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I am aware that, to use a Spell Scroll, you must have the related spell on (at least one of) your spell list(s). Then, if you have the spell slot to cast it, you succeed automatically; else, you must make an ability check in order to cast it (failure resulting in the scroll being wasted).

Consider this example : A Cleric 5 / Wizard 4 finds a Raise Dead Spell Scroll. The spell is on the Cleric List, but is a fifth level spell. Considering that the cleric-wizard has fifth level slots, but can only pick up to third level cleric spells, would he have to make the ability check to successfully cast the Raise Dead in the Spell Scroll, or would he succeed automatically ?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, give it a day or two, the core thing to decide is if you think that the difference in using magic item rules for expendable items is the stronger argument. (See also casting magic missile at higher levels using extra charges. In that case, the specific magic item provision governs). It's an interesting juxtaposition of three different rules pieces. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '18 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL: It's also worth noting that you don't even have to pick an answer if none of them solve your issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 8 '18 at 20:41
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It does not, you must roll the Ability Check

Multiclass spell slots for a wizard/cleric are determined by the multiclass rules on Page 164 of the PHB (emphasis mine).

If you have more than one spellcasting class, this table might give you spell slots of a level that is higher than the spells you know or can prepare. You can use those slots, but only to cast your lower-level spells. If a lower-level spell that you cast, like burning hands, has an enhanced effect when cast using a higher-level slot, you can use the enhanced effect, even though you don’t have any spells of that higher level.

This allows you to HAVE higher level spells slots than spells you actually know. But, it also stipulates that you cannot cast a spell of that level from one of your classes but can only upcast lower level spells you actually have.

But why?

Because there is a difference between spell slots and what you can cast due to the Multiclass rules.

As you also stated, the spell scroll rules only state, emphasis mine (DMG, 200)

If the spell is on your class’s spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast, you must make an ability check using your spellcasting ability to determine whether you cast it successfully.

You have a 5th level spell slot, but you cannot actually cast any 5th level spells. He can neither prepare nor know any 5th level spells. What he can do is upcast a spell he can prepare/know in a 5th level slot. What they can prepare/know is going to be specified by their level in that class.

Crawford confirms

Jeremy Crawford answers a question multiclassed spellcasters and casting from scrolls.

Here is the Q&A:

Q:Cleric 1/ wizard 9, find Scroll of Greater Restoration, need WIS check to cast or having 5th level slots count for it?

A:As a multiclass spellcaster, the spells you can cast are determined for your classes separately. In the example below, make the check..

The case of the scroll and a Cleric 5/Wizard 4

In the case of a scroll, it would work as stated above. You have a 5th level spell slot, but neither of your cases actually enable you to cast a 5th level spell. In order to cast that 5th level spell, you'd need to roll the ability check.

It is clear that you have 5th level spell slots, and I believe it is a reasonable interpreation that you can not cast 5th level spells due to the specific limitation in Multiclassing of "this table might give you spell slots of a level that is higher than the spells you know or can prepare. You can use those slots, but only to cast your lower-level spells"(emphasized in block quote at beginning of answer). A 5th level spell scroll would be off-limits as an automatic cast because of this.

A Cleric 5 can cast 3rd levels spells and a Wizard 4 can cast 2nd level spells.

Combined, you have 4th and 5th level spell slots, but you can only cast up to 3rd level cleric spells or 2nd level Wizard spells. In order to use those higher level slots, you could only upcast the spells you can actually cast.

Spell Scrolls with a cleric spell of up to 3rd level would be auto-cast. Spell scrolls with a Wizard spell of up to 2nd level would be auto-cast. Anything higher than either of those would require an ability check.

You have a 5th level spell slot but cant actually cast 5th level spells as a Wizard or a Cleric. You simply can't cast 5th level spells and having a 5th level spell slot doesn't change that.

Your specific casting class must be able to cast the spell.

Upcasting?

One potential problem comes with the information presented on Page 201 of the PHB:

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.

This seems to imply that 'assumes the higher level for that casting' means that what was once a 2nd level is now a 5th level spell due to the upcast. The problem with this General rule is that it breaks in the face of the Specific Rules of multiclassing, which say you can't cast spells of that level, but you can upcast with that available spell slot. This shows that you don't actually have access to 5th level spells, but can use that slot to upcast and upcast only.

The rule on page 201 is less about you being able to cast higher level spells and more about how to treat an upcast spell when facing a counterspell/dispel magic or something else where the spell level is important. Because of the specific requirements around Multiclassing, it is clear that you can not cast 5th level spells as a Cleric 5/Wizard 4.

Specific beats general?

Usually, we can go with an analysis of Specific beating general. However, in this case we have two specific and competing rules (multiclass spellcasting rules and Scroll Casting Rules.)

The only suggestion as to which is more specific lies in the fact that the spell scroll rules are not assuming a table has engaged the Optional Multiclass rules and was likely written assuming single class which would remove any doubts as to whether or not to roll the Ability Check. Once Multiclass Rules were engaged, they became the specific to override the general casting/Scroll Casting rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't the level you cast a spell at definitively the level of that spell? There is no mechanical difference between a 1st level spell cast at 5th level and a 5th level spell cast at 5th level. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 8 '18 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose There is a difference as it's explictly outlined in the multiclassing section. You can have a 5th level slot, but you can't cast 5th level spells. You can only use it to upcast lower level spells that you can actually cast. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 '18 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch With the spell being a consumable, like a potion, I am not convinced that this magic item is constrained by that provision, as that table is about characters casting prepared or known spells ... specific over general ... but I also think that your approach is a fair enough ruling .. see my comment below to slagmoth. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '18 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast As I was typing, I realized there is a conflict between specific over specific. We're not looking at specific vs general, but two specifics (multiclass rules and scroll rules.) However, I think the scroll rules are assuming the general spellcasting and not the optional multiclassing rules. The Optional multiclass rules would then be the specific and override the general spell scroll/casting rules. That, and the bit about "higher level than you can normally cast". He absolutely can't cast a 5th level spell. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 '18 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Expanding on the comment by @Rubiksmoose, I think you could improve this answer by explicitly calling out the rule on PHB 201, under Casting A Spell At A Higher Level, which says "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". I'm unclear on how casting Cure Wounds (normally a 1st level spell) from a 5th level slot isn't a Cleric spell of 5th level, just because that particular slot came from multiclassing. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Feb 8 '18 at 20:03
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Rules as intended - You need to make the check

It is worth noting that the multiclassing rules are optional and not all the rules are written with them in mind. This seems to be such a case caused by the lack of considering multiclassing rules when writing other parts of them.

However, Jeremy Crawford has clarified:

Q: Cleric 1/ wizard 9, find Scroll of Greater Restoration, need WIS check to cast or having 5th level slots count for it?

A: As a multiclass spellcaster, the spells you can cast are determined for your classes separately. In the example below, make the check.

Since spells you can cast are determined by your classes individually, the cleric class level and spell list are used to decide if the caster can cast that spell from the scroll without making the check. In your case, you'd have to.

However, it is up to your table to decide if and what kind of designer guidance to accept at your table.

From just reading the rules, this interpretation seems very unclear. In fact, if your table does not care about designer intent, it seems that the RAW reading would suggest an opposite answer.

RAW - No ability check is needed

If the spell is on your class’s spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast, you must make an ability check using your spellcasting ability to determine whether you cast it successfully.

The only time you need to make an ability check is when the spell on the scroll is a higher level than you can cast. Since you can cast a 5th level spell in your example, you do not need to make a check.

Nothing in the rules says you have to be theoretically able to cast the spell without the scroll. This would be an extra and distinct restriction if it were true.

For example, a wizard that does not have a particular spell in his book is incapable of casting it normally. But the rules do not suggest that we penalize a wizard casting such a spell from a scroll as long as he is able to cast that level of spell.

The same logic applies to your cleric/wizard. They should be able to cast the spell with no check needed. Nothing in the rules says you have to be theoretically able to cast the spell without the scroll. This would be an extra and distinct restriction if it were true.

For example, a wizard that does not have a particular spell in his book is incapable of casting it normally. But the rules do not suggest that we penalize a wizard casting such a spell from a scroll as long as he is able to cast that level of spell.

The same logic applies to your cleric/wizard. They should be able to cast the spell with no check needed.

DM decides

In the end, your DM needs to decide which ruling works best for them and for their table. Just pick one and run with it. There isn't really a significant downside to either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM I would disagree with this, simply on the grounds that Multi-Class rules are entirely optional and Crawford warns that they were not considered in the balancing of the rest of the rules. I personally believe the intent here would have been that you would still make the check because you cannot cast 5th level Cleric spells. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Feb 8 '18 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth That's a fair point, and IMO a fair ruling, although the scroll lets one cast any number of spells that one might not otherwise cast under the rules ... and I recall that the usual way that table works is to allow you to cast an Xth level spell at a bit higher level. That you only get to cast it once (as you can only drink a potion once) probably balances this out in terms of "usable magic items" are concerned. Interesting point, in any cast. It puts the scroll on a closer par with the potion, in terms of getting effects that usually exceed your power level. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '18 at 16:56
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No DC check needs to be made

If the spell is on your class’s spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast, you must make an ability check using your spellcasting ability to determine whether you cast it successfully. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a failed check, the spell disappears from the scroll with no other effect. (DMG p. 200 / SRD p. 242)

Your character has a 5th level spell slot, per the Multiclass Spellcaster table. (4-3-3-3-1) (SRD p. 58 / PHB p. 165)
Your character can normally cast a spell using a 5th level spell slot. In those instances, the character is casting a spell at 5th level. It doesn't take anything beyond (1) being a cleric and (2) having a 5th level spell slot to do this, so it's normal.

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. (Basic Rules p. 78 / PHB p. 201).

That spell on the scroll is on your character's class spell list. Clerics are able to cast any spell on that list, but it usually has to be prepared to cast it. (general rule)
Having the spell on a scroll removes the requirement to have it prepared for that one casting (specific rule).

If the spell is on your class’s spell list, you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components.

Similarly, if the character had not prepared lightning bolt, but found a scroll of lightning bolt, the character can still cast that wizard spell that one time without that spell being prepared.

The criteria are met to cast that spell from the scroll without needing a check against the DC 15 check. (DC plus spell's level). Casting a 6th level spell from a scroll still requires a DC 16 check.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This conversation about the status of the SRD has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 8 '18 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ The text you quoted specifically says if it's on your spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast. Your logic doesn't follow your quote - a spell is on the Cleric's list, but the character can't normally cast that spell because they literally are unable to prepare it even if they wanted to. The rules prevent preparation, thus prevent the ability to normally cast. Same would go for a Wizard spell - if they are unable to copy it into their spellbook and prepare that spell, then they'd also be unable to cast the scroll (w/o a DC) b/c it's impossible to normally cast it. \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Feb 8 '18 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doc If you are a cleric, you can normally cast cleric spells. A warlock can't normally cast cleric spells. From PHB/Basic rules, about the spell expanding to fill the spell slot, it is "cast at a higher level" so your third level spell is cast at a higher level (5th) normally. I understand your point, however. The issue at hand is the matter of two exceptions bumping into each other. 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 Cleric is casting a higher level spell, normally. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '18 at 19:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doc I added that rules cite to the answer, and the point you make might be worth another question .. since it's a place where the rules bump into each other somewhat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '18 at 19:25
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RAW as in the Core Rulebooks: He would succeed automatically*

*but see the last section, wherein JC makes you roll.

The requirements for casting a spell from a scroll with no check are as follows:

If the spell is on your class’s spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast, you must make an ability check using your spellcasting ability to determine whether you cast it successfully.

So for Raise Dead and your Cleric 5 / Wizard 4:

  • Spell on your class list? Yes

  • Can you normally cast 5th level spells? Lets see...

The answer comes from a small section in Ch. 10 of the PHB (pg. 201) titled "Casting a Spell at a Higher Level"

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 (3rd level wizard) casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level. Effectively, the spell expands to fill the slot it is put into.

Some spells, such as magic missile and cure wounds, have more powerful effects when cast at a higher level, as detailed in a spell's description.

So lets follow the logic (Laid out in the format of Condition, Result (Explanation of how this condition-result pair was generated)):

  • If your PC casts a 1st level spell using a 2nd level spell slot, it is a 2nd level spell (by the rules text)
  • If your PC casts a 1st level spell using a 5th level spell slot, is is a 5th level spell (simple application of a rule)
  • If your PC can cast a 5th level spell, it is capable of casting 5th level spells (tautology)
  • If your PC upcasting a 1st level spell into a 5th level spell slot is a 'normal' occurance (doesn't require outside aid or exceptional circumstances), it can normally cast spells of 5th level (application of the undefined term 'normally', if anyone has issue with this I will be happy to review it)

So now we know your PC can normally cast 5th level spells, which satisfies the second condition. To carry the logic to its conclusion:

  • If your PC can normally cast spells up to 5th level, it can cast a spell of 5th level or lower from a scroll, assuming that it is on their spell list (literally the rule from the DMG)
  • Since your PC can normally cast 5th level spells, and Raise dead is both a 5th level spell and on the spell list of at least one of your classes, your PC can cast a scroll of Raise Dead without requiring a check (Evaluation of if-clause in the rule)

Aside about tweets from Jeremy Crawford

However, JC also clarified:

Q: Cleric 1/ wizard 9, find Scroll of Greater Restoration, need WIS check to cast or having 5th level slots count for it?

A: As a multiclass spellcaster, the spells you can cast are determined for your classes separately. In the example below, make the check.

This is an entirely new rule not present in any of the core books. JC has authority to create/interpret/modify rules like this, so the new rule HAS to be that you would make a check in this case.

I personally disagree with this rule and for many reasons (simplicity, fun, balance) would rule otherwise at my table, but there it is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Literally every answer on this question is great, but you're the only one to focus on the difference between being able to know/prepare and being able to cast. My vote is here. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael W. Feb 8 '18 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I updated my answer with the full Q&A on that JC tweet - I think you'll see after reading that how it does apply. If not, Happy to discuss to understand why it doesn't. The PC does have access to 2nd level spells via Multiclass spellcasting (just like access to 5th in the question here). \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 '18 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I don't see how that changes anything. The first task the Cleric/Wizard is trying to undertake is copying the spell into the spellbook, which can't be done (for reasons). If the first step of a 2 step process fails, the entire process fails, which is consistent with JC's response. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Feb 8 '18 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've removed the tweet. I think it's complicating unnecessarily. And Rubiksmoose found a better one . But saying "it's a new rule" isn't necessarily true (just like my exaggeration on "it is clear"...which I'm going to fix." \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 '18 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL This is a new rule. the MC rules state "Each spell you know and prepare is associated with one of your classes", but say nothing about casting. This is new, uncharted territory, and while the answer is clear, you can't get to it without reading JCs tweet. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Feb 8 '18 at 21:44

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