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From what I know, you can use a Spell Scroll if the spell is on your class's list.

Rangers gain the Spellcasting feature at second level (getting spell slots to cast 1st-level spells at that point), but they are technically Rangers already at level 1.

So, could a level 1 Ranger cast spells from Ranger spell scrolls? (If so, I suppose he would need to roll even for first-level Ranger spell scrolls.)

The answer to this question also applies for level 1 Paladins.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related on Who can use magic scrolls? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 20, 2018 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a good question to tweet Jeremy Crawford and ask. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 20, 2018 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can try, but I’ve had bad luck with being answered up to now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gael L
    Sep 20, 2018 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not "technically" a ranger at level 1, fully a ranger. See the favored enemy and natural explorer Ranger class features that come with class selection. (Nitpicky me ... sorry) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2018 at 16:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Related on What creatures can cast spells from spell scrolls? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 20, 2018 at 16:48

3 Answers 3

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Yes, but the Ranger must pass an ability check to cast the spell

Spell Scroll

A spell scroll bears the words of a single spell, written in a mystical cipher. If the spell is on your class’s spell list, you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components. (SRD, V 5.1, p. 242. DMG p. 200)

That's the constraint; is it on my class spell list? But here's the kicker:

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.

At level 1, you can't normally cast a level 1 spell. Therefore, the Ranger must pass (DC = 11) ability check for a level 1 spell to be cast from the scroll. (And DC = 12 for a 2d level scroll spell, etc)

You have already learned how to cast spells

In the Ranger class description, this entry implies that spell casting ability is already present before the first spell slots arrive at level 2

By the time you reach 2nd level, you have learned to use the magical essence of nature to cast spells, much as a druid does. See Spells Rules for the general rules of spellcasting and the Spells Listing for the ranger spell list.

That's a little bit of textual analysis, and possibly hair splitting. It doesn't say "after" or "when" you reach 2d level. The "you have learned" points to something that has already happened. There is still the chance to fail, per the scroll rules text cited above.

Thanks and acknowledgement must go to @NautArch, and to @DavidCoffron and to @GreySage for a detailed discussion of this whole thing in chat to kick this point around.

It is worth noting that the attempt to meet or beat the 11/12, whatever DC requires a decision on what spell casting modifier to add to the roll: 0 or the Wisdom modifier.

Either go with 0 + proficiency - per GreySage's answer - under the theory that the spell casting feature hasn't "switched on", or add the wisdom modifier + proficiency under the theory that the Ranger being a spell casting class will use the spell casting modifier.

The DM can rule either way, but should consider why to add, or not to add, the Wisdom modifier before making that ruling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 22, 2018 at 2:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by including that a level 1 ranger's spellcasting ability modifier is 0 (as per GreySage's answer) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2019 at 15:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Yeah, closure is the better idea. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2019 at 15:41
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It's possible, but there's a strong reason why it's not.

The answer posited by KorvinStarmast gives great reasons as to why it may be possible and is well supported with regard to Rangers having a spell list in general.

No Spellcasting Ability, no spellcasting

But there is another, equally valid, way of looking at it was well in that the Spellcasting Ability is not yet active for a Ranger until Level 2:

By the time you reach 2nd level, you have learned to use the magical essence of nature to cast spells...

This implies that until Level 2, there is no spellcasting ability - and without that ability there is no way to cast a spell because you don't have access yet to that Ranger list of spells. No ability=No List access

Since at Level 1, you are not yet a caster and do not have access to the spell list, then there is no way you can cast a spell.

Up to the DM

Ultimately, this can be a DM call. There's good reasoning either way and whatever you feel makes sense, can make sense.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nicely constructed "the other side" answer. +1 \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2018 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ In further support of this answer, What can a ranger 1/paladin 1 do with their spell slots? makes the point that such a character doesn't actually have any spell slots, because they don't have the Spellcasting feature from either class, so the multiclass caster rules don't apply. So there are other game features that only kick in at range 2. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 5:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ But unless there's something that says you need to have the Spellcasting class feature to have a spell list, I'm not sure there's a clear RAW case against Korvin's answer, so it comes down to DM's call as you say. Unlike a future arcane trickster, it's not conditional on a future choice, other than putting more levels into Ranger instead of e.g. Fighter. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 5:57
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Yes, but the Ranger must pass an ability check (for an ability they don't have yet)

The rules for casting a spell from a scroll are:

A spell scroll bears the words of a single spell, written in a mystical cipher. If the spell is on your class’s spell list, you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components. (SRD, V 5.1, p. 242. DMG p. 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. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a failed check, the spell disappears from the scroll with no other effect.

Assuming the spell scroll is on the Ranger class list, they can attempt to cast it. Since the spell is of a level they can't normally cast (they can't cast any spells at level 1), they need to pass an ability check (DC 11 for level 1). The issue is that, at level 1 the Ranger doesn't have a spellcasting ability yet. The spellcasting ability (Wisdom) is included in the spellcasting feature, gained at level 2.

Fortunately, we know that the spellcasting ability modifier for a non-spellcaster is 0 + proficiency. So for a level 1 Ranger the check to cast the scroll is 1d20+2 with a DC of 11.

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