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The encode thoughts cantrip is normally only available to characters with the Dimir Operative background, via the Dimir Guild Spells added to the character's spell list (GGtR, p. 46-47).

Is encode thoughts available to other characters who might get cantrips outside of traditional methods, such as the warlock's Pact of the Tome feature or the bard's Magical Secrets feature?

My intuition is no, because those features let you get cantrips off of class spell lists, but this cantrip is not on a class spell list.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So that's why I just got an upvote on this answer then... \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jun 28 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil maybe, maybe not. But definitely yes. I think the answer is no, but your answer doesn't spell it out (hehe) so I thought it would be worth a separate question \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Jun 28 at 11:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume you're interested only in ways of permanently being able to cast the spell or would magic items with charges and things like using wish count? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 28 at 12:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ADDO Please don't answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jun 28 at 20:45
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There are no other ways to learn encode thoughts, and nothing short of a wish spell can allow you to cast encode thoughts without already knowing the cantrip.

The feats Spell Sniper and Magic Initiate, as well as the class features Pact of the Tome and Magical Secrets, all specify that the selected spell comes from a class’s list.

Pact of the Tome:

choose three cantrips from any class’s spell list

Magical Secrets:

Choose two spells from any classes

Magic Initiate:

Choose a class: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You learn two cantrips of your choice from that class's spell list.

Spell Sniper:

You learn one cantrip that requires an attack roll. Choose the cantrip from the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list.

Encode thoughts doesn’t appear on any class list.

Additional details: Encode thoughts cannot be stored in the magic item Spell Gem:

A spell gem can contain one spell from any class’s spell list.

An encode thoughts spell scroll would be unintelligible to everyone:

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

Other potential sources of cantrips that specify a class list: all other class features, aberrant dragon mark feat.

What about the Thief Rogue’s Use Magic Device and the Artificer’s Magic Item Savant with an encode thoughts spell scroll?

Both of these abilities say:

You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the [use of magic items]

I argue that it still doesn’t work. These abilities let you ignore all class requirements. Trouble is, there are no class requirement to ignore. These two class features assume that there is some class based restriction we are ignoring that would normally be satisfied by having a particular class. Because there is no class that allows for casting encode thoughts, there is no proper class requirement to ignore with these class features. Rather, we observe that encode thoughts has a de facto character backstory requirement, something the Rogue and Artificer's abilities do not permit us to ignore.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're listing other cantrip sources that don't work: hat of wizardry, dark shard amulet, mizzium apparatus. There is the Spellwrought Tattoo, but that's UA. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jun 28 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ll reorganize my answer when I have time later, and I’ll include all potential sources that don’t work as well as dndbeyond links and sourcebook page numbers. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jun 28 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is one other way; artifacts with random properties might have a Minor Beneficial Property of "51–60 | While attuned to the artifact, you can use an action to cast one cantrip (chosen by the DM) from it." If the GM chooses encode thoughts you could cast it using the artifact. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 1 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your argument that "you must have levels in a class with encode thoughts on its spelllist" isn't "a class requirement" seems pretty shaky to me. Sure, there's no such class, but why does that affect what sort of restriction that sentence is? Surely "You must have the Big Cheese class feature to attune this item" is a class restriction even though no such class (or feature) exists... \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 24 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil The argument is that a class requirement is a requirement that you be a certain class. In this case, the restriction excludes all classes equally, so it's not a class requirement. I don't think this matters in practice because nobody's going to write an encode thoughts scroll in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Aug 24 at 19:46
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You can acquire an encode thoughts spell scroll.

XGtE provides rules for scribing spell scrolls and states on page 133 that:

[…] the character must have the spell prepared, or it must be among the character's known spells […].

Note these rules make no demand that the scribed spell be on a class list.

So any character that knows the spell could craft you a scroll for it. You could also perhaps nudge your DM and see if there's any chance he'd consider adding some encode thoughts spell scrolls to the game for you to find.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the issue is that you can't read a spell scroll unless it's a spell on your class spell list. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Aug 24 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ “ If the spell is on your class’s spell list, you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components. Otherwise, the scroll is unintelligible.” You can’t use the spell scroll since encode thoughts isn’t on your class list \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 24 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh wow, yeah. What an oversight on my part. How do I go about correcting the answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Token Aug 25 at 14:45

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