The Death Domain cleric's 1st-level feature, Reaper, does the following (DMG, p. 96):

At 1st level, you learn one necromancy cantrip of your choice from any spell list.

If the Death Domain cleric chooses chill touch from the Sorcerer/Wizard/Warlock spell list, does chill touch become a cleric cantrip that uses Wisdom as the spellcasting ability for that character?


4 Answers 4


You use your (Wisdom) Spellcasting Ability, and the cantrip counts as a Cleric cantrip

Since the text doesn't explicitly say to count the spell as a Cleric spell, the first thing we need to do is consider the counterpositive: What if we asserted that it wasn't a Cleric Cantrip when learned through this feature?

Well, we couldn't rule that the spell must use Charisma (as though learned by a Warlock or Sorcerer) or Intelligence (as though learned by a Wizard) because the rules don't give us a way to decide which we would use. Chill Touch is not a "Wizard Spell/Warlock Spell/Sorcerer Spell", it's "A Spell that appears on the Spell Lists for Wizards, Warlocks, and Sorcerers". There's no intrinsic property of a spell that makes it a "[X-class] Spell", that terminology is just colloquial jargon (and not formally defined at all) for "spells you have learned as a [X-class]".

Furthermore, the Cleric class doesn't give us a way to use Intelligence or Charisma as our Spellcasting modifier. These are properties of the Wizard and Warlock (and Sorcerer) classes, levels in which the Cleric has (for the purposes of our example, assuming a single-classed character) not taken.

So if a Death Domain Cleric were to learn this spell through a Cleric feature, the fact that it's neither on their class list nor a "Domain Spell" is irrelevant: you learned it as a Cleric, and it doesn't make sense to treat it as anything other than a Cleric Spell. You therefore use your Wisdom ability as your Spellcasting modifier for this spell, same as any other Cleric spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Well, we couldn't rule that the spell must use Charisma (as though learned by a Warlock or Sorcerer) or Intelligence (as though learned by a Wizard) because the rules don't give us a way to decide which we would use." Remember, the Cleric learns one necromancy cantrip of its choice from any spell list. If the spell belongs to multiple spell lists, the Cleric might choose from which list he gets it from. It's the same as if the cantrip had been selected through the Spell Sniper feat. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2020 at 20:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. Except the Spell Sniper feat explicitly tells you which spellcasting ability to use based on the spell list it was pulled from. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Jan 17, 2020 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Arcane Initiate ability (Arcana Domain) explicitly tells you the cantrips you get at level 1 "count as cleric cantrips". That's my issue with Reaper: the ability doesn't state if the cantrip should count as a Cleric cantrip (like with Arcane Initiate) or if it should count as a cantrip of the selected spell list (like with the Spell Sniper feat). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2020 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. The thing is, there was never a requirement to do so with most of those other examples. The default rule is "you learn a spell through your class→you use the Spellcasting ability associated with that class to cast it". Most adherents explicitly state that in their description, but there was never a need to do so, except that sometimes the purpose of rules is clarity, not conciseness or the reduction of redundancy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Jan 17, 2020 at 20:59

It appears to be a 'No'

The Clerics Domain Spells ability says:

[...] If you have a domain spell that doesn't appear on the cleric spell list it is nonetheless a cleric spell for you

While the Reaper ability does not have that stipulation.

Further Magic Initiate says:

Choose a class [...] You learn 2 cantrips of your choice from that class's spell list.

And Reaper says:

You learn one cantrip from any spell list.

I read these as being similar, or even omitting the "choose a class" part.

Optimally you would want to pick a Druid cantrip for this ability, or a new Cleric one.

Not RAW interpretation

Based on all the other class abilities that allow you to learn spells and cantrips from other classes this one appears to be the anomaly. I would rule that it counts as a Cleric spell only because the rest of the game's design points to the fact that it probably should be that way anyway. The rest of the stuff in the DMG (race and class wise) appears to be poorly thought out and not balanced well so that also lends to the interpenetration that it should be a Cleric spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right, RAW, that it doesn't say so. But AFAIK, every other feature that lets you pick spells from another class will say something like "this spell is a [class] spell for you". E.g. Bard's Magical Secrets. So I wonder if it is just an oversight. I would recommend the OP speaks to his/her DM to see if they can use it as a Cleric spell (which sounds fair and wouldn't unbalance anything). \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I would say it's probably an oversight as the stuff out of the DMG looks very imbalanced. None of the races in it are very good and the two classes are less powerful than other source book counter parts. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2020 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah yes, I had forgotten that actually came from the DMG. I believe the classes there are more 'examples' of how a DM can create their own sub-classes, so probably not as fully worked out as 'official' PHB entries. \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ re:last paragraph. Would picking a spell from the druid list make it a druid cantrip? AFAIR using the spellcasting ability of the class of the spell list is also something that is explicitly mentioned everytime this comes up (like the magic initiate feat). So actually the SA here is unspecified, lending further credece to the idea that this is an oversight in the book. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega It would still be a Druid cantrip with the current version of this ability. I added that because Druids are also WIS casters so you could still benefit from your main stat as a Cleric. It really does feel like a rushed thing and perhaps it was never actually meant for play as I believe it's supposed to be an example of how to homebrew a class \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2020 at 18:41

Yes, this is a cleric spell for you.

From the Cleric Domains class ability

Your choice grants you domain spells and other features when you choose it at 1st level. It also grants you additional ways to use Channel Divinity when you gain that feature at 2nd level, and additional benefits at 6th, 8th, and 17th levels.

Domain Spells Each domain has a list of spells-its domain spells that you gain at the cleric levels noted in the domain description. Once you gain a domain spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn't count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.

If you have a domain spell that doesn't appear on the cleric spell list, the spell is nonetheless a cleric spell for you.

And from the Death Domain


At 1st level, you learn one necromancy cantrip of your choice from any spell list. When you cast a necromancy cantrip that normally targets only one creature, the spell can instead target two creatures within range and within 5 feet of each other.

I would say that this makes it a Domain spell, which by extension makes it a Cleric spell for you, and would then use your Wisdom bonus for casting.

Besides, as @Xirema has pointed out, what stat would you use to cast it, other than Wisdom? It's not intrinsically a "Wizard spell" or a "Warlock spell", so you can't say it just uses Intelligence or Charisma, it's just a spell that happens to be learnable by Warlocks and Wizards regularly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The general 'domain spells' feature and the Reaper ability of the Death domain may both have similar concepts - granting additional spells - but they are still separate features and not connected. The wording in one does not apply to the other (even though I suspect the intention was that the cantrip should count as a cleric spell). \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Jan 17, 2020 at 16:24

You use YOUR spellcasting ability (WIS)

Unless specified, all spells you learn as [class] are cast using [class' spellcasting ability]. In your case, chill touch becomes a cleric spell and uses your WIS modifier.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Supporting this with a citation from the rules would help improve this answer \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2020 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem here is that that the above is true for other cases because they specify that's how it works for them. In this case, that language is missing, so that logic doesn't really apply. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:54

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