There’s almost nothing as annoying as casting a spell in Dungeons and Dragons (DND) only to have an enemy Counterspell your magic.
That brings up the question: Can you Counterspell a Counterspell in DND?
You can Counterspell a Counterspell in DND. Most characters can Counterspell one Counterspell per turn. Sorcerers can use metamagic to twin Counterspell against two Counterspells cast by two creatures. Characters can also cast Counterspell while casting another spell, such as fireball.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to answer the question, “Can you Counterspell a Counterspell?”
Can you Counterspell a Counterspell? (Official Answer)
According to the Basic Rules DND document, you can Counterspell another magical character’s Counterspell.
The Basic Rules describes Counterspell this way:
Casting Time: 1 reaction, which you take when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell.
You attempt to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell. If the creature is casting a spell of 3rd level or lower, its spell fails and has no effect. If it is casting a spell of 4th level or higher, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s
level. On a success, the creature’s spell fails and has no effect.
As you can see, the official Dungeons & Dragons guide book does not restrict your player’s ability to Counterspell a Counterspell.
In fact, The rules as written by D&D put very few restrictions on Counterspells at all.
Let’s look at the restrictions next.
Can Counterspell Be Counterspelled? (Restrictions)
There are, however, a few restrictions when your character wants to Counterspell another Counterspell.
Those restrictions include:
- Spell preparation
- Spell slot availability
- Spell components
- Spell level
- Reaction availability
Most non-cantrip spells come with the same types of restrictions.
It’s probably helpful to go through each restriction to quickly define the parameters for Counterspelling a Counterspell.
In Dungeons and Dragons, spell preparation is the process that a Wizard or other spellcaster uses to choose which spells to cast during the course of an adventure.
Before each adventure, or after taking a long rest, a spellcaster must select from their available spells.
Once a spell is prepared, it can be cast at any time.
However, if your character has not prepared Counterspell, you will not be able to Counterspell a Counterspell.
Spell Slot Availability
Spell slots are a measure of how many spells a character can cast in a day.
The number of spell slots a character has is determined by their level, and they can regain spent spell slots by resting.
For example, a first-level caster might possess two spell slots, while a fifth-level caster might have four.
Once you use up your spell slots, you can’t cast any other non-cantrip spells until you rest.
Therefore, if your character has used up all of their spell slots already, they will not be able to Counterspell a Counterspell.
Understanding how spell slots work is essential for any budding spellcaster.
To successfully cast a spell, a magic-weilding character must often utilize a variety of different components.
- Somatic (hand gestures)
- Material (objects)
- Verbal (incantations)
While the use of material components is relatively straightforward, somatic and verbal components are often more misunderstood.
For example, Counterspell only requires a verbal component.
Therefore, as long as you can speak, you can cast it.
If you can’t speak for any reason, you can not Counterspell a Counterspell.
In D&D, higher-level spells are more powerful than lower-level spells. You can also “power up” or “upcast” a spell by using higher-level spell slots when casting it.
Yeah, D&D magic gets confusing fast.
What matters to our conversation the most is the level of the other spellcaster.
If your magical opponent is a higher level than you or casting Counterspell with a high-level spell slot, they may overpower you.
Since Counterspell is a third-level spell, if your opponent casts Counterspell using a tenth-level spell slot, they will shut your Counterspell down.
In fact, if you are casting Counterspell as simply a third-level spell, your Counterspell will immediately fail as soon as your opponent casts Counterspell.
That’s because Counterspell automatically stops spells that are third-level or lower.
And Counterspell, itself, is a third-level spell.
Therefore, Counterspell automatically stops another Counterspell.
Counterspell is what’s known as a reaction spell.
That means you can only cast Counterspell as a reaction. And each player character can only use one reaction per turn.
If you’ve already used your reaction for a turn, you cannot cast Counterspell at all.
Here is a good video that explains the basics of how and when you can use Counterspell:
Can you Counterspell a Counterspell if You Can’t Concentrate?
Yes, you can Counterspell another Counterspell from an opponent if you can’t concentrate.
As described in the Basic Rules, a Counterspell spell does not require concentration.
Instead, Counterspell is an instantanesous reaction to another magical creature casting a spell within 60 feet of you.
Think of it like a magical flinch response to an enemy spell.
For example, if your magical character is dealing with enemy A and enemy B casts a Counterspell, you can still Counterspell the Counterspell by enemy B.
In other words, you don’t need concentration.
All you need is a prepared spell, a spell slot, the ability to speak, an available reaction, and a magical enemy within sight (60 feet).
Can You Counterspell a Counterspell If Your Hands are Full?
If your hands are full, you can still cast a Counterspell on a Counterspell.
The reason is because Counterspell does not requires somatic hand gestures. The only component for Counterspell is verbal.
Perhaps your cleric is holding a sword and a shield. Or your wizard is dangling from a cliff (poor wizard).
Even if you are unable to free up one of your hands, use an arcane focus object, or acivate the Warcaster feat, you still can Counterspell a Counterspell.
Why Characters Counterspell a Counterspell? (3 Surprisngly Good Reasons)
There are at least three surprisingly good reasons why a player character might want to Counterspell a Counterspell.
Here are those reasons.
To Fight Fire with Fire
A wizard, sorcerer, cleric, or paladin can typically cast any spell against the same spell performed by another character of the same class or type
Although there are a few exceptions, this guiding principle holds true most of the time.
Sometimes the character just wants to give what another opponent is dishing out.
If the enemy throws a fireball, your spellcaster might return a fireball back in their direction.
The same thing might happen with any other spell:
- Lightning bolt
- Grasping hand
- Ray of Frost
There Is No Better Option
Another reason a player character might Counterspell a Counterspell is because they’ve exhausted all of their other options.
They might be out of other spells or down to their last spell slot.
Counterspell might be the only prepared spell that they have left.
If the spellcaster is backed into a corner with no escape, they might cast a Counterspell as a last resort.
Just for Fun
It’s also possible that the player character is simply having fun. They might think it’s cute or funny to try to Counterspell another Counterspell.
If this is the case, you might end up and what is sometimes called Counterspell tag.
Counterspell tag is when a spellcaster and an enemy ping pong back and forth with Counterspell after Counterspell.
It’s a kind of magical game of “chicken” to see who will fail first.
While this is a rare situation, it’s helpful for a Dungeon Master to know how to manage Counterspell tag during an adventure.
How To DM Counterspell Tag
If you get the lucky opportunity to serve as a Dungeon Master, you’ll probably eventually encounter some version of Counterspell tag.
Here are a few tips you can use:
- Remove the enemy spellcaster
- Remove the verbal component
- Make the enemy wizard cast another spell
- Override gameplay (very last restort)
Remove the Enemy Spellcaster
An easy way to end Counterspell tag is to remove the enemy spellcaster.
Remember, the player character must see the enemy casting a spell within 60 feet. If they can’t see the enemy or if the enemy is farther than 60 feet, the player will not be able to continue Counterspell tag.
There are any number of ways to remove the enemy spellcaster.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Turn the enemy spellcaster invisible
- Make the enemy hide behind a barrier (like a large tree, wall, or boulder)
- Have the enemy move farther than 60 feet away (Go 61 feet if you want to be a jerk)
- Temporarily blind the player character
- Turn off the lights (plunge the battle into pitch black darkness)
Remove the Verbal Component
If the player character can not speak, they can not continue to Counterspell a Counterspell.
You can remove the verbal component by muting the player character or otherwise binding their mouth.
This is another somewhat simple and mechanical way to stop Counterspell tag.
Have the Enemy Wizard Cast Another Spell
I probably don’t have to tell you that this is one of the easiest solutions to your Counterspell tag problem.
Counterspell tag requires at least two characters.
If the enemy wizard stops casting Counterspell, there is no Counterspell tag. The problem resolves naturally and quickly.
I would only override gameplay as a rare last resort as a Dungeon Master. It can seem intrusive and overpowered to many player groups.
In fact, I probably would only use it if most of the other players in the group seem annoyed.
That way, you won’t have the group turn against you.
Even then, I recommend using one of the other, less risky strategies.
Can You Twin a Counterspell Against Multiple Counterspells?
Yes, you can twin a Counterspell against multiple Counterspells.
We’ve already looked at the “stats” for Counterspell, so now let’s have a look at twinning a spell.
Here is the description of a Twinned Spell from the DND Player’s Handbook:
When you cast a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip).
Counterspell meets the definition because:
- Counterspell only targets one creature
- Counterspell does not have a range of self (the range is 60 feet)
As long as the player character plays a sorcerer or multiclasses with a sorcerer, they can use metamagic to twin Counterspell against multiple enemies.
Can You Counterspell Your Own Counterspell?
Another way to ask this same question is, “Can Counterspell target itself?”
The answer is, “No,” because you only have one reaction per turn. If your DM allowed it, you could possibly twin your first Counterspell, with the twin spell targeting the other self-cast Counterspell.
I’m not sure there would ever be a reason for this in an adventure but it’s technically possible.
If anything, it’s an interesting thought experiment.
Final Thoughts: Can You Counterspell a Counterspell?
The bottom line is that you can Counterspell a Counterspell.
It’s a neat “hack” for magical characters who want extra protection for another spell they want to cast.
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