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Thanks to an alternate class feature, I've got a Sorcerer who knows one less spell per level of spell, in exchange for the ability to get domain slots like a Cleric. A prestige class I've got my eye on has "Ability to cast 3rd level spells" as a prerequisite and, well... I've only got one. The domain spell, and the slot that's assigned to it.

If this was something a player was coming to me with, I'd totally let the player have it, but the actual difference between singular and plural here is buggin' me, and while I think I'm just not gonna take the prestige class (a new DM that I don't want to bog down with endless questions about all the rules I'm using), I also want to know for future reference.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give more info, like your level in Sorcerer, the alternate class feature (and its description) and the prestige class? I doubt you could be able to cast a 3rd level Cleric spell without being able to cast a 3rd level Sorcerer spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Luris Jul 28 '17 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure. I think KRyan's answer more or less sums it up for me, but for the sake of posterity: \$\endgroup\$ – John Little Jul 28 '17 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The ACF is the Sorcerer's "Domain Access" ACF in Complete Champion, pg. 52. It prevents you from learning a new 1st and 2nd level sorcerer spell at level 5, and then says that you know one less spell of each subsequent level from then on. (I don't think this changes Cantrips since it's not subsequent.) It then grants a Domain, including its power and spell slots. The prestige class is Luckstealer from Races of the Wild, and has "able to cast 3rd level arcane or divine spells" as a prereq. \$\endgroup\$ – John Little Jul 28 '17 at 19:05
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The rules are basically never that pedantic; the use of a singular versus a plural is basically never the sole determining factor in things. If a specific numeric requirement was intended, it would be spelled out: something like “knowledge of more than one 3rd-level spell” maybe.

Because here’s the thing: ultimately, “ability to cast 3rd-level spells” is ambiguous. It could refer to multiple different spells—or the ability to cast more than one 3rd-level spell in a day—or maybe just the ability to cast more than one 3rd-level spell ever, even across days. But a 5th-level sorcerer only knows one 3rd-level spell, and a 5th-level generalist wizard with less than 16 Intelligence can only ever cast one 3rd-level spell in a given day. And yet we have many prestige classes designed to be started at 6th level that require “ability to cast 3rd-level spells.”

So rather than focusing on some number of spells, what we’re really talking about here is the spellcasting ability, progressed to the point where 3rd-level spells are available—regardless of how many there are.

In conclusion, yes, your sorcerer absolutely meets this prestige class’s spellcasting requirement.

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Maybe the wording is ambiguous, but I believe it's not about knowing 3rd level spells but more about being able to use 3rd level spells, something like that.

If there was a numeric minimum required, I'm confident the rulebook would be quite explicit about that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might also mention the fact, that since the spell slots do reset, being able to cast 1 3rd level spell per day still results in a plurality of 3rd level spells after 1 day. This would be different if the character had (somehow) gained the ability to cast 1 charge of a 3rd level spell. And the statement that "if there was a numeric minimum (in a given time frame) it would be stated", still holds true. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Gorman Jul 28 '17 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's actually the kind of case that crossed my mind when I read the question's title, something like being able to cast a spell through an ability, a feat or a racial ability. It's not that complex, in the end. \$\endgroup\$ – ksjohn Jul 28 '17 at 13:29

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