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The Fey Touched and Shadow Touched feats that have been released in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 79-80) both include the line:

You can also cast these spells using spell slots you have of the appropriate level.

In our D&D 5e RPG group, there is a difference in opinion on what “appropriate level” actually means in the context of these 2 feats:

  1. One interpretation is that you can’t cast misty step (for Fey Touched) or invisibility (for Shadow Touched) with a 1st-level spell slot.
  2. The second interpretation is that you can’t cast the chosen 1st-level spell (i.e. the other spell you learn in addition to misty step/invisibility) at higher spell slot levels.

Which interpretation is correct?

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"Appropriate level" means one with which the spell could normally be cast

The relevant quote from the new Fey Touched and Shadow Touched feats is (TCoE, p. 79-80):

You can also cast these spells using spell slots you have of the appropriate level.

In this case, the phrase "spell slots [...] of the appropriate level" means you can cast the spells using any slots that would normally be appropriate for you to cast the spells with. There is no ambiguity here, as "spell slots" is plural modifying the subject to which the "of the appropriate level" applies to to be the totality of the spell slots you have.

So you can use the base spell slot level of the spell, or you can opt to use a higher-level spell slot as outlined in the PHB rules:

When a character casts a spell, he or she expends a slot of that spell's level or higher, effectively "filling" a slot with the spell.

So, at a minimum you have to use a slot of the spell's level, but are free to use a higher one.


Is the word "the" not intended to restrict it to only using a single slot level (the base level)?

If the feature was intended to only allow the spells to be cast at the base level, the wording would need to be "You can also cast these spells using a spell slot you have at the base level of the spell." or "You can cast these spells using appropriate spell slots, but only at their base level."


What about the Artificer Initiate feat?

One of the other points raised is that in another feat in the same book, Artificer Initiate (p. 79), the corresponding part of the description says:

You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have.

Here, it is unambiguous that you can cast using higher-level spell slots. So does this mean the text for the Fey Touched and Shadow Touched feats was intentional to prevent being able to use "any slots"?

There is a significant difference between the Artificer Initiate feat and the Fey/Shadow Touched feats. The Artificer Initiate feat only allows you to learn 1st level spells, whereas the Fey/Shadow Touched feats allow for 2nd level spells as well (e.g. misty step). Given that 5e is explicitly an exceptions-based game (via the "specific beats general" principle), if the same wording were used on the Fey Touched and Shadow Touched feats, it would create an exception allowing the 2nd-level misty step to be cast using a 1st-level slot (given that 1st-level is a valid choice from "any" spell slots, but not from the "appropriate" spell slots).

It's also worth considering, that not all feats (or indeed features) are written by the same writer, and that 5e is written using natural language, as opposed to strictly defined and interpreted language. There are multiple ways to convey the same meaning using natural language. As a result, trying to put two features side-by-side and using one feature to try disprove a feature application in the other due to wording differences won't be appropriate in most cases.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the other points raised is that in another feat in the same book "Artificer Initiate", the words used are "You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have." - Here it is unambiguous that you can cast using higher spell slots. So does this mean the text for the "Touched" feats was intentional to not be able to use "any slots"? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Shaw Nov 27 '20 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterShaw No, it likely just means that that one feat was written by a different writer. 5e uses natural language to communicate meaning, instead of strictly defined text. In natural language there are multiple ways to communicate the same thing. This is an example of that. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Nov 27 '20 at 9:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is also almost certainly a consequence of the fact that the Artificer Initiate feat only allows you to learn 1st level spells. If the same wording were used on the touched feats, it would imply that the second level Misty step could be cast using a 1st level slot (given 1st is within any, but not within appropriate) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Nov 27 '20 at 9:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not going to edit for "which which", but would be nice if you included it in the next edit. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Nov 27 '20 at 10:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro: Yep, I noticed the different wording and figured that that was the reasoning. They could have done the reverse by having Artificer Initiate copy these 2 feats' wording instead (if they wanted to be consistent across all 3 feats), but it's unnecessary to do so when any spell slot is of the "appropriate level" to use for a 1st-level spell. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 27 '20 at 23:46
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“Appropriate” means “the usual rules apply.”

Think about it. Is it ever “appropriate” to expend a 1st-level spell slot to cast a 2nd-level spell? Of course not. The rules for spell slots say:

When a character casts a spell, he or she expends a slot of that spell's level or higher, effectively "filling" a slot with the spell. You can think of a spell slot as a groove of a certain size — small for a 1st-level slot, larger for a spell of higher level. A 1st-level spell fits into a slot of any size, but a 9th-level spell fits only in a 9th-level slot. So when Umara casts magic missile, a 1st-level spell, she spends one of her four 1st-level slots and has three remaining.

In contrast, is it ever appropriate to expend a 3rd-level spell slot to cast a 2nd-level spell? Of course. In the example, if you learn misty step with the Fey Touched feat, you can cast it by expending a spell slot of 2nd level or higher.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The second interpretation is based on the word 'the' that prefixes the words 'appropriate slot' in the feat description, this could imply there is only one appropriate slot. So if I told you to put an object in 'the appropriate box' there would be only one box. However if you use the word 'an' prefixed before 'appropriate slot' this would imply there are potentially more than one option - like putting something in 'an appropriate box". Personally i believe your interpretation is correct but I'm trying to find some solid evidence. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Shaw Nov 27 '20 at 9:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Using “the” over the word “an” is not enough to create an exception to the rules I quoted. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 27 '20 at 9:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the other points raised is that in another feat in the same book "Artificer Initiate", the words used are "You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have." - Here it is unambiguous that you can cast using higher spell slots. So does this mean the text for the "Touched" feats was intentional to not be able to use "any slots"? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Shaw Nov 27 '20 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Artificer initiate has only 1st level though and incidentally there are no spell slots other than "1st level or higher" so this means the same. But Misty Step is 2nd level so the changed wording makes sure you cannot use "any" for that (including 1st) \$\endgroup\$ – Anagkai Nov 27 '20 at 10:00

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