[RPG] Does a countered spell cost a spell slot


When a spell caster is interrupted by a counterspell, does the countered spell use a spell slot? The spell description reads, in part:

You attempt to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell. […] On a success, the creature's spell fails and has no effect.

In a related case, spells with longer casting times "[fail, but] don't expend a spell slot" specifically when the caster doesn't use an action to concentrate on the casting, or when concentration is broken as when maintaining a spell (PHB 202).

Should the same outcome be assumed for spells that are countered?

What about spells with shorter casting times?

Best Answer

Depends if the countered spell required a slot to cast

No, if the spell did not take a slot to cast

Some classes, such as Warlocks and Monks, can attempt to cast spells without using spell slots. But counterspell still has the potential to stop those spells. Also, counterspell could counter a spell cast as a ritual, in which case, again there are no spell slots involved.

For those reasons you won't find any reference to spell slots in the counterspell text.

Yes, if the countered spell required a slot to cast

If a caster does rely on spell slots to cast a spell, and their spell is countered by counterspell, then yes the slot is expended. That is my interpretation based on the following.

When a character casts a spell, he or she expends a slot of that spell's level or higher, effectively "filling" the slot with the spell. (PHB p.201)

The spell is still cast and the slot is filled whether the spell has an effect, or "has no effect." It is the casting of the spell, not the outcome of the spell, that causes the slot to be used.

The word "interrupted" has no effect on the interpretation. When you make an opportunity attack on a creature leaving your reach, the same language is used. Your OA "interrupt[s] the provoking creature's movement" but it does not end the movement. Likewise, counterspell does not end the casting of the spell. It only negates its effects.

I found a few more references to support my interpretation:

  1. Magical Wards

    Spells cast within the slave pen have no effect, and any slot or magic item charge expended to cast such a spell is consumed (Out of the Abyss p.15 )

  2. Antimagic field

    ...A slot expended to cast a suppressed spell is consumed (PHB p. 213)

These are just two examples of magic causing the casting of spells to fail or have "no effect" just as described in the counterspell text.