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My question is derived from a few contradicting pieces of information but I have no direct answer with an example. I'll first describe the information:

Goodberry, has no cast at higher level footnote in its description:

Up to ten berries appear in your hand and are infused with magic for the duration. A creature can use its action to eat one berry. Eating a berry restores 1 hit point, and the berry provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day. The berries lose their potency if they have not been consumed within 24 hours of the casting of this spell. (P. 246 PHB)

The rules of casting a higher spell level for a spell with no higher spell level footnote say:

When a character casts a spell, he or she expends a slot of that spell’s level or higher, effectively “filling” a slot with the spell. You can think of a spell slot as a groove of a certain size—small for a 1st-level slot, larger for a spell of higher level. A 1st-level spell fits into a slot of any size, but a 9th-level spell fits only in a 9th-level slot.

Now the Contradicting:

From Disciple of Life (Cleric):

Also starting at 1st level, your Healing Spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.

And Sage Advice:

If I’m a cleric/druid with the Disciple of Life feature, does the goodberry spell benefit from the feature? Yes. The Disciple of Life feature would make each berry restore 4 hit points, instead of 1, assuming you cast goodberry with a 1st-level spell slot.

So The first part tells me I could use a Level 2 spell slot on a 1st level spell that does not have a empower spell footnote and the spell will be cast at the description of the spell and no more.

The contradiction of the Sage Advice says assuming they use a level 1 spell slot. And the Life cleric says 2+ spell's level.

Does this mean a Level 1 Spell Slot Goodberry gives 1hp per berry + 2hp Life Domain +1 Spell Level = 4 hp per berry, and a Level 2 Spell Slot 1hp per berry + 2hp Life Domain +2 Spell Level = 5 hp per berry?

Or because the Life Domain clause doesn't say + Spell Slot level and only Spell level, that a Life Domain Cleric's Goodberry never gets higher then 4hp per berry?

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Yes!

This is a very interesting synergy that is viable.

Disciple of Life states:

Also starting at 1st level, your healing spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.

If we start with the Sage Advice that Disciple of Life applies, emphasis mine:

The Disciple of Life feature would make each berry restore 4 hit points, instead of 1, assuming you cast goodberry with a 1st-level spell slot.

The implication is that if you were to use a higher level spell slot you could increase the potency. Otherwise, they'd have made it a full stop at 4 HP/Goodberry. By including "assuming...with a 1st-level slot", they are clearly saying that if you use a higher level slot, you'll have increased HP on the goodberry.

Upcast is based on Disciple of Life

It doesn't matter that Goodberry doesn't have any upcast rules - what matters is that Disciple of Life DOES. By using a higher level spell slot, you are utilizing that ability to increase the potency. The term "spell's level" is determined by the level it was cast at - not the base level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, this isn't the case simply because of that "assuming" clause. All spells are the level they are cast at, regardless of the base spell level. Even if you were a plain Druid, no Life Cleric involved, you could always elect to cast Goodberry with a 9th level spell slot, and you would be casting a 9th level spell, not merely a 1st level spell with a 9th level spell slot. If someone tried to Counterspell it, they'd have a much harder time. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowRanger Oct 25 '19 at 18:34
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Yes - A life cleric's goodberries will heal more when cast at higher levels

Goodberry can be cast with any spell slot you have access to

A spell does not need to say in its description that it can be cast at a higher level because there is a general rule that already allows that:

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting.

So, luckily spells do not need a cast at higher level footnote. The spell only needs to mention if it has effects in the spell description itself that increase when you do so.

When you cast goodberry at higher slots, the disciple of life feature means it will heal more

From Disciple of Life:

Also starting at 1st level, your Healing Spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.

And from Sage Advice:

Q: If I’m a cleric/druid with the Disciple of Life feature, does the goodberry spell benefit from the feature?

A: Yes. The Disciple of Life feature would make each berry restore 4 hit points, instead of 1, assuming you cast goodberry with a 1st-level spell slot.

Note that the rules explicitly allow any spell from a slot to be cast at a higher slot, but also that the Sage Advice also implies it when they say "assuming you cast goodberry with a 1st-level spell slot". There would be no reason for that statement if goodberry could not be cast at a higher level.

So a Goodberry cast at 4th level will heal for 1hp per berry + 2hp Life Domain +4 Spell Level = 7 hp per berry

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RAW does not match Designer Intention

The Sage Advice Compendium says:

Q: If I’m a cleric/druid with the Disciple of Life feature, does the goodberry spell benefit from the feature?

A: Yes. The Disciple of Life feature would make each berry restore 4 hit points, instead of 1, assuming you cast goodberry with a 1st-level spell slot.

The rules as written do not support the conclusion the Sage Advice Compendium reaches. Either the feature or the spell (or both) need errata for the Rules As Written (RAW) to match the Rules As Intended (RAI). I've added emphasis to the quotes below, but it doesn't change the meaning of any of the words.

Disciple of Life is quite specific on who is using the spell restore hit points: "you" is the character with the Disciple of Life feature.

Also starting at 1st level, your healing spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.

Goodberry is also specific on who1 is using the action and receiving the healing: the creature eating the berry.

Up to ten berries appear in your hand and are infused with magic for the duration. A creature can use its action to eat one berry. Eating a berry restores 1 hit point, and the berry provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day. The berries lose their potency if they have not been consumed within 24 hours of the casting of this spell.

Other than self-healing, the character with the Disciple of Life feature is definitely not the the creature eating the berry. Even that is somewhat tenuous, reading the rules as written. Goodberry (the spell) does not directly heal anybody - it creates objects, "goodberries", that can then be used by a creature to heal themselves.

A similar situation exists with Aura of Vitality (a paladin2 spell, but bear with me). While concentrating on the spell, the caster can use their bonus action to heal somebody. That ticks the box for Disciple of Life - a spell being used by the Life Cleric. Combine that with Find Steed, which makes any self-target spell also target the mount, and the mount gets the same bonus action ability. However, the mount does not have Disciple of Life and would not get the bonus healing, even though the caster of the spell does.

With that out of the way...

What the PHB says about Casting a Spell at a Higher Level is:

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting. For instance, if Umara casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level.

It goes on to talk about some spells having benefits for doing so, and some not. Regardless of the base spell level, all spells are the level they are cast at. In many cases, it doesn't matter, though Dispel Magic and Counterspell are the most common ones where it does and Globe of Invulnerability is one specific case that explicitly looks at base/original level, not the cast level.

  • RAW: No, Disciple of Life doesn't affect Goodberry at all.
  • RAI: Yes, where RAI is defined in the the Sage Advice Compendium. It works, and uses the casting level, not the base level. Goodberry may not have a level-based effect, but Disciple of Life does.

1This also precludes the possibility of feeding a Goodberry to another creature.
2A Life Cleric dip is very powerful for any healer. Personally, I've dipped on a Bard and picked up the Paladin spells via Spell Secrets.

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Spells expands to fill the slot it is put into

Casting a Spell at a Higher Level

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting. For instance, if Umara casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level.

The rules are very clear on how this situation works. They even give you an example. Goodberries cast with a level 2 slot becomes a level 2 spell. You do not have to dig through twitter for confirmation.

A goodberry created with goodberries cast with a level 2 spell slot by a Life Domain cCleric has 1hp from the base, plus the Life Domain bonus of additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level. The spell's level is 2, so that's a total of 1+2+2 = 5hp per berry.

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