I used spells few times with my necromancer in a fight and now i can't use them anymore. There is no cooldown time indication whatsoever, and even thought a good amount of time has passed after that i still couldn't use spells with him. Later i noticed that if i use rest button the spells become available again.

So how exactly do spells and their "cooldowns" work if they have any. Do i have to use the rest button everytime my spells become unusable? I would like as much details as possible about this matter.

  • Clearly a conceptual-system difference. I'm guessing you've mostly played mana-pool based games - MMOs/JRPGs? If you look, notice that, while you have hit-points, you don't have mana. You do have 'stamina', although it isn't explicitly as a point value - characters become exhausted if they've been awake for too long (starts showing up after ~24 hours, game time). Dec 3, 2012 at 17:04
  • @Clockwork-Muse Actually i didn't play mostly mana-pool based games, i played baldurs gate 2 and similiar games before when i was a kid. So much time has passed since then that i mostly forgot everything about them.
    – MaxBedlam
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:01

3 Answers 3


In D&D systems spells are uses / day. They return when you rest only. You can change the spells you are going to use for the next day in your spellbook, but you will need to rest to be able to use them.

  • Okay thank you. Do you know is there any negative effect for resting too often then? Like does resting have any effects on what is happening in the game and it's events?
    – MaxBedlam
    Dec 3, 2012 at 14:25
  • It's been ages since I played BG, but I don't remember there being any time-dependent events (so you can rest as much as you need). Just make sure you're someplace that wandering monsters won't find you!
    – Shinrai
    Dec 3, 2012 at 15:42
  • 2
    One possible negative effect of resting is being attacked (happens more in certain parts of the world). Dec 3, 2012 at 15:53

More specifically, Baldur's Gate (including 2 and add-ons) uses the rules of 2nd edition AD&D, where spells work more or less identically for each spell-casting class.

Depending on your class level and primary attribute (intelligence for wizards and bards, wisdom for most others -- see descriptions), you get a number of spell slots for each spell level. These slots can be filled by spells from your spellbook or scroll when you rest -- this is called memorising spells. Once a memorised spell is cast, it's gone from the caster's memory (but not his spellbook/scroll, meaning it can be memorised again when you rest). The same spell can be memorised more than once, taking one level-appropriate slot each time, allowing you to cast it that many times before resting. If you're curious, this ruleset is called Vancian Magic, after Jack Vance's Dying Earth series of books.

As far as I know, there are no penalties for resting often, but resting may cause some encounters, but these are only affected by where the party is and what you have done before.

As a final tip, be sure to check your spellbook after levelling up, increasing your primary attribute, or otherwise getting more spell slots (are there items that grant them in BG? I don't remember)! New slots start out empty, so if you forget to check your spells and rest, you'll miss out!

  • I believe there are attribute-increasing tomes in the original BG. Neverwinter Nights also followed this setup (being based on 3.0) Dec 3, 2012 at 17:00
  • @Clockwork-Muse Attribute-increasing, yes. I meant items that directly grant spell slots. Also, 3rd edition adds spontaneous-casting classes like the Sorcerer that have somewhat different rules, but let's not confuse anyone. Dec 4, 2012 at 5:09
  • I think I remember having an item which granted +1 level 1 spell slot in one of the BD games...
    – Nick
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:40
  • BG1 has three items that grant additional spells directly: a ring that doubles the number of first-level spells a wizard can cast (there are two of them, and the effects stack), a ring that grants a cleric an additional spell at each level from 1 to 4, and a necklace that grants a wizard one additional second-level spell.
    – Mark
    Oct 13, 2015 at 6:04

The easiest way to think about this system is that your caster is a gun, and his spells are his ammo. You can load whatever you want, that you have room for, but once you've fired them all you have to rest to reload.

There are no real penalties for resting (aside for most areas outside of Inns having a chance to be interrupted and attacked or areas that simply preventing resting altogether), aside from a couple side quests that may fail if you take too long, and 1 main quest that will result in a game over (but the time limit they give you is so ridiculously long for how simple and quick the quest is to complete (they give you a full in-game week to fulfill a request that takes like 5 minutes to do. And it happens so late in the game, you could actually just ignore it and simply beat the game)

Magic is D&D is extremely powerful, and is meant to be used tactically for when it is the most efficient, rather then as a primary form of attack.

You can also offset low spell capacities by casting spells directly from scrolls or using wands, though these are consumables with limited uses and again it's better to ask yourself if it's really worth it (later in game you can use wands/scrolls more freely due to shops that actually sell them in good quantities). Though depending on the game and your level the spells from wands/scrolls might be stronger then what you could cast yourself, at least until fairly later in the game.

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