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Say I have a Warlock that takes the Ritual Caster feat. Do the spells learned from the feat have to be prepared by the Warlock before being cast as a ritual or do they always have the spells available to cast as a ritual?

My confusion stems from the fact that most of the mechanics from the Ritual Caster feat seems to mirror the way a Wizard casts spells. Wizards are the only class that are specifically allowed to cast spells as a ritual without preparation by default. However, nothing in the feat actually describes that it works the same as Wizard ritual casting or different from it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Is the same true for a class that already has the Ritual Casting class feature such as Cleric?" - this part seems like a different question, since ritual casting may work differently for each class. It's not the same as the Ritual Caster feat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 15 '18 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say clerics and other prepared casters are different since we would have to conflate the ritual caster feat (which does not required preparing) and the ritual casting feature (which does) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 15 '18 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have split my secondary question into a new one as recommended: Do spells from the Ritual Caster feat need to be prepared when taken by a Cleric? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 15 '18 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestion: Since the class taking the feat doesn't change the answer, the question could be edited to: "Do spells from the Ritual Caster feat need to be prepared?" and the "Warlock" in text could be replaced by "character". \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 15 '18 at 21:45
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No, spells from the Ritual Caster feat do not have to be prepared by any class.

You can confirm this by looking at the general rules for casting ritual spells alongside the specific text of the Ritual Caster Feat.

Rituals

Certain spells have a special tag: ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. [...]

To cast a spell as a ritual, a spellcaster must have a feature that grants the ability to do so. The cleric and the druid, for example, have such a feature. The caster must also have the spell prepared or on his or her list of spells known, unless the character’s ritual feature specifies otherwise, as the wizard’s does. (PHB pg. 201-202)

Now let's look at the first few lines of Ritual Caster, since the rest mostly just relates to your spellcasting stat and adding new spells to your ritual book.

Ritual Caster

You have learned a number of spells that you can cast as rituals. These spells are written in a ritual book, which you must have in hand while casting one of them. (PHB pg. 169)

If I am interpreting your question correctly, your confusion stems (at least in part) from that last line of the ritual rules, "The caster must also have the spell prepared or on his or her list of spells known, unless the character's ritual feature specifies otherwise, as the wizard's does."

However, keep in mind that nowhere in the Ritual Caster feat is there discussion of preparing spells. Indeed, insofar as preparing spells is a feature of certain spellcasting classes, Ritual Caster doesn't convey that feature. What it does give you is the ability to cast spells as rituals (provided they are in your ritual book and you are holding the ritual book) and a couple of spells to start off with in your ritual book.

As HellSaint pointed out, if a caster who normally has to prepare spells takes the Ritual Caster feat, they still do not have to prepare the spells in their ritual book in order to cast them as rituals. In fact, if they don't know the spell outside of the context of the feat they probably can't prepare it.

Though the spells in your ritual book do not cleanly fit the criteria of "prepared or on his or her list of spells known", I think the Ritual Caster feat does clearly otherwise specify the criteria for spells you can cast as rituals.

tl;dr - The spells you gain access to from the Ritual Caster feat are, by and large, totally separate from any other spellcasting ability you may have. You can cast those spells as rituals because they are in your ritual tome and you are using the tome as the feat describes. Your class does not even come into it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very good answer. This one was laid out in a way that made much more sense to me, and with the inclusion of the rules for rituals made for a more convincing and complete argument. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 16 '18 at 20:28
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No need for preparation

The feat can be taken by classes that do not prepare spells and its text does not mention preparation. Thus the two mechanics are disjunct. Preparation of spells is not a general rule, but a specific one, stated by the feature that gives you spellcasting abilities. It also does not modify such features. If you are a cleric, you still have to prepare a spell to cast it as a ritual, unless you have it in your ritual book. You then simply use the feat and not your class feature to cast it.

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No, they don't need to prepare spells from the Ritual Caster feat.

First of all: Warlocks don't prepare spells.

More importantly, the feat description tells you the only thing you need (besides the regular spell components) to cast those spells:

You have learned a number of spells that you can cast as rituals. These spells are written in a ritual book, which you must have in hand while casting one of them.

(Wizards - and Pact of the Tome Warlocks with the Book of Ancient Secrets eldritch invocation - work similarly; as long as they have their spellbook/Book of Shadows on them with a ritual spell in it, they can cast that spell as a ritual.)

Characters don't even need to have a Spellcasting feature to be able to take the Ritual Caster feat. Nothing about ritual casting inherently requires the spell to be prepared; if the feat doesn't mention it, it's not a requirement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But wizards have a specific line in their ritual casting ability which says they need not have them prepared. There is no such indication here. That is part of the confusion. If it was intended to work like a wizards' spellbook would they not have put that in the feat description? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 15 '18 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Characters don't even need to have a Spellcasting feature to be able to take the Ritual Caster feat. Nothing about ritual casting inherently requires the spell to be prepared; if the feat doesn't mention it, it's not a requirement. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 15 '18 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Edited that comment in.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 15 '18 at 23:46
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No.

As written in the feat, when you choose this feat, you receive a Ritual Book, in which the rituals you know are stored, starting with two 1st level spells. It works the same as the Wizard Book, you can write new spells on it, spending money, if you have access to a source to that spell (either a scroll or a wizard's spell book).

However, you do need to have the book in hand, just like the Wizard's spellbook.

To further clarify my point, since the original poster was still intrigued, the reason the Wizard's spellcasting section explicitly states that rituals don't need preparation is because they are exceptions to the other Wizard's spells - which need preparation. I.e., it needs this statement because earlier it was said that Wizards need to prepare their spells. The ritual feat doesn't say, anywhere, it needs preparation. Check, for example, Warlock's section for spellcasting. It doesn't explicitly say these spells don't need preparation.

Also, as mentioned, there is no relation between the Spellcasting ability of the class taking the feat and the feat itself, meaning that even if it was taken by a Cleric it would still not need any preparation. The reason it doesn't need preparation is because the feat itself doesn't say anything about needing preparation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ But wizards have a specific line in their ritual casting ability which says they need not have them prepared. There is no such indication here. That is part of the confusion. If it was intended to work like a wizards' spellbook would they not have put that in the feat description? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 15 '18 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose no, because the Wizard's Spellbook contains all the Wizard's spells, including the ones he will cast normally during the day, hence the need to clarify that the rituals, specifically, don't need to be prepared, unlike everything else. In the feat's case, only rituals will be stored, and there is no reason to say it doesn't need to be prepared, when nowhere else it said it needed (unlike wizard) \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 15 '18 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Tried to justify it within the answer. V2Blast made a similar point: "if the feat doesn't mention it, it's not a requirement." \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 15 '18 at 21:21

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