canít teleport someplace, cast a spell, then teleport away again (unless he uses word of recall or greater teleport for one of the legs of the journey). Strategies that rely on repeated use of the same spell arenít viable if the spell in question has a specific recharge time. Depending on the strategy, its chance of success might improve or worsen if a character is relying on a general recharge spell. In short, the recharge variant gives casters a lot more power in exchange for slightly less flexibility with regard to general recharge spells and significantly less flexibility with regard to specific recharge spells.

Thereís an obvious way for characters to compensate for the diminished flexibility: scrolls. In general, scrolls become more useful in the recharge variant game world, so they may be more prevalent. Conversely, wands are somewhat less useful, because every spellcaster can crank out his staple spells dozens of times. When a character can cast lightning bolt fifty times in the space of an hour, that fully charged wand of lightning bolt is much less impressive. If you use the recharge magic variant, consider reducing the percentages of minor and medium wands on Table: Wands by 5% and increasing the percentages of minor and medium scrolls by the same amount.

One less obvious change posed by this variant is that lower-level spells retain more importance for high-level spellcasters. With the general recharge rules, even the most potent spellcaster canít use her best spells more than two or three times in a major fight. Spells two, three, or four levels below the maximum get cast while the spellcaster waits for the heavy artillery to get reloaded.

As the GM, you have to contend with other subtle changes wrought by this variant. Monsters with spell-like abilities usable at will are diminished somewhat, because true spellcasters can cast spells so frequently. Monsters with spell-like abilities arenít actually weaker ó and their Challenge Ratings neednít go down as a result ó but they feel less special and more like spellcasters with a static spell list.