I am playing a 3/3 Divine Soul sorcerer/Hexblade warlock, and have just chosen the Pact of the Tome, along with the Book of Ancient Secrets.

I have found a spellbook with Identify, which I am now transcribing into the book. I also have Unseen Servant as a known spell. I create a scroll, using the Arcana skill. And then use the scroll to transcribe the Unseen Servant spell to the Book. The Scroll is destroyed in the process. So far, so good.

I then replace Unseen Servant with Charm Person on my list of known spells.

Can I still cast the Unseen Servant as a ritual from the book?

Can I cast the Unseen Servant as a spell, using the book and a spell slot? This question arises from the interpretation from the text "You can't cast the spells except as rituals, unless you've learned them by some other means.

If this is possible, it basically means I have an external memory extension, that when held, allows me access to cast any of the entries as a ritual.

And cast the spells that previously were known spells from my spell list that has been transcribed into the book, as spells, using spell slots.


1 Answer 1


Any spell in your Book of Ancient Secrets can be cast as a ritual. A spell in your Book of Ancient Secrets can only be cast using a spell slot if you also currently know the spell

The Book of Ancient Secrets states:

[...] You can’t cast the spells except as rituals, unless you’ve learned them by some other means. [...]

What this means is that a spell contained within your book can be cast only as a ritual unless you already know the spell. Imagine this clause were not here, that would mean that adding a spell into your book would remove the ability to cast it normally. The clause is here is to prevent such a thing from occurring.

You can add unseen servant into your book because the feature states:

On your adventures, you can add other ritual spells to your Book of Shadows. [...]

This is also gone over in the following questions:

Thus we've established that you can add unseen servant into your book and can cast it as either a ritual or using a spell slot, because you also currently know the spell. If you were to remove unseen servant from your spells known list, the clause allowing you to cast it normally would no longer apply; replacing unseen servant with another spell means you are no longer able to cast it using a spell slot.

One could argue that after unlearning the spell you still knew it and so it is a spell "you have learned" but I believe this goes directly against the intent of the feature. The book is not meant to effectively add spells to your "spells known" in this way; it allows you to add the ritual-casting version of a spell, not a spell-slot-consuming version.

I believe that "unless you've learned them by some other means" does not apply to spells that you knew at any point in your life and no longer know; it applies only to spells that you currently know.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That clears it up. My confusion was from that phrase, and what it applies to. It makes sense, and I always assumed that was the intent. However, I think the text needs improvement, to be more unambiguous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Havenmaker
    Apr 6, 2020 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @haven For all I know it's no even ambiguous and there's some sort of English prescriptive grammar rule that dictates how the tense shift doesn't exist or something. Or rather, the text says: "You can't cast (present tense) the spells except as rituals, unless you've learned (what tense is this?) them by some other means." There may be some sort of thing I simply don't know where "you've learned" is using the actual verb to have instead of the auxillary verb to have. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2020 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pretty sure the "having learned" objection still holds as of RAW. I agree that it's definitely not RAI, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Egor Hans
    Apr 6, 2020 at 14:58

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